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ECS Black Series A990FXM-A Review

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To test the ECS A990FXM-A motherboard, I will be running the OCC Motherboard Benchmarking Suite which includes benchmarks of both a synthetic and real-world nature. To eliminate variance between scores as much as possible, and to provide accurately comparative scores, all stock testing will be performed with the same speeds, voltages, timings, and latencies. Each newly received board will be tested on a fresh installation of Windows 7 Ultimate x64, using the most up-to-date drivers for the hardware and chipsets involved. Any one driver will be used with as many boards possible to further curb variances. Hardware PhysX is disabled for any benchmark that would otherwise make use of it.

Testing Setup:

  • Processor: Phenom II x6 1055T
  • CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-C12P-SE14
  • CPU Fan: Noctua NF-P14
  • Motherboard: ECS A990FXM-A
  • Memory: Mushkin Redline 996996 PC317000
  • Video Card: XFX HD6970 2GB + BFG 8800GT (PhysX)
  • Soundcard: ESI [email protected]
  • Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 750GB
  • Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST
  • Power Supply: XFX BE 850W
  • Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T
  • OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Comparison Motherboard(s):

  • Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5



Overclocked Settings with A990FXM-A:

  • Processor: 250x14, 2.5GHz HT
  • RAM: DDR3-1700 9-11-10-28-39 2T, 1.65V
  • Chipsets: NB 1.272V, SB +50mV

Initially, overclocking with the A990FXM-A was a load of bollocks. Voltage settings wouldn't stick, RAM speed wouldn't boot to what I set them too, the bus speed would boot at 230 regardless of where I set it and wouldn't return to stock if I reset it. Add the lack of multiplier and divider settings, and this is quite a pain. eOC worked reasonably well when it did, but, again there are no multiplier settings for the processor or HT bus. Only voltage adjustments for the processor, northbridge, and RAM are available in addition to the processor bus. My experience with eOC is that small adjustments have a better chance of working than large ones. Even if the goal is say to go from the stock bus speed of 200MHz to 230MHz, an attainable clock for any 1055T, the system may freeze or hard reset if going from 200 to 230, whereas better luck is had in 5MHz increments and setting them each time. This is a very tedious process, particularly when attempting to find the highest stable speed. On the same token, loading a setting that causes a large jump as previously mentioned can also cause hangs and resets. I was at a loss as to what to do to commence benchmarking, until all of a sudden the settings I saved in the UEFI started to stick. I was blown away. Up until that point it had not worked, but then it started and so I was happy. So, overclocking, if the board works, use the BIOS to make your initial adjustments, and use eOC for very small tinkering, but after you find where your max is, set it in the BIOS. This of course depends heavily on the settings sticking, and if they do, hoorah! Easily the worst experience I've had overclocking, but the fact that things started to work is good, right? Final OC settings for the A990FXM-A are 250x14, 2.5GHz HT, 1.272 NB, +50 mV SB, RAM at 1700 9-11-10-28-39-2T, 1.65V. This is slightly further than I was able to obtain with my comparison Gigabyte board, and at a 25% increase in speed, not bad.

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