Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 Rev 1.1 Reviewformerstaff -
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Not to get too personal, but is there anyone else out there playing with their Zambezi? I have been since about three days since their release and have come to a few conclusions about the Bulldozer CPUs. First is that the chip has suffered more from broken expectations than it has from performance. Looked at objectively, there are a number of positives for the Bulldozer. After all it is priced appropriately, overclocks like a bat out of hell, and excels at heavily threaded applications (I look forward to your letters).
As we sit ostensibly on the verge of the new and hopefully improved incarnation of the Bulldozer architecture, I thought we would take a look at a high-end home for the Bulldozer chip to get the most out of it. AMD has reportedly announced that it will be sticking with the AM3+ socket for Piledriver, and talk of a new 1090/1070 chipset has gone quiet for some time. Gigabyte was quick out of the gates with what it intended to be the definitive enthusiast board. Wth a slick looking black and gold color scheme and aimed entirely at the overclocking, multi-GPU crowd, a feature set that would make the most rabid computer OCD nerd drool, the 990-FXA-UD7 is also the only AM3+ board with native 4-way Crossfire and SLI capability. In a bit of a wrinkle, there are two almost identical versions of this board with the exception of one BIOS feature, but what a difference that single feature makes to the enthusiast. So I will wrap up my ramblings and present you with a look at the Gigabyte GA-990-FXA-UD7.
The packaging for the UD7 sets a new standard for showoffiness and attempting to convincing you that what is inside is the top of the line deal with every bell and whistle you could want. The outer retail box is a silver foil affair covered with a semi-transparent red top coat. The box is adorned with raised insignias of feature after feature, is busier than a Chinese take out menu, and has more flair than a waiter at T.G.I. Friday's. The sides of the box are not spared advertising the merits of the board and are filled with more features, specifications, and the large Gigabyte "Ultra Durable 3" logo. On the front and back of the retail sleeve you actually get a lot of detailed information on the individually fused USB ports, high quality Japanese 50,000 hour capacitors, and the 8+2 phase power system, among countless other attributes of the Gigabyte AMD flagship.
The retail packing is not done yet as you flip the front cover open to reveal a window that affords you a teasing peak at the mostly monochromatic board with a few well-placed, deep gold aluminum accents. The inside cover of the flap continues in glossy style to go on about 4-way Crossfire and SLI capabilities as well as 20 other build quality features. On the right side surrounding the peek-a-boo window are four high quality embossed pictures of the trademark black and gold heat sink setup that makes this one of the best looking motherboards ever in my opinion.
The strategic packaging is still not done with you yet however. Once you take it out from the glossy outer box, you are met with a black handled box with yet a second larger window to tease you with a look at the goodies inside. Under the motherboard inside is a pair of flaps that reveal what is a very nice bundle that includes a color coded rear I/O panel, two Crossfire bridges, a single, double, triple, and quad SLI bridge, a manual, install guide, driver disc, Gigabyte and Dolby badges, and half a dozen SATA cables. I think there are $50+ in SLI bridges alone here.
Click on and we will dive into Gigabyte's take on a Bulldozer flagship enthusiast board.