Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7 Rev 1.1 Review

formerstaff - 2012-09-09 18:38:25 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: September 24, 2012
Price: $214.99

Introduction:

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.

 

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

Finally out of the box, we get a look at one of the sexier looking motherboards in recent memory. One thing I like about this board is it is a geniune flat black, unlike so many of the others out there that are intended to be black but actually look brown if viewed in anything over a ten watt bulb. The most prominent visual feature of the UD7 is the beautifully constructed and finished heat sinks.The northbridge and southbridge are connected via a black chrome-looking flattened heatpipe and are more than adequate for cooling the lessening requirements of the north and south chips. The UD7 is part of the Gigabyte "Ultra Durable 3" series that boasts twice the amount of copper incorporated into the PCB  for better cooling, better efficiency, lower EMI, lower resistance, and, ultimately, better overclocking. One of the first things I noticed is that while it is listed as an ATX form factor in the manual, it is in fact actually an E-ATX board, measuring in at 12" x 10.35".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UD7 has six double spaced PCIe rev. 2.0 slots, which facilitates native quad SLI and Crossfire support. When employing quad GPU capabilities, the PCIEx16_1 shares bandwidth with the PCIEx8_1 slots and the PCIEx16_2 shares bandwidth with the PCIEx8_2 slots for x8/x8/x8/x8 operation when installing four cards. Fear not though, you will not lose performance running your GPUs in x8 mode in PCIe 2.0 slots. I have been using this board myself in Quadfire configuration for the better part of a year now and it has operated flawlessly. Below you can also see an ATXP 5v HDD type power connection mounted next to the SATA ports on the right side of the board. This is a supplemental power connection needed for running more than two graphics cards. I have had a long discussion with an upper tier tech at Gigabyte about this motherboard and specifically the actual function and necessity of this additional power source. He assured me that it is important in maintaining stability. This makes logical sense as three or four 250W GPUs all starting in 3D mode at the same time can be a shock to the system. So if you like to take part in triple or quad GPU insanity as I do, sleeve up an HDD power cable and plug it in.

 

 

 

A look at the UD7's socket area with the AM3+ (also known as AM3b) telltale black color. It is standard AMD socket design with pin style mechanics, tension plate, and lever. The pin holes on the AM3+ have been made 11% larger (from .45mm to .51mm) to help with mismatch and bent pin problems during installation of the CPU.The older Phenom IIs work in the AM3+ socket as well. Surrounding the socket area and on the rest of the board Gigabyte uses 50,000 hour Japanese solid capacitors and all Ferrite chokes. Gigabyte also uses "Driver MOSFETs" that achieve higher power transfer and increased efficiency at higher frequencies.

 

 

 

The UD7 uses an 8+2 power phase design for more stable overclocking with eight phases being used for the CPU, one phase for the RAM, and one phase to the HT reference and hyper-transports. To the right of the AM3+ socket are the four dual channel memory DIMMs. The UD7 has support for DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066MHz memory modules. Support for 1866MHz memory does require an AM3+ CPU be installed, however. The UD7 will support up to 32GB of system memory, and while that may be testing the limits of the memory controller, I have been able to maintain a stable 5.0GHz+ overclock while running 16GB of system RAM in my own machine.

 

 

 

To the right of the memory DIMMs is the 24-pin power connector. This is one of three places on the UD7 where power is supplied power. Tucked just behind the connector are over voltage control ICs. Below this is a nice feature for overclockers during the building and testing process in the form of a trio of buttons. A power button, clear CMOS, and reset button are nicely located for easy access. This location for these buttons was the result of good engineering during the layout of the UD7. These buttons are often found at the bottom edge of the board below the last PCIe slot making them covered up by the bottom graphics card and useless if you are building that triple or quad GPU monstrosity.

 

 

 

The back panel connectivity on the UD7 is very good. On the back I/O panel you get connections for one PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, an optical S/PDIF Out connector, a coaxial S/PDIF Out connector, IEEE 1394a port, seven USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one eSATA/USB combo connector, an eSATA 6Gb/s connector, RJ-45 port, and six audio jacks. Tucked behind the back panel is the 8-pin CPU power connector for the UD7.

 

 

 

Along the bottom left quadrant of the UD7 we spot one red colored USB connector. This is the connector that supports the Gigabyte "on/off" feature. This feature allows for up to three times the normal voltage for the USB ports for what Gigabyte claims is up to 40% faster charging time with devices that support it. To the left we have a pair of standard USB ports, one of the four fan headers on the UD7, a 1394 Firewire port, an S/PDIF port, and an audio port. Above the audio port we can see the VIA VT6308 Firewire controller. Directly above this we spot the ALC889 108dB signal to noise HD Dolby audio chip. I use this machine for gaming as well as music and have really fallen in love with the sound this offers. It is really quite excellent. In the second close up image you can see the "Rev 1.1" in the lower corner. Later in the review I will explain why this is important and what a huge difference it makes to serious overclockers over the 1.0 version of this board.

 

 

 

In the bottom right quadrant of the board we spy the front panel connector with a clear CMOS jumper above, TPM (Trusted Platform Module), and the 20-pin USB 3.0 header. On the right edge is the system CMOS battery, a system fan header, and the built-in debug LED display that will give you an error code when startup problems arise. Above this you can see the dual BIOS chips. The UD7 employs a dual BIOS system that will start the second backup BIOS should the primary one become corrupt, allowing the user to successfully re-flash the primary BIOS, which will then resume control.

 

 

 

Turning to the SATA capabilities of the UD7 there are eight 6Gb/s SATA ports available. Six of them are controlled by the 950 southbridge and provide support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD. Two of the SATA ports (the gray) are controlled by the Marvell 88SE9172 controller that supports RAID 0 and RAID 1. Adding the two Marvell eSATA ports on the back panel gives a total of ten SATA 6Gb/s ports availible with the UD7. 

 

 

 

Click on if you will and we'll have a look at some of the utilities that the Gigabyte 990-FXA-UD7 has to offer to help you navigate and get the most from the flagship offering.

Closer Look:

Gigabyte offers a laundry list of software utilities to help you get the most out of the flagship UD7. I will cover a few of the more prominent ones here for you.

Touch BIOS

To be honest, Gigabyte's Touch BIOS has me scratching my head a bit. I understand that in this day of motherboard design, one of the biggest selling points are features that make it easier  to push performance beyond warranty covering specifications. With this trend and overclocking becoming a competitive sport as well as getting something for nothing, the UEFI BIOS was inevitable. A more friendly looking Windows-based overclocking screen invites more people to get involved in the overclocking craze than does a serious looking blue "DOS" environment that screams "if you enter the wrong HEX, the machine will blow up." I personally prefer the old style BIOS that I know will input the value I choose, rather than relying on a software middleman that may or may not translate correctly, but that's just me. Enter Gigabyte's Touch BIOS; its enterpretation of the UEFI that is billed as a "Hybrid EFI technology". The idea behind it is that it is "more intuitive" because with only a touch screen monitor, you can make changes to your BIOS. Touch BIOS seems to have its priorities out of order. Besides not working well I am not sure why Gigabyte believes that a touch screen is more "intuitive" than a mouse click, or for that matter that a large percentage of the population has touch screens being used with their PCs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon opening Touch BIOS you are met with a small 900x600 window that presents you with nine catagories you can make changes in. These are Overclock, Boot Disk, Quick Boost, PC Status, @ BIOS, Integrated Hardware, Load Optimized Defaults, and Set Supervisor Password. Inside each of these you will find a subset of categories. For example in Overclock you will find "advanced frequency setting", ''advanced memory settings'' and "advanced voltage settings". The problem I found with Touch BIOS is that it is limited in the changes you can make, and more often than not when you apply the changes with "save to CMOS", the changes are not applied and it reports the incorrect values to begin with. if you do prefer a software-based solution to overclocking, or at least trying out settings before commiting them to the BIOS, Gigabyte's UD7 officially supports the very mature and option rich AMD Overdrive.

 

 

 

@ BIOS

 

@ BIOS is a simple utility that gives you options to update your BIOS from a file or the Gigabyte server. It will also save a copy of your BIOS file with a click. Now I am extremely anti-updating the BIOS in real time from a server, however most people are made to feel nervous about BIOS flashing (as they should) and will opt for the update from the server. I have tried the live update option a few times against my better judgment and it works extremely well. It removes and rewrites very quickly, so while I never recommend updating from a server, if you must, this is the best option within a Windows environment. The second and more desirable option here is to update the BIOS from Gigabyte's website and save to a flash drive.

 

 

Easy Tune 6

 

Easy Tune 6 is Gigabyte's overclocking, fan control, and monitoring program. It is designed for enthusiasts to tweak their system for maximum performance, but unfortunately it suffers from the same ailments as Touch BIOS. Easy Tune has six tabs that are CPU, Memory, Tuner, Graphics, Smart, and HW Monitor.

 

 

I have reloaded every update of it over the last year to give new revisions a try only to continue to find the problems with settings detection and reporting to go unresolved, as you can see in the screenshots below. The memory speed is misreported and the graphics tab is not even active. I think that Gigabyte needs to go back to the drawing board and develop software for AMD motherboards from scratch. The look of Easy Tune is really a symbol of the problem as it looks more like a program from around 1999. Again here I have to say that AMD Overdrive is again a more mature and feature rich option with better system and hardware settings detection.

 

 

Closer Look:

While the Hybrid UEFI BIOS for the 990 chipset may not be one of Gigabyte's strengths, the standard Award Software BIOS is a very mature BIOS filled with all the options an enthusiast overclocker and tweaker needs to extract the maximum performance from the hardware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first category as you enter the BIOS in the UD7 is of course the most fun. MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) is where you will find the settings for the CPU, NB, HT, clock ratios, frequency controls, and more. The memory clock control and DRAM configuration sub-menu is also located in M.I.T. The bottom half of the menu contains the voltage readings when in auto or "optimized" mode, and can be adjusted for under or overclocking when set to manual. It is also in this menu where Core Performance Boost is set or disabled. This is obviously the menu that overclockers will spend a majority of their time trying to eek out every last megahertz.

 

 

Standard CMOS Features is where the time and date for the system are set. You can also see the drives detected on the system and what channel they are on.

 

 

Advanced BIOS Features is where you will find the ability to enable or disable the AMD power savings features such as AMD Cool & Quiet, C1E, and AMD C6 support. A welcome addition to the BIOS is the AMD APM (Application Power Management), which keeps cores from dropping when under heavy overclocked load. You also set boot options and hard disk boot priority here. The most interesting addition to this revision of the UD7 is the feature highlighted at the top of the menu. Load Line Control or LLC keeps voltage steady to the motherboard and the components and, as I will demonstrate later, is extremely important to reaching higher overclocks and reducing heat. The difference with the same CPU and the same model motherboard is 300MHz and .065v to the CPU. Not to mention the life shortening effect of wildly fluctuating voltage to the system.

 

 

 

In Integrated Peripherals, you can set the SATA and eSATA controller and type for IDE and RAID functions as well as configure PCIe devices and USB controllers. Onboard sound can also be enabled or disable here. In Power Management Setup, you set how your machine responds to suspend and wake up and the behavior of your power button function.

 

 

 

PC Health Status is where you find the control for thermal issues such as enabling or disabling warning alarms and temperature thresholds for shutdown. You can also see the basic system voltage readings and temperatures. You have the ability to enable or disable temperature warnings and fan failure warnings. The CPU smart fan control is located here as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up next is specifications and features.

Specifications:

CPU
AM3+ Socket:
    Support for AMD AM3+ FX processors
    Support for AMD AM3 Phenom™ II processors / AMD Athlon™ II processors
(Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information.)
Hyper Transport Bus
    5200 MT/s
Chipset               
North Bridge: AMD 990FX
South Bridge: AMD SB950
Memory
4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
Dual channel memory architecture  Support for DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
(Please refer "Memory Support List" for more information.)
Audio
Realtek ALC889 codec
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
Support for Dolby Home Theater
Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2)
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1, PCIEX8_2
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x4 (PCIEX4_1, PCIEX4_2)
(All PCI Express slots conform to the PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
1 x PCI slot
Multi-Graphics Technology
Support for 2-Way/3-Way/4-Way AMD CrossFireX™ and NVIDIA SLI™ technology
Storage Interface
South Bridge:   6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3_0~SATA3_5) supporting up to 6 SATA 6Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID5, RAID 10 and JBOD
 
2 x Marvell 88SE9172 chips:  2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_6, GSATA3_7) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors (including 1 eSATA/USB Combo connector) on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
 Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
USB       
South Bridge: Up to 14 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports on the back panel, including 1 eSATA/USB Combo connector, 6 ports available through the internal USB headers)
 
2 x Etron EJ168 chips: Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
IEEE 1394
VIA VT6308 chip: Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 port on the back panel, 1 port available through the internal IEEE 1394a header)
Internal I/O Connectors        
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 x PCIe power connector
8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
2 x system fan headers
1 x power fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
1 x IEEE 1394a header
1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
1 x clearing CMOS jumper
1 x clearing CMOS button
1 x power button
1 x reset button
Back Panel Connectors
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
1 x IEEE 1394a port
7 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1 x eSATA/USB Combo connector
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s connector
1 x RJ-45 port
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
ITE IT8720 chip
H/W Monitoring               
System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
CPU overheating warning
CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
CPU/System fan speed control
BIOS
2 x 32 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
Support for @BIOS
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
Support for Download Center
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
Support for EasyTune (Note 6)
Support for Easy Energy Saver
Support for Smart Recovery
Support for Auto Green
Support for ON/OFF Charge
Support for Cloud OC
Support for 3TB+ Unlock
Support for Q-Share
Bundle Software               
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
Support for Microsoft Windows 8/ 7/ Vista/ XP
Form Factor
E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.3cm

 

Features:

 


All information Courtesy of Gigabyte @  http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3880#sp

Testing:

Testing for the products in this review will consist of putting the components through the OCC benchmarks suite which uses both synthetic and real world applications to score their relative and finite performance. The gaming benckmarks will consist of both actual game-play and synthetic testing as well to determine if a product offers a performance advantage over another. A new installation of Windows 7 has been installed for testing purposes as well as the latest non-beta drivers for the XFX HD R7970 Black edition. For the testing all turbo,low power state and any CPU throttling features have been disabled so as not to have any effect on the performance or the possability of skewing the results.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Overclocking:

The Gigabyte 990-FXA-UD7 inspires overclocking confidence. The large effective heat sinks on the VRM MOSFETs, the amount of copper used in the PCB tracers, and the 8+2 CPU phase power design gave me no concerns about elevating voltages to go after a very high overclock. For this review I decided to simply take advantage of the unlocked multiplier that all the Bulldozers have to obtain my overclock. As I covered earlier in the review, neither Touch BIOS or Easy Tune 6 seem to work very well or inspire confidence that what you set in them is what you will get for a result. Thus I performed all of my overclocking in the UD7's very mature, standard BIOS, which is the method I prefer. Overclocking with the UD7 could not be easier. The BIOS is laid out very intuitively and once I disabled all of the power saving features, it was simply raising the multiplier and/or voltage after every round of stability testing. 

Gigabyte motherboards have a strong history of being able to extract the maximum frequency out of processors, and it seems the UD7 is no exception.

 

 

Load Line Calibration:

 

I would like to take you on a brief aside here for a moment, if I may. As I mentioned I have owned both versions of the UD7, the 1.0 version and revision 1.1 we have here today. The difference between the two is that rev 1.1 has added LLC or Load Line Control. The difference in performance, overclock, heat, and energy has turned out to be rather large. I thought I would take a minute here to illustrate the effect that LLC can make to the performance enthusiast.

Below are two charts I grabbed from the OCCT program while running the stability test. The first is the 1.0 revision of the UD7 without LLC. You will notice the ongoing varying voltage that exists. This varying voltage is called ripple and is due to incomplete suppression of the alternating waveform within the power supply. What you cannot see on this chart because it apparently happened too fast for it to be caught when the chart was generated, is that the voltage was set to 1.525v and dropped almost a full .10v down to 1.43v and occasionally would briefly drop to 1.39v. This was the same CPU and eventually I was only able to get a stable 4700MHz at a voltage of 1.556v.

Now consider the second chart that was taken using the same CPU in the revision 1.1 UD7. Using the extreme setting in LLC we get voltage that is almost perfectly steady and the CPU needs a lower voltage setting at even higher frequencies for stability. Using the same processor in revision 1.1 of the UD7, I was able to (so far) obtain a P95 and bench stable 5.0GHz at 1.488v; the overclock I am using for this review. The LLC function is not limited only to the CPU voltage. Once set to one of six settings, all of the incoming voltages demonstrate a 'flat' stability from all voltage rails similar to the 12v reading shown in the bottom image. Each of the LLC settings on the UD7 have different characteristics to them. In this particular case the 'Extreme' setting bumps the voltage slightly upward when a heavy load is applied whereas the 'High' setting produces a steady flat line when load is applied. Conversely, the medium setting will slightly drop the voltage and then flatten out when load is applied. This is a great feature and using the six settings within it, you can find the one that fits your needs and performance preferences.

 

 

 

Maximum Overclock:

All motherboard and CPU combinations have been tested for stability at the frequencies listed. Benchmarks will be run at stock speed and the listed over-clocks to determine the performance of each at both speeds.

 

 

Benchmarks:

Scientific & Data:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. HD Tune 5.0
  3. AIDA 2.20
  4. Apophysis
  5. WinRaR
  6. Geekbench
  7. Bibble 5
  8. Office 2007
  9. POV-Ray
  10. ProShow Gold
  11. HandBrake 9.5
  12. SiSoft Sandra
  13. ScienceMark
  14. Cinebench

Video:

  1. DiRT 3
  2. Battlefield 3
  3. 3DMark 11



 

Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gigabyte UD7 seems to perform consistently if only slightly better across the range of sub categories in the PCMark 7 test suite.

Testing:

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives and or disk controllers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the CPU Queen test that looks for the solution for the "Queens" problem on a 10x10 chessboard. This tests the branch-prediction capabilities of the processor. The FPU Mandel test measures double precision floating point performance through computation of several frames of the "Mandelbrot" fractal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As expected the only difference here is the difference in the higher overclock with the UD7.

Testing:

Apophysis is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. Here, we will test the time needed to compress files of 1000 MB and 500 MB. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

RAR:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy-to-use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.

 

Higher is Better

 

Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting one hundred 8.2 MP RAW images to jpeg format. The file size is 837 MB. The measure used for comparison is time needed to convert the file in seconds.

 

Lower is Better

 

The trend continued here as the Gigabyte UD7 performs with a very slight edge at stock speeds. The advantage of the LLC and the higher overclock it helps produce continues to be evident in the overclocked tests.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2 MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is the amount of time it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

POV-Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing), enabling the workload to be spread across several cores for quicker completion.

 

Higher Is Better

 

ProShow Gold: This program is used to take a collection of images and stitch them together in a slide show, using a variety of transitions and effects, to make a compelling show you can share with friends and family. The workload consists of 29 high-resolution images that are stitched into a 3 minute video file.

 

Lower Is Better

 

HandBrake 9.5: is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is 128 MB in size and 43 seconds in length.

 

Lower Is Better

 

Again no surprises in this round of testing. The boards continue to perform the same at stock and separation is provided by the stronger overclock of the UD7.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra has possibly the most comprehensive and exhaustive hardware and software identification and description in the industry. Sandra also employs very thorough tests on basic CPU, memory, and controller function and capacities we will be using today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

 

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

 

 

Cache and Memory

 

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

 

The Sandra testing reveals the smallest differences in chipsets and memory controllers in measuring latency, core efficiency, and memory bandwidth. The boards perform nearly identically here and certainly nothing that would yield any discernible real world advantage.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real-world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we run the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

 

 

Cinebench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

Cinebench 11.5

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

 

The UD7 runs a dead heat with the Sapphire Board with the one exception of a slight lead in the ScienceMark benchmark.

Testing:

3DMark11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. 3DMark11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

Settings

 

 

 

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

Settings

 

 

The same trend that has been prevalent throughout shows again in the gaming benches with the stronger overclock of the Gigabyte UD7 gaining a few frames in most games and benches.

Conclusion:

I have had the advantage of owning this board for months now and as your classic "enthusiast," I have really loaded it up and put it through its paces. I have ran triple and quad Crossfire, heavily overclocked it, and used it for gaming as well as massive resource intensive multitasking and it has performed flawlessly.The attributes of the quality components and PCB design have kept it cool running and have eliminated heat as an overclocking restriction or concern.

The layout of the board has been well thought out with no interference issues you inexplicably run into on some motherboards even today. With six PCIe slots and support for quad SLI or Crossfire, up to 16 USB ports, eight SATA 6Gb/s connectors, and a BIOS that relinquishes complete control to the power user, the UD7 just screams of possibility for those want to get the most from their octo-core Bulldozer. The looks of the UD7 are a definite plus as well. The black on black board with tasteful gold aluminum accents was designed with side windows in mind. It is sophisticated and accented without being gaudy or resorting to gimmicky trinkets for heatsinks.

The build quality is excellent and just what I have come to expect from Gigabyte. The one concern I have with this motherboard is some of the software that accompanies it, specifically Touch BIOS and EasyTune 6. They both are a bit baroque in both form and function to the quality of Gigabyte's motherboards, and I would like to see the company go back to the drawing board with the AMD UEFI and overclocking software for an update that matches the tremendous quality of the motherboard itself. Other than this issue, the GA-990-FXA-UD7 is a top flight motherboard that will take your AMD setup just about as far a you want it to.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: