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MSI 990FXA GD-80 Review

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Testing this latest 990FX based board from MSI will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which include both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 6970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled on all processors to make a fair comparison without skewing the results.


Testing Setup: AMD AM3


Comparison Motherboard:



Overclocked settings:

  • Processor: AMD FX-8150 @ 4816 MHz 299x22


After cutting my teeth overclocking the FX-8150 on the ASUS Crosshair V, I was excited to see how MSI's top end offering would fair as I heard it was going to be part of the AMD launch when I visited Austin for the AMD Tech Day back in September. This was my chance to see just where the performance curve fell. Overclocking started well but quickly became a game of chasing the vdroop to get the voltage to fall where the chip needed the voltage for specific clock speeds. There is no means to control the vdroop in the BIOS that I could find so I was stuck with increasing the voltage to compensate. The large vdroop is most likely caused by the significant power consumption of the CPU when the clock speeds are ramped way up. The drain is enough at 4.8GHz that the system fans can be heard slowing down as the load is applied. The end result of the exercise was that I was able to get an overclock stable above 4.8GHz using a reference clock of 219Mhz with a clock multiplier of 22 for a final speed of 4816MHz. I was expecting more, or at least some parity with ASUS's offering as its Intel offerings are spot on with the competition. One area where MSI has traditionally excelled was in its OC Genie one-touch overclocking tools. What I found when using the function was that I could post the system at roughly 4.0GHz but it was not stable enough to get into the operating system at all. If I tried to tweak any of the settings in the BIOS the values would remain as they were set by the OC Genie. This may mean more BIOS tweaking to get AMD's latest processor to play nice but I was disappointed to see that this tool and overall overclocking were a bit sketchy at best. Still a 1.2GHz bump in clock speed is going to do wonders for performance when compared to stock speed performance and is an almost 33% increase over the base clock speed. Cooling the the FX-8150 at these speeds and voltages will require better than air cooling. At a minimum, a self contained water cooling system like the FX liquid cooling solution that AMD is offering or one of the latest offerings from Corsair or Antec. Keeping the processor cool is the way to keep it from throttling.


Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the overclocked speeds listed. These clock speeds will represent the overclocked scores in the testing.




  • Scientific & Data:
  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench 2.1
  4. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  5. POV Ray 3.7
  6. Bibble 5
  7. Sandra 2011
  8. AIDA64 1.85
  9. Proshow Gold
  10. Handbrake .9.5
  11. ScienceMark 2.02
  12. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  13. HD Tune 4.60
  • Video:
  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Civilization V
  3. Battlefield Bad Company 2
  4. 3DMark 11

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