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Sapphire Pure Black 990FX Review

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Testing the Sapphire 990FX Pure Black will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes 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 game-play, 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 7970. 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 to make a fair comparison without skewing results.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Boards:



  • AMD FX-8150 @ 4.6GHz  (200 x 23)

Overclocking on the Sapphire Pure Black was a challenge despite having all the controls and an unlocked multiplier. What seemed stable during one boot up suddenly became unstable or even unbootable the next. I started to notice that the BIOS readings in several cases were up to 70MHz higher than read by CPU-Z. The voltage settings also seemed to not want to take hold, keeping in mind that all of the power saving features and states were disabled.

I ran several instances of OCCT stress test and noticed some bizarre and drastic voltage drops from time to time. By wild I mean beyond what would I would consider "normal" for a motherboard without LLC. I traded out power supplies to eliminate this as a suspect but came to the same result. After several more boots this finally stopped and I was able to achieve a stable overclock of 4.6GHz on the FX-8150. Not bad by any means, but it is on a CPU that has shown to carry a 5.0GHz stable OC on motherboards equipped with LLC. I am not sure if this has anything to do with the board being updated to the latest BIOS, and perhaps this will be stabilized with subsequent updates as this does not seem to have been the typical experience with this board. I have been dealing with Sapphire products for a long time and find them to be top shelf quality. I lean towards this being an isolated event that may have involved a peripheral incompatibility or that will be fixed with a BIOS update for the new CPUs, but I will leave that determination to the reader.

Sapphire has included a utility called TriXX. TriXX gives you limited control of various voltages and CPU in an FSB or HT clock. Oddly though it does not let you adjust the unlocked multiplier of AMD FX CPUs. TriXX also monitors critical system voltages and temperatures.



Maximum Overclock:

Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.



Scientific & Data:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. HD Tune 5.0
  3. AIDA64 2.50
  4. Sandra 2012 SP6
  5. x264
  6. HandBrake 9.8
  7. ATTO 2.47


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


  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: Sapphire Pure Black 990FX
  3. Closer Look: The BIOS
  4. Specifications & Features
  5. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  6. Testing: PCMark 7
  7. Testing: HD Tune, AIDA 64
  8. Testing: Sisoft Sandra, x.264, Handbrake
  9. Testing: ATTO USB 3.0 Testing
  10. Testing: Gaming
  11. Conclusion
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