iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS Sabertooth 990FX Motherboard

« Previous page

     Next page »



  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810
  • RAM: 2 x 2GB Apacer DDR3-1333 CL9 9-9-9-24-1T for Socket AM3 boards; 2 x 2GB GoodRAM PRO DDR2-1066 CL5 5-5-5-15-2T for Socket AM2+ boards
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI RADEON HD4850, 512 MB GDDR3
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit, Catalyst 9.2, latest chipset drivers


  • 7-Zip 4.65 x64
  • WinRAR 3.80
  • XviD 1.2.1
  • x264 r1129 x64
  • FarCry 2 (Ranch Medium)
  • Crysis (DX10, HOCbenchmark, VGA test, built-in demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 (built-in benchmark)
  • World in Conlict (built-in benchmark)

To assess performance we measure time required to archive a 297MB set of 277 files of various types and convert a 636MB MPEG2 video using XviD and x264. We also measure frames per second in game demos. In FarCry 2 we run tests in 4 modes: low, medium, high and very high quality. The first three modes imply the aforesaid quality level, 1280x720 resolution, DX9 rendering, High Performance. The last mode implies: 1680x1050 resolution, Very High setting for both graphics and system, DX10 rendering. In Crysis we also use 4 modes at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and run tests at Low and High quality in each mode. In Devil May Cry 4 we run two tests: 1280x720 (High DX9) and 1680x1050 (Super High DX10). In World in Conlict we run test in 4 modes: 1280x720 Low, 1280x720 Medium, 1680x1050 High, 1680x1050 Very High.

It's obvious which modes should be used with integrated graphics and which, with discrete graphics. Note that if a motherboard has no integrated graphics, performance tests are only used to check for serious layout or BIOS flaws and can be reduced to minimum. Vice versa, performance tests are indicative for motherboards with integrated graphics. And if a certain motherboard review lacks certain details, we might add respective test results to make up for it.

To assess capabilities of a motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock test CPUs (which ones depends on board's market segment) to a stable maximum with the help of Zalman CNPS9700 AM2 and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments (Hyper-Transport, CPU NB, etc.) For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier, or clock rate needed to maximize CPU core clock rate. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows Vista with the help of AMD OverDrive stability test (all tests are run for 5 minutes). Note that since overclocking potential somewhat varies from one board to another, we are not focused on finding board's exact overclocking potential accurate to 1MHz. We just try to find out if a board hampers in CPU overclocking (due to insufficient voltage stabilizer power, etc.) and see how it performs in atypical modes, including automatic BIOS recovery in cases of overclocking issues (not requiring CMOS reset) and such.

Power consumption is assessed in the light-load mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy-load mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). Processor's standard power-saving features are enabled. Also if a board has proprietary power-saving features, we examine their efficiency separately.

Overclocking settings in BIOS Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 100 to 600 MHz
CPU multiplier + For the cores and CPU NB
Core unlocking + In BIOS
CPU voltage + 0.68 to 2.08 V (CPU); 0.50 to 1.90 V (CPU NB); 2.2 to 2.8 V (CPU VDDA)
Memory voltage + 1.2 to 2.5 V
Chipset voltage + 0.80 to 1.51 V (Northbridge); 1.11 to 1.80 V (Southbridge); 0.80 to 1.51 V (HT bus)

The CPU voltage range, as well as some other parameters, depends on the given processor. We publish the results of our AMD Phenom II X4 810 and BIOS v0810. The BIOS has a GUI which provides a wealth of overclocking settings traditionally overwhelming even for a demanding enthusiast. However, some ASUS motherboards (e.g. the ROG series) have even more settings, of memory controller for example. You can store up to 8 memory profiles in CMOS and as many as you want on external storage devices.

CPU AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition (3.6 GHz) Phenom II X4 810 (2.6 GHz)
CPU frequency, MHz 4100 3815
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x20,5) 290 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.48/1.42 1.48/1.40
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2600 (x13) 2320 (x8)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 2030 (x7)
Memory frequency, MHz DDR3-1333 DDR3-1160
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

ASUS Sabertooth 990FX did a good job overclocking those CPUs, but it didn't break any records. The reference frequency overclocking result is very close to the maximum though.

Performance and efficiency

We compared ASUS Sabertooth 990FX with ASUS Crosshair V Formula based on the same chipset.

AMD Radeon HD 4850
(discrete graphics)
ASUS Crosshair V Formula ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:16 2:21
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:12 1:16
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
Far Cry 2 (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 62 61
World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 30 30

As you can see, the gaming model is faster than the TUF one. Even if ASUS improves BIOS, those tweaks will most likely be aimed at getting the maximum performance with Bulldozer CPUs.

Enclosure power consumption

We measured power consumption with the wattmeter built into the PSU.

AMD Phenom II X4 810 +
AMD Radeon HD 4850
ASUS Crosshair V Formula ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 72 74
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 84 86
FarCry 2, W 140-190 151-183

Both the gaming and TUF solutiosn are equal in terms of power consumption.

Final thoughts

Motherboards of this class are hard to evaluate objectively. On the one hand, the build quality is very high. Those CeraMIX heatsinks not only look cool, but actually work as promised. Features and package are also quite satisfying, even if you have some serious gaming in mind. On the other hand, competing solutions for enthusiasts, ASUS' included, also offer high build quality and high-quality parts. However, those latter also offer extras like modding lights or packages bonuses. Not a critical addition, but at least you have something to choose from, right?

Write a comment below. No registration needed!

« Previous page

Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design, features

Page 2: Overclocking, consumption, final thoughts

blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.