MSI 990FXA-GD80 is currently the highest-end solution in company's Socket AM3+ series. As such it has and supports everything MSI can offer today. Nonetheless, this motherboard is practical and reasonable enough, without features you could classify as marketing padding. It will attract those users who need the best in technology.
MSI 990FXA-GD80 has 4 PCI Express x16 slots and supports both CrossFire and SLI to the max, as NVIDIA has allowed licensing hardware SLI support for the AMD 990FX chipset. Well, they did it earlier than that, but the capability itself has gained wide support starting with AMD's 900 chipset family. Anyway, the motherboard can provide full bandwidth to two PCIe x16 graphics slots, and if you install the third card, you'll get an x16+x8+x8 configuration. And the last slot works as x4, allowing you to install your favorite physics accelerator.
The motherboard offers an optimal layout of case fan connectors. In other aspects, there's nothing extraordinary. Power/Reset buttons and POST LEDs can now be found on much cheaper boards.
The back panel offers a complete set of interfaces you might need today as well as a CMOS Reset button. However, there are only USB 3.0 ports while many counterparts have four. Other USB 3.0 connectors include an onboard header for two more ports. There is no second Ethernet port, but there are two eSATAp ones (or eSATA/USB combo), so the total number of ports is still impressive.
Heatsinks have thick fins and large spacing between fins, but that's fine, given the cooling conditions. Besides, all heatsinks on the board are quite large.
The CPU VRM has 10 phases based on FairChild FDMF6704V DrMOS chips, induction coils with ferrite cores and Tantalum capacitors (15 x 470 µF in the low-voltage circuit, 5 x 470 µF solid in the input circuit).
MSI 990FXA-GD80 supports processors with TDPs up to 140W and offers a certain overclocking leeway. But more on overclocking below.
Box and package
The motherboard comes in a rather big box with relief prints and holographic images.
The package includes 6 SATA cables with metallic latches, 2 SATA power adapters, three CrossFire bridges of various size, a set of front-panel adapters, and a back-panel bracket with two USB 3.0 ports. The supplied software disc features an automatic upgrade tool for drivers and BIOS and a Control Center utility to monitor and overclock your PC and adjust power-saving features.
There's also another interesting program, AutoBoot, lets you schedule a number of actions, including reboot or power-off, and set various reminders.
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