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Asus Sabertooth 990FX review

Does this AMD 990FX-based motherboard have the teeth to defeat Intel's Z68 chipset?

Our Verdict

Excellent build quality and BIOS make this another great Asus offering.

For

  • Sturdy build
  • Feature-rich Bios
  • Compact

Against

  • We've seen better performers in CPU tasks

The top-of-the-range AMD 990FX chipset in the Asus Sabertooth 990FX motherboard is all about adding support for AMD's formidably titled and mysterious Bulldozer CPUs.

Those eight-core, quad-mod Bulldozer chips should at the very least match the Intel i7 2600K pace for pace. Intel's chip is a four core, eight-threaded affair, while the Bulldozer chip will have eight actual cores.

All that processing magic will appear on store shelves in Zambezi quad-mod chips before you'll be digging your winter coat out, but for existing AMD CPU customers, the Bulldozer-ready Asus Sabertooth 990FX still has features to offer right now.

First, there's a landmark moment for AMD boards and multi-GPU. It's SLI and it's available across a range of the 9-series boards. Gigabyte's GA-990FXA-UD7 will actually support 4-way SLI or CrossFireX setups, while this Sabertooth can hack three-way support.

This is quite a big selling point for loyal AMD gamers – these are the first motherboards to support Nvidia's multi-GPU tech, and the very fact it's included suggests Bulldozer has the grunt to match SLI'd GPUs.

Sabertooth comes without that TUF thermal armour that gives its P67 iteration that odd look, but still sports the rugged design and heatsinks painted in ubiquitous military tones.

There's plenty of space to fit a cooler, the side mounted SATA ports are out of your GPU's way, and it's compact enough to fit in most cases despite supporting three GPUs.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

AMD 9-Series

CPU video encoding performance
X246 v4: Frames per second: Higher is better
ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX: 33
Asus M5A99X EVO: 33
Asus RoG Crosshair V: 33
Asus Sabertooth 990FX: 32
Gigabyte 970A-UD3: 33
Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H: 33
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7: 33
MSI 970A-G45: 33

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better
ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX: 5.86
Asus M5A99X EVO: 5.86
Asus RoG Crosshair V: 5.86
Asus Sabertooth 990FX: 5.72
Gigabyte 970A-UD3: 5.78
Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H: 5.83
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7: 5.74
MSI 970A-G45: 5.71

Verdict

It's not the beast performing motherboard we've seen, but the military stylings betray the serious overclocking performance you can get out of the Sabertooth.

Ultimately, the excellent build quality and Bios make this motherboard another great Asus offering.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset Model990FX
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX, SLI
Onboard VideoNo
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots3
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket AM3+
Brand NameAsus
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedAthlon II, Athlon II X2, Athlon II X3, Athlon II X4, Phenom II, Phenom II X2, Phenom II X3, Phenom II X4, Phenom II X6, Sempron
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH, WEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots1
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
HyperTransport Speed2600 MHz
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots6
eSATAYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports12
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
Total Number of FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots5
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Number of eSATA Ports2
Processor TechnologyTurbo CORE Technology, Cool'n'Quiet Technology, HyperTransport 3.0 Technology
Width304.8 mm
Depth243.8 mm
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Product ModelSABERTOOTH 990FX
Product NameSABERTOOTH 990FX Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part Number90-MIBFN0-G0AAY00Z
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.asus.com
Marketing Information

This motherboard supports latest AMD Socket AM3+ multi-core processors with up to 8-core native CPU cores and delivers better overclocking capabilities with less power consumption. It features AMD Turbo CORE Technology 2.0 and accelerates data transfer rate up to 5200MT/s via HyperTransport 3.0 based system bus. This motherboard also supports AMD CPUs in the new 32nm manufacturing process.

Package Contents
  • SABERTOOTH 990FX Desktop Motherboard
  • User's Manual
  • ASUS Q-Shield
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s Cables
  • 1 x SLI Bridge
  • 1 x Q-connector (2 in 1)
  • 1 x TUF Certification Card
  • 1 x TUF 5 Year Warranty Manual
Limited Warranty5 Year