Installation

Gigabyte 990FXA UD7

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Like I said before, the UD7 barely fits a normal casing. The Fractal Design XL I use is definitely not a small case so make sure this motherboard fits your case before you buy it. That said, it’s a beauty to behold with a wonderful colour scheme which is suited for many kinds of case mods. (note to this picture: The RAM sticks are installed badly, to run dual channel this board, in opposite to my last AM2+ Gigabyte board, requires the first and third as like second and fourth slot installed for dual channel)

 

Testing rig

Processor (CPU): AMD Phenom II X2 555 BE
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7
Memory (RAM): GeIL Ultra Plus DDR3-2000 CL9
Graphics card (GPU): ASUS ATi Radeon HD5870 1GB v2
Hard drives (HDDs): 2x WD 250GB 16MB Caviar SE ,1x WD 500GB Black, 1x Samsung SpinPoint F1 2TB
Power Supply Unit (PSU): Zalman ZM600-HP
Case: Fractal Design XL

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7

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The BIOS is a typical old school Award BIOS with an amazing amount of overclocking options, especially when looking at the RAM page there is nothing more an overclocker could want.

Now here arose a problem, though. On the previous board for testing (see other reviews with my name on them), namely the Gigabyte GA-785GMT-UD2H (AM2+), I had no problem whatsoever unlocking the AMD Phenom II X2 555 BE dual core to the X4 B55; in fact, it ran on 3.80GHz for well over a year. With the UD7 I have the problem that whenever I unlock any fourth core, the system will instantly crash under a bit of load in Windows. Many others have reported similar problems and Gigabyte has to date only responded with the following message:

“In regards to the core unlock our engineers have looked at the AGESA code in the BIOS and have said that it is up to date in the BIOS you have and should work, they have explained they are unable to replicate the issue.

At this stage as HQ are still working on the problems and they cannot replicate the Core Unlock issue on their sample boards”

In fact, many people online are posting about similar problems, up to unlocking any core and being unable to boot. There is obviously some work to do here on Gigabyte’s behalf.

Sadly the issues don’t end here, as the above issue only goes for a small group of people. A major issue with this board are the voltages that drop, especially under load. This phenomena is referred to as Vdroop.

Generally speaking, Vdroop isn’t a bad thing as it’s used to reduce the voltage under load in order to prolong the life of your components. For overclockers there is an issue with Vdroop, though, as overclockers need the voltage they set in the BIOS to be constant and not jumping up and down, as this easily results in instabilities. For this the option Load Line Calibration (LLC) has been added, which should regulate the set voltages to be more constant. This option isn’t available in the UD7’s BIOS, so what does that get us?

All results are with the latest 990FXA-UD7 F4g BIOS

Deneb Phenom II X3 , 3.80GHz (CPUv 1.45) (NB 2.4GHz, 1.2v)

VCore Idle: 1.488V

VCore Load: 1.424V

Thuban Phenom II X6 , 3.80GHz (CPUv 1.45) (NB 2.4GHz, 1.2v)

VCore Idle: 1.488V

VCore Load: 1.392V

Thuban Phenom II X3 , 3.80GHz (CPUv 1.45) (NB 2.4GHz, 1.2v)

VCore Idle: 1.488V

VCore Load: 1.440V

As we can see the differences are quite serious, and users online are reporting even more extreme voltage irregularities. To date, I have no explanation as to why the Deneb X3 results are worse than the Thuban X3, but the Thuban X6 is a record breaker with -0.058V off the BIOS setting.

Besides the load voltages, it’s also not very durable to have +0.038 on your typical BIOS setting.

About The Author
Albert Vogd
  • zeepkist

    7/10 you must be joking.
    Voltage droop issue, Core unlocking issue and expensive.

    on top of that one miserable usb 3.0 controller for the front, same for the back.
    is this a mb for the future?
    well, not for me.

    • Albert Vogd

      Hi Zeepkist,

      I’m not joking at all. In my eyes 7/10 for a flagship motherboard is a bad score. These top-of-the-line motherboards are supposed to take the crown, regardless of their price. In this case the price barely justifies the quality of the motherboard.

      If the motherboard didn’t have the Vdroop and core unlocking issue it would have had a much better score. It’s up to Gigabyte to fix these problems, or at least show that the Vdroop is essential for the upcoming Zambezi.

  • zeepkist

    i would give it 4/10.

    too many usb 2.0 and not enough usb 3.0

    • WillHemmens

      You use USB 3 for what exactly?

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