Sapphire Pure Black 990FX review

Kat Orphanides
9 Mar 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

It looks flashy, but this high-end motherboard’s performance is disappointing for the price



AM3+, ATX, AMD 990FX chipset, supports: Sempron, Phenom II, Athlon II, FX

Sapphire’s Pure Black 990FX motherboard didn’t perform too well in our benchmark tests, providing an overall score of 83, but it certainly looks well equipped, having six full-length PCI-E x16 slots. However, only two of these can actually serve as x16 slots. Another two are really x8 slots and the remainder are PCI-E x4 slots. There are no PCI slots, so you can forget about adding any older sound cards or TV tuners that you might have lying around. The two PCI-E x16 slots support CrossFireX multi-GPU configurations.

Sapphire Pure Black 990FX

The plethora of expansion options doesn’t end with its PCI-E slots. There are nine SATA3 ports, as well as an eSATA3 port at the back. The back panel also has eight USB2 ports and two USB3 connections. There are two more USB3 headers on the board itself and four more for USB2. There’s not much else back there apart from 7.1 analogue audio outputs and both coaxial and optical S/PDIF outputs.

Sapphire Pure Black 990FX

Sapphire’s UEFI configuration interface isn’t as glossy or easy to use and navigate as those from rivals MSI and Asus. It feels like some strange hybrid of EFI and BIOS, but it has all the options you need to overclock your Bulldozer processor. If you enjoy tweaking your system’s performance, you’ll also appreciate the power, reset and CMOS clearing buttons on the board itself. Four memory slots can take up to 16GB of RAM running at 1,866MHz and the motherboard has an integrated Bluetooth adaptor.

Sapphire Pure Black 990FX

Although it overclocks well enough and has some nice features, including a handy USB3 front panel insert, the Pure Black 990FX’s performance isn’t worth the £124 price, especially when you can buy the MSI 990FXA-GD65 for less

Basic Specifications

Processor socketAM3+
Form factorATX
Processor supportSempron, Phenom II, Athlon II, FX
Processor external bus200MHz (2.6GHz HyperTransport)
Chipset north bridgeAMD 990FX
Chipset south bridgeAMD SB950
Passively-cooled north bridgeyes
Integrated graphicsNo
Supported memory typeDDR3 800/1066/1333/1600(OC)/1866(OC)
Maximum memory speedPC3-15000
Memory slots4
Maximum memory16GB
Dual-channel supportyes

Buying Information


Internal Ports

Power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots6
Dual graphics architectureCrossFireX
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots0
PCI slots0
Fan headers2
Floppy ports0
IDE ports0
Serial ATA ports9
RAID chipset (max disks)AMD 990FX (6x SATA III, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)


Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports)Realtek ALC892 (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF, coaxial S/PDIF)
USB2 ports / headers10/6
Firewire ports / headers0/0
Legacy portsnone
Other ports2x USB3
Cables included6x SATA
Brackets included1x USB3 front panel insert
Software includednone

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustmentCPU/RAM/Chipset
CPU clock max adjustmentN/A

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