The Asus M5A97 EVO 2.0 is a decent motherboard with lots of handy enthusiast features, but it's a little expensive
Processor socket: AM3+, Dimensions: 305x244mm, Chipset: AMD 970 + SB950, Memory slots: 4, PCI-E x16 slots: 2, PCI-E x1 slots: 2, PCI slots: 2, USB ports: 8x USB2, 2x USB3, Video outputs: None
The Asus M5A97 EVO R2.0 is an AM3+ motherboard that has a lot of features that will be extremely pleasing for those who spend more time with their case side panel off than on.
There are plenty of connection ports although on the back panel you get a measly two USB3 ports and a slightly more generous eight USB connectors, but we really would have preferred a couple more high-speed connectors. Luckily you get capacity for two more USB3 connectors on a mid-board header, which can be connected to your case’s USB3 ports. Also at the rear of the board are two eSATA connectors and, most strangely, a FireWire connector. There’s also a full complement of six 3.5mm audio jacks and an optical audio port.
You get two PCI-E x16 slots, although only the uppermost runs at x16 speeds. The second runs at x4 speeds and, while compatible with AMD CrossFire, it’s unlikely you’ll get particularly impressive performance out of your second card if you install one. If you want a multi-card setup, you should buy a different motherboard.
Also present are two PCI-E x1 slots and two legacy PCI connectors for your older expansion cards. There are six SATA3 connectors, with four facing off to the right and the others sitting on top of the motherboard’s surface facing upwards.
There aren’t any video output ports on the board because AMD FX chips don’t have any onboard graphics chips, making these connectors redundant. There’s room for four DDR3 RAM sticks with a maximum overclocked speed of 2133MHz.
This is board designed for enthusiasts, with several dedicated buttons dotted around the board designed to make fiddling that little bit easier than with a conventional motherboard. The BIOS FlashBack utility is particularly handy if you’re having problems or need to update your board: inserting a USB stick with the BIOS files on it and holding down the button (situated below the PCI slot) automatically flashes the BIOS with the new software, even if you don’t have a processor installed. It’s a niche addition, but we’re sure some will appreciate it.
Also useful is the MemOK button, which lets you check for any faults with your memory. The light flashing in various combinations will let you know if your RAM is faulty or your motherboard simply doesn’t like it. Finally, the DirectKey button switches on your PC and automatically boots into the UEFI BIOS, removing the need for you to hammer the Delete key, as is customary with any BIOS fiddling.
Performance was as expected from our benchmark 4GHz AMD FX-8350 chip: it scored 99 overall and, after being overclocked to 4.7GHz using the easy-to-use one-click overclocking tools in the BIOS, managed an overall score of 129.
The Asus M5A97 EVO R2.0 is a capable motherboard with lots of handy features and some capacity for future expansion. It’s pretty expensive compared to the similarly specified MSI 970A-G43, though, so unless you really want the extra buttons, you should buy that instead.
|AMD FX, Phenom II, Athlon II, Sempron 100
|Processor external bus
|AMD 970 + SB950
|Supported memory type
|Maximum memory speed
|Motherboard power connectors
|1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin 12V
|PCI-E x16 slots
|PCI-E x4 slots
|PCI-E x1 slots
|Motherboard fan headers
|SATA II ports
|SATA III ports
|0, 1, 5, 10
|Wired network ports
|Motherboard sound (ports)
|Realtek HD Audio (6x analogue, optical S/PDIF)
|8x USB2, 2x USB3
|6x USB2, 2x USB3
|Motherboard clock adjustment
|Motherboard voltage adjustment
|Price including VAT
|One year RTB