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MSI 990XA-GD55 review

Kat Orphanides
14 Mar 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
88
inc VAT

This modestly priced motherboard lacks the dual PCI-E x16 channels of some rivals, but it’s still a decent budget option

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Specifications

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

MSI’s 990XA-GD55 is one of the cheaper AM3+ motherboards you can buy, coming in at a little under £90. This makes it an appealing option if you want to build a low-cost system with good potential for overclocking, perhaps using one of AMD’s quad-core Bulldozer processors, because these have disabled cores that you can unlock for extra power. The motherboard comes with a traditional BIOS rather than a glossy and easy-to-use UEFI interface, but all the features you need to overclock your processor and memory are there, including a number of handy options for auto-tuning.

MSI 990XA-GD55

The 990XA-GD55 can handle up to 32GB of RAM running at 2,133MHz. Two PCI-E x16 slots provide support for Nvidia’s SLI and AMD’s CrossFireX multi-graphics card processing, although only one runs at the full x16 speed; the other runs at x8. There are also four PCI-E x1 slots and a PCI slot for older cards. Both the PCI slot and one of the PCI-E x1 slots can be blocked if you install a graphics card with a large cooler in the x16 slots above them. The motherboard has six SATA3 ports, but there aren’t any eSATA ports on the back, nor does the motherboard have any FireWire support.

MSI 990XA-GD55

The back panel does have plenty of USB2 ports, though; there’s eight in total, plus another two USB3 ports. There’s a legacy PS/2 port and 7.1 analogue audio outputs from the Realtek ALC892 audio codec chip. It even has optical and coaxial S/PDIF digital audio outputs.

MSI 990XA-GD55

We were pleased with the 990XA-GD55’s performance in our tests. Sure, it isn’t the best performing AM3 motherboard we’ve seen, but its overall score of 84 doesn’t disappoint, particularly at this relatively low price. The MSI 990FXA-GD65 has the slight edge over it because it has two full-speed PCI-E x16 slots and a full UEFI. The GD65 also performed better in our tests, making it a better buy if your budget stretches an extra £20 or so.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
Processor socketAM3+
Form factorATX
Size305x244mm
Processor supportSempron, Phenom II, Athlon II, FX
Processor external bus200MHz (2.6GHz HyperTransport)
Chipset north bridgeAMD 990X
Chipset south bridgeAMD SB950
Passively-cooled north bridgeyes
Integrated graphicsNo
Supported memory typeDDR3 800/1066/1333/1600(OC)/1800(OC)/2133(OC)
Maximum memory speedPC3-17066
Memory slots4
Maximum memory32GB
Dual-channel supportyes

Buying Information

Price£88
Supplier
Detailswww.msi.com

Internal Ports

Power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots2
Dual graphics architectureSLI, CrossFireX
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots4
PCI slots1
Fan headers5
Floppy ports0
IDE ports0
Serial ATA ports6
RAID chipset (max disks)AMD SB950 (6x SATA III, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)

Features

Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports)Realtek ALC892 (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF, coaxial S/PDIF)
USB2 ports / headers10/2
Firewire ports / headers0/0
Legacy portsPS/2, serial header
Other ports2x USB3
Cables included2x SATA, 1x Molex to SATA power
Brackets includednone
Software includednone

Setup and Overclocking

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

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