Dan Scharff

Dec 16, 2011

Asus M5A99X Evo

At A Glance


USB 3.0; SLI as well as CrossFire; UEFI

Riding Mower

PCIe slots limited to x8 speed when running dual videocards.

990-series board offers modern mobo amenities

To be honest, between Z68 this and Sandy Bridge that, we haven’t had much time to check out AMD's latest motherboard offerings.

It’s not that we don’t care; it’s just that the fire is burning on the other side of the fence these days. That’s not to say that the 990X chipset in Asus’s midrange M5A99X Evo is a slouch. As a real AM3+ board, it’s guaranteed to work with the upcoming Bulldozer line of CPUs from AMD. On the other hand, plenty of older 890FX boards will also work fine with Bulldozer, so is it even worth your time to check out a 990-series board? In a word: yes.

For one thing, these days most 890FX board designs are pretty dated. For example, not all feature USB 3.0 headers. The most exciting change with the 990 series, though, is SLI support. It’s not that we necessarily want to run two Nvidia cards in an AMD board, it’s that we want the freedom to pick our poison. A word to multicard users: The 990X chipset in the M5A99X doesn’t have the PCIe lanes of its performance-oriented 990FX kin. The dual x16 slots run at x8 speeds when running multi-GPUs while 990FX boards let you run two x16 slots at x16 speeds. It’s truly not a deal-breaker for most folks, as the difference in performance is negligible.

SLI, UEFI, and front-panel USB 3.0 are present in this midranger.

Despite its midrange price of around $150, the M5A99X Evo has plenty of features that make it better than older 890FX boards, such as a USB 3.0 header as well as newer and faster USB 3.0 chips. Performance, however, is virtually identical, as we discovered when we tested the M5A99X Evo against MSI’s 890FXA-GD70 board. Oddly, one area where the 990X spanked the MSI board was in SATA 6Gb/s. We're still investigating why, but the Asus is the clear winner.

We also saw a difference in USB 3.0 performance. Like many older boards, the MSI uses the NEC/Renasys USB 3.0 controller. The Asus uses the ASMedia controller, which is a tad bit faster in both reads and writes. We also tested the board with all DIMM slots loaded with DDR3/1333, as well as its performance booting an OS to an OCZ RevoDrive X2—no problems on either count. Our final test was installing a second GeForce GTX 580 card to see if SLI indeed worked. It did.

If there’s anything the Asus board is guilty of, it’s being boring. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Sometimes you don’t want a board that’s loaded down with garish extras. The M5A99X Evo is pretty much a good midrange board that crosses all the t’s and dots all the i’s. With its ultra-modern UEFI, SLI, and front-panel USB 3.0, it’s a board that today may be pedestrian—but is nonetheless satisfying.

$155, www.asus.com

Chipset AMD 990X/SB950
3 PCIe x16 (x16/x8/x4), 2 PCIe x1
USB Controller
ASMedia ASM 1042
USB 2.0 Ports/Headers
8 / 3
USB 3.0 Ports/Headers
2 / 1
Other I/O
FireWire, eSATA
Video Ports
AudioRealtek ALC892
SATA 3Gb/s Ports2
SATA 6Gb/s Ports6
Storage ControllersJMB362
NetworkRealtek 8111E
Fan Headers5

Asus M5A99X-Evo
PCMark7 Overall
PCMark7 Storage
3DMark 2011 P5760
Valve Particle (fps)
AIDA64 Read (Mb/s)
AIDA64 Write (Mb/s)
AIDA64 Copy (Mb/s) 10,493*10,481
AIDA Latency (NS)
SiSoftware Sandra (Gb/s)
SATA6 Seq. Read (MB/s)
SATA6 Seq. Write (MB/s)299.6*288.6
USB 3.0 Seq. Read (MB/s)191.4*178.5
USB 3.0 Seq. Write (MB/s)178.8*164.8
SLI CompliancePassN/A
16GB RAM CompliancePassPass
Boot to PCIe DrivePassPass

Best scores are marked with an asterisk (*). All tests were conducted with a 3.3GHz AMD Phenom II 1100T, 4GB of Patriot DDR3/1333 RAM, a GeForce GTX 580, a WD VelociRaptor, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. The SATA6 results were obtained using CrystalDiskMark 3 run on an OWC Mercury Pro 6G. The USB 3.0 results were obtained using CrystalDiskMark 3 run on an OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 drive. The boot-to-PCIe compliance was obtained with an OCZ Revo X2 drive.


Asus M5A99X Evo

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