The ASRock 990FX Extreme9 is a feature-rich AM3+ motherboard that has excellent overclocking potential and very good expansion options.
Throughout testing, we were very impressed by the 990FX Extreme9′s overclocking potential. The system was rock solid and at no point did we experience any difficulties, indicating that motherboard is able to keep an overclocked CPU stable. This speaks greatly for the high-quality power components that ASRock chooses to use.
Reaching 5GHz CPU speed using a mid-range closed-loop liquid cooler was a very impressive overclocking result. While we weren’t quite able to achieve complete stability at 5GHz, we have no doubt that the board has the potential to stabilise even higher overclocks with more aggressive settings and improved cooling configurations.
ASRock’s UEFI is an easy-to-use interface which makes entering the BIOS a welcoming task. While there are some slight glitches, such as a wrongly displayed multiplier, the 990FX Extreme9′s wealth of BIOS options should please most gamers and enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, extreme users will be disappointed by some of the board’s conservative BIOS settings. For example, the maximum DRAM voltage of 1.80V is low, especially considering that this board targets an audience that could be interested in extreme overclocking. Likewise, some of the memory timings options are confined – not ideal when trying to bleed every ounce of performance from a specific system.
Expansion options and onboard controllers galore, ASRock has ensured that users won’t be disappointed by the 990FX Extreme9′s ability to be upgraded as part of a system. No less than eight USB 3.0 ports are present, with 4 being available via internal headers. Likewise, eight internal SATA 6GB/s ports, and a further two in the eSATA form, prove that the ASRock 990FX Extreme9 has excellent expansion options that can allow users to build a high-performance system, without storage-related restrictions.
In terms of expansion slots, the 990FX Extreme9 uses a well-thought design. Four x16 length PCI-E slots give users a good degree of freedom when choosing expansion cards. Slot spacing is also very good, with 2-way configurations being allocated a cooling gap between cards.
One slight disappointment is that fact that only 6 expansion slots are present. By trimming the Northbridge heatsink’s size, ASRock could have shifted the slot configuration up a place, resulting in the possibility of a 3-way graphics configuration that doesn’t cause case and connector-blocking headaches. Given the unlikelihood that 3-way graphics configuration users will be opting for AMD systems at this point in time, moving the slots up, or providing an extra one, would have reduced the problems caused by additional, and useful, ports being blocked by a pair of dual- or triple-slot graphics cards.
The board’s overall design is good. Components and connectors have been positioned in appropriate and convenient locations. We would have liked a fan header near the board’s IO panel, making it easy to reach with a case’s rear fan cable.
A major strength for ASRock’s 990FX Extreme9 is its colour scheme. An attractive black and gold design will appeal to enthusiasts that want to show off their system. The heatsinks are also attractive and help to promote the sense that the ASRock 990FX Extreme9 is a quality product.
The 990FX Extreme9′s XFast 555 features are somewhat hit-or-miss. XFast USB is a good tool that can help to increase transfer rates over USB 3.0. XFast LAN had varying affects and doesn’t seem particularly useful.
XFast RAM creates a RAM drive which helped to boost the speed of some applications, such as Google Chrome and Firefox, and may be a good tool for users with plenty of system memory spare.
Available for £158.96 from Kikatek, the ASRock 990FX Extreme9 motherboard is priced similarly to the Asus Crosshair V Formula-Z. ASRock’s 990FX Extreme9 will struggle to compete with Asus’ feature-rich and enthusiast-loved ROG option.
If the large retailers pick up stock and sell the ASRock 990FX Extreme9 motherboard at around £130, it will be priced similarly to Asus’ Sabertooth 990FX, Gigabyte’s 990FXA-UD5 and MSI’s 990FXA-GD80, all of which are options that it can viably compete with.
- High-quality power delivery components.
- Attractive black and gold colour scheme.
- Excellent expansion options.
- Very good overclocking potential.
- Easy-to-use UEFI BIOS.
- Current price gives it tough competition.
- Some conservative BIOS settings will displease extreme users.
- Poor Auto OC settings.
- Only three BIOS setting profiles can be saved.
KitGuru says: A feature-rich motherboard that possesses very good overclocking capabilities and a wealth of expansion options. Hopefully the price can drop to around £130 to make the ASRock 990FX Extreme9 a serious contender in the high-end AM3+ motherboard market.