ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Review

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Most people have been obsessed with aging and longevity but what the main concern should be is in extending the percentage of that lifespan spent comfortably. Who cares if you live to be 200 years old when you look like a prune and are riddled with arthritis? Quality of life is much more important and having a longer “prime” time to spend enjoying life is a lot better than merely extending it. In terms of computers, a lot of system builders are concerned with “future proofing” their project but let’s face it, there is no such thing. It is better to focus on a system build that reflects your current needs so as not to overspend on unnecessary features.

ASUS M5A99FX PRO R2.0

 

A lot of people end up paying a premium and buying hardware with extra features they don’t need for fear of inevitable obsolescence, when a more sensible approach is to pick the appropriate components that fit your current needs. Also, some features which are being purported as “future proof” may not end up getting adopted or financially feasible to use in the first place for a mainstream user. Even for enthusiasts, there are plenty of sensible options when selecting a mainboard for a DIY build. One such mainboard is part of ASUS’ updated 990FX R2.0 lineup and is Windows 8 WHQL certified.

ASUS M5A99FX PRO R2.0 rear IO

 

The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 supports the latest AM3+ FX processors from AMD including the recently released FX 8300 “Vishera” family.  The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 mainboard is equipped with ASUS’ DIGI+ Power Control VRM for stable power delivery when overclocking.  Two additional SATA3 6G ports are provided through an Asmedia 1061 chip onboard the M5A99FX Pro R2.0 while five SATA3 6G ports onboard and an eSATA3 6G port in the rear I/O are provided by the AMD SB950 chipset.  There are two PCI-E x16 lanes for dual SLI or CrossFireX and two additional black PCI-E x16 slots wired as x4 for additional expansion cards.  Since USB 3.0 is not provided natively from an AMD chipset, ASUS utilizes the ASMedia 1042 chip to provide two rear USB ports and a 19-pin USB 3.0 front panel header onboard which also supports UASP and capable of up to 3x faster charging through ASUS’ AiCharger+ feature.  For an all-in-one convenient system management, ASUS also provides their AI Suite II software package to easily access, monitor, tweak and overclock their system from the desktop, even on the recently released Windows 8 operating system.

 

 


 

 


 


 

 


M5A99FX PRO Overview

Overview

 

Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control

6+2+2 Phase DIGI+ Power Control for CPU and DRAM

The Digital revolution continues in the 990FX platform with the expansion of the DIGI+ Power Control beyond the CPU VCore. In the latest ASUS 990FX R2.0 motherboards, the DRAM Voltage get precise power control as well through a new inclusive Digital Power Design. With DIGI+ Power control over the DRAM, the overclocking adjustment possibilities increase exponentially and configurations that were once impossible are now achievable. All of these are adjustable through the UEFI BIOS or through the AI Suite.

6+2 Phase DIGI+ Power

EPU and SMART DIGI+

ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 has an embedded energy-optimization microprocessor that works in conjunction with the DIGI+ VRM to achieve high energy efficiency. The EPU can be enabled or disabled via an onboard switch or through software, giving the user flexible options for adjusting the power saving features when necessary. With the capability to detect the accurate CPU load in real time, by interpreting the current consumption of the CPU, EPU intelligently manages the balance between performance and power consumption, delivering an unbeatable performance per watt ratio, as compared to competing solutions. The EPU is connected directly to the CPU to detect the exact CPU loading, and control active power phase, voltage and multiplier in real time.

TPU

A second microprocessor, dedicated for automatic system tuning, is embedded in the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 called TPU. The system automatically adjusts settings to an overclocked and stable state. This feature is also accessible in software mode through ASUS TurboV EVO easy overclocking tool for a single-click auto-system level up. The TPU not only allows a finer configuration of voltage control beyond the ability of any existing controllers, the real-time detection of the exact voltage reading are also made available through it. This is especially essential for overclocking purposes, ensuring the added on voltage can be minimized, whether it is for manual or automatic overclocking purposes. The TPU is connected to both the SMBUS and the CPU directly, to control the behavior of the rest of the system.

 

Dual Channel DDR3 up to 2400MHz with Q-DIMM Design and MemOK!

In case a memory error occurs during overclocking, the Mem OK! Button allows the adjustment of memory settings to a more acceptable state, whether the error was because of a voltage or memory timing issue. This ensures maximum working compatibility for the memory when overclocking without resorting to a CMOS reset.For convenient DIY installation, ASUS has also equipped their motherboards with the single locking Q-DIMM design for an unobstructed memory module installation without uninstalling the video card on the top most PCI-E x16 slot. With the latest BIOS update, 2133MHz and 2400MHz DDR3 memory are also now supported.

Q-DIMM with MemOK!

 

 

Fast SATA3 6G Ports with eSATA 6G

ASUS provides two extra SATA 6Gb/s ports on the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 through a dedicated ASMedia 1061 chipset, providing high bandwidth transfer rates without bottlenecking PCI Express performance. Combined with the SATA 6Gb/s natively supported in AMD SB950, the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 offers unparalleled connectivity options for users who want maximum performance out of their drives. One of the SATA3 6G Ports from the AMD SB950 provides hot-swap functionality for external drives.

SATA3 6G Ports

 

 

USB 3.0 Ports with UASP Support and AiCharger+

With the introduction of providing both the front and rear USB 3.0 ports, users can enjoy ultra-fast external storage experience. ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboards also feature an onboard UASP USB3 controller to boost performance further when a UASP device is plugged in. The driver automatically boosts the performance of any device plugged in whether it detects a UASP compatible device or even any regular USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 device. USB devices plugged into ASUS motherboards also can be charged 3X faster than in other mainboards, saving users hours of wait time, and provides fast charging solution to a wide range of products that is not only limited to Apple iProducts but other smartphones and portable devices, as well.

USB 3.0

 

 

ASUS DirectKey

There is now a better way to access the BIOS other than rapidly tapping the DEL key on boot up. The M5A99FX Pro R2.0 comes with an on-board BIOS direct access button that can be pressed during standby mode to automatically enter the BIOS setup screen when the power is turned on the next time.

ASUS DirectKey

 

 

TPM Support

Despite being a mainstream motherboard, the M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header, providing extra security and another level of authentication compared to a software-based only solution.

Trusted Platform Module

USB BIOS Flashback

BIOS Flashback

To further simplify BIOS updates, ASUS implemented the new BIOS Flashback functionality in the M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard which allows for a quick and single button BIOS update. The BIOS flashback utility does not even require any processor or memory module to be installed. All that is needed is for the 24-pin and 8-pin CPU power to be plugged in from the power supply (standby power). Users can just place a FAT16 or FAT32 formatted USB thumb drive with a UEFI BIOS file into the USB slot then simply hold the rear BIOS Flashback button for 3 seconds to initiate.

 

 


UEFI BIOS

EZ Mode UEFI

ASUS does away with the monotonous experience of traditional BIOS adjustment and introduces the UEFI BIOS setting, a fully graphical interface with robust controls and easy accessible settings. The UEFI BIOS displays all of the settings available to the user in a straight-forward and click-able OS-like interface. Monitor system temperatures, adjust system performance and change boot priority settings all on a single page. For more knowledgeable users, Advanced mode is available with detailed setting adjustments available in tabbed format.

 

CAP BIOS Format

ASUS has now switched from the ROM BIOS format to the CAP BIOS format providing the following advantages:

  • Improved post and boot speeds under both Windows 7 and Windows 8. In addition offers specialized controller initialization options
  • Enhanced security to prevent infection of the UEFI
  • Superior stability and performance and overall interoperability with Windows 8.

 

ASUS AI Suite II

AI Suite II in Windows 8

ASUS AI Suite II is a one-stop access software for managing an ASUS motherboard’s features. It includes the TurboV overclocking tool, DIGI+ VRM controls, EPU controls, Fan Xpert, Sensor Report, System Information and Probe II system monitoring software. The video below demonstrates the AI Suite II software inside a Microsoft Windows 8 Pro OS environment:

 

 

 


Specifications

CPU

AMD AM3+ FX™/Phenom™ II/Athlon™ II/Sempron™ 100 Series Processors
Supports AM3+ 32 nm CPU
Supports CPU up to 8 cores
Supports CPU up to 140 W
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology

Chipset

AMD 990FX/SB950

Memory

4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
* Due to OS limitation, when installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Install a 64-bit Windows® OS when you want to install 4GB or more memory on the motherboard.
* Due to CPU spec., AMD 100 series CPUs support up to DDR3 1066MHz. With ASUS design, this motherboard can support up to DDR3 1333MHz.

System Bus

Up to 5.2 GT/s HyperTransport™ 3.0

Multi-GPU Support

Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology

Expansion Slots

2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (dual x16)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x PCI

Storage

AMD SB950 controller :
5 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
1 x eSATA port(s), red
ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), navy blue

LAN

Realtek® 8111F, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)

Audio

Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection 
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- ASUS Noise Filter
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel

USB Ports

ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
AMD SB950 controller :
14 x USB 2.0 port(s) (8 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)

Overclocking Features

Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Special Features

ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control :
SMART DIGI+ :
- Smart DIGI+ Key- Quickly delivers optimized VRM frequency, voltage and current for superior CPU/DRAM overclocking performance with one click.
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 6 + 2 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite II
- Ai Charger+
- Front Panel USB 3.0 Support
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- Network iControl
- USB 3.0 Boost
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ DIY :
- DirectKey
- Percision Tweaker 2
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector

Back I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 keyboard (purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse (green)
1 x eSATA
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0
8 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)

Internal I/O Ports

1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM connector(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
7 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)

Accessories

User's manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut Function and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information

Manageability

WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, WOR by PME, PXE

Support Disc

Drivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

The product (electrical , electronic equipment, Mercury-containing button cell battery) should not be placed in municipal waste. Check local regulations for disposal of electronic products.

  • All specifications are subject to change without notice. Please check with your supplier for exact offers. Products may not be available in all markets.
  • PCB color and bundled software versions are subject to change without notice.
  • Brand and product names mentioned are trademarks of their respective companies.

 

 


Benchmarking

To test all systems, processors, and motherboards, Hi Tech Legion has compiled a list of popular programs to test performance; these benchmarks are taken from programs that are available to the public. We have compiled these to create the Hi Tech Legion Benchmark Suite, which includes system, graphics, processor, rendering, compression, and word processing. All scores will be graphed for each specific test under its category: video benchmarks (gaming will be rated in FPS: Frames per second), system scores will be graded by numbers which are given as results by their respective programs, higher will be better unless otherwise specified. If file compression is chosen, then all times will be in seconds. All temperatures will be measured in Celsius. LAN Speed test v3 will be conducted with another Gigabit ethernet (Intel 82579V) capable system running the LAN Speed Test server plugged in to the Gigabit router with 6ft. long Cat5e cables.

Systems

Test System

  • Processor: AMD FX-8350
  • Motherboard: ASUS M5A99FX PRO
  • CPU Cooler: Phanteks TC14PE
  • Memory: 2x4GB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz Dual Channel DDR3
  • Video Card: AMD HD6990 (Catalyst 12.10)
  • Storage: Corsair Force GT 180GB (OS), OCZ Vertex 4 256GB (Test Drive)
  • USB 3.0 flash drive: Patriot Supersonic XT 32GB USB drive
  • Power Supply: Enermax Platimax 1000W PSU
  • Router: Linksys E3200 Router
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 with SP1, Windows 8 Pro

 

 

Benchmarks

System Benchmarks

  • PCMark 7
  • Cinebench (R11.5)
  • AIDA 64 (Cache and Memory)
  • WinRAR

Connectivity Benchmarks

  • LAN SpeedTest v3
  • USB 3.0
  • SATA III 6.0 Gb/s

Multimedia Benchmarks

  • Handbrake
  • X264 5.0

Gaming

  • 3DMark 11
  • Battlefield 3
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

 

Performance Tuning

Overclocked

Performance Tuning was done through the BIOS with the following settings:

  • Ai Overclock Tuner: Manual
  • CPU Ratio: 25
  • AMD Turbo Core: Disabled
  • Memory Frequency: DDR3-1600Mhz
  • CPU Spread Spectrum: Disabled
  • PCIe Spread Spectrum: Disabled
  • CPU & NB Voltage: Manual
  • CPU Manual Voltage: 1.5V
  • DRAM Voltage: 1.65
  • CPU LLC: Ultra High
  • CPU Current Capability: 130%
  • CPU Power Phase Control: Optimized
  • CPU Power Duty Control: T.Probe
  • Cool'n'Quiet: Disabled
  • C1E: Disabled
  • Core C6 State: Disabled

 

 


PCMark 7

Designed for Windows 7, PCMark 7 benchmarks your system with a variety of tests including video, photo editing, gaming, and communications. For results, a total PCMark score will be given (default setting) and individual scores for the tasks that are tested. To learn more about PCMark 7 visit Futuremark's website.

PCMark 7 Benchmark 

PCMark 7 Benchmark

 

AIDA64

AIDA 64 is a diagnostic and benchmarking tool. AIDA 64 will be used for its Cache and Memory benchmark. System memory, L1 cache, L2 cache, and L3 cache will be benchmarked for latency, read, write, and copy. Final Wire is the producer of this software.

AIDA64 Benchmark Windows 7

AIDA64 Benchmark Windows 8 

Cinebench R11.5

Created by Maxon, Cinebench R11.5 tests rendering of your CPU and GPU and scores their performance individually. We will be using the CPU rendering portion of the program and benchmark single CPU and multiple CPU performance.

Cinebench R11.5 Benchmark

 

WinRAR

WinRAR is a popular file compression and decompression tool it is a multi-threaded application that reads most compressed file formats. HiTech Legion uses WinRar to measure Speed (MB/s) using the WinRAR benchmark and hardware test found in its Tools section. We also use our own 10GB uncompressed file folder and compress it to a RAR file (normal setting) measuring the amount of time required to compress the file.

WinRAR Benchmark

 WinRAR Benchmark Windows 8

 

 


LAN Speed Test 3.0

LAN Speed Test is designed to be a rock solid tool to measure your file transfer and network speeds (wired & wireless) easily and accurately.  It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without effects of Windows file caching) while keeping track of the time, and then does the calculations for you.  Simple concept and easy to use. Both the LAN Speed Test v2 and LAN Speed Server software used in this review are the full retail versions. This software was developed by Totusoft and a free version is also available for download.

Lan Speed Test Benchmark

 

Crystal DiskMark 3.0 x64

Crystal Mark is a disk benchmark software that features:

  • Sequential reads/writes
  • Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
  • Text copy
  • Change dialog design
  • internationalization (i18n)
  • Download Crystal Mark

Crystal Disk Mark 3 - SATA

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 x64 - USB 3.0

Crystal DiskMark 

File Transfer Tests

The 1 and 10 ASUS files are placed on the desktop then sent to the SSD. This allows the SSD to both read the file before transfer then write it to the SSD. Times are calculated in Seconds for the 1 ASUS file and Minutes and Seconds for the 10 ASUS file.

SATA Timed Transfer Benchmarks

USB 3.0 Timed Transfer Benchmarks

 File Transfer  USB 3.0

 

 


X.264 HD Benchmark 5.0

X264 by VideoLAN is a free application which contains a software library for encoding video streams into the H.264 and MPEG-4 AVC formats. HiTech Legion uses X264 to measure conversion times of predetermined files. X264 is also a multi-threaded application.

x264 HD Benchmark 5.0

 

Handbrake

Handbrake is a multi-platform and multi-threaded application which is used to transcode popular video formats. HiTech Legion uses predetermined files and transcodes them into specific video formats to measure time of conversion and to determine how well a multicore processor handles the workload.

Cyberlink Media Espresso 

 

 


3DMark 11

Futuremark’s 3DMark 11 is a synthetic benchmarking tool designed to provide an accurate and consistent simulation of the latest DX 11 games. 3DMark 11 tests the video card’s performance capabilities using a native DirectX 11 engine which uses tessellation, compute-shaders and multi-threading. 3DMark 11 also tests the system’s physics capabilities using the Bullet Open-source physics engine, testing for rigid-body calculations via CPU, as well as simulating soft-body physics using DirectCompute.

  • Settings: Extreme Preset

3DMark 11 Benchmark

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda's Skyrim is the fifth installment in the Elder Scrolls saga, set 200 years after the events of Oblivion. Skyrim is the northernmost province of Tamriel, the continent upon which all of the Elder Scroll games are set. In terms of new features, Skyrim uses the new Creation Engine, which allows for dynamic weather changes, including rain and snowfall, and much improved lighting, shadows, animation, scripting and landscape compared to previous Bethesda games. Ever wanted to be a vampire or a werewolf? You can experience that in Skyrim. Maybe a career as a musician or having a virtual book collection is more your speed? These are also possible in Skyrim. In fact, there is very little you cannot do in this game.

  • Settings: AA 8X, AF 16X, Ultra Preset, FXAA

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Benchmark

 

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is the latest installment in the franchise, powered by a new Frostbite engine. Unlike other modern warfare shooters, Battlefield 3 boasts bone-crushing physics effects and an emphasis on team-work when it comes to multiplayer gaming. Much like its predecessors, Battlefield 3 gives players the opportunity to launch into the battlefield on foot, on a tank, on a jet, or any of the twenty other vehicles parked on the map. Paired with the latest in DirectX11 technology, players can enjoy highly detailed large-scale outdoor maps unlike anything ever seen in a video game.

  • Settings: Ultra preset

Battlefield 3 Benchmark

 

 


Provided by: ASUS
No compensation was received for review of this product.

Price Point

Price: $149.99 (Amazon.com)

Class: Mainstream

At a price point of $149.99, the ASUS M5A99FX PRO is in the mainstream category of 990FX motherboards.

Performance

Benchmarks – There are some interesting benchmark results from the data gathered here, such as the PCMark7 score, which looks very different and unexpected.  For the most part however, the ASUS M5A99FX R2.0 performed as expected, and was easily pushed to a stable 5GHz for even better performance.

Board Layout – The M5A99FX PRO R2.0 has a standard ATX form factor at 12-inch by 9.6-inches but it has plenty of extra onboard features compared to typical mainstream mainboards. The layout is well thought out and there are no obstructions on the onboard buttons or the SATA ports even when the PCI-E x16 slots are populated with dual SLI or CrossFireX video cards. Minor clearance issues are only present when populating the lower black PCI-E 4x slot as the lower onboard headers could be blocked.

UEFI BIOS – ASUS’ UEFI has been very solid ever since it was first introduced and remains very user friendly and easy to navigate. The M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard also utilizes the new CAP format BIOS which improves POST and boot up time, not just in Windows 8 but in Windows 7, as well.  There is also an enhanced level of security and stability with the CAP format compared to the old ROM format BIOS.

Pre-bundled Accessories – The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 is a mainstream motherboard and as such does not have any extra accessories aside from the essentials: Four SATA cables, a dual SLI bridge, a Q-connector pack, the I/O shield, documentation and software disc.

Pre-bundled Software – ASUS’s driver CD also comes with the AI Suite II software package that can be extremely useful to most users and comprised of such programs as: TurboV EVO, Probe II, EPU, Fan Xpert, Probe II, Sensor Recorder and more.  These are all modular and optional so users can install them only when needed or wanted.  These programs are also very tightly integrated with the motherboard’s functions and can solely monitor or overclock the CPU just as well as through the UEFI. 

Wireless – The M5A99FX PRO does not have onboard wireless connectivity features.

LAN – ASUS utilizes Realtek 8111F Gigabit LAN which provides decent transfer rate performance.

USB 3.0 – Since there is no native USB 3.0 functionality built-in to AMD’s chipset, ASUS utilizes a pair of ASMedia 1042 chips providing four USB 3.0 ports (two via header and two in the rear I/O) with very good read/write performance, especially with UASP support.

SATA 6G –  AMD’s SB950 chipset supports up to six SATA3 6G ports natively but ASUS adds two more SATA3 6G ports onboard via ASMedia 1061. CrystalDisk Mark performance is slightly lower in Windows 8 compared to Windows 7 but this can be attributed to the AMD drivers.

Peripherals – Aside from USB 3.0 ports, ASUS also provides eSATA 6G connectivity through the SB950 in the rear I/O. There are also two PS/2 connectors for legacy keyboard and mouse users instead of a combination. 

Performance Tuning – The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 handled a 5GHz overclock with ease after just simply adjusting the CPU ratio and setting the Vcore to 1.5V.  There are multiple levels of LLC despite being just a mainstream board and was rock solid.  What was surprising was how easy and convenient it was to make the same overclocking adjustments through the AI Suite II software as it was in the UEFI.  It was even a lot better than the Overdrive software provided by AMD in terms of stability and responsiveness.

 

Reviewer's Opinion

Currently available for $149 at Amazon.com, the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 makes a very compelling argument for those looking to move on to AMD’s 990FX platform, especially for those looking to run a dual SLI or CrossFireX setup.  Despite not being PCI-E 3.0 capable, AMD’s 990FX has full 16x/16x PCI-E 2.0 speeds when in dual SLI/CrossfireX, which should be more than equal to the 8x/8x speeds of the Intel’s Z77 platform.  Also, there are more lanes available for extra peripherals using a PCI-E slot and no bottlenecks arise.  While there is no native USB 3.0 support provided by the AMD chipset, ASUS utilizes an ASMedia 1042 chip to provide USB 3.0 ports in the rear and on an onboard header.  These USB 3.0 ports support UASP and also provide extra charging capabilities through ASUS’s AiCharger+, cutting down on device recharging time. In terms of drive connectivity, five of the onboard SATA 6G ports from the AMD SB950 are accessible onboard while the sixth is used as an eSATA 6G port in the rear.  ASUS also adds two more SATA 6G ports from an ASMedia 1061 chip so users have plenty of room for hard drives or solid-state drives. 

There are no other fancy extras such as Bluetooth, WiFi, Firewire or a Thunderbolt port (although there is a TB header onboard for a possible future Thunderbolt expansion hardware add-on) on the M5A99FX Pro R2.0, but it does have a few unique extra features that improve on its capabilities and provide convenient functionality. This is the first time I have seen a direct access button for the BIOS, for example, and I‘m surprised nobody has thought of this simple, yet effective feature before. There is no BIOS toggle feature but ASUS’ CPU Parameter Recall feature easily and safely recovers from any setting flubs you might have committed while in the UEFI.

Overclocking on the ASUS DIGI+ VRM is extremely effective and much more reliable compared to other VRM implementations.  The voltages were stable and there were five levels of load-line calibration available, not just through the UEFI but through the TurboV EVO utility in AI Suite as well.  I was also surprised how effective the AI Suite II software was on Windows 8.  Overclocking on the AI Suite II software was also a lot more effective compared to using even AMD’s own Overdrive software (which was misreporting the CPU voltages and overvolting my RAM).  From within AI Suite II, users have access to the voltages, fan speeds, and advanced CPU/RAM overclocking options instantly and it is also modular so users can choose to install only the software component they intend to use.

From the AI Suite, users also have access to the ASUS Remote GO! Feature which essentially turns your M5A99FX Pro R2.0 based system into a home entertainment server, able to stream wirelessly to mobile devices as long as the mainboard is connected to a Wireless network. Users also are given additional controls for managing the network traffic on their M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard through the Network iControl feature.  Users can not only monitor online network, they can also prioritize tasks, schedule bandwidth priorities and limit bandwidth, when necessary.  Free software has come a long way and the ones provided with the AI Suite II software are far from worthless, in fact, they add considerable value on top of the hardware-based features.  Overall, the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 sets the standard for just how capable a mainstream priced motherboard should be and how the included software can be tightly integrated with the motherboard functionality.

Likes:

  • 6+2 DIGI+ VRM
  • Four USB 3.0 Ports via ASM1042 with UASP support
  • DirectKey BIOS
  • USB BIOS Flashback
  • MemOK!
  • AI Suite II
  • Onboard power, reset and Clear CMOS buttons
  • Extra pair of SATA6G ports via ASM1061
  • CAP Format BIOS
  • TPM header
  • Remote GO!
  • Network iControl
  • AI Charger+

Dislikes:

  • Lack of built-in WiFi

 

HiTech Legion Gold Award

 

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