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1100T Phenom x6 3.3 ghz with 3.7 ghz turbo, Gigabyte ga-990fxa-ud3 review after 1 month of use

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Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3

Phenom 1100T X6 3.3 GHz/3.7 GHz Turbo

8 GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM

Windows 7 Pro 64.bit (Ed: as of 2013 Windows 8 Pro)

2TB 7200 RPM WD Green Drive HDD (motherboard does support higher than 2TB)

Rating 7/10

Positives:

The 1100T comes in clocked at 3.3GHz, with the Cores able to turbo at 3.7GHz, ensuring that a heavily multi-tasked system gets enough cores/threads… and a speed boost when necessary. Windows 7 seems to have some rudimentary scheduling of threads on different cores or perhaps it is just counting from 0 to 5 and back to core 0 but either way with 6 cores on Windows 7 I can have all my apps respond quickly and switch between them easily. (Ed: Windows 8 seems to make even more use of the 6 cores than Windows 7.)

The motherboard allows for decent overclocking but most importantly it is stable. I’ve had too many systems behave like a Ferrari: very fast but no handling. This is much more like a Porsche, slightly slower than you’d think but extremely sticky on the road. The memory I am using are inexpensive 2x G.Skill 4 Gigabyte 1600MHz DDR3 modules and so far everything has been great in combination. Make sure to clear the CMOS with the RAM uninstalled to clear successfully.

The stock cooler is able to keep up with the processor even in a well heated apartment, however:

Negatives:

…the cooler is barely adequate to do the job. AMD would be much better off shipping coolers capable of running the processors at normal values quietly. This has been a trend with AMD where the coolers just haven’t kept pace with the processors they ship with. Expect to shell out an extra $50 for a 3rd party cooler if your home is above 85 deg. F. during summer or winter OR you don’t clean the fan and heat-sink regularly. (Ed: In all fairness, AMD is behind Intel when it comes to heat generation/Hz, and the cooler is quite large.)

The overall performance is adequate to run Windows 7 with all the bells and whistles, plus apps but just over the bar. If it were not for the drastic reduction in price and adequate performance at the same price point compared to Intel , this would be a sore point. However, the 1100T does manage to be snappy and responsive, I suspect the Turbo mode has a lot to do with this. There is no sense buying a 1090T (without Turbo) when the 1100T or Bulldozers have a Turbo function.

With Windows 7 64-bit Pro, 64-bit Processor, and a computer that has above 32-bit hardware but you are still limited by others who simply refuse to upgrade to 64-bit, meaning many apps you will use have been compiled for 32-bit. Ergo, I am not getting the performance I’ve paid for. But this has been true for everyone up to this point in the PC realm due to legacy systems. While this is no excuse not to buy a 64-bit Windows package simply to be able to use more than 4 GB of RAM, you sometimes feel like this is the only reason you bother.

…While I recommend this processor and motherboard at the price point of $350 incl. shipping I cannot say it is the most intelligent combination to make your system future proof, except for the 6 cores and high MHz. In retrospect I should have gone with a Bulldozer system, however the total cost of the motherboard, processor and 8Gb RAM was $400, and once all my other parts were moved onto this board I had a decent entry level gaming system (Ed: More like a mid-range gaming system at the time). I recommend this system for anyone who needs an adequate gaming system but be mindful that AMD is a lap behind Intel in terms of performance for straight out calculations, every 2 cores = 1 Intel i7 core, so this is essentially a 4 core i5 or 3 core last generation i7 overall.

So why give this 7/10? As usual it comes down to price/performance ratio. If you absolutely need the best system regardless of cost, Intel is your only avenue to success in the PC desktop world, but in a real-world scenario for an every day user or budget conscious gamer, AMD has an overall better ecosystem for delivering decent performance without breaking the bank. I simply hope AMD will start to complete with Intel at the high end in the near future: Before Intel was challenged by AMD, the cost of Intel processors was prohibitive to say the least, as things are now again at the premium level. Intel simply can’t be expected to price components adequately without competition, which is my personal reason I continue to buy AMD despite my desire to build a top of the line gaming system. The 3.3GHz cores keep single threaded apps provided with more than enough juice to be responsive under heavy workloads, thankfully. (Ed: I have no idea why I was so negative about the performance of this system at the time, I suspect my frustrations in general bled through to this review. This system has turned out to be quite the unit.)

Stability is a large factor in any computer, and difficult to achieve with a self assembled system, but this combination of motherboard and processor was fantastic.This alone makes me want to give this 7 or 8 out of 10. I have not had a blue screen except when testing overclocking so if you stay at stock speeds you will be pleasantly surprised. Usually a system like this with so many different generations of components becomes unstable quickly but not with this board. Gigabyte deserve a standing ovation for the GA-990FXA-UD3 .

One more thing to mention, this motherboard comes with a feature that charges USB cabled devices up to twice as fast, thanks to a tripling of the total overall charge delivered to a connected device on these ports. Unfortunately, a Galaxy Tab or an iPad will not benefit since they have proprietary components needed in between the USB plug and the mains, in the wall-wart. However, my other USB 2.0 players such as the Sansa Fuze and View charged much more quickly and my Android cellphones see an improvement as well, just make sure you have insurance on your phones since all devices manufactured before this new USB standard came out were not designed with this in mind, and not all devices will benefit from the 2x to 3x charge for the same reason because they will retard the extra current down to .5A. High end parts such as the Sansa devices have performed well and the batteries top up much better than on the standard USB 2.0 ports as will most devices that comes with a wall adapter. Please remember to unplug your devices once charged, my Fuze became quite warm after a day or so of exposure to the additional current, but no damage done… probably… and the USB 3.0 ports are nice as well by themselves… 😉

In summation, this is worth the $350 but just so, will deliver a system good for another year or two, and has some nifty bells and whistles via the USB triple power option. If you want to be spoiled rotten for performance,however, consider an 8 core AMD or 6 core Intel. This motherboard is fantastic, so this combination of processor and motherboard is fair and worth the money. I hope this has helped some of you make a decision to buy this motherboard, I have nothing but praise for it so far. Put a decent processor and RAM in it and you will be very happy, as I am.

I will post a review of this system with benchmarks when I buy my 7xxx AMD video card and possibly an SSD in early January 2012. Until then, happy trails.

(Ed: I would have saved myself much pain if I would have purchased my 7770 long before I did. The Asus 4870 Dark Knight was simply too out of date to really pump pixels at the level it was capable of. I did not find this out until I actually put a new card in.)

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