MSI continue to impress with their products, and they manage to deliver reliability and good performance across their whole range of devices. Sure, higher end stuff makes for quite a performance boost, but a user on a budget will be able to rest assured that they can still get the best possible performance for their budget with products from this company. While we most often get to see Intel based boards from MSI, this month we’re taking a look at an offering for those who prefer their processors to be AMD-flavoured.

In all honesty, there isn’t too much of a difference between MSI’s Intel and AMD boards, save for the slot into which the CPU fits. One could argue a similar point about the processors themselves, but we’re not going to start that particular bun-fight.

The MSI 990FXA-GD80 is a good option for an AMD user on a budget. The board supports AMD FX, Phenom II, Athlon II and Sempron processors with it’s AM3+ socket, meaning that it’s fairly versatile for those who need to make purchasing decisions based on processor. The board will squeeze everything it can out of the processor, thanks to MSI’s OC Genie II system. It’s really easy to use, and extremely fast… the whole affair is automated, meaning that the user can overclock and unlock hidden processor cores in seconds (the box claims one second, but that all depends on system performance and configuration). Speed aside, it’s an extremely simple way to unlock the PC’s potential, and it works rather well.

Like all boards these days, the 990FXA is emblazoned with statements that it makes use of military grade components (because we’re still impressed by that kind of claim). Tantalum core hi-c caps, super ferrite chokes and solid capacitors are go towards improving performance and, rather importantly, lifespan. It might seem funny when they say that parts won’t explode, but having a component pop is no laughing matter, so that’s really a plus point.
The board also comes with numerous features that are extremely useful. These include SuperCharger, which provides high speed recharging for mobile devices, even when the PC is not powered up, and the lamentably named Winki 3, which allows for web-surfing, file maintenance, photo and document editing and more, even if the user has no OS installed. Other features include a mouse-controlled BIOS and onboard THX audio.

The board offers users four USB 3.0 ports and six SATA6 ports, so it allows for fast performance of peripherals and components. In addition, four PCI Express X16 slots mean that those who want to run multiple graphics cards, in either SLI or Crossfire configurations, can do so… up to four graphics cards can be supported, depending on their size.
All this comes at a very reasonable price… reliability, performance and a long life-span won’t break the bank here, and the versatility in CPU support means that it will have a wide appeal for AMD users.

It’s not a top of the line board, but it does allow for a lot of power, when all is said and done. At the price, one would expect far less than it actually delivers, which is a bonus.

Verdict: Very good performance from a board that is relatively light in price.