The CPU socket mounting bracket uses the same two-piece design we saw on the ASUS Sabertooth. The four DIMM slots are labeled along the edge of the board in their sequence 4-2-3-1 however they are not color-coordinated to indicate the staggered dual-channel operation. It would be helpful if Gigabyte alternated two of the slots in grey or another color. A 4-pin CPU fan and 3-pin SYS fan header are positioned above the CPU socket and at the front of the board respectively. Another 4-pin SYS fan header is located at the bottom corner, next to the six SATA 6Gb/s and the two grey-colored SATA 3Gb/s ports. Although some other manufacturers include detachable pin headers for the front panel connections, Gigabyte has pretty clearly labeled and color-coded their header onboard. There's also headers for front panel USB 3.0 and 2.0 connections.
Here we see the six PCI-E slots, two 16x, one 8x, two 4x and one 1x, as well as the single standard PCI slot. The two 16x and one 8x PCI-E are spaced every other slot to allow room for three-way graphics. The 1x slot is positioned where the northbridge cooler is, likely to prevent using any PCI-E card longer than the connector. Another 3-pin fan header exists at the bottom edge beside the audio and IEEE. As you would expect, an 8-pin connector supplies the 8+2 phase CPU power.
The rear I/O connectors consist of eight USB 2.0 ports in red, a single PS2 port for keyboard or mouse, optical S/PDIF connector, IEEE 1394, two eSATA ports one of which is powered, two USB 3.0 ports in blue, the Gigabit LAN port and six connector audio block. The rear of the board shows that all of the heatsinks are attached using spring-loaded screws instead of plastic push-pins, a plus for better heat dissipation.
A closer look at the board reveals the chips behind all the action, namely a Realtek RTL8111E for Gigabit LAN, ALC889 for 7.1+2 channel audio and VIA VT6308P for the Firewire. The ALC889 offers much better signal-to-noise ratio than another widely used chip, the ALC892. Gigabyte proudly prints this right on the PCB, 108dB compared to the 95dB of the ALC892. Not visible behind the audio block is an Etron EJ168A, in addition to the matching EJ168A up front, together provide the four USB 3.0 ports. The ITE IT8720F handles temperature, voltage and fan speed monitoring while an ICS 9LPRS477DKL is responsible for the clocks. Not readily apparent is what chip Gigabyte is using to provide the two extra SATA ports up front and two eSATA ports in the rear.
Let's get the 990FXA-UD5 installed and powered up.