It has been some time, probably not since the Athlon XP days, that I last used a Gigabyte motherboard. Judging by this latest 990FXA-UD5, they've come a long way since then. Gone is the blue PCB and multi-colored slots/sockets that I remember, replaced with a more modern black and gunmetal appearance. Featuring all solid Japanese capacitors and ferrite core chokes, double copper PCB and dual BIOS, the 990FXA-UD5 offers a high degree of efficiency and reliability that that could rival that of advance dedicated servers.
Despite the fresh new look and seemingly high quality components, I still found a few things that I did not care for. First is the lack of more granular Smart fan speed control in the BIOS. Although I was able to fine-tune this using the included EasyTune6 software, you shouldn't be forced to do this from the OS. Secondly I found the problem of overvolting to be annoying, particularly when Gigabyte touts the power saving features of this board. Manually trying to force the voltage lower only resulted in failed boots. Note that this same symptom exists on the ASUS boards I've reviewed lately also, so it isn't something unique only to Gigabyte. I have heard reports of boards with voltage droops under load, perhaps manufacturers like ASUS and Gigabyte attempt to compensate for this by simply jacking the voltage up by default. As I pointed out in the Sabertooth review, if you don't care that your CPU is getting more volts than it should, the system otherwise operates very reliably even overclocked.
The last thing I would make a note of is the spacing on the PCI-E slots, with the first 1x slot limited by the placement of the northbridge heatsink, and the two 16x slots being spaced with only one slot between them. While this works fine for reference cooler cards, trying to run dual aftermarket coolers or non-reference cards will likely not be possible on the UD5. However as this board is geared more towards three-way graphics, the user can always select the UD3 if they want dual slots with more spacing.
I found the 990FXA-UD5 available online for an average price around $180. While not bad for a 990FX board with three-way graphics support, a similar equipped quad-graphics board like the UD7 or Sabertooth isn't that much more. Still, for those who want all the features of the 990FX/SB950 chipset but don't ever plan to run more than three cards, a small savings can be had here.
OCIA.net awards the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 our Gold Seal of Approval.