The Sabertooth 990FX motherboard is the fourth Sabertooth motherboard and is the first to be based on an AMD chipset. The Sabertooth brand is all about stability and uses military-grade components as well as ceramic-coated heatsinks. The military-grade components are designed to be able to handle a broader range of temperatures and voltages than standard components can handle. The ceramic-coated heatsinks have an uneven texture which increases the total surface area and helps to improve heat dissipation.
The Sabertooth 990FX is a well-spec’ed motherboard and boasts six SATA 6Gbps ports (thanks to the SB950 chipset), 2 USB 3.0 ports on the back panel and another two via headers, gigabit LAN, Firewire and eSATA. To top this all off the 990FX chipset also throws in the added bonus of SLI and CrossFireX. Of the Sabertooth 990FX’s four PCI-E x6 slots only three are intended for GPU purposes. The three slots have a total of 16 PCI-E electrical lanes between them and when all three are occupied they run in an x16/x8/x8 configuration.
The performance of the Sabertooth 990FX is for the most part excellent. It manages to keep up with and in some cases outperform the Crosshair V Formula. The problem lies with the pricing of these two boards. At the moment they both sit around the R2,200 mark which presents a problem for the consumer. The Sabertooth 990FX has a performance lead over the Crosshair V Formula yet the CVF has better memory support and a better sound card. If these extras don’t bother you then the Sabertooth 990FX is the better board and should be the one you consider. Or maybe not.
Bulldozer processors are due to be released in the middle of September but even with that launch just weeks away AMD has already talked about the Corona platform which will use the FM2 socket. This new platform is due to be released by late 2012. What is surprising is that there appears to be no backwards compatibility for AM3+ processors with the FM2 socket. This means that you will need to think very carefully when planning to invest in a Bulldozer processor and 990FX motherboard because the only kit you can use with the next platform will be your RAM and GPU.
On one hand the Sabertooth 990FX would be a worthwhile upgrade, especially when you slot in a Bulldozer processor, but if you can resist the upgrade urge for the next 18 months you might be in a better position in the long run.
Price R2, 200
CPUs supported AM3/AM3+
Memory support DDR3—1866/1600/1333/1066 32GB
Chipset AMD 990FX / SB950
Ports 6xSATA 6Gbps, 2xSATA 3Gbps, gigabit LAN, 2xUSB 3.0, 10xUSB 2.0, 8 channel Realtek ALC audio
Slots 3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16, x8, x8) 1xPCI-E 2.0 x16 (x4 mode), 1x PCI-E 2.0 x1, 1xPCI
Memory bandwidth performance