Asus M5A99X Evo review

The second tier of AMD's next-gen chipsets in Asus trim

TODO alt text


  • Excellent BIOS
  • Easy overclocking


  • Depends on Bulldozer
  • Not the best for dual graphics

Normally, in the case of a big new processor launch like AMD's forthcoming Bulldozer chips, you'd expect the motherboards that support it to play second fiddle. But Asus' M5A99X EVO is just one of many new boards that have been kitted out with a 9-series chipset without said CPU being close to sampling.

Specifically, the M5A99X makes use of an AMD 990X chipset with an SB950 southbridge. Translated, that puts it in the second tier for features: below it are AMD 970 boards, designed for value, while above it are models based on the all-powerful 990FX.

The differences between the three, though, come down to relatively minor things like the number of SATA ports, USB slots and, more significantly, how many x16 PCI Express ports there are.

The 970 has just one, while the 990X has two – although if you do plug in a second card for CrossFire or SLI graphics, both slots run at just 8x speed. In other words, if you want the best dual (or more) graphics performance, you'll want a more expensive 990FX board. If you want a cheap build, get a 970.

So does the Asus M5A99X Evo have anything else with which to overcome its middle child syndrome?

Overall performance at default settings is fairly mundane: slightly better than the 970-based Gigabyte 970A-UD3 also reviewed recently, but not enough to be strikingly significant. What you do get with the M5A99X EVO, though, is a lot of easy-to-get-at options.

Asus's Windows-based application for handling overclocking and so on – EasyTune – is still buggy and hard to uninstall, but it's much better than it used to be. Importantly, it has just one interface for everything, which helps to make sense of the extra hardware features Asus has added to the stock 990X layout.

Highly configurable

That includes the dual chip, and highly configurable clock controls for components other than the CPU, known as EPU and TPU. EPU underclocks parts of the board when not in use to save power, TPU gives you instant overclocking when you need it. Clicking the auto-overclock button got us a cool 27 per cent performance boost.

Asus' take on the new UEFI graphical BIOS manager is the best around by far. It not only looks better than a traditional BIOS, it's cleverly layered too.

On the front page, there's a one-click control for overclocking or dragging and dropping boot devices into order. Behind that there's a set of basic options for top-level tweaking, and behind that you have access to everything. For a £115 board, this is an overclocker's paradise. If, that is, you're willing to make do with one GPU and take a punt on Bulldozer being any good.

Tech Labs

Tech labs

Bench 1

Right now, the problem for any 9-series motherboard isn't that there's no big performance difference between any of them; it's that the only reason to upgrade from an 8-series is Bulldozer. And if that's a flop, your next build will likely be Intel anyway.

Which leaves the M5A99X EVO the dubious honour of being a good motherboard – but for reasons beyond its control you may not wish to buy it yet.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset Model990X
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX, SLI
Onboard VideoNo
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots2
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket AM3+
Brand NameAsus
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedAthlon II, Athlon X2, Athlon II X2, Athlon II X3, Athlon II X4, Phenom II, Phenom II X2, Phenom II X3, Phenom II X4, Phenom II X6, Sempron
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, REACH, WEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots1
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
HyperTransport Speed2600 MHz
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots6
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports10
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
Total Number of FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports8
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports6
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots5
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Number of eSATA Ports2
Processor TechnologyCool'n'Quiet Technology, HyperTransport 3.0 Technology
Width304.8 mm
Depth243.8 mm
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Product ModelM5A99X EVO
Product NameM5A99X EVO Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part Number90-MIBFL0-G0AAY00Z
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

M5A99X EVO supports AMD AM3+/AM3 multi-core processors with unique L3 cache and delivers better overclocking capabilities with less power consumption. It features dual-channel DDR3 1866 memory support and accelerates data transfer rate up to 5200MT/s via HyperTransport 3.0 based system bus. This motherboard also supports AMD CPUs in the new 32nm manufacturing process.

Package Contents
  • M5A99X EVO Desktop Motherboard
  • User's Manual
  • I/O Shield
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s Cable(s)
  • 1 x SLI Bridge
  • 1 x Q-connectors (2 in 1)
Limited Warranty3 Year