Just one glance at the Sapphire Pure Black FX990 and you can see that it follows the strict design and layout of other recent Sapphire motherboards.
But there's nothing necessarily wrong with that - if it ain't broke, why fix it?
Dominating the board are the six PCIe slots, spaced to enable three dual-slot graphics cards to be built into a Crossfire X setup. Should you need a bit more grunt to power such an array, there's a four-pin Molex connector soldered to the board just under the final PCIe slot.
If you happen to own a large number of hard drives, as well as a multitude of graphics cards, the Sapphire Pure Black FX990 should be able to satisfy your needs with no less than nine - yes nine - SATA 6Gbps ports.
Of these, eight are edge-mounted at 90 degrees on the side of the board, with the remaining port housed just behind the rear I/O panel.
Performance-wise, the motherboard is impressive.
It's rare for Sapphire boards to be at the forefront of performance pack, but this mobo benches better than any of the other 9-Series AMD boards we've tested.
It's nice and solid in overclocking terms too - we got our test AMD FX-8150 CPU to run at 4.5GHz with some not too aggressive tweaking in the new improved QBios.
And that new QBios is a real improvement over Sapphire's previous UEFI-based Bios. The new version includes support for Sapphire's S_Bios technology for updating and backing up the Bios without resorting to booting from an external device.
As befitting a motherboard aimed at the enthusiast, it has the usual array of power, reset and clear CMOS buttons mounted on the board, which are also joined by the switch for the dual Bios.
Sapphire's QBios isn't in the same league as, say, the UEFI Bios's on some of the current Asus motherboards (but then nobody else's is either). But it's a marked improvement on its first shot at a UEFI Bios. It's pretty easy to follow and tinker with the settings, although it has to be, since the manual doesn't give any information on it at all.
With so many PCI-E slots and nine SATA 6Gb/s ports, the Sapphire Pure Black FX990 was never going to be cheap. But instead of adding loads of extras in the box bundle to ease the pain, the only highlight of the bundle Sapphire provides is a twin port USB 3.0 front panel adaptor for your PC case.
A strong, stable AMD offering from Sapphire, the Pure Black FX990 is definitely one for the multi-GPU crowd or the storage hog.