GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD5 review: motherboard makes no compromises


Looking for an AMD board with all the best features but you only have a small budget? The 890FXA-UD5 might just be the board for you.

The UD5 has an impressive list of features including a newly revised low-profile heat sink that has been redesigned to allow the first PCI-Express 1x slot to be used without obstruction. There are 4 high-speed PCI-Express slots available which will support a 3-way ATI CrossFire configuration if so desired. There are also 2 1x PCI-Express slots. The board also offers a mass of USB slots including 8 on the IO panel as well as 8 SATA ports and a Realtek ALC889-based audio controller.

There are some extremely handy and innovative features provided with this board. We particularly like the ability to charge phones via the USB port when the motherboard is turned off. We also think the 3x power USB slots are a great idea: they provide 1500mW compared to the standard 500mW. With 1500mW GIGABYTE provides enough power for an external 7200rpm hard drive to be powered with a single USB cable: thoughtful in the age of portable storage.

Overclocking is an area where this board excels looking through the BIOS we find a huge array of memory options voltages and adjustments. Hotkey OC is a software-based tool that enables BIOS settings to be adjusted on the fly within windows. For example perhaps you want to overclock your system when you play Crysis which will give higher performance then underclock your system when browsing the internet for lower power usage. Hotkey OC is able to deliver this via user-defined keyboard shortcuts (and without restarting your computer).

GIGABYTE ticks all the boxes with the 890FXA-UD5.

For users on a tight budget you might be looking at purchasing a 2- or 3-core AMD CPU and using the built-in core-unlocking functionality of the UD5. This BIOS option allows you to unlock CPU cores on some of the lower-end CPUs where AMD has intentionally disabled cores turning your dual-core into a quad-core. For those interested in core unlocking do some research as not all CPUs will unlock and different models are more successful than others.

Storage enthusiasts have not been forgotten with the UD5; not only are there 8 SATA ports on board but 6 of them are SATA3. With the price of SATA3 2TB drives dropping regularly a high-volume high-performance storage array is not out of reach anymore.

Enough looking time to test! Once we started running benchmarks it was immediately obvious this is a very fast board. Our benchmark results saw it fall only slightly behind the fastest AMD boards we have tested in the past. In 3D benchmarks it offers class-leading performance edging out the scores we have previously recorded with offerings from MSI or ASUS. We also tested CPU and memory performance directly with an array of benchmarks and found the UD5 was only slightly behind the ASUS Crosshair IV Extreme which we labelled the best AMD board on the market. Next we took the flagship 890FX board the UD7 and compared its performance directly against the UD5. All performance results were near identical which is great news for end users as you are getting the same performance at a considerably lower cost.

The UD5 ticks all the right boxes: good performance great quality and amazing price. Coming in at a RRP of $289 and available in shops for as low as $225 this board offers outstanding value for money.

Available from GIGABYTE retailing for $289.
APC rating: 9/10