AMD A85X Motherboard Roundup



Since the AMD A85X chipset is a high-end platform for the Trinity APUs, our expectations of this current crop of Socket FM2 boards are in line. They generally boast of good make with each manufacturer attempting to differentiate its offerings in order to appeal to a varying group of consumers. We present our scores in the table below. Do note that for the scores in the Performance column, they have been adjusted after taking into consideration the boards'  temperature and power performance; they are presented separately just to give readers a better understanding on some of its variables.

Ratings Breakdown
Model Performance Features Layout Value Temperature Power Overall Suggested Retail Price
ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 7.0 8.5 7.5 8.0 8.5 7.0 7.5 S$199
ASUS F2A85-M 7.5 8.5 8.0 7.5 6.5 8.0 7.5 S$159
Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H 7.5 8.5 8.0 8.5 7.0 7.0 8.0 S$149
MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.0 8.5 8.0 8.5 S$199

As we've pointed out earlier in our roundup, there are two different form factors in this roundup - ATX and mATX boards. While ideally we would compare within the same form factors, at the point of evaluation last month, locally, there were limited board models being brought in. As such, we managed our best to call in boards that have as similar a feature set as possible. Naturally speaking, larger boards will have more expansion slots and PCB space to cram more features, so we have factored those differences while evaluating the score sheet since we would expect such from an ATX board by default. At the end of the day, more features equate to a higher price and that will also act as counterbalance to the overall score.

In terms of general computing performance according to the SYSmark 2012 benchmark, the boards all have rather similar performance levels. As we up the ante to more taxing benchmarks in terms of compute requirements, it was the ATX boards that came out slightly ahead. For gaming pursuits, the differences between the boards are small, but MSI edges ahead most of the time. Only ASRock was tagging along slightly below expectations. The outcome was also the same in our power draw test and chipset temperature checks where MSI took the pole position overall.

True to the adage of size doesn't matter, it is what you do with it that matters, our shootout showed that the mATX boards generally held court despite stiff competition from their larger ATX competitors. However, in the end, size did count in certain ways and the winner board was the full-fat ATX MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 due to its rich feature set and stellar performance to boot.

However, the mATX boards did show their mettle when it came to our overclocking exercise, in fact, the Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H came in second with our overclocked APU running at 4.68GHz, and it was just beaten by the MSI board which managed to operate our overclocked APU at 4.72GHz in our test parameters. In conclusion, before we conclude a winner for our roundup, these high-end Socket FM2 boards are generally on par for consumers who have general compute requirements. For users who need the extra expansion slots, it would make sense to pay slightly more for an ATX board; for users who don't, the mATX boards would do just fine, though we don't recommend overclocking them unless you slap on some third-party VRM heatsinks for precaution.

ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 is somewhat of a straggler in terms of keeping up with the rest of the boards; however, it has a lot of 'heart' in view of its outstanding feature set that makes it standout. From its proprietary XFast 555 technology to its support for three-way Multi-GPU configurations, it has the makings of an elite high-end board. Even its rear I/O panel offers the most options for video and storage connectivity. All this can be yours for a tidy sum of S$199, making it a decent catch if all you are in favor of the board's design and features. Unfortunately, it's supposedly better 8+2 power phase VRM solution didn't help where it matters most - overclocking.

ASUS F2A85-M has shown his mettle in during our benchmarking as it consistently showed up in the top two positions in most of our tests. In fact, scores in our SYSmark tests as well as its results for our gaming benchmarks put the board ahead of the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 ATX board. Unconstrained by its form factor, this board packs many options for storage connectivity as it sports a total of seven SATA 6Gbps connectors, a pair of USB 3.0 onboard connectors and four USB 2.0 ones. In terms of video output options, it supports D-Sub, HDMI and DVI-D. For S$159, it's a rather decent board, though we expected it to have some form of basic VRM cooling and a stronger overall showing.

The other mATX board, Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H, turned in a mix bag of performance results as it did score high in our gaming benchmarks as well as for SYSmark tests. However, it didn’t perform to our expectations in both sets of the Specviewperf tests and its power consumption rated highest under load. This is despite the fact it is a mATX board and compared against two other ATX boards. This board does have its appeal as it features Gigabyte’s veritable Ultra Durable 4 construct for durability and protection against humidity and safety circuity against current spikes. The Dual BIOS feature further lends its support to its safety credentials. Other favorable features include 3X USB power, On/Off charge feature to charge your mobile devices while your system is on standby and more. All in all, for S$149, it has got a good price point, down-to-earth features that would appeal to the masses and has the chops for a reasonably good overclock. As such, this board clinches our Value For Money award.

Our winner of this roundup is MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 as the board shines in both performance and features. It took the top spot in almost all our tests and the board also has excellent cooling features as it's chipset ran coolest at 29.0 degrees Celsius under load and it has beefy passive VRM cooling. It sipped power at a low of 141W under load, beating the two mATX boards at this game. With support for a proper 2-way multi-GPU setup by splitting its PCIe lane configuration to an even x8 mode for each of the PEG slots, it offers gamers a balanced configuration to meet their more demanding gaming needs (just like the ASRock board), however it lacks support for Lucid Virtu Universal MVP, which the ASRock counterpart offers. Priced identical to the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6, this board has our winning vote due to its overall winning performance, good connectivity, tweaking options, as well as its solid MSI Military Class III construct for durability.

Our Final Ratings

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Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H

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ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6

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ASUS F2A85-M Click for detailed results break-down