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Motherboard And Memory

System Builder Marathon, Q2 2014: Our Budget Gaming PC

Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M Pro4+

If I was looking to squeeze the highest clock rates out of AMD's Trinity architecture, I'd go with an aftermarket heat sink and a motherboard based on the enthusiast-class A85X Fusion Controller Hub. However, it's difficult to cram those luxuries into a modest gaming budget. Even then, I'd have to decide whether extra cash could be better-spent on a more capable AMD FX-6300 or Intel Core i3 processor.

A more appropriate use of funds for our lightly-overclocked gaming PC was ASRock's FM2A75 Pro4+. Based instead on AMD's A75 FCH (referred to as Hudson D3), this Socket FM2+ motherboard packs in a wealth of features and all of the tweaking options I needed, while saving me a few dollars compared to the cheapest A85X motherboards.

Read Customer Reviews of ASRock's FM2A75M Pro4+

This full-width microATX board has a 4+2-phase power design, supporting 100 W Socket FM2 and 95 W Socket FM2+ APUs. Four dual-channel DDR3 memory slots facilitate overclocking up to 2600 MT/s. There is a 16-lane PCI Express 3.0 slot (x16 mode) and a 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 slot (x4 mode), enabling Dual Graphics mode (though we'd suggest reading AMD Dual Graphics Analysis: Better Benchmarks; Same Experience? first). Also provided is a single-lane PCI Express 2.0 slot, legacy PCI, and six SATA 6Gb/s ports. It exposes USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity through rear-panel ports, as well as front-panel headers.

Memory: 8 GB Team Group Dark Series DDR3-1600 Kit

Although our Athlon processor is based on the Trinity architecture, its on-die Radeon graphics engine is deliberately disabled. So, the memory bandwidth we'd normally try to emphasize isn't needed as much. For this build, I consequently chose from the most affordable 8 GB kits, which were down about $5 from last quarter (but still quite a bit higher than t he prices we've seen in the past).

Read Customer Reviews of Team Group's Dark Series 8 GB DDR3-1600 Memory Kit

Team Group’s Dark Series, with blue heat spreaders, offers XMP settings of DDR3-1600 with CL9-9-9-24 timings at 1.5 V, and potentially some headroom to wring out a little more bandwidth through a small voltage bump.

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