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ASRock A75M

Six A75-Based Motherboards For AMD’s A8 And A6 APUs
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We like short, easy-to-remember names, and the A75M certainly delivers on that wish. But does a short name also imply a short list of features?

The board's rear panel lacks a DVI output, but that could be excused if we view this as an HTPC-oriented part. Llano’s two different built-in GPUs are powerful enough to satisfy that role. They're even capable of light gaming duties. HDMI is, of course, backward-compatible with DVI. But if you want to attach a DVI display to this platform, you'll need to purchase either an adapter block or adapter cable.

ASRock questionably places all four of the A75 FCH’s USB 3.0 ports on the A75M's rear panel, leaving only USB 2.0 headers for front-panel ports. This might appear an odd move from the first company to respond to our call for standardized front-panel USB 3.0 connectors, but this could be in deference to traditional HTPC-oriented cases, which evolve more slowly than gaming enclosures and still typically lack USB 3.0 jacks.

If this were intended to sit in as an HTPC-specific design, we'd say that the board's PCIe x16 slot placement isn't quite right, since graphics riser cards typically align with the top slot. But if we use the A75M as a vehicle for utilizing integrated graphics, the top x1 slot could be used with a riser to support a tuner card.

Five SATA 6Gb/s ports connect internal drives, while a sixth port goes to the I/O panel for eSATA. All five ports are placed above the x16 slot to eliminate card clearance issues, though placing them there on such a narrow layout eliminates the flexibility to expose four DIMM slots (as you can see in the picture above). If you find yourself unable to live without memory expansion, ASRock does sell full-width models with the extra slots.

Less HTPC-oriented features include the full-sized serial and parallel port headers, which are most frequently needed to retain compatibility with old peripherals in commercial environments. That secondary market could also explain the presence of a legacy VGA connector on the back panel, where we'd rather see DVI or DisplayPort.

Two SATA cables accompany the A75M. Though we prefer to see at least four cables with microATX or larger motherboards, this is enough to comply with the basic needs of most builders. An online price of only $80 makes it even harder to fault the sparse installation kit.

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