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Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4

Six Socket FM2 Motherboards For AMD's Trinity APUs

A short and straight naming scheme makes Gigabyte’s F2A85X-UP4 easier to write about and remember, though we haven’t tested enough UP4-series products to know how their features are supposed to stack up against -UP3 or -UP5 boards. Instead, we see the similarity in features between Gigabyte’s -UP4 and ASRock’s Extreme6 platforms.

Gigabyte includes a secondary USB 3.0 controller, but uses Etron’s EJ168A rather than ASMedia's chip. It puts the F2A85X-UP4’s on-board power, reset, and CLR_CMOS switches in a group on the board’s upper-right corner. Gigabyte also moves its eight-pin auxiliary power connector away from the Socket FM2 interface. But none of those changes detract from the board’s value. In fact, we see the power connector placement as an improvement that makes larger heat sinks easier to work around.

We also find three PCIe x16-length slots that automatically switch from x16-x0-x4 to x8-x8-x4 lane configurations whenever a card is detected in the middle slot. But Gigabyte gives up the second PCI slot in favor of a third PCIe x1 slot, and that’s probably not an improvement, since the x4 slot drops to x1 mode whenever a card is dropped into the third x1 slot. AMD's chipset simply runs out of PCI Express connectivity when all of this board's slots are populated.

If you complement AMD's APU with a double-slot add-in card for Dual Graphics operation, you'll lose access to the second x1 slot. So, Gigabyte’s decision to share the third x1 slot with its x4 interface is questionable at best. We would have rather sacrificed the less-useful second slot in the interest of retaining the x4 connector's full bandwidth. 

The seventh internal SATA connector faces outward along the F2A85X-UP4’s bottom edge, which could also cause it to be blocked by a graphics card. Fortunately, it’s so far forward that most graphics cards (at least the ones you'd install on a Socket FM2 motherboard) are too short to hide it.

The F2A85X-UP4 installation kit includes a generous six SATA cables, which is only one shy of the seven ports this board boasts. The chipset's eighth SATA port is devoted to eSATA on the rear I/O panel.

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