Power, Heat, And Efficiency
Noticing that MSI's submission appeared to perform a little more slowly in a couple of benchmarks, I theorized that the board might have been hitting a lower power state between tests. A look at our power charts supports that theory, as the same A88X-G45 that needed more full-load power than the F2A88X-UP4 also needed far less energy when idle.
MSI also has the lowest voltage regulator temperatures, though the hottest motherboard in this comparison—ASRock’s FM2A88X+ Killer—is still fairly cool.
Even though I enabled power-saving features, Asus appears to have devoted its attention to performance. MSI goes after lower power, but takes a slight hit in the benchmark results. Perhaps a balanced approach is most appropriate?
The most average performer, Gigabyte’s F2A88X-UP4, was also the most efficient. It achieved its power advantage not at idle, but at load.
Even beyond price, ATX seems pointless with a Kaveri APU. Myself, I'm waiting for the A8-7600 to build a very small (< 3 liters) ITX HTPC running the APU in 45W mode. Although I'm very excited about doing that build, I can't see any use case that makes sense for a Kaveri APU in an ATX form factor. Perhaps the A88x chipset has some feature benefit for building something using the 750 or 760k CPU in a budget build. But the only build I would even think about using a Kaveri APU in would be a mini-ITX PC/HTPC or laptop.
Beyond that, I would love to see Lian-Li come out with a tiny case like the PC-Q02, PC-Q09 or PC-Q12, but with the design for a single 120mm CLC and a 300W SFX PSU to allow a decent overclock on a 7850k APU with the smallest form factor possible (i.e. < 8 liters). That type of build might get me jazzed up for the 7850k.