The third high-end contender in this comparison is MSI’s A75MA-G55, which is the only board with its pair of PCIe x16 slots spaced properly to support two double-slot graphics cards within a microATX case.
MSI doesn’t forget that one of the Llano APU's biggest features is its adequate on-board GPU, adding the DVI connector that many less-expensive platforms lack. We might have preferred a combination of display outputs and bundled adapter blocks, if only to make room for more USB 2.0, though four of those legacy ports is probably enough for most users.
Two of the A75 FCH’s four USB 3.0 ports are moved to an internal header, located two slots below the middle graphics card. That extra space could make the A75MA-G55 the only choice for a second mid-range graphics card, though AMD’s controller limits the slot to only four lanes of bandwidth.
That same slot is also somewhat limited by SATA port placement; two ports are blocked off by the ends of long expansion cards, so you really need to be careful what you install there.
MSI's A75MA-G55 lacks the FireWire controller found on Gigabyte's A75M-UD2H, as well as the extra USB 3.0 controller on Asus' F1A57-M Pro. MSI seems to understand that most builders no longer need FireWire, and the lack of any additional USB 3.0 controller helps the firm keep its price $10 lower than the competing Asus model. Unfortunately, the loss of FireWire does not result in a lower online price compared to the Gigabyte board, though many users may still choose MSI's offering simply for its layout.
MSI includes only two SATA cables with the A75MA-G55, but adds an HDMI cable. As we were deciding whether to feel slighted or lucky in our finding, we only had to consider that an HDMI cable is far more valuable than an extra pair of SATA cables.
Qne question, what does the APU,( either the A6 or the A8), have on F@H applications?
I know F@H is a great cause, might cure cancer etc, but wouldn't it be more geeky to search for radio signals of little green men?
I checked the CPU reviews and didn't see anything there either. You know it's going to be low utilization for these processors, which means it will be closer to the idle power than to the full-load power...
I think micro atx fits into plenty of SFF cases. Maybe we need to redefine..
I'd like to see a showdown of mini itx boards though, I think Anand did something like that recently. That's probably where the A8 CPU's need to go head to head with atom anyway, most reviews I've seen show the CPU's aren't all that cut out for desktop. Maybe the next batch that comes out in Q4/Q1 2012 will be better for desktop.
1.) SFF originally stood for Shuttle Form Factor and was proprietary, using 2-slots.
2.) It was copied by companies like First International Computer and AOpen
3.) AMD established a standard for "open architecture" systems of similar design, called DTX.
4.) ITX is smaller than DTX and fits DTX cases.
Notice this has nothing to do with Micro ATX. People who claim that anything shaped like a cube is SFF need only be shown a full ATX cube before they start making excuses. People who point to horizontal cases and say SFF need only look at ancient AT desktops before they're forced to come up with excuses.
2-slots. That's what makes Shuttle copies different from everything else. Cubes can be any "size", HTPC's can be any "size", if SFF is a size standard it can only be used to apply to two-slot cases.
Some competitors have been trying for years to expand the definition of SFF. They are, of course, wrong.
Nobody's perfect, one of Tom's old team members once said that barebones always refers to SFF systems (even though full sized barebones existed long before SFF). But at least Tom's tries to fix those types of errors rather than force them into the vernacular.
I'm just asking people to be specific. If you mean cube, say cube. If you mean desktop, say desktop. If you mean mini-tower, slim tower, or slim desktop, just say it. Then apply a form factor "Mini ITX slim tower" or "Micro ATX desktop". And if you're saying "SFF" rather than media center, well it's obvious that SFF can do other things so just be specific and say media center.
If you're not specific, you might find yourself in a discussion about what the meaning of "is" is.
Would love to see some benches on the gigabyte with those max overclock numbers as the GPU would benefit greatly from the memory oc.