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MSI A78M-E35 Versus Gigabyte GA-F2A78M-D3H

Today we look at two AMD A78-based motherboards (MSI's A78M-E35 and Gigabyte's GA-F2A78M-D3H), to determine how they stack up against A88X.

Conclusion

As the data shows, the A78 platform is consistent. From a chipset perspective, both of our samples perform well, making it hard to pick a favorite. Setting the Intel versus AMD debate aside, I really like AMD's A78. When I compare what Thomas did with A88X to my experiences with A78, the A88X does appear faster. And the flagship's added features open the door to a more sophisticated CrossFire configuration, more storage in RAID and better overclocking options. But are those features worth an extra $30 or so? Can you live without aggressive overclocking or CrossFire? For a lower price, I believe the A78 is a solid choice for many builders. 

Rather than give any awards in this article, I will consider this data once I get a chance to look at some competing hardware. In the meantime, I'll give you my final thoughts on each product.

If your goal is to build an HTPC or small office box and you have no intentions of overclocking aggressively, MSI's A78M-E35 will work well. I enjoyed its layout more than Gigabyte's, though the UEFI was harder to navigate. Of the two boards I reviewed, MSI's motherboard is more in-line with what AMD's APU was designed for.

If you are building an A88X clone but don't need the additional PCIe lanes, Gigabyte's board shows some real potential.  Given the right tuning, air flow and memory selection, I think this system could compete with similarly-equipped A88X systems. If the durability claim holds water, this would be even better for a tuner's system. This board also works in larger HTPC cases, but the odd fan header placement might make cable management a challenge.


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Jacob Terkelsen is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware, covering Motherboards.

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  • Yuka
    The only problem I have with these boards, is the lack of a proper sound chip in them. The Realtek 887 sucks. It had been a 889 or a 1150 or even a VIA VT17xx, VT18xx or a VT 20xx.

    Plus, the VRMs have to be of good quality as well for noise over the sound card. Remember you're recommending these boards for HTPC as well, so noise over audio is a HUGE issue when not careful.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • Gary Tallowin
    I think you could have gone with faster ram for the igpu and ditched the GT 730
    Reply
  • SuperVeloce
    "It's also important to note that Intel’s multi-thread to single-thread ratio is 1.91 (close to two since it’s a dual-core processor), whereas AMD's ratio is 3.58, quite a way off from the ratio of four for a quad-core processor. This shows how important CPU architecture is."
    Well, A10 apu has turbo, Pentium does not, so there is that
    Reply
  • Shankovich
    Nifty little review. Have a friend who wants to game on PC more than console but doesn't want to spend much, was looking into AMD's APU's.

    Also, I love Gigabyte and they're usually my first choice for boards, but this review highlights my biggest pet peeve with them: fan header placement. Seriously Gigabyte, stop putting the damn things in line with PCI-E slots or in the most hard to reach places.
    Reply
  • Calculatron
    Spiffy little article on the FM2+ chipset.
    Reply
  • Someone Somewhere
    One minor change: The specs chart up the top shows both boards as not having a digital audio out, but it's fairly obvious from the images that the Gigabyte does.
    Reply
  • TheTerk
    One minor change: The specs chart up the top shows both boards as not having a digital audio out, but it's fairly obvious from the images that the Gigabyte does.
    the sample I reviewed is PCB revision 4.0 which does not have an optical out on the rear panel. Looking at Gigabyte's A78 page, revision 3.0 has the optical connector on the rear panel. Looks like there's a header location on the rev 4 board for S/PDIF connector. We will update the article accordingly.
    Reply
  • logainofhades
    16053568 said:
    I think you could have gone with faster ram for the igpu and ditched the GT 730

    The GT 730 would still be faster, as it was the 64bit, GDDR5, version. If memory serves me right, the 7850k's IGP was about even with an R7 240. The GT 730 is 3 tiers above that, according to the GPU Hierarchy Chart.


    Reply
  • RedJaron
    16060542 said:
    16053568 said:
    I think you could have gone with faster ram for the igpu and ditched the GT 730

    The GT 730 would still be faster, as it was the 64bit, GDDR5, version. If memory serves me right, the 7850k's IGP was about even with an R7 240. The GT 730 is 3 tiers above that, according to the GPU Hierarchy Chart.
    We also aren't going for maximum performance or performance/money here. Keeping the test benches similar ( hopefully identical except for the reviewed part, ) means the results are more comparable.
    Reply
  • jack_28
    Actually the a10 7850k onboard gpu (with 2133 mhz ram) is closer to the r7 250 ddr 3 . One can easily find articles testing this by a little googling.
    Reply