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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.

Our Verdict

This board is a great choice for an HTPC build with locked processors or where light overclocking may help satisfy a desire for increased performance. If the ASRock ITX can't be found at a reasonable price, this board is a great alternative.

For

  • Layout, low regulator temperatures, out-of-box overclock

Against

  • No voltage biasing

An Introduction To AMD's A78 Chipset

It has been nearly a year since Tom's Hardware last reviewed a motherboard for AMD's processors. And with the recent Godavari APU announcement, we thought we should dust off our Kaveri APUs to see if we can find some additional value in the company's not-so-famous alternative chipsets. 

Our own Thomas Soderstrom looked at AMD's A88X chipset from an enthusiast's standpoint and determined that an APU placed into this platform, along with a complementary graphics card, could provide plenty of performance and features to satisfy anyone looking for a mainstream Intel alternative.

But does the average desktop user really need CrossFire, an eight-phase voltage regulator or enough SATA 6Gb/s ports to load an ATX tower? Do they instead want an HTPC with enough bells and whistles for an out-of-the-box overclock, modest graphics horsepower and plenty of room for storage without busting the budget (or form factor)? I have good news, friends: AMD has a solution and you might not have even considered it.

FM2FM2+
A85XA75A55A88XA78
PCI Express1x16 / 2x81x161x161x16 / 2x81x16
SATA (6Gb/s)8 (8)6 (6)6 (0)8 (8)6 (6)
RAID0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 100, 1, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 10
RAID DriverPromisePromisePromiseDot HillDot Hill
USB (3.0)14 (4)14 (4)14 (0)14 (4)14 (4)

* Per AMD's website - FM2 easy upgrade path featuring latest USB and SATA technologies; FM2+ backwards compatible, future-ready and PCIe 3.0-ready.

Introducing the A78, AMD's "media-class" chipset. Though it doesn't have any fancy Xes or a three-digit designation, this platform is completely adequate for most folks. In fact, comparing AMD's FM2+-compatible offerings, the only difference between the flagship and A78 is an inability to split 16 lanes of PCIe into two x8 links, two missing SATA 6Gb/s ports and RAID 5 support. 

Today, I will be comparing MSI's A78M-E35 and Gigabyte's F2A78M-D3H. I will also be using some of Thomas' data for the Asus A88X-Pro Eric's MSI H81M-E34 results for comparisons to a different AMD chipset and Intel's low- budget offering. 

Technical Specifications


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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