Sapphire Pure Platinum A85XT
The first company to offer us a retail-ready motherboard with AMD's A85X FCH, Sapphire presents a couple unusual features on its Pure Platinum A85XT. An open-ended PCIe x4 slot is the most noteworthy change, though the fact that it's up top means you probably won't find a graphics card there. The PCIe x16 slot beneath it loses half of its connectivity to the second x16-length slot whenever a card is installed there.
The Bluetooth controller found on the Pure Platinum A85XT’s I/O panel is an unusual bonus among value-priced motherboards. Similarly unusual is the mini-PCIe x1 slot right in the middle of the Pure Platinum A85XT’s PCB, labeled for both PCIe and mSATA connectivity. One of the chipset’s eight SATA connections is tied up by the slot, reducing the number of standard SATA ports to seven.
Power, reset, and CLR_CMOS buttons along the Pure Platinum A85XT’s bottom edge aren’t unusual, nor is its Port 80 diagnostics display. On the other hand, we're far less accustomed to seeing a BIOS selector switch among those bottom-edge features. We've previously had little luck with auto-switching functionality, so we're ecstatic to find a manual switch on the Pure Platinum A85XT.
It almost appears that Sapphire designed this board to support some degree of form factor modularity. For example, a front-panel audio connector located above the second PCI Express x16 slot suggests a microATX-oriented design. As a result of its placement, you'll have to drag your audio cable up over the top of the board. Fortunately, even if your case suffers from short cable syndrome, it should still reach without a problem.
A bottom-edge USB 3.0 connector is really our only true layout concern. It’s far enough beneath the second graphics card slot to clear most GPU coolers, and far enough beneath the bottom PCI slot to clear most on-card circuits, but its distance from typical front-panel ports is a bit of a stretch for the cables included with some cases.
Anyone who’s unable to use the Pure Platinum A85XT’s front-panel USB 3.0 header with their case’s integrated ports might instead try installing the included 3.5” bay adapter. Failing that, the company also includes a slot bracket for the USB ports. Six internal SATA cables are also included in the Pure Platinum A85XT’s installation kit.