Six Socket FM2 Motherboards For AMD's Trinity APUs

Of Six Socket FM2 Boards, Two Rise To The Top

Asus provides the best overclocking on its exorbitantly-priced F2A85-V Pro, while ASRock offers the best price on its FM2A85X Extreme6, which doesn't overclock as well. Charting performance-per-dollar might it easier for some folks to choose a winner, but we also need to discuss the feature set each platform offers at its price point.

Setting a $100 baseline, the FM2A58X Extreme6 includes a x16-length PCIe x4 slot, an extra USB 3.0 controller, internal power and reset buttons, a Port 80 diagnostics display, and an I/O panel-based CLR_CMOS button. All of those features have gotten cheaper over the past few years, but that combination should still be worth at least $20 over a board that lacks them. Unfortunately, we don’t have any $80 baseline boards to compare.

Instead, we jump up $10 in price to the MSI FM2-A58XA-G65. MSI buyers gain the firm’s OC Genie button, but lose out on ASRocks’ integrated Port 80 diagnostics display. MSI buyers gain a PCI slot, but lose a PCIe x4 slot. MSI buyers gain a cooler-running voltage regulator, but lose out on ASRock’s extra pair of I/O panel-based USB 3.0 ports. These boards offer similar apparent worth, so the extra $10 hurts MSI's value proposition.

Gigabyte’s F2A85X-UP4 appears to be a higher-quality part than ASRock’s. Its feature set is nearly identical though, and that makes it hard for us to justify a $25 price premium.

The A85F2-A Golden from ECS actually loses features compared to ASRock’s model, and we can’t use its gold-plated connectors to excuse the $27 price increase.

Compared to ASRock’s sample, the Sapphire Pure Platinum A85XT gains a PCI slot, moves its PCIe x4 slot to a place where it’s useful only for single-slot cards, gains an mSATA/mini-PCIe combo connector, and adds dual BIOSes with manual switching. This editor would love to give Sapphire an award based on that manual firmware selector alone, but the tiny switch and the spare ROM cannot justify the board’s $35 higher price. Even if Sapphire were to drop its price by 10%, a mere one-year warranty would continue to diminish its award worthiness.

And so, we pick up at the end of the conclusion where we left off at the beginning, trying to choose between the best-in-class Asus F2A8F-V Pro and the best-value ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6. We even have awards for the best-in-class and best-value categories. Best of Tom’s Hardware is an exclusive award, though. Nevertheless, we're happy to put both boards on even footing with Tom's Hardware Approved recognition. Between the two, the platform you choose will depend on the system you're trying to build.

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  • buzznut
    And I would penalize Asrock for the brown PCB. Its an otherwise nice looking board, but this is a trend I don't care for.
  • Cryio
    Why, why do you keep posting Skyrim as being a DirectX11 title? It IS NOT. It's just DX9
  • Crashman
    CryioWhy, why do you keep posting Skyrim as being a DirectX11 title? It IS NOT. It's just DX9
    Why don't you point to where you see that?
  • Sakkura
    CrashmanWhy don't you point to where you see that?

    Sneaky, lol. Now he's going to be downvoted.
  • Crashman
    SakkuraSneaky, lol. Now he's going to be downvoted.
    Not sneaky, I just see a lot of sniping in here. I checked the article and didn't find it, and I really need to find it before I can gripe at the person who made the final revisions to this article. His comment could be completely false for all I know...
  • cangelini
    I fixed the typo earlier tonight guys, thanks.
  • abbadon_34
    Sounds like someone is owed an apology
  • Darkerson
    buzznutAnd I would penalize Asrock for the brown PCB. Its an otherwise nice looking board, but this is a trend I don't care for.

    Penalizing a company over a PCB's color is asinine and petty. Even if you have a case with an acrylic window, do you stare into your PC all day and night? If so, that is trend I don't care for.

    There are much more important things to worry about, like quality, price, and features, to name a few...
  • cangeliniI fixed the typo earlier tonight guys, thanks.

    "Adoby Creative Suite"

    just one?

    :lol:
    who cares, good job to crash and the rest of the crew . . .

    edit: i had to fix a typo . .oh karma!
  • cangelini
    looniam"Adoby Creative Suite"just one? who cares, good job to crash and the rest of the crew . . .edit: i had to fix a typo . .oh karma!

    Heh, apparently, editing motherboard round-ups in a Thanksgiving food coma is not conducive to catching typos. Got that one as well--thanks looniam! :)
  • americanbrian
    Why no GPU OC as has been requested many times? This platform allows easy GPU OC's as mentioned in your previous PD articles.

    You still have never posted your 1GHz+ clocked GPU results.

    I am also upset that you didn't run the gaming benches with the OCed RAM. I want to know how a PROPERLY configured setup like this could perform.

    8% gains approx from going to 1866 over 1600, does higher clocks after this have any effect?

    How does OCing the GPU part limit your CPU clock OCs? or is the heat not too bad ?

    So many questions unanswered....
  • Someone Somewhere
    Is it just me or is there no list of prices for the boards? There's relative price, and some board is worth $25 more than another (which is enough if you want to do half a page of simultaneous equations), but I can't find an actual list.
  • cangelini
    americanbrianWhy no GPU OC as has been requested many times? This platform allows easy GPU OC's as mentioned in your previous PD articles. You still have never posted your 1GHz+ clocked GPU results. I am also upset that you didn't run the gaming benches with the OCed RAM. I want to know how a PROPERLY configured setup like this could perform.8% gains approx from going to 1866 over 1600, does higher clocks after this have any effect?How does OCing the GPU part limit your CPU clock OCs? or is the heat not too bad ? So many questions unanswered....

    These sound like great ideas for a platform-oriented story. In fact, Thomas and I have discussed doing a piece on memory and Trinity. Maybe we could expand that to include an exploration of graphics and processor bottlenecks, too. Thanks for the feedback!
  • silverblue
    Also, a detailed look at the effects of undervolting Trinity. :)
  • silverblue
    buzznutAnd I would penalize Asrock for the brown PCB. Its an otherwise nice looking board, but this is a trend I don't care for.

    Well, in days gone by we'd have had green or gold boards. To be perfectly honest though, unless you're going to have a side window, you're not likely to care about the PCB colour. I'm far more interested in features and performance than the aesthetics, personally.
  • blazorthon
    buzznutAnd I would penalize Asrock for the brown PCB. Its an otherwise nice looking board, but this is a trend I don't care for.


    I thought that the brown PCB meshed decently with the black and grey color scheme utilized by most of the rest of the board. Hey, at least it doesn't look like those ugly low end FoxConn boards :lol:
  • bentonsl_2010
    CrashmanWhy don't you point to where you see that?


    Here is a relevant quote from a randomly-googled article:

    Longtime Elder Scrolls fans hoping Skryim would take full advantage of the PC's strengths: unfortunately we have to disappoint you. Game director Todd Howard says besides higher quality textures and bigger resolutions, it "looks the same" as on consoles, and it's "mostly a DirectX 9 game in terms of how the shaders work."

    He does note DirectX 11 support is a possibility down the line, however: "When it comes to DirectX 11 there are things they get us for free, like performance gains. You’re going to get performance gains out of it versus an older version. But the specifics DX11 does, like tessellation and all that kinda stuff, we aren’t taking advantage of that right now. That doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. We aren’t right now because we want to author it so it looks great.”

    On the bright side, the new engine means Skyrim looks quite lovely as is, just nothing mind-blowing, which it could be. No doubt the modding community will improve the situation before long, though.
  • blazorthon
    Bentonsl_2010Here is a relevant quote from a randomly-googled article:Longtime Elder Scrolls fans hoping Skryim would take full advantage of the PC's strengths: unfortunately we have to disappoint you. Game director Todd Howard says besides higher quality textures and bigger resolutions, it "looks the same" as on consoles, and it's "mostly a DirectX 9 game in terms of how the shaders work."He does note DirectX 11 support is a possibility down the line, however: "When it comes to DirectX 11 there are things they get us for free, like performance gains. You’re going to get performance gains out of it versus an older version. But the specifics DX11 does, like tessellation and all that kinda stuff, we aren’t taking advantage of that right now. That doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. We aren’t right now because we want to author it so it looks great.”On the bright side, the new engine means Skyrim looks quite lovely as is, just nothing mind-blowing, which it could be. No doubt the modding community will improve the situation before long, though.


    He wasn't asking for proof of what DX is utilized by Skyrim, he was asking where in the article was it claimed that Skyrim used DX11.
  • unempit
    It must be Monday...my first thought was how did they get 6 sockets on one motherboard... :)
  • Onus
    That 16C over ambient on the ASRock board is a little worrisome. That looks like the only real outlier in all the measurements. Was that at stock clocks, or with the OC?
    As far as performance goes, there doesn't appear to be any difference worth noting (which I'd expect).
  • Crashman
    OnusThat 16C over ambient on the ASRock board is a little worrisome. That looks like the only real outlier in all the measurements. Was that at stock clocks, or with the OC?As far as performance goes, there doesn't appear to be any difference worth noting (which I'd expect).
    Stock clocks. I think you'll be OK so long as your room isn't over...60C? No computing in saunas?
  • Teslarifle
    $210 for board+CPU combo that doesn't play Skyrim well on any sort of reasonable settings. Assume adding something like a 7850 2GB for better gaming performance. Contrast that with $270 for a 2500k+ASRock board, same 7850, and you are going to blow away the performance of the A10 in every single benchmark and probably run any modern game at max settings. There is no reason anyone should be an AMD APU for gaming, period.
  • blazorthon
    Teslarifle$210 for board+CPU combo that doesn't play Skyrim well on any sort of reasonable settings. Assume adding something like a 7850 2GB for better gaming performance. Contrast that with $270 for a 2500k+ASRock board, same 7850, and you are going to blow away the performance of the A10 in every single benchmark and probably run any modern game at max settings. There is no reason anyone should be an AMD APU for gaming, period.


    It's not a high-end nor even a mid-ranged option... Honestly, I wouldn't put any of these boards in an APU system. I reserve APU systems mostly for very low-budget entry level gaming systems and I tend to throw in one of the cheapest boards around for that (IE $40-60, ASRock had an awesome deal for a decent A75 board at $40 a while ago and it as perfect for such systems).

    For example, an A10-5800K with the ASRock FM2A75M-DGS and Xigmatek Gaia cooler can be had for a mere $~195. That's a decent CPU, entry-level GPU, and entry-level motherboard with a cooler for some minor to moderate overclocking. Throw in an Antec VP-450 that can be had as cheap as ~$32 and a cheap case such as the Rosewill Redbone/Blackbone U3 or RoseWill challenger (can be had as cheap as $25-45 depending on deals, at least one of them is usually around $30) and you almost have an entire computer for a little over $250. All you need at that point is a storage drive or two (can be had for around $40-60 each), possibly also an optical disk drive (which can usually be had for about $10 thanks to combo deals from Newegg with many Rosewill cases) and all that's left is memory. A decent DDR3-1600-2133 8GB kit can usually be had for $30-45 and you can spend less than $300-350 for an entire entry-level gaming machine.

    Not everyone has the money to spend on a mid-ranged to high end system. If this is all that someone can afford, a very common situation, then it is what that someone is likely to consider buying. Good luck making a similarly performing Intel system for less money. Oh, and don't bother with a Pentium or Celeron, it turns out that they're almost as good as i3s in synthetic comparisons, but a real world comparison leaves them being junk compared to even low-end AMD triple and quad core models:

    discrete gaming performance with Radeon 7950 800MHz Catalyst 12.3:


    Even the best Pentium, the Pentium G2120, can't touch AMD's Athlon II x4-comparable models such as the Llano A8s and Phenom II x4 850 in real-world performance (the FPS was calculated in average frame latency instead of average FPS for a more accurate representation of the experience's smoothness than FPS can provide and granted it's still not perfect, it's much closer to perfection than measuring in average FPS). You'd also have to throw in at least a Radeon 6670 DDR3 or similarly performing discrete graphics card for the Intel systems because their IGPs can't keep up.
  • clonazepam
    cangeliniThese sound like great ideas for a platform-oriented story. In fact, Thomas and I have discussed doing a piece on memory and Trinity. Maybe we could expand that to include an exploration of graphics and processor bottlenecks, too. Thanks for the feedback!

    Pretty please with sugar on top?