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.