AMD A85X Mobo Roundup: ASRock, Gigabyte, Asus

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: There wasn't too much variation in performance between the three boards in this A85X roundup: all three wrung out good performance at stock speeds from the A10-5000K we used for testing. We saw more differentiation when it came to overclocking. The Asus board offered the easiest overclocking; we got the CPUs up to 4.4GHz and the GPU up to 1013MHz stably without doing any manual voltage tweaking. The Gigabyte board allowed us a stable 4.3GHz multiplier overclock with a 1000MHz GPU clock, but bluescreened at stock voltages once we pumped the multiplier up to 44x. The ASRock board's CPU OC presets (which include voltage adjustments) allowed stable CPU overclocks up to 4.6GHz with no tweaking, but we couldn't overclock the GPU at all without running into bluescreens in GPU tests. The lack of transparency in voltage options means it'll take some time to get a stable GPU overclock on the ASRock board. 

Asus F2A85-V Pro: At $140, the Asus F2A85-V Pro is the most expensive of the three A85X boards we tested, but it also offers the easiest overclocking and it has an array of features, such as Fan Xpert 2, DirectKey, all 4-pin fan headers, and CrossFireX/Dual Graphics support, that will appeal to enthusiasts. Its UEFI is also the best of the three, being functional and easy to use without too much bling or lag. Our one reservation with this particular model, other than the price, is that those enthusiast features seem ill-matched to the platform. Serious performance junkies will want dedicated GPUs, more PCIe lanes, and more cores, but those things cost money. So that puts the Asus F2A85-V Pro in a weird place: it's an enthusiast-level board on a platform that's not really for performance enthusiasts. It's a great board, though, if you want to squeeze a decent overclock out of the Virgo platform and you don't mind spending a bit extra.
Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4: The Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4 is slightly cheaper than the Asus board, but it's better-looking--we're getting a little tired of the blue-and-blue of many mainstream boards. The Gigabyte's UEFI was the least appealing of the three, with lots of mouse lag and not a lot of navigability, but overclocking was easy, if not quite as easy as the Asus board. Both the ASRock and Asus boards have more official support for RAM overclocking; the Gigabyte only officially supports DDR3/1866 (the platform's official max) and lower. The Gigabyte board's power usage was also the best of the three by 20W at both peak and idle.  If you're not going to be doing a lot of overclocking (and therefore not a lot of messing around in the UEFI), and want a competent, efficient full ATX board with all of the outputs and slots, one that uses less power than the competition and looks great doing so, the Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4 is your huckleberry.

ASRock FM2A85X Extreme4-M: Here we see a Trinity APU in what approaches its natural habitat: a micro-ATX motherboard. If the GPU is on the same die as the CPU, and it's good enough to use without a discrete graphics card, it's perfect for a small form factor build. While micro-ATX isn't quite as small as mini-ITX, the FM2A85X Extreme4-M is at least an acknowledgement that hey, maybe we don't need to be tied to the ATX form factor for every platform. The FM2A85X Extreme4-M doesn't have quite as many features as the ATX boards in our roundup, but it's also much cheaper at $90, and it doesn't leave too much out. There's no DisplayPort, but it has HDMI, optical out, and DVI, so it'd still make for a great HTPC or basic desktop build. It only has one PCIe x16 slot and one physical x16 slot that only runs at x4, but for Trinity that's not a dealbreaker. The FM2A85X Extreme4-M is also quite attractive, with its black-on-black color scheme and subtle gold and grey accents. The CPU overclocking presets are fantastic, though the GPU overclocking options are unnecessarily complicated. 

Despite its lower price and smaller form factor, the ASRock board doesn't feel like a budget board. It's the best bet for someone who recognizes that you don't need full ATX for a Trinity build and is willing to trade complicated GPU overclocking for fantastic, simple CPU overclocks. And hey, it's $40 cheaper than the next option.

Any of these boards would be a solid choice for a Trinity build, but we can't help but think that Trinity's true potential lies in slim mini-ITX small form factor rigs. Why use space you don't need? We can't wait to test a mini-ITX A85X mobo. In the end, we're not offering an Editor's Choice award because all three boards excel at different things: The Asus board is the easiest to overclock, but it's the most expensive. The Gigabyte board is slightly cheaper and more power efficient, but slightly harder to overclock, and its UEFI could use some work. And the ASRock board is by far the cheapest and has a form factor that makes a lot of sense for Trinity, but its GPU clocking isn't very intutive and is hard to get stable. They're all good boards, but none of them rises so far above the rest that it stands out.

Asus F2A85-V Pro
Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4
ASRock FM2A85X Extreme4-M

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