AMD’s Trinity-based APU processors promise better performance to the tune of 15% along with improved power consumption and a better graphics core based on VLIW5. GCN-based graphics cores will undoubtably come with the next family based on the Steamroller architecture, but for now FM2 promises better value for money, better gaming performance and more flexibility than Llano. To give the enthusiasts something to look forward to, there’s the new A85 chipset upon which Gigabyte has based its new F2A85X-D3H.
With a black PCB and the full ATX form factor, the board looks the business and does away with Gigabyte’s usual blue PCB for its low-end models. Based on AMD’s A85 chipset which makes room for native USB 3.0 and full SATA 6Gb/s support, the board features a 4+2 phase VRM which indicates that Gigabyte isn’t aiming it at overclockers and will likely push a low price tag. There’s four DDR3-1866 RAM slots supporting up to 64GB of memory, even though many users are unlikely to even push 32GB on a system based on this motherboard.
Two of the SATA 6Gb/s ports are angled at 90° to the board to fit under any grapics card fitted into the second PCI-Express 2.0 slot. In fact, there’s two of those as well as three PCI-Express 1x slots and two PCI slots for legacy cards. There are eight USB 2.0 ports available as well as three USB 3.0 ports – two on the back panel, two available via a front-panel header. The board also supports triple-dispay Eyefinity, offering connectivity through D-SUB, HDMI and Dual-link DVI ports. Gigabit Ethernet, PS/2 dual-mode port, an eight-channel sound card courtesy of Realtek and a legacy COM header round off the rest of the connectivity options, which may come in handy in case you land a very old arcade stick controller on a bargain.
Looking around the rest of the board, there’s three PWM-controlled fan headers in addition to the SYS_FAN header near the FM2 socket. One can clearly see the two BIOS chips and there’s plenty of space in this board design to add in a mini-SATA slot for a small SSD in between the PCI-Express 16x ports, something which Gigabyte may reserve for higher-end models of the same board. All the capacitors found on the board are solid ones and overall its a very clean layout. You’ll have to make sure your PSU has support for the 8-pin ATX 12v connectors, but that’s not really a big issue with molex adapters readily available. I can see some issues with builders needing to stretch their front-panel audio header a bit far, but that’s as far as it goes for potential issues.
This will be a great buy as a first step for those looking for a new FM2 system to play around with and overclock a little – the more serious stuff can come later. There’s also options for Crossfire, although the second PCI-Express slot is only capable of running with four lanes enabled. You’re probably better off with a single GPU anyway, considering the low-end, value/graphics-orientated nature of AMD’s FM2 family.
Gigabyte expects the F2A85X-D3H to be out on the market worldwide in the next few weeks at a RRP of $100.