Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 FM2 Motherboard Review: Overkill for Trinity?
I have to admit that I really like this board. It is a unique design with that (overly) beefy power deliver system for the CPU. It overclocks as well as any other board and has many of the same features of products in its price range. It is an enthusiast level product, but unfortunately the CPU that fits into it is not. While AMD has the best integrated graphics on a CPU, the two module A10-5800K does not perform in CPU intensive applications as well as its Intel counterparts at the same price. Enthusiasts will not want to utilize the onboard graphics unless some application can directly access it for GPGPU/OpenCL workloads. True HSA is not here yet, and that will have to wait for Kaveri in Q4 2013. Very few applications can utilize the graphics portion of Trinity for non-graphics work, and those that do will likely perform better on a standalone video card (even when the card is still rendering 3D graphics and doing OpenCL work at the same time).
Here is a nice shot of the power delivery system. Gigabyte went all out on this particular feature and I hope that it really pays off with future AMD APUs.
The performance of this board is right next to that of the Asus board. Typically Asus is a bit more aggressive in their early tuning than Gigabyte, but it is nice to see such a small difference between the two products. The Etron USB 3.0 controller is going to be slower than the native one, but it will still be significantly faster than any USB 2.0 controller. The differences are around the 5% mark. So while it is slower, it is not going to dramatically infringe on an individual’s productivity.
The overall layout and design of the board is very pleasing to the eye. It also works very well in a functional sense. There is plenty of space between the two cards in CrossFire, and they allow the use of multiple slots depending on the configuration. The SATA ports are unobtrusive and easy to access even with a graphics card installed. It has fast e-SATA support. Seven internal SATA ports should be good enough for nearly everyone. The Gig-E and sound support are provided by Realtek, but that isn’t such a bad thing anymore.
The back is very plain. Some motherboards have some power chips on the back due to a lack of space on the front of the board, but not in this case.
Overall the GA-F2A85X-UP4 is a well rounded board with some very interesting features. It has been a solid and stable motherboard throughout testing, and the performance is right on par with the best in the industry. The price is very reasonable for what is offered and the end user can see the value that they have with all the extras built onto the board.
The only problem is the CPU that is placed in it. Trinity is a good product, but it is not a great product. Enthusiasts are not flocking to it. While it is doing well in desktop applications that do not require heavy CPU power and better than average graphics, it does not require a motherboard nearly as stout as what Gigabyte offers.
The Gigabyte and Asus boards are very similar overall in layout, but I believe the UP4 is slightly better. There are some strange decisions by Asus (3 PCI slots?), and the placement of the seventh SATA port on the Asus board is bad. It becomes unusable when a full sized graphics card is installed. The Gigabyte board does not have that particular problem.
I cannot fault Gigabyte for this motherboard, as it really is a great piece of engineering. They offer a lot of board for a very good price. Hopefully Kaveri will be more performance oriented than the current batch of Trinity processors, and thereby more attractive to enthusiasts who want to find a good product in this price range.
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