ASUS F2A85-M Pro microATX FM2 Motherboard

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ASUS F2A85-M Pro microATX FM2 Motherboard

October 25, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
ASUS F2A85-M Pro
FM2 microATX Motherboard
Manufacturer
ASUS
Street Price
US$125

AMD recently launched their Trinity platform with second generation APUs that build on the accomplishments of Llano, which was released just over a year ago. Trinity features new CPU cores based on Piledriver, an evolution of the Bulldozer architecture used in their first FX series chips for socket AM3+, as well as updated graphics hardware that give a nice boost to 3D performance. Trinity offers a bit of everything, strong multi-threaded performance, enough GPU power to get through some games at decent resolutions, and fairly good efficiency, all at a reasonable price.

Price has been absolutely key for AMD's success since the release of Intel's Core 2 architecture which put AMD back into their role as a perennial underdog. It's okay not to have the best performing chips if you can still deliver superior value. They've been smart complementing their processors with similarly affordable motherboard chipsets laden with features while Intel based boards have carried a "tax" so to speak as if it was a privilege to use their CPUs.

Our first FM2 motherboard sample is the ASUS F2A85-M Pro, a microATX model that packs a lot of punch in-terms of features considering the cost. At US$125, it's quite cheap but that price is actually in the upper range for an FM2 board, so you might consider it a high-end board. There is one killer aspect of the F2A85-M Pro that differentiates itself from most of the competition — it's equipped with ASUS' Fan Xpert 2, which we discussed in detail in our ASUS P8Z77-V Pro review. It's a very capable fan control system with a functional and beautiful Windows GUI and it's only been available on a limited and fairly expensive selection of ASUS LGA1155 motherboards.

This board is based on the new A85X chipset which is essentially the same as the previous Llano flagship chipset, A75, except for the addition of two more SATA 6 Gbps ports. For users on a stricter budget the A75/A55 chipsets have been used for FM2; you can find an FM2 board for as little as US$50 if you're willing to live with a very basic feature-set.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro : Specifications
(from the product web page)
CPU AMD Socket FM2 Athlon™/A- Series Processors
Supports CPU up to 4 cores
Supports AMD® Turbo Core 3.0 Technology
Chipset AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4)
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR3 1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Support AMD Memory Profile (AMP) memory
* The Max. 64GB memory capacity can be supported with DIMMs of 16GB (or above). ASUS will update QVL once the DIMMs are available on the market.
Graphic Integrated AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series Graphics in A-series APU
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI/RGB/DisplayPort ports *
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DVI with max. resolution 2560 x 1600 @ Hz
- Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 2048 MB
AMD® Dual Graphics technology support
Supports DirectX 11
Multi-GPU Support Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports LucidLogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology *1
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4) chipset :
7 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD
LAN Realtek® 8111F, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller : *2
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4) chipset :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 2 at mid-board)
AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4) chipset :
10 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 8 at mid-board)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
4 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 8 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM connector(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
7 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 x -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(Es)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
Accessories User's manual
ASUS Q-Shield
2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
Support Disc Drivers, ASUS utilities, ASUS Update, Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor uATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note * Refer to http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/dual-graphics/Pages/dual-graphics.aspx#3 for the discrete GPUs which support Dual Graphics technology
*1 LucidLogix Virtu MVP supports Windows 7 operating systems.
*2 Supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost UASP Mode

Much of the F2A85-M Pro's functionality is thanks to the modern graphics chip found in AMD's latest APUs. Trinity is capable of outputting four independent displays simultaneously (all four common display outputs are available on the board) and like Intel's Sandy and Ivy Bridge platform, Lucid's Virtu GPU virtualization software is supported if you prefer discrete graphics but want the integrated graphics to handle specific tasks like video playback. Dual Graphics, the ability to combine the IGP with an HD 6570/6670 in a psuedo-CrossFire configuration to boost 3D performance, is also available. For serious gamers, the board has a pair of PCI Express 16x slots for running a proper CrossFireX array though the slots don't adhere to the latest 3.0 standard. Furthermore, the second PCI Express 16x slot is located at the bottom so not all microATX cases will have room for a second dual or triple slot card.

There are a whopping eight ports connected to AMD's native SATA 6 Gbps controller (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and JBOD supported) with seven internal ports and one eSATA connector on the back panel. Gigabit ethernet and 8-channel audio are a given of course, but there's also a secondary ASMedia USB 3.0 controller in addition to the one provided by the chipset.


The box.


Package contents.

While the board is feature-rich, the package is downright barren. There's a manual, driver disc and I/O shield of course, but the only real extra is a pair of locking SATA cables. It's not a lot considering there are seven internal SATA ports. The ever useful Q-Connector for convenient front panel wiring is also noticeably absent.



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