Gigabyte GA-F2A85XN-WIFI Mini-ITX Motherboard

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Storage Subsystem Performance

To test storage subsystems I used CrystalDiskMark, the 1000 MB setting with 0x00 fill test data, and a Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid state drive (compressible data produces the best possible speeds out SandForce drives). The drive was connected using an Icy Dock external dock which supports eSATA and USB 3.0 (limited to 3 Gbps and 5 Gbps respectively).

SATA 6 Gbps

All A75/A85 chipset motherboards are equipped with AMD's own native SATA 6 Gbps controller and I've run this test many times with similar results so I didn't bother doing it again on this particular model. Intel's solution is superior across the board, especially with the smaller 512K block size, which means operations dealing with small files.

It's notable however that the difference is only above ~400 MB/s which is beyond the capability of most SSDs. The popular SandForce drives like the one I used can only achieve these numbers using highly compressible data. All things being equal, its unlikely any difference in performance would be noticed.

USB 3.0

USB 3.0 can purportedly produce data rates of up to 4 Gbps (512 MB/s) but in practice I've never seen anything come close. When connected internally, the test drive is capable of 500 MB/s when working with 512K block sizes. The A85X's controller is a only slightly slower than solutions from Intel and VIA but they're all roughly in the same ballpark.

This lack of performance isn't a huge deal if you're working with external hard drives and flash drives, but SSDs and other high-throughput devices would probably be better off using Thunderbolt as an interface.

WiFi

For the WiFi test, I sent a large file transfer (700MB) to a GBLAN-connected machine. I should note that the 802.11n router servicing our lab is not the greatest — it has never been able to obtain a throughput higher than 50 mbps. Still the relative difference should be noteworthy. For this comparison, I pitted the F2A85XN-WIFI's Atheros NIC against a USB adapter form ASUS, and a PCI Express controller from Intel.

The ASUS USB-N13 got completely trounced in this test, not even cracking the 10 mbps mark. I wouldn't describe either the Intel or Atheros adapters as particularly fast either but they were miles ahead of the USB adapter. The onboard WiFi trailed the Intel NIC by 6.4 mbps but that's still enough for many forms of high definition video.

The file transfer results mirrored what I saw with regard to signal strength. The Centrino reported the greatest signal strength of the three, particularly for further away off-site networks, followed by the Atheros, and then the ASUS. I should also note that USB-N13 only picked up three SSIDs, while the other two detected five (each spotted a different fifth network so I excluded it from the chart). The USB adapter's poor results are probably in part due to the lack of an external antenna.



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