Gigabyte GA-F2A85XN-WIFI Mini-ITX Motherboard

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The Gigabyte GA-F2A85XN-WIFI is very similar to the GA-H77N-WIFI I reviewed a couple of week previous. Much of what I said about the H77N-WIFI applies here as well. It's nice energy efficient board for basic computing, hooking up to a TV, or for a small server (a proper server requires additional SATA ports). However, for gamers and enthusiasts, the F2A85XN-WIFI isn't a compromise as it has a VRM cooler and overclocking capabilities. This extra versatility really makes the Z77N-WIFI, a more expensive Z77 chipset board, its true analog on the Intel side. The F2A85XN-WIFI also has a better designed and more attractive WiFi antenna.

Even discounting these differences, I found the F2A85XN-WIFI to be more impressive based on how well it stacked up against other FM2 boards. Of the three FM2 boards we've reviewed, the F2A85XN-WIFI absolutely dominated them in load energy efficiency. I'm talking about a difference of about 10W, which is huge when the total consumption is only 75~100W.

Like most budget boards, there are a couple of places that need improvement. You can't expect the fan control to be exemplary on a budget mini-ITX model but limiting control to PWM fans is frustrating when almost every fan included with a case is of the 3-pin variety. In addition, if you let Gigabyte handle the fan speeds, the system fan reacts to the chipset rather than the CPU temperature, something that makes absolute no sense for this form factor. To top it all off, the accompanying software is antiquated and restrictive — use SpeedFan instead, it's just better in every conceivable way. Also, both the chipset and VRM heatsink are undersized, though for the chipset its more forgivable as the FCH on FM2 boards doesn't seem to heat up as much as the PCH on Intel motherboards.

Despite these issues, if you're looking for a small AMD motherboard for a SFF system, the F2A85XN-WIFI fits just about any niche you have in mind, and does so with first class energy efficiency, at least for an AMD model.

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Gigabyte GA-F2A85XN-WIFI is Recommended by SPCR

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ASUS F2A85-M Pro microATX FM2 Motherboard
ASUS P8Z77-V Pro: Xpert Fan Control for LGA1155
Intel DZ77GA-70K Z77 Motherboard: Waiting for Ivy Bridge

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