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booj

MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 & AMD A10-5800K

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Dammit.. too many images and I cannot repeat post without it auto merging...

 

Hey guys,

 

In this, and other forums, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of love for AMD's Trinity FM2 platform. I think that's a shame as the platform has a lot going for it. I want to take a look at the AMD A10-5800K along with the MSI A85XA-G65.

 

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Introduction:

 

Most folks here would know that 2012 hasn't been kind to AMD. Bulldozer based FX processors failed to meet expectations in the enthusiast segment. The updated Piledriver cores found in the recent Vishera FX processors have improved their relative performance, but they still suffer compared to Intel's offerings in most metrics except for price.

 

The Trinity range of APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) combines this updated Piledriver core with a VLIW4 graphics architecture as was found in the 6000 series GPUs. In this case the graphics are named HD 7660D. Trinity is targeted at the entry level with a combination of excellent price and graphics performance that Intel CPUs cannot match. This is the true strength of Trinity and the FM2 platform and one that really should be more apparent to the average end user who doesn't encode 1080p blu rays all day every day.

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The A10-5800K is the model I have here. With its up to 4.2Ghz turbo clock, it would seem that AMD has successfully completed the transition to the 32nm node with mass production clock speeds like this.

 

A look on staticice shows the 5800K going for about $130-$135. You can get the CPU, motherboard and have money left over for many GB of ram for the price of a 3770K, yet have greatly superior graphics performance.. An interesting, alternative way of looking at it.

 

Of course, MSI doesn't neglect the FM2 market and have released the A85XA-G65 motherboard, which is a high end FM2 board, but still cheaper than many equivalent Intel motherboards with equivalent specs.

 

MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 Motherboard

 

We'll start off with the obligatory box shots. Obviously, MSI is proud of their Military Class components and this is prominently featured.

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The rear of the box shows most of the relevant features of the board, and throws in some extra marketing stuff for good measure :D

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The bundle is pretty standard, with the usual manuals, software CD, SATA cables, backplate, and front panel connector. We also have a certificate detailing the components and tests they need to pass to qualify for the Military Class III rating. Additionally, there is a set of voltage read point cables for connecting to the read points adjacent to the ATX power connector. Most of your budget FM2 boards aren't overclocking friendly to say the least, but with the A85XA-G65, MSI has included them and other OC features you wouldn't expect in boards of this class.

 

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The layout of the board itself looks pretty spot on. We have beefy heatsinks, fan headers placed around the board, good slot layout. Maybe the extreme cooling guys might be bothered by the lone capacitor near the memory slots.

 

Overall its a nice looking board, sitting near the top of the spec sheets for socket FM2 motherboards.

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The rear of the board gives a good look at the PCIe slot arrangement. We have screws for all heatsinks which is good to see. The soldering is top notch.

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This section of the board shows the onboard power/reset and OC Genie buttons. OC Genie is a one touch auto overclocking button. We also see the voltage read points, which are becoming essential for any overclocking enthusiast.

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The socket area gives a peek at the PWM system the board uses. A International Rectifier controller and Renasas MOSFETs, in a 6+2 phase configuration are not what you would normally find on a budget board. Note that I have removed the standard FM2 heatsink retention brackets. One thing I love about AMD is the long socket life and ability to use older heatsinks. Any cooler compatible with FM1, AM2 or AM3(+) can be used as a FM2 cooler. Even some S939 coolers will still work. Hello Intel?.....

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Here we see the expansion slots. The layout is pretty much ideal for this type of board. A user could in theory run two triple slot graphics cards and still have a 1x slot to spare. That is highly unlikely though. A more likely setup might be a dual slot GPU, a RAID card, and a either a PCIe 1x or PCI sound card with slots to spare. That sort of arrangement would make for a pretty cool HTPC with or without a discrete GPU. Two way Crossfire is supported.

http://imageshack.us/a/img534/7995/p1010952q.jpg

 

The A85XA-G65 sports a 8 pin PCIe power connector. This is enough to really push the board hard on LN2. Several users have pushed well over 7Ghz CPU frequency using this board, so it is clearly capable of taking a lot of punishment. We also see the hefty heatsink and heatpipe assembly in use to keep the PWM section cool.

http://imageshack.us/a/img203/1080/p1010951x.jpg

 

 

The I/O panel contains no less than four video outputs. Up to three monitors can be driven at a time, but do note, due to limitations, the HDMI and Display Ports cannot be used simultaneously.

http://imageshack.us/a/img580/4814/p1010948ym.jpg

 

Intel may have the lead in CPU performance, but they cannot match even the budget AMD platform when it comes to SATA connectivity. The A85 chipset is all SATA III which is great to see. There is no reason you could not use this board as a NAS or HTPC/media server fully loaded up with drives.

http://imageshack.us/a/img845/6388/p1010941e.jpg

 

Down at the bottom of the board, we see the USB headers and CMOS clear button.

http://imageshack.us/a/img41/9375/p1010939j.jpg

 

Test Setup & Stock Benchmarks:

 

AMD A10-5800K w/ Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler

MSI A85XA-G65

G.Skill 2x4gb 2400Mhz (Samsung IC)

Antec AX1200 PSU

Intel 330 Series 180GB SSD

Windows 7 x64

AMD Catalyst 12.11 beta driver

 

First up, a look a the system at idle. I really must get hold of a power consumption meter. I expect power consumption to be quite low in this sort of system without a discrete GPU sucking down the juice.

http://img821.imageshack.us/img821/3571/screen000we.jpg

 

Now, we all know that Intel CPUs will beat AMD CPUs in CPU benchmarks, so I have not bothered to run any. Despite this, in reality, as a net browser, gamer, office productivity or media playback machine.. that is, probably 90% of the PC market, the user will simply not notice any difference between the two. Add a fast SSD and Trinity will cover most people at most tasks, at a budget price.

 

Instead, I have run graphics benchmarks. I will update these results with overclocked numbers and Intel HD4000 results shortly.

 

3DMark Vantage

http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/9129/screen002qa.jpg

 

Alien vs Predator

http://img707.imageshack.us/img707/9919/screen003it.jpg

 

Crysis 2

http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/408/77615551.jpg

 

Battlefield 3

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/1087/bf3ws.jpg

 

In most games, at fully stock settings, 720p is more or less playable with reasonable settings depending on the game.

 

What becomes apparent, is how memory bandwidth limited the system is. I will use 3DMark 11 as an example and as a preview of the overclocking results to follow.

 

http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/8259/3d11.jpg

Not a bad gain at all, right? With a little bump to a still conservative 2133Mhz memory, we see well above 10% gain, and close to 35% gain when everything is overclocked. Suddenly those 720p games will go from borderline to fully playable at medium to high settings. I will update more later on with OC results in actual games but you can expect similar percentage gains.

 

Conclusion

 

I will leave it there for now, but I really want to play with this platform some more, especially on the OC side. It won't break any FPS records or take HWbot by storm, but as an entry level, highly affordable system capable of casual gaming far beyond what Intel IGP can acheive, along with enough CPU performance for everyday tasks, and suddenly Trinity looks pretty good.

 

I am quite a fan of the FM2 and Trinity platform. It is perfect for a HTPC, a 'Mum and Dad' machine, for OEMs, basically anything that doesn't require constant CPU grunt like video encoding. It is especially useful as a notebook part. (Hint: MSI GX60 :D) For most of the tasks a regular user will use it for, Trinity is worthy of consideration. There's plenty of overclocking headroom (Which i'll get to) and it can even be undervolted which the silent PC folks will love.

 

As we can see, The MSI A85XA-G65 goes beyond what you would expect from an entry level platform and provides overclocking features typically reserved for more expensive boards. In my testing so far, the boards bios feels quite mature, with no showstopper bugs revealing themselves. The BIOS has an extensive range of settings for the tweakers. I would like to see an option for faster memory, up to DDR3-2666 to really help with the graphics performance, but this may be a CPU/Platform limitation.

 

More to come!

 

Cheers

Edited by booj

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Nice writeup mate and good pics :) Glad to see someone giving the new AMD platform some attention, it definitely has it's place, if I was building a machine for someone who wasn't into gaming.. this would be exactly what I looked at. I've been a fan of the recent MSI boards, although they could use a few more options in the BIOS to compare to the gigabyte/asus in terms of overclocking. Other than that they are great boards.

 

Very detailed review, I'm impressed with the performance in games actually, it's actually pretty good. Would be nice to see some AMD models which didn't also focus on the integrated GPU, perhaps that's what is holding them back... since enthusiasts would likely be using a discrete card anyway it would be good to have a cheaper/cooler option which was CPU only, although it probably isn't likely to happen :)

 

For what they are though, an all in one type solution, they seem to be doing very well. I wonder how this compares to the Ivy Bridge onboard GPU...

Edited by p0is0n

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Nice writeup mate and good pics :)

Note booj's tag p0is0n

MSI Australia so perhaps an MSI rep?

:P

But I do agree the AMD cpu's are not as bad as a lot claim, especially when you get to the HTPC/Office PC/General Desktop PC end. Plenty enough CPU grunt for that and onboard GFX that pisses all over the Intel options.

The AMD onboard is even capable of quite good low to middish end gaming so long as you don't try to go to too high a resolution.

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Nice writeup mate and good pics :)

Note booj's tag p0is0n

MSI Australia so perhaps an MSI rep?

:P

But I do agree the AMD cpu's are not as bad as a lot claim, especially when you get to the HTPC/Office PC/General Desktop PC end. Plenty enough CPU grunt for that and onboard GFX that pisses all over the Intel options.

The AMD onboard is even capable of quite good low to middish end gaming so long as you don't try to go to too high a resolution.

 

Yeah im a rep.. but the focus is really more on the CPU, with lots of board pics hehe a bit of a showoff more than anything.

 

Don't worry, its all cleared with the man with the top floor office. One thing you wont see from me is a rating of the board or how it will make you breakfast in the morning etc etc

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or how it will make you breakfast in the morning etc etc

What? No brekky? Gahhhhhhhhhhh.

 

What interests me about the board is the 8 sata ports as I always seem to need a lot of ports on my home PC.

Currently at three HDDs, an SSD, a BD player, a 2.5" dock (built in to the case), a 3.5" dock ( 51/4 bay device) and an E-Sata port for the Vantec external dock. Seems a lot but often transferring stuff between HDDs and backing up stuff on customers HDDs so all the bays/e-sata docks come in handy. So much faster than a USB dock or caddy.

 

As I also game I think next build will have to be Intel if I can find a suitable mobo with enough Sata ports that is not outrageously priced. May be some time off though as my old Phenom II X4 970 still seems to be trucking along ok.

:-)

 

Do have soft spot for MSI boards though as I had several back in the skt 370 and 478 days that did not give me any grief.

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Last decent board I owned was an MSI, I really liked it. I'd definetely consider them again,whether or not to go AMD for the cost savings and the socket longevity(it's not fantastic, but it's a LITTLE better than Intel's) or for Intel for pure performance is the question.

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biggest problem for the amd cpu's imo is that they cost to much by comparison to intel especially when you consider how much cheaper intel mb are

although you are no doubt comparing amd quad core vs quad core intel rather than dual core like i would

 

sure the igp is nice but most home\office work doesnt need a better igp and its still not good enough for proper gaming so it kinda sits in no man land

one nice thing about amd is that for ~$75 you can get a mb with six sata3 ports

most you can get with any intel 1155 mb is 1-2 without an extra controller tacked onto the mb although 1-2 is typically enough and not a problem for most people

 

 

edit

i snuk a fm2 build into the parts guide a while back and am hopeing to get antoher in when we see fm2 itx mb in stock

 

Low Budget Gamer 1 CPU Review | GPU Review

CPU/MB Option AMD quad A8-5600K UNLOCKED 3.6Ghz (3.9GHz Turbo), 4MB $111 ASRock FM2A55M-DGS $63=$174

CPU/MB Option Intel dual i3 3220 LOCKED Dual Core 3MB $114 With ASRock H71M-DGS $43=$157

CPU/MB Option Intel quad i5 3450 LOCKED (3.5GHz Turbo) Quad Core 6MB $184 With ASRock B75M-GL $59=$243

RAM 1x4g ddr3 $19 - OR - 2x4g $35 - OR - 2x4g 1600 $43

GPU 6670 1g $63 - OR - 7750 1G $95 - OR - 7770 1g $119 - OR - 7850 2G $179 - OR - GTX660 2Gb $229 - OR - 7870 2G $229 - OR - 7950 3G $295

HDD 500GB 7200rpm was $37 now $65

DVD sata dvd $18

PSU FSP Raider 450w Bronze 3y $60

CASE CoolerMaster Elite 334U $39

TOTAL $367-IGP (ok for a start but for gaming get a gpu quick) $430-761

Edited by Dasa

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one nice thing about amd is that for ~$75 you can get a mb with six sata3 ports

Which motherboards specifically?

 

the a75 chipset has a sata3 controller for 6 ports so any mb with it

http://www.staticice.com.au/cgi-bin/search...+fm2&spos=1

 

just noticed they also have two usb 1.1 ports seems a little odd i guess there must be some devices with pore compatibility with new usb ports? why else would they bother

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just noticed they also have two usb 1.1 ports

What where? All I see is usb 2.0 and usb 3.0 with support for USB 1.1 and 2.0 (IE the USB3.0 ports are backwards compatible).

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just noticed they also have two usb 1.1 ports

What where? All I see is usb 2.0 and usb 3.0 with support for USB 1.1 and 2.0 (IE the USB3.0 ports are backwards compatible).

 

first found it in this old fm1 review but its also in this new one

 

While the A55 offers us two USB 1.1 ports and 14 USB 2.0 ports, the A75 offers us the same two USB 1.1 ports, but only 10 USB 2.0 ports with the other four ports being natively supported USB 3.0 ones.

Read more at http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4171/amd_...3y0q4AgAV5Th.99

and here http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?opti...mp;limitstart=1

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but then amd doesnt list it here

http://www.amd.com/us/products/workstation...ages/APU.aspx#4

Edited by Dasa

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Dunno where they are getting their info from but I reckon they have screwed up.

I have an Asrock A75M-HVS and an Asrock A75M here and both are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, no USB 1.1 ports at all.

And looking through some other A55 and A85 Asrock boards again no USB 1.1.

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its possible its in the chipset and mb makers chose not to implement it

wouldnt surprise me if it was a mistake though

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whenI saw the A85 chip had 8x SATAIII and did raid 5 I had to change my panties.

 

I had tested a SB850 with a 4 x 500GB in raid 5 and it was a solid as you like. while the new FX chips had not set my hairs on fire the FM2 socket chips looked bood for a file/media sentre and raid 5 was awesome for a bit of data security (vs HDD failure, not fire and theft).

 

that some of the A85 boards have support for OMG summed it up for me when I 1st saw the spec sheet.

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Nice review booj :-)

 

But yeah, those APU's are pretty good overall. I know I'd use them if I were rebuilding my parents PC, plus they'd make good little basic lan boxes

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