AMD A10-6800K & A10-6700 Richland APU Reviewformerstaff -
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AMD A10-6800K & A10-6700 Richland APU Closer Look:
The motherboard we were sent to test the A10-6800K and A10-6700 is the top of the line A85X chipset in the form of the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4. It is rare that a company stays on top and does not rest on its laurels at some point, but Gigabyte keeps on bringing it and always surprises me with new innovations for the performance user.
The Gigabyte A85X arrives in a typical Gigabyte-looking, basic white background box sporting some "Best Of" awards from Computex and an Electronic Award of the Year 2011 credentials. Among the most prominent Gigabyte trademarks are the lower right corner with a lifted up image to reveal and illustrate the 2X copper PCB design for better conductivity and cooling by using two ounces of copper in the tracers. The 'Ultra Durable 5' design philosophy occupies the entire upper left quadrant of the box along with something that was a bit of a surprise to see on a motherboard built for an APU. These were "High Current Capability" and "designed for overclocking AMD A-Series APUs and for use in water cooled systems." Interesting. There is also a new feature in the Power IR Stage 60A power delivery, which is 4+2 on this board, but with significant differences. I will have a more in depth look at the A85X chipset and this board in an upcoming review, but for now we will just have a quick look around.
Popping open the box you get a look at the bundle, which is rather basic with the A85X. You get an I/O backplate, a manual, driver software install disc, three SATA cables, and that's about it. Underneath the accessories you get the first look of the A85X inside its anti-static bag.
Out of the box we have a look at at our first FM2 motherboard that looks a lot like the FM1 motherboards. The UP4 is done in that great looking Gigabyte black (real black) on black color scheme. The first things I notice are the cooler compatibility has not changed and it is a standard ATX form factor measuring in at 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm. The board has a clean layout and looks to have zero interference problems even if you decide to load it up with its full capability. Nothing to report on the back other than a steel support bracket.
Starting with the rear I/O panel we have the usual connectivity with the unique exception of the DisplayPort that makes Eyefinity possible from the motherboard with this platform. You get the following connections: one PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, one D-Sub port, one DVI-D port, one optical S/PDIF out connector, one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA 6Gb/s connector, one RJ-45 port, and six audio jacks. In the next image we can see the expansion capabilities of the UP4 with three PCIe x1 slots and three full length PCIe x16 slots. You get full 16 lanes with a single discrete card and x8/x8 in Crossfire. The bottom PCIe slot runs at x4.
Along the bottom of the board we have the usual line of connectivity with the USB headers including the red USB header that is three times the power cabable for faster charging with devices that support it. You also have a TPM header, front audio, and a system fan header. We also spot a cluster of the Gigabyte high quality 50,000 hour Japanese capacitors. On the lower right of the A85X we see the front panel header alongside a vertically placed SATA 6Gb/s header. Atop the SATA header is the digital debug readout for diagnosing problems during bootup
Drive connectivity on the UP4 is in the form of eight SATA 6Gb/s ports controlled by the A85X chipset, which offers support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD. Six are positioned in typical fashion along the right edge of the board while one is mounted vertically below the others and one eSATA is on the rear I/O panel. Note the dual BIOS modules to the left of the SATA ports. In the case of a bad flash or BIOS failure, the second BIOS will activate and take over so you can re-flash the first successfully. Towards the top right of the board is the 24-pin power connector along side a 20-pin USB header. In the right corner we have an onboard power button and a clear CMOS button
Memory support for the UP4 is up to 64GB of 1.5V dual channel DDR3, with speeds of 1866/1600/1333/1066. I installed 2133MHz memory and it recognized and applied the correct multiplier and timings with AMD memory profiles. Two phases of the board's 4+2+1 phase layout are dedicated to the memory power delivery and HyperTransport. As we will see in the proceeding benchmarks, the FM2 platform is very memory performance sensitive and scales very well with the speed of the RAM used.
Around the socket area we can see the 60 amp Power IR Stage IR3550 ICs from International Rectifier and 60 amp rated ferrite chokes. Basically it is a single package MOSFET design that runs much cooler than traditional MOSFETs and lower RDs MOSFETs. The Ultra Durable 5 motherboards implement a digital PWM controller array that uses digital power controllers to send precise voltage to the different components around the board. This is particularly critical with the AMD APUs where the CPU and GPU work in tandem constantly throttling back and forth as the workload dictates. We will cover this interesting new digital power delivery in the UP4 dedicated review. You can also see the small finned aluminum heat sink that sits atop the MOSFETs that are made for serious overclocking and at no time was heat an issue. In the second image you can see the board uses a standard 8-pin CPU power connector placed just behind the rear I/O panel.
We have the top locked and unlocked models of the new Richland APU locked and loaded in the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 and ready to go.
A welcome addition to Gigabyte AMD motherboards has arrived, as a comprehensive UEFI BIOS is now included. The 3D BIOS Dual UEFI BIOS has been a pleasure to work with and here are a few screenshots of 3D BIOS.
That's a brief look at the Gigabyte motherboard we will be using for the introduction of the Richland A-Series. As I said we will take a much more in-depth look at this motherboard in a separate upcoming review.
Check out the detailed specifications for the A85X-UP4 on the next page and then we will strap the A10-6800K and A10-6700 in and see what they are made of.