AMD A8-3850 Llano APU Reviewajmatson - June 29, 2011
» Discuss this article (4)
The board that was provided to us for testing this new platform was the Gigabyte A75M-UD2H. This board supports the Socket FM1 processor, including the A6 and A8 APUs. Gigabyte has designed the A75M-UD2H with performance and stability in mind by building it around the Ultra Durable 3 concept. Starting at the core of the PC board they have included the patented two ounces of copper designed to: keep the critical components cooler; lower motherboard temperatures; and dissipate the heat over a larger area. It doesn't stop there either, Gigabyte also used all solid Japanese capacitors, Lower RDS(on) Mosfets, and Ferrite Core Chokes. In addition to the Ultra Durable 3 features, Gigabyte included the newer Super4 features which include Super Safe, Super Speed, Super Savings and Super Sound. Super Safe is a new feature that uses a dual BIOS design to help you recover from bad flashes and individual fuses for the ports so multiple ports do not fail for a single blown fuse. Super Speed includes the faster USB 3.0 standards as well as the faster charge time due to 3x the power per port and the On/Off ability to charge your external devices. Super Savings encompasses better power handling with less waste and high efficiency by using Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs having a Lower CPU Zone Temperature and a Higher Power-Efficiency. Super Sound is brought to you by having a better integrated sound system with a 108dB Signal-to-Noise ratio playback.
On the back panel of the A75M-UD2H there are a number of possibilities for your connections. Starting from the top there is a single PS/2 port which will support either a mouse or keyboard, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a single gigabit Ethernet port, both the analog and digital audio ports and the video ports. For the video ports, there is every connection available including the older VGA port, a DVI port, an HDMI port and even a display port which is something I have not seen integrated into a motherboard before. You can run dual-link DVI from the integrated graphics or even run the discrete and integrated graphics at the same time, depending on your preferences.
Down on the expansion slots you will definitely smile. You can see there are two PCI Express x16 slots, a single PCI Express x1 slot and a lone legacy PCI slot. The PCI Express x16 slot at the top runs at x16 speeds electrically and the bottom PCI Express x16 slot runs at x4 electrically. All PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 specifications and can support both CrossFireX between dual discrete cards as well as a Hybrid CrossFireX between the integrated GPU and specific discrete video cards.
Just as with the back panel, the internal headers and ports give you a vast amount of expandability. On the bottom of the board starting from the left is the front panel audio header, a SPDIF header, a firewire header, two USB 2.0 headers (F_USB1 supports the On/Off charge feature with a USB 2.0 supported bracket), an internal USB 3.0 header (which we have wanted for some time), a COM header and the front panel control headers. Turning around to the right side of the board there are five SATA 6.0Gbps ports for those fast SSD and hard drives, an LPT header, and a TPM module header for a Trusted Platform Module if needed.
Looking at the socket you can see the gap where there are less pins needed for the Socket FM1 APU. Gigabyte has also chosen the new retention bracket design we have seen popping up on the latest AMD based motherboards which makes the CPU area seem a lot less crowded. There is plenty of room around the socket allowing for water cooling and large CPU heat sinks for maximum cooling. To power your APU, Gigabyte uses a 4+1 phase VRM to provide clean constant power to your processor and memory. The A75M-UD2H supports up to 32GB of Dual Channel memory up to 1866MHz when overclocked. I am really impressed how newer boards stagger the memory slots so they have room to breathe and are not stacked right up against one another.
To cool the board, there are two heat sinks over the critical areas. For the voltage section there is a fin style heat sink designed to quickly dissipate the heat. There is also a flat style heat sink over the Fusion Hub Controller chip near the PCI Express expansion slots. Both of the heat sinks feel as if they are made of a thick aluminum material which would make for a better heat transfer.
Now that we have seen the new APU and supporting Socket FM1 board we can move to the testing part of the review.