ASUS F2A85-V PRO Motherboard Review

formerstaff - 2012-10-09 20:43:33 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: November 28, 2012
Price: $125.00

Introduction:

Last month AMD introduced the second generation of its innovative APUs in the form of the Trinity 'A' series lineup. After benchmarking and reviewing the platform it became obvious that it is actually beneficial to view it as just that; a platform in its entirety or the sum of all its parts. With the fastest on-die GPU in the market (about the equivalent of an HD 6670) and a middle of the road L3-less Piledriver quad-core CPU both doing their thing under the same IHS, the platform is not out to break any overclocking records. You wouldn't know that to look at the incredible motherboards the partners are turning out for the A85X chipset, with 6+2 'Digi+Power' phasing feeding the components and the ability to run three monitors in Eyefinity among the long list of features. If you are in the market for a lot of versatility and not a big price tag, there is plenty to be excited about these days for users who want a budget friendly and versatile computing experience.

Today's example we're having a look at is the ASUS F2-A85-V PRO, the top rung chipset for the Trinity/FM2 series. Let's take the wrapper off this piece of hardware and see what you can do with a $120 motherboard as the hub of an A series machine.

Closer Look:

The packaging for the ASUS F2-A85-V PRO is a snappy looking black box with white dots densely populating the entire box and fading off from the middle of the box. As far as retail packaging goes, it's one of the better looking and tasteful ones out there. The upper right quadrant is occupied with a feature that I am very interested in running through the paces: the Digi+Power Control VRM that controls the power fed to both the APU and the memory modules. Along the bottom edge are five more of the features and ASUS letting us know this board is Windows 8 ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the box have very little information about the product. One edge is blank and the others just have the make and model of the board. Nothing to see here, moving on.

 

The back of the box is packed with as much info as ASUS could fit. The left side has a labled image of the entire board, while the right side focuses in and gives us some specifics about 'Dual Intelligent Processors' (an unfortunate acronym), ASUS' Remote GO!, Fan Xpert, and Network iControl. Along the very bottom of the box, ASUS lets us know how green it is by printing with soy and all, and slips in the three-year warranty label.

 

Lifting the hood we get a first look as the camera flash penetrates the protection of the anti-static bag. Yes I have used that before but I like the way that sentence rolls. The accessory bundle is pretty standard stuff. You get four SATA cables, an I/O plate with EMS protection, a driver/utility disk, full manual, and a 'Q' connect that makes installation of the front panel connections a bit easier. Fairly standard, but the extras are actually attached to the board with this one.

 

 

Time to go around the horn and have a look at the board and feature sets of the ASUS F2-A85-V PRO.

Closer Look:

The F2A85-V PRO is a good looking black (actually black) ATX form factor measuring a standard 12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm ). The A85-V is a top of the line board built around the AMD A85X chipset or FCH Hudson D4 'Fusion Control Hub' as AMD is calling it. The board is FM2 socketed for the second generation AMD APUs. While this generation replaces the FM1 'Llano' APUs, the Trinity FM2 A Series APUs are not backwards compatible with the FM1 APUs. This breaks a tradition of AMD sockets being compatible for more than one generation, however the first generation Athlon based APUs are of a completely different architecture than the 'Piledriver'and GCN based Trinity APUs.

The board is a four tone affair using the familiar 'cornflower' blue, with a deeper blue and various white and black ports and slots rounding out the color scheme. The board is littered with the usual high quality components such as Japanese solid capacitors. The heat sink arrangement is in three parts on the A85-V PRO with the larger two being connected via heat pipe. While still prominent, one of the first things I noticed was how small the VRM heatsink was on a board that has such high-end overclocking features, but more on that in a bit. The back of the board reveals the usual sturdy metal backing plate for APU heat sink attachment and the business end of the push-pin type holds for the heatsink array. ASUS seems to have bumped the font size on this board with large white lettering prominently spelling out the features at various locations around the PCB. Features we will go around the board and have a look at starting now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a look at the connectivity of the back I/O panel you get the first clue regarding the versatility and upgrade ability of this platform. From right to left you get one PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port, one DVI-D port, one D-Sub port, one DisplayPort, one HDMI poty, one eSATA, one Ethernet port using the Realtek 8111F controller, four USB 3.0 (blue), and two USB 2.0, with the A85X Hudson D4 chipset controlling two of the USB 3.0 and two of the 2.0 USB ports. The ASMedia 3.0 controller operates the other two rear USB 3.0 ports. Rounding it out are one Optical S/PDIF out and six audio jacks supporting the Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC.

Among that list is four display connections. You can use a combination of any three to run triple display Eyefinity from the motherboard and the graphics provided by the APU. Further down the back of the V-PRO there are a wealth of graphics options to be had. You can load it up now, or you can grow into them as your computing needs change. There are one PCIe x1 2.0 slots, two legacy PCI slots, and three PCIe 2.0 x 16 'Q'-Slots that run as an x16 when a single card is used, x8/x8 when two single GPU cards in Crossfire are used or Quad Crossfire with two dual GPU cards. There is also a third full length PCIe 'Q'-Slot that runs at x4 mode making triple card Crossfire possible. The 'Q'-Slot is the proprietary PCIe slot locking system. It is basically a fishtail shaped lock that pushes open and pulls closed rather than the flexible plastic or spring-loaded type. The third graphics option is that you can purchase an HD 6570 or HD 6670 and engage AMD 'Dual Graphics' that automatically combines the on-die graphics with the discrete graphics to boost your GPU horsepower. Placed around the board are a total of five fan connectors; one CPU and four chassis.

 

 

Along the bottom of the board is where most of the front panel and internal connectivity is located. The SPDIF out on top of the front panel audio connector and next to that is the first of four USB 2.0 10-pin connectors. In the next image to the right of the last (blue) USB is the TPU switch, a feature that automatically optimizes your GPU for faster and stable speeds. Above the TPU is the 'Direct Key' button, which allows you to enter the BIOS/setup at anytime without a restart and delete key. The Direct Key can also be accessed without opening the case or getting to the motherboard by plugging in your two-pin front panel reset leads to the Direct Key leads. When you use the reset button, it will restart and take you directly to the BIOS. To the right is the standby Power LED light, and atop the LED is the Clear CMOS jumper.

On the far right edge of the board is the front panel power and reset connection. Above this is a nifty feature called BIOS Flashback. Using only standby power you can update or re-flash your BIOS with a flash drive containing the BIOS version you wish to update to. Upon inserting the flash memory, you just press the BIOS Flashback button, hold it for three seconds, and the BIOS will be automatically updated. BIOS Flashback can even update the BIOS without a CPU or memory installed. The BIOS chip sits just below and center the 'SB' heatsink, and is a removable design on the PRO.

 

 

Along the right side of the board we have the SATA connectivity via seven of the eight SATA ports. The eighth is in the form of the eSATA port on the back I/O panel. The eight ports are controlled by the A85X-Hudson D4 controller. They are nicely located with no interference issues and one placed vertically at the upper end of the stack. They are all SATA 6Gb/s and support support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and JBOD. Up top on the right are the four dual-channel DIMMs that have two digitally controlled power phases dedicated to them. ASUS has integrated 'T-Topology' replacing the standard daisy chain DIMMs. The distance between DIMM 0 and DIMM 1 are of equal distance removing latency discrepancies.

ASUS says that in experimental testing an additional 15% of DRAM overclocking can be expected as a result of T-Topology and the DRAM frequency not being capped by the CPU itself under full load.  The A85X chipset natively supports 1866MHz memory speeds and up to 2400MHz overclocked. The board/controller has been made ready for 16GB modules and 64GB of total memory when such sticks are made available and come to market. Below the DIMMs are the 24-pin ATX power connector, a 20-pin USB 3.0 connector, and the ASUS 'Mem-OK' button. The Mem-OK button will patch any memory compatibility issues that you run into and allow your machine to post. I have actually used the Mem-OK feature in the past and it works, I am not sure how, but it does.

 

Up top we find the 8-pin CPU power connector and the EPU switch. The EPU switch is your 'Green' switch to maximize electrical efficiency throughout the system. It can be enabled or disabled with the motherboard switch and adjusted from within the BIOS to the extent you wish to trade performance for energy savings.

 

 

Moving toward the center we get a look at the FM2 socket for the A series. The A85-V PRO is equipped with Digi+Power Control using a 6+2 phase power design. The Digi+Power features 'Dual Intelligent Processors'  for the APU and the DRAM by changing the switching frequencies as the VRM, APU, and DRAM tuning occurs. Also implemented with the digital power delivery is VRM EMI reduction. This reduces electromagnetic interference to surrounding components. The result is much more precise voltage to the components as the power delivery profile changes and the overclocking changes are made. ASUS gives you complete control of this aspect in the BIOS where you can choose between 10% to 30% more capacitance to the memory, CPU, CPU/NB, and DRAM.

 

 

Topping off all of this digitally controlled 12" x 9.6" board are electric blue heat sinks. I mentioned that they surprised me a bit when I saw how small they were on a board with such overclocking prowess and features. They are small because they can be. The digital power control and all of the adjustable VRM switching frequencies apparently translates into a cooler running VRM and Northbridge. The smaller heat pipe-connected heat sinks stayed cool throughout testing and overclocking. The only objection I have is that they use push-pins to anchor the heat sinks to the PCB. This is usually not a problem unless you bump them and they lift up and rock to one side. The seal of the thermal pad/TIM gets broken and can cause problems. 

 

 

 

There is the trip around the hardware. Let's have a look at how ASUS turns over the reigns to the new user as well as the advanced overclocker.

Closer Look:

Under the 'TPU' or TurboV Processing Unit program are a head spinning array of the most sophisticated programs and overclock utilities on the market. In a windows environment you can apply OC settings on the fly or hit a single button and let TurboV EVO find an overclock for you. A couple of years ago the version of TurboV auto tune that came with the Crosshair IV Formula did a brilliant job and took about 20 minutes and four restarts to find a stable overclock. The version here today found a stable and equivalent overclock in about 25 seconds. It really shows you how much work went into the programs and being able to find and adjust the algorithms the program works with.

When you open TurboV EVO you get the option to auto tune your OC with Asus 'Level Up'. Basically you choose a target frequency and TurboV adjusts different parameters and algorithms to reach the target clock. If you wouldn't dare use an auto tune program to get the frequency you want then manual mode is more to your liking. Here you get control over the reference clock and the unlocked multiplier. You can also adjust voltages for the memory, APU, NB, and SB. Under the GPU boost tab you can adjust the frequency of the on-die GPU. The APU multiplier tab lets you choose the cores you want to OC and features a real time animation to illustrate the settings you change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remote GO! is a program that link your mobile devices through an existing router or LAN cable to stream media from PC to DNLA devices. You also have the ability to access your PC from any of your wireless devices and to share file transfers.

 

ASUS TPU has a number of programs under the Tools tab that are designed for information and assistance in setting up your machine. ASUS Update will walk you through updating your BIOS in a number of different methods. You simply choose how you want to update and it will walk you through the update procedure. ASUS System information will give you a quick look at detailed info about your motherboard, CPU, and SPD (RAM installed, timings, etc.). ASUS MyLogo lets you choose a custom boot up splash screen. Just browse for the image you want displayed during boot and it will walk you through. This can be done from Tools in the BIOS as well. ASUS Settings is an assistance program for enabling the applications you want to enable. Click the corresponding boxes and go.

 

 

 

ASUS EPU is a 'green' program that works to reduce power consumption in a dynamic way. You can choose from three working scenarios: Auto, High Performance, and Maximum Power Savings. On the right is a lighted diagram of the components involved and there is a 'Reduced CO2 emissions' tracking gauge that displays how much you are reducing your "carbon footprint " by. Digi+Power control lets you set the CPU, CPU/NB, DRAM, and Load Line Calibration capacitance for overclocking. ASUS Fan Xpert 2 gives you complete control over the fan profiles of those that are plugged into the motherboard fan headers. You can use manual custom settings or create your own based your needs. A multicolor diagram gives you the location of the fans so you always know what fan you are setting a profile for.

 

 

 

ASUS Probe II is one of the most complete sensor reading programs for voltage, temperatures, and fans. You can select what you would like to monitor and set the threshold for each The voltage tab has a graph/log system that will let you see changes in system voltages as they occur and produce a real-time multi-line graph of the crucial voltages. The preferences tab lets you choose the temperature format and cycle detection update and update intervals.

 

 

 

 

ASUS Ai Charger when enabled will charge your devices that support BC 1.1** up to three times as fast as the normal standard. ASUS USB Charger will quick charge your USB devices with a USB 3.0 port. The GUI shows the USB port on the rear I/O panel that is highlighted with a green border to highlight the USB Charger+ so all you have to do is plug into the corresponding port for faster charging than the standard 4.5-5W standard. You can also choose the settings for charging under sleep or hibernate modes. ASUS USB 3.0 Boost boosts transfer speeds for USB storage devices automatically for devices that support it. ASUS claims that with the utilization of both UASP and BOT protocol, read performance is much closer to the rates seen with the use of SATA 6Gb/s ports or up to 170%. ASUS Network iControl optimizes your Internet connection and can prioritize your current network program.

 

 

 

Also supported but not seen here is 'ASUS Disk Unlocker' utility that allows booting to high density HDDs of 2.2TB+. Well that rounds out the ASUS TPU Ai Suite II. After using it for a good bit I found it to be the highest level of controllability and configurable software on the market. Kudos to ASUS for the options and polish of Ai Suite II.

On the next page is the BIOS for the A85-V PRO.

Closer Look:

If it has been a while or if you are having your first look at the ASUS UEFI BIOS and utilities, it may take you some time to get acquainted with it only for the number of options at your disposal. I have said it before and I will say it again. ASUS makes overclocking as involved and specific as you like, or with one click will take all of the sport out of it if that is what you want. It seems ASUS is constantly grooming and tweaking its BIOS and overclocking utilities including Windows 8 certification and a change to a CAP UEFI format. First a look at the UEFI BIOS.

Entering the BIOS under EZ Mode you can choose basic function settings from energy saving, normal, and extreme. You can also focus your system performance towards quiet, energy saving, or high performance on an animated radar graph. Above you get basic system voltages and temperatures, and below you can rearrange the boot order. From here you also have the option of entering the advanced mode by hitting F7. You can also save a copy of any page of the UEFI BIOS by installing a USB Flash drive and pressing F12 when in the current page you want saved. The main tab in the advanced mode is for very basic CPU, memory capacity, speed, and BIOS information. Here you set the system clock and security level and that is about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ai Tweaker is where things get interesting. Incorporating the Digi+Power into the BIOS, some of the settings are of different parameters than what has previously been used. First up is Load Line Calibration. We have separate settings for both the CPU and Northbridge. Off to the right side is a description and tips for using each adjustment. When you get to Current Capability you are able to increase the voltage capacitance and the load line operating range for VRM switching frequencies. This, among other things, is good news for those of us that want to run high overclocks with large amounts of system memory by widening the power range for syncing or raising the tolerance for billions more memory cells to work together without throwing errors.

The CPU and CPU/NB current capability will keep the CPU from throttling down at high loads when raised. If you change one of the auto setting to manual, it will take you to a secondary screen within Ai Tweaker to make adjustments to the CPU and memory multipliers, voltage, and timings. If you choose to have Ai Overclock Tuner do the work, all you need to do is pick the CPU frequency you are aiming for and let the peripheral settings auto adjust around that frequency.

 

 

 

Moving down the list of power delivery options and optimizations are CPU Power Phase Control, which delivers increased stability to the CPU, or enable VRM Spread Spectrum for lower emission of EMI (electromagnetic interference), which also increases stability by limiting interference to surrounding components. CPU Power Duty Control allows the VRM to balance the loads applied onto each power phase to correspond to either the temperature or the current draw of each power phase. CPU Power Thermal control prevents the damage to the CPU power solution.

You can see that digital power offers new and different implementations and protections along with the ability to control how the power is delivered to the CPU, NB, and DRAM. The best way I found to overclock with this system is to set the parameters for the digital power delivery in the BIOS, and then do the fine tuning in the ASUS TurboV EVO Suite II. As I said, most of the controls are intuitive, but it may be worth some time invested to experiment incrementally to find how these values interact with each other when manually overclocking.

 

 

 

Under the Advanced tab you get more CPU info and cache capacities. Below you can enable and disable power functions, core boost, and not execute 'executable space protection'. Under the Monitor tab you get a look in real time at the system voltages and temperatures. Below that is the enable or disable for Q-Fan control.

 

 

Under the Boot tab you have all of the options for what device to boot from first, what order to boot in, and the ability to change the order. At the top is the option to enable or disable ASUS 'Fast Boot'. What Fast Boot does is drastically reduce boot times by optimizing the boot sequence in Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can also choose how the computer reacts and recovers from a no post, a loss of power, or wake up in hibernation or sleep mode. The Tool mode is for naming, saving, and loading your various overclock profiles. When you arrive at the Tool screen the current OC profile is ready to be saved if it has not already been saved.

 

 

That is a quick look at the BIOS. Time to see how all this control and option reacts to overclocking and benchmarking. Up next have a look at the official specificationss and features and then we'll heat this thing up.

Specifications:

 

CPU
AMD Socket FM2 Athlon™/A- Series Processors
Supports CPU up to 4 cores
Supports AMD® Turbo Core 3.0 Technology
Chipset
AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4)
Memory
4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR3 1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Support AMD Memory Profile (AMP) memory
* The Max. 64GB memory capacity can be supported with DIMMs of 16GB (or above). ASUS will update QVL once the DIMMs are available on the market.
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
* Due to OS limitation, when installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Install a 64-bit Windows® OS when you want to install 4GB or more memory on the motherboard
Graphic
Integrated AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series Graphics in A-series APU
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI/RGB/DisplayPort ports
 - Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz
 - Supports DVI with max. resolution 2560 x 1600 @ Hz
 - Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
 - Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 2048 MB
AMD® Dual Graphics technology support *1
Supports DirectX 11
Multi-GPU Support
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports LucidLogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology *2
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
2 x PCI
Storage
AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4) chipset :
7 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD
LAN
Realtek® 8111F, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio
Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4) chipset :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 2 at mid-board)
AMD A85X FCH(Hudson D4) chipset :
10 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 8 at mid-board)
Overclocking Features
Overclocking Protection : - ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control :
SMART DIGI+ :
- Smart DIGI+ Key- Quickly delivers optimized VRM frequency, voltage and current for superior APU/DRAM overclocking performance with one click.
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
- GPU Boost
- TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 6 +2 Phase Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- Remote GO!
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite II
Special Features
- Ai Charger+
- USB Charger+
- Anti-Surge
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- Network iControl
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert 2
ASUS EZ DIY :
- DirectKey
- Precision Tweaker 2
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-Connector
100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
Back I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
4 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 8 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
7 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 x -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 x -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback button(s)
Accessories
User's manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1) *3
BIOS
64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, F12 PrintScreen Function, F3 Shortcut Function and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information
Support Disc
Drivers, ASUS utilities, ASUS Update, Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor
M-ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note
*1 Refer to http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/dual-graphics/Pages/dual-graphics.aspx#3 for the discrete GPUs which support Dual Graphics technology
*2 LucidLogix Virtu MVP supports Windows 7 operating systems.
*3 Retail version only
 
 

 

Features:

 

All Information provided by ASUS USA: http://usa.asus.com/Motherboards/AMD_Socket_FM2/F2A85V_PRO/#overview

Testing:

Testing the  ASUS F2-A85-V PRO will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

 

Overclocking the A10 5800K manually is a breeze if you are familiar with the different settings used for the digital controllers incorporated in to the A85-V Pro. If you are not it may take some time to become acquainted with the response from them. I disabled all energy saving functions such as Cool 'n' Quiet, C6, Turbo, etc. and set load line control to 75% ending up with a healthy overclock of 4.7GHz or 900MHz above the stock. The integrated GPU section also again overclocked nicely from the base frequency of 800MHz to 1100GHz or 300MHz above stock. I tried out the auto tune mode in the TurboV EVO for kicks and it found a stable 4.4GHz overclock within 30 seconds.

 

 

Maximum Overclock:

Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.

 

Benchmarks:

Scientific & Data:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. HD Tune 5.0
  3. AIDA64 2.50
  4. Sandra 2012 SP6
  5. x264
  6. HandBrake 9.8
  7. ATTO 2.47

Video:

  1. DiRT 3
  2. Battlefield 3
  3. 3DMark11



 

We have have our maximum overclocks which are evenly matched. I am not surprised by this as the previuos test was with a high end board that also incorporated digital power VRM. This should provide a good platform to spot any differences between them. Let's go to the benchmarks.

Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

  

  

 

 

Not much of a difference here either as we would expect from the identical chipsets

Testing:

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Queen and FPU Mandel benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

 

The two boards trade spots at the top with little in the way of performance separating them.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Score

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

 

 

HandBrake 9.8 is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is a 4GB full length movie that is reduced in size to a 1.5GB file.

  

  

 

 

No significant differences here, however the ASUS board has shown a slight lead overall in this battery of tests.

Testing:

Moving data to and from an external device is something we all do as a means of backing up sensitive data whether it is family pictures, movies, music, or projects. The speed with which this transfer occurs is measurable and can improve with different board partner specific tools. I will be using ATTO version 2.47 to measure an external drives read/write performance through the USB 3.0 interface. The default test algorithm is used for this test. Motherboards that support a boost to the USB spec such as USB 3.0 Boost on the ASUS offering and XFast USB on the Asrock will be used as they show the maximum potential speeds.

ATTO:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

  

 

ASUS' Turbo is the word. The ASUS V Pro has a clear advantage here in transfer times by up to 30% depending on block size.

Testing:

3DMark11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. 3DMark11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

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DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

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Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbite 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

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In each of these gaming tests the ASUS F2A85-V PRO delivers comparable performance with the same installed hardware. The maximum performance differential between the two was two FPS in the DiRT 3 testing.

Conclusion:

When I reviewed the Trinity A series with the A85X platform a couple weeks ago I was really quite taken with it. You can pair a $120 APU with $135 A85X chipset board and do things like run three monitors, add graphics as you need or want, and in the meantime have a machine that will do just about anything you want it to do with tremendous versatility and upgradability. This week I am even more impressed with the platform that I have got to try the result of ASUS getting its hands on the A85X chipset or Fusion Control Hub. The Digi+Power is brilliant at delivering precise power to the components, lowering the heat, and raising efficiency. I ran some load tests and generated  charts on the CPU v-core with the LLC set to minimum and found the digital power to have had the effect on voltage control and ripple levels to be very good.

When you step into the list of features and start moving through the BIOS, if you didn't know the price you would think you were working with a very high-end motherboard. Actually that starts when you are installing the motherboard that is littered with onboard buttons that will take you directly to the BIOS, enable and disable energy saving, boost your GPU, update the BIOS while the machine is off or sleeping, or take care of a memory issue on the fly. The only minor feature missing on the FM2A85-V PRO is just that, minor. The Clear CMOS is done via an old school jumper pin setup rather than an onboard button. Not a deal breaker by any stretch, just a bit unusual these days 

You can see the forethought that has gone into the platform by making it add-on ready, but not leave you with a bunch of stuff you don't need right now. Things like being able to run three monitors in Eyefinity from the motherboard and 16GB memory module ready (when they are released).  You have your choice of the very capable on-die integrated graphics or dual graphics or even Crossfire down the road. The A85-V PRO also supports Lucid's VirtuMVP Virtualization Technologies, which improves video playback and makes video rendering more efficient by using a predictive algorithm to solve potential synchronization issues.

You also get some enthusiast features with the very stable digital power that has shown to be very overclock friendly for both the CPU and GPU sides of the die, and eight SATA 6Gb/s ports. Equally impressive is ASUS' software suite in the form of Ai Suite II, TurboV Evo, and the UEFI BIOS, which is simply the best on the market and affords control of everything from anywhere. I said this on page one but I think It bears repeating as this is a low cost computing solution with some very high end features. ASUS has obviously spent a lot of time and development on the softwares that come with its hardware and with all of that control and access it gives you the latitude to try an overclock from any angle you wish, or by making life easy with the auto tune.

I have actually made practical use of this platform in my home and have exercised a great many of its features with plans to grow into even more of them.  Paired with what has become very familiar ASUS quality, it has a top-end version of the A series top end chipset. ASUS has really taken the great 85X Trinity platform and made it the pinnacle of control, quality, and versatility.

 

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