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Old 12th November 2012, 2:22 AM   #1
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Default MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 & AMD A10-5800K

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.


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.


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.

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


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.


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.

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.

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.

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?.....

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.

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.


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.

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.

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

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.


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


Alien vs Predator


Crysis 2


Battlefield 3


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.



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 ) 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
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Old 12th November 2012, 2:23 AM   #2
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Old 12th November 2012, 2:23 AM   #3
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Old 12th November 2012, 9:08 AM   #4
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Thanks for that. I agree, not much love for FM2 out there. I want to build a system with the same cpu and chipset for my partner with the view to replace the HTPC with it down the track.
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Old 12th November 2012, 9:33 AM   #5
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Would love power consumption readings.
Would also love some itx action.

Nice review tho, nice clean board images.
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Old 12th November 2012, 9:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _WearingPants View Post
Thanks for that. I agree, not much love for FM2 out there.

Yes, that would be the catch 22 here. Because there is little love out there for the AMD FM2 hardware, the price is very low. If everyone jumped on board and bought one, then the prices would certainly go up.

The essence of capitalism in it's raw form. That's the way I like it. I will be buying two of these MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65's for some serious storage and HTPC work.

A nice review buddy, I always knew that MSI make some nice gear for us AMD lover's and I was waiting for it to arrive in Australia before opening the wallet.
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Old 12th November 2012, 11:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booj View Post
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.
The biggest holdback is the lack of itx, Trinity would make an amazing HTPC/light gaming rig but currently there is only a single asrock board which can only be bought through ebay.
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Old 12th November 2012, 11:29 AM   #8
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Cheers guys

There is a ITX board, but apparently there is some reluctance to bring it into AU due to concerns it will not sell very well.

I will pass on your feedback and push to get it into the market.
http://www.msi.com/product/mb/FM2-A75IA-E53.html
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Old 12th November 2012, 11:50 AM   #9
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I've been looking for this board (FM2-A75IA-E53) and it appears that it is not yet available anywhere worldwide and no ETA, perhaps there are issues with it as the tentative release date was October.
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Old 12th November 2012, 11:56 AM   #10
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Edit:

Ahh yes, the ITX board was delayed a little, and I believe has entered production. If not now, then imminintely. I will update if I get more info.

Cheers
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Old 12th November 2012, 1:59 PM   #11
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I don't understand why they think ITX won't sell well, its one of the main reasons to go FM2. If it was available.

You can build a tiny rig, with decent performance, in sub or really small 1/2 high enclosures.
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Old 12th November 2012, 2:21 PM   #12
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I too would have loved to have seen an ITX board.
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Old 12th November 2012, 2:34 PM   #13
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Thanks guys, indeed there does seem to be some interest in the ITX board. I have passed the feedback onto the sales dept.
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Old 12th November 2012, 4:34 PM   #14
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O.o ITX board, that'd be great for a small HTPC, think i'd go an mATX though for the extra expansion slots (TV Tuner, discrete graphics? etc)
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Old 12th November 2012, 6:13 PM   #15
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It just seems that the price of a decent a85 motherboard brings the platform cost up a bit too much, sure we could settle for the lower end boards but FM2's feature set is what appeals the most.

For example an A10-5800K setup:

Cpu: $130
Mobo: $150 (approx)
8GB kit 1866 Ram: $50
$330

Similar performing i3 3220 setup:
Cpu: $120
Z77 Mobo with similar features: $110 (both asrock and MSI have 8x/8x sli/crossfire capable boards at this price)
8GB kit 1600 Ram (no point in 1866 as the i3 can't handle it and doesn't OC): $40
$270

Graphics aren't as goon in the later system but the cpu is equally fast in threaded apps and much faster in single threaded applications. With the onboard graphics sure the amd is faster but even amd reps acknowledge that to get to playable frames in modern titles with the a10 you'll want to overclock and invest in an aftermarket cooling solution adding at least another $35. Basically this gives the intel $95 to play with for a much faster discrete card.

Don't get me wrong I'm certainly interested in FM2 but the cost is $40 more than it should be for the higher end boards which are no more elite than the mid-range z77's and 990fx's.

Ninja EDIT: i3 can't use 1866 ram.
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