Provided by: Gigabyte
No compensation was received for review of this product.
At a price point of $129.99, the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is in the mainstream category of A85X motherboards.
Benchmarks – I was very surprised with the benchmarks. Using the same A10-5800K from launch, I pulled out slightly better numbers with the Gigabyte board than the board I tested prior. The numbers weren't anything substantially better. They were just a tad higher across all of the tests.
Board Layout – The overall layout for the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is very clean and simple. All of the easy access buttons are near the DIMM slots. The CMOS switching button isn't hidden. The 7th SATA port is facing outwards, which I like. The debug LED is in a location that can get cluttered next to the SATA ports and front panel pins. Overall, the layout looks good and there doesn't appear to be any major flaws.
UEFI BIOS – One of the best features that Gigabyte includes is their innovative 3D BIOS. The 3D BIOS uses an easy to navigate graphical interface. They've also perfected the dual BIOS for easy recovery from failed overclocks or setting changes.
Pre-bundled Accessories – The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 has no special accessories. Gigabyte includes the back panel, driver CD, manuals, and 6 SATA cables.
Pre-bundled Software – Gigabyte includes all of their common software with the motherboard. There is EasyTune 6, @BIOS, AutoGreen, Smart Recovery 2, Q-Share, and an included OEM version of Norton Internet Security. The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 does support Lucid Virtu MVP and includes the software on the driver CD.
Wireless – The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 contains no wireless features.
LAN – The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 uses the Realtek 8111E Gigabit LAN controller. Benchmarks came out fast. No connectivity issues or data dropouts within my internal network.
USB 3.0 – On the back, there are four USB 3.0 connectors. Gigabyte used an Etron EJ168 chip to add an additional 2 ports. Onboard there is a USB 3.0 front panel header. Testing proved very good. The Etron chipset exhibited slightly faster read speeds over the AMD chipset..
SATA 6G – Gigabyte deviated the traditional A85X setup. Normally, there are eight SATA3 ports. Gigabyte included seven and turned one into an e-SATA port on the rear panel. I benchmarked using a Kingston 3K 240GB drive. Speed tests demonstrated no issues. Speeds were a tad slower, as seen with other A85X chipsets. SATA ports are fully RAID 0,1,5,10 compatible. Limited resources held me back from testing in RAID.
Peripherals – AMD designs the A85X chipset so that it provides the majority of the connections on the motherboard. The audio chip used is a Realtek ALC892 codec. The Gigabit LAN chip is Realtek 8111E. Gigabyte added the Etron EJ168 chip for 2 additional USB 3.0 ports. Gigabyte also includes their On/Off charge utility for the USB ports.
Performance Tuning – Using an unlocked A10-5800K makes performance tuning much easier. No BCLK adjustments are necessary, rather the CPU multiplier can be adjusted. For my tune, I set the multiplier to 45, changing the CPU speed to 4.5GHz. To keep the system stable, the CPU voltage was manually set to 1.45v. All extra CPU options had to be disabled, like cool & quiet, c-states, and turbo. I also attempted a GPU overclock. Without any voltage adjustments, I was able to get the GPU up to 1150MHz stable. The Gigabyte board does seem to run the NB at 1.26V rather than the stock 1.25V. The overall overclocking experience was very easy and the system was stable.
The Trinity setup is aimed at the mainstream user that wants to keep their costs low and performance high. The best APU that is offered is the A10-5800K, and it only costs $129.99. That is dirt cheap for a 3.8GHz quad core processor with a mainstream Radeon GPU integrated. The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is priced at $129.99. There are only a few other boards priced the same because this is the top of the FM2 lineup. Combined, the best APU and best motherboard will only total $260.
You may look at that price and think that it is high. When looking at all of the other FM2 motherboards, it is high. Most of those motherboards are only m-ATX form factor with less features. There are only a few full ATX boards. The price isn't without justification. The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is one of the best ATX FM2 motherboards that you can purchase. This board is loaded with tons of hardware features not found anywhere else.
First, you get Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 5 technology. This includes a 2x copper PCB for optimal trace paths between components and heat removal. The IR3550 PowIRstage is the highest rated and most awarded Power Stage in the industry with a delivery rating up to 60A, while maintaining cool operating temperatures. To finish the Ultra Durable 5 technology they installed 60A high capacity ferrite core chokes to provide the most stable power delivery.
Next, Gigabyte added a few extras not seen anywhere else. There is the unique 3D BIOS. You also have two of them, Gigabyte's Dual BIOS technology, and both are fully accessible through an onboard switch. This can be a lifesaver for a failed overclock, flash, or setting change. They added a debug LED for easy troubleshooting. There is also the added Etron EJ168 chip for an extra couple of USB 3.0 ports. The A85X chipset supports four ports, and that added chips tops the board out at six possible USB 3.0 ports when using the front pin header.
Having listed all of the excellent hardware features, I cannot give the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 an editor's choice. As with most of the Gigabyte motherboard products, the software side suffers. There are nice utilities there, however, they don't look polished and aren't very user friendly. Loading the AutoGreen software has taken forever on any motherboard I have used. Plus, it doesn't work if there is no bluetooth available on the motherboard. The EasyTune 6 GUI could use some polish as it looks very simple and dated, especially the performance tuning and hardware monitoring portions. Q-Share isn't a program I can see myself using. Windows Homegroup, or just sharing folders in general, is much easier and doesn't require other computers with Q-Share on them. That leaves Smart Recovery 2 and @BIOS. I like Smart Recovery 2, it's easy to use and simple, which is how backup software should be. I've always had problems with @BIOS when updating over their servers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and pops up a message. When doing it from a downloaded file, it's always worked fine.
One thing that puzzles me is Lucid Virtu MVP support on the AMD platform. On the Intel platform, it is primarily used for Intel Quicksync support when a discrete card is in the system. However, on an AMD system, especially a Trinity APU, I don't see the point. Any mainstream discrete GPU is going to be better than the APU's Radeon with hardware acceleration. It can be used as a switchable graphics option for power saving. The other options are Hyperformance and Virtual Vysnc. However, those have only been shown to be gimmicky and not give "real world" performance gains. They also only work when frame rates are over 60, and can cause performance problems when they are below 60. I'm still scratching my head on this one. It's still a bonus, none the less, as there are some mild benefits.
Overall, the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is a great motherboard. One of the best FM2 motherboards on the market from a hardware standpoint. Gigabyte included their proven technology for ultimate reliability, stability, and efficient performance. They've even tossed in a few extra USB 3.0 ports. The only drawback is the software side of things. If you're building a new Trinity setup, the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is an excellent choice.