AMD A10 5800K Launch Review



Product: AMD A10 5800K / ASUS F2 A85-M Pro
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: October 1st, 2012

Asus F2 A85-M Pro

There are three mainboard chipsets to choose from for socket FM2 - two existing and one new. The first generation A-series APUs using socket FM1 were offered with A55 and A75 chipsets, and these are carried over to the new FM2 platform. The new chipset, A85X (codenamed Hudson D4), is aimed at the desktop enthusiast and offers eight SATA 3 6gbps ports with IDE, AHCI v1.2 and RAID 0/1/5/10 support, and for the first time on the desktop APU platform, CrossFireX support. USB 3.0 support is the same as A75 (Hudson D3) with four native ports.

Virgo platform chipsets

The A85 fusion controller hub (FCH) is connected to the APU via the Unified Media Interface (UMI) which is comprised of a PCI-E gen2 x4 link offering 2GB/s bandwidth for data from the southbridge (the FCH) to the APU. The FCH supports 4 USB 3.0 ports natively, as well as ten USB 2.0 and two USB 1.1. Continuing the legacy support, the FCH supports up to 3 PCI 33MHz slots, an IR port, and a VGA display that can be connected to the APU. More modern is the four channel HD audio controller and four PCI-E gen2.0 x1 lanes, a Gigabit Ethernet MAC and a SD card controller. Most Partners will opt to use their volume licensed existing HD audio, Ethernet and audio options (especially Realtek), a lot of these features are for OEM and bespoke builders to leverage.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

Our sample board is an ASUS F2-A85M-PRO in micro-ATX form factor and, as the name indicates, this uses the A85 chipset for its socket FM2 located APUs. The board comes in traditional tasteful ASUS black with blue sockets and heatsinks, plus contrasting light grey.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

The board features no PCI 32-bit 33Mhz slots but has a VGA output and serial port header. Expansion slots are limited to PCI-Express 2.0, a pair of triple spaced PCI Express Graphics (PEG) slots and two PCI-E x1 slots. Both PEG connect to the APU which allocates the 16 lanes either soley to the upper PEG slot or split between both in x8 + x8 configuration. The pair of PEG slots supports AMD CrossFireX, for use with dual mainstream cards or APUs lacking integrated graphics.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

In addition to the four USB 3.0 ports that the AMD A85 chipset provides, ASUS have added an ASMedia dual USB 3.0 port controller to offer two more ports on the backplane, with the remaining two AMD USB 3.0 ports available via internal header. Sensibly this header is located towards the front of the board, but no accompanying front panel is included. Eight additional USB 2.0 ports are offered through four mainboard headers lining the bottom edge of the mobo. The lower AMD USB 3.0 port on the rear supports USB flashback for flashing the BIOS from a file on a usb stick after hitting the flashback button on the board or booting from the driver DVD. It also offers charger mode where high power draw devices can be charged at 4x faster rate than normal USB power provide, configured at the desktop by the AI Charger software or in the BIOS. All rear ports support USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) mode which was introduced by the USB international forum to enhance transfers on USB 3.0 devices. UASP replaces bulk-only transport (BOT) which permits single transfers of single sized packets at a time. ASUS UASP updates this in two ways; one is Turbo mode which supersizes the packets and the second is UASP mode which allows concurrent commands.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

The HD audio header is located at the bottom rear of the board, as far away as possible from the front of most cases, making cable routing untidy at best and prohibitive at worst. Similarly the Trusted Platform Module header is under the lower PEG slot, as is the serial port header and the chassis fan header, all destined to foul large heat sink equipped devices inserted in the slot.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

Seven SATA-3 6gbps ports are located at the bottom right corner; the eighth port provided by the A85 chipset is on the rear backplane as an eSATA port. The UEFI BIOS allows for the upper four ports to be configured in AHCI or IDE mode independently of the bottom four ports, permitting optical or removable devices and eSATA headers to work without interfering with RAID storage. The first six ports are right angled to simplify cabling, with the 7th perpendicular presumably as it's a single port.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

The board requires 24-pin ATX power and 8-pin EATX power connectors to operate, delivering juice to the 4+2 phase electrical subsystem. ASUS equips their mainboard with digital VRM control to permit thermal and electrical protection including UVP/OCP/UCP/OCP protection. ASUS EPU allows the mainboard to disable phases as load permits to save energy during operation. Droop can be configured using the BIOS load line calibration options, covering current for the CPU and CPU/NB current. Frequency control for CPU voltage and VRM switching is also offered, along with manual adjustment for important voltages needed for overclocking fine tweaking. There are LED's to inform you that the system is in standby and if EPU is enabled.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

The ASUS F2 A85-M Pro features four DDR3 DIMM slots for single sided or double sided unregistered non-ECC memory, and has been qualified to run a wide range of memory brands, sizes, speeds and voltages, from 1.35v up to 1.8v; DDR3-1333 to DDR-2400; and 1GB to 8GB modules. ASUS inform us that when 16GB DDR3 modules reach the market they'll test them and update the online qualified vendor list (QVL) for memory but for right now the most memory tested in the board is 32GB. The board features a built in memory tester, activated by onboard button labeled Mem OK!. Install your memory and power on the board, hit the Mem OK button and wait for the LED to inform you of your memory status, invaluable for POST failure diagnosis.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

The board features four display outputs, HDMI 1.4a, DL-DVI, DisplayPort 1.2 and VGA. A second display can be daisychained from the DP 1.2 port, with second generation A-series APUs offering 3 display Eyefinity plus additional display. Even with the Radeon HD 7660D graphics inside the APU this is likely not enough GPU horsepower to game on Eyefinity but four displays out of the mainboard with no dongles or AIBs is unmatched and very attractive for office and business use.

ASUS F2A85-M Pro

Included with the board is a driver DVD which includes obviously the drivers you need for the board, plus ASUS utilities. The AI suite is the master launcher for all the functionality inside, which is massive - monitoring, control, overclocking. Autotuning overclocking is available as well as power tuning for energy saving. BIOS updating can be performed, as can network prioritization for different applications - want to download while gaming without sacrificing your game bandwidth, but also have your downloads max out when you're not gaming? Can do. It's a comprehensive suite with something for everyone from basic everyday users to overclockers to bespoke custom PC builders remotely supporting their clients.