ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Review

0
Advertisement

Brand: ASRock
Model: FM2A85X Extreme6
RRP: £91.99 (At time of review)

Back in the summer of 2011, AMD released it’s first line of desktop APUs codenamed Llano to the world. At the time their on-board graphics performance was untouchable by Intel which allowed AMD to capture the budget PC market with a product that offered unbeatable graphics performance at it’s price point. AMD have since released their next generation APU codenamed Trinity, which offered mild improvements on both the CPU and the GPU fronts. This also saw the introduction of the Piledriver architecture on an APU, which meant that it was only a very minor upgrade over it’s predecessor. Trinity was later succeeded by Richland which offered an increased graphics performance and increased CPU performance through a clock speed boost.

Today I will be testing ASRocks top offering on the FM2 socket, the FM2A85X Extreme6. The board comes at a price tag of less than £100 and looks to offer the features found on many £100+ motherboards at a much more competitive price point.  It offers seven SATA 6Gbps ports, a wide range of expandability ports, upto 64GB of DDR3-2400MHz and many other features too. Will the board deliver or does it’s low price point suggest otherwise?

Before we get into testing, lets take a quick look at the specifications and the motherboard itself.

 

 General
CPU – Support for Socket FM2 100W processors
– Digi Power Design
– 8 + 2 Power Phase Design
– Supports AMD’s Cool ‘n’ Quiet Technology
– UMI-Link GEN2
Chipset – AMD A85X (Hudson-D4)
Memory – Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
– 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
– Supports DDR3 2600+(OC)/2400(OC)/2133(OC)/1866/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
– Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB*
– Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3 / 1.2
– Supports AMD Memory Profile (AMP)

*To reach the maximum 64GB of system memory, memory modules with 16GB capacity or above are required. ASRock will update the memory support list on the official website once these memory modules are available on the market.**Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
BIOS – 64Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
– Supports “Plug and Play”
– ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
– Supports jumperfree
– SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
– DRAM, APU PCIE VDDP, CPU and CPU NB/GFX Voltage Multi-adjustment
 Audio, Video and Networking
Graphics – Integrated AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics in A-series APU
– DirectX 11, Pixel Shader 5.0
– Max. shared memory 2GB
– Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort
– Supports HDMI Technology with max. resolution up to 1920×1200 @ 60Hz
– Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560×1600 @ 75Hz
– Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 1920×1600 @ 60Hz
– Supports DisplayPort 1.2 with max. resolution up to 4096×2160 @ 30Hz
– Supports DP++
– Supports Multi-Streaming
– Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
– Supports Blu-ray Stereoscopic 3D with HDMI
– Supports AMD Steady Video™ 2.0: New video post processing capability for automatic jutter reduction on home/online video
– Supports HDCP function with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
– Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
Audio – 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec)
– Premium Blu-ray audio support
LAN – PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
– Realtek RTL8111E
– Supports Wake-On-LAN
– Supports LAN Cable Detection
– Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
– Supports PXE
 Expansion / Connectivity
Slots – 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4), or dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) ; PCIE5: x4 mode)
– 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
– 2 x PCI slots
– Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Dual Graphics
SATA3 – 7 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
USB 3.0 – 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by AMD A85X (Hudson-D4), support USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
– 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by ASMedia ASM1042, support USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
– 1 x Front USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports) by AMD A85X (Hudson-D4), supports USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
Connector – 7 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
– 1 x IR header
– 1 x CIR header
– 1 x COM port header
– 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
– 1 x Power LED header
– 1 x Chassis Intrusion header
– 2 x CPU Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 1 x 3-pin)
– 3 x Chassis Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 2 x 3-pin)
– 1 x Power Fan connector (3-pin)
– 24 pin ATX power connector
– 8 pin 12V power connector
– XFire power connector
– Front panel audio connector
– 3 x USB 2.0 headers (support 6 USB 2.0 ports)
– 1 x USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports)
– 1 x Dr. Debug with LED*
– 1 x Power Switch with LED
– 1 x Reset Switch with LED

*Check the Dr. Debug code list here.
Rear Panel I/O I/O Panel
– 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
– 1 x D-Sub Port
– 1 x DVI-D Port
– 1 x HDMI Port
– 1 x DisplayPort
– 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
– 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
– 1 x eSATA3 Connector
– 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
– 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
– 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
– HD Audio Jack: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
 Other Features / Miscellaneous
Unique Feature – ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU)
– ASRock Instant Boot
– ASRock Instant Flash
– ASRock APP Charger
– ASRock XFast USB
– ASRock XFast LAN
– ASRock XFast RAM
– ASRock Crashless BIOS
– ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard)
– ASRock Internet Flash
– ASRock UEFI System Browser
– ASRock Dehumidifier Function
– ASRock Easy RAID Installer
– ASRock Interactive UEFI
– ASRock Fast Boot
– ASRock X-Boost
– ASRock Restart to UEFI
– Lucid Virtu Universal MVP
– Hybrid Booster:
– ASRock U-COP

*Lucid Virtu Universal MVP can be supported only with processors which are GPU integrated.**LucidLogix Virtu MVP only supports Windows® 7 OS or later versions.
Support CD – Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar
Accessories – Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
– 4 x SATA Data Cables
Hardware Monitor – CPU Temperature Sensing
– Chassis Temperature Sensing
– CPU/Chassis/Power Fan Tachometer
– CPU Quiet Fan
– CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control
– CASE OPEN detection
– Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, Vcore
Form Factor – ATX Form Factor
– Premium Gold Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)
OS – Microsoft® Windows® 8 / 8 64-bit / 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista™ / Vista™ 64-bit compliant
Certifications – FCC, CE, WHQL
– ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

 

The front of the box shows a black and gold theme with a reference to the 555 XFast system which aims to improve the speed of the USB ports, lower the latency of the LAN ports and use the RAM to create a much faster virtual disk that is also known as a RAM disk.

The back of the box follows the same theme and show details of other features available on the motherboard, including the premium gold capacitors and the Lucid Virtu MVP technology.

Bundled in the box we have 4 SATA cables, a rear I/O panel, a quick installation guide as well as a software installation guide and info on the bundled software. As always we have a DVD which includes the various ASRock software as well as drivers for the on board components.

The motherboard follows the black and gold theme found on the box and is built upon a dark brown PCB. This theme can be found throughout the entire “Extreme” range of motherboards from ASRock. Personally, I’m not too fond of their dark brown PCB and I feel that a black PCB would have been far better suited.

The motherboard has seven SATA 3 (6Gbps) ports which all connect to the chipset which offer the user full speed SATA 6Gbps speeds across every port. This means any user with an SSD shouldn’t have to worry about the motherboard holding the SSD back.

The rear I/O panel comes equipped with 6 USB ports, 4 of which are USB 3.0. It also comes with a PS/2 port for those still using an older keyboard or mouse, as well as DVI , HDMI, Display Port and VGA connections for the onboard graphics, a clear CMOS button, one eSATA3 connector and the 7.1 surround sound audio.

For added expandability, the board comes with 3 PCI-E x16 slots, 2 PCI-E x1 slots and 2 PCI slots for your add in graphics, sound or RAID cards.

The Motherboard has four DDR3 memory slots which support speeds of up to 2400MHz (OC) and up to 64GB of dual channel memory.

The APU is powered by an 8+2 power phase design which will provide both the CPU and GPU with enough power to be able to overclock them to their limits.

Finally, the motherboard also includes on board power and restart buttons which allows the user to test and use the motherboard outside of a case on a test bench. There is an LED display for POST codes which means that if the motherboard gets stuck on a particular code, the user will be able to find the specific problem in the manual and then it’ll be a quick fix to rectify the issue(s).

Test Setup

ASRock FM2A85X Motherboard
AMD 6800k APU
8GB Muskin Blackline 2133MHz ram
1600W LEPA G1600
OCZ Vertex 3 60GB SSD
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

This simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic “Queens problem” on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. For example — with HyperThreading disabled — the Intel Northwood core processors get higher scores than the Intel Prescott core based ones due to the 20-step vs 31-step long pipeline. CPU Queen Test uses integer MMX, SSE2 and SSSE3 optimizations.

MaxxMEM2 is a benchmark designed to help you measure your memory’s performance.This particular program will test the copy, read and write speed of your RAM as well as its latency and also help you submit your score in order to compare it to other systems worldwide.

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

Super PI is a single threaded benchmark that calculates pi to a specific number of digits. It uses the Gauss-Legendre algorithm and is a Windows port of a program used by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 to compute pi to 232 digits.

wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton’s method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we’re sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.

What Is x264 HD Benchmark?

Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It’s nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host bus adapters (HBAs), hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world’s most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets to notebooks and desktop PCs. And it’s not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too.

Heaven Benchmark with its current version 4.0 is a GPU-intensive benchmark that hammers graphics cards to the limits. This powerful tool can be effectively used to determine the stability of a GPU under extremely stressful conditions, as well as check the cooling system’s potential under maximum heat output. It provides completely unbiased results and generates true in-game rendering workloads across all platforms, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

After testing the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6, how did it stand up given its low price point?

The aesthetics of the board are very good in my opinion. The black heatsinks in conjunction with the contrasting gold heatsinks give the motherboard a very nice finish overall. The only area where I would mark down the motherboard aesthetically is the actual PCB itself. The dark brown PCB is a little ugly and I believe that the board would have looked better on a black PCB. The would have given the board a much sharper look in general and would have complimented the black and gold from the heatsinks and capacitors better.

The motherboard managed to keep the chip stable at 4.7GHz with very little trouble at 1.45V. What I did notice however was that there seemed to be a massive vDroop problem on this motherboard. The voltage of the CPU dropped by nearly 0.1V when at full load compared to the voltage set in the BIOS. This may prove problematic for some overclockers, but I had no problems with my APU sample.

A couple of things that I noticed when testing the board is that the motherboards MOSFET heatsink did tend to get a little bit on the toasty side. The heatsink was very hot to touch and therefore I would have to recommend getting some airflow over it, especially if the motherboard is to be used in a 24/7 system. Another minor design flaw was the problems in reading the CPU temperatures on the motherboard. I could only get accurate readings with Speedfan and ASRock’s Extreme tuning utility. Other programs such as HWMonitor and CoreTemp would give me temperatures of over 100°c when stress testing the CPU, which got me a little concerned about my mounting at first but I soon realised that it was a software error rather than user error.

In terms of the features on this board, it is absolutely loaded with a vast variety of them and it means that any user should be more or less spoilt for choice. To name a few and to run through a few of the specifications as well, there are a total of seven SATA 3 ports available on this motherboard, a total of six USB 3.0 ports and the ability to use up to 64GB of 2400MHz RAM. That’s just a very short list of the actual options on this motherboard and for the price tag of less than £100, I feel that this represents excellent value for money.

In short, top marks go to ASRock for this motherboard. They’ve provided us with a cream of the crop motherboard for the FM2 platform that boasts all of the latest and greatest in the computer world and at a reasonable price too.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

If your in the market for a solid motherboard for your Richland APU, with incredible features, solid performance and great looks to boot, then the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 should be somewhere at the top of your list.

4.2

Page Navigation

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.