[section_title title=”Introduction & Closer Look”]
Introduction & Closer Look
Model: A88X-G45 Gaming
Price: £82.06 (At the time of review) Amazon UK
AMD’s APU’s have been around for a good few years now and with the latest release of chips, we are seeing a few new motherboards which support them. APU’s make great a great starting point for mid-range gaming PC’s and even HTPC’s as they have integrated R7 graphics right on the chip, sometimes alongside a quad-core CPU, as we saw with the previously reviewed A10-7870K (Click here for review). As mentioned, AMD has just released their Godavari APU’s which are essentially just a Kaveri refresh with a couple added features. Aside from the integrated R7 graphics, another big selling point is their low power consumption as well as the fact you can actually Crossfire a dedicated GPU with that of the APU to gain even better graphics without breaking the bank.
MSI is one of the biggest manufacturers of PC components, especially when it comes to motherboards so it should come as no real surprise that they have released a new gaming board alongside the new APU releases. Gaming motherboards generally have a few extra features over their standard counterparts and as such allow users to have a bit more control over everything. Another big feature for gamers is being able to overclock their CPU’s/APU’s and MSI has them covered with a couple of special features on their A88X-G45 Gaming board that we will take a look at in a bit.
So, if you hadn’t figured it out by now, today I am taking a look at the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming motherboard. The A88X-G45 is, of course, designed to make use of the newest release of AMD APU’s on the FM2+ socket. This board also features Killer E220 LAN, which is designed to reduce LAG and help give gamers the advantage over their foes. Another big feature from the MSI motherboards is the Audio Boost technology, this will allow end-users to make use of studio grade equipment right from the 7.1 audio jacks on the motherboard without the need for any other hardware.
Starting off with the outside of the packaging and the box follows the same theme we have come to know from the MSI GAMING line of products. On the front, we have the MSI Dragon which has become the one of the major indicators that you are looking at an MSI GAMING motherboard. Aside from this, we have the MSI logo and model number as well as some badges that display some of the main features of the motherboard.
On the back, MSI have been kind enough to elaborate on some of the main features of the A88X-Gaming Motherboard. Here users can find more info about the Audio Boost, Killer Ethernet, OC Genie 4 and other features which we will cover more in just a moment.
In true MSI fashion, this have included a number of accessories in the box, such as a few SATA3 cables, rear IO shield, door hanger, badge and, of course, the installation manual and driver CD.
As we know, the A88X-G45 makes use of the FM2+ socket and as such is compatible with both the A-Series and Athlon processors. This board also supports dual-channel DDR3 RAM up to 2400MHz (OC) and has some nice overclocking buttons towards the top right-hand corner. Another great feature of the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming is
Another great feature of the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming is the Military Class 4 components they have used to make sure the board stands the test of time. Looking around the board and we can see the Hi-C Cap, which for some reason makes me want a drink, these caps allow for 93% energy efficiency which is amazing. We also have the Dark Caps, Super Ferrite Chokes and our normal host of Military Class Essentials that help protect from things like humidity and ESD.
Alongside the infamous OC Genie 4 button, there is also an OC switch which will allow gamers to flick the switch to the right, and get even more performance from their hardware within seconds. For those who like to manually OC their hardware, MSI has gone with their Click BIOS 4, this is of course where users will get to manually change all their settings to help overclock their systems.
The A88X-G45 Gaming comes with a plethora of ports and connectors, the most important of which may be the PCI slots it has to offer. Here, we have 3x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, a single PCI slot and 3x PCIe 3.0 x16 that run at x16 x8 x4.
MSI’s Audio Boost technology is designed to give gamers the best audio experience they can have without needing to purchase a dedicated sound card. Not only will this save room/PCI slot on the motherboard, it will also allow for users to get better sound right out of the box which could be the difference in getting the jump on your opponent or, being shot in the head!
The A88X chipset has an integrated SATA3 controller and offers connections for up to eight SATA devices and as such, has support for RAID0/1/5/10.
Another pair of features that will come in handy, especially for those looking to overclock are the DeBug LEDs and the CLR_CMOS button that can be found down in the bottom right corner, just under the SATA ports. The DeBug LED will emit a code if there is a problem booting up which will help users narrow down the exact problem that is keeping them from booting up. The CLR_CMOS button will do just that, clear the CMOS which we reset the BIOS back to stock settings so if for some reason you get stuck with a blank screen on booting, this is always a good place to start.
As far as back panel IO ports go, we see the normal host of connections we are getting used to, which consists of:
– 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
– 2 x USB 2.0 ports
– 6 x USB 3.0 ports
– 1 x VGA port
– 1 x DVI-D port
– 1 x HDMI port
– 1 x DisplayPor
– 1 x Optical S/PDIF-Out connector
– 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
– 6 x audio jacks
Another thing some users will take great advantage off is the fact this motherboard is ready to make use of up to three monitors thanks to that good old A88X chipset. You can either extend the desktop to the second and third monitors or, you can duplicate the desktop across a multi-monitor setup.