Winsome Foursome - AMD A85X Motherboard Roundup

Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H

Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H

The second mATX motherboard is the GA-F2A85XM-D3H from Gigabyte. Like the ASUS F2A85-M, there  is a glaring absence of VRM heatsinks at the FM2 socket area. This is due to the fact the board features a simple 4 + 2 power phase configuration, just like the ASUS board.

The  Gigabyte GA-F2A85XM-D3H mATX board is presented in traditional light blue and white on a medium blue PCB.

In terms of expansion slots, there is a PCIe 2.0 x1 slot next to the legacy PCI one. And expectedly, there are two PCIe 2.0 x16 PEG slots are capable of operating in x8 / x8 mode when two discrete graphics cards are installed; while the first PCIe x16 slot operates at full x16 mode when there is only one compliant graphics card in the setup.

There is a  LPT (Parallel Port) header located above the first PEG slot of the board. If a LPT port cable is installed there, the board is capable of provide a single parallel port. However, it is rare to find a device that supports such a port these days and we wonder why Gigabyte accommodated it even though the chipset driving the legacy devices supports it.

The manual of the GA-F2A85XM-D3H motherboard states the official supported maximum clock speed of the memory modules is DDR3-1866; however, Gigabyte has certified the board with some DDR3-2133 memory modules that include kits from Kingston, G-Skill, Corsair and Patriot. For a full list of the supported memory modules, do visit this link.

Located near the DIMM slots is a USB 3.0 header. The position of this header makes it easy for the user to connect a front panel USB 3.0 to it such that the USB 3.0 ports are presented at the facade of the system's chassis.

The area around the FM2 socket is relatively uncluttered due to the absence of the VRM heatsinks while the power connectors for the CPU and system cooling fans are located away from the edge of the PCB, which is most uncommon for any respectable motherboard vendor.

We noticed the general position of the system fan and CPU cooler connectors. In this orientation, they are usually located at the near the top edge of the board; however, for the GA-F2A85XM-D3H, these connectors are located near the bottom bracket to which the fan assembly of the CPU cooler clips onto. This makes them difficult to interface when the CPU cooler is mounted, so do plan for fan connections in advance.

In the photograph shown below, note the vertical orientation of the onboard SATA 6Gbps connectors; this goes against the increasingly common angled connectors that aim to streamline the profile of the SATA cables, reduce the number of bends and decrease the cable distance to the storage drives. Despite that, the Gigabyte board's simple (and cheaper) vertically aligned SATA connections will make connecting SATA cables to the board easier, especially when the board is already mounted within a small chassis.

For the headers, we can see a bright green audio connector one while the USB 3.0 headers are in light blue. The white front panel header has a color palette guide to allow users to connect the front panel connectors from their chassis with ease. The TPM header is black in color while the COM port header is white.

The rear I/O panel of the board appears to be very similar to the ASUS counterpart, however, the Gigabyte board lacks an eSATA port and it lacks surround audio output options for center, rear and side speakers. This is despite the fact that the both mATX boards share the same onboard Realtek ALC887 CODEC chip.

The GA-F2A85XM-D3H features a PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port that sits below a pair of USB ports. There are a total of six USB ports, with two of them adhering to the USB 3.0 standard. For video connectivity, it has most of the common options such as D-Sub (VGA), DVI-D and HDMI video connectivity options.

In order to increase the reliability of the board, Gigabyte has featured its Ultra Durable 4 Classic range of technologies and backs them up with its classic DualBIOS feature as a safeguard against any possible corruption of the board's BIOS.

 The two physical BIOS chips that make up the DualBIOS feature of the GA-F2A85XM-D3H. They are located near the group of 6Gbps SATA connectors.