The Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 supports AMD’s latest ‘Trinity’ chips, such as the Best Buy-winning A10-5800K. As its name implies, the GA-F2A85X-UP4 uses the A85X chipset, which means the old SATA2 connector, now replaced by seven SATA3 connectors. No more will you have to compromise or swap round SATA cables to get the best speed for whichever new device you want to use – you can just plug in your latest SSD and go. It also has a good complement of I/O ports on the top and back panels.
When the concept of a graphical BIOS came into force, motherboard manufacturers had several ways of going about the issue. The main take on the matter was to skin an AMI or Award BIOS with a company logo, and dress up the options into an easier to read scenario. Some motherboard manufacturers took this a little further, giving easy mode options and representing some of the figures as bars and so forth. Every single manufacturer however missed a golden opportunity.
The GA-F2A85X-UP4 is part of GIGABYTEs Ultra Durable 5 range which means you can trust that it has high quality parts such as high current capable components in the CPU power zone, 2x copper PCB, high current ferrite chokes which allow for a cooler and more efficient system that can deliver the stability that overclockers and enthusiasts are looking for.
You get four USB3 ports on the back panel and one USB3 header in addition to two USB2 ports on the back panel and three USB2 headers. It also has the obligatory Gigabit Ethernet port, 7.1 surround sound outputs, an optical S/PDIF output, an eSATA port and a single legacy PS/2 port. We welcome the four back-panel USB3 ports, but think Gigabyte could’ve thrown in a couple more USB3 headers and lost the eSATA port. Everyone wants USB3, but we don’t know anyone who needs eSATA. More pleasing is its complement of graphics outputs in the form of D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, providing an output for every occasion.
Perhaps most important for gamers is the three PCI-E x16 slots. These can be configured to run in CrossFire mode, although the one slot runs at x8 and the other x4. The board also has three PCI-E x1 slots, but you’ll lose one if you install a graphics card in one of the first two PCI-E x16 slots. It also has a single legacy PCI slot, which is handy if you need to install a FireWire or USB expansion card.
The other notable difference between the two AMD chipsets is the A85X’s added support for RAID 5. Both chipsets support RAID 0 (striping), RAID 1 (mirroring), and RAID 10 (mirrored striping). RAID 5 is a more capacity-efficient solution for configurations with at least three drives wanting to balance performance and data protection. The parity computation required for RAID 5 has historically put a significant load on the host processor, but the A85X platform now offers enough overhead to make this RAID level feasible.
Like with the ASUS board, GIGABYTE has used these little buttons which I am growing quite fond of. They are small and inconspicuous and functional, appearing in the form of reset and clear CMOS. On the other hand we also have a huge red power on button which lights up like some kind of self destruct button, of course never a bad thing, but I am starting to feel like I need to highlight the questionable choices made in motherboard design in regards to activity lights. Most manufacturers are guilty of placing.. for example, A green LED on a primarily Blue aesthetic.
In the bottom right corner of the motherboard we see the 6x right angled SATA 3 6Gb/s, dual BIOS, Debug LED, an additional SATA 6 port, front panel headers and the 4th 4 pin PWM fan header. Slap bang in the middle we see a huge heatsink cooling the chipset with the GIGABYTE logo.
Along the bottom edge from left to right we have various I/O headers including, front panel HD audio, SPDIF, COM, TPM, 4x 2 USB 2.0 headers, for GIGABYTE ON/OFF Charge use the headers highlighted in red. We can also see the expansion slot arrangement from top to bottom, PCIe x1, x16, x1, x1, x8, legacy PCI, PCIe x4.
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