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15-10-2014


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ASUS A88X-GAMER motherboard: review and testing

Despite its apparent gaming motherboard ASUS A88X-GAMER, officially is not referred to a series ASUS ROG, though its design has a ring of the corporate style of this line. The heart of new item is the flagship chipset AMD A88X, with key features of which we have already introduced you earlier. It is quite expected for a gaming solutions that this model has received a number of proprietary modifications, namely: network controller of Intel, high-quality sound subsystem and a number of other interesting technologies and features, including proprietary Gamers Guardian. But first of all we offer a look at the detailed specs.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

A88X-GAMER (rev 1.0)

Chipset

AMD A88X

CPU socket

Socket FM2+

CPUs supported

AMD A / AMD Athlon

Memory frequency

2400* / 2250* / 2200* / 2133 / 1866 / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM- slots with support of memory up to 64 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 х PCI Express 2.0 x16

x16

x16+х4

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

3 x PCI

Disk subsystem

AMD A88X chipset supports:

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, JBOD

LAN

1 x Intel WGI211AT (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec SupremeFX

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1 х 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power ATX12V

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

2 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum fan on the chipset

Aluminum fan on elements of power subsystem

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x audio jacks

1 х PS/2 (for mouse or keyboard)

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х socket TPM

1 х socket COM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS reset

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 2.0a, SM BIOS 2.7, DMI 2.0, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Disc with driver and utilities  

2 x SATA cables

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

ATX

305 х 229 mm

Producer website

ASUS
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available at support page

Packaging and content

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Motherboard ASUS A88X-GAMER is shipped in the traditional cardboard box with a stylish decoration of black and red colors. On the front side, besides the name of the manufacturer and model of the device, it is possible to draw attention to a number of logos at the bottom, showing the support of the operating system Windows 8.1 and technology AMD CrossFireX, as well as the possibility of output images to a display with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

ASUS A88X-GAMER

On the reverse side of the box, in addition to the image of the motherboard and a short list of its characteristics, it is possible to pay attention to support a range of technologies:

  • SupremeFX - preset audio codec offers support of eight channel audio and provides audio playback with a ratio signal/noise at the level of 115 dB. In order to avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference a special screening technology EMI cover is used, and to maximize the quality of sound there are special audio capacitors ELNA. Also note the presence of an operational amplifier TI R4580i with the support of headphones with an impedance of 300 Ohms.
  • DRAM Over-current Protection - special fuses protect the memory modules and DIMM-slots from the damage caused by the increased strength of current or short-circuit.
  • Stainless Steel Back I/O -interface panel is made of high quality stainless steel with coating of chromium oxide. It has a high resistance to oxidation, which makes it three times more wear-resistant.
  • 10K Black Metallic Capacitors – the base of the motherboard includes Japanese solid capacitors of series Nichicon GT with increased up to 10, 000 hours lifespan and improved by 20% thermal resistance. 
  • ESD Guards - special fuses for increased protection against electrostatic discharges.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

In the box with the ASUS A88X-GAMER we found quite a standard set of accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user's manual;
  • two SATA cables;
  • plug of the interface board.

Design and features  

ASUS A88X-GAMER

New product is made on the black PCB of the size ATX (305 x 229 mm) and has a very nice design, very similar to a series of ASUS ROG which uses black and red colors.

Talking about the layout and ease of building the system, it is worth noting that, due to the reduced width of the printed circuit board on the right side you won’t find mounting holes, and therefore some care should be observed when connecting the main power cable. The advantages also include DIMM-slots equipped with latches on one side only, and reliable on-board elements location that are at a sufficient distance from each other.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

The reverse side of the motherboard has familiar base plate of the socket, as well as plastic fastening clips on the power subsystem. Chipset heatsink is fixed by means of screws.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, , COM and TPM ports, CMOS reset, as well as front panel leading-in socket. Also here are three leading-in sockets for USB 2.0 activation. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is ten: six internal and four on the interface panel.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

The capability of disk subsystem organization is performed by eight ports SATA 6 Gb/s the operation of which is realized by chipset. Here is the support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. All SATA connectors are arranged parallel to the surface of the PCB, which means that you will not have any problems connecting drives with installed expansion cards.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER motherboard is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard which are equipped with latches on one side only. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. For its implementation modules should be installed either into first and third or second and fourth slots. Memory boards operating at frequencies up to 2400 MHz are supported.

Despite the declared support of 64 GB of RAM, the actual maximum amount is no more than 32 GB due the absence of modules with capacity higher than 8 GB. However, this is more than enough to handle all the tasks set by the user.

Block for connection of external panel with USB 3.0 ports by the tradition is also located on the right side of the PCB. Total number of USB 3.0 is four: two internal and two on the interface panel.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Cooling system of the product consists of three aluminum radiators. The first provides heat removal out of AMD A88X, while the others cover the elements of power subsystem. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 48.1°C;
  • top radiator for cooling the elements of power subsystem – 58.8°C;
  • bottom radiator for cooling the elements of power subsystem – 69.2°C;

Despite the overstated results, the efficiency of the cooling system is sufficient to prevent overheating of the key elements.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Processor power supply is performed via 6-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1106 with integrated DIGI+VRM power consumption subsystem control. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors 10K Black Metallic and chokes with ferrite core are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.      

ASUS A88X-GAMER

To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16);
  3. PCI;
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  5. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (mode х4);
  6. PCI;
  7. PCI.

Despite the presence of two PCI Express x16 slots and support of technology AMD CrossFireX, the product is designed to install only one graphics card, as one of the two slots is connected to the chipset and its capacity is limited to four lines of PCI Express 2.0. In case of installing two graphics cards, the obtained scheme x16+x4 does not reveal the full potential of such bunch.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Multi I/O capabilities are based on ITE IT8606E chip which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

To support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Intel WGI211AT. 

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound SupremeFX that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems and has several proprietary features described in the beginning of review.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Interface panel of ASUS A88X-GAMER model contains the following ports:  

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x PS/2 (for mouse or keyboard connection);
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 6 x audio jacks.

The layout of the interface board deserves a positive assessment because it includes a sufficient number of USB ports and virtually all of the most popular video output, provides easy connection of multi-channel speakers and offers optical audio output. A special mention is given to support display of image with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD), as well as an opportunity to put port COM to the rear side of the case using the appropriate connector on the PCB.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER has quite standard features for organizing the cooling system inside the case. There are three 4-pin fan connectors, one of which serves to cool the CPU, and the other two are for system turntables.

UEFI BIOS

Motherboard uses a modern pre-loader with UEFI basis. To provide the setting is possible using the mouse. It provides two usage scenarios.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

The first one is “EZ Mode”. All necessary settings are concentrated on one screen and overclocking is realized due to “EZ Tuning Wizard”.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Or initial “Advanced Mode” where all setting should be manually performed.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

All overclocking settings can be found in “Ai Tweaker” section.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-2400MHz.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

If necessary you can get the access to memory latency adjustments.

ASUS A88X-GAMER

To increase the stability during overclocking process you can use the setting of power on key elements.

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu name

Range

Pitch

System bus frequency

APU Frequency

90,0 – 300,0

0,1

RAM frequency

Memory Frequency

800, 1066, 1333, 1600, 1866, 2133, 2400

 

RAM timing

DRAM Timing

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS, RAS PRE Time, RAS ACT Time, DRAM COMMAND Mode, RAS to RAS Delay, REF Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, READ to PRE Time, FOUR ACT WIN Time, WRITE to READ Delay, Write Latency

 

 

CPU Ratio

8 – MAX

1

Chipset frequency

NB Frequency

400 – 6300

100

GPU frequency

GPU Engine Frequency

434 - 1900

 

 

CPU Offset Voltage

-0,50000 – +0,33750

0,00625

 

VDDNB Offset Voltage

-0,50000 – +0,36250

0,00625

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,35000 – 1,90000

0,00500

 

SB 1.1V Voltage

1,10000 – 1,40000

0,01000

 

1.1VSB Voltage

1,10000 – 1,40000

0,10000

 

APU1.2V Voltage

1,20000 – 1,80000

0,01000

 

VDDA Voltage

2,50000 – 2,80000

0,10000

ASUS A88X-GAMER

ASUS A88X-GAMER

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU and chipset temperature,  rotation speed of installed fans as well as to check the voltage on CPU cores and power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V. Additionally note the side panel that is displayed in all sections and has the key information about the parameters of CPU, RAM and lines +3.3V, +5V, +12V.  Also it is possible to make screenshots in BIOS mode. 


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