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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 11 > ASUS A88XM-E

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22-11-2014


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ASUS A88XM-E motherboard: review and testing

As you might guess from the title of the test model, ASUS A88XM-E is a compact solution of format microATX, made on the basis of the flagship chipset AMD A88X. If you look at the specification of new item and try to draw preliminary conclusions about its target audience, it can be assumed that due to the size, low cost and good layout of the interface panel it is fully capable to attract the interest of users looking for a multimedia system for entry-level processor of series AMD Kaveri or solutions of lineups AMD Trinity/Richland. Let’s examine in more details all the features of ASUS A88XM-E.

ASUS A88XM-E

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

A88XM-E (rev 1.03)

Chipset

AMD A88X

CPU socket

Socket FM2+

CPUs supported

AMD A / AMD Athlon

Memory frequency

2400* / 2133 / 1866 / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

2 x DDR3 DIMM- slots with support of memory up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

1 х PCI

Disk subsystem

AMD A88X chipset supports:

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

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

LAN

1 x Realtek 8111GR (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC887

2 / 4 / 5.1 / 7.1-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)

1 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

3 x audio jacks

2 х PS/2 (for mouse and keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

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

2 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x socket COM

1 x socket TPM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x S/PDIF out

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 4.0a, SM BIOS 2.6, 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

microATX

226 х 188 mm

Producer website

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

Packaging and content

ASUS A88XM-E

The motherboard is shipped in a compact cardboard decorated with yellow and black colors. Traditionally, most of the front of the space is reserved for the name of the manufacturer and model of the device. Separately note the correspondence of ASUS A88XM-E to brand concept  5X PROTECTION, which includes:

  • Digital PWM controllers for control of CPU power subsystem and memory modules, which are used in accordance with the company's concept DIGI+ VRM.
  • Special fuses for protection against overcurrent and short-circuit current and ESD protection.
  • Japanese solid capacitors with increased 2.5 times life (up to 5000 hours at 105°C).
  • Reinforced construction of interface board, which is made of high quality stainless steel coated with chromium oxide. It has a high resistance to oxidation, making it three times more susceptible to breakage.

ASUS A88XM-E

On the reverse side of the package is an image of the motherboard, a brief technical specification, as well as a list of supported technologies and features:

  • USB 3.0 Boost - to speed the USB 3.0 interface is the support of protocol UASP.
  • Fan Xpert - smart fan control, allowing to achieve an efficient computer cooling with minimal noise.
  • AI Suite 3 - complete proprietary software, with which you can fine-tune a number of system settings without entering the BIOS.

Additionally we note the support for technologies AMD Eyefinity and AMD Dual Graphics, as well as the availability of HDMI video output on the interface panel, which has the ability to display images in resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

ASUS A88XM-E

Package of ASUS A88XM-E corresponds to the status of the model. It includes only the necessary accessories, namely:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • User Guide;
  • Two SATA cables;
  • the interface panel plug.

Design and features  

ASUS A88XM-E

The tested model is realized on a dark brown printed circuit board in format microATX. It has compact and non-standard dimensions (226 x 188 mm). Due to this feature, it is possible to note the original layout of on-board components, where half of the SATA ports are parallel to the surface of the board, while the other half is perpendicular. Also note that the usual module for connecting remote panel with ports USB 3.0 was movedtot the bottom, while the connector TPM had to be placed over the slots PCI Express. Of course, these features may cause some minor inconvenience, but they are not critical, and their presence is a consequence of the desire to make products more compact.

Also note the very close proximity of PCI Express x16 connector and DIMM-slots that in case of long graphics card can complicate the process of installing or replacing memory modules.

ASUS A88XM-E

The reverse side of the product has a standard base plate of CPU socket and plastic clip for fastening single radiator, which is responsible for cooling the chipset.

ASUS A88XM-E

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, COM port, as well as front panel leading-in socket. Also here are three leading-in sockets for USB: two for USB 2.0 and one for USB 3.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is six: four internal and two on the interface panel. Here are four USB 3.0 (two internal and two external). All sockets operate due to the set of system logic.

ASUS A88XM-E

Due to lack of space in the lower part, the connector TPM is placed over PCI Express slots near the single connector of system fan.

ASUS A88XM-E

The capabilities of disk subsystem organization are performed by six ports SATA 6 Gb/s the operation of which is realized by chipset. Here is the support of arrays SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 and JBOD.

ASUS A88XM-E

ASUS A88XM-E motherboard is equipped with two DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard which are equipped with latches on both sides. Memory boards operating at frequencies up to 2133 MHz in nominal mode and up to 2400 in overclocked mode are supported.

Despite the declared support of 32 GB of RAM, the actual maximum amount is no more than 16 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.

ASUS A88XM-E

Cooling system of the product consists of one aluminum radiator that removes the heat from the chipset AMD A88X.

In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 54.1°C;
  • power subsystem chokes – 56.5°C;
  • power subsystem field transistor – 58.2°C.

Due to lack of space in the chipset, the manufacturer had to install a radiator with a fairly small area, which has impact on its effectiveness. However, the demonstrated results tell us that it copes with cooling since there is a reserve up to the critical temperatures.

ASUS A88XM-E

ASUS A88XM-E

Processor power supply is performed via 3+2-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1206 with integrated DIGI+ VRM power consumption subsystem control. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: Japanese solid capacitors and chokes with ferrite core are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.      

ASUS A88XM-E

To extend motherboard functionality the user has three slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x16;
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  3. PCI.

As you can see, there is a possibility of installing only one graphics card that can operate in mode AMD Dual Graphics. Separately we note that in the case of connecting the graphics card with dual-slot cooling system you will have only one free slot PCI, which means that if you want additional installation, for example a discrete sound card, you will be limited by models with interface PCI.

ASUS A88XM-E

Multi I/O capabilities are based on ITE IT8603E chip which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

ASUS A88XM-E

To support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Realtek 8111GR. 

ASUS A88XM-E

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC887 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems.

ASUS A88XM-E

In accordance with the concept of 5X PROTECTION interface panel ofmodel ASUS A88XM-E is made of high quality stainless steel coated with chromium oxide, which makes it more durable. It includes the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 2 x PS/2 for mouse and keyboard connection;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 3 x audio jacks.

This layout of the interface panel can be called quite decent for affordable solutions: it has not only a good range of video outputs, but also modern ports USB 3.0. Additionally we note the support for connecting peripherals with socket PS/2, and the ability to put COM port to the interface panel using the appropriate connector on the PCB. As features note not the most convenient connection of multi-channel speakers.

ASUS A88XM-E

ASUS A88XM-E

The possibilities of organizing the cooling system inside the body from ASUS A88XM-E are not too wide. There are two 4-pin fan connectors, one of which serves to cool the CPU, while the second is intended for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

ASUS A88XM-E

Motherboard uses a modern pre-loader with UEFI basis. To provide the setting is possible using the mouse. The main screen of UEFI BIOS displays monitoring of temperature and voltage of the CPU. Also in this section you can see the version of the BIOS, processor model and the capacity of installed RAM.

ASUS A88XM-E

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

ASUS A88XM-E

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

ASUS A88XM-E

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

ASUS A88XM-E

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

90,00 – 300,00

1

Chipset frequency

NB Frequency

400 – 1600

100

CPU multiplier

APU Multiplier

8 – MAX

1

 

CPU Voltage Frequency

200 - 350

50

RAM frequency

System Memory Multiplier

800 – 2400

 

RAM timing

Timing Settings

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

 

Standard deviation from stated CPU voltage

CPU Offset Voltage

0,00625 – 0,50000

0,00625

 

VDDNB Offset Voltage

0,35000 – 0,50000

0,00625

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,35000 – 1,65000

0,00500

Chipset voltage

SB 1.1V Voltage

1,10000 – 1,22000

0,04000

ASUS A88XM-E

ASUS A88XM-E

“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.

Unfortunately the capability to monitor the RAM voltage is not available. Also it is possible to take screenshots in BIOS mode. 


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