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21-02-2015


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Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2 based on AMD A68H: review and testing

Toward the end of 2014 AMD has decided to upgrade the lineup of chipsets for the platform Socket FM2+, adding a model AMD A68H. This is an inexpensive chipset, which is designed to replace outdated AMD A58, since the latter lacks support for interface SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0. Due to the integration of such interfaces a new chipset differs from AMD A58. The rest is exactly the same features. For clarity, we present a small comparative table of entry-level chipsets company AMD:

 

AMD A58

AMD A68H 

AMD A78

Standard PCI Express

3.0

3.0 

3.0

Distribution lines scheme

х16

х16 

х16

SATA 3 Gb/s

6

No 

No

SATA 6 Gb/s

No

4 

6

USB 2.0

14

10 

14

USB 3.0

No

2 

4

RAID

0, 1, 10

0, 1, 10 

0, 1, 10

As you can see, the features of AMD A68H are enough for an entry-level motherboard of 2015, as users can now easily take advantage of high-speed drives with a modern interface USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s.

Further study of the chipset AMD A68H will be performed on the example of a new motherboard GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2. It is a compact entry-level solution for building of home systems or multimedia PC with a single graphics card, or even without it. Recall that the platform Socket FM2+ is designed to work with processors AMD Kaveri or decisions of lineups AMD Trinity / Richland.

Let us examine in more detail all the features of GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2 and find out whether it is worthy of attention of potential buyers.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

 Specification of motherboard GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2:

Producer

GIGABYTE

Model

GA-F2A68HM-DS2 (rev 1.0)

Chipset

AMD A68H

CPU socket

Socket FM2+

Supported CPUs

AMD A / AMD Athlon

Memory frequency

2400* / 2133 / 1866 / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

2 x DDR3 DIMM- slot with memory support up to 34 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

1 x PCI

Disk subsystem

AMD A68H chipset supports:

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, JBOD

LAN

1 x Realtek 8111G (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC887

2/4/5.1/7.1-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power

24-pin ATX main power connector

4-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

2 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on chipset

Extenral I/O

1 х DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

3 x audio ports

1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard)

Internal I/O

2 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

1 х socket COM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x S/PDIF Out

1 x CMOS

BIOS

2 х 64 Мb UEFI BIOS

PnP 1.0а, DMI2.7, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver and utility disc

2 x SATA cables

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

microATX

226 х 174 mm

Producer website

GIGABYTE
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on  support page

Package and content

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Package of motherboard GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2 is made of cardboard and decorated with quality printing in a corporate style. When looking at the box, first drew the attention of the model and the manufacturer. Slightly below is the logo of branded concept Ultra Durable 4 Plus, which includes the following features:

  • Ultra Cool – there are heatsink of new sample that demonstrates improved performance.
  • Ultra Performance – circuitry of new product is designed due to exclusively high quality components such as solid capacitors and FETs with low channel resistance (Low RDS (on)). They are distinguished by an increased level of efficiency, stability and reliability.
  • Ultra Safe - this model is equipped with two chips with firmware BIOS (main and reserve), which will allow you to avoid a visit to the service center in case of damage to the main chip. Also separately note the presence of additional protection of USB ports LAN and. Each LAN and USB-port works in conjunction with a special protective filter that is able to withstand severe electrostatic discharge, which protects the system from power surges, even during a thunderstorm.GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

The reverse side contains a large schematic representation of the motherboard and the configuration of the interface panel. Also here there is a short list of characteristics of the device and the mention of the key advantages of new item:

  • additional protection of the PCB against humidity and high temperatures;
  • use a separate fuse for each USB port on the interface panel;
  • use high-quality audio capacitors in the bunch of sound section.

Demanded are technologies GIGABYTE ON/OFF Charge and 3x USB Power, with a description of which you can see in one of our previous articles.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Scope of delivery includes only the most necessary, namely interface panel plug, two SATA cables, CD with software and user manual.

Design and board features 

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

The tested model is implemented on a dark brown printed circuit board in format microATX. It is compact, but at the same time has non-standard dimensions (226 x 174 mm). Due to this feature, it is possible to note the original layout of on-board components, where half of the SATA ports are located at the bottom of the board, while the other half are on the right side. Of course, voiced above feature is not a disadvantage - it is only a consequence of the manufacturer’s desire to make the most compact solution that can be useful in case of building a multimedia system in a small case.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

The reverse side of GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2 has the standard base plate of the socket and plastic clip fastening for single radiator, which is responsible for cooling the chipset.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF Out, socket COM and module for connection of front panel and one of two sockets for connection of system fans. Do note two modules for activation of ports USB 2.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four are internal and four on the interface panel and two USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel. Modules to connect removable panels with USB 3.0 port are absent.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

The organization of disk subsystem is presented by four SATA 6 Gb/s ports which are perpendicularly arranged over the board. There is a support for arrays SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10 and JBOD. The operation of sockets is realized due to the chipset.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

The tested model is equipped by two DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard that are equipped with latches from two sides. At the same time there is a plain replacement of modules even in case of installed graphics card. Modules operating at frequencies up to 2133 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 2400 MHz in overclocked mode are supported.

Despite the stated by manufacturer support for 64 GB of RAM, the actual maximum amount will not exceed 16 GB due to the absence of modules larger than 8 GB. However, this is more than enough to handle all the tasks set by the user.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Cooling system of the product includes one radiator that provides heat removal from chipset AMD A68H. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 61.4°C;
  • elements of power subsystem in top part of the board  –  78.5°C;
  • elements of power subsystem behind interface panel – 64.7°C.

Despite the relatively small area of the radiator, demonstrated results tell us that it copes with cooling, as there is a reserve to the critical temperatures.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Processor power supply is performed via 5-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. The transformer is based on PWM controller ISL62773. The circuitry is made by high quality components such as: solid capacitors, MOS transistors with low resistance of open channel and chokes with ferrite cores. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

To extend the functionality of GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2 user has four 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, which can operate in mode AMD Dual Graphics with an integrated graphics core. 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 to perform additional installation of a discrete sound card, you will be limited by models with interface PCI. On the other hand, if we consider only the build script of compact multimedia system where you will use the integrated graphics core, the above features will not be a disadvantage.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Multi I/O capabilities are based on chip ITE IT8620E which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

To support network connections there is a GB LAN-controller Realtek RTL8111G.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Sound subsystem of model is based on the 8-channel codec Realtek ALC887 which supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 audio systems. It uses high-quality audio capacitors.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

Interface panel of the model contains the following ports:

  • • 1 x D-Sub;
  • • 1 x DVI-D;
  • • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • • 1 x PS / 2 (keyboard or mouse);
  • • 3 x audio ports.

This layout is very good for an affordable device because it includes a sufficient number of USB ports, video output DVI-D and D-Sub, as well as support the periphery with interface PS/2. And there is ability to connect the external COM port with the appropriate pads on the printed circuit board.

We were a little upset due to the absence of an HDMI port and an awkward connection of multichannel speaker system, which reduces the comfort of use the product as a basis for a multimedia system.

GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2

The means of organizing the cooling system inside the case of GIGABYTE GA-F2A68HM-DS2 are quite standard. There are three 4-pin fan connectors, one of which is used for CPU cooling system, while the others are designed for system fans.  


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