With recent reports showing a profit for AMD from Llano, we can safely say that the processors, and thus the chipsets, are selling. As a result, we have taken a full size A75 board each from ASUS and Gigabyte, in the $115-$120 range, and put them through their paces to see which one we would use. Results show that these boards are quite different in terms of performance and usability!

Overview of the ASUS F1A75-V Pro

Having had a play around with the ASUS board for a while, I can tell you it feels pretty solid as a platform for A75. There are a lot of features here, and the system provides the distinct ASUS stability and usability that we expect.

A few points are of note. The second PCIe x16 is actually runs at x4, limiting any dual GPU solutions that don’t use the APU, but on the plus side the board has all six SATA 6 Gbps ports from the FCH and another from an ASMedia controller—but this seventh would be covered by any long GPU in the first x16 slot. Also of interest is that this board does not have a Firewire port or header.

Software is good with the ASUS board, with options for the fan controls still being some of the best we have ever seen. Though as with the F1A75-I Deluxe I reviewed earlier there is a DPC Latency issue when the ASUS Suite II software is run. The BIOS still covers almost all the bases we want in a BIOS.

Visual Inspection

Out of the anti-static bag, this board feels refined. The stark black PCB with ASUS blues gives it a sturdy feel. Instantly noticeable is that the VRM heatsink and the FCH heatsink are connected by a thin heatpipe. Neither is substantial in size, however spreading the heat from heavy CPU or heavy I/O usage is always a good idea.

Around the socket itself are four fan headers, two above the first PCIe x1, one north of the CPU, and another tucked in beside the 24-pin ATX power connector. The four DDR3 DIMM slots have alternating latches, with the thicker ones indicating which banks to fill in first. To the right of the DIMMs we see ASUS’ dual intelligent processor switches, one controlling the EPU (energy saver) and the other being the TPU (turbo unit). These are now standard on a range of ASUS boards. Rather than a standard switch, personally I would prefer buttons with an LED to indicate if they are on or not. Next to these is a MEM OK button, which when pressed should default memory settings if they are incompatible or set too high.

Rather than split the 6 FCH SATA 6 Gbps ports between the board and eSATA as the Gigabyte board has done, ASUS have kept all 6 on board and added in an ASMedia SATA controller for a total of 7 ports on the board and one eSATA on the back. As one would expect, this extra controller does not get included in hardware RAID setups, but the six from the FCH support RAID 0, 1 and 10. However, the extra SATA port on board is blocked when a full-length GPU is used in the top PCIe x16 slot.

ASUS have stuck with ASMedia in their USB 3.0 controllers, with a header available between the DIMMs and the FCH. It seems in a slightly odd place, about an inch inside the edge of the board—usually they are placed on the bottom for a back panel connector or near the edge for a front panel connector. This is definitely in front panel territory, which is a shame that no USB 3.0 front panel device is included with the board, but given this is a ~$120 product, to ask for one would perhaps be asking too much.

Along the bottom are four USB 2.0 headers, as well as the front panel array, a COM header, S/PDIF out and front panel audio. Above these is the PCIe layout, which differs from the Gigabyte board. Here we have a PCIe x1, a PCIe x16 (which when populated with a full length GPU would cover the onboard ASMedia SATA port), another PCIe x1, a PCI, another PCIe x16 (electrically limited to x8, hardware limited to x4), and two more PCI slots.

The second PCIe x1 actually shares data lanes with the second PCIe x16, so when using two single lane GPUs for CrossFireX, this PCIe 1x becomes unavailable. However the first PCIe x1 can still be used.

The back panel is fairly standard with no surprises—a PS/2 connector; two USB 3.0 ports; an optical S/PDIF output; HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI-D and D-Sub video outputs; two USB 3.0 ports; an eSATA 6 Gbps; Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek 8111E); another two USB 2.0 ports and standard audio headers. I would have liked to see a Clear CMOS button, but with the IO this packed, I do not think there is space for it, unless they removed some features.

ASUS F1A75-V Pro BIOS and Overclocking
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  • DanNeely - Monday, November 07, 2011 - link

    "It should be noted that, according to the Gigabyte website, the DVI-D does not support D-Sub by adaptor, and that when on integrated graphics, the connector cannot be changed while the motherboard is powered up."

    This sort of no plug and play nonsense is a throwback to the 90s, and has no business on a modern board.
    Reply
  • Oberst - Monday, November 07, 2011 - link

    This is quite misleading, as both mobos use a DVI-D. So also both do not support D-Sub via adapter, Gigabyte is just the only manufacturer that clearly stresses this issue, all others assume that you know what the difference between DVI-D and DVI-I is.

    Also no word is left, that the gigabyte board is capable of Dual Link DVI, while the asus only allows single link, which enables only a limited range of display resolutions. As Dual Link on Llano boards is not very common, that would surely be some important fact to mention.

    I'm also not quite sure, what gigabyte means with "All integrated graphics ports do not support Hot plug. If you want to change to another graphics port when the computer is on, be sure to turn off the computer first." Maybe just a false translation, meaning you have to reboot the system, when changing the output (as the display driver doesn't switch the output automatically, you have to do that manually in the driver or by rebooting).
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, November 07, 2011 - link

    It's the no-hotplug part that apalled me, I should've trimmed the 1st part of the sentence away to be clearer but was in a rush for the shower by the time I finished reading the articel. Reply
  • Oberst - Tuesday, November 08, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure if that is really that strict as this statement shows. The Gigabyte translations are often not very good and the real meaning is quite different to the written text.

    When you change your display from DVI to DP, you have to do a reboot as the driver won't switch automatically. That's because you could just pull out a plug by hitting the cable accidentally. So the driver holds the primary output on the plug that was used before, only a reboot initiates a rescan of the displays and switches to another one.

    So maybe gigabyte wanted to express this. That would definitely be something to try out. But i can't imagine that you cannot plug in a second monitor on a running system, that would really be some strange behavior.
    Reply
  • Googer - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - link

    Use a displayport adapter If you need DUAL LINK DVI connection on the ASUS board. Reply
  • Etern205 - Wednesday, November 09, 2011 - link

    Yea, DVI-D doesn't support DVI to VGA adapter as there is no 4 analog pins on that DVI port. Also even if it doesn't have that 4 pin, the adapter still won't fit as the analog ground (that horizontal pin) on the adapter is a tad wider. Reply
  • Etern205 - Wednesday, November 09, 2011 - link

    My mistake, looks like there is a DVI-D to VGA adapter and it's not the DVI to VGA adapter I was mentioning.

    DVI-D to VGA adapter
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    DVI to VGA adapter
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, November 07, 2011 - link

    Really like layout of Gigabyte board. Although this is more of a problem with M-ATX boards I have struggled recently with fitting both graphics card with waterblock and a air cooler over the memory (fits but is incredibly tight) so seeing the PCIEx1 slot above the PCIex16 is a good move.

    What are all those legacy PCI slots doing there? What do people use them for? Across 5 computers at home I use 2 - I for a really old RAID card and one for a TV tuner. Is there really any need for them now?

    Recently I have seen a board with right angled 24 pin ATX socket. Please can this become standard
    Reply
  • Golgatha - Monday, November 07, 2011 - link

    PCI is for your old sound card. Now if you're building new, there is no need for PCI to exist. Reply
  • Taft12 - Monday, November 07, 2011 - link

    IDE controller, RS-232 card... Me and many like me still need a PCI slot, and Asus and Gigabyte's market research shows the same.

    PCI will still be with us for many years to come yet.
    Reply

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