ASUS A88X-Pro In The Box

Being the top of the line ASUS A88X product, we should be expecting something more than the average in the box for the A88X-Pro. The downside to this is the price. Because the motherboard is $124, we have had other motherboards in this price range offer next to nothing apart from the basics. It all boils down to how aggressive the pricing of the motherboard is for this segment – in the box contents can add value but only when the margin is there or price is no object.

In the ASUS A88X-Pro we get the following:

Driver DVD
Manual
Rear IO Shield
Four SATA Cables
Q-Connectors

Admittedly this is two more SATA cables than the standard, however when a system offers 8 SATA 6 Gbps connectors it would seem rather tight to offer less than four. I was not expecting a USB 3.0 connector due to the lack of a second USB 3.0 header, but because the system has four USB 2.0 headers I could be forgiven in expecting some tool to take advantage of those, either via a front or rear panel.

ASUS A88X-Pro Overclocking

Experience with ASUS A88X-Pro

Overall our overclocking experience on A88X with our A10-7850K is a bit disappointing. Most motherboards we have tested up until this point find the limit of our CPU early on, and the resulting high temperatures cause the CPU to throttle. 4.2 GHz seems to be the main limit, but the A88X-Pro does at least stretch that a bit to 4.3 GHz in our testing. In fact 4.4 GHz seemed plausible, but the throttling was present during our OCCT test.

One point I would like to make to ASUS would be in automatic overclock options. I enjoy having access to a dynamic scaling utility such as the 4-Way Optimization tool, however by implementing a series of presets to choose from would be beneficial. Something to think about in the future I would imagine.

Methodology:

Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows. We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with PovRay and OCCT to simulate high-end workloads. These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.

For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from previous testing, starts off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed. The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed, and the process repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (100ºC+). Our test bed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air.

Automatic Overclock:

Using the 4-Way Optimization tool in AI Suite, our system was overclocked to 4.2 GHz:

This gave a PovRay score of 933, compared to the stock score of 820.

Manual Overclock:

We started our manual overclocking in the BIOS, with the CPU set to 1.1 volts and 4.0 GHz. Given that the stock voltage reading was 1.288 volts, it was no surprise that it took 1.225 volts set in the BIOS to get 4.0 GHz stable. The system was consistently stable to 4.3 GHz, however 4.4 GHz was a step too far:

The 4.4 GHz setting was stable for at least a minute, however a sustained workload gave the following CPU frequency profile over five minutes:

ASUS A88X-Pro Software 2014 Test Setup, Power Consumption, POST Time
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  • Ortanon - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    EXACTLY. I've been scratching my head on this one. The only possible argument would be that you can cram more gaming into a smaller case, but that's an idiotic argument because 1) who the hell is so desperate to fit a system down to the millimeter and 2) the real-life difference between mini-ITX and micro-ATX cases is often one or two inches in any given dimension.

    So ultimately Kaveri is, unfortunately, a bust. A moot point. A waste of precious R&D resources. And it's such a shame.

    On the bright side, all they'd have to do is adjust the price point. A lot.
    Reply
  • Topweasel - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    Obviously you haven't tried to build a computer in SG05 or Ncase M1. Not every ITX case is Prodigy or 250D. Most are much much much smaller in all dimensions than most mATX cases. I would say it's more of the ATX vs mATX that's always bothered me. More often than not an mATX case isn't much smaller than a well spaced full ATX mid tower.

    That said this motherboard is about as useless as one could be. I see why they are doing it. They want full sized full featured ATX boards for the AMD platform, but with AMD almost completely shutting down AM3+ developments, the future of AMD's platforms is in the FM2 and up. Spending 200$ on a full ATX system just to use integrated video doesn't make sense. I guess one could say there is more performance and power savings when tied to discrete AMD GPU. But APU's are at their best when they are the sole source of video. Certainly not worth spending i5 money otherwise. Which is why it would work best in an ITX setup where both space and cooling are enough of a issue that one would rather do without a discrete card if possible.
    Reply
  • PEJUman - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    ^^ This

    I was able to purchase the 7850K for 120 at local microcenter and a Asrock A88X-ITX+ for 100 at newegg. At $220 combined price, Kaveri is very hard to pass up. yes, you can get cheaper systems, but it's price/performance/size/power ratio is unique. This is no longer the case if you approach $300. They really need to drop the price down to around 100 for the CPU.
    Reply
  • just4U - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    I'd have to agree with that.. Which is why I am waiting on the A8s Their supposed to be priced in and around 90-120 which is somewhat of a sweet spot. As we move up to the 150-180 dollar A10s that drops off a little as you could always pair a discrete card (say a GDR5 240 or something) and blow it all out of the water. Reply
  • BinaryTB - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    HTPCs. Lower heat, lower noise, lower power consumption.

    CPU and graphics don't matter much if you can decode high bitrate video in hardware and put it all in a small package.

    The same argument could be used for laptops as well.

    But I do agree with you, if you have a desktop and want performance, separates is the way to go.
    Reply
  • eanazag - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    Power consumption and heat are the difference. I do agree with just4U that I really just wanted the A8-7600. With the price about a $100 it makes more sense to me. I think the OEMs cried for it so we got shafted in channel. Reply
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    I'm guessing as to what you'd want: A <95Watt TDP APU, which still has the biggest GPU AMD can make... I think you're willing to sacrifice CPU clock for low TDP, but not graphics performance and would like to hit the 65 or 45 Watt "sweet spots", right?

    Well you don't need to actually wait for anything: These APUs are all one single die anyway, including all the mobile variants (once they come).

    And, at least on Asus, you have the ability to configure your desired TDP in the BIOS, at least between 40 (could be 45) and 65 Watts.

    Here is what happens:
    You leave that setting alone, you'll get a 95Watts part, which means 3.7 GHz base, while it will clock to 4.0GHz as long as the thermal budget lasts.

    You set it to any number between 65 and 40/45 and you'll get exactly that: An APU which will fiddle with GPU and CPU budgets until they meet your TDP limit.

    You use single threaded CPU load at 45Watts TDP, you may well get 4.0 GHz for quite a while.

    You use tons of GPU, your CPU may well slow to the 1 GHz range (actually I believe it won't drop below 1.6GHz).

    So with previous generation APUs like Trinity and Richmond the TDP settings were hard-wired into the die before packaging and sale. With Kaveri, from what I am seeing, there is really just two variants: One with 512 graphic cores enabled and one with 384 graphic cores enabled. Everything else is configuration done completely in software, which is just perfect from where I stand ;-)

    I can buy a Kaveri today and push it to its absolute limits with heavy overclock on a "Pro" mainboard and I can transfer it into a mini-ITX board tomorrow and tell it to never use beyond 45Watts and it will just do as it was told!

    Completely anti-market-segmentation and just the way I like it as a *consumer*.
    Reply
  • pidgin - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    I really regret going with ASRock FM2A88X Killer+, nothing but memory problems, basically no driver updates on driver page, ughh Reply
  • tuklap - Friday, April 25, 2014 - link

    seems that you have to take it unto asrock.. I was targetting ASRock FM2A88X Killer+ too but when I read some problems and noticed that there are no driver updates i switched my eye to asrock fm2+ extreme6+ ^_^ never had problems.. although I wish they have esd protections and anti-surge ic's placed on the board. also they should have made it sturdier.

    all in all quite happy.

    this board is solid. but the thing here is it lacks on board switches for power and reset
    Reply
  • tech6 - Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - link

    I'm sure this is a great boar but none of this matters until AMD release a CPU that is power consumption and performance competitive with what Intel is currently offering. The AMD on board graphics are great but the rest of the CPU and the power consumption are currently simply not competitive. Reply

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