ECS A85F2-A Golden for AMD Socket FM2 APUs Review 3

ECS A85F2-A Golden for AMD Socket FM2 APUs Review



The dual dragons are at it again! NO, not some side-scrolling arcade game; not those dragons! ECS's battle of the twin dragons, AMD and Intel, has been joined by yet another warrior clad in flashy golden armor and, maybe, a bit of edge. ECS has a legend behind their products that centers around their design philosophy of competing twins trying to take over the world, an apt tale for the battle in the semiconductor arena.

ECS has long been a producer of motherboards for OEM boxes, but has made the foray into the enthusiast market, slowly building up its technology offering to the point of being competitive on a broad scale, several years ago. I've recently covered many of their products including nearly every socket, and AMD's FM2 is no exception. The ECS A85F2-A Golden is ECS's high-end product offering for the FM2 socket, but that platform itself is value-oriented, so there is not much room for board makers to offer a lot. Be that as it may, many have succeeded in putting together quite a package, and I now get a chance to see what ECS has accomplished.

I'll be very straight and to the point: ECS has, lately, taken their product design into a slightly different direction. Focusing on offering a stable platform of standard features, ECS has a bunch of additional features catering to the modding crowd, including the launch of a design competition with a grand prize of $1,000,000 NT, which is about $30,000 USD. Such competitions show that they aren't exactly pushing the boundaries of overclocking but are more focused on flashy designs and "bling". Still, they have a new hardware testing gauntlet, called "Non-Stop", that encompasses stricter quality standards and tougher burn-in testing. Let's take a look:


MODEL:A85F2-A Golden
CPU SUPPORT:2nd Gen AMD A Series and Athlon Processors for the FM2 Socket
POWER DESIGN:CPU Power: 3+2 Phases
FCH Power: 1 Phase
Memory Power: 1 Phase
INTEGRATED GRAPHICS:Dependant on installed APU/CPU
MEMORY:4 x DIMM, Max. 64 GB, DDR3 1066 to DDR3 2600+
BIOS:AMI EFI BIOS with 64 Mb Flash ROM
SLOTS:2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (x16/x0 or x8/x8)
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
2 x PCI slots
NETWORKING:Realtek RTL8111E PCIe Gigabit LAN
PORTS:8 x USB 2.0 ports (2 at back panel, 6 at front panel)
6 x USB 3.0 ports (4 at back panel, 2 at front panel)
1 x RJ45 LAN connectors
1 x eSATA port
1 x Audio port with 5 audio jacks
1 x Optical audio port
1 x HDMI port
1 x Displayport
1 x VGA port
1 x DVI port
1 x CLR_CMOS BUtton
FAN HEADERS:1 x 4-pin PWM, 2 x 3-pin
FORM FACTOR:ATX Form Factor (305 mm x 220 mm)
  • eBLU
  • eOC
  • eDLU
  • eSF
  • QoolTech IV
  • Virtu MVP
  • 15u Gold Contact
  • Gold4Ever
  • Nonstop Technology

AMD FM2 Chipsets

You will, in order to get your new APU up and running, need a supporting chipset - not just any supporting chipset, but one that is also mated with the proper FM2 socket. The AMD FM1 socket's usefulness was, although it was only launched last year, pretty short-lived. Instinct tells me that the physical changes made to the socket are quite similar to the change from AMD's white AM3 socket to the black AM3+ socket, which also changed power delivery a fair bit in order to add support for AMD's newest Bulldozer cores. Bulldozer cores themselves never made it to the APU market, and these new APUs are fitted with the new Piledriver cores rather than taking last year's tech and making a new product out of old parts. Those shiny new Piledriver cores need slightly different power delivery and connectivity to the chipset, which is why FM2 is here. No, it is NOT backwards compatible with older APUs, nor can you pop a new AMD A10-5800K into your FM1-socketed motherboard.

AMD has three chipsets lined up to support AMD FM2 APUs: the AMD A55, AMD A75, and AMD A85X. The former two, the AMD A55 and AMD A75, have been on the market since the FM1 APU launch, and the features offered by those chipsets are not going to change at all. The AMD A55 offers a slightly different feature set than that of the AMD A75 chip, and the new AMD A85X simply expands on that.

The AMD A85X supports eight total SATA 6 Gb/s ports with FIS-based switching and adds in CrossfireX support. The new AMD A85X targets gamers and enthusiasts as well as those that like to keep up with the latest and greatest in technology. AMD intends you to pair this chipset up with AMD A10 and AMD A8 APUs, and their "unlocked" "K"-level APUs.

Each chipset, or Fusion Controller Hub (FCH for short), has a specific use and, thereby, a specific target market. Those that don't need as much can pick a chipset that doesn't give them as much while saving money through features that chipset lacks. It looks like you might get exactly what you pay for. It will be interesting to see how AMD's board partners assess AMD's FM2 APUs, and what products they design for them.
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Jun 29th, 2022 08:27 EDT change timezone

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