ASUS F1A75-M Pro Review - Micro-ATX Llano at $110by Brendan van Varik on January 22, 2012 2:00 AM EST
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Llano is still selling strong for AMD, as shown by the relatively recent reports of representing a major aspect of their CPU profit margins. Building on our Llano and A75 review base, ASUS gave us the opportunity to look at their F1A75-M Pro motherboard - e-tailing at the time of writing for around $110. Here at AnandTech we have reviewed other offerings from ASUS in A75, in full ATX from the F1A75-V Pro, and the mini-ITX F1A75-I Deluxe. This time, it's the turn of micro-ATX.
If we do a direct comparison between the three ASUS boards, we see:
|ASUS F1A75-V Pro||ASUS F1A75-M Pro||ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe|
|Memory||4 x DDR3||4 x DDR3||2 x DDR3|
1 x PCIe x16
1 x PCIe x4
2 x PCIe x1
3 x PCI
1 x PCIe x16
1 x PCIe x4
1 x PCIe x1
1 x PCI
|1 x PCIe x16|
|CrossfireX/SLI||APU + Normal CrossfireX||APU + Normal CrossfireX||APU CrossfireX|
|Audio||Realtek ALC892||Realtek ALC892||Realtek ALC892|
|LAN||Realtek 8111E||Realtek 8111E||Realtek 8111E|
|SATA 6 Gbps||7 + 1 eSATA||6||4 + 1 eSATA|
|USB 3.0||4 + 2||4 + 2||2 + 2|
|USB 2.0||2 + 8||2 + 8||4 + 2|
Size obviously has advantages - a full size ATX board has room for better power delivery, a broader range of PCI/PCIe options, and scope for more controllers (e.g. SATA 6 Gbps). In the micro-ATX smaller form factor, most of the features are still there - ALC892 audio, gigabit Ethernet, at least 6 SATA 6 Gbps ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and opportunities for up to 16 GB of memory with 4 GB DIMMs. It's only on the mini-ITX we lose some functionality - only 4 SATA 6 Gbps on board (plus one eSATA), room for only 8 GB of memory, and no PCI/PCIe x1 slots. But the advantage of a small board is primarily its size, for a sleeker and slimmer system. The question then becomes whether the F1A75-M Pro, the micro-ATX board, is worth $10 less than the ATX board as a whole.
The black and blue livery of ASUS systems of late has been the stalwart of their consumer level line-up, and appears again here on the F1A75-M Pro, with a little white for the SATA ports. The wavy design with pretty substantial fins for both the VRM and South Bridge heatsink could be considered more style rather than substance, but due to the motherboard supporting 100 W processors, the VRM heatsink may be required to shift a lot of heat and it should be sufficient to cope due to ASUS’ careful attention to detail in their design.
We also have EPU and TPU (Energy Processing Unit and Turbo Processing Unit) chips present. These two have separate roles - to reduce the carbon footprint of your computer with the EPU processor, and the TPU processor is there to diagnose the system for an optimal overclock when either the TPU switch is used or the BIOS option is enabled.
Working our way around the board, you will notice that there are four fan connections available. The CPU fan is located above the socket, and in the lower left half of the socket area there are two more fan connections available - one of them is a PWM based chassis fan header whilst the other is the PWR header which is 3-pin. The final header can be found on the right-hand-side of the motherboard just below the 24-pin power and it is a chassis fan which is also PWM based. Unfortunately, you do not have option to control the two chassis fans independently in the BIOS nor in the software.
Looking at the expansion options on this motherboard; there are two PCIe x16 slots which run at x16/x4 when in a CrossFireX setup, resulting in limited bandwidth of the second GPU, as detailed in our previous A75 reviews. Also on board is a PCIe x1 as well as a single PCI slot.
As SATA 6 Gbps is native on this platform, there are no SATA 3 Gbps ports to be found. There are six ports in total and they support RAID with the option to use RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10 or JBOD. These are all in white on the bottom right of the board.
On the back panel of the board, from left to right, we have a combined PS2 port, two USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI output, an optical SPDIF output, as well as VGA and DVI-D ports for your display outputs. Further along, there are two more USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports with a gigabit LAN port above. Lastly, there are the six ports for your various sound inputs and outputs.
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ASUSTechMKT - Monday, January 23, 2012 - linkHave not tested 3870K but tried the 3670K and was easily able to hit to 3.8GHz no APU bus adjustment just multipler. I tested this on -M, -V Pro, -V EVO and -I Deluxe. Make sure though you updated to the latest UEFI to correctly and fully support the K series APUs.
ET - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - linkThat "Level Up!!" text on the TurboV EVO screen made me think that it would be cool if playing with the BIOS could be made into a game. Give achievements for exploring the BIOS, up the user's hardware hacker level when he changes stuff successfully without making the PC unbootable.
Basilisk - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - link(Here's my chance to look dim.)
Looking at the comparison table on the first page, I thought "Oh crud... they dropped eSata on the uATX board." eSata's my fetish, I suppose. Then I read the "Board Features" on "Inside the Box" and did a double-take when it listed "1 x eSATA 6 Gbps", so my hopes rose... until I looked a the pix of the back-panel and the box contents [for brackets].
Alas, I suspect you've a (minor) error and the eSata's missing. Even sadder that it's missing on the ITX board, as external resources and backups become even more valuable (to me) there.
Death666Angel - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - linkThe ITX board has eSata on the I/O shield, just look at the review pics at the bottom of this page:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4833/asus-f1a75i-del... (It's between the clear CMOS and DVI and below the 2 red USB ports.)
This mATX board doesn't have eSata on the I/O shield and doesn't provide a PCI bracket, but you can always purchase one of those for $2. :-)
Soulkeeper - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - linkThe mini-itx is expensive in part because of the wireless keyboard and wifi.
It's worthless for overclocking mostly due to the lack of a higher bclk divider.
To be honest if I wanted a matx fm1 motherboard I'd go with gigabyte's solution.
ASUSTechMKT - Monday, January 23, 2012 - linkour - I Deluxe has been tested to reach the same performance numbers ( APU bus scaling and multipler scaling for K series as the rest of our F1A boards ( -V Pro or -M Pro ). latest UEFI is recommended if you want to have highest potential under both AHCI and IDE ranges.
bobbyto34 - Monday, January 23, 2012 - linkthanks a lot for the dpc latency test ! It's very useful for musicians when you want to buy a rig for audio recording !
DaneelSE - Monday, January 23, 2012 - linkOne promising use for a u-ATX board is using it as a base for a HTPC build. Somehow there seem to be a lack of interest in this arena from reviewers.
It would be very interesting to see a real life use scenario benchmarked with power usage. How low can we push a platform in power usage wjhile still performing a few mundane tasks simultaneously.
Just brainstorming here to give an example of possible tasks that would be run at the same time.
1. Watching a DVB-T HD-channel
2. Recording a second channel on a different MUX
3. Transcoding a third recording on low priority
4. Have a internet browser in the background with some predefined work load.
It would be very interesting to see this as a usage case where the reviewer tries to push the power usage down while conserving the end user experience.
I think it would be interesting to see how AMD probably beats Intel until Ivybridge get released and then possibly see a throne shift back and forth a few times.
cjs150 - Monday, January 23, 2012 - linkSadly just about the only sensible use for Llano is in an HTPC build. (or as low powered laptop which it is very good at).
Problem for me is that our cable operator (Virgin) has a TiVo box which lets me watch one channel and record 2 at same time so any HTPC build I do only really needs a mini-itx board (and complete silence!). Hoping that the reviews of Zotac's announcements at CES will take away need for building my own.
Anyway back to a proper HTPC build. The main issues are:
1. Noise. Fans not allowed (except at very low RPM). I want to hear the TV not the HTPC - this is a big problem for me with my Blu-ray player.
2. Sound. There is a big debate as to whether sound is better going through HDMI port or not. Personally I prefer fewer cables to more and my ears are not good enough to tell the difference so sound has tobe routed through HDMI
3. Picture quality: Obviously vital for an HTPC and a big plus for AMD, happy to use integrated graphics here provided (Intel note) frame rate is perfect. Using Integrated graphics frees up a PCI/PCI-E slot for something else.
4. TV card or cards: Dual channel is minimum acceptable.
So for me I can probably built a nice HTPC using mini-itx but if you want to use the full potential of a Micro-Atx you could build one say with 2xdual channel TV cards, separate sound card and GPU - cooling and noise would be an issue though
DaneelSE - Monday, January 23, 2012 - linkI fully understand the limitations and possibilities, and probably am able to work this out by myself.
My comment was aimed at how a u-atx review is done. There are a few different target readers.
1. Gamers that want their box as small as possible (Did I hear Zotac Z68-ITX WiFi)
2. HTPC builders that want a all in one solution
3. Small desktop builds where the extra PCIe slots are vital
4. Small server/storage builds
I understand that every review can't cover all bases, but surely a HTPC oriented series of reviews would get a lot of clicks and readers.
Regarding your itemized list
1. good comment and I somehow think consumed power relates to cooling needed. Fan and noise belongs in Case-reviews.
2. Separate review, however the onboard quality should be measured, if nothing else using RMAA
3. I know that Anandtech has reviewers specialized in this area and it should of course be included if IGP is present, if nothing else to indicate when discrete is needed to reach acceptable levels.
4. Agree, wouldn't make sense otherwise, and still debatable if you really need to go as high as u-ATX.