Asus F1A75-V Pro £100
22nd Jul 2011 | 13:34
The desktop Llano board in the lead at the moment
Asus F1A75-V Pro: Overview
The Asus F1A75-V Pro is the first Llano-compatible motherboard we've seen from the veritable mobo-giant. And it's a pretty impressive partner for AMD's new APU too.
We've seen just how good AMD's latest Fusion APU is in full desktop, Llano Lynx guise, but the AMD A8-3850 chip itself is just half the story.
Despite a hefty amount of the good stuff now being jammed onto the chip itself - northbridge, CPU and GPU – there's still an awful lot left up to the motherboard. And to get the most out of the Llano APUs you need a quality mobo partnership.
Asus has got a pretty good name in the motherboard market and this first Llano Lynx FM1-socket motherboard, the F1A75-V Pro, is only going to further that good feeling.
It comes with all the lovelies we're going to expect from this new A75 series of motherboards, namely up to 1,866MHz DDR3 support as well as what's hot in the world of interfaces; SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0. So hot right now…
There will though be cheaper, weaker A55 boards on their way, minus those two super-model I/O options, very soon.
Asus F1A75-V Pro: Benchmarks
At stock speeds the £80 MSI board gives a good showing, coming only just short of the pricier full-size Asus F1A75-V Pro.
That's where the good news ends though as the Asus board pulled away as soon as any thought of overclocking came about.
Asus F1A75-V Pro: Verdict
One of the things that really impressed us about the AMD A8-3850 Fusion APU was the amount of overclocking headroom there was in the chip.
We've been playing around with Stars-based AMD CPUs for a good while and we're rarely seen a chip take an almost 1GHz overclock before.
The Asus F1A75-V Pro was no bystander in this, being a key component to getting that speed out of the chip itself.
AMD supplied an MSI microATX FM1 board, the MSI A75M-G55, as part of the review kit and we could barely get a squeak out of it.
The Asus BIOS gave us full access to the Llano APU's baseclock; as it stands that's the only way to boost this multiplier-locked chip. That said the APU multiplier setting in the BIOS was susceptible to the odd tweak, displaying huge frequency boosts in Windows but offering no actual performance increase in the real-world.
Still, the F1A75-V Pro gave us an A8-3850 running happily at 3.7GHz.
Compared to the 2.9GHz stock speeds it comes with out of the box, that's a hefty ol' kick in the clocks.
Going along with that baseclock tweaking it also pushes up the DRAM frequency as well as the onboard graphics too, and yet it remained stable across the board.
Where the MSI board was initially reticent to allow us to up the memory frequency the Asus board was only too happy to oblige, indeed seeing the G.Skill RipJaws RAM at its native 1,600MHz speed straight out of the packaging.
Dual Graphics didn't present a problem for us either.
All it took was a single tweak in the BIOS to enable multi-monitor support and the board happily enabled the CrossFire settings in the Catalyst suite on booting into Windows.
In fact our only real snag with the board came on trying to plug in a discrete card alone, without running through the onboard graphics portion of the APU. After much installing and uninstalling we found our OS was now ignoring all devices plugged into the various USB ports despite our best attempts.
But that's a fairly minor thing.
With a board and chip coming in at around £200 all in you can afford to drop a £75 Radeon HD 6670 in as a Dual Graphics array and come up with some surprisingly playable frame rates.
While FM1-socket boards are still in their infancy, this Asus F1A75-V Pro is currently setting the bar high. With a combination of solid overclocking support and a decent feature set this board is going to be tough to beat.
The overclocking performance the board allowed us to squeeze out of the A8-3850 APU is thoroughly impressive. We wouldn't have known the untapped potential of the chip without it.
The A75-series boards all come laden down with purely SATA 6Gb/s ports, and a healthy smattering of USB 3.0 sockets too.
Our only gripe came in the shape of the APU multiplier settings lying to us and a struggle trying to get the discrete cards running on their lonesome.
It's an impressive Asus debut for the A75-series of motherboards, giving the A8-3850 a serious platform.