When it comes to mid-range motherboards, MSI has these market segments well covered for various chipsets. While their specialized products, like the MPower series is something totally different, even their mass market products pack in a lot of goodies. As such today I’ll be looking at MSI’s FM2-A85XA-G65 motherboard which brings a host of features for AMD Trinity APUs.
So first off the FM2-A85XA-G65 is built using MSI’s famous Military Class III standard capacitors and chokes, which apart from longevity also ensures system stability while overclocking the APU. These work in tandem with the digital PWM controller which helps maintain system voltage control to various components, especially the APU itself.
Like most of MSI’s mainstream boards, the FM2-A85XA-G65 gets onboard buttons, including the OC Genie II. At the simple click of the button, you can have a complete system overclock profile loaded after a system restart. Of course this overclock profile, with in depth tweaks to speeds and voltage control can also be done within ClickBIOS II both in the BIOS and in Windows as well.
Since it’s based on the A85X chipset, the MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 also provides full native support for USB 3.0 and SATA III (6gbps) ports. Sadly the board itself isn’t packed with goodies; apart from the drivers disc and manuals, you only get four SATA cables, V-check point cable, M connector and the rear I/O panel shield.
The ATX sized MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 comes with a dark blue and black theme that’s been predominant on previous motherboards with Military Class III components. The CPU in particular is very impressive thanks to large and rather slick looking heatsinks. The plates spreading out in multiple layers with individual fins extending out ensures great heat dissipation across the VRMs, keeping the voltage supply to the APU cool.
Moving down we see two PCIe Gen 2.0 x16 slots, along with three and two more PCIe and PCI slots respectively, for further expansions.
Move to the right and you’ll see the A85X chipset covered in the same type of heatsink as the CPU area, with the eight SATA III ports on the far right.
Come back top and we’ll see the rear I/O panel which has 4x USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 ports. Visual connection is provided by HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA and DVI ports. The PS/2 port, LAN, Optical Out and 6-channel audio ports complete the package.
For testing the MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 we have used the below setup.
Starting the benchmarks are the two most popular data compression software: WinRAR and 7-zip. For both of these programs I have used the built-in benchmarking software. A higher score is better.
The next test is Cinebench R11.5 wherein a 3D image is rendered using the CPU. This test stresses all the CPU cores, maximizing the threads. Results are given in points, the higher the better. The second test x264 HD 4.0 is a video encoding test in which a small HD video file is encoded in x264 format. The results are measured in frames per second, in that the faster a processor, the higher the fps.
PCMark, Performance Test and Geekbench stress tests all the resources of a system. Since almost all the components in our testbed are one of the best in the market right now, the entirety of the performance will depend on how good our test motherboard is. As usual, the higher the score, the better.
3DMark 11 is an industry standard graphical benchmark, and while it mostly stresses the graphics card, the CPU is also highly stressed for specific tests. The higher the score, the better.
The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 was made with overclocking in mind, making the process incredibly easy, with detailed tweaking even more accessible. If all you do is press the OC Genie II button on the motherboard, then the A10-5800K APU (@ 3.8GHz CPU and 800MHz GPU) is overclocked to 4.09GHz CPU and 887MHz GPU. Our system ram speed was also boosted from 1600MHz to 1680MHz. While that’s a decent system wide overclock at the touch of a button, we pushed things further with the CPU on 4.4GHz and GPU at 1086MHz, setting the voltage to 1.51v to provide sufficient electricity.
The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 is a solid board with a host of overclocking options at your fingertips. While the base overclock (using OC Genie II) wasn’t as aggressive as I’d have liked, the standard overclock applied to other boards worked perfectly well in this case.
The A85X chipset ads support for both USB 3.0 and SATA III ports, a key ingredient for any modern gaming system. The two PCIe slots give you the option of two dedicated GPU in CrossFire, if you don’t want to combine the onboard GPU (in your APU) with a dedicated low-end AMD GPU.
There’s very little to fault with the MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 otherwise, sure there’s not much bundled with it, but at the price point I cannot make this an issue.