Gigabyte F2A85XN-WIFI Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

Today we are going to take a look at the Gigabyte F2A85XN-WIFI, a mid-range mini-ITX motherboard, aimed at those who are looking to build a basic compact gaming system or a compact media centre PC.
 
The Gigabyte F2A85XN-WIFI features the AMD A85X chipset and supports all of the latest ‘Richland’ APUs, as well as the previous generation models. Despite the compact dimensions of the mini-ITX form factor, Gigabyte has managed to achieve an impressive specification for this model which includes on-board Wi-Fi and even dual HDMI ports.
While we never expect to achieve massive overclocks on mini-ITX motherboards due to the generally less beefy power regulation circuitry, we are excited to see if we can squeeze a few extra MHz out of the 6800K in our tests.
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Features
  • GIGABYTE Digital Power design with GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 4 Plus technology
  • Supports socket FM2 AMD A-series/ Athlon-series processors
  • Enhanced AMD Radeon HD 8000/7000-series graphics (DX11) integrated with the APU
  • 1 PCI-E 2.0 x16 interfaces with AMD Dual Graphics, Eyefinity support
  • Features dual HDMI/ Dual-link DVI ports for Full HD 1080 and HDCP support
  • Features Atheros Dual Band 802.11 a/b/g/n 300Mbps + BLUTETOOTH 4.0 wireless solution
  • 4 USB 3.0 ports with transfer rates of up to 5Gbps
  • 4 SATA3 ports with up to 6Gbps link speed and RAID 0,1,5,10 support
  • GIGABYTE On/Off Charge technology with 3x USB power design
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The Gigabyte F2A85XN-WIFI is supplied in a compact motherboard-style box which reflects the small dimensions of the unit within. It is decorated in a powerful white-on-black livery which looks suitably premium.
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We find a fairly comprehensive list of features and specifications on the back of the box alongside some badges which illustrate various features of the motherboard. The box feels fairly robust and should do a decent job of protecting the motherboard in transit.
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Inside the box there is a limited selection of accessories included.  All we find is a couple of SATA-600 cables, a Wi-Fi antenna and an I/O plate.  We also find a user guide and software CD, but these are usually given.
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Gigabyte has chosen to use an all-black colour scheme for the F2A85XN-WIFI, meaning it’s very unlikely to clash with your other components. It conforms to the mini-ITX form factor and should therefore be compatible with almost all PC cases on the market.
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Even though this is a mini-ITX motherboard, Gigabyte has still chosen to install a heatsink above the power regulation circuitry to improve cooling. This is one small step towards achieving a decent overclock with this motherboard.
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The CPU socket is located in the centre of the motherboard, flanked on either side by the stock AMD CPU cooler mounting brackets. There isn’t a huge amount of room around the CPU socket and many large CPU coolers will probably foul the surrounding components.
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If you’re not familiar with the mini-ITX form factor, you may be initially a little confused when looking for certain components on the motherboard as manufacturers tend to move them all round to fit more on the PCB. For example, the 4-pin power connector is located south-west of the CPU socket.
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The two DDR3 memory slots are located along the right-hand edge of the motherboard and support up to 64 GB of memory with frequencies of 2400(OC)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz.
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We find the 24-pin power connector located in the top right-hand corner of the motherboard alongside the four SATA-600 connectors. These are connected to the A85X chipset and support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, and JBOD configurations. The Atheros Dual Band 802.11 a/b/g/n 300Mbps Wi-Fi card is also located in this area. This card also supports Bluetooth 4.0.
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Moving further along the top edge of the motherboard we find an internal USB3.0 header alongside the chipset which is covered with a small silver heatsink. We also find the front panel header located in this area alongside a USB2.0 header and a couple of 3-pin fan headers.
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Finally, there is a single PCI Express x16 lane spanning the bottom edge of the motherboard.
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On the rear I/O panel we find the following connections:
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 2 x HDMI ports
  • 1 x DVI-D port
  • 2 x Wi-Fi antenna connectors
  • 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 port
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 5 x Audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
BIOS
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As you can see from the screenshots above, Gigabyte hasn’t chosen to use a UEFI interface for this particular motherboard.  The standard BIOS interface is easy enough to navigate, though, and offers us all the overclocking options we could possibly ask for.  It made overclocking the APU a very simple task indeed actually.
Overclocking
We managed to achieve a decent 4.6 GHz overclock with the AMD Vision A10-6800K (4.1 Ghz stock speed).  This was achieved using a baseclock of 100 MHz with a multiplier of 46x.  We used a fixed voltage of 1.425V to achieve this.
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See validation here.
In this review we are going to benchmark the AMD Vision A10-6800K at reference clock speeds (4.1 GHz) and when overclocked to 4.6 GHz, as detailed on the previous page.
Test System:
  • Processor: AMD Vision A10-6800K
  • Motherboard: F2A85XN-WIFI
  • Cooler: Corsair H60 (2013 Edition)
  • Thermal Paste: Arctic Cooling MX-2
  • Memory: 8 GB AMD Radeon Gaming Memory 2133 MHz
  • Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 8670D
  • Power Supply: Silverstone Platinum 1000W
  • System Drive: Intel SSD 330 Series 120 GB
  • Monitor: Viewsonic VX2260WM
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Software:
  • PCMark 7
  • 3DMark
  • 3DMark 11
  • 3DMark Vantage
  • SiSoft Sandra 2013
  • Cinebench R11.5
  • CrystalDiskMark
  • Cyberlink MediaEspresso 6.7
  • VLC Media Player
  • Performance Monitor
  • Unigine Heaven Benchmark
  • Super Pi 1.5 Mod
  • CPUID Hardware Monitor
  • CPU-Z
  • GPU-Z
  • WinRAR
  • DiRT Showdown
  • Battlefield 3
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.
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In this test we see a small bump in all-round performance when overclocked.
3DMark is Futuremark’s latest benchmark. It can be used to benchmark and compare everything from mobile devices, such as smart phones, tablets and laptops, to high-end gaming systems. The benchmark is available for Windows, Windows RT Android and iOS.
With 3 separate tests, each of which is intended to be used alongside a specific classification of hardware, 3DMark is a very versatile benchmark. Ice Storm is intended to be used with mobile devices, Cloud Gate is good for use with laptops and home PCs, and Fire Strike can be used to push the performance of gaming PCs.
We used the ‘Fire Strike’ benchmark which is designed to be used on gaming PCs. We opted for the Normal setting, NOT the Extreme mode.
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Here we see a decent boost in Physics performance when overclocked.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
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Again, we see a decent improvement in physics performance when overclocked.
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.
As we would expect, overclocking significantly boosts the CPU score of the system.
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Here we see a significant boost in CPU performance when overclocked.
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.
Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.
It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.
Native ports for all major operating systems are available:
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)
All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:
  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit
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This test lets us see how the raw processing performance of the system improves when overclocked.

Cinebench R11.5 is the newest revision of the popular benchmark from Maxon. The test scenario uses all of your system’s processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral “No Keyframes” animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores.
In fact, CINEBENCH can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.
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Here we can see how the system’s performance can benefit from utilizing multi-threaded applications.
Super Pi is used by a huge audience, particularly to check stability when overclocking processors. If a system is able to calculate PI to the 2 millionth pace after the decimal without mistake, it is considered to be stable in regards to RAM and CPU.
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Here we can see a very small improvement in single-threaded performance when overclocked.
WinRAR is one of the most popular archive manager programs available. It can backup your data and reduce the size of email attachments, decompress RAR, ZIP and other files downloaded from Internet and create new archives in RAR and ZIP file format. You can try WinRAR before buy, its trial version is available in downloads.
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Here we see a decent boost in real world performance when overclocked.
The Matroska Media container is a very popular, open standard Multimedia container which is usually found as .MKV files. It is a very popular format in enthusiast circles and can be played directly in VLC or Windows Media Player with suitable codecs installed.
We played our 1080P MKV movie using the latest version of VLC Media Player and measured the CPU usage with the Performance Monitor built into Windows.
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In this test we see a minor reduction in the CPU usage when overclocked.
CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.
Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.
New and Improved Features
  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.
For our testing today we are converting a 1.43 GB 720p MKV file to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device using the Apple preset. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power.  Hardware acceleration was enabled to give you a good idea of system wide real world performance.
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This test lets us see how you can experience real-world time savings when overclocking.
According to EA, Battlefield 3 garnered 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. It is unknown at present whether these figures are worldwide or just for the US. The pre-order total makes it “the biggest first-person shooter launch in EA history”, according to the publisher. The engine is beautiful on the PC and very demanding of the partnering hardware.
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We used the settings illustrated in the screenshot above for testing.
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There was a small bump in average framerate when the system was overclocked.
Black Ops 2 is the latest episode in the Call of Duty franchise and is one of the most popular games of the moment.  It uses an updated version of the IW engine, used in previous Call of Duty games, which isn’t particularly demanding.  This makes it ideal for testing mid-range gaming systems like this.
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We used the settings illustrated in the screenshot above for testing.
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Again we see a small bump in performance when the system was overclocked.
Dirt Showdown is the latest title in the franchise from Codemasters, based around the famous Colin McRae racing game series, although it no longer uses his name, since he passed away in 2007.
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We used the settings illustrated in the screenshot above for testing with all other settings set to the ‘Low’ presets.
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In this test we see a more significant boost in performance when the system was overclocked.
We measured the power consumption of our entire test system at the wall while loading the CPU using Prime95 and GPU using FurMark. We recorded results with the system at reference clock speeds.
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There was a slight increase in power consumption with the system overclocked, but less than 10W.
Overall we are very impressed with what the Gigabyte F2A85XN-WIFI has to offer.  It’s positioned as a premium Mini-ITX motherboard which shares many features with larger motherboards which we wouldn’t always expect to see on such a compact model.
The all-black colour scheme of the motherboard will appeal to those who are looking to build an attractive-looking system inside as it will compliment most other components well.  It also has a decent list of features which includes on-board Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.  Our only slight problem with the motherboard is the out-dated BIOS which doesn’t feature a UEFI interface.
We were particularly impressed with the overclocking performance of the F2A85XN-WIFI as it managed to sustain a 4.6 GHz overclock.  This impressed us much more than the ASRock A85W-HiFi which wasn’t able to sustain an overclock at all when we tested it with this APU a few weeks back.
Although it’s not yet available to purchase online, Gigabyte have revealed to us that the F2A85XN-WIFI will be hitting the market at £82 inc VAT which makes it pretty good value for money.  Sure, there are cheaper A85X based motherboards out there, but they don’t offer the convenience of the mini-ITX form factor.
Pros:
  • All-black colour scheme.
  • Good overclocking performance.
  • On-board Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • Good value for money.
Cons:
  • Non-UEFI BIOS.
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