Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

In its basic specifications the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 is hardly any different from the ASUS F2A85-V PRO and Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 mainboards we reviewed earlier. That said, each of them is special in particular details.

All of them feature digital voltage regulator circuitries but the ASRock has the largest number of power phases: their “Digi Power” system works as 8+2. As opposed to the mainboards from ASUS and Gigabyte which voltage regulator components are placed on both sides of the CPU socket in an L-shaped pattern, they form a straight line on the ASRock board and are covered with a large heatsink. The latter is reliably secured with screws, as is the chipset heatsink. “Gold” solid-state capacitors can be spotted on the mainboard. These are premium-class components with improved characteristics. The FM2A85X Extreme6 is compatible with all modern Socket FM2 processors and offers four DDR3 slots for up to 64 GB of system memory. It supports AMD Memory Profile (AMP) as well as Extreme Memory Profile (XMP).

ASRock board has the same selection of expansion slots as we saw on the ASUS mainboard: three PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and two PCI slots. The FM2A85X Extreme6 allows building multi-GPU configurations based on AMD CrossFireX technology. A single discrete graphics card will use a full-speed PCIe x16 interface. Two such cards will share the bandwidth as 2x8 whereas the third slot works in x4 mode. Like the two previously reviewed mainboards, the FM2A85X Extreme6 features seven out of the eight SATA 6 Gbit/s ports provided by the AMD A85X chipset. One more is implemented as an eSATA 6 Gbit/s connector on the back panel. Like the Gigabyte board, the product from ASRock is equipped with a POST indicator as well as Power On, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons, but the buttons are larger here and glow. The Clear CMOS one is available on the back panel for user convenience.

The mainboard back panel has the following ports and connectors:

  • Universal PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse;
  • Four USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors), two of which are implemented via ASMedia ASM1042 controller. Another two ports and one more internal pin-connector for two additional USB 3.0 ports are provided by the mainboard chipset;
  • D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort video outs;
  • Glowing Clear CMOS button;
  • Two USB 2.0 ports, another six ports are laid out as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • eSATA 6 Gbit/s port implemented via AMD A85X chipset, like seven internal SATA 6Gbit/s ports;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built on Gigabit Realtek RTL8111E controller).
  • An optical S/PDIF and five analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC898 codec.

The FM2A85X Extreme6 has as many as six fan connectors, two of which are meant for CPU fans. The latter are 4- and 3-pin connectors, so the speed can be regulated in any case (most other mainboards, except the ones from Gigabyte, have lost this capability).

However, we have to point out a few areas that could use some improvement. For example, the graphics card slots of ASUS and Gigabyte mainboards have very convenient wide latches. They can also be found on some ASRock products, but most of them, like the FM2A85X Extreme6, have small sliding locks which have to be unlocked and also locked manually.

For your convenience we summed up all the mainboard characteristics and specifications in the following table:


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