Originally, this review was intended as a stand-alone Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 mainboard review, but we had to dedicate a significant part of it to the AMD A10-5800K processor. What does it tell us? It indicates that the mainboard was a successful product. Had the board had any issues, or caused us any problems, we would have told you about them. However, Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 has excellent layout, sufficient functionality, it works great and doesn’t pose any challenges to anyone, so we have absolutely no reason to complain about anything. I would only like to point out two possible improvements – fan speed adjustment and graphics core frequency adjustment. The ability of Gigabyte mainboards to allow adjusting the rotation speed of three-pin processor fans is a unique a great advantage, because the majority of mainboards from other makers no longer allow it. However, only one of the system fan connectors can lower the speed of a three-pin fan, which is not enough in my opinion. As for the graphics core frequency, it would be much more convenient if the adjustment increment in the BIOS were not the minimal 1 MHz, but the actual workable increment. Other than that, Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 is a definite success. This is the top model in the Gigabyte’s Socket FM2 lineup on AMD A85X chipset, which comes at a very affordable price and therefore is worth your consideration.
We dedicated only the first chapters of our review to Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 exclusively, but then we didn’t find any causes for complaints, so the board is good. However, we talked much more about the AMD A10-8500K processor, and therefore the question is, can be conclude that the CPU is not that much of a success after all? Yes, this is exactly what I think. I honestly do not understand those reviewers who praised the pretty slow and very power-hungry CPU in their articles. Was it for the relatively high performance of its integrated graphics core? Yes, it was fast indeed, but who needs it? Let’s split the users into two imaginary groups: The first group is the users who are barely interested in games, and the second – the ones who play regularly and enthusiastically. The ideal fit for the first user group will be Intel processors, because they are fast, energy-efficient and their graphics is powerful enough for an occasional solitaire. The second user group will have to go for a discrete graphics card, which will pair best with Intel processors, again. So, who will be the target group for the relatively powerful integrated graphics of such processors as AMD A10-5800K? Its graphics capabilities are obviously excessive for entry-level gaming, but are still insufficient for contemporary high-end titles. As for A8, A6 and A4 processors, the situation is slightly different here. Yes, their integrated graphics is slower, but nevertheless, it is sufficient for many “casual” games, plus they boast significantly lower power consumption and more appealing price. The top processor in the Trinity lineup, however, is somewhat out of place. It is too energy-inefficient for inexpensive and compact systems, but doesn’t offer competitive performance.
Of course, integrated graphics will become faster eventually. However, it will hardly ever catch up with the discrete graphics accelerators in this respect. The reasons behind that are obvious and can be seen in the same Socket FM2 processors. Since the space was tight, they had to give up their L3 cache, and the memory controller allowing to share the system memory between the processor and graphics cores has become slower than the one in Bulldozer CPUs. Therefore, there is no real need to accelerate the integrated graphics part. It is already fast enough for everyday tasks, but gaming is still out of reach. An ideal way-out of this situation could be a technology that would allow switching automatically between discrete and integrated graphics. In fact, this functionality has already been implemented, but the discrete graphics accelerator never gets fully disconnected, which causes very low power savings. But I am sure you will agree that it would be nice to have a computer system consuming only 28 W of power in idle mode, as we saw during our Socket FM 2 power consumption tests, and capable of switching to a discrete graphics card when necessary. No compromises, no resolution and image quality sacrifices – maximum speed and ultimate gaming experience, but minimal energy costs in idle mode. And as for the hybrids with slow and energy-inefficient processor cores and relatively powerful but still insufficiently fast graphics cores, like AMD A10-5800K, they are hardly needed.
Does it mean that AMD should wrap up their Trinity production? Not at all. We reviewed only the top model in this family together with a full-size ATX mainboard, i.e. we looked at this platform as a basis for a large desktop system, and found out that it could be not the best application field for it. However, various portable and mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular these days and take on multiple functions of conventional desktops, and this is where Trinity APUs could really shine. Performance doe smatter for any devices, but energy-efficiency is also one of the top priority factors when it comes to mobile systems or media centers. Unlike the desktop A10-5800K processor, which nominal frequencies have been raised almost to their absolute maximum and the TDP is set at 100 W, there are other Trinity modifications. For example, there are considerably less energy-hungry processors with 65 W TDP or the mobile modifications with 35, 25 or even 17 W TDP. The most popular desktop resolution these days is 1920x1080 available on 24” or 26” monitors. Even AMD A10-5800K processor, not to mention the junior Socket FM2 models, is unable to deliver acceptable gaming performance here in heavy-duty 3D games. As for media centers, they are only used for online gaming, if even that, and this is where Trinity integrated graphics may come in very handy.
Of course, everything we just assumed needs to be verified during practical tests. But it looks like the issues uncovered in A10-5800K only partially affect the Trinity lineup (speaking of the performance and power consumption of the processor cores), or even turn into advantages (speaking of the powerful graphics core, which could be useful for some applications). In other words, some issues make it hard for Trinity APUs to become fully-fledged desktop processors in the traditional meaning of this word, but instead these processors could do really well in alternative market segments.
I don’t feel it is right for me to talk you out of purchasing top Socket FM2 processors or to prohibit you from overclocking them. However, if you decide on an AMD A10-5800K, I strongly urge you not to overclock. Increase in this processor’s clock frequency will produce a very modest performance gain, but will raise the power consumption to unprecedented levels. Overclocking the graphics will cause moderate but constant increase in power consumption, while the gaming performance will hardly improve. As for the memory, this component must be overclocked by all means, because its positive effects will be undeniable: it will increase the overall system energy-efficiency, improve the performance in almost any applications, and boost the gaming performance quite substantially. Aren’t you buying the AMD A10-5800K processor to have the ability to play a round in your favorite game from time to time? If this isn’t the case, and you were shooting more for high performance and great energy-efficiency, then you must have chosen the wrong platform. Yes, and Intel system will cost more, but money is not a universal measuring unit after all. We have already brought up an example with light bulbs: energy-efficient one cost more, but they are getting increasingly popular because they are better. In terms of production costs, it would make more sense not to build any recuperation and treatment facilities, but no one does it this way anymore. And it doesn’t matter if the new standards are set in motion voluntarily or under penalty threats. The result is still the same: the production doesn’t affect the environment as badly as it used to. We will hardly be able to really taste the fruit from this tree, but the next generations will feel the full impact of it, so it is time to think about these things today. Therefore, think for a second: do I really need a relatively inexpensive, but not very fast and very power-hungry AMD A10-5800K processor?