Unboxing & Review: ASUS A88X-Gamer Gaming Motherboard 85
APU, aka Accelerated Processing Unit is AMD’s attempt to combine a CPU and GPU into a single chip. Known to provide a decent in-game performance for a fair price, the APU has become a viable option when it comes to building a budget gaming PC.  These APU runs on motherboards with AMD chipsets such as A85X, A75, A55, A88X, A78, A68H​, A58 which A88X as the highest offering among all the AMD chipsets for APU.

We’ll be taking a closer look at the ASUS A88X-Gamer, a AMD A88X chipset based motherboard made for gaming purpose – million thanks to ASUS in provision of the A88X board for today’s review. 
*The ASUS A88X-Gamer is priced at RM439
Specifications
Model
  • ASUS A88X-GAMER
Warranty
  • 3 Years
Form Factor
  • ATX
Supported CPU
  • AMD Socket FM2+ Athlon™/A- Series Processors 
  • Supports CPU up to 4 cores
  • Supports AMD® Turbo Core 3.0 Technology
Chipset
AMD A88X (Bolton D4)
Expansion Slots
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 mode) *3
  • 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode, black) 
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 
  • 3 x PCI
Memory Support
  • 4xDIMM,Max.64GB,DDR32400(O.C.)/2250(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133/1866/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory 
  • Dual Channel Memory Architecture 
  • Support AMD Memory Profile (AMP) memory
  • The Max. 64GB memory capacity can be supported with DIMMs of 16GB (or above). ASUS will update QVL once the DIMMs are available on the market.
  • Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs. 
I/O Panel
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x D-Sub
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
  • 2 x USB 3.0 (blue) 
  • 4 x USB 2.0 
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
  • 6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Connectors
  • 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
  • 3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
  • 1 x TPM header
  • 1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
  • 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
  • 1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
  • 2 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (2 x 4 -pin)
  • 1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
  • 1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
  • 1 x System panel(s) 
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
Packaging
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The front of the box slightly resembles a ROG branded motherboard that is kept simple but with the the ROG logo, as the A88X-Gamer isn’t a product under the ROG brand. 

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At the back of the box you’ll find the prominent features of the motherboard 

Accessories

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The included accessories is pretty simple, a user guide, driver CD, SATA cables, rear I/O cover.

Closer Look

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The A88X-Gamer might not be a ROG branded motherboard, but we can see some components that is commonly found on a ROG branded motherboard i.e SupremeFX audio, 10k Black Metallic Capacitors.

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The AMD FM2+ socket will fit only FM2/FM2+ APU from AMD.

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The A88X-Gamer supports up to a maximum of 64GB DDR3 memory and speed up to 2400MHz via overclocking. 

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While there’s no support for SATA Express on the A88X-Gamer, there’s 8 SATA ports that allows you to connect up to 8 SATA HDD/SSD to your system.
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The chipset heatsink.
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The A88X-Gamer comes with 2x PCI-E x16 slots which made Crossfire mode possible; you can either setup for crossfire configuration with a pair of AMD Radeon graphics card, or crossfire a A10-7850K APU with a R7 250 or R7 240.
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The same SupremeFX audio chipset which can be found on a ROG branded motherboard is made isolated from electromagnetic interference (EMI) by a protective shield which ASUS claims to be able to effectively eliminates analog interference to ensure flawless sound quality.

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The rear I/O comes with the following component
  • P/S2 Keyboard Mouse combo port
  • S/PDIF, Display port and HDMI
  • VGA and DVI-D
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x Intel Ethernet ports
  • 7.1 Audio Jacks

UEFI BIOS
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The UEFI BIOS interface shares the same color scheme of the UEFI BIOS on the ROG branded motherboards. Accessing it the first time will lead you to the Ez Mode interface that has all the basic functions to allow quick and easy system optimization even to entry level users.
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Advanced users may opt for the Advanced Mode for more tweaking options. The main tab basic details of your system and also the option to adjust your system date, time and language.
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The Ai Tweaker is where advanced users will spend vast amount of time to tune their system clock speed, voltage, strap, etc. Highlighted in yellow are the brief details on the targeted outcome of the current system tuning.
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At the Advance tab, users can further adjust the settings of CPU, storage devices, USB ports, On-board Devices, APM, Network Stack, Platform Misc and so on.
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Monitor tab allow users to monitor components temperature and fan speed, adjust fan speed with profiles so the fans will behave accordingly.
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Monitor tab allow users to monitor components temperature and fan speed, adjust fan speed with profiles so the fans will behave accordingly.
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The Tool tab comes with some useful function such as the ASUS EZ Flash Utility for BIOS update via flash drive (similar to the BIOS flashback button) and the ASUS Overclocking Profile to backup your stable over-clocking profiles.
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The functions in the Exit tab is pretty common but still worth to mention.
Load Optimized Defaults – Basically this will restore the changes done to the factory default settings.
  • Save Changes & Reset – This will save the changes done and restart your system.
  • Discard Changes & Reset – This will save the changes done and restart your system.
  • Both option 2 and 3 can be accessed without the need of accessing the exit tab as user will be prompted with a confirmation message when exiting the BIOS via the Esc key.

Software
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The AI Suite III software suite is available in the installation disc provided, but just in case, it’s always recommended to download the latest from ASUS’s website. Opening the suite will lead you to the main interface page consisting of accessible tweaks and toggles as well as full, on-the-fly system information at the bottom.

DIGI+ VRM
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Clicking the DIGI+ VRM leads you to the CPU power phase control menu where you can adjust its voltage frequency, CPU/NB Current Capability & Load Line Calibration, CPU Current Capability & Load Line Calibration, CPU Power Duty Control. 

EPU
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Clicking on the EPU option lets you adjust the Power saving formula profiles. Setting it on auto means that the system will run according to the needs of the system and will regulate the performance accordingly.

TurboV EVO
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At Turbo V EVO menu, you can adjust the CPU frequency, CPU & DRAM Voltage, etc without the needs to access to BIOS.
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GPU Boost allows quick and easy GPU overclocking for that extra performance boost.
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By clicking the start button, your system will automatically tuned to the best achievable state as determined by the software itself.
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And here is the result of the auto tuning on our AMD A10-7850K APU. It’s not record-breaking but from a stock clock of 3.7MHz to 4.1MHz stable is still an impressive result.
Fan Xpert 2
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Fan Xpert 2  lets you adjust the speed of the fans connected to the on-board fan headers. Users may choose to set each fan manually or simply choose one of the four presets available at the bottom.

USB 3.0 Boost
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USB3.0 Boost allows UASP enabled device to perform faster in terms of reading and writing speed.
EZ Update
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EZ Update is a BIOS update utility that automatically checks for the latest BIOS updates from ASUS official and BIOS update can be done easily with a single click on the update button after the latest BIOS file is selected.
System Information
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System information utility allow users to navigate the details of their motherboard, CPU and Memory – similar as the CPU-Z often used by advanced users during over-clocking session.

Push Notice
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Push Notice is an utility that notify you on selected event via mobile devices so you will always be updated with your system status when you’re few miles away from it.

Test Method

Moving on to test, we’ve build the following system configuration using the A88X-Gamer:

Test
Rig Configuration
CPU
Cooler
Corsair H100
CPU
AMD A10-7850K
Motherboard
ASUS
A88X-Gamer 
Memory
G.Skill TridentX @2400MHz
Primary
Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power
Supply
BitFenix
Fury 550G
Chassis
Vector Bench Case

Auto Tuning vs. Manual Overclocking
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The A10-7850K comes with a maximum boost clock of 4.0GHz out of the box and can be overclocked to achieve higher clock speed. We attempted to raise the clock speed manually and with the help of the auto tuning. 
The Auto Tuning result doesn’t turns out very well as 4.1GHz is just a minor boost from the already 4.0GHz boost clock. With manual adjustments, we’re able to achieve 4.5GHz without any need of raising the CPU core voltage and it’s able to go through the benchmarks conducted without any stability issue.
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SuperPi 1M result (left: overclocked to 4.5GHz, right: stock speed 4.0GHz)

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SuperPi 32M result (left: overclocked to 4.5GHz, right: stock speed 4.0GHz)
ATTO Disk Benchmark
We’ve ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark utility for a quick benchmark on SATA III SSD(s) and the result is shown as below:
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Result of sequential read/write for Intel 520 Series 120GB (left) and Crucial M500 120GB (right), everything seems fine at this point.
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Result of sequential read/write for Corsair Voyager GO under normal mode (left) and USB 3.0 Boost mode (right). There’s a slight improvement after the USB 3.0 Boost is enabled, where the initial read wasn’t able to reach even a nibble of 80 Mb/s is now able to reach 80 Mb/s and a little bit more.

Final Thoughts

The ASUS A88X-Gamer comes aesthetically pleasing to the eye, decent overclocking potential and offers many features of a higher-end motherboard like the ROG branded motherboards i.e SupremeFX audio chip, Enhanced ESD Protection design, use of 10k black metallic capacitors, etc. 
For one who is planning to build a budget gaming rig with an AMD APU, the ASUS A88X-Gamer isn’t the cheapest choice available as there are other A88X chipset boards that comes in a cheaper price. Still, the use of higher end components found on ROG branded motherboard on the A88X-Gamer is an added point which we would strongly recommend to spend an extra cash on.

Pros

  • Good aesthetics 
  • P/S2 Keyboard & Mouse port is a life saving option in situation where all USB ports gone haywire 
  • ASUS AI Suite III works great with the features available
  • High end components of ROG motherboards is used 
  • Supports AMD Radeon crossfire configuration

Cons

  • No SATA Express support 
  • System Auto Tuning in the Turbo EVO doesn’t shows significant improvement 
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