Result and general impression
++++ The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6/A/ASR motherboard has a price of approx. 99 Euro (12/2012) and is thus in the middle price segment of the Socket FM2 motherboards.
Today we are testing a new Socket FM2 Trinity motherboard on OCinside.de, which reached a new reference clock record during our OverClocking tests. The AMD FM2 motherboard is based on the AMD A85X chipset and has a total of five PCI Express slots, two PCI slots, seven SATA3 ports, one eSATA3 port, Gigabit LAN and 7.1 audio with optical output. We tested the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Socket FM2 motherboard with an AMD A10-5800K Black Edition APU and overclocked it to the limit.
In this cardboard box the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 FM2 motherboard is delivered:
Here you can take a first look at the included accessories:
Here is the defenseless AMD A10 victim, we will overclock in this review:
The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 is very well finished and has very high-quality Premium Gold Caps capacitors, V8+2 Power Phase Design up to 100W, 7-segment post code display, LED lighted Power, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons and a total of 7 SATA3 ports.
Here we can see the LED illuminated power and reset buttons and the 7-segment display post code, which can be disabled in the BIOS on demand right after the start, since it is usually only helpful during the boot process:
Equipment and other features …
The FM2A85X Extreme6 motherboard from ASRock came with a manual, software setup, XFast 555 and VirtuMVP guide, one DVD, four SATA data cables and ATX I/O shield.
Expansion cards …
The 3-Way CrossFireX motherboard offers three PCI Express 2.0 video card slots, whereby either one video card can operate with x16 band-width, or two with x8 lanes or two with x8 lanes and one in x4 mode. A special SLI/XFire switch card is not necessary to get the optimal performance for single or CrossFireX operation. If one like only use one video card on the FM2A85X Extreme6, one should insert the PCI Express video card into the PCIe2 slot, in order to get the fastest x16 bandwidth. Additionally to the three PCI Express 2.0 slots there are two x1 PCIe 2.0 slots and two PCI slots.
The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 can be equipped with up to four DDR3 modules and is expandable depending upon operating system used (see list) to maximally 64 GB memory.
Here you can see the four DDR3 sockets with Dual Channel support:
The Socket FM2 motherboard supports DDR3 memory modules and can be optimized in the BIOS for DDR3-800, DDR3-1066, DDR3-1333, DDR3-1600, DDR3-1866, DDR3-2133, DDR3-2400 and faster Dual Channel modules. DDR3-2600 or higher clock-rates are currently only possible with overclocking.
Hard disk drive connectors …
The FM2A85X Extreme6 offers no floppy connector and no IDE connectors for PATA-133 drives, but this FM2A85X Extreme6 board offers one straight and six bent SATA3 connectors (6 Gb/s) and an additional eSATA3 port at the I/O panel. The five S-ATA 3 ports supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, NCQ, AHCI and the Hot Plug function in AHCI mode (AHCI stands for Advanced Host Controller Interface and can be selected in the BIOS / UEFI BIOS). The UEFI BIOS support drives with more than 2TB for a Windows8, Windows 7 x64 or Vista x64 installation.
The manual and the included DVD contains all basic information to manage a new installation of Windows XP, Windows Vista Windows 7 or Windows 8 with SATA3 drives, and how to make a RAID installation. 32-Bit and 64-Bit drivers for Windows XP, Windows Vista Windows 7 and Windows8 are provided on the DVD and can be downloaded on the ASRock support page.
USB and Firewire …
The motherboard has four USB 3.0 connectors on the ATX-panel, two USB 2.0 connectors on the ATX panel, three internal USB 2.0 plugs for up to six optional USB ports and one internal USB 3.0 plug for up to two optional USB ports. The special 20-pin connector can be connected for example to an optional USB3.0 frontpanel or to a PC chassis with 20-pole USB3 connector. Hint: One should install the new ASRock XFast USB software to accelerate the USB transfer rate for USB drives.
The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 motherboard is provided with the Realtek RTL 8111E chip which offers a 10/100/1000 network connector on the I/O panel. The LAN connection is WoL capable, offers LAN cable detection and supports PXE and energy efficient 802.3az ethernet.
Serial and parallel port …
The motherboard does not provide a parallel port. A serial port is optionally available as internal onboard connector.
The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 motherboard is equipped with the ALC898 audio codec with content protection, which supports 7.1 surround sound for example analog over 5x 3.5mm connectors on the ATX panel or over an internal audio connector.
For the digital output there is an internal HDMI SPDIF out connector available, to connect it for example with a SPDIF cable to a HDMI suited video card, in order to get the digital audio and video signal to a HDMI equipment like a HD-Ready LCD TV. Additionally it offers an optical digital SPDIF output, premium Blu-Ray audio support and THX TruStudio support. So most users do not need to buy an additional sound card with digital outputs.
The AMD A85X chipset offers in combination with a Trinity processor a full integrated graphics solution with DX11 support. Depending upon processor used there is an AMD Radeon HD 7000 graphics unit, whereby the AMD A10-5800K CPU used in this test is equipped with the AMD Radeon HD7660D graphics unit.
The AMD HD7660D iGPU has a high performance, also without overclocking. So the GPU of the AMD A10-5800K APU achieved in Windows 7 with 3DMark06 7671 3DMarks ! In comparison, the HD6550D GPU of the AMD A8-3870K FM1 APU reached on the ASRock A75 Pro4 Motherboard 6181 3DMarks and an Intel HD Graphics Unit of the Intel Core i5-2500K CPU on an ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP achieved with 3DMark06 in Windows 7 a benchmark score of 4310 3DMarks. An AMD HD 4290 IGP of an AMD 890GX chipset achieved with an AMD Phenom II 710 X3 processor for example a score of 2204 points in 3DMark06 (tested with an ASRock 890GX Extreme4). Furthermore the integrated video processor supports DirectX 11, HDCP, Full HD 1080p and offers thanks to its onBoard HDMI connector and the low power consumption optimal conditions for a Home theatre PC, but more on that in the energy consumption comparison test below.
ATX backpanel connectors …
From left to right one can see 1x PS/2 connectors for PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse and 2x USB 3.0, 15-pol Sub-D VGA and DVI-D VGA, DisplayPort and HDMI, LED lighting Clear CMOS button, 2x USB 2.0 and eSATA3, RJ45 Gigabit LAN and 2x USB 3.0 ports, optical SPDIF out and 5x 3.5mm jacks for analog sound.
BIOS and Overclocking …
Let us continue with BIOS options and BIOS overclocking. By pressing F2 or Del, you get access to the AMI BIOS with all important hardware settings.
The ASRock UEFI BIOS of the FM2A85X Extreme 6 offers a graphical surface for an intuitive operation with a mouse or with a keyboard, depending upon desire. User with an USB mouse and USB keyboard should not deactivate the Legacy USB support in the BIOS with the USB Configuration, because otherwise they can not access the UEFI Setup. In the Auto mode the board decides if the USB device need to operate in Legacy mode. Keyboard and Mouse should be still connected to the USB 2.0 ports.
Another new feature is the “Active Page on Entry” selection, where you can decide which UEFI page you want to see when you enter the UEFI Setup. This is mainly very helpful for overclocking since one have to go very often in the second OC Tweaker menu to find the best OC settings, so ASRock offer it for less mouse clicks.
Here is a screenshot of the UEFI BIOS surface with the new Active Page on Entry selection:
ASRock offers again very comfortable ways to flash BIOS updates, like e.g. the very easy ASRock Instant Flash or the latest ASRock Internet Flash with a direct internet connection. By the so-called ASRock Instant Flash option in the Advanced Screen or by pressing F6 during the PC start one can enter the ASRock Instant Flash utility. One can very easy update a downloaded ASRock BIOS without further boot CDs, etc., just start the ASRock Instant Flash utility and select a BIOS Flash ROM from any FAT formatted device like an USB Stick to flash the BIOS without another boot medium.
The board came with BIOS L1.01H. At review date, the P1.60 UEFI BIOS was the latest version for download.
The BIOS offers some DDR3 memory settings like e.g. the memory setting from DDR3-800 over DDR3-1066, DDR3-1333, DDR3-1600, DDR3-1866, DDR3-2133 up to DDR3-2400 or with reference clock OC even higher. The frequency of all memory modules is calculated and shown after changing the reference clock and makes it much easier to adjust the right RAM frequency. Up to DDR3-2400 can be selected in the BIOS and higher DDR3 frequencies over DDR3-2400 are only available with reference clock overclocking. It is very advantageous that the FM2A85X ASRock Extreme 6 motherboard can read both AMP and XMP profile values from the memory modules and setup the RAM modules for their optimal speed.
The host clock is adjustable from 100 MHz up to 136 MHz and the NB frequency can be adjusted between 5x to 31x, which results in 1000 MHz up to 6200 MHz at default APU/PCIE rating of 100 MHz.
Overclocking with the reference clock should be proceed with caution, because some other frequencies are increased by the internal clock generator as well. When overclocking Black Edition processors, so-called “K” APUs with unlocked multiplier, it is more easy to overclock the APU by increasing the multi But the reference clock is still important at least when one buy high-end OC RAM and like to operate it on the maximum frequency, because this is on most boards only possible with reference clock / APU/PCIE Frequency increasement.
The boot failure guard was checked in this review as well and it was possible to start the PC on standard values with too high overclocking settings without using Clear CMOS. ASRock integrated a “Boot Failure Guard Count” option, where the user can decide, how often the board should try to start with too high settings, before it reduces all necessary frequency settings for a correct boot. If one prevents with wrong values the PC from booting, can press the Clear CMOS button, but the stored profile values are still saved and can be loaded quickly.
Furthermore, this board offers a Vcore setting on the AMD A10 Trinity test CPU from 0.6000 V to 1.5500 V with an Offset of -0,300 bis +0,300, a CPU NB voltage from 0.6000 V to 1.5500 V, an APU PCIE voltage from 1.208 bis 1.563 V, a SB voltage setting between 1.10 V and 1.40 V, a GFX voltage setting from 1.199 to 1.542 V and some more settings to reach higher overclocking results. Additionally, the board offers an APU and NB Load Line Calibration, which can be set to Auto, 100%, 80%, 60% and Disabled. NB and APU Load Line Calibration / LLC offers a compensation of the voltage in Idle/Load CPU load alternation. For manual overclocking of FM2 processors, the CPU Load Line Calibration should be disabled to get higher OC results stable. The DDR3 memory voltage can be set between 1.165 V up to 1.800 V in steps between 0.01 V and 0.0125 V, which should be enough power for some DDR3 OC RAM modules.
If these are too many values for you, one can also easily select a predefined overclocking at boot time with the X button – the so-called ASRock XBoost feature, so that the values can be increased easily without OC know-how by a few percent (in our test APU from 3800 MHz to 4200 MHz).
With the CPU Thermal Throttle option, it is possible to lower the CPU frequency on too high internal CPU temperature to protect the CPU from overheating. This is of course only a protection and it is still necessary to select a good cooling for overclocking.
As special BIOS feature one can store three different BIOS settings with a desired name. Thus one can save for example balanced BIOS settings, overclocking settings and underclocking settings in a user profile of the BIOS to load them very quickly at any time.
BIOS Undervolting …
The downclocking or underclocking was also tested in this review. It was possible to lower the AMD A10-5800K CPU multiplier over the BIOS to 16x (14x didn’t boot) and underclock with 100 MHz reference clock to approx. 1600 MHz.
Underclocking and OverClocking is outside of the manufacturers specification. It’s necessary to have a bit luck, but ASRock give you some useful options to overclock or underclock the system more easily.
The BIOS of the passive cooled FM2A85X Extreme6 motherboard offers a CPU Quiet Fan Control (temperature fan control) for a 4-pin and a 3-pin CPU fan and a 4-pin chassis fan (chassis fan 1). And also both other chassis fans can be adjusted manually in this UEFI BIOS, so it is non-essential to spend money for an additional fan controller.
Power consumption …
Power consumption will vary depending upon the hardware and upon the PC load. The current consumption of the test PC with AMD A10-5800K Black Edition CPU, 4GB DDR3-1333 memory, hard disk drive and Cooler Master Silent Pro M 600W test PSU was without overclocking depending upon load: – With Sapphire HD6870 card the power consumption was between 72W and 205 Watt. – With Sapphire HD4870 video card the power consumption was between 121W and 222 Watt. – With internal HD7660D GPU the power consumption was between low 20 Watt idle and 127 Watt with full load. Above all the maximum power consumption of the integrated GPU with full load and in idle is very low and allow thus to build an office PC for daily usage with a high performance at low power. And in combination with a dedicated PCIE graphics card and VirtuMVP it’s also possible to build a Gaming PC with lower power consumption.
Additionally all most important overclocking features can be adjusted and temperature monitoring can be checked with the included ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility Software (AXTU example screen).
The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 AMD Socket FM2 DDR3 motherboard is build for AMD Socket FM2 Trinity processors up to 100 Watt TDP, offers a good equipment and reached very high overclocking results during our tests with the AMD A10 Black Edition APU at record niveau.
The FM2A85X Extreme6 offers a great basic equipment with seven SATA3 ports with RAID support, one eSATA3 port, up to six possible USB 3.0 ports, up to eight possible USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit LAN connector, 7.1 sound with digital sound output over an optical SPDIF connector and analog sound output over five 3.5mm jacks. Depending on the CPU or APU the built-in D-Sub, DVI-D, DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs can be used.
All in all the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 is a first-class AMD Socket FM2 motherboard, to build a low power PC and also overclock common Socket FM2 processors like A4, A6, A8 and A10 series. Thus, the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 motherboard received the Redaktion ocinside.de Overclocking Dream Award 12/2012 for these great results!
Special thanks to ASRock for their support.
* All Socket FM2 PCIe motherboard reviews since 01.12.2012 are based on an AMD A10-5800K Black Edition CPU,Sapphire HD6870 1024MB ATI Radeon HD6870 PCI Express 2.0 video card,Sapphire HD4870 512MB ATI Radeon HD4870 PCI Express 2.0 video card, 2x 2048MB Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1333/PC3-10600 memory modules, Cooler Master Silent Pro M 600W power supply unit and the following software configuration: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate, SiSoftware Sandra 2012, Futuremark 3DMark11, 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark06 and 3DMark03 (the software is available in the Links & Downloads section). All benchmark results only offer a comparison among themselves for a rough motherboard performance comparison.