ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Motherboard Review

Today, we have another AMD FM2 platform motherboard for review. This time around it’s ASRock’s top offering, the FM2A85X Extreme6. Long known for providing the latest hardware at very affordable prices, ASRock is a well established name in the motherboard industry. ASRock hasn’t always been a brand that enthusiasts and overclockers put high on their list, but that has changed over the past few years. ASRock has made a concerted effort in the recent past to attract the enthusiast and overclocking crowd, and all the while, maintain their reputation as an affordable brand. So, let’s find out what ASRock has in store for us!

Specifications and Features

Here are the specifications for the FM2A85X Extreme6, as shamelessly plucked from the ASRock Web Site. As you peruse the specifications table below, it won’t take long to notice this board takes full advantage of everything the A85X chipset has to offer… and then some.

 ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Specifications
CPU - Support for Socket FM2 100W processors
– Digi Power Design
– 8 + 2 Power Phase Design
– Supports AMD’s Cool ‘n’ Quiet Technology
– UMI-Link GEN2
Chipset - AMD A85X (Hudson-D4)
Memory - Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
– 4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
– Supports DDR3 2600+(OC)/2400(OC)/2133(OC)/1866/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
– Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB*
– Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3 / 1.2
– Supports AMD Memory Profile (AMP)

*Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
BIOS - 64Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
– Supports “Plug and Play”
– ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
– Supports jumperfree
– SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
– DRAM, APU PCIE VDDP, CPU and CPU NB/GFX Voltage Multi-adjustment
 Audio, Video and Networking
Graphics - Integrated AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics in A-series APU
– DirectX 11, Pixel Shader 5.0
– Max. shared memory 2GB
– Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort
– Supports HDMI 1.4a Technology with max. resolution up to 1920×1200 @ 60Hz
– Supports Dual-link DVI with max. resolution up to 2560×1600 @ 75Hz
– Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 1920×1600 @ 60Hz
– Supports DisplayPort 1.2 with max. resolution up to 4096×2160 @ 30Hz
– Supports DP++
– Supports Multi-Streaming
– Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
– Supports Blu-ray Stereoscopic 3D with HDMI 1.4a
– Supports AMD Steady Video™ 2.0: New video post processing capability for automatic jutter reduction on home/online video
– Supports HDCP function with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
– Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports
Audio - 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec)
– Premium Blu-ray audio support
– Supports THX TruStudio™
LAN - PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
– Realtek RTL8111E
– Supports Wake-On-LAN
– Supports LAN Cable Detection
– Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
– Supports PXE
 Expansion / Connectivity
Slots - 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4), or dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) ; PCIE5: x4 mode)
– 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
– 2 x PCI slots
– Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Dual Graphics
Storage - 7 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10), NCQ, AHCI and “Hot Plug” functions
USB 3.0 - 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by AMD A85X (Hudson-D4), support USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
– 2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by ASMedia ASM1042, support USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
– 1 x Front USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports) by AMD A85X (Hudson-D4), supports USB 1.1/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
Connector - 7 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
– 1 x IR header
– 1 x CIR header
– 1 x COM port header
– 1 x HDMI_SPDIF header
– 1 x Power LED header
– 1 x Chassis Intrusion header
– 2 x CPU Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 1 x 3-pin)
– 3 x Chassis Fan connectors (1 x 4-pin, 2 x 3-pin)
– 1 x Power Fan connector (3-pin)
– 24 pin ATX power connector
– 8 pin 12V power connector
– XFire power connector
– Front panel audio connector
– 3 x USB 2.0 headers (support 6 USB 2.0 ports)
– 1 x USB 3.0 header (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports)
– 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
– 1 x Power Switch with LED
– 1 x Reset Switch with LED
Rear Panel I/O I/O Panel
– 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
– 1 x D-Sub Port
– 1 x DVI-D Port
– 1 x HDMI Port
– 1 x DisplayPort
– 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
– 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
– 1 x eSATA3 Connector
– 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
– 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
– 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
– HD Audio Jack: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
 Other Features / Miscellaneous
Unique Feature - ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU)
– ASRock Instant Boot
– ASRock Instant Flash
– ASRock APP Charger
– ASRock XFast USB
– ASRock XFast LAN
– ASRock XFast RAM
– ASRock Crashless BIOS
– ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard)
– ASRock Internet Flash
– ASRock UEFI System Browser
– ASRock Dehumidifier Function
– ASRock Easy RAID Installer
– ASRock Interactive UEFI
– ASRock Fast Boot
– ASRock X-Boost
– ASRock Restart to UEFI
– Lucid Virtu Universal MVP
– Hybrid Booster
– ASRock U-COP

*Lucid Virtu Universal MVP can be supported only with processors which are GPU integrated.

**LucidLogix Virtu MVP only supports Windows® 7 OS or later versions.

Support CD - Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), AMD Live! Explorer, CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, ASRock MAGIX Multimedia Suite – OEM, Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar
Accessories - Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
– 4 x SATA Data Cables
Hardware Monitor - CPU Temperature Sensing
– Chassis Temperature Sensing
– CPU/Chassis/Power Fan Tachometer
– CPU Quiet Fan
– CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control
– CASE OPEN detection
– Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, Vcore
Form Factor - ATX Form Factor
– Premium Gold Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)
OS - Microsoft® Windows® 8 / 8 64-bit / 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista™ / Vista™ 64-bit compliant
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Certifications - FCC, CE, WHQL
– ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

Here is a list of the major features associated with the FM2A85X Extreme6, also provided courtesy of the ASRock Web Site:

  • Support for Socket FM2 100W processors
  • Premium Gold Caps, Digi Power, 8 + 2 Power Phase Design
  • AMD A85X Hudson D4 Chipset Supports Native 8 x SATA3, 4 x USB 3.0 Ports
  • Supports Dual Channel DDR3 2600+(OC)
  • Supports Intel® XMP 1.3/1.2 and AMD Memory Profile
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™, CrossFireX™ and Dual Graphics
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics in A-series APU
  • Multi VGA Output : D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort
  • Supports Triple Monitor
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec), Supports THX TruStudio™
  • Supports ASRock X-Boost, XFast 555, Fast Boot, Restart to UEFI, OMG, Dehumidifier, Easy RAID Installer, Interactive UEFI
  • Supports Lucid Virtu MVP, AMD Steady Video 2.0
  • Free Bundle : CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5 Trial, ASRock MAGIX Multimedia Suite, Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar

The ASRock marketing folks do a nice job providing more detailed information on the features this motherboard has to offer. We’ll start with the features that are more specific to the A85X (Hudson D4) chipset and the Trinity APU. Then, we’ll have a look at the features more associated with ASRock. Click on any image below for a larger view.

ASRock’s in house testing of the FM2A85X Extreme6, coupled with a Trinity A10-5800K APU shows some promising results.

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Sticking with AMD features related to the graphics performance, we have the HD 7000 series GPU support found in Trinity APUs. The Trinity APUs all have full support for DirectX11, triple monitors, dual graphics, and AMD Steady Video 2.0.

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As I’m sure most of our readers know, Lucid Virtu Universal MVP now fully supports AMD platforms and is no longer Intel specific. Actually, this happened a while back; but it’s nice to have it available regardless of which platform you prefer.

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One thing I think many of you will like about this motherboard is the implementation of both AMD Memory Profile (AMP) and the Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP). I have yet to see a FM2 motherboard that has anything over 2133 MHz as a selectable memory speed in BIOS; we’ll see if this changes that.

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As we continue on with the features more associated with ASRock, we’ll first look at those pertaining to the design of the motherboard. The motherboard features a digital PWM, Japanese gold plated capacitors, an 8+2 power phase design, and four DIMM slots that support DDR3 2600+ speeds (via overclocking).

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On the UEFI and boot side of things, we have what ASRock calls their Interactive UEFI. I’m looking forward to the “sound effects and stunning visuals” it offers. ASRock’s X-Boost is said to give you an automatic overclock by simply pressing the “X” key during boot. The Restart to UEFI utility allows an automatic entry into BIOS at the next restart. The Windows 8 fast startup feature can be made even better by using the ASRock Fast Boot technology built into the UEFI BIOS.

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The last set of ASRock specific features deals with the software side of things. The XFast 555 group of utilities deals with Internet traffic prioritization (XFast LAN), USB Performance boost (XFast USB), and Virtual disk creation using system memory (XFast Ram).

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Below is the marketing description for the rest of the included software. A couple of which I think deserve special mention. There is a pretty nifty utility built into the UEFI Bios called “Easy Raid”. Easy Raid allows you to copy raid drivers to a USB flash drive from your Optical ROM drive, all within the UEFI BIOS. This will be nice to have if you don’t have access to another computer, but find yourself needing Raid drivers for installing Windows.

ASRock has also bundled the Magix Multimedia Suite. Software similar to this can cost almost as much as a motherboard itself, so this a great addition to the software package.

amdfeatures27 Easy RAID Installer – Easy RAID Installer can help you install the RAID driver easily without floppy drive. It can copy the RAID driver from a support CD to your USB storage device with just one simple click in UEFI setup.
amdfeatures24 Dehumidifier – Users may prevent motherboard damages due to dampness by enabling “Dehumidifier Function”. When enabling Dehumidifier Function, the computer will power on automatically to dehumidify the system after entering S4/S5 state.
amdfeatures23 ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard) – Fast, Easy and Free – ASRock OMG technology allows you to establish an internet curfew or restrict internet access at specified times. Administrators are able to schedule the starting and ending hours of internet access granted to other users. Normally, ISPs (Internet Service Provider) will charge for internet curfew service. The service controls “all” the PCs connected at home through network remotely but all the PCs in that network will be restricted to access the internet at pre-setup times. However, ASRock OMG is a free tool for controlling internet access of each single PC. Parents can easily control internet access through BIOS setup to protect their kids from using Internet at inappropriate time, and meanwhile, enjoy their own internet space.
amdfeatures26 Internet Flash – Internet Flash searches for available UEFI firmware updates from ASRock servers. System can auto-detect the latest UEFI from our servers and flash them within UEFI setup without entering Windows® OS.
amdfeatures28 THX TruStudio – THX TruStudio is specially designed to bring the same great audio experience found in live performances, films, and recording studios to the PC.
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Packaging and First Look

ASRock is very proud of their XFast 555 utilities, and never is this more evident than by looking at the front of the box. Other than the large XFast 555 logo, there is mention of CPU support, and of course, the model of the motherboard within. The back of the box makes good use of all the available real estate and is packed with information on many of the features we previously mentioned. All of the box sides are dedicated to additional branding, bar codes, and a multilingual snippet about a few of the features.

Box Front

Box Front

Box Left Side

Box Left Side

Box Right Side

Box Right Side

Box Bottom

Box Bottom

Box Top

Box Top

Box Back

Box Back

Inside the box, you’ll find the accessories and all the documentation sitting on top. Under the cardboard separator is the motherboard, secure in its environment by way of a foam bed. The foam bed actually has sides, which protect all the edges of the motherboard too. Nice touch!

As far as accessories go, there isn’t much packed with the FM2A85X Extreme6, other than the I/O shield, four SATA 6 GBs cables, and a nifty little case badge. For documentation, we have a driver/software CD, the installation and software setup guides, and two full-page instruction sheets dealing with XFast 555 and Virtu MVP.

Box Opened

Box Opened

Motherboard in Anti-Static Bag

Motherboard in Anti-Static Bag

Accessories

Accessories

Installation and Software Guides

Installation and Software Guides

XFast 555 and Virtu MVP Instructions

XFast 555 and Virtu MVP Instructions

Foam Bed

Foam Bed

Photo Op

Before we dive into our customary “closer look”, here is a series of pictures from several different angles. Enjoy!

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A Closer Look/Under The Hood

We’ll work our way around the outer edges of the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 to start this section of the review. Beginning at the bottom of the motherboard, on the left side we have the headers for the front panel HD audio, HDMI-S/PDIF, Comm Port, CI (chassis intrusion), CIR (consumer infrared), and the first of three front panel USB 2.0 ports. The bottom-right area is where we find the other two front panel USB 2.0 ports, along with the IR (infrared module) and a 4-pin chassis fan connector. Rounding out the bottom of the motherboard are the on-board power and reset buttons, the post code LED display, and finally, the front panel connections.

Bottom Left Edge

Bottom-Left Edge

Bottom-Right Edge

Bottom-Right Edge

Moving over to the right side of the motherboard, we land at the seven SATA3 6GBs connectors. As you can see by the picture below, six of the ports are the angled design, and the remaining one is the traditional style. Higher up the right side is the front panel USB 3.0 header and the 24-pin ATX power connector. From this vantage point, we can also see the four DDR3 DIMM slots that will support up to 32 Gb of memory. As a quick side note, if you do try and run memory at the 2600+ speed, it’s only supported with two memory modules installed.

Seven SATA3 6 GBs Ports

Seven SATA3 6 GBs Ports

Lower-Right Side

Lower-Right Edge

Right-Upper Edge

Right-Upper Edge

The top edge of the motherboard has two CPU fan headers (one 3-pin and one 4-pin) and another 3-pin fan header. Other than the 8-pin ATX12V CPU power connector, there really isn’t much else on the top edge of the motherboard.

Top-Right Edge

Top-Right Edge

Top-Left Edge

Top-Left Edge

The left side of the motherboard has a very busy I/O area. At the very top is a PS/2 port that can be used for either a mouse or keyboard. Just below that is the first two of the four available USB 3.0 ports located in the I/O area. Moving down a bit, we find the display connections that include VGA, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort. You can use three of the four display ports at any given time for a triple monitor setup. Next in line is the clear CMOS button, two USB 2.0 ports, and the e-SATA connection. The Realtek RTL8111E LAN port sits on top of the last two USB 3.0 ports; and finally, we have the Realtek ALC898 audio jacks. The audio jacks support 7.1 channel HD audio and offer an optical S/PDIF out port as well. The bottom-left edge of the motherboard is where several chips related to the on-board features are located, but we’ll explore these in more detail later.

Upper-Left Edge

Upper-Left Edge

Upper-Left I/O Area

Upper-Left I/O Area

Lower-Left Edge

Lower-Left Edge

Moving in for a closer look at the middle area of the board, we can see three PCI Express 2.0 video card slots, two PCIe 1X slots, and two PCI slots. If you’re thinking of a multiple video card setup, it would break down like this:

  • Single card in PCIe slot 2 or 4 will run at x16 bandwidth
  • Two cards in slot 2 and 4 result in x8 bandwidth for both cards
  • Three card installations will run at x8/x8/x4 bandwidth

ASRock has provided a 4-pin Molex connection to bring additional power to the video cards, they recommend using it with any multiple card setup.

PCIe and PCI Slots

PCIe and PCI Slots

More Video Card Power!

More Video Card Power!

The FM2 CPU socket area is exceptionally uncluttered and should easily facilitate just about any CPU cooler.

Clear CPU Socket Area

Clear CPU Socket Area

Moving in for a closer look at the different chips used, we first find the BIOS chip is an 8-Pin removable Winbond 25Q series style. A lot of motherboard manufacturers are abandoning a clear CMOS jumper completely, in favor of a push button of some sort. On this board, you get both. I already showed you the clear CMOS button at the I/O area, and the last picture below shows the jumper.

Sticker Applied to BIOS Chip

Sticker Applied to BIOS Chip

Sticker Removed - Winbond Exposed

Sticker Removed – Winbond Exposed

Clear CMOS Jumper

Clear CMOS Jumper

In charge of system monitoring and fan control is the Nuvoton Super I/O NCT6776D chip.

Nuvoton Super I/O Chip

Nuvoton Super I/O Chip

Realtek is in control of the on-board audio and LAN features. The audio codec chip is the ALC898, and the LAN chip is the RTL8111E.

Realtek Audio Codec

Realtek Audio Codec

Realtek LAN

Realtek LAN

ASMedia has also made their presence known on the FM2A85X, in the way of two additional USB 3.0 ports on the back panel and PCI Express switching capabilities. The ASM1042 handles the USB 3.0, and the ASM1480 handles the PCI-E 3.0 16 to 8 channel switching. This allows the PCI-E slots to switch between x16 and x8, depending on how many video cards are installed.

ASM1042 USB 3.0 Host

ASM1042 USB 3.0 Host

ASM1480 Switches

ASM1480 Switches

Handling voltage regulation duties for the 8+2 power phase design is the International Rectifiers IR3567A chip.

Voltage Regulation

Voltage Regulation

With the MOSFET heatsink removed, we get a close up look at the 8+2 power design on the FM2A85X. The power phase design on this board is a bit beefier than I have seen on other FM2 motherboards; we’ll see how that impacts the overclocking ability. You can see that the MOSFET heatsink makes great contact with all the target areas. I like the fact the heatsinks on this motherboard are held in place using a screw down design instead of spring loaded push-pins. In the pictures below, you can also see many of the gold colored Japanese capacitors used throughout this board. According to ASRock, the gold color “represents long life and stable performance.” Aesthetics aside, they are 100% Japanese capacitors; and that’s nice to see.

MOSFET Heatsink

MOSFET Heatsink

Power Phase Design

Power Phase Design

Power Phase Area - Angle View

Power Phase Area – Angle View

Power Phase Area - Side View

Power Phase Area – Side View

MOSFETs View

MOSFETs View

Covering the A85X (Hudson D4) FCH is an attractive looking heatsink that bears the ASRock logo and is attached using the screw down method. The heatsink was found to be making great contact with just the right amount of thermal interface material applied to it. The last picture below is a view of both heatsinks from the top side.

FCH Heatsink

FCH Heatsink

A85X Chipset Exposed

A85X Chipset Exposed

Both Heatsinks

Both Heatsinks

ASRock’s Interactive UEFI BIOS

The Interactive UEFI has everything you need to get the system tweaked to your liking. As an added bonus, there are animated twinkling stars and sound effects too! The sounds effects are basically… well…  bleeps, blops, blings, and knocks, for the lack of better terminology. At any rate, they are not annoying at all and do add a bit of flare to your otherwise mundane trips inside BIOS.

There are eight main sections in the UEFI BIOS. Upon entrance, you land at the Main screen. Here you have basic system information regarding the CPU, memory, and BIOS firmware version. You also have the ability to change what screen you land on when first entering BIOS. I’ll be changing that to the OC Tweaker screen in short order!

Main Screen

Main Screen

The OC Tweaker section of BIOS has a good selection of options to get the most from your CPU and memory.  There are the typical voltage adjustments for CPU, memory, LLC, and the integrated GPU, just to name a few.  There are also AMP and XMP memory profiles available, or you can set the timings manually if preferred. In addition to CPU and memory overclocking, there are provisions made to overclock the APU’s integrated graphics.

OC Tweaker

OC Tweaker

OC Tweaker

OC Tweaker

More OC Tweaker

More OC Tweaker

Even More OC Tweaker

Even More OC Tweaker

There are eight sub-menus in the Advanced section of BIOS. All of the settings related to storage and integrated peripherals (on-board devices) are located here. This is also where you would set the CPU C-States and the Cool ‘n’ Quiet feature, which are found in the CPU configuration area.

Advanced Section

Advanced Section

CPU Configuration Sub Menu

CPU Configuration Sub Menu

North Bridge Configuration Sub Menu

North Bridge Configuration Sub Menu

South Bridge Configuration Sub Menu

South Bridge Configuration Sub Menu

Storage Configuration Sub Menu

Storage Configuration Sub Menu

Super IO Configuration Sub Menu

Super IO Configuration Sub Menu

ACPI Configuration Sub Menu

ACPI Configuration Sub Menu

USB Configuration Sub Menu

USB Configuration Sub Menu

Under the Tool section of BIOS, we have the ability to save three BIOS profiles and name them. Also located here are the Instant Flash and Internet Flash that can be used to update the BIOS firmware. If you don’t like the sounds you hear while in BIOS, you can shut them off from here as well. The Online Management Guard and System Browser round out this area of BIOS.

Tool Section

Tool Section

System Browser

System Browser

Inside the H/W Monitor section we have just that… system monitoring. The fan control options are also located at the bottom area of the screen.

H/W Monitor Section

H/W Monitor Section

The last three sections of the UEFI BIOS are areas pretty mundane, and more than likely, things you have seen time and time again. Suffice to say, they include the boot settings, security options, and finally, the exit BIOS options.

Boot Section

Boot Section

More Boot Section Options

More Boot Section Options

Security Section

Security Section

Exit Section

Exit Section

Included Software

All of the software bundled with the ASRock FM2A85x is the same as I have covered in past ASRock motherboard reviews. I detailed a lot of this software in the Z77 Extreme4 review and ASRock has additional information on their site as well. Click any of these links if you are interested in learning more. Having said that, I do think it’s important that we revisit the ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU) Windows based software. As you look at the images below, you’ll see that AXTU has rather detailed overclocking, system monitoring, and fan control sections. The remaining three areas are comprised of XFast RAM, OC DNA, and IES (Intelligent Energy Saver). As mentioned earlier, the XFast RAM is used to create a ram disk by using some of the memory capacity. The basic idea behind IES is to manipulate voltage regulation in order to reduce the number of output phases during CPU idle states, thus saving energy. OC DNA is merely informational in nature, but you can setup three profiles here as well.

AXTU Hardware Monitor

AXTU Hardware Monitor

AXTU Fan Control

AXTU Fan Control

AXTU Overclocking

AXTU Overclocking

AXTU OC DNA

AXTU OC DNA

AXTU Intelligent Energy Saver

AXTU Intelligent Energy Saver

AXTU XFast RAM

AXTU XFast RAM

Overclocking and Benchmarks

Test System

ASRock FM2A85X Socket FM2 Motherboard
AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU (Overclockers Approved!)
G.Skill 2X8 DDR3-2400 MHz Gb F3-2400C10D-16GTX
OCZ Vertex4 128 GB SSD
Cooler Master Seidon 240M AIO CPU Water Cooler (Overclockers Approved!)
Corsair HX1050 Power Supply
Window 7 Pro x64

Comparison Motherboards

The list of FM2 comparison motherboards has grown to four, here is what we have on tap today:

Biostar Hi-Fi A85W (Overclockers Approved!)
Sapphire Pure Platinum A85XT (Overclockers Approved!)
Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4
ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6

For the purpose of keeping everything on a level playing field, we’ll run the comparison tests at stock and with a 4.4 GHz CPU overclock, just as we did on the other motherboards. The memory will be set to 1866 MHz to comply with AMD’s official memory speed support for the A10-5800K APU. Further overclocking will be reserved for the “Pushing the Limits” section.

First things first, let’s test for stability at stock and 4.4 GHz.

Everything is fine at the stock BIOS settings. From what I understand, Turbo Core won’t ramp the CPU up to 4.2 GHz when all four cores are at 100% load. This is to keep from exceeding maximum TDP. The CPU did ramp up to right about 4.0 GHz though, which is probably more due to the auto overclock feature that’s enabled in BIOS by default.

Stable @ Stock BIOS Settings

Stable @ Stock BIOS Settings

Next up was the 4.4 GHz overclock stability test. No problems encountered here. It only took a little bump in APU voltage and setting LLC to 60%. Pay no attention to the date and time shown on this picture. I forgot to reset it after a BIOS reset!

4.4 GHz Stability Test

4.4 GHz Stability Test

As we move into the testing phase, please keep in mind the baseline for the percentage values are on the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 results at stock speed. For time based testing, a lower percentage obviously means a better result. Scored testing would be the opposite, meaning a higher percentage would be better. Below each percentage is the actual score/time in parenthesis. There, that should be as clear as mud!

Super PI 1M shows a slight advantage for ASRock against the competing boards at both stock and overclocked. The 32M run shows the ASRock board again coming out ahead at stock and overclocked. We’re splitting hairs here, as all these results are within a percentage point or two. This is to be expected with all the sample motherboards using the exact same CPU and chipset.

SuperPI 1M Results

SuperPI 1M Results

SuperPI 32M Results

SuperPI 32M Results

WPrime again showed little difference between all the competing motherboards. In the 32M run, the ASRock board put up some descent numbers, but the BIOSTAR A85W had the best score at stock. When overclocked, the Sapphire A85Xt came out on top. The 1024M test has the ASRock finishing in the middle of the pack at stock and overclocked, but again minute differences across the board were observed.

WPrime 32M Results

WPrime 32M Results

WPrime 1024M Results

WPrime 1024M Results

For CPU rendering, we’ll offer up Cinebench R10 and R11.5. Cinebench R10 was kind to the ASRock board, as it had the best scores at stock and overclocked speeds. Cinebench R11.5 topped out at 3.73 for most of the comparison boards when overclocked. At stock, the ASRock score of 3.57 was tied for the best with the BIOSTAR A85W.

Cinebench R10 Results

Cinebench R10 Results

Cinebench R11.5 Results

Cinebench R11.5 Results

The POV Ray benchmark has the ASRock falling victim to only the Sapphire board while overclocked. At stock, it only managed to best the Gigabyte board. Here again, there is very little difference between the scores that beat out the ASRock board. The x264 benchmark was much more to the ASRock board’s liking, it managed a clean sweep of all tests at stock and overclocked speeds.

POV Ray & x264 Results

POV Ray & x264 Results

Just so you don’t have to keep looking at scores that bear little difference, I used AIDA64 to judge memory performance against its built in comparison platforms. The testing was done with the memory still set to AMD’s highest officially supported speed of 1866 MHz. Peruse at your leisure.

Stand Alone Test

Stand Alone Test

Memory Latency Comparison

Memory Latency Comparison

Memory Read Comparison

Memory Read Comparison

Memory Write Comparison

Memory Write Comparison

Memory Copy Comparison

Memory Copy Comparison

Pushing The Limits

First, I wanted to check the memory speed capabilities. This is the first FM2 motherboard that had any memory speed past 2133 MHz as a option you can actually select in the bios. Getting my 2400 MHz G.Skill kit to run at its rated speed was as simple as selecting the appropriate memory frequency and setting the timings manually. I’ve been waiting for a FM2 board that had something past 2133 MHz as a selectable option, and here we finally have it. And best of all, it works… Yay!!

4.4 GHz @ 2400 MHz Memory!

4.4 GHz @ 2400 MHz Memory!

This is the first FM2 motherboard I have tested that can run my 2400 MHz kit at its rated speed. Only one other board could push the APU past 4.4 GHz and that was the Sapphire A85XT, which I managed to get stable at 4.6 GHz and perform a couple suicide tests at 4.8 GHz. However, where the ASRock board separates itself is with its ability to run memory at a much faster speed. The maximum memory speed the Sapphire A85XT would behave at was 2133 MHz. On this motherboard, I was able to run the same tests at 4.6 GHz, but with the memory set to 2400 MHz. That in itself is quite an accomplishment, considering the AMD Trinity APUs officially support only DDR3-1866 MHz memory.

Here are the 4.6 GHz APU/2400 MHz Memory test results.

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz SuperPI 1M

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz SuperPI 1M

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz WPrime 32M/1024M

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz WPrime 32M/1024M

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz Cinebench R10

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz Cinebench R10

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz Cinebench R11.5

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz Cinebench R11.5

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz AIDA64 Cache & Memory Benchmark

4.6 GHz/2400 MHz AIDA64 Cache & Memory Benchmark

Just like the Sapphire board, this one too maxed out at 4.8 GHz for the suicide run. I had to drop the memory speed to 2133 MHz in order to get to the desktop without blue screening out. Still, a great showing by the ASRock FM2A85X.

4.8 GHz SuperPi 1M

4.8 GHz SuperPi 1M

4.8 GHz WPrime 32M

4.8 GHz WPrime 32M

A quick note on overclocking the HD7660D graphics built into the A10-5800K. It seems that all four of the FM2 motherboards I’ve had my hands on so far overclock the GPU exactly the same. Just like the other three boards before this one, the GPU topped out at 1050 MHz from a stock speed of 800 MHz. No great surprise, but I thought it worth mentioning.

Conclusion

It’s nice to see the FM2 platform motherboards maturing, and the ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 is a testament to that process. Given the fact that this board will overclock (up to 4.6 GHz) with the memory set to 2400 MHz, it’s at the top of FM2 platform boards I have reviewed so far. Even at 4.8 GHz, the memory was still able to run at 2133 MHz, which matches the previous best obtained with the Sapphire A85XT. I love the fact that there are BIOS selectable memory speeds above 2133 MHz. This is the first FM2 board I have seen this feature on, and as I mentioned earlier…. It works!

The UEFI BIOS is laid out nicely, has a multitude of overclocking options, and has audio/visual enhancements. The more I worked with the BIOS, the more I came to like the special effects. Something new and different is always nice to see, especially if it’s not annoying!

So, lets talk price. Newegg has this motherboard listed for $107.99, which lands it about $12 less than the similarly equipped ASUS F2A85-V. The price is definitely right on target. You don’t get a boat load of accessories, but what you do get is more than adequate for getting a system together.

The ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 has proven to be a worthwhile contender for anyone looking to build a FM2 platform system. Great performance at a great price can only lead to one thing, right? Indeed, Overclockers approved!

Overclockers_clear_approved

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means

-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. Looks like a good and solid motherboard but i lean more towards Asus plus if you get the F2A85-V PRO FM2 AMD A85X you also receive a bonus Razer Kraken pro headset ! id say that's a sweet deal :)http://event.asus.com/au/2013/FM2/