For today’s visitor to the chopping block, we take a look at something a bit different from our normal review pieces. This BIOSTAR unit is a CPU/GPU/Motherboard all in one, also known as a “system-on-chip” setup. It comes fitted with an AMD A4-5000 Quad-Core APU and Radeon HD 8330 graphics in a mITX form factor, which makes for a very versatile board. The passive cooling system ensures silent operation, making it perfect for a HTPC or something similar. Who’s ready to take a look at the A68N-5000?
Table of Contents
Specifications and Features
Here’s a quick look at the specifications of the A68N-5000 as provided by BIOSTAR. As seen, the board uses a typical two DIMM and one PCIe slot arrangement for something of the mITX form factor.
AMD Fusion APU A4-5000 Quad-Core Processor
Support DDR3 / DDR3L 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
2 x DDR3 DIMM Memory Slot
Max. Supports up to 16GB Memory
1 x PCI-E x16 2.0 Slot (x4)
2 x SATA3 Connector
2 x USB 3.0 Port
2 x USB 2.0 Port
2 x USB 2.0 Header
Realtek RTL8111G – 10/100/1000 Controller
AMD Radeon™ HD8330 Graphics
On Board Graphic Max. Memory Share Up to 2GB
Realtek ALC662 6-Channel HD Audio
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
2 x USB 3.0 Port
2 x USB 2.0 Port
1 x HDMI Connector
1 x VGA Port
1 x RJ-45 Port
3 x Audio Connector
1 x Printer Header
2 x USB 2.0 Header
2 x SATA3 6Gb/s Connector
1 x Front Audio Header
1 x Front Panel Header
1 x S/PDIF-OUT Header
1 x CPU FAN Header
1 x System FAN Header
1 x Serial Header
CPU / System Temperature Monitoring
System Fan Monitoring
System Voltage Monitoring
Mini ITX Form Factor Dimension: 17cm x 17cm ( W x L )
Support Windows XP / 7 / 8 / 8.1
2 x SATA Cable
1 x I/O Shield
1 x DVD Driver
1 x Quick Guide
Windows 8 Ready
Supports Solid capacitor
Supports Charger Booster
Supports BIOS Online Update
The following table lists the high-level feature set of the A68N-5000. All images and descriptions provided by BIOSTAR.
AMD Fusion APU A4-5000 Quad-Core Processor
This motherboard supports integrated AMD Quad-Core Processor A4-5000 with AMD Radeon™ HD 8330 Graphics. This revolutionary APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) combines processing power and advanced DirectX 11.1 graphics in one small, energy-efficient design to enable accelerated performance and an industry-leading visual experience. It features single-channel DDR3 1333 memory support and accelerates data transfer rate up to 2.5GT/s.
Provides high quality sound with minimal loss of audio fidelity.
Direct3D 11.1 enables Direct3D 10 APIs and Direct3D 11 APIs to use one underlying rendering device. And it allows developers to achieve a high speed, fully conformant software rasterizer.
Integrated HDMI with HDCP
Onboard HDMI connector allows full video & audio support. It has industry-leading high definition video quality.
SmartSpeedLAN is a free software application which monitors and manages your PC’s network behavior. With user-friendly GUI, it allows you to select and prioritize different types of network traffic, including gaming, media streaming, communications or web surfing.You can also set any specific applications, choosing to prioritize or block accordingly. SmartSpeedLAN can feature automatic management options that use adaptive networking intelligence to ensure that you are getting the best online experience possible.
Charger booster is the best and efficient charger solution for apple devices such as iPad, iPhone. Basically, Charger booster Technology is able to boost the charging time to be more efficiency and faster once any apple goods connecting to our Motherboard. With charger booster technology, you are able to charge your apple devices up to 42 % faster.
SATA 6Gb/s High Efficiency of Data transfer rate
SATAIII 6Gbps provides a higher bandwidth to retrieve and transfer HD media. With this super speed data transfer, SATAIII allows an incredible data boost which is 2x faster than the SATA 3G.
Experience Fastest data transfers at 5 Gbps with USB 3.0–the new latest connectivity standard. Built to connect easily with next-generation components and peripherals, USB 3.0 transfers data 10X faster and backward compatible with previous USB 2.0 components.
It supports 2 or 4 DIMM Slots DDR3 memory that features data transfer rates of DDR3 1600/1333. The processor support 2 memory channels and setting the memory multiplier, allows selection of the channel speed. These clearly uplift the band width and boost the overall system performance.
With the popularity of PC usage and working environment has getting deteriorating and moist(such as rural, coastal). The PCB will be oxidizing easily by damp or absorbed moisture. And then ionic migration or CAF(Conductive Anodic Filament) will be generated. Moisture-proof PCB meets high density and high reliability requirements for moisture proofing.
Low RdsOn P-Pak MOS
Low resistance design can significantly reduce the current out of the energy loss. Low temperature, small size, excellent thermal conductivity.
X.D.C (eXtreme Durable Capacitors)
Biostar adopts low ESR and high ripple conductive solid state caps that provide sufficient, stable power supply to the CPU. The life span can also be more than 6.25 x of ordinary liquid caps.
ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) is the major factor to destroy PC by electrical overstress(EOS) condition, ESD occurred by PC users when touch any devices connect to PC, which may result in damage to motherboard or parts .ESD protection is designed to protect the motherboard and equipment from damage by EOS
On board dedicated power fuse to help prevent USB port failure. It prevents USB Port overcurrent and safegurand your system and device lifespan.
BIOS Virus Protection
When enabled, the BIOS will protect the boot sector and partition table by halting the system and flashing a warning message whether there’s an attempt to write to these areas.
OC / OV / OH Protection
All BIOSTAR special circuit design detects overvoltage conditions and prevents voltage surges from spreading in real time. It also actively cuts off the overvoltage supply to protect your system. Over current protection, avoid motherboard from damage when doing overclock or an unusual current import. Over heat protection, avoid motherboard & CPU from burning when exceeding the temperature limitation.
Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a brand new framework that provides a revolutionary interface. It is a modern clear and easy-to-use graphical user interface. The UEFI comes with a colorful easy-understand icons leads users into the setup layer directly.
Users can easily assemble their own computer, a simple-swap data discs and other accessories.
BIO-Remote2 Technology is featuring users a better Home Theater environment. Users who own either Android mobile or Apple goods are able to access and control your PC remotely; At this moment, you’re smart device became a intelligent and functional remote controller; more than that, BIO-Remote2 also includes both function of mouse pad and power point presentation mode.
Update BIOS effortlessly from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. BIO-Flasher is a convenient BIOS update tool. Just launch this tool and put the BIOS on USB pen driver before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS with only a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy disk or other complicated flash utility.
The retail packaging is simple and clean on the front, with a full feature set on the rear. Being an mITX form factor, BIOSTAR really packed some good information into a small space.
The A68N-5000 comes with a manual, two SATA cables, an I/O Plate, and the driver CD. Simple and effective. You don’t need many accessories to get a small system running.
The BIOSTAR A68N-5000
Taking our first look at the front of the board the first thing seen is the passive heatsink. Plenty of heat dissipation here for an APU that only sips down 15W at full-tilt. There are two full-size DDR3 DIMM slots which support up to 16 GB of DDR3-1600 memory. The board has headers for two fans, the front case panel, two USB 2.0 connections, an SPDIF output, and front audio ports. There are two SATA III ports available along with one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot running at x4. The Realtek chips control the Gigabit LAN (RTL8111G) and also control the 5.1 channel audio (ALC662 CODEC).
On the rear of the A68N-5000 there is a clear separation of the audio section from the rest of the motherboard. This is very nice to see, as this separation usually only comes on higher end motherboards.
A Closer Look
This view gets a better look at the headers around the passive heatsink, and of the heatsink itself. Couple this SOC system with a set of low profile DDR3L RAM for one of the thinnest form factors possible.
Here’s a look at the I/O ports of the A68N-5000. There are two PS/2 ports, one HDMI port, one VGA connection, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet jack, and three 3.5 mm audio plugs.
Here are some screenshots of the Main and Advanced sections of the UEFI BIOS. Here there are controls for enabling/disabling features such as the network stack and USB ports, or working with the power saving features.
And now for a look at the Chipset and Boot sections of the UEFI BIOS. Here there are options to enable/disable onboard audio and graphics, set your boot device order, and more.
Last, but not least, there are the Security, Performance, and Save & Exit sections. Here the options to set memory speed/timings/voltage, save BIOS profiles, and other miscellaneous settings can be found.
Test Setup and Benchmarks
Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking.
2x4GB G.SKILL Ares 1333MHz CL9 9-9-24-1T
AMD Radeon HD8330
Solid State Drive
256GB Samsung 840 Pro
EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2
Windows 7 x64 SP1
CPU Benchmarks – SuperPi, wPrime, and Cinebench
GPU Benchmarks – Unigine Heaven and 3DMark
Memory Benchmark – MaxxMEM
SATA Benchmark – ATTO
This section will be subjective about my usage of the motherboard during tests and other tasks. The system was actually surprisingly quick. There seems to be a general misconception about the system on chip setups that they’re slow, but this one really isn’t. Tasks like web browsing and HD video playback were always smooth. It pulled files off of my NAS just as quick as any other system in my repertoire.
If you’re looking for a nice, quiet system to use as an HTPC or for web browsing this is a great solution for you. Don’t expect anything miraculous from it and you’ll be quite happy with how it handles basic tasks. For a small form factor system, it has all you could ask for. Gigabit, four rear USB ports and two front USB headers, and 2x SATA ports are plenty for the uses listed above. Need a little more graphical oomph? Drop a GPU in the PCIe slot and you’ll be set. The PCIe slot could also be used for a wireless adapter, if the system won’t be near your networking equipment. Did I mention that the A68N-5000 is inexpensive? Yeah, it is. Only $70 at Newegg for a CPU, GPU, and Motherboard all in one box. Sounds like the perfect start to a budget computer to me. Simple, effective, inexpensive, and approved!
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