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HARDWARE

Full-ATX Motherboard ASUS A88X-Pro (Part 1)

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ASUS truly is the Borg of motherboards. So consistently good are its efforts, it usually feels like resistance is futile. Sure enough, one glance at our benchmark results and the shiny PCF Picard pate seems at risk of becoming the dull slaphead of locutus.

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ASUS Releases A88X Chipset Based FM2+

Don’t worry if you’ve no idea what we’re going on about. Just know this: the ASUS a88x-Pro delivers the numbers. Perhaps inevitably, it cranks out the highest CPU-core overclock of 4.5 GHz, and like all the other boards here, that number was achieved via little more than bumping up the CPU-multiplier setting and letting the auto settings handle the rest. With some hand-tuning, it’s likely that an even bigger frequency boost would be possible.

The really impressive bit is the A88X-Pro’s sheer speed with the Kaveri integrated GPU overclocked. It’s roughly five per cent faster than every other mobo. Quite how it pulls that off isn’t clear – all the boards were given the same circa-1,020 MHz GPU core and 2,400 MHz memory speeds – but the results are clear.

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All ASUS A88X Chipset based motherboards would offer
GPU boost with non-Black Edition AMD APUs.

Elsewhere, admittedly, it is beaten on occasion. The Gigabyte F2A88XN-WIFI gives the best sequential storage performance numbers, for instance, and the A88X-Pro is only mid-table when it comes to cinebench and video-encode performance. But frankly, the results by those metrics are so close that they’re probably within the margin of error. You are never, ever going to notice the difference in practice.

The Asus Advantage

On top of all this you get all the usual ASUS refinements. The BIOS menu is probably the best in the business, for instance, and the directKey button on the board will get you into the bios without the need to hammer the [delete] key into oblivion.

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This golden motherboard is jam packed with different useful features

Then there are the specific advantages of the ASUS A88X-Pro. Most notable are the triple PCI express 16-lane slots. Electrically, you can have dual 8x and one 4x slot, and therefore triple-way GPU rendering. Overkill for a board that’s only compatible with APUS? Possibly, but the ASUS A88X-Pro undeniably gives you the most graphics options.

It also ups the ante when it comes to USB 3.0. along with the four ports supported natively by the AMD A88X chipset (two on the back panel, two mid-board), ASUS has added an ASMedia USB 3.0 to provide an extra pair of USB sockets at the rear. Nice.

Then there’s the full complement of DVI, HDMI, displayport and VGA outputs for the integrated GPU, plus a pair of eSATA sockets on the back panel. You also get proper heat-pipe cooling for the PCH chip and the MOSFETs. We could go on, but by now you’re probably getting the idea. The ASUS A88X-Pro beats all comers for features.

Of course, nothing icomes for free, resulting in the steepest price tag of any board here, but it’s really not that much more expensive than the rest. Ignoring the freakishly cheap and frankly fairly bare bones Gigabyte F2A88XM-DS2, it’s only $26.6 pricier than the most affordable of the fuller-featured options, which brings us to the bizarre conclusion that the most expensive board here also offers one of the best value propositions.

 

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