A88X pro review: ASUS A88X-Pro Review: Kaveri, Kaveri, Quite Contrary

Asus A88X-PRO review | Expert Reviews

A fantastic FM2+ motherboard that’s highly adaptable and easy to use, but it’s very expensive


FM2+, ATX, AMD A88X chipset, supports: AMD A-Series, Athlon

The Asus A88X-PRO is an ATX FM2+ motherboard that supports AMD’s latest Kaveri APUs. As its name implies, it uses AMD’s latest A88X chipset, but it’s also backwards compatible with older Trinity and Richland-based processors, so you don’t need to necessarily buy a new processor straight away if you’re thinking about upgrading your motherboard.

As a full-sized board, there’s plenty of room for expansion as the A88X-PRO comes with three PCI-E x16 slots. The first runs at full bandwidth and conforms to the faster PCI Express 3.0 standard, and should be the slot of choice for a single graphics card. The second also runs at full bandwidth, conforming to the PCI Express 2.0 standard, but both slots will decrease to x8 if you decide to use CrossFireX for two graphics cards. The other PCI-E x16 runs at x4. There are also two legacy PCI slots for older cards and two PCI-E x1 slots, but one of the x1 slots will become obscured if you install a graphics card.

It’s unlikely you’ll need to install any USB3 cards, as there’s a full array of ports on the rear panel. With four USB3 ports and two USB2 ports on the backplate and one USB3 and four USB2 headers on the front, there’s potential for a total of 16 USB ports depending on the layout of your PC case. There are also four graphics outputs, including HDMI and DisplayPort outputs which can support a huge resolution of 4,096×2,160, as well as a legacy PS/2 port, two eSATA connections, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an optical S/PDIF output with 5x analogue audio jacks for 7.1 surround sound.

We were also pleased to see the A88X-PRO has six SATA3 ports for your hard disks and SSDs, as well as four DDR3 DIMM memory slots that can support up to a maximum of 64GB of RAM at a maximum speed of 2,400MHz when overclocked.

Even better, the A88X-PRO comes with several useful extras that make it easier to use. Our favourite is the bundled Q-Connector kit. You plug your case’s cables (power button, reset, etc.) into the Q-Connector, and this into your motherboard’s front-panel header. There’s also a DirectKey which gives you immediate access to the BIOS when your PC is in standby and a small LED number display to help with troubleshooting.

The A88X-PRO’s performance didn’t disappoint either, as our AMD A10-7850K processor and 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM scored 72 overall in our benchmark tests, which is what we’d expect to see. Its UEFI BIOS is very easy to use if you want to overclock, too.

The Asus A88X-PRO is a great FM2+ motherboard with all of the features that you could possibly need. Its problem is that it’s very expensive and in short supply in the UK at the time of writing. The Asus A88XM-PLUS is our award winner for FM2+ at present, or if your budget’s tight, the Gigabyte G1 Sniper A88X is a good choice too.

Basic Specifications
Rating *****
Processor socket FM2+
Form factor ATX
Size 244x305mm
Processor support AMD A-Series, Athlon
Processor external bus 100MHz
Chipset north bridge AMD A88X
Chipset south bridge A88X
Passively-cooled north bridge yes
Integrated graphics No
Supported memory type DDR3
Maximum memory speed PC3-19200
Memory slots 4
Maximum memory 64GB
Dual-channel support yes
Buying Information
Price £136
Supplier http://www.overstock.com
Details www. asus.com
Internal Ports
Power connectors 1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots 3
Dual graphics architecture 3-way CrossFireX
PCI-E x4 slots 0
PCI-E x1 slots 1
PCI slots 2
Fan headers 5
Floppy ports 0
IDE ports 0
Serial ATA ports 0
RAID chipset (max disks) AMD A88X (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD)
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports) Realtek ALC1150 (optical S/PDIF, 5x analogue)
USB2 ports / headers 6/5
Firewire ports / headers 0/0
Legacy ports PS/2
Other ports 2x eSATA, VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort
Cables included 4x SATA
Brackets included none
Software included N/A
Setup and Overclocking
Voltage adjustment CPU/RAM
CPU clock max adjustment 6,300MHz

ASUS A88X-PRO (FM2+) Motherboard Review | Page 3 of 15

Ryan Martin / 9 years ago

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1. Introduction2. Packaging And Accessories3. A Closer Look4. BIOS5. Test System And Methodology6. Audio Benchmark7. CPU Benchmarks8. 3D Benchmarks9. Memory Benchmarks10. System Benchmark11. Storage Benchmark12. USB 3.0 Benchmark13. Power Consumption14. Overclocking15. Final Thoughts16. View All Pages

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A Closer Look

Although I am not the biggest fan of the golden colour scheme ASUS have started using since the start of this year, I think this motherboard looks pretty “swish” by anyone’s standards.

The CPU socket area houses a 6+2 phase VRM and two connected heatsinks joined with a nickel plated copper heat pipe.

The CPU 8 pin EPS connector is nestled behind the main heatsink at the top of the motherboard.

An EPU switch is located where you’d normally expect to find the CPU fan headers. Those have been moved further down the board.

The side of the board has a USB 3. 0 header and a BIOS Flashback button if you need to update your BIOS via a USB. Of course the BIOS Flashback essentially means a dual BIOS isn’t needed because you can recover your BIOS with that button.

The A88X chipset has a small gold heatsink for cooling. There are also six SATA III ports. The chipset actually provides 8 but the other two have been re-routed to the rear I/O as eSATA.

At the bottom you can see the DirectKey button, the BIOS chip, four USB 2.0 headers, front panel connectors, a chassis fan header and a TPU LED.

Along the left side there’s front panel audio, another fan header, a COM port and a debug LED.

In terms of PCIe connectivity there are three PCIe 16X slots (16X/8X/4X at Gen 3/3/2 speeds), two PCIe 1X slots (both Gen 2) and two Legacy PCI.

The CMOS battery is tucked in between the heat pipe and PCIe lanes.

The rear I/O offers up:

  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x D-Sub
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
  • 4 x USB 3. 0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
  • 5 x Audio jack(s)

« Previous Page

1. Introduction2. Packaging And Accessories3. A Closer Look4. BIOS5. Test System And Methodology6. Audio Benchmark7. CPU Benchmarks8. 3D Benchmarks9. Memory Benchmarks10. System Benchmark11. Storage Benchmark12. USB 3.0 Benchmark13. Power Consumption14. Overclocking15. Final Thoughts16. View All Pages

Next Page »

Topics: A88X, AMD, apu, asus, FM2, Kaveri, Motherboards, review, Richland, Trinity, UEFI

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Overview of motherboard ASUS A88X-PRO

AMD is actively developing a line of hybrid processors that combine computing units with a powerful integrated video core. In many cases, APUs allow you to do without a discrete graphics card, while not feeling any restrictions in terms of supporting advanced technologies. The Socket FM2+ platform ranges from the most affordable motherboards to mid-range and premium products. Today we will look at one of the most equipped models for AMD APUs — ASUS A88X-PRO .

The motherboard is based on the older chipset intended for devices with Socket FM2+ — AMD A88X. The microcircuit has good functionality. The chipset supports up to 8 SATA 6 Gb/s ports, 4 USB 3.0 high-speed bus ports, and, unlike the junior solutions of the series, it allows splitting PCI Express processor lanes in equal proportions – x8+x8.


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ASUS A88X-PRO is made on black PCB. The elements of the cooling system are golden in color, some of the connectors are made in yellow, the other in dark brown. The board has classic dimensions for ATX form factor models — 305×244 mm.

The model is ready to take on board any processors with FM2/FM2+ socket. The processor power regulator has an 8-phase circuit (6+2). The lines are controlled by a discrete DIGI+ VRM controller. Power elements are cooled by fairly large radiators, which also have a complex profile shape to increase the dissipation area.

One of the MOSFET coolers is connected via a heat pipe to a heatsink attached to the chipset. Such «pipelines» are an exception for boards of this level. Here, the manufacturer considered it possible to use the potential resource of all passive coolers on the board for efficient heat removal, primarily from power elements. An 8-pin connector is provided for connecting additional power.

Four DIMM slots expand the total RAM up to 64 GB. At the same time, the board supports brackets up to DDR3-2400. Connectors for modules use double-sided fixation, but even an installed long video card will not interfere with the installation / removal of brackets — the layout of the board allows.

ASUS A88X-PRO has seven interface slots to expand its functionality. Three PCI Express x16, two compact PCI Express x1 and the same number of PCI are installed on the PCB. The first full-length connector will work in x16 mode if the system uses one video card. In addition, if a Kaveri family processor is used, the slot bandwidth will be PCI-E 3. 0 compliant. If there are two video cards operating in CrossFire mode, the first and second PCI Express x16 slots will work in x8+x8 mode. Curiously, the board allows you to use even three video cards in a 3-Way CrossFireX bundle. The third full-length slot always works in x4 mode and is nominally ready to accept another graphics adapter. Of course, such a configuration within the framework of the Socket FM2+ platform is unlikely to be really in demand, but the very fact of such a possibility is noteworthy. The SLI mode is not available for the board, but this is no longer a nuance of a particular model, but a technology licensing policy. Unfortunately, it is still impossible to use two video cards with NVIDIA chips on the Socket FM2+ platform.

Expansion slots are arranged in such a way that problems with installing overall processor cooling systems should not arise. The first position is occupied by PCI-E x1, so there is enough room for a wide heatsink.

The board provides ample opportunities for organizing the cooling system. The PCB has five four-pin connectors for connecting fans. The CPU fan connector is moved closer to the central part of the board, where it is adjacent to one of the case propeller connectors.

Although Socket FM2+ is generally not a platform that enthusiasts are particularly interested in, ASUS A88X-PRO has a number of features typical of models for fairly demanding users. For example, the board is equipped with a Q-Code segment indicator, which reflects the board’s self-diagnosis process during boot, allowing you to determine possible problems in the system operation by the code.

Also equipped with MemOK! By pressing one button, you can try to set up a new memory kit for the same working wave with the motherboard. There is also a DRAM LED next to the key, which lights up red if there is a problem with the memory. By the Q-Code code, it will also certainly be possible to identify it, but such an express method allows, on occasion, to save a little time.

The A88X-PRO also has a separate DirectKey button to ensure that the UEFI shell starts up the next time the system is rebooted. The board is also equipped with BIOS Flashback technology, which allows you to flash the BIOS from a USB drive without first booting the system. In order to fully anticipate the most unforeseen situations, the microcircuit with the firmware is installed in a removable panel, and not soldered directly on the printed circuit board.

The PCB also has a TPU toggle switch to enable auto overclocking and an EPU to enable power saving mechanisms.

There is no separate key for clearing the CMOS memory, for these purposes you will have to use the jumper, which is located at the bottom edge of the board, next to the panel for connecting case buttons and indicators. In general, it is worth noting the dense development of this zone. A large green LED, which reflects the standby power supply with a muted glow, is a constant companion of many ASUS boards. I was pleased with the presence of four internal USB connectors, with which you can get up to 8 additional USB 2.0 ports. Framed in a plastic panel at the edge of the board, there is also a COM port. For some, a rudiment from a past era, and for some, the ability to connect specific peripherals, a programmer, etc. In general, it certainly does not interfere. The edge also has one of the connectors for connecting a fan, as well as a panel for outputting audio ports to the front panel. The board also has a platform where, judging by the inscription, there could be a connector for the TPM module, but in this case it is not soldered.

There are practically no surface mount elements on the back of the PCB. Single components are located in the area of ​​the chipset and VRM elements. Note that the radiators of the power elements and the chipset are fixed with screws.

Six SATA 6 Gb/s ports are provided to create a disk subsystem. All connectors are oriented parallel to the PCB plane. Despite the fact that the connectors are located opposite the PCI Express x16 slot, a long video card will not block access to these connectors. The controller allows you to organize RAID levels 0, 1, 5 or 10.

AMD A88X supports up to 8 SATA ports, so the manufacturer decided to make full use of the chipset’s functionality. Two interface channels are allocated for the needs of the eSATA ports located on the interface panel. In our opinion, it would be more rational to allow the user to independently determine how to manage resources by offering 8 internal ports, two of which could be deactivated when using eSATA devices. Drives with this external interface are no longer commercially available, so the owner of the system is more likely to need regular SATA ports.

The AMD A88X chipset supports 4 USB 3.0 ports. The manufacturer has increased the number of available interface lines by using an additional ASMedia ASM1042A controller. As a result, there are 4 connectors on the interface panel (two chipset connectors and two from ASMedia), another internal connector for outputting a USB 3.0 pair to the case wall is located next to the ATX power connector.

Gigabit Realtek 8111GR is used as Ethernet network controller. This is quite predictable, but what was a pleasant surprise was the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, which is often used on higher-end motherboards. However, ASUS A88X-PRO for Socket FM2+ is a top-end solution, so the use of such a codec is generally natural, although no less pleasant.

The interface panel of the board is well equipped. It houses a combo PS / 2, two USB 2.0 ports, four high-speed USB 3.0, an Ethernet socket and a pair of eSATA. The board received a full set of video outputs: DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort and VGA. At the same time, DisplayPort supports modes up to 4096 × 2160, when using Kaveri processors, the same resolution is available for HDMI (24 Hz). The advantage of boards for the Socket FM2+ platform can also be considered the use of DVI Dual-Link, which allows you to connect screens with a resolution of up to 2560×1600. Video in 4K mode will be available even when using integrated graphics. The point is small — to get a screen with the appropriate resolution.

To connect a speaker system, there is a block with five 3.5 mm audio jacks, as well as a digital optical S/PDIF.


  • 1 Employment
  • 2 UEFI and software
  • 3 Results
    • 3.1 Provided testing device for ASUS, www.asus.ua


    ACTION OF THE COMPLE OF THE COMPLE OF THE ACTION OF THE PLANS with software, 4 SATA interface cables, a plug on the back of the case and a Q-Panel for convenient connection of control buttons and indicators.

    UEFI and Software

    The board’s UEFI shell has received many positive reviews from us. Indeed, it is well structured and easy to use. There is no excessive crowding and congestion of sections with various parameters. The shell is visually pleasing and overall a good example to follow.

    The list of available options for tuning is of course inferior to the overclocker models for LGA1150, but the set provided cannot be called too limited, rather, a reasonable balance is struck here.

    The processor supply voltage can be adjusted in the range of 0.8-1.9V, memory — 1.35-2.135V.

    While testing the board, we used the top-of-the-line APU of the new generation, the A10-7850K. The margin for overclocking Kaveri chips is not too large. Traditionally, a lot depends on a particular processor instance, but the typical frequencies that can be obtained from 28-nanometer APUs lie in the range of 4.3-4.5 GHz. The processor we tested ran at 4.3 GHz after increasing the supply voltage to 1.45 V.

    The DDR3-2133 memory kit worked in DDR3-2400 mode without much difficulty.

    The increased RAM frequency is highly desirable if you are using integrated graphics. It is the memory bandwidth that is the limiter for unlocking the potential of the integrated GPU.

    To configure settings from the operating system, the manufacturer suggests using the AI ​​Suite III application. You can optimize platform parameters using the Dual Intelligent Processors 4 tool. After activating 4-Way Optimization, using TPU chips, EPU, Digi + controller and available fans, the appropriate system operation mode is selected for given conditions.

    Do not rely on automation by setting up a number of PC settings yourself. Let’s note the possibilities of Fan Xpert 2, which allows for all connected fans to correct the operation algorithm or set a constant value of rotation speed within the available range.

    Other options for system management are available within AI Suite III. In particular, changes in the multiplier, bus frequency, supply voltages, parameters of the power unit. Here you can also activate the accelerated charging mode for portable devices via USB, etc.

    Returning to the hardware platform, let’s note the efficient operation of the cooling system. The design with overall complex-shaped radiators and a heat pipe gives its results. When the overclocked processor was loaded, the temperature of the radiator on the power elements increased to 54 C, while the cooler on the chipset, which sorted out part of the heat from the VRM elements, warmed up to 48 C.


    manufacturer’s boards for the Socket FM2+ platform. The model is based on the top AMD A88X chipset and has a fairly wide functionality. One of the best-equipped models for AMD APUs can be used both as an all-in-one system and as the basis for a reasonably capable multi-GPU gaming PC. Given the set of additional options, the cost of the board is quite justified.


    + Good equipment and good layout

    + Powerful power unit

    + Efficient cooling system for VRM elements and chipset

    + Convenient UEFI Shell

    + Ability to use two or even three video cards (2-Way/3-Way CrossFireX)

    + Presence of POST indicator, MemOK, BIOS Flashback

    + Video output range

    + Realtek ALC1150 audio codec


    — 6 SATA channels

    — Location of the CPU_FAN connector

    Test device provided by ASUS, www.asus.ua

    AMD A88X chipset, good equipment and good layout, powerful power unit,
    efficient cooling system, 2-Way/3-Way CrossFireX support, useful shaped technologies

    «Total» six SATA ports, CPU_FAN 9 connector placement0003

    One of the most functional and well-equipped motherboards for the Socket FM2+ platform


    Review of ASUS A88X-PLUS motherboard based on AMD A88X chipset / Motherboards

    Mid-range ASUS motherboards rarely get into our test lab, but they are no less interesting than top products. The reason for this is a wide range of proprietary technologies that are used in boards of any price range. The ASUS A88X-PLUS model is no exception, besides, it is very attractive with a full-size form factor, two PCI Express x16 slots and, most importantly, a retail price that did not exceed $100 in the spring of 2014.

    At the moment, the number of FM2+ processors is quite limited, and their price is somewhat high. At the same time, the user receives wholesale weak x86 cores and a fairly powerful and functional integrated graphics adapter, which is not far behind the discrete Radeon R7 250 card in speed. This is quite enough for simple games. If you want more, you can start by slightly increasing the speed by installing faster (but expensive) RAM. If that wasn’t enough, you can get a mid-range AMD discrete card and use Dual Graphics technology. And if this did not help, then replace all this with a powerful discrete card, but its performance can already rest against the capabilities of the processor.

    In general, the AMD Socket FM2+ platform is now more of interest to those who are not ready to spend money on a discrete video adapter, but still want to get a system with decent expandability and a decent graphics subsystem. The ASUS A88X-PLUS board is perfect for building a system with such a set of requirements.

    ⇡#Specification ASUS A88X-PLUS

    Processor Socket FM2+
    System logic AMD A88X chipset
    Four 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM DIMM slots
    DDR3 1333/1600/1866/2133/2200*/2250*/2400* supported
    Dual-channel memory access possible
    AMP (AMD Memory Profile) supported
    Maximum memory 64 GB
    Power LED
    Extension options Two PCI Express x16 slots
    Support for AMD CrossFireX* technology
    Support for AMD Dual Graphics technology
    Three 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots
    Two PCI Express x1 slots
    Ten USB 2. 0 ports (four built-in, six optional)
    Four USB 3.0 ports (two built-in, two optional)
    High Definition Audio Audio 7.1
    Gigabit Ethernet network controller
    Eight SerialATA 6 Gb/s channels (A88X, with RAID support)
    One serial port (COM), port for PS/2 keyboard or mouse
    Overclocking options Changing the HTT frequency from 90 to 300 MHz in 1 MHz steps
    Changing the CPU, CPU-NB multipliers
    Changing the voltage on the processor, memory, CPU-NB and chipset
    ASUS TurboV EVO utility
    ASUS GPU Boost technology
    Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) ASUS EFI BIOS Shell
    64 Mbit Flash ROM
    AMI BIOS with Enhanced ACPI, DMI, Green, PnP Features
    ASUS EZ Flash Technology 2
    ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 technology
    ASUS MyLogo 2 technology
    ASUS USB 3.0 Boost support
    ASUS OC Profile support
    Multi-languages ​​BIOS
    Miscellaneous MemOK Button
    STR (Suspend to RAM)
    S/P-DIF Out
    Power management Wake on modem, mouse, keyboard, network, timer, and USB
    Primary 24-pin ATX power connector
    Auxiliary 4-pin power connector
    Monitoring CPU and system temperature monitor, voltage monitor, all fan speed monitor (3)
    ASUS Q-Fan Technology
    Size ATX form factor, 305×226 mm (12×8. 9 in.)

    The box with ASUS A88X-PLUS looks like this:

    The box contains the following:

    • motherboard;
    • user manual in English, short description;
    • DVD with software and drivers;
    • two SerialATA cables;
    • plug on the back of the case.

    The buyer of this board receives a very meager bundle, which does not include the already familiar set of Q-connectors for connecting buttons and indicators on the case to the board. On the one hand, this is a mere trifle, but on the other hand, it is a clear sign of total savings. Nevertheless, all ASUS steps aimed at reducing the cost had a positive effect on the retail price: as we have already said, in the spring of 2014 the board was sold for less than $100.

    The DVD contains a complete set of ASUS drivers and proprietary utilities. Moreover, all software has a familiar interface for installation.

    The installation interface of the AI ​​Suite 3 multifunctional utility has been redesigned, and the utility itself has a slightly reduced set of features.

    ⇡#ASUS A88X-PLUS board

    The presence of two PCI Express x16 slots on the board gives it a little more solidity, although both ASUS and buyers are unlikely to count on using both slots. From the manufacturer’s point of view, installing a second PEG slot instead of an x1 slot is practically free, and the buyer is always ready to pay a couple of dollars more when it comes to a mid-range board.

    Also note that the main PEG slot complies with the PCI Express v3.0 specification and has 16 bus lanes allocated to it. At the same time, only 4 bus lines of the v2.0 specification are allocated to the second PEG slot. In addition, the board has two PCI Express x1 slots and three PCI slots.

    PCB design is quite builder friendly and has no issues with video card blocking DIMM slots or inconvenient power cable connections. In particular, the main 24-pin connector is installed on the bottom edge of the board, and the additional 4-pin connector is on the right edge. The last connector also hints that the use of two powerful video cards on this motherboard is unlikely. We also note that on the official website of ASUS there is a mention of support for AMD CrossFireX technology, while there is no such information in the user manual and on the box.

    If we look at the cooling system, then we will see all the signs of a mid-range motherboard: a standard chipset heatsink, a modest heatsink on the power converter elements (the elements used are of fairly high quality) and only three fan connectors (all 4 -contact).

    The board has four 240-pin DIMM slots for DDR3 memory modules. They are divided into two groups of two slots with alternating colors. To enable dual-channel mode, you need to install modules in slots of the same color.

    Note that the board supports DDR3-1333/1600/1866/2133 memory (up to 2400 when overclocked), and the maximum memory capacity is 64 GB. And as soon as voltage is applied to the board, the green LED located in its upper left corner lights up.

    ⇡#Expansion options

    Thanks to the A88X chipset, the ASUS A88X-PLUS board supports eight SerialATA 6 Gb/s channels. All ports are colored yellow and located in the lower left corner of the board. In this case, two ports are oriented parallel to the plane of the board, and the remaining six — in the traditional way.

    The board has 10 USB 2.0 ports: four are located on the rear panel, and the rest are connected using brackets (not included in the kit). The board also supports four USB 3.0 ports: two are brought to the rear panel of the board, and two more are connected using a bracket (not included).

    ASUS A88X-PLUS board supports eight-channel audio, and ALC887 chip is used as a codec.

    The board also has a Realtek 8111G (Gigabit Ethernet) network controller connected to the PCI Express (x1) bus, and the corresponding connector (RJ-45) is routed to the rear panel.

    The rear panel looks like this:

    This configuration is almost standard for a midrange board. It includes three video outputs (HDMI, VGA and DVI), as well as large gaps between the port blocks. Among other things, the board supports one COM port, but it is implemented using a bracket (not included).