Gigabyte’s A88X FM2+ Motherboards Detailed
As the release of AMD’s Kaveri architecture draws nearer, motherboard manufacturers will gradually be releasing their supporting products. Based on the new FM2+ socket, these boards will not only support upcoming AMD APUs based on the Steamroller core architecture but will also be compatible with FM2 Trinity and Richland processors. Unfortunately, Llano users and their FM1 platform will be left behind.
While we can’t discuss details about AMD’s Kaveri just yet (yes it is still on track to launch this year), the upcoming motherboards will initially be broken down into two separate product categories: A85 and A88X. Naturally, A85 boards will target entry level consumers and system builders who want value above all else. A88X meanwhile will be the performance oriented SKU much like this generation’s A85 (also known as Hudson D4) but with a few changes. First and foremost it will add support for PCI-E 3.0 alongside compatibility with DX11.1 and feature the output options necessary for full 4K displays via HDMI and DisplayPort.
Gigabyte seems to be the first out of the gate with two separate but related A88X announcements, the first of which is their new G1.Sniper A88X.
The G1.Sniper series has always targeted gamers who want a simple, compact, plug and play motherboard with high end features like enhanced onboard audio. In this respect, the A88X G1.Sniper delivers on a number of fronts without being overly expensive.
With support for dual graphics cards, an excellent layout and more connectivity options than most gamers will possibly use, this G1.Sniper finds itself well positioned but like its predecessors, the audio category is where it excels.
Gigabyte’s premier feature on these boards is called USB DAC-UP which is essentially a gold plated USB 2.0 port that has been purpose-built to interface with a Digital to Analog converter. It utilizes an isolated power source, minimizing the amount of power fluctuations which negatively impact the performance of most DACs.
If an external DAC is beyond your budget or is considered overkill, Gigabyte still has you covered since the A88X G1.Sniper features a high end onboard audio solution. Based around Realtek’s ALC898 audio processor, it features an upgradeable onboard OP-AMP to expand the board’s audio capabilities and soundstage, an anti noise guard that shields the audio system from PCB-level ESD interference, and gold plated analog connectors for clearer signal transfer.
Backing all of this up is a set of Nichicon MUSE ES Pro Audio capacitors for every channel and unique Gain Boost switches. These switches can be used to switch between 2.5x and 6x amplification modes, potentially having a drastic impact upon the audio quality pushed towards high end headphones and speaker setups.
All in all, the A88X G1.Sniper is looks like a great motherboard that will capitalize upon Kaveri’s intrinsic capabilities. For HTPC users and gamers who want a simple plug-and-play solution, it should certainly be appealing.
While the G1.Sniper is slated to be Gigabyte’s flagship FM2+ board, for everyone else, the upcoming F2A88X-UP4 will likely provide a suitably stable experience without high end audio features and at a much lower price. It features a UEFI BIOS, Crossfire support, compatibility with triple displays and an all-digital power delivery system.
For the time being, we can’t discuss much more about these two boards or their spin-offs but as the Kaveri launch approaches, expect additional details.
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