Gigabyte F2A85XM-D3H Review
So have AMD finally brought themselves up to the level where they provide a good alternative to an Intel based system, and is the Gigabyte F2A85XM-D3H the motherboard to place at the foundation of the system?
The Trinity/D3H combination is much better than the AMD results of old. We're so used to seeing the AMD offerings continually disappoint that to find a setup that provides a genuine option for the budget conscious is, truth be told, a joy. We all grew up on AMD CPUs here at OC3D, and the lack of competition is bad for companies and consumers. However with the Trinity A8-5600K AMD are back. An £80 CPU that has the guts to perform nearly anything the average user will throw at it can't be sniffed at. Of course in pure benchmark terms the Intel options usually win out, but in use you'll barely notice the difference.
As for the D3H itself, it nicely follows the Z77 D3H by being a compact motherboard offering everything you can reasonably expect for £60. In fact the only area we'd like to see improved is the amount of USB connectors. Just with a Phone, iPod, Camera, headset, USB Stick etc you'll rapidly run out, but this is problem with nearly every motherboard around. Yes we'd have preferred to have horizontal SATA ports for cleanliness, and the lack of heat generated means a lack of good looking heatsinks, but it's £60, and everything is there that you can need. To complain that it's a bit plain looking and lacking any artistic flourishes would be churlish.
Two things are immediately clear from our gaming results. Firstly Unigine clearly stressed the graphical capabilities of your system far harder than the average game would. Benchmarks are always a dangerous guide to real-world performance. Secondly, the Trinity APU is very handy, giving over 30FPS in our games of choice. Finally, paying a little extra for the HD7770 brings solid 60FPS gaming at sensible resolutions and image quality settings.
Considering that you can buy the Gigabyte D3H and the AMD A8-5600K for £140, we think it's one of the best bargains at the moment. Adding a HD7770 transforms the gaming side, but that isn't to say that the AMD APU isn't good quality. It demolishes the Intel HD4000, and will happily chomp through Blu-Ray movies or your average Sims/Farmville/Football Manager games without missing a beat. Even the more demanding titles are playable with some judicious settings choices.
If you're in the market for a motherboard that has a small footprint, a very low power draw, and yet still has enough to handle the tasks of all but the most power-hungry gamer, then we can highly recommend the Gigabyte F2A85XM-D3H. It's a little rough around the edges, and very much a plug-and-play solution rather than a tweakers paradise, but it's still worthy of our OC3D Silver Award, and for that low price our Value For Money Award too.