If you’ve read our AMD A8-3850 review you'll already know that is a competent performer that’s well suited to form the basis of a budget PC. The processor is only half of the equation, though, as you’ll need a decent motherboard in which to install your APU; this is of particular importance if you want to dabble with overclocking.
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Considering that an APU is well suited to a less extravagant build, it’s good to see affordable FM1 motherboards such as the MSI A75MA-G55. At only £72, the A75 is well priced and means you could put an FM1 based system together for very little.
Understandably, you don’t get an awful lot of board for this price, and the G55 lacks many of the features that readers of bit-tech are accustomed to seeing on motherboards, such as on-board power and reset switches, or a CMOS clear button.
However, as AMD’s current lineup of APUs are less focused on the enthusiast market, the lack of these features on an FM1 motherboard is understandable.
Of greater importance is the fact that the board sports four USB 3 ports (two on the back panel and two via an on-board header) and six SATA 6Gbps ports, care of the AMD A75 chipset. Four of these ports are conveniently aligned parallel to the board too.
We’re also happy to see that despite the board’s budget leanings MSI has still had the good sense to kit it out with its excellent Military Class II VRM circuitry. The name and branding that surrounds this feature may all be a little bit too macho but the benefits of the technology are evident, as the VRMs of MSI boards with this feature run cooler than their competitors. This could be of significant benefit when you consider that this kind of board is likely to end up in either a cramped media PC case or a cheap desktop case with few fans.
The layout of the board is generally good, especially when you consider that it conforms to the micro-ATX form factor. The RAM sockets are a good distance from the CPU socket, and both the 24-pin ATX socket and the 4-pin ATX12V power socket are located at the edge of the board.
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Chipset AMD A75
CPU support FM1 A-series APUs
Memory support 4 slots: max 32GB DDR3 (1,866MHz)
Expansion slots Two 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots (one 16x, one 4x), one PCI, one 1x PCI-E
Sound 8-channel HD Audio via Realtek ALC887
Networking Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Ethernet
Overclocking CPU Clock 90 – 131MHz; max voltages, CPU 2.4V, CPU-NB 1.5V, RAM 2.2V
Ports 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 1 x PS/2, 8 x USB 2, 4 x USB 3, LAN, 4 x surround audio out, line in, mic, DVI, HDMI