|MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Sunday, 11 September 2011|
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MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Motherboard Review
Manufacturer: Micro-Star International Co., LTD.
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by MSI.
The Lynx platform, otherwise known as Llano for desktop, is out in full force now. The new chipset offers something of an alternative to low-end Sandy Bridge systems with comparable CPU power and extremely heightened GPU power. These APUs don't themselves a system make, however, and all the usual manufacturers have been providing a plethora of motherboards in which to place your new Lynx APU. In this article Benchmark Reviews is taking a look at the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard. The MSI A75MA-G55 sports the new FM1 socket which takes Llano APUs. Currently the two available are the A8-3850 and the A6-3650, which come ready to rock with Radeon HD discrete level graphics. We have already seen the performance of the AMD A8-3850 APU, now let's look at the MSI design for the A75 chipset and how they differ from the competition.
The A55 and A75 chipsets that use the FM1 socket and are powered by the Llano APUs are the culmination of five years of work at AMD since their acquisition of ATI. The idea was to build a processor capable of handling CPU functions and GPU functions. And, just for kicks, they threw the northbridge on the die too. Well, Intel's Sandy Bridge beat AMD to the punch back in January 2011, but that didn't end things. AMD released the Llano chips for netbooks and notebooks early in 2011 and finally launched Llano for desktop in June 2011. The main difference between the Intel Sandy Bridge processors and the AMD Lynx APUs is that AMD uses ATI Radeon HD graphics as the on-die GPU. This brings up the level of graphics far above what Intel offers in the Sandy Bridge.
The Sandy Bridge processors, however, reach far ahead of the Lynx APUs, if you are willing to spend the money. The A8-3850 that we reviewed performed on par, and usually somewhat better, than the Core i3-2100 that we tested it against. But the A8-3850 is, so far, the top of the line of Lynx APUs. The Core i3-2100 is near the bottom of Intel's line-up. AMD hasn't given up on higher level performance, though. Just before the Llano for desktop release, they released the 990FX chipset, an upgrade from the 890-series. This release continues on AMD's mid- to high-end offerings and will be compatible with the new Bulldozer CPUs as well as the older Phenom-II and Athlon-II CPUs.
The Lynx platform comes in two flavors, the A55 chipset and the A75 chipset. While manufacturers have released some A55 motherboards, I wouldn't expect them to be too common. The A75 motherboards are already coming in at extremely affordable prices and the features they offer over the A55 alternative are well worth the extra couple bucks. The A55 chipset doesn't offer support for USB 3.0 or SATA 6Gb/s.
The AMD Lynx APUs offer somewhat more that just superior graphics performance in comparison to similarly priced Intel processors. They also offer support for newer technologies that Intel left out. For one, the A75 chipset brings native USB 3.0 support to the table. The Radeon HD Graphics on the APUs support DirectX 11 as well. On top of that, AMD offers the ability to pair a discrete graphics card with the on-die graphics in a hybrid CrossfireX configuration for even better graphics. Of course, to use all of this new technology, you need a motherboard to put the APU in. That is why we are taking a look at the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard. We've seen the ASUS F1A75-M Pro and what it has to offer. Let's see what MSI does differently and how that affects the performance and price of your potential new Lynx system.