ASRock A75M-ITX (AMD A75) Motherboard Review

ASRock release an A75 based board that comes in nice and small. Let's check it out and see how it goes.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Sep 14 2011 9:16 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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I'm not too sure why I'm such a fan of the mITX platform, there's just something about being able to have that much power in a board that small which makes the whole platform really interesting. For that reason, when I saw the press release go out on the ASRock A75M-ITX, the first thing I thought was; I must have!

A few weeks later and the board had arrived in my hot little hands and it was time to see just what the board was capable of. As the name suggests, the board is of course a part of the A75 chipset which means it's part of the Fusion line-up from AMD.

While the initial Fusion product, Brazos was seen with a lot of mITX offerings, we always said that a bit more power would be appreciated. In steps the Llano platform; the problem with that was initially we didn't see any mITX boards that could carry the new crop of APUs from AMD. That's changed today, though, as we look at the A75M-ITX.

Before we look at the performance side of things, the first thing we need to do is check out the package to see what ASRock is offering us. Then we'll take a closer look at the motherboard before we get into the BIOS to see what's going on there. Once that's done, we'll look at our testbed before we also check out the overclocking capabilities of the board and of course the performance it's able to offer against another mITX board we've looked at recently.

The Package

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Looking at the box, we've got a fairly typical setup from ASRock going on with the back of it giving us a good run down on not only the board itself, but all the features that are on offer from the ASRock which helps it stand out from the competition.

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Inside the package itself we haven't got heaps going on with just all the regular items being seen, including a Quick Install Guide, Driver CD, I/O plate, 3.5mm AUX cable which we see in most ASRock boards along with a pair of SATA cables.

It's not a huge bundle, but it's not a huge board. We don't expect to get much with it and really, we've got everything we need to get up and running.

The Motherboard

Having a look at the board, you can really see everything from just a single photo due to the small size of it. With that said, though, let's move in a little closer and look at some of the specifics that are here.

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Looking at the bottom of the board, the main thing we have here is our PCIe x16 slot. Apart from that, though, we've got a few other headers; we've got a white one to the left which is for Front Panel Audio while to the right of that we can see two USB 2.0 headers.

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Also around here, you can see our little 4-Pin CPI power connector. Tis' no doubt a bit of a weird location, but it's almost to be expected on a mITX board. Room is just so limited that you tend to find some items in a little bit of a weird location. We'll take a closer look at it in proportion to the CPU area on the next page.

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Turning the corner, the main highlight here is of course those SATA headers. All four are SATA III and natively supported via the A75 chipset. Also here we have a Front Panel Header, CPU header, COM1 header and a speaker header on the far right.

The Motherboard Continued

Turning the corner again, we've got our two RAM slots which support speeds of up to 2400MHz+ DDR via overclocking. When it comes to actual dividers, though, we only have up to 1866MHz DDR in the BIOS.

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Below our RAM slots we've got our main 24-Pin ATX power connector on the left and on the right hand side you can see we've got a couple of fan headers. While the board is indeed small, you can see as we move around it we really do have everything you'd expect on the board.

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Surprisingly, looking around the CPU area you can see while the board is indeed small, there's still a fair bit of room. For the most part, though, you'll find people won't be opting for massive coolers on this kind of board. Here we can also see that 4-Pin CPU power connector just towards the bottom left.

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On the I/O side of things we've got a combo PS/2 port and under that two USB 3.0 ports in blue, and just to the right we can see another two blue USB 3.0 ports of which all run natively off the A75 chipset. Between them we've got two USB 2.0 ports and below that an eSATA port.

Moving over again, we see those USB 3.0 ports we mentioned and above that we've got a gigabit networking port running off the Realtek RTL8111E controller. Next to that we've got a VGA and HDMI out port and finally an optical port and five analogue audio connectors which run off the Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec.

BIOS

Looking at the BIOS, the first thing you notice is that we continue to see that Graphical UEFI BIOS. While we've seen a lot of companies move to the Graphical UEFI interface on their Intel based boards, few companies have made the jump to it on AMD ones with ASRock being one of the few.

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As for moving around the actual BIOS, there are no real surprises and the overall layout is very similar to other ASRock boards we've looked at. If you want to do some overclocking, you'll no doubt be hanging out in the OC Tweaker section of the BIOS.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

On the testbed side of things there's nothing too out of the ordinary when it comes to comparing what we've been using for the last few weeks now. The current problem is that since we moved our testbed around a little bit, we also moved to a new benchmark line-up.

While we've managed to quickly grow our results from the Intel platform, the AMD side of things is looking a little bit light. So today we'll be comparing the ASRock board against a recent ASUS one we looked at which uses the H67 chipset and carries with it our Core i7 2600k processor.

Because we've already looked at the APU side of things in a lot of detail, today our main focus is of course just the motherboard and for that reason we expect it to lag behind our H67 offering due to the use of the A8-3850 APU; so while those results are of course present, we won't be putting the most emphasis on them in certain situations.

On the overclocking side of things, well, there's no overclocking side. While we managed to overclock a bit and move our base clock to 115 and get into Windows, we ran into problems when we started to do stuff. The same happened as low as 105 BCLK; we didn't have an issue getting into Windows. But as soon as we fired up and started using something like HyperPi, our system froze.

To be honest, the whole overclocking experience doesn't come as much of a surprise. You're just so limited when it comes to cooling the board effectively when you're dealing with a board this size.

As always, though, we do cover overclocking, just unfortunately there's not a whole lot to cover. So with that all said and done, it's time to get into the performance side of things to see what's on offer from our little mITX motherboard we have here today.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Getting into some benchmarks, we can see that the AMD platform of course does lag behind that higher end Intel one. Of course, the platform that Llano is aimed at and the platform Sandy Bridge aims at are really quite different.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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Getting into something like MediaEspresso, we can see the time difference between our two different setups. Of course, it's worth considering here that we don't take advantage of hardware encoding; instead we leave it all on the CPU so that of course makes a difference. As for PC Mark 7, we don't see anything that we wouldn't expect.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Across the board you can see that the ASRock USB performance is a little stronger than our H67 offering. That's no doubt due to the XFast technology that they implement on their lineup of motherboards.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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SSD performance on our ASRock board is fantastic and that's of course due to the fact that our new line-up uses the SATA III Corsair drives, while a few weeks ago we were still on a SATA II Kingston drive. We of course do see the kind of performance boost that's on offer from a SATA III drive, though, over a SATA II one.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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AMD no doubt has always lagged behind in memory performance and Intel has been exceptional at it in the last few years. It doesn't always make the largest difference in real world environments.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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You can see when it comes to gaming results; in a lower resolution situation we see that it lags behind the 2600k setup. Of course, when we move up in resolution and place more strain on the video card, the performance between the setups become a lot closer to each other which can be seen in the X preset under 3DMark 11 and 2560 x 1600 performance under Metro 2033.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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With the big video card installed, we see that our idle power draw is still extremely strong on the A75M-ITX coming in below 100w. Under load both boards line up pretty close to each other.

Core Temperature

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In the heat department we can see at load both CPUs sit similar to each other, but at idle there's a good 5c saved on the ASRock A75M-ITX.

Final Thoughts

ASRock have put together a really nice little mITX motherboard and I think if you're a fan of the Fusion platform, but find that the E series Brazos line-up doesn't offer enough power for you, this is the perfect option when combined with an A8-3850.

Of course, if you want a bit more VGA power from the platform, you have the ability to combine a HD 6670 with the onboard GPU built in to the APU and gain some really strong performance. If you haven't already, it's worth checking out some of our launch pieces on the platform.

It's a little disappointing to find that overclocking performance was almost non-existent on the board. At the same time, though, it's not a surprise due to the fact it's such a small motherboard and like we said when we spoke about overclocking, because of the size it's hard to have any big heatsink setup when it comes to cooling the parts of the board that really do heat up.

While you're going to steer away from not only this board, but this platform, if you're looking at some kind of high end system with a card like a GTX 580 or HD 6970, the Llano platform continues to have its market and with a mid-range graphics card it can be an extremely good option.

If you're looking for something small that really has some exceptional performance when it comes to building a well-priced, mid-range system, then this is a great board and is something really worth looking at.

Coming in at $94.99 US, the ASRock A75M-ITX comes in at a really good price point and under that important $100 US price tag. Combined with a A8-3850 for $139.99, HD 6670 for around the $90 mark and a well-priced 8GB kit of RAM and hard drive and you have a system that is just going to perform extremely well in whatever size form factor you like.

A bit of overclocking potential would've been nice, but I think that if you're going down the mITX platform overclocking is going to be something you're not too worried about because you'll be using such a small case. If you wanted to overclock, while still having a smaller system, you'd be better off looking at a mATX solution.

The A75M-ITX in the end, though, just helps open up the Llano platform to another area and in typical ASRock style, they manage to do it for a really strong price. No doubt this is going to be a great option for people who want that small, well-priced mid-range system.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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