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GIGABYTE A55M-S2V (AMD A55) mATX Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE sends us our first A55 motherboard and we see what the lower end chipset offers when compared to the A75.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Oct 11 2011 8:07 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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Since the launch of the A8 and A6 series of APUs from AMD, the motherboards we've looked at have revolved around the A75 chipset. It's a great chipset, offering some great features like SATA III and USB 3.0 support. It seemed like everyone had forgotten about the A55 series chipset, though, which launched at exactly the same time.

Little differs between the two chipsets with the most obvious being that the A55 lacks both SATA III support and USB 3.0 support; instead it opts for only SATA II and USB 2.0 support. But what if you don't have any intention of using a SATA III drive and don't have any USB 3.0 devices? What if instead you want to save some money?

In steps the A55 chipset and in this case, in steps GIGABYTE with the A55M-S2V. Sure, we use a SATA III drive for our tests and we use USB 3.0, but those technologies are both backwards compatible.

So with everything at hand today we'll check out what the A55 based motherboard is all about. We won't go into the details of the actual chipset itself, because we've covered that in great detail in our original AMD A8-3850 (Llano) APU and A55/A75 Chipset Review launch article. If you can't be bothered reading that, well, we've explained the main two differences here already, so we can just get into what's going on with the GIGABYTE A55M-S2V here today.

Before we get into the performance side of things, though, the first thing we need to do is check out the package. Once that's done we'll take a closer look at the motherboard itself before getting into the BIOS which will lead us into the overclocking side of things.

Once we've done all that it's time to get into the fun stuff and see just what kind of performance we've got on offer here while also checking out how it compares to a pair of A75 boards we've recently tested.

The Package

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While the box indeed looks small and square, we are dealing with a mATX board here today and not a mITX. The box itself is just typical GIGABYTE with the model on the front and some of the main features, while the back expands on some of the main features a little more and shows us the board itself.

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Moving inside, we've got a pretty light bundle with a user manual, driver CD, two SATA cables and our rear I/O panel. Not much at all and a fairly standard bundle for a more budget orientated board.

The Motherboard

Getting onto the board, you can see we're dealing with the mATX format. Being one of the more budget orientated boards also means we've got that baby blue setup going on. Like most people, I'm not really a fan of the color, but the chances are if your budget sits around this level, you're not sporting a case with a window, so it's probably not too much of an issue. Anyway, with that looked at, let's move in a bit closer and see what's going on.

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Moving in a bit closer to the board, you can see we've got a single legacy PCI slot, two PCIe x1 slots and a PCIe x16 slot that runs at x16. It's a fairly standard setup when it comes to a mATX board and it's good to see the A55 chipset continues to get the PCIe x16 slot at x16 speed.

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Moving across to the bottom of the board, you can see there's not heaps going on with our front panel audio header on the left, our TPM and COM headers and two USB 2.0 headers.

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At the very end of the board and around the corner you can see we've got a total of six SATA ports. These are all SATA II and run natively off the A55 chipset. This is one of the main differences between the A75 and A55 chipset with the cheaper A55 lacking SATA III ports. If you're not going to go down the SATA III drive path, though, you might not feel there's much point to getting a board that has SATA III.

The Motherboard Continued

Turning the corner again and moving towards the top of the board, we've got two DDR3 RAM slots here that support up to 16GB of RAM with speeds from 1066MHz DDR to 2400MHz DDR via overclocking, or 1866MHz DDR via the built in memory dividers.

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Below our RAM slots we've got our main 24-Pin ATX Power Connector and next to that you can actually see our Front Panel header which is in a bit of a weird position. The mATX format, though, means that some things have to get moved around a little bit and in this case it's the front panel header to the top of the board.

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Moving around to the CPU side of things, you can see our CPU Power Connector comes in the form of a single 4-Pin connector instead of the 8-Pin we see on the higher end boards. As for the area around our FM1 socket; like most boards these days it's pretty clear and you can see we're using that new mounting system we saw introduced with the 990FX series of boards.

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Finally, we finish off with the I/O side of things and it's actually pretty bare. We've got two PS/2 ports on the left followed by a VGA and DVI port for video out. Next to that we've got four USB 2.0 ports and a Gigabit networking port running off the Realtek RTL8111E chip, while our three auxiliary plugs run off the Realtek ALC887 codec.

BIOS

As usual we get into the BIOS and we're greeted by the same ol' Award style BIOS that we've become so accustomed to seeing from GIGABYTE. Of course, if you want to get into the overclocking side of things you'll want to venture into the M.I.T. area.

GIGABYTE A55M-S2V (AMD A55) mATX Motherboard Review 14 | TweakTown.com

Under the M.I.T. area you can see we've got our usual line up of overclocking options and while the A55 chipset might be lower than the A75 and the board is only a mATX one, you can see overclocking options are pretty strong. Hopefully we'll be able to boost our A8-3850 performance a little when we start to play with it.

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Outside the M.I.T. section we've got nothing else that's too out of the ordinary and you can see above everything that's going on. As usual, it's just that typical Award style BIOS we're used to seeing from GIGABYTE.

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 isn't anything different going on and everything above is fairly self-explanatory, so let's just get into the overclocking side of things to see what the GIGABYTE A55M-S2V is able to offer.

First things first; kind of to my surprise we managed to overclock. I wasn't too sure what to expect from not only the A55 chipset, but also the mATX offering we've got here. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when we got up and running.

To date the highest we've gotten our A8-3850 is 3.625GHz; this was achieved with a 29x multiplier and a BCLK of 125MHz. Setting our GIGABYTE A55M-S2V to these settings, we got up and running in Windows with no problems. We started up HyperPI and while it was going along well, just as we got to the end our machine rebooted.

We headed back into the BIOS and moved our BCLK down just a few MHz and we ended up with it coming in at 121 and a 29x multiplier.

GIGABYTE A55M-S2V (AMD A55) mATX Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

As you can see in the above picture, that brings our clock speed in at 3509MHz or 3.51GHz as shown in our graphs. This is a pretty good clock and it really shows us that the A55 chipset doesn't limit our overclocking potential. Hopefully we'll see some nice performance increases.

As for comparisons today, we'll be including some recent A75 boards we've looked at which include the ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe and ASRock A75M-ITX. While both of them use the mITX format, they've shown us some strong performance recently.

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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GIGABYTE A55M-S2V (AMD A55) mATX Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

At stock you can see that performance between our A55 GIGABYTE board and A75 ASUS board are quite similar with both boards going a little back and forth when it comes to who's winning. You can see, though, when we crank up the clock speeds to over 3.5GHz, we manage to get a really nice performance increase.

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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Looking at PCMark and Media Espresso we can again see that performance between both our A75 and A55 motherboards is very close. It's great to see so far that the A55 chipset hasn't limited performance at all.

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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Looking at USB 2.0 performance, you can see we're a little behind our other boards here with the ASRock actually making use of XFast technology which gives it a strong boost. In the USB 3.0 department, we can of course see that the technology isn't actually on offer when it comes to the A55, so instead we have to opt to use our USB 3.0 device on a USB 2.0 port. You can see it's slightly faster than our USB 2.0 device, but only marginally.

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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A lot like our USB 3.0 testing, we use a SATA III drive in our tests. Like we've mentioned a few times, though, SATA III isn't actually supported on the A55 chipset and for that reason you see performance is slower than our A75 boards which have our SATA III drive on SATA III ports.

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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RAM performance is pretty strong; we can see that Write performance is a little down while Read lines up. Copy is strong compared to the ASRock and just a little behind our ASUS offering. You can also see when we overclock we're able to boost that performance a little.

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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On the gaming side of things you can see at stock the performance of our A55 chipset is quite similar to our A75 boards. It lags a little behind at the lower resolutions, but nothing major. You can see as well when we overclock that performance manages to increase and we get some really nice performance out of our GTX 580.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Power Draw at idle lines up almost identically with the ASUS offering, while overclocked we see the idle and load jump a little. It's not by much and if you want to overclock you shouldn't have to buy a bigger PSU or anything like that.

Core Temperature

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Looking at the temperatures, we can see the GIGABYTE board is pretty low. At the moment we have to rely on companies own software for AMD temperatures, though, so we try not to put too much emphasis on it. Especially since at times EasyTune was telling us that our CPU was running at 7c...

Final Thoughts

I really found myself pleasantly surprised with the GIGABYTE A55M-S2V and just the A55 chipset in general. Considering the price tag of the board coming in at $74.99 US, paired with an A6 or A8 series APU from AMD, you can get some really nice performance out of the board.

If you want to kick it up a notch, you could throw a HD 6670 into the mix and combine with the onboard GPU built into the APU; you could get some great performance thanks to the ability to CrossFire both the APU's GPU and the physical GPU for even more performance.

What makes the A55 and A75 so different is the fact that the A55 lacks USB 3.0 and SATA III. Sure, they're great technologies, but, are they worth spending more money on? They are if you have a SATA III drive and USB 3.0 devices. If you don't, then it's not worth spending the money on.

For $74.99 US, you're able to get near identical performance to the more expensive A75 chipset in most aspects. You also get great overclocking potential, and really that's one area that stands out so heavily for the current A6 and A8 series Fusion based processors.

There's really little to complain about when it comes to the A55M-S2V. Sure, the package is small, but the board is cheap. Sure, the baby blue setup isn't the nicest to look at, but the board is cheap and the board is cheap.

To be honest, I'm not too sure why AMD and their partners haven't promoted the A55 chipset more. USB 3.0 and SATA III are both fantastic technologies, but if you don't' use devices based on that technology, then it's just not worth paying more for it. Especially when you get "system" performance that is near identical to the more expensive A75 chipset. Both chipsets have a clear market and I think we need to see more companies promote the A55 one. Sure, it might be a bit more "boring" than the A75 chipset, but we like to cover all aspects of the market and A55 based boards seem to offer us really strong price.

If you don't care about USB 3.0 and SATA III, want to save some bucks and want to enjoy the benefits of the Fusion platform from AMD, the GIGABYTE A55M-S2V is an awesome board at an awesome price.

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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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