Gigabyte GA- F2A88XNWiFi
We had an Intel motherboards from £100 buyer’s guide a few weeks ago. Now it’s the turn of AMD, with six motherboards waiting to be tested.
For those wanting to build a small PC without compromising on performance, the Gigabyte GA-F288XN-WiFi is an excellent foundation.
With support for AMD A-Series, FM2+ Socket and Athlon series processors, an AMD A88X chipset, a pair of DDR3 DIMM sockets and, as the name suggests, a built-in 802.11ac wireless card, there’s pretty much everything you’ll need for a decent small PC.
On the board, there’s ample connectivity: a single PCIe x16 slot, with support for AMD dual graphics technology, provided you have the right A-series APU in place. And there’s also a single mini-PCIe slot, which is used up with the wireless module. There are four SATA 6Gbps connectors on the board, and the rear I/O backplate offers a single PS/2 keyabord/mouse port, a pair of HDMI ports, one DVI, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, optical S/PDIF out and a five-port audio block.
Obviously, it’s a mini-ITX motherboard, which while perfectly fine, does have some disadvantages. Being just 170mm square, there are limited possibilities for further expansion in the future, should you decide to include a TV card, for example. And if you want to build a small gaming PC, you’ll need to double-check the clearance of the graphics card with the CPU heatsink mounting blocks. There’s also limited room when both the memory slots are occupied and an average, stocksized cooler is in place. In short, it can get a little cramped very quickly.
However, despite the limitations brought on by its size, the F2A88XN does include Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable components and features. Things like solid caps, humidity protection, dual UEFI BIOS, surge and power failure protection are the norm. Plus with an appropriate APU in place, as well as an AMD GPU, the Dual Graphics Technology is certainly a benefit for those wanting faster than average frame-rates.
In addition to the above, the F2A88XN is a well-designed motherboard. Gigabyte has done a good job of managing to shoehorn in a fair amount of technology within the limited confines of the motherboard. It may lack some of the flair we’ve seen in more recent motherboards, such as LEDs along one side and, in all fairness, it is a pretty dull- looking piece of technology, but considering 90% of builders don’t really care too much about the inner aesthetics of a PC, there’s little to worry about on this account.
There’s plenty to like about the Gigabyte GA-F2A88XN-WiFi, with its connectivity, the added wi-fi element and its compact dimensions. With the right components in place, you can easily build yourself a decent media or small gaming PC – even a compact VR machine if that’s something you’re aiming for – for the reasonable price of around £101.
On the whole, then, a good and reasonably priced tiny AMD motherboard.