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.

Micro Mart - - Contetnts -

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.

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