MSI FM2-A75-E35 review
The MSI FM2-A75MA-35 is an FM2-socket MicroATX motherboard that supports AMD’s latest ‘Trinity’ processors, such as our Best Buy-winning AMD A10-5800K.
It uses AMD’s mid-range A75 chipset and provides six SATA3 ports, eight USB ports (two of which are USB3) and three USB headers (one of which is USB3). The FM2-A75MA-35 also has VGA, DVI-D and HDMI graphics outputs, six analogue audio outputs with support for 7.1-channel surround sound, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a single legacy PS2 port for an older keyboard or mouse.
That’s not a bad specification for a budget MicroATX motherboard, but we’d have preferred another two USB3 ports on the back panel. As all six SATA ports use the faster SATA3 standard, you don’t have to worry about shuffling your connections to get the best speed for your new drives. We like the selection of graphics outputs too, as they provide a tremendous degree of flexibility, with a connection for every eventuality. Conveniently, it also supports dual and triple monitor configurations.
As the FM2-A75MA-E35 is a MicroATX motherboard, there isn’t much room for expansion. You get two PCI-E x1 slots, which is convenient for adding more USB3 ports or a TV tuner, but one slot is obscured when you install a dual-slot graphics card. The board also has a legacy PCI slot. Again, this is handy if you want to install any old Fire Wire or USB expansion cards you have lying around, but not much else in this day and age.
Similarly, the MSI FM2-A75MA-35 has a useful, but not exciting, set of I/O headers. We’ve already mentioned the single USB3 header, which can provide a further two USB3 ports for your case’s front-panel or for a backplane bracket, and the two USB2 headers, which can provide a further four USB2 ports, but the board also has a front-panel audio header and serial and parallel legacy headers. The USB headers are very much welcome, but the other headers fail to set the pulse racing.
The two RAM slots accept RAM modules up to a capacity of 32GB. Supported RAM speeds range from 1066MHz to 2133MHz, although that last speed is only available through overclocking. The memory slots are very close to the heatsink, which could cause problems if you’re using a large, high-performance heatsink, although we had no problems using the stock AMD heatsink and our reference Corsair XMS3 RAM.
The A75 chipset comes below the A85X chipset in AMD’s pecking order, but its performance didn’t suffer in our benchmark tests. We used the FM2-A75MA-E35 in combination with an AMD A10-5800K CPU and 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, and achieved an overall score of 65 in our multimedia benchmarks. This is score is oh-so-slightly higher than the much more expensive Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4, which scored 63 under the same conditions, making the FM2-A75MA-E35 a bargain in comparison.
As for gaming ability, AMD’s Trinity processors, such as the A10-5800K, have excellent built-in GPUs that can provide surprisingly good performance, making the FM2-A75MA-E35 a good choice if you want to create a small media PC that you can also use for some casual 3D gaming.
At a resolution of 1,280x720 with graphics settings set to High and with 4x anti-aliasing, the setup scored a very smooth 45 frames per second in our Dirt Showdown benchmark. With the graphics options set to high, anti-aliasing set to 4x and the resolution at 1080p, the setup delivered an average frame rate of 28 frames per second in our Dirt Showdown benchmark. That isn’t blazingly fast, but it looks good and is comfortably playable, which is amazing considering you’re using the CPU’s built-in GPU.
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