Looking for a new motherboard to pair with AMD's latest Kaveri APUs? Asus' ROG Crossblade Ranger might be just the ticket. This is the first FM2+ motherboard to be part of Asus' high-end Republic of Gamers family. That seems a little weird given Kaveri's relatively low-rent status, but the Crossblade is set to sell for $159.99, so it's fairly affordable for an ostensibly premium product.
This full-sized ATX board is based on AMD's A88X chipset, and it has pretty much everything you'd expect from a modern mobo. The red PCIe x16 slots share 16 Gen3 lanes from the CPU, while the black one gets four lanes from the chipset. A mix of PCIe x1 and PCI expansion slots is included, as well, plus eight SATA 6Gbps ports and six USB 3.0 connectors.
Intel provides the Gigabit Ethernet controller, which is backed by Asus' own packet management software. The onboard audio has all the usual tricks—codec shielding, isolated traces, and fancy capactiors—in addition to software that senses headphone impedances and adjusts the amplifier gain automatically. Then there's KeyBot, which can add media functionality, application shortcuts, and programmable macros to any keyboard plugged into the designated USB port.
And, of course, I have to point out that the Crossblade Ranger has Asus' excellent fan controls. There are five onboard headers, each of which has temperature-based speed control for both three- and four-pin fans. Amen, brother.
Newegg's listings show A88X-based FM2+ boards priced up to $123.99, so the Crossblade Ranger still has a noteworthy premium attached. It may well be the most loaded Kaveri motherboard around, though.
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