ASRock A88M-ITX/ac gives AMD APUs a fun-sized foundation

AMD's affordable CPUs can be a great fit for an HTPC or a NAS server. ASRock is likely thinking along the same lines, as it's just released the A88M-ITX/ac Mini-ITX motherboard.

As its name implies, the A88M-ITX/ac is a Socket FM2+ motherboard built with AMD's A88X chipset. Despite the board's diminutive size, the CPU is still fed by a five-phase VRM setup, which could help with overclocking. Two DDR3 RAM slots are on offer, supporting up to 32GB of memory running at 2400 MT/s.

Six SATA 6Gbps ports are on tap for storage, while networking duties are handled by a Realtek 8111GR Gigabit Ethernet adapter. ASRock also includes a dual-antenna 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 module. Peripheral connectivity comes by way of four USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports (plus another two from an internal header).

The rear cluster also includes HDMI 1.4a, Dual-Link DVI, and VGA outputs. Dedicated graphics cards can be slotted into the board's PCIe x16 slot, and users can take advantage of integrated and discrete GPUs working in tandem with the A88X chipset's AMD Radeon Dual Graphics feature. Last but not least, the ELNA capacitors on the motherboard's audio path could provide cleaner analog output than average.

Comments closed
    • bwcbiz
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<] Your search "Asrock A88M-ITX" did not match any products[/quote<] Vaporware....sigh

    • AJSB
    • 4 years ago

    I prefer the other mITX with that chipset from ASRock…this Mobo have a crippled M.2 connector that only accepts WiFi+BT M.2 cards not to mention they can only be 30mm long.

    They should have done it at least 42mm long and with M.2 storage support.

    The “older” Mobo uses a mSATA connector that works w/ a WiFi+BT card or mSATA storage cards…it might even, w/ a bit of DIY work, accept a mSATA to M.2 card adapter that will allow 2242 M.2 SSDs work with it, protecting in the long run the investment (there’s already 2242 SSDs with 256GB of capacity and with DRAM cache).

    Finally, there the issue of power phases, this new MoBo seems to be 4+1, “old” MoBo is 4+2.

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    Given the ubiquity of WiFi today, shouldn’t board makers include them in every board they sell? Surely some folks have an old WiFi adapter they’d like to reuse when they buy new boards but I reckon many will buy a discrete adapter anyway. And it’s not like many people are very picky about which adapter they wanna use; laptops and gadgets have long been sold with WiFi built in. Seems to me the mother of all digital devices in one’s arsenal has been left behind on a trend that’s been around for more than a decade already.

      • yokem55
      • 4 years ago

      A device that doesn’t move is one that really doesn’t need wifi and will work fine with real ethernet. If ethernet is unavailable, then wifi isn’t hard to add on to the unit with a cheap USB dongle.

      • divide_by_zero
      • 4 years ago

      I see your point, but as someone who hardwires whenever possible, I’d *much* rather manufacturers omit wifi so I can save the extra ~$20 on the mobo. Pretty trivial to add on my preferred wifi solution if I end up needing to do so.

      • robliz2Q
      • 4 years ago

      Except an NAS or HTPC box is far better avoiding WiFi and leaving that to the portable client systems. There’s solutions which avoid cabling a house, if a box is near TV plus sat/cable appliances rather than near an Internet router.

    • yuhong
    • 4 years ago

    “Two DDR3 RAM slots are on offer, supporting up to 32GB of memory running at 2400 MT/s.”
    The 8Gbit based DDR3 desktop DIMMs are even less common due to most Intel platforms not supporting them, but Crucial do sell them:
    [url<]http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/ct204864bd160b[/url<] [url<]http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/ct2k204864bd160b[/url<]

    • DPete27
    • 4 years ago

    I think it’s fun to look at mITX board layouts because they’re always different.

    I’m sure partly because:
    1) manufacturer has their own ideas on how to cram everything on
    2) because mITX case layouts vary so much for the same reason

    • TA152H
    • 4 years ago

    It’s a pity AMD only released Carrizo for desktops without a GPU. Something like this with Carrizo could make an attractive match for a fairly powerful, yet very quiet small machine.

      • shank15217
      • 4 years ago

      There are plenty of discrete options with low power, a desktop isn’t thermally limited like a laptop, a good low power discrete video would be a nice.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        I’d rather have an APU with no discrete graphics when I’m building an HTPC. That’s the whole point of APUs, isn’t it? Why would I go with that lone Carrizo part (Athlon X4 845) that needs discrete graphics when I might as well get a cheap but capable A8-7600? You could find the A8-7600 going for $70 and the 845 also has an MSRP of $70. Even if the 845 has better CPU performance than the 6700 (which I doubt), I honestly don’t care about such small differences especially in a low end rig, and spending another ~$40 on a discrete card certainly ruins the 845’s value proposition. A8-7600 hands down.

    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    I’d pair this board with a cheap A8-7600 and put it in a small case. While I’m not a big fan of ultra-cheap machines, I also believe you don’t need to spend $2,500 on a gas-guzzling Core i7 rig just to surf the web or watch movies or listen to music, which make up ~80% of my time in front of my desktop PC. I would go so far as to say I’d get the A8-7600 for myself if I were buying a PC today, given how I also usually stick with old classics like Thief 1 and 2 anyway on the remaining 20%. It’s not future proof by any means but I’ve really mellowed down in recent years in terms of craving for big ticket material things.

    • brucethemoose
    • 4 years ago

    EDIT: meant to reply to a comment.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 4 years ago

    Do any of AMDs compatible APUs support hardware H.265 HEVC decoding?

    If not, it isn’t forward thinking enough for any HTPC system I’d build.

      • NTMBK
      • 4 years ago

      Nope. You need to wait for Bristol Ridge (on an AM4 motherboard) for that.

      • jensend
      • 4 years ago

      Carrizo’s video decode block has h.265, so if it’s not disabled on the recently released Athlon X4 845, that would be AMD’s only h.265 fixed-function hardware decode capable desktop part right now. On the Intel side, skylake is the only one with that.

      But it’d be worth looking into how much of a difference there actually is for modern desktop cpus. Saw something at doom9 that said they figured that turning hw accel on was a wash for their desktop Skylake (only moderate power savings, performance possibly not quite as good).

        • LoneWolf15
        • 4 years ago

        However, compare to Braswell which can do H.265, and has a 6w TDP.

          • chuckula
          • 4 years ago

          [url<]http://nucblog.net/2015/08/hevc-decoding-in-linux-for-braswell-is-here/[/url<]

          • jensend
          • 4 years ago

          Braswell has Gen8 graphics, and Gen9 is the first to have fixed-function h.265. So they’re managing to get reasonable decode performance out of a hybrid decoder that gets some benefit from the video decode block but relies heavily on the CPU and all the GPU shaders. Same as Broadwell.

          (In chuckie’s link the blogger mentions that the number of shaders on your braswell nuc determines what resolution and frame rate you can play back.)

          If Braswell can do a decent job decoding on the CPU and GPU rather than dedicated fixed-function acceleration, then more powerful chips from both Intel and AMD can certainly do the same.

        • ronch
        • 4 years ago

        Even if the Athlon X4 845’s h.265 block is enabled, FM2+ boards don’t have their own GPUs (say, in the chipset) so you’d need to plug in a discrete graphics card. Then, will the 845’s h.265 hardware work with the discrete card? I imagine there will have to be some sort of driver to make it work. Then of course AMD will have to take into account all the different discrete GPUs that can be plugged in and work with the 845’s h.265 block. Highly unlikely they’ll go through a lot of hoops for that one SKU that’ll probably see low sales volume anyway, to make a niche feature work.

      • Airmantharp
      • 4 years ago

      And HDMI 2.0, and HDCP 2.2…

    • Mr Bill
    • 4 years ago

    No DisplayPort = bleh.

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      In an HTPC box? You might have some wiggle room to whine about the lack of HDMI 2.0 (although that support is coming later this year). However, if you desperately need DisplayPort out of a tiny board like this that much, you can either get a DVI adaptor or get a discrete GPU with the right connectors.

        • smilingcrow
        • 4 years ago

        ITX is fine for more than just a HTPC though.
        But it has dual-link DVI so is good for 4K monitors.

        • jensend
        • 4 years ago

        Where exactly does it say it’s illegal to use these in anything other than a HTPC box? And there are plenty of TVs etc these days with DP inputs.

        Though for the time being it’s still a luxury, DP adaptive sync availability is widening and prices declining, and at some point in the near future, it will probably become the norm rather than the exception for anything with displayport input. You can’t use that off another port via an adapter.

        Adaptive sync would make a huge difference for anyone using lower-end graphics like APUs. Kaveri etc are Freesync capable, but pretty much the only FM2+ motherboards released with DP outputs are expensive ATX mobos, and if you’re spending a lot of money and using a big case with loads of cooling, that defeats the only three selling points for the APU.

          • chuckula
          • 4 years ago

          [quote<]Where exactly does it say it's illegal to use these in anything other than a HTPC box? [/quote<] Nowhere but I'm not sure why you'd want to run this board outside of an HTPC. As for "illegal", it's also not illegal to add a discrete GPU. Furthermore, if you are so obsessed with adaptive sync then buy a discrete AMD GPU, especially since FreeSync is useless at lower frame rates and your IGP ain't going to be pushing your big fancy DisplayPort monitor all that fast anyway. Take this board for its three main qualities: Cheapness, Cheapness, and did I mention "Cheapness"?

            • jensend
            • 4 years ago

            Plenty of people have use for small computer cases in places other than a living room media center. It’s arrogant and ridiculous of you to assume otherwise just because you don’t.

            Adaptive sync is absolutely not “useless at lower frame rates.” On the contrary, it’s most useful when your card is putting out frame times that are below ~35ms but it cannot consistently pump them out in time for your refresh interval.

            nV and AMD have both said this repeatedly. It has been a focus from the beginning, as Scott mentioned in [url=https://techreport.com/review/25788/a-first-look-at-nvidia-g-sync-display-tech<]his original G-Sync review[/url<]:[quote<]Nvidia claims G-Sync's most obvious benefits will come at lower performance, when frame rates are ranging between 40 and 60 FPS. [/quote<][quote<]G-Sync's benefits were obvious over regular vsync at 60Hz in these cases, even more so than in our Skyrim example with higher frame rates. [/quote<] Your claim betrays a deep and persistent ignorance of the issues at hand. Again, one won't have to have a "big fancy DisplayPort monitor" to gain these benefits. There are $150 FreeSync displays on the market [i<]now[/i<], and there's no reason why displayport adaptive sync shouldn't become standard on the majority of monitors sold within a year or two.

            • chuckula
            • 4 years ago

            [quote<]Plenty of people have use for small computer cases in places other than a living room media center.[/quote<] Yeah, I never said otherwise. [quote<]It's arrogant and ridiculous of you to assume otherwise just because you don't.[/quote<] I never assumed otherwise or stated otherwise. I made a specific statement about smart uses for a specific motherboard -- and I was dead-on right about everything I said -- while you are going around yapping about small case sizes. Please show me the place where I said a small but very capable Z170 mobo would only ever be useful for an HTPC rig? The rest of your claptrap is idiotic, but I guess there's a first time for everything: [b<]I'm being accused of having a Pro-Nvidia bias for defending the feature set of an AMD motherboard from attacks and then being accused of having a further Nvidia agenda for recommending the purchase and use of an AMD GPU with the AMD motherboard.[/b<] God, talk about a vast Ngreedia conspiracy! You want "arrogant and ridiculous"? Go around acting like a clearly dirt-cheap low-end motherboard that AMD is intentionally targeting at HTPC use is somehow horrifyingly defective because it's not setup to be driving a 120Hz 4K monitor from a freakin' IGP in a $85 processor. Get real.

            • jensend
            • 4 years ago

            Absolutely nothing about this board is htpc-specific. AMD isn’t “intentionally targeting” this at anything; ASRock is a fully independent company. ASRock isn’t targeting this specifically at HTPC; they make no mention of HTPC in their marketing materials or anything. The only thing that ties this specifically to htpc is Bruno’s one-off mention of it in the first sentence. Perhaps that’s as far into the article as you were willing to read?

            I never said anything about your posts on this article showing a pro-nV bias or agenda.

            They do appear to show that you have an allergy to facts.

            • Voldenuit
            • 4 years ago

            [quote<]Adaptive sync is absolutely not "useless at lower frame rates." On the contrary, it's most useful when your card is putting out frame times that are below ~35ms but it cannot consistently pump them out in time for your refresh interval.[/quote<] He may have been referring to the first generation Freesync monitors, which I believe bottomed out at 25ms/40 fps. But I think that they've fixed those limitations, and they're technically as capable as G-Sync nowadays. However, DVI and HDMI don't support Freesync on AMD yet (although there is promised support, and to be fair, Gsync doesn't support HDMI/DVI either), so you'd have to get a discrete GPU if you want adaptive sync in any case.

      • brucethemoose
      • 4 years ago

      You need displayport for an HDMI 2.0 adapter.

    • Deanjo
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]AMD's affordable CPUs can be a great fit for an HTPC or a NAS server. ASRock is likely thinking along the same lines, as it's just released the A88M-ITX/ac Mini-ITX motherboard.[/quote<] Nope [quote<]while networking duties are handled by a [u<]Realtek 8111GR[/u<] Gigabit Ethernet adapter[/quote<]

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      The Realtek 8111GR is the abbreviated name.

      The full name, which imitates the noises of satisfied owners is: Realtek 8111Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

      • Goty
      • 4 years ago

      What issues have there been with the 8111GR? Serious question as I use a Gigabyte H81M-HD2 in a minecraft/NAS box that comes with this controller and I haven’t noticed any particular issues.

        • Deanjo
        • 4 years ago

        All kinds of link negotiation issues with higher end switches, crappy Jumbo frame performance (if it works at all), poor throughput when multiple connections being made, etc, etc, etc.

        Not issues that you want when using for a NAS.

        Edit: Plus you would more than likely want to use a more efficient CPU and can support ECC for NAS use.

          • Krogoth
          • 4 years ago

          The intended market for this board does not care for any of those features.

          If you need advanced networking features that you are going to get a higher-end discrete NIC of some kind not some run of the mill integrated NIC or low-end $20-50 discrete unit.

        • Bauxite
        • 4 years ago

        Identified the issue: Realtek and Ethernet in the same sentence without the words “worlds worst”.

          • MOSFET
          • 4 years ago

          While I’m all for more advanced networking when applicable, stepping out of the server room and back into the living room, I find that any onboard PCIE-attached Realtek NIC will deliver the home user a solid 990 Mbps of CIFS or iSCSI, whether it’s Windows-to-Windows or Windows-to-NAS. This is a realm with unmanaged, plastic switches, and jumbo frames and LAGs will not often be part of the discussion.

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