AMD Launched its “Llano” platform back in june of this year, and the Fusion processors for mainstream have proven to be one of the most Advanced on-board graphics designs. Butting heads against Intel low-cost second-gen Core i3 processors, AMD’s solution doesn’t just have a better graphics processor. Its accompanying A75 chipset also features integrated USB 3.0, potentially cutting motherboard cost and offering as usual a better bang for your buck.
Today we will test Zotac’s A75 MINI-ITX WIFI Motherboard. The motherboard is based on AMD’s A75 chipset and is a great fully featured mid-level performance design. Don’t let its small Mini ITX design fool you, as this SFF design pack a punch.
Let’s get started by reviewing the specs;
1 x HD Audio Port (7.1-channel)
1 x Digital Optical S/PDIF output
1 x Front panel audio header
2 x 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet ports
802.11n (300 Mb/s) WiFi
Up to 8GB
2 x 240-pin SO-DIMM
4 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s
0, 1, 0+1
1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI
8 x USB 3.0 ports (6 on back panel, 2 via header)
2 x USB 2.0 ports (2 via header)
1 x PCI Express x16
1 x Mini PCI Express (occupied by WiFi module)
3 x SATA cables
1 x DVI-to-VGA adapter
1 x I/O back plate
2 x WiFi antennas
6.7in x 6.7in – 170mm x 170mm
1-Year Standard Warranty; 2-Year Extended Warranty
Zotac has gone several steps beyond its competitors by providing a full set of built in features and more USB 3.0 ports than you could possibly use, more on-board graphics options, and greater discrete graphics support. The only thing missing is a DisplayPort output. Unlike its lower-cost rivals, the A75ITX-A-E includes Four SATA 6Gb/s ports connect internal drives. All ports are placed above the x16 slot to eliminate card clearance issues, though placing them there on such a narrow layout eliminates the flexibility to expose two DIMM slots (as you can see in the picture above).
Before we get into any of the testing here’s the basic specs of my system as of now:
AMD A6 3650 2.6GHz 4MB L2 Cache Socket FM1 100W
Coolit ECO II Liquid cooling Kit
Chassis: InWin Dragon Slayer Case
ZOTAC A75ITX-A-E motherboard
2 X 4GB DDR3 MUSHKIN RADIOACTIVE MEMORY
1 X DVDRW optical drive
1 X 60GB MUSHKIN SATA SSD
1 X 1TB 7200RPM Seagate Drive
Windows 7 Ultimate 64Bit
Installation was fairly easy actually except for the fact that I do have a few minor concerns regarding the installation of this board in a smaller chassis as thermals maybe a little high. Other than that everything went smoothly and the layout seems to be user friendly for the most part.
The A75ITX-A-E uses the AMI BIOS, which everyone should be familiar with so there’s no explanation needed really. The main menu is fairly standard, and OC setting are average, as expected for a mid level board.
Testing & Benchmarks
One way a motherboard manufacturer might try to trump the competition is by overclocking Llano’s integrated GPU. As it is barely capable of playing modern games, AMD’s integrated Radeon HD6530D still smashes Intel’s completely-inadequate efforts with their Sandy bridge CPU’s.
Call of Duty has a reputation for presenting a light system load that makes it easy to play on nearly any combination of well-balanced hardware.
After “testing” for a few hours it was made clear to us here at Inside industry that the APU is more than capable of providing low end gaming graphics performance at an amazing value. Even though I myself would not game on something like this, this is more than enough for someone looking to build a SFF with on-board graphics that can push out basic gamer performance graphics when needed.
Motherboards with more on-board devices tend such as this one with Wi-Fi and other features tend to consume more power, while those with the most effective power-saving schemes tend to produce slightly lower benchmark results. We thus expect to see faster and/or better-featured motherboards at the bottom of our power consumption chart.
With its extra USB 3.0 ports and a slight performance lead in most benchmarks, we’re not surprised to see Zotac Board using the more power. The slowest and least feature-packed board, ECS A75F-M2, takes the top of the power-saving chart but with a efficiency difference of less than 5% who really cares.
Buyers looking for more features could balance Gigabyte’s FireWire controller against Zotac’s extra set of USB 3.0 ports. The importance of USB 3.0 continues to grow, while FireWire fades into history. But the ECS board also costs 20% less than the Zotac board. But don’t let that frighten you as the Zotac board happens to be one of the most solid SFF Mini ITX motherboards I have seen. In my history of working with SFF designs at Shuttle I have not seen a more stable fully featured board than the Zotac A75ITX-A-E. Which is why after much consideration we here at Inside industry news have decided to award the A75ITX-A-E a 9.5 out of 10 earning it our first Editors Choice Award.
With so many good choices available, it was a tough choice for us, but the Zotac A75ITX-A-E definitely has proven that going the extra mile with a clean, fully featured SFF board pays off.
-Great, easy to use layout (for the most part)
-Lots of 3.0 USB connections
-Quality sound built-in
-Plentiful features in the BIOS
-Lots of features
– SLight thermal concern if used in 3L chassis.