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ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX Motherboard

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  #1  
Old 11-03-2011
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ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX Motherboard
  

Introduction:

I think mini ITX format now means the vast majority of platforms based on Intel processors or Atom S1156. There are several AM3 Socket based motherboards available in the market, but there is the shadow of Core Duo i3 / H55 that remained. Still among all these, one more model is on paper at least as interesting as the stars of the market, the Asus Deluxe M4A88T-I. Compatible with the Phenom II X6 (95W) along with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB3, it need not be ashamed to face 'stars of the market" like Gigabyte H55N USB3 or last-ITX Zotac -USB3. We will see if it can become a credible alternative to the latter in this review.

Presentation:

With a quiet arrival in the market when other boards/chipset like h55/57 or Atom / Ion had the control on the market, the Asus M4A88T DELUXE-I however appeared as an important alternative. For starters, it can receive all AM3 market which is less than 95W TDP which according to the official list allows the use of PHENOM II X6 1055T clocked at 2.8 GHz, a first in this format!

Less space was used in the PCB level. Based on the AM3socket, the card has 3 ports S-ATA 2.0, USB 2.0 connector (the second is used by the WiFi card, two fan connectors (1x and 1x 3pin 4pins), one 16x PCIe slot and two SO-DIMM DDR3. The 24-pin connector and 4 pins are pushed onto the processor side of the card as in the gigabyte-H55N USB3 and Intel DH57JG. This is an advantage for operating with an air flow from front to rear.


The 880g is passively cooled by a blue radiator, but the template seems perfectly designed to avoid limiting the choice of radiators. Similarly, the socket processor is ideally located and allows the installation of heaters in large surface. Unusual in this format, two small switches are located on the rear section. These are owed to functions and unlock CORE II TURBO KEY.

The rear panel also reveals some unique features like a Bluetooth receiver and an optical output coaxial (rare in Mini-ITX) in addition to the usual optical out. As per the Video, there is a DVI and HDMI. We also found WIFI two outputs (with remote antennas) and a PS2 port mixed (keyboard / mouse). Finally, all connections are present because you can note the presence of two USB 3.0 ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports and one eSATA port, which have most comprehensive market in this format.

The alternative of the SO-DIMM is bad, but can save space and maintain a PCB and well stocked. For example, if one had to regret a single thing, probably the limitation to 3 S-ATA ports which seems to lack the largest in restricting the use NAS. Even if that number meets the majority of customers potential by allowing the use of an optical drive, a SSD and a disk storage competition has accustomed us to minimum 4 ports. Aside from that, it would be difficult to expect more from 289 cm.

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  #2  
Old 11-03-2011
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 730
Re: ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX Motherboard

BIOS:

Without going into details, here are some points and functions on the BIOS 3D Vision:
  • Advanced overclocking
  • Standby mode S1, S3 and S5
  • Boot from USB keyboard or mouse
  • Full thermoregulation (Turbo, Standard, Silent, and Manual) on 2 fans catches (PWM CPU socket)
  • Wake on LAN


Testing:

We used only mini ITX for our next test with the GIGABYTE HD 5770 Silent Cell, steady with this graphics card namely the Lian-Li PC-Q08. The selected processor is the Phenom X6 1055T, which is the most powerful compatible in its 95W with the motherboard. Even if its interest remains limited for an HTPC classic, it will be interesting to know how this so small card with a powerful 6-core processor is. In addition, we must remember that this possibility remains unique in this motherboard format. The S1156 socket has being disadvantaged of hexacore which are reserved to the s1366socket, which has no motherboard in this format.

If we choose SO-DIMM format, it saves space on the PCB but with some consequences: rising bills and the limitation of choice. However, we managed to find a lot of bars performance in this format. And image processor, we selected the best performing benchmark for the market in this format i.e. the KINGSTON PC12800 2x2GB. Technical characteristics quite unusual for the SO-DIMM.

However, limiting the TDP to 95W for a 6-core processor is still quite good in performance. The first version of the latter had a TDP of 125W, it is this version that is in our possession. Tested on this card, the computer boots up, but displays an error message indicating non-presence of the latter on the official compatibility list, though it is easy to bypass by pressing the F1 key. To cool at best, we use a Corsair H50 that is reliable with the millimeter Q08. The Windows 7 64 bit operating system will be installed on INTEL POSTVILLE SSD.


Socket:

Just like the DFI MI P55-T36 Motherboard whose production is now discarded, the socket processor of ASUS M4A88T DELUXE-I is ideally placed. Certainly, almost in the center of the square formed by the back panel and PCI Express is compatible with virtually all the radiators on the market. They are horizontal like the Scythe Shuriken Rasetsu and the bid Noctua NH-C12P or NH-C14p, or the Noctua NH-U12P NH-D14 and they are all on paper, without condemning the compatible PCIe 16x.

Even if this compatibility is virtual, it will be difficult to find a mini ITX case that can accommodate larger. This list is in addition to that formed by the Scythe Shuriken Samurai ZZ NOCTUA NH-U9B and Thermalright AXP-140 RT those are already compatible with H55/57 motherboards.
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  #3  
Old 11-03-2011
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Re: ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX Motherboard

Using HTPC / NAS, AMD 880g:

AMD 880g:
This motherboard comes with small AMD 880g chipset, simply changing the 785G support for only DDR3 memory and an embedded graphic card Radeon HD 4250. In terms of audio and video processing, there is no improvement.

Video Processing: UVD 2.0, but not 23 Hz mode:
We simply recall that it is perfectly capable of decoding the most demanding video formats (H.264, VC-1, MPEG2). In contrast, the 23 Hz mode optimized for display in an ultra smooth Blu-ray and other videos at 23.976 fps is absent, even since the last Catalyst 10.10. Hence, we must use the software to seamlessly synchronize your reclocks videos at 23.976 fps with 24 Hz output mode that operates it well.

Audio processing: HDMI bridled at Stereo:
We found annoying problem as per the audio support HDMI output. The AMD 880g offers the same audio controller on the AMD 690G, 780G or 785G. That is to say that if you connect the motherboard with an amplifier with HDMI, the sound will be restrained to 2 channels (stereo), unless transfer without converting DTS tracks or Dolby Digital while playing. The AMD 880g remains to be lagging behind with regard to the audio processing via HDMI. Nvidia ION or IGP or Intel G4X are able to share any decode multichannel audio (DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, FLAC, MP3 Surround ...) in order to broadcast multichannel LPCM (4.0, 5.1 or 7.1). The most advanced chips at the moment are Intel Clarkdale (G6950 Pentium, Core i3 and i5), the Radeon HD 5000/6000 and GeForce 400, supporting up to 7.1 LPCM format, but the DTS audio tracks , AC3, DTS-HD and Dolby True HD pass-through.


No DTS Connect on the S / PDIF either, but a chip Realtek ALC889:
Unfortunately, other audio outputs do not fully recover the situation. The optical S / PDIF and coaxial supports are exactly in the same formats as the HDMI output managed by the AMD 880g, ie LPCM stereo and audio tracks in DTS and Dolby Digital passthrough. We regret that there is no procedure or DTS Connect, especially as a function more useful (DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC) operates on the analog output. The latter only allows simulating the DTS Neo: 6 process of an amplifier, that is to say convert a track in 5.1 stereo music or film. However, Asus has chosen one of best audio chips to handle the analog part, a Realtek ALC889 that offers a high quality digital to analog conversion.

USB 3.0, eSATA, WiFi, an extensive connection:
Regarding the use of nomadic everything is present with the exception of FireWire that is now increasingly abandoned by manufacturers. USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and eSATA are present on the rear panel. The Bluetooth module allows you to connect our PDAs and other media players that have this interface even be considered for use as a remote control. And finally, the dual antenna WiFi N overcomes a wired connection.

Finally, despite the limited 3-port S-ATA, RAID 0,1 and 5 support is present. Wake on LAN (WOL) is present hat remains attractive to use NAS while the number of ports S-ATA is not ideal for this use.
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  #4  
Old 11-03-2011
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Posts: 730
Re: ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe mini-ITX Motherboard

Overclocking:

The presence of a 16x PCIe slot can start to consider using "Gamer". Connected with a multi-core processor and a good kit of memory performance, with a powerful graphics card can change this compact platform in empowered game console. Compatible Hybrid CrossFireX , the IGP may slightly boost the graphics capabilities of the dedicated adapter while using an ATI / AMD.

ASUS has also adds two interesting features, that is the "Core Unlocker" and "Turbo Key II" that are activated by these two switches on the PCB:
  • The Core Unlocker to activate the inactive cores compatible processors easily with an existing switch on the PCB. This enables a dual core in tri-core and therefore benefit from a superior computing power without spending any more amount.
  • The Turbo Key II can turn the power button into a button for increasing frequency. Simply put, once this function is activated, pressing the "ON" button of the housing increases the processor speed and memory.


If using a PHENOM X6 we were not allowed to use the release of cores, using the 125W version it is not compatible with the card that has probably limited level of overclocking. However, through the ASUS software house, the V TURBO EVO, it is possible to launch an automatic overclocking. In this way we were able to operate our X6 at a frequency of 3.64 GHz with a FSB of 260 and even 4.0 GHz Core via the Turbo or overclocking potential of 30%. Consider using a 6-core processor at a frequency of 3.6/4Ghz, a mini ITX board could make us look like fools. Today is the feat accomplished by this small motherboard.

Nevertheless, it appears obvious that the map connected with the latest generation video card is capable of rubbing shoulders with an Intel platform (core i7 870S associated with GIGABYTE-H55N USB3 or DFI P55-T36) while keeping an important advantage due to its cost and uniqueness of the hexacore.

Conclusion:

Let us say right away, this little board has really enjoyed it. Like the stars of the niche it has almost any of a variety. It has some interruption on the audio-video, including the absence of 23 Hz mode and bridled at stereo LPCM HDMI without support for HD audio bitstream formats. In this, it is better to couple a small Radeon HD 5570 or GeForce GT 430 to fill the gaps ... The NAS part is itself limited by the 3-port S-ATA, even if the SB710 southbridge supports RAID levels 0 and 1.

But it is on the party game that ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe out with big game in spite of its Mini-ITX, it can put up to 6 core AMD processor, along with almost all the Cooler and a PCIe 16x graphics card. As a bonus, it shows off very advanced overclocking options for the processor and memory. This is by far the best alternative to the gigabyte-H55N USB 3.0 to form a small gaming HTPC.


Pros:
  • Connectors (USB 3.0, eSATA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)
  • Support CPU cooler
  • Overclocking capabilities
  • Raid 0 and 1
  • Thermoregulation
  • Wake On Lan
  • Realtek ALC889

Cons:
  • 3-port S-ATA
  • No 23 Hz mode
  • Clamped in stereo LPCM HDMI
  • No DTS Connect
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