Like the other two boards we’ve looked at, the M4A88TM uses a blue and black colour scheme which looks great. As a result of the more compact form factor, Asus have compromised on the number of PCI and PCI Express lanes that are included.
There is one PCI Express x16 slot so you can install the graphics card of your choice, unless you plan to use the on-board Radeon HD 4250 GPU. As there is only one full size PCI Express lane, CrossfireX isn’t support although Hybrid CrossfireX is supported with the on-board GPU. The Radeon HD 4250 is part of the 880G chipset that Asus have used.
Asus have also included 2x PCI Express 1x slots for further expansion even though one of these will be blocked if you install a dual slot graphics card. There is also a legacy PCI slot which would be perfect for installing a TV tuner if you plan to build an HTPC with this board.
The voltage regulation circuitry surrounding the CPU socket is bare of any heatsinks so it’s clear that Asus aren’t expecting extreme overclockers to use this board. The four DDR3 Ram slots flank the CPU socket on the other side and support 1333Mhz Ram (1866MHz OC). Please bear in mind that large CPU coolers will hang over the RAM slots so low profile RAM is a good idea.
We also find 6 SATA 3Gbps connectors in the bottom right hand corner which face directly out of the board. We would have preferred SATA 6Gbps connectors that were angled at 90 degrees but these are features often reserved for higher end motherboards. There is also an IDE connector along the right hand side.
There are a few connections which we feel Asus should have included on this board which are missing. Even though USB 3.0 seems to be removing the need for eSATA ports these days, many boards still have an eSATA port and quite a few people still use them. So we were a little surprised that Asus chose not to include one.
There are six USB2.0 ports on the rear I/O panel which should be enough for most users. For those who require more, there are three internal headers that allow you to connect six front panel USB2.0 ports. There is also a PS/2 connector, six 3.5mm jacks, an optical S/PDIF connection, an RJ-45 ethernet jack, a VGA port, a DVI port and an HDMI port on the rear IO.