Even though Socket FM1 is a rather simple platform, there is obviously a certain number of users who want just the basics—particularly those who need neither fast internal graphics nor USB 3.0. Today we'll take a closer look at a solution for the undemanding—the Biostar A960G+ motherboard, an extra affordable variant of Socket AM3+ platform with an integrated graphics core.
With such a low onboard element density the mainboard looks rather spartan. Yet there is not much free space left on it, because Biostar A960G+ is smaller a standard microATX board. The screw holes are situated well enough for the mainboard not to bend when installed.
On board we have four vertical SATA connectors, only one of which may be obstructed by even a large graphics card. At the same time, there are no COM or LPT ports, so you can't connect old peripherals. Finally, there are two USB 2.0 headers for the front panel.
The northbridge is equipped with a small simple heatsink only, and the cooling system is a weak point of the motherboard in general. This problem only shows when the power-saving chipset mode is off, for example when you're decompressing an ISO file or working in the BIOS Setup. In this case the motherboard powers off after 15-20 minutes, accompanied by a smell of burnt textolite. The same problem may appear during OS installation, so you'll certainly need extra cooling, no matter what kind of graphics you have. In the reference mode the chipset temperature never exceeds 45°C, so just good air circulation inside the enclosure will be enough.
The CPU VRM has 3+1 phases with 2 MOSFETs per phase. Due to such simplicity the TDP is limited to 95 W, which means that only a certain number of AM3+ CPUs can be installed. However, the limitation is not tough, and suitable models can be found even in the AMD FX lineup.
We should also mention that the critical circuitry features solid capacitors, which is certainly good.
The back panel doesn't have too much to offer: 4 x USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, Gigabit Ethernet, audio I/O, and dual PS/2 for mouse and keyboard
Though Biostar A960G+ is an entry-level product, it comes in a custom-designed box that has the mainboard features listed.
The bundle includes 2 SATA-cables with metal latches, a brief user guide, a driver CD, and a back-panel faceplate.
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