iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Biostar TA790GX A2+ Motherboard

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Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket AM2, Socket AM2+ compatible, officially supports Phenom X3/X4, Athlon 64/X2/FX, and Sempron processors for Socket AM2 and Socket AM2+ with TPD up to 140 W inclusive, the list of products, tested for compatibility, is published on the web site; it contains some mistakes in processor names, but it's still useful)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 16 GB of DDR2-400/533/667/800/1066, dual-channel mode in case of symmetrically filled slots)
  • 2 x PCIEx16 2.0 for graphics cards (they work as x8+x8 with two cards installed; when only a single card is installed, you must insert a special bundled card to configure the main port to the x16 mode)
  • 2 x PCIEx1 2.0
  • 2 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins), 4-pin ATX12V to power a processor, and 4-pin peripheral connector for additional power supply of graphics cards (there are no installation recommendations in the manual, so we assume that it's used for CrossFire with overclocked graphics cards)
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) for two chipset-based ATA133 devices
  • 6 x SATA-II (Serial ATA II) for six chipset-based SATA300 devices, connected drives can form RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5
  • 3 connectors for rear panel brackets with 6 x USB
  • Connector for a bracket with a COM port
  • Connector for a bracket with an LPT port
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • S/PDIF-Out connector
  • S/PDIF-In connector
  • Three fan headers with rpm control, CPU fan header (4 pins) supports smart control (3-pin compatible).

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • HDMI
  • VGA and DVI-D
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x Analog Audio (Center/Sub, Side-Out, Rear-Out, Line-In, Front-Out, Mic-In)

Package contents

  • Package: a standard-sized box in the traditional T-Series style
  • Documentation: User manual (the body of the manual is in English, but specifications are published in various languages)
  • Cables: 2 x SATA with a power converter for one SATA device, 1 x ATA66, and 1 x FDD cable

  • Dummy card for a free graphics port, if only one graphics card is installed
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers and T-Utility to flash CMOS and to overclock the system, system monitoring utility is also included into the bundle. However, it's not included into T-Utiltities and does not allow to configure SmartFan modes. In return, we have eHOT-Line for automatic inclusion of system information into your requests sent to your tech support service. Besides, the bundle includes a 90-day trial of Bullguard Internet Security 6.0.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the chipset support for HDA and Realtek ALC888 codec, 7.1 channel audio, front line-ins/outs, S/PDIF-In/Out, and CD-In
  • Network: Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps based on PCIE controller Realtek RTL8111C.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.04, -0.11 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A): -71.2 Average
Dynamic range, dB (A): 71.1 Average
THD, %: 1.514 Bad
THD + Noise, %: -34.2 Very bad
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 2.119 Bad
Channel crosstalk, dB: -72.5 Good
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 1.908 Bad

General performance: Average. Analog audio quality leaves much to be desired. It's a real disappointment, of course, because this old sore of Biostar motherboards seemed to start healing already. But in this case engineers made an apparent mistake, because this audio codec from Realtek was considered the best solution not long ago, even now it demonstrates high results for an integrated solution. In other words, users of this motherboard will have to do without analog outputs. In practice it means plugging speakers either via HDMI or S/PDIF, or installing a sound card as the most universal solution.


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
2 x USBV jumpers Wake on USB for rear panel ports and ports on brackets
Two buttons to power on/off and reset  
AMI BIOS v2.61 Controlling specific platform functions + Cool'n'Quiet
Secure Virtual Machine Mode
C1E Support
Speculative TLB Reload (TLB patch)
Advanced Clock Calibration
Memory timings + 1T/2T Memory Timing, CAS Latency, Min RAS Active Time, RAS to CAS Delay, Row Precharge Time, Row to Row Delay, Row Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, Write-To-Read Time
Memory frequency selection + Auto, 400, 533, 667, 800, 1066 MHz (you actually specify a multiplier to the FSB frequency)
HT bus setup + Auto, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600 MHz
Peripheral bus frequency control -  
PCI IRQ manual assignment +  
FSB frequency setup + 200-600 MHz at 1 MHz steps
Integrated GPU frequency control + 150-1500 MHz at 1 MHz steps
SidePort video memory frequency control + 400, 533, and 667 MHz
CPU multiplier* + from x8, at x0.5 steps for the core, and from x4 at integer steps for the memory controller
CPU core voltage control + +0.012-0.787 V at 0.012 V steps
Memory voltage control + 1.9-2.6 V at 0.1 V steps
HT bus voltage control + 1.2-1.5 V at 0.1 V steps
Chipset voltage control + 1.2-1.5 V at 0.1 V steps for Northbridge

* Adjustment ranges of the CPU multiplier and voltage depend on a given processor. We publish results for our Phenom 9550.

We used BIOS 08.00.14 dated 15.08.2008, the latest release version. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

Expectable overclocking potential, typical of T-Series motherboards. As is always the case with Biostar, there are three levels of automatic CPU overclocking, which names hint at car engines (V6, V8, and V12) -- "Extra, Extreme, and Extraordinary" overclocking levels correspondingly.The integrated graphics core can also be overclocked above its nominal frequency (650 MHz). We are impressed by abundant options for SidePort video memory: overclockers can not only specify memory frequency (400 MHz by default), but also memory distribution mode: whether the system will use only the video buffer or only external memory, or both, and in what proportions, as well as other parameters.

CMOS Backup allows to save BIOS settings into a profile. But it's updated automatically after POST, so you cannot use it to save alternative settings. There is an option to flash BIOS from a floppy drive or a memory stick with the built-in BIO-Flasher utility.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design, monitoring

Page 2: Interfaces, controllers, BIOS

Page 3: Performance, power consumption, conclusions

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