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Biostar TA790GX A3+ Motherboard

A new meaning for the GPU acronym.

June 15, 2009



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Biostar has already rolled out a lot of similar models with the AMD 790GX chipset that differ mostly in video buffer size and its memory type. We cannot say whether it's a winning approach (or it's easier to save on support for the ramified series and launch a couple of models with different designs), but it's a typical Biostar approach. As well as focus on the budget price range. Our today's motherboard is also addressed to thrifty users, even though it supports DDR3 memory.

Design





The board has a classic design for full-size models with the AMD 790GX chipset. Only SATA connectors are installed unusually away from the edge of the board, but there are no problems with that. What concerns the bundle, we can only grumble that engineers did not install any S/PDIF Out and eSATA ports on the rear panel. Competitors will certainly take advantage of this situation and use peripheral functions as their forte, so Biostar will again compete using only its minimal prices.



It's a traditional cooling system without heat pipes, which is another sign of a Mid- or Low-End product. However, a heatsink on MOSFETs in the CPU voltage regulator indicates potential capacity of this motherboard to demonstrate good overclocking results. We've already grown accustomed to such performance of motherboards from Biostar, except for the most curtailed models, which have nothing to do with this product. This model has a video buffer for the integrated graphics core, although it's funny to see a DDR2-1000 chip (128 MB, Hynix H5PS1G63EFR-20L) on this motherboard that uses DDR3 memory. Video memory frequency is set to 400 MHz by default (DDR2-800), but you can specify 333-533 MHz in BIOS.



The onboard CPU voltage regulator has five phases, four of them, supplying processor cores, use three MOSFETs each. The fifth phase, responsible for the integrated Northbridge, contains two MOSFETs. The power circuit contains 10 x 820 uF and 5 x 270 uF solid capacitors made in Japan. We have no doubts that such voltage regulator will support processors with TDP up to 140 W.



The bundle does not include any bonuses. Just the standard set of cables (on the other hand, four SATA cables is more than enough), and the software disc contains usual tools to flash CMOS and monitor system parameters, similar to those for T-Series motherboards.

Features



The motherboard is based on the AMD 790GX chipset (AMD 790GX Northbridge + SB750 Southbridge). It supports processors for Socket AM3 only, you can install up to 16 GB of DDR3-1066/1333/1600 memory. There are six internal SATA/300 ports, which support RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5. Just like all motherboards with modern chipsets for the AMD platform, this model has a single chipset-based IDE channel supporting two PATA/133 drives. Functionality of the chipset is supplemented with the following controllers:

  • Integrated audio (8-channel HDA codec Realtek ALC888).
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111, PCIEx1) 10/100/1000 Mbps.
  • FireWire (LSI FW3227, PCI) supporting two IEEE 1394a 100/200/400 Mbps ports (one on the rear panel and one internal).
  • System monitoring (ITE IT8718F-S), automatic fan speed control for CPU and system coolers. You can influence the standard algorithm of the CPU fan by specifying the priority (Quiet or Performance). If you don't like the automatic control in these modes, you can specify thresholds manually:

    • Fan Ctrl Off -- when temperature drops below this value, the fan stops (or slows down to minimum, specified by Fan Ctrl Start value)
    • Fan Ctrl On -- when the temperature exceeds this value, the fan starts and its speed grows gradually as the temperature grows (in other words, you can specify different values for starting and stopping the fan, in order to avoid frequent ons/offs)
    • Fan Ctrl Start value -- it's a relative value that determines a threshold voltage (maximum voltage corresponds to 128 units here) necessary to start a fan. Different fans may require different voltages to start up. Automatic calibration option in BIOS will help determine this value for your fan.
    • Fan Ctrl Sensitive -- it's a relative value that determines rotational speed acceleration per 1°C, automatic calibration helps find the optimal value.

The system is compatible with 3-pin and 4-pin fans. Auto calibration is another praiseworthy feature -- the motherboard detects how the voltage applied affects CPU fan speed. Using these data, you can adjust the above-mentioned parameters.

Besides, system monitoring data are displayed at startup during POST -- it's a traditional feature in Biostar motherboards.

By the way, T-Utility in Windows provides the same fan management options. We can only welcome this profound approach to cooler management.

We assessed the analog output quality of the integrated audio system in the 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.3 and the ESI Juli@ sound card.


Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.06, -0.11 Very good
Noise level, dB (A): -74.7 Average
Dynamic range, dB (A): 75.8 Average
THD, %: 2.614 Very bad
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A): -29.4 Very bad
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 3.007 Bad
Channel crosstalk, dB: -77.0
Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 2.816 Bad

General performance:Average.

From the point of view of our tests, Biostar engineers failed to design a good audio system again. Interestingly, you won't hear anything terrible. But the difference exists, such a high level of intermodulations is apparently caused by some engineering flaws. Besides, this motherboard lacks SPDIF Outs, the only other way is to use HDMI.


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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design, features

Page 2: Overclocking, performance



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