iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Biostar TA890FXE Motherboard

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  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810
  • RAM: 2 x 2GB Apacer DDR3-1333 CL9 9-9-9-24-1T for Socket AM3 boards; 2 x 2GB GoodRAM PRO DDR2-1066 CL5 5-5-5-15-2T for Socket AM2+ boards
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 4850, 512 MB GDDR3
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit, Catalyst 9.2, latest chipset drivers


  • 7-Zip 4.65 x64
  • WinRAR 3.80
  • XviD 1.2.1
  • x264 r1129 x64
  • FarCry 2 (Ranch Medium)
  • Crysis (DX10, HOCbenchmark, VGA test, built-in demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 (built-in benchmark)
  • World in Conlict (built-in benchmark)

To assess performance we measure time required to archive a 297MB set of 277 files of various types and convert a 636MB MPEG2 video using XviD and x264. We also measure frames per second in game demos. In FarCry 2 we run tests in 4 modes: low, medium, high and very high quality. The first three modes imply the aforesaid quality level, 1280x720 resolution, DX9 rendering, High Performance. The last mode implies: 1680x1050 resolution, Very High setting for both graphics and system, DX10 rendering. In Crysis we also use 4 modes at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and run tests at Low and High quality in each mode. In Devil May Cry 4 we run two tests: 1280x720 (High DX9) and 1680x1050 (Super High DX10). In World in Conlict we run test in 4 modes: 1280x720 Low, 1280x720 Medium, 1680x1050 High, 1680x1050 Very High.

It's obvious which modes should be used with integrated graphics and which, with discrete graphics. Note that if a motherboard has no integrated graphics, performance tests are only used to check for serious layout or BIOS flaws and can be reduced to minimum. Vice versa, performance tests are indicative for motherboards with integrated graphics. And if a certain motherboard review lacks certain details, we might add respective test results to make up for it.

To assess capabilities of a motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock test CPUs (which ones depends on board's market segment) to a stable maximum with the help of Zalman CNPS9700 AM2 and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments (Hyper-Transport, CPU NB, etc.) For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier, or clock rate needed to maximize CPU core clock rate. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows Vista with the help of AMD OverDrive stability test (all tests are run for 5 minutes). Note that since overclocking potential somewhat varies from one board to another, we are not focused on finding board's exact overclocking potential accurate to 1MHz. We just try to find out if a board hampers in CPU overclocking (due to insufficient voltage stabilizer power, etc.) and see how it performs in atypical modes, including automatic BIOS recovery in cases of overclocking issues (not requiring CMOS reset) and such.

Power consumption is assessed in the light-load mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy-load mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). Processor's standard power-saving features are enabled. Also if a board has proprietary power-saving features, we examine their efficiency separately.

BIOS overclocking settings Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200 to 600 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Core unlocking + In BIOS
CPU voltage + +0.050 to +1.450 V (CPU)
+0.050 to +0.200 V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + -0.400 to +0.630 V
Northbridge voltage + +0.01 to +0.40 V
HT bus voltage + +0.01 to +0.30 V
Southbridge voltage + +0.01 to +0.40 V

The BIOS adjustment ranges of CPU voltage, as well as some other parameters, depend on the given processor. We publish the results of our AMD Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS 5.06 released on 06/05/2010.

Adjusting voltages by means of relative values is logical, because you actually set the maximum voltage (and clock rate) while actual values, considering Cool'n'Quiet, will depend on load. But in this case you will need to memorize typical values, because those are not indicated in the same BIOS section—a usual thing for overclocker motherboards. On the upside, the monitoring section shows voltages of CPU, RAM, as well as both chipset bridges and even CPU NB. Although actual frequencies are only provided for the CPU core. To check the rest, you'll need to use diagnostic tools.

If you push overclocking too far, automatic reset to defaults isn't perfect. You'll have to either wait or push the reset button a few times. But in general it works correctly, loading pre-crash BIOS values so you can edit them. Up to 10 user profiles add to overclocking comfort, too.

CPU AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4GHz AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 4000 3744
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x20) 288 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1,50/1,35 1,50/1,33
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2600 (x13) 2592 (x9)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 2016 (x7)
Memory frequency DDR3-1333 DDR3-1152
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

The results are nice, but not outstanding for a 890FX-based board. For example, Gigabyte's counterpart achieved 4100 MHz and 3835 MHz, respectively. On the other hand, HWBOT almost set a world record with this motherboard in extreme overclocking with the use of cryogenic cooling systems and such. Well, in our case, with motherboard heatsinks and a CPU cooler, the MOSFET heatsink heated up quite a lot with a top-class quad-core CPU working at 4 GHz.

Performance and efficiency

We compared TA890FXE with Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7 based on the same chipset.

Radeon HD 4850 Biostar TA890FXE Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:17 2:25
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:15 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
FarCry 2 (Very High@1680x1050), fps 62 62
World in Conflict (Very High@1680x1050), fps 29 29

Enclosure power consumption

We measured power consumption with the wattmeter built into the PSU.

Phenom II X4 810 + Radeon HD 4850 Biostar TA890FXE Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 86 (Green Power Off)
82 (Green Power On)
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 103 94
Far Cry 2, W 171-223 174-195

As you can see, performance is almost identical. However, Gigabyte's product seems to be more efficient, especially in the idle mode, although experiments with power-saving modes hasn't exposed any differences in actual power consumption. While Biostar offers a difference, though minimal. Anyway, that doesn't affect the bottom line.


It is said that system builders like "no-frills" motherboards on top-class chipsets, because this way they get a chance to improve PC specifications for a low price. Well, the same can be said about users who build their PCs on their own. Not a lot of them are willing to pay for features they don't need. The lack of USB 3.0 controller is debatable. Perhaps, Biostar should've added USB 3.0 instead of FireWire (and provide IDE channels by means of the chipset). But that seems to be the only criticism for TA890FXE.

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