iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Biostar TPower I45 Motherboard

Introducing the new TPower series.

September 26, 2008

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With jumpers and buttons Clear CMOS jumper  
Jumpers to apply standby voltage to USB ports After that you can power a computer on from devices connected to these ports
Jumpers to control PCIEx16 slot modes It's either one slot in x16 mode or both slots in x8 mode
AMI BIOS 2.61 Allows to disable specific CPU functions + Hardware Prefetcher, Adjacent Cache Line Prefetch, Core Multi-Processing, Thermal Management (TM2), Enhanced Halt State, Execute Disable Bit, Virtualization Technology, Enhanced SpeedStep
Memory timings + By SPD, CAS Latency Time, DRAM RAS to CAS Delay, DRAM RAS Precharge, Precharge Delay, TWR, TWTR, TRRD, TRTP, TRFC, and a dozen more, including Refresh Counter and DDR2 RCOMP configuration control
Memory frequency selection + Auto or a multiplier to the FSB frequency: x2, x2.4, x2.5, x3, x3.2, x3.3, x4 (you choose resulting DDR2 frequency directly)
Peripheral bus frequency control + PCI-E = 100-150 MHz at 1 MHz steps
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + 100-800 MHz at 1 MHz steps, there is an option of dynamic CPU overclocking and three automatic overclocking presets
CPU multiplier + only integer values
CPU core voltage control + Auto, from -0.200 V to +1.300 V at 0.025 V and 0.05 V steps
Memory voltage control + Auto, up to +1.85 V at 0.05, 0.1, and 0.2 V steps
Chipset voltage control + Northbridge: Auto, up to +0.700 V at 0.025, 0.05, and 0.1 V steps
FSB voltage control + Auto, up to +0.750 V at 0.025 and 0.05 V steps

We used BIOS version dated 10.07.08, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

The motherboard allows to call up a menu to select a boot device with a certain button during the POST procedure, a convenient way for a once-only boot-up, for example from a CD drive, without making changes in BIOS Setup. You can save/load up to ten BIOS profiles, which may come in handy for your overclocking experiments, as most settings can be quickly restored right after clearing CMOS. If a motherboard fails to bootup for a specified number of times after an overclocking attempt, it automatically starts up with default settings without modifying settings in BIOS Setup, which is very convenient for adjustments. The motherboard allows to display system monitoring data during POST procedure (like EPoX motherboards). However, this motherboard displays info AFTER the procedure, so you just have no time to read the data.

BIOS includes two integrated utilities. The first one is often used by other manufacturers. It allows to flash BIOS from a floppy or a USB memory stick; in this case you don't have to use a system drive for flashing. But the second utility is a very good present for overclockers: Memtest86+ v2.01 will thoroughly test your system for stability and check the quality of memory modules, so there is no need to boot into an operating system for a quick test of the current overclocked configuration.

Biostar highlights the excellent overclocking potential of the motherboard, which can be proved only by overclocking statistics. Well, at least BIOS Setup of this product indeed offers a lot of unique overclocking settings. For example, you can adjust the onboard master clock by changing the signal format: CPU Clock Driving Control = Auto, 700, 800, 900, 1000 mV; CPU Clock Skew and MCH Clock Skew = Auto, 100--1500 ps. You can also change GTL Reference Voltage for each CPU core and Northbridge from 0.56 VTT to 0.69 VTT, as well as CPU PLL Voltage (1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 V). Other rare options include FSB Compensation FineTune (it's up to overclockers to find out what it means) and DDR2 Enhance Mode (it does not seem to have noticeable effect on performance).


Testbed configurations:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4 GHz, 1066 MHz bus)
  • Memory: 2 x 1 GB Corsair CM2X1024-9136C5D (tested in DDR2-800 mode with 4-4-4 timings)
  • Graphics card: PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 3870, 512 MB
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
  • PSU: HiPro W460GC31
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

We decided to compare Biostar TPower I45 with several representatives of the latest chipsets from Intel.

Test Biostar TPower I45 (P45) MSI P43 Neo-F (P43) ECS P45T-A (P45) Biostar TP35D2-A7 SE (P35) MSI X48C Platinum (X48)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 4:16 4:17 4:17 4:16 4:19
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec 3:36 3:36 3:37 3:37 3:37
FarCry (Low@640x480), fps 348 347 346 346 343
FarCry (Highest@1600x1200), fps 181 178 181 179 181
Doom 3 (Low@640x480), fps 208 208 207 205 203
Doom 3 (Highest@1600x1200), fps 180 179 179 178 179

As you can easily see, there are practically no differences between these boards. The matter is that memory bandwidth in modern PCs is too high to be able to defeat competing products by chipset (motherboard) memory controller tweaks.


Drawing a conclusion, we can state that we like Biostar TPower I45. It's not the cheapest model in the market, of course, as prices for P45-based motherboards start from $100. But in this case we know exactly what we pay for. Manufacturing quality, including the choice of electronic components, is excellent as well as motherboard functionality. We can only complain about the lack of FireWire and a questionable set of expansion slots (it's a full-size ATX board after all). This product supports all actual standards and FSB frequencies, so it's a good motherboard to allow for growth, especially as nothing better is expected in the market this year. We cannot say anything certain about overclocking capacity of TPower I45. But Biostar engineers at least provided good groundwork for it: voltage regulators in key circuits, effective chipset cooling, advanced BIOS Setup options duplicated by Windows TPower2.

The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card provided by PowerColor.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, performance, conclusions

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