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Appeared on: Monday, April 07, 2008
Biostar TA770 A2+


1. Introduction

Today we take a closer look at Biostar 's latest implementation of AMD's 790FX chipset, the TA770 A2+ mainboard for AM2+ CPUs.

The model offers support for the new AMD Phenom series of multi-core processors, Dual Channel DDR2-1066, more L3 cache and offer increased overclocking potential. The TA770 A2+ is designed for performance, scallability, and personalization, which are coupled with efficient design incorporating brand new technologies. TA770 A2+ is also featuring the HyperTransport 3.0 Technology and PCI Express 2.0 to get the performance you need for gaming, rich multimedia, and multi-tasking.

HyperTransport 3.0 Technology and PCI Express 2.0

HyperTransport 3.0 technology raises the data transfer speed from HT2.0G up to max. HT5.2G, a very speedy rate even for the latest standards. The PCI Express 2.0 platform is designed to run perfectly with the new PCI Express 2.0 bus architecture, offering a future-proofing bridge to tomorrow’s most bandwidth-hungry games and 3D applications by maximizing the 5 GT/s PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth (twice that of first generation PCI Express).

The BIOSTAR TA770 A2+ mainboard also offers two brand new features the Biostar original BIO-TEX technology that will satisfy the appetites of most power hungry early adapters of any new application hitting the market in coming months.

You can familiarize yourself with the full features at Biostar's website.

- Full specifications

CPU Support Supports AMD Phenom Series/Athlon 64 X2/64/FX/Sempron Processors
Chipset AMD 770 + SB600
Socket AM2+/AM2
PCI-Express x16 2.0 1
PCI-Express x1 2.0 2
PCI 3
LAN GbE LAN
SATA 3.0Gb/s 4
eSATA 2
RAID 0/1/10
USB 2.0 10
Integrated Audio 8+2 Channel HD Audio

2. The Package

The Biostar TA770A2+ will cost you approximately $75 (+shipping), as we found after a quick navigation across some online stores. The price is very low and combined with the performance of the AMD processors the motherboard supports, it should give you a decent low budget system.

The retail package follows the usual design of the Biostar T-Series of motherboards.

The retail box includes the usual cables, connectors and adapters.

Below is the complete list of what's included in the retail package

There is not any games or fancy stuff included, allowing Biostar to keep the retail price in low levels.

The board itself looks very "clean" as most of the components can be easily identified. Its overall dimensions are 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm), following the ATX standards:

Below you can see is an overview of the motherboard's layout:

Let's take a closer look at the CPU area.

There is enough space left around cpu area, allowing you to install bigger cooling fans. There are also four DDR2 DIMMs for up to 8GB memory configurations, properly colored for easy installation in dual channel modes. We can also see the 24pin power and the FDD cable connector.

On the lower left side of the mainboard you can see four (4) SATAII connectors and of course the ATA133 connector. They're all colored in yellow for easy tracking. The start/reset buttons, which have become mainstream in the latest motherboards, are very useful to start the system without connecting the headers of your PC case.

The motherboard supports the PCI-e v2.0 standard through only one slot (PCI-Express x16 2.0) and has two PCI-Express x1 2.0 slots for for PCI-e cards. There are also three PCI slots for adding extra hardware to your system, (green colored).

The I/O panel has the following ports and connectors:

Biostar releases two versions of the same motherboard. The one we have in our hands belongs to the 5xx series, while the other series is labeled V6xx. Their main difference is the that the Ver5.x series offers a 3-way sound system:


3. The BIOS

The familiar Phoenix - Award Bios appears upon booting up the system, customized by Biostar of course. The most interesting tab here is the " Overclock Navigator Engine."

The PC Health Status settings are also very helpful, offering detailed information about the temperatures, voltages and fan speeds.

In the overclocking Navigator Engine tab, we can control all the major functions of the board. There are three pre-defined overclocking steps, (V6 Tech - 10%~15%, V8 Tech - 15%~25%, V12 Tech - 25%~30%). For our tests, we select the "Manual Overclock" setting.

The CPU voltage can be set at +0.012V reaching up to +0.787V, in predefined steps . This however isn't very practical, since in order to calculate the actual CPU voltage you should sum your current voltage selection with the base voltage setting.

Memory voltages start from 1.95V and can go up to 2.90V.

The available HT Voltage settings also start from 1.250V and reach the 1.525V

More voltage settings for NB/SB; the motherboard can set to 1.150V~ 1.400 in steps of 0.02/0.03.

Entering the DRAM tab brings us in front of tons of different settings. According to the type of memory you have installed, you can set up the DDR/FSB divider from 1:1~1:2 (only with Phenom processors).

Lastly, the FSB can be typically set from 200~600MHz.


4. Test Configuration

After using Everest Ultimate Edition we can get more information about the motherboard:

All the tests were performed with BIOS VerC20BS installed.

Let's see now how our CPU was identified under CPU-Z:

Due to a Bios limitation, the 1T function was non-operational, so it was left at it 2T to complete all the tests.

Test PC configuration:

Benchmarks:


5. Everest Ultimate Edition 2007

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is a leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the EVEREST Technology.

During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. The software has build-in several tests for memory and CPU/FPU.

We compare the Biostar TA770-A2+ mainboard with Gigabytes GA-790FX-DQ6, both based on the same chipset.

Gigabyte's solution was slight slower in the Memory Copy and Memory Read tests, while it was better in the Memory write test.

At the CPU tests, the Gigabyte GA-790FX-DQ6 was much faster than Biostar TA770-A2+.


6. SiSoftware Sandra

SiSoft ware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc. Sisoft Sandra offers a variety of tests for Memory and CPU.

Again the memory tests was a winner situation for Biostar TA770-A2+. In the Sisoft Sandra CPU tests, the results were mixed up with neither Gigabyte GA-790FX-DQ6 nor Biostar TA770-A2+ to take a clear lead.


7. PCMark05, 3DMark06

Click for homepage!PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses. Below you can see all three available scores, memory, CPU and total.

Biostar was faster in the Memory test with Gigabyte to take the lead in the CPU tests.

Click for homepage!3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

3D Mar06 tests both CPU/RAM and of course the graphics card. The Gigabyte GA-790FX-DQ6 took the first place with 1869 points.


8. Science Mark 2.0, Pov-Ray, x264 Benchmark

In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, Science Mark 2.0 includes a high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias.  Science Mark 2.0 is comprised of 7 benchmarks, each of which measures a different aspect of real world system performance.

Pov-Ray s a free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports. We used Pov-Ray 3.7beta15 for all tests, since it supports Dual Core CPUs. In this test we chose the build-in benchmark as it was suggested from the developers.

The Pov-Ray benchmark was dominated from Gigabyte, while the ScienceMark Benchmark from Biostar.

- x264 Benchmark

x264 Benchmark utilizes the next generation of Video Encoding benchmarks with support for x264 codec that is considered to be one of the most demanding for Video applications. Simply put, this test measures how fast your machine can encode a short, DVD quality MPEG-2 video clip into a high-quality x264 video clip. The author believes that "...it's ideal for a benchmark because the application (x264.exe) reports fairly accurate compression results (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encoding process, and it uses multi-core processors very efficiently..."

The benchmark procedure is very simple, you just run a batch file that encodes the same file five times. The software provided two different results for each of the encoding passes. Below you can see the an average number of the results for both passes.

The x264 benchmark really tests the CPU/memory combination. It seems that at the first FPS1 test, the Biostar was faster, however at FPS2 test, the Gigabyte took the first place.


9. MAXON CINEBENCH

MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's CINEMA 4D animation software, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for the creation of 3D content.

MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such and Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and it is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based). The resulting values among different operating systems are 100% comparable and therefore very useful with regard to purchasing decision-making.

All tests were concluded with the R9.5 and R10 build and each result is presented in a different graph for your consideration. Note that the displayed index scores indicate the average of the CPU index scores.

At the CineBench R9.5 and R10 versions, the TA770 A2+ was slightly slower than Gigabyte's motherboard.


11. SYSmark 2007 Preview, WorldBench 6

BAPCo's SYSmark 2007 Preview is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of Video creation, E-learning, 3D Modeling and Office Productivity. This new release includes a robust and refreshed set of applications.

The software utilizes real life applications like: Adobe After Effects 7, Adobe Illustrator CS2, Adobe Photoshop CS2, AutoDesk 3ds Max 8, Macromedia Flash 8, Microsoft Excel 2003, Microsoft Outlook 2003, Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Project 2003, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 series, Sony Vegas 7, SketchUp 5 and WinZip 10.0.

All results are directly comparable between various configurations and operating systems.

The overall rating for Sysmark 2007 Preview was in favor of Biostar.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130470-page,1/article.htmlPC World has developed a benchmark for testing PC system performance, WorldBench has reached six (6) number and now is compatible with Windows Vista. Much like as SysMark, it uses various real life applications (Adobe Photoshop CS2, Autodesk 3ds max 8.0 SP-3, Firefox 2, Microsoft Office 2003 with SP-1, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0, Nero 7 Ultra Edition, Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5 and WinZip Computing WinZip 10.0) and with pre-defined usage patterns calculates a total score that can be used to evaluate a system's performance.

While SysMark 2007 Preview found Biostar to be faster, with WorldBench 6 Beta2, the Gigabyte took the first place.


12. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (DirectX9)

This DriectX 9 game focuses on the amnesiac character Wayne Holden, his father, Gale Holden, and the past and future of the planet E.D.N. III.

For our tests we used the Demo version that includes a "Performance Test" function. The visual settings were set to default. There are two test results from two different animated courses that being reported as "Snow" and "Cave":

Let's now see the performance of the tested motherboards:

Both motherboards had exactly the same performance.


13. Overclocking

1st Test

In our first test, all tested motherboards must achieve the highest CPU speed with all BIOS settings left to Auto. This allows each motherboard to determine how much voltage the CPU requires for stable operation . Memory dividers and memory/FSB/MCH voltages are also left to Auto. in other words, this is the simplest overclocking method.

Keeping the CPU multiplier at 12x, Biostar TA770-A2+ reached the 2600MHz, while the Gigabyte GA-790FX-DQ6 reached the 2640MHz.

2nd Test

Except from the maximum CPU speed, we need to define the the maximum possible FSB frequency we can get with the specific CPU. Again all BIOS settings are left to Auto and the CPU multiplier was dropped down to 5x. The HT dropped d to 200MHz. Both memory timings and dividers were also left to auto.

With Auto voltage settings we got a top roof of 270MHz, with Gigabyte GA-790FX-DQ6 to be much better with a 310MHz FSB.

- Overclocking stability

Biostar TA770 A2+ motherboard proved to be fairy stable during our overclocking attempts. In most cases the system posted a warning message prompting us to set the correct cpu host clock after a failed post. However there were several cases, where the system didn't post, even at safe mode, so we had to manually perform CMOS reset.


14. Summary

The Biostar TA770-A2+ is the second motherboard we test that uses the AMD RD790 chipset for AM2/AM2+ processors. Although we didn't have the chance to use a Phenom processor on this test in order to experience the mainboards full potentials, the Biostar TA770-A2+ proved to be stable enough and performed very well in the majority of the tests.

Biostar has kept several features out of the design in order to keep the retail price low. These would include four PCI-e slots that would allow for a Quad Crossfire setup.

The board itself, has a rather clean layout with the main components to be easily identified. There is enough free space around CPU and everything is nicely placed.

Concluding this review, we feel that this motherboard aims at a specific price-conscious target group, considering its low price. We don't have any major complains from Biostar TA770-A2+.

AMD's decision to release again its processors after the TBA bug make the RD790 motherboards appealing to end users. If you are considering to build a new stable system and your budget is limited, the Biostar TA770-A2+ is ideal for you. If all you need is extreme performance with Quad Crossfire setups, there are much higher-priced out there motherboards available for you.

Retail package
Features
Price
Bios
Performance
Overclocking performance
Overclocking stability


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