“ Manufacturer: Biostar /Type: Motherboard „
Biostar A880G+ motherboard
I didn't set out specifically to buy this motherboard. This was more of a secondary consideration. I bought this as a processor / RAM / motherboard bundle.
The processor is usually one of the most expensive parts of a computer. Looking at the prices of Intel vs. AMD processors, the AMD processors were a lot cheaper, and a motherboard can either support a processor made by Intel or AMD only, and not both. I decided to get this as it supports the latest AMD processors as of this writing, and I wanted to get an AMD Phenom quad core processor.
I will list all the specific processor models it can support at the end of my review, but my motherboard has an AMD Phenom 965 CPU with a speed of 3.4 GHz, along with 4GB DDR3 RAM / memory.
I am using this in a standard-sized PC case. though, it could fit into a much smaller case. It is Micro ATX size and its dimensions are:
24.4cm X 20cm (W x L)
The accessories that came with this were:
- 2 x SATA Cable. These were enough for me as I used them to plug in a hard drive and a DVD writer.
- 1 x I/O Shield. This is a thin piece of metal that has the shapes of all the ports that appear on the back of your PC case. You stick it into the back of your case and then place your motherboard so the ports are aligned with the holes in this shield.
- 1 x CD Driver. It has all the drivers for the graphics / sound card etc and was very easy to install.
- 1 x Quick Start Guide. I think this could have been written better so it was aimed at the complete beginner. I did have some problems working out where for example the front case cables in my PC case were supposed to go on the motherboard.
I had a problem getting this to work when I first got it, and I had to send it back. I would press the power button and a power light would come on my PC case but nothing else would happen. I think this may have been happening because I wasn't plugging in the system fan cable attached to the PC case, into the motherboard. The system fan is an extra fan built into the PC case to help expel hot air out of the case while it is being used.
I did find this behaviour a bit weird as nothing like that has happened with older motherboards I have messed around with in the past.
The reason I chose this motherboard was because I felt it had all the functionality I would need for the next 3 to 4 years. It offers limited capabilities when it comes to upgrading etc but it should be ok for my needs.
It can support up to 6 USB 2.0 Ports. I currently have two USB ports on the front of my PC case that are plugged into it and there are four USB ports on the back which are already built into the motherboard.
I think there are also two USB header pins on the motherboard. I did have some problems with one of these USB headers. I bought an internal memory card reader which is supposed to be plugged into a USB header on your motherboard. These are a set of pins. I plugged it in, but the connection was loose, so every time I touched my PC case or the desk moved, the memory card reader would stop working. I am not sure if the USB header pins on the motherboard are faulty or whether it is the connector on the memory card reader.
On the back, it only has 1 standard keyboard connector and none for the mouse. I had a USB mouse so I was able to use one of the USB ports.
It can play 6 Channel High Definition Sound. I am using two speakers at the moment though with a sub-woofer. The sound quality is excellent and I know I have the ability to plug more speakers into my PC if I need to in future.
I currently have a monitor plugged into the VGA port but it also has a HDMI Connector, along with a DVI Connector. I don't know much about these apart from the fact they are different types of ports that can be used to connect various monitors / TV's to.
It has 4 SATA ports for plugging in hard drives and DVD drives. I am using two of these at the moment, leaving two spare that I can use in future to plug in extra hard drives if I wish. It also has an old IDE connector for connecting hard drives that are a couple of years old. I have plugged in an old IDE hard drive I had lying around into this, and it is working fine.
It can support a maximum of 8gb of RAM. My motherboard currently has 4gb in it and it supports DDR3 memory which is the fastest standard for RAM at the moment. However, it only has 2 DDR3 slots. I would have to say the lack of memory slots is one of the weakest points of this motherboard. It would have been good if there had been 4 memory slots which would have made it easier to stick in more memory in future if I had needed it.
It also has the following features:
- 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Connection
- Integrated ATI Radeon HD4250 graphics with up to 512mb shared memory.
Normally, I think there are 4 PCI ports on most motherboards. However, this only has 2 PCI ports which can be used to plug in wireless cards, TV cards etc. I don't mind though as I can always buy USB devices for example a wireless USB dongle if I want extra functionality.
I can't comment on longevity as I've only had this for a few months. I would hope it lasts me a few years though.
== BIOS ==
There's a setting in the BIOS you can change called something like 'PowerNow'. It can be changed to suit what you want to use the PC for. I don't play many games but I still like to be able to use my PC at the fastest speed possible so I have chosen to set this to the performance setting. This means there will be quite a bit of noise from the case fan constantly whirring in the background to try to cool down the motherboard while you are using it. You can choose the quiet setting if you want a quiet PC to watch movies on.
I would like to think, having it set to the Performance setting helps to keep the motherboard and the other components cooler than if I had put it on any of the other settings and therefore, helping to extend its working lifetime.
There is also a setting called Advanced Clock Calibration which I haven't personally used, but it sounds interesting. I read somewhere that say if you buy an AMD processor with two cores, then you can sometimes unlock the extra two cores that have been disabled in the factory, to convert your dual core processor into a quad core CPU, or if you had a triple core processor, then you could convert it into a 6 core processor. This doesn't always work though. It depends on the processor and a bit of luck.
== Price and availability ==
It seems a bit overpriced to me, but as of this review, this is selling for £65.50 with free shipping on Amazon.
== Technical details ==
- AMD Phenom II X6 Processor
- AMD Phenom II X4 Processor
- AMD Phenom II X3 Processor
- AMD Phenom II X2 Processor
- AMD Athlon II X4 Processor
- AMD Athlon II X3 Processor
- AMD Athlon II X2 Processor
- AMD Sempron Processor
== Summary and recommendation ==
I have given this three stars. It has worked ok, on the whole. I had a few problems setting it up when I initially got it. Also, the USB header on the motherboard doesn't seem to work on mine.
I would think this would be suitable for someone who is building a budget PC and wants a basic motherboard and who doesn't intend to upgrade their machine. It would be especially suitable for someone building a media or small form factor PC due to its small size. I would say though that you should try to find a lower price than the one shown on Amazon though.