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It might not be the biggest name in motherboards, but we've been impressed with Biostar's efforts in the past, such as the Biostar TPower X58A. Now we're looking at the T Series TA870+, an ATX board based on the AMD 870 Northbridge and SB850 Southbridge combo.
Not to be confused with AMD's new 890GX IGP, which combines the same SB850 Southbridge with an 890GX Northbridge (as used in the recently-reviewed Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 and Biostar's own TA890GXE), the TA870+ doesn't offer integrated graphics, which is probably preferable for an enthusiast-class motherboard anyway. USB 3.0 support is also lacking though, which helps keep the price down but is a regrettable absentee.
However, considering USB 3.0 is easily added through an expansion card, more basic models like the TA870+ can still be an attractive option - especially since this Biostar board offers a very decent feature set. Features of note include CPU Core Unlocking, CrossFire support (x8/x8), USB BIOS updating, software overclocking and SATA 6Gb/s (also known as SATA3, which though technically inaccurate is what Biostar calls it). The motherboard can also provide up to 140W to the CPU, meaning it supports hexacore Phenom II X6s such as the Phenom II X6 1090T found in the DinoPC 6th Sense. It comes with a five-phase power system and indicates how many phases are in use at any one time with red LEDs, a nice if somewhat superfluous touch.
On the other hand the included bundle is rather sparse, with the obligatory driver CD and manual, a four-pin to SATA power adapter cable, a blue Velcro cable strap and three yellow SATA data cables which don't match the board.
Onto the motherboard itself, the first thing those familiar with Biostar's motherboards will notice is that the company has revised its design philosophy significantly. Gone are the garish hotchpotch combinations of neon colours used in its previous boards, such as the TA790GX A3+. Instead we're greeted with a sharp combination of red, white, black and gunmetal grey that's eerily similar to that used by the Asus ROG or indeed EVGA's Classified high-end boards.
This is most definitely a good thing, and at a single stroke Biostar's visual appeal has gone from Fisher-Price to enthusiast hardware. The only visually-obvious absence is of any cooling for the mosfets around the CPU socket; only the North- and South-bridge are given heatsinks, but at least they're just as attractive as the rest of the board.