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Biostar TA870+ - Layout, Expansion & Connectivity
The TA870+'s layout is okay if hardly special. Primary memory slots are set side-by-side where we prefer a staggered approach, but that's common enough. Supported memory speeds range up to 1,800MHz, again common though many competitors manage more. None of the TA870+'s five SATA 6GB/s ports (courtesy of the SB850 Southbridge) are angled either. Two are located just above the angled EIDE connector, with a further three at the bottom of the board. This ensures that none of them will be blocked even if you opt for a dual graphics card setup.
Between the bottom SATA ports and the EIDE connector we find unobtrusive power and reset buttons, which is always a nice touch on an enthusiast board. However, the usefulness of these buttons is limited somewhat by being identical with only tiny letters on the board to distinguish between them, so it takes careful examination to see which one to press.
Probably more useful is the clear-CMOS header located next to them. There are also three fan headers sprinkled around the board, and along the bottom of the TA870+ we have headers for USB, FireWire, additional digital audio out, IR (a welcome and relatively rare addition used to hook up an infrared receiver), and Printer plus Serial headers for those requiring legacy connections.
For expansion cards we have two PCIe x1 slots (one of which will be blocked if installing a dual-slot graphics card), two 16x graphics ones and two good old PCI slots. Unfortunately, despite its CrossFireX compatibility claims, the TA870+
is yet another of those boards that don't offer full speed on both graphics slots. In fact, it doesn't even offer half-speed, with the second slot running at just 4x, which is simply not up to getting the full potential out of a high-end dual card setup.
Rear IO connectivity is pretty much what you would expect. Mouse and keyboard PS2 ports are joined by six USB 2.0 ports, FireWire and eSATA and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Audio outputs for the motherboard's integrated 7.1 Realtek ALC892 chip are provided by co-axial and optical digital outputs and six 3.5mm analogue jacks.
Before getting onto the software and BIOS, it's worth noting that the TA870+ is not quite a full-size ATX motherboard. While it has the standard ATX height (305mm), it is slightly narrower than most boards with a width of only 220mm (compared to the standard 240mm). This leaves you more room to move it about in your case, but does provide less support as it misses a row of stand-offs. A little more care than usual when pushing in the 24-pin power connector might thus be advisable.