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A couple of weeks ago we reviewed the Foxconn A7DA-S, which was our first AMD 790GX chipped motherboard and very nice it was too.
This week it’s the turn of Biostar with the TA790GX A2+ which is handy as it gives us the chance to clear up a couple of unresolved issues that we had with the A7DA-S. The first concern is the high SRP of £114 that Foxconn gave us for the A7DA-S. As we said in the review, we hoped that the price would drop to £70-£75 but Scan currently has this model listed at £108 so it looks like our hopes have been dashed. By contrast the Biostar is on sale at Envizage for a few pence over £60. Now that’s more like it.
In our review of the Foxconn we were able to overclock a 2.5GHz Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition to 3.1GHz which was a revelation as we had previously had very little success overclocking Phenom.
We were happy with the Foxconn but were unsure who should get the credit for this feat. Was it AMD’s chipset team who created the 790GX + SB750, or was it the driver team that created the revised OverDrive software that works in conjunction with the ACC (Advanced Clock Calibration Link) or might it be Foxconn for bringing it all together in a new motherboard.
We were looking for the Biostar TA790GX A2+ to provide some answers in a direct comparison between the two 790GX models so for once we were pleased to see that the list of Biostar features was very similar to those offered by the Foxconn.
Both motherboards are regular ATX models that get most of their features from the AMD chipset and the layouts have a great deal in common too. There are four DDR2 memory slots with the main power and IDE connectors arranged at the edge of the board and the ATX 12V connector at the top of board. Foxconn plumped for a manly eight-pin connector while Biostar has chosen a puny four-pin connector. The bigger visual difference is the cooling system as Foxconn has used a large passive cooler on the Northbridge that is joined with a heatpipe to a second cooler on the power regulation hardware. By contrast Biostar has left the power hardware naked but that’s pretty much the end of the differences.
The layouts are so similar that you have to suspect that both manufacturers are following a reference design from AMD.
The two PCI Express graphics slots support CrossFire so you get 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 with a single graphics card and eight lanes per slot in CrossFire. At least that’s how it works with the Foxconn but with the Biostar the split is fixed at eight lanes per slot so anyone using a single graphics card has to plug a switch card into the second slot to ensure all 16 lanes are fed to the Primary slot - a first clue as to the Biostar's low price.