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Biostar is putting the emphasis on power management in a range of motherboards that includes the TA790GX A3+ and we think that is a thoroughly good Idea. Saving power reduces unnecessary heat and thus lowers the need for cooling which in turn makes your PC quieter. This is especially important when you use integrated graphics as the absence of a graphics card fan gives you the opportunity to build a near-silent PC.
We ran the TA790GX A3+ with our regular Phenom II X4 810 which has a clock speed of 2.6GHz and the potential to overclock to 3.45GHz. We particularly wanted to test the Biostar using the integrated graphics as we're none too impressed by Hybrid CrossFire where you ally the integrated graphics with an add-in graphics card. On the other hand we are most impressed by the integrated HD 3300 graphics in the 790GX chipset. Performance of the TA790GX A3+ was very good indeed on BIOS 325 that was supplied on our sample motherboard at standard speed but overclocking was fairly dreadful. Our 2.6GHz processor overclocked to 3.12GHz on a base clock speed of 240MHz which is significantly lower than the 3.45GHz that we saw on the Biostar TA790GX XE on a base clock of 265MHz. In addition the TA790GX A3+ wouldn't complete 3DMark Vantage although that isn't unusual for a motherboard with integrated graphics.
Biostar sent through an updated BIOS version 424 and we found that the TA790GX A3+ would now complete 3DMark Vantage and we could raise the base clock to 255MHz which gave a CPU speed of 3.32GHz.
That sounds like a thoroughly good result however we saw that the graphics element in PCMark05 showed a significant drop in performance that dragged down the Overall score compared to the TA790GX XE. We saw something similar when we plugged in a Radeon HD 4890 graphics card and once again the TA790GX A3+ had performance that was noticeably slower than the TA790GX XE.
Also, while we were overclocking we found that the temperature of the Northbridge cooler got rather hotter than we liked and it was unstable running benchmark tests until we added a case fan to keep the motherboard cool. This was all quite unexpected and is not in keeping with other AM3 motherboards that we have seen. We were so disappointed that we wondered whether we had a faulty motherboard so we had a second sample sent. The problem is that the results you see on our graphics come from the second - better - motherboard.
This is bad news for the TA790GX A3+ as we know full well that Biostar has come up with some decent AM2+ motherboards but somewhere along the way the development of this AM3 model has come off the rails.
The TA790GX A3+ is a perfectly decent motherboard that will be fine for a basic home PC. However, its performance is sub par so we feel there are better alternatives.