With the Athlon 64 processors coming down in price the need for cheaper motherboards is growing by the day. Biostar is one of the first manufacturers to offer such a solution in the shape of the K8VHA Pro. Based on the VIA K8T800 chipset most of its features are built into the VIA southbridge. Although the K8VHA Pro is a low cost board, it is far from featureless. That said, there are certain features that are conspicuous by their absence, and would definitely be present on more expensive boards.
General board layout is clean, but a couple more fan headers wouldn’t go amiss. The ATX power connector, as well as the 12V AUX connector is towards the rear of the board, which is worth noting in case your power supply has short cables. Most other connectors are placed more or less where you’d expect them to be.
There is support for four IDE drives as well as two S-ATA drives. The S-ATA drives can be configured in RAID 0 or 1. Biostar has also fitted both FireWire and Gigabit Ethernet, which doesn’t tend to appear on budget motherboards. 5.1-channel sound from C-Media rounds off the features. There are no extra gizmos or gadgets in the box, but this is hardly something you would expect from a low cost motherboard.
The back panel features two PS/2 ports, two serial and one parallel port, four USB 2.0 ports, a single FireWire port, Ethernet and audio connectors. Extra brackets are supplied which consists of one with two USB 2.0 ports, one with a single FireWire port and finally one with optical and coaxial S/PDIF output. This leaves one USB connector spare on the motherboard, which could be used with a case that has front USB ports.
Also nestling in the box is one IDE cable, a floppy cable, two S-ATA data cables and one S-ATA power splitter. A copy of Norton Internet Security 2003 and Norton Ghost 2003 is also supplied.
So far the only thing really missing is IDE RAID, but with S-ATA RAID this can be forgiven. There are however only two memory slots, but as the Athlon 64 processor only supports two DDR400 modules, this is not as bad as it first seems. The chipset is passively cooled by a heatsink which means that there won’t be any extra noise from an onboard fan.
The colour coordination of the board is somewhat unusual with a red PCB and mainly blue slots, apart from the AGP slot and the CNR slot, both of which are peach coloured. Speaking of colour, the pins for the case connectors are all colour coded, which makes it easy to distinguish what goes where - this is something all motherboard manufacturers should do.