|Biostar TA890GXB-HD mATX AMD Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 31 May 2010|
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AMD-890 Motherboard Final Thoughts
As newer, faster technology pours into the market, an interest in upgrading our computers to make them more compatible with the latest gadgets, games, and other programs is inevitable. While hardcore enthusiasts and gamers may have nearly unlimited resources to spend on the latest and greatest components, most users don't fall into that category. In fact, most gamers don't even fall into that category. Taking a look at Steam's hardware survey, we can see that a lot of users that are playing games have a lot of room to upgrade and improve their systems. Since this is the case, it is likely that these users, like most of us, will be operating on tight budgets.
AMD has been known for quite a while now as a value based brand. Intel's top of the line equipment outperforms most of that provided by AMD, but it comes at a price. Budget minded users have long looked to AMD for refuge from the prices, while still expecting great performance and value. The 890GX chipset released by AMD continues a recent trend of excellent performance in their graphics integrated chipsets. Biostar has used the 890GX chipset in their entry level motherboard, the TA890GXB-HD that Benchmark Reviews has looked at in this article.
The Biostar TA890GXB-HD AM3 Motherboard offers a lot of features while still maintaining a low price. For only $95, the TA890GXB-HD gives you support for AMD 6-core processors and SATA 6Gb/s ports. With its PCIe x16 port and two additional PCIe 2.0 x1 lanes over the older 700 series chipsets, the TA890GXB-HD offers buyers opportunities that would normally be limited to motherboards with a much higher price-point. While the TA890GXB-HD BIOS is a little less user friendly than other manufacturer's, it still offers fairly easy to use overclocking settings, and the core-unlocking feature couldn't be easier to use. I wouldn't suggest trying to overclock with this motherboard if you have no experience overclocking, but with the safety shut-off features that I found unbelieveably helpful, you could tamper with it as a fairly new overclocker. The onboard power and reset switches came in handy in this regard as well.
The Radeon HD 4290 integrated graphics solution that comes on the TA890GXB-HD motherboard offers no real upgrade from the Radeon HD 4200 of the previous generation of AMD chipsets. Another disappointing note is that the TA890GXB-HD lacks the dedicated 128 MB of DDR3 sideport memory that comes optional with the 890GX chipset. While the on-board graphics solution for the TA890GXB-HD won't play the latest and most graphics intensive games (as we have seen in our tests), it offers an excellent multi-media experience without the added cost of another component. HDMI 1.3 and DirectX 10.1 are both supported with the 890GX chipset, along with UVD2/AVIVO and H.264/VC-1/MPEG-2 video decode acceleration. If you need more graphics power, the TA890GXB-HD offers a PCIe X16 2.0 slot that can be used to take your PC to the next level of gaming performance. The Radeon HD 4290 can even be paired with the Radeon HD 5450 discrete graphics card in a hybrid crossfirex configuration that will really boost performance.
I was quite disappointed with the sound options on the TA890GXB-HD, to be perfectly honest. I was actually quite taken aback by the lack of 7.1 support. Sure, 5.1 is really more than I need, but with the impressive offering on the ASUS motherboard through the VIA CODEC, I was pretty let down by the TA890GXB-HD. Granted, the TA890GXB-HD is an entry-level motherboard, and may not be used a lot by consumers interested in the greatest sound output available. As I type I am using a computer that has no speakers at all, and many workstations for businesses that might be users of the TA890GXB-HD due to the integrated graphics solution and low price-point would definitely look past the audio support. At the same time, though, the 890GX chipset offers an awesome opportunity for inexpensive HTPCs. The TA890GXB-HD, with its mATX form factor, offers a great solution for HTPC users, except for the fact that you won't be able to use your 7.1 channel speakers unless you get an add-on card.
The nice part about the TA890GXB-HD is that, even at it's entry level price, it doesn't hold you back from turning your machine into whatever you need. While you are limited to a single PCIe X16 GPU, that won't stop you from playing the latest games. The AM3 platform offers the opportunity to buy small (like the inexpensive Athlon-II X2-255 we used in our testing) and upgrade to pretty much anything, including the new 6-core Thuban processors. The TA890GXB-HD supports DDR3 RAM up to 1600MHz, meaning there is plenty of overhead for your Dual-Channel RAM kit. The Bio unlocKING function will let you upgrade to a Phenom-II X2 or X3 CPU and give a shot at unlocking the disabled cores. I know Biostar was looking forward to offering users the chance to unlock Thuban based 4-core processors, but it appears AMD doesn't intend to make them publicly available. However, paired with a Thuban 6-core processor, good 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM, and a Radeon 5000 series video card, the TA890GXB-HD could be the foundation of that gaming rig you are planning on slowly upgrading to one piece at a time.