Initially the Biostar TA785GE appeared to be quite a Jeckyl and Hyde board. It's mATX which instantly makes you think of HTPC solutions or small cases for office work. It is based upon the AMD 785G chipset which is an all in one solution with an integrated graphics card, again hinting at its core design as a media and office workhorse rather than some all powerful monolith of a machine.
But then you look at the box and see how Biostar are lauding the overclocking features of it. The motherboard itself comes with onboard power buttons for easy "out of case" testing. The BIOS is fully featured with all the options anyone could desire to obtain a good overclock without becoming something incomprehensible. It supports all of the latest AMD processors including the Phenom II 965 Black.
Somewhere in between these two extremes you're aware that it's really neither a small solution, nor a wolf in sheep's clothing. The use of DDR2 rather than DDR3, alongside the very competitive pricing of the board, tends to make you think this a very solid, good value motherboard that will be wholly unspectacular. Regardless of its overclocking prowess, it has still only got a single PCI-E x16 slot and two PCI slots. The CPU backplate doesn't natively support large coolers that require the motherboards own backplate to attach to. And whilst it might be a good HTPC machine, the lack of HDMI output does hinder this somewhat.
All in all it's tough to quick pin this down. It's overclocking abilities most certainly are outstanding. A 300MHz improvement on our previous best with this chip will always make us sit up and take notice. Regardless of the fact it wasn't really stable at all it nonetheless booted and ran enough to grab a screenshot at a 1GHz overclock on the chip, on air, and the instability is almost certainly a chip issue rather than the motherboard, as temperatures were still excellent.
The Biostar TA785GE can definitely handle any media tasks you throw at it, and so would provide an extremely cost effective system for anyone in the market for an HTPC or small office PC.
With the addition of a video card it will handle most games quite happily, although the lack of expansion slots really hurt it for this use. Lots of USB headers on the board help provide enormous connectivity. The supplied software is, gasp, useful and stable. The Tpower Overclock III smashing all of our preconceptions.
There are a few niggles though. Firstly is that god awful colour scheme. Anyone who's had a baby will recognise the colours instantly. Secondly, it is quite picky about which RAM it wants to play ball with. Vertical SATA ports in this day and age are almost inexcusable. Also Biostar seem determined to stick rigidly to providing nowhere near as many fan headers as anyone could need. It's a problem throughout their entire range.
Tough to argue with the price though. As we say, very Jeckyl and Hyde.
- Great Overclocking
- Good software
- Good value
- DDR2 not DDR3
- No HDMI out
- Not enough expansion ports to be a true all-rounder
- Have I mentioned that colour scheme?
Thanks to Biostar for providing us with todays review sample. We'd love to hear your thoughts in our forums.