Biostar H55A+ review

29 Jun 2010

It's cheap, but Biostar's board is just too basic when rivals offer more for similar prices

Biostar H55A+
Price when reviewed: 
69(£69 inc VAT)
4

Intel's LGA 1366 processor socket is the preserve of the firm's most expensive processors, but the LGA 1156 socket accommodates a wider range of Core i3 and Core i5 parts. Combine these cheaper chips with affordable motherboards, such as Biostar’s £59 exc VAT H55A+, and you have the makings of a system that’s both powerful and affordable.

For a start, the H55A+ covers all the bases for putting together a capable PC. The processor socket is joined by four DIMM sockets that support up to 16GB of overclocked DDR3 RAM running at 1,866MHz, and a pair of PCI-Express x16 slots sits beside two PCI slots and a PCI Express x1 slot.

The bottom of the board is adorned with a row of colour-coded headers and jumpers: three red USB 2 headers, a yellow front panel header and a blue serial port connector. A thoughtful touch that could prove useful when building a system.

As it’s cheap it isn’t surprising there’s no sign of the mod-cons seen on more expensive models. The second PCI-Express x16 slot runs at just x4 speed, so there’s no chance of CrossFireX or SLI dual graphics. Neither is there any sign of USB 3 or SATA/600, although that isn’t a killer blow. There's only a four-pin power connector, which won’t endear the Biostar to tweakers or overclockers.

Biostar H55A+

Elsewhere, the limitations are more serious. The backplate connections are limited, with just four USB 2 sockets, and no eSATA or FireWire. There are three audio outputs, but no S/PDIF. You do get D-SUB, DVI-I and HDMI display outputs, though note that these are only enabled when you’re using the integrated graphics on Intel’s Core i3 and i5 CPUs.

In comparison, the A-Listed Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H, costs only a touch more than the Biostar, offers an additional PCI-Express x16 slot, a backplate with DisplayPort, FireWire and S/PDIF connectors and a wider selection of on-board connectors.

Finally, the BIOS is basic, offering few advanced features beyond the essentials – advanced overclocking profiles and options, for instance, or even detailed fan control settings are all disappointingly missing.

In short, this is a basic motherboard, and while it has everything you'll need to put together a rudimentary system, it doesn’t offer great value for money.

Only a little extra cash will bag you a board such as the aforementioned Gigabyte, and gain you more flexibility and, importantly, headroom for future expansion into the bargain.

Details

Price ex VAT £59
Price inc VAT £69
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 4
Motherboard form factor micro ATX
Motherboard integrated graphics no

Compatability

Processor/platform brand (manufacturer) Intel
Processor socket LGA 1156
Motherboard form factor micro ATX
Memory type DDR3
Multi-GPU support yes

Controllers

Motherboard chipset Intel H55
South bridge Intel ICH10
Number of Ethernet adapters 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
Graphics chipset N/A

Onboard Connectors

CPU power connector type 4-pin
Main power connector ATX 24-pin
Memory sockets total 4
Internal SATA connectors 6
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 1

Rear ports

PS/2 connectors 1
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 3
Parallel ports 0
9-pin serial ports 0
Extra port backplane bracket ports none

Diagnostics and tweaking

Motherboard onboard power switch? no
Motherboard onboard reset switch? no
Software overclocking? yes

Accessories

SATA cables supplied 2
Molex to SATA adaters supplied 1
IDE cables supplied 0
Floppy cables supplied 0