Biostar H55A+ review
It's cheap, but Biostar's board is just too basic when rivals offer more for similar prices
Review Date: 29 Jun 2010
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £59 (£69 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
Author: Mike Jennings
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