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(£59 exc 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

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