Biostar TForce 965PT: Board Layout and Features

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Our opinions of the board are the same as the P965 Deluxe since it is actually the same board sans two SATA ports. The board is laid out nicely, the color combination grabs your attention, and it was extremely easy to install in our Cooler Master CM Stacker 830. However our concerns remain the same as the location of the 24-pin and 4-pin ATX connectors near the CPU area could cause cable management issues with larger air coolers like the Scythe Infinity. We also recommend installing the 4-pin ATX connector first as it is difficult to attach it with the 24-pin cable already installed. The board features a total of three fan headers. A fourth one would have been preferred near the I/O panel. The board features a three-phase voltage regulator system that provided superb stability throughout our testing.



The DIMM module slots' color coordination is correct for dual channel setup based upon the premise of installing DIMMs in the same colored slots for dual-channel operation. It is impossible to install memory modules with a full size video card placed in the PCI Express x16 slot. Biostar places the CPU fan header in between the number two and three memory module and it is a fair distance to reach for most CPU fan/heatsink cables.



The four Intel ICH8 SATA ports are orange and are conveniently located to the left of the ICH8 Southbridge and second fan header. The SATA ports feature the newer clamp and latch design. We found the positioning of the SATA ports to be very good when utilizing the PCI 2.3 slots. The ICH8 is passively cooled and remained cool to the touch throughout testing.

The clear CMOS jumper is color coded black and is located in an easy access location at the edge of the board near the second fan header. Biostar includes a power on and reset button at the bottom corner of the board next to the VIA IDE connector. This is one option we wish all performance oriented boards would include. The chassis panel, third fan header, and USB connectors are located along the left edge of the board.



The board comes with one physical PCI Express x16 connector, one PCI Express x4, one PCI Express x1, and three PCI 2.3 connectors. The layout of this design offers one of the best single x16 connector designs we have worked with as none of the slots are blocked when using a dual slot video card in the x16 slot. We have to give credit to Biostar for this impressive layout and combination of slots on a budget board. However, the sacrifice for this layout is the inability to change memory modules with most video cards installed. The floppy drive connector is located at the edge of the board next to the last PCI slot. We would just as well have this connector disappear at this time.

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Getting back to CPU socket area, we find a fair amount of room for alternative cooling solutions. We utilized the stock heatsink/fan in our normal testing but also verified a few larger Socket-775 air cooling solutions would fit in this area during our overclocking tests. The Intel P965 MCH chipset is passively cooled with a mid-rise heatsink unit that did not interfere with any installed peripherals. However, it was very difficult routing the ATX power cables to their connectors with a cooling solution like the Tuniq Tower 120 installed. Fortunately our power supply had cables that were sleeved that allowed us to bend the cables around the heatsink area without worrying about ripping a wire open. When we removed the heatsink we found Biostar had used paste instead of the typical concrete hard pad. This explained why the heatsink generally ran cooler than our other P965 offerings, although Biostar could save some money considering there was enough paste available to install three heatsinks.



The rear panel contains the PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, LAN port, and 6 USB 2.0 ports. The LAN (RJ-45) port has two LED indicators representing Activity and Speed of the connection through the Realtek RTL8110SC Gigabit PCI-E chipset. The audio panel consists of 6 ports that can be configured for 2, 4, 6, and 8-channel audio connections for the Realtek ALC 883 HD codec. The panel also has a serial port and we would have preferred an S/PDIF optical out port to have been included in this area.

Biostar TForce 965PT: Feature Set Biostar TForce 965PT: Overclocking
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  • Zak - Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, WTF with the software design? Did they hire someone fired from FisherPrice or what? It's ugly and dysfunctional, even Asus AI Booster isn't THIS ugly.

    <Z>
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, November 13, 2006 - link

    Regarding the article comment about the floppy connector,
    "We would just as well have this connector disappear at this time."
    you might want to clarify who "we" is, since there are plenty of people who want a floppy connector even if they don't have a constant use for a floppy drive.

    Remember that one person's use of a system does not equal entire world. Many legacy apps and even some emergency bios recovery routines require a floppy drive. If this were a reduced form factor board, it stands to reason that more features requiring connectors need to be left out, but to give up functionality on a whim is hardly useful, it's not as though you would have to grand replacement feature on that bottom edge, cubic inch of space otherwise.
    Reply
  • Larso - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link

    Oh my, do those motherboard monitoring/tuning applications look ugly... Ugly as in grotesque swollen blobs rather than functional design.

    A shame, I really liked the biostar board until the accompanying software utility appeared before for my eyes, aww... The gigabyte software is not pretty either... Can you switch the GUI to something less graphical and more standard windows widgets -like?

    Do all software accompanying motherboards look like this??
    Reply
  • Avalon - Saturday, November 11, 2006 - link

    You mean you actually use software to overclock? Do it the manly way and use the BIOS. Reply
  • Larso - Saturday, November 11, 2006 - link

    Its not about overclocking, the problem is if the motherboard software has some specific monitoring/adjusting features not available in freeware monitoring applications. Then you would have to use that monstrous software if you want the feature.

    Another problem is quality impression of the product as a whole. That software's user interface simply turns me off. Why don't they make the interface look like PRO tools, instead of plastic hell!
    Reply
  • bullfrawg - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link

    I think it's great that, as mentioned in the first article, you are checking out the manufacturer's tech support by pretending to be regular joes rather than review sites. So I want to express interest in seeing more detail about how tech support treats you. ASUS seems to have gotten a bad reputation lately for tech support -- is this justified in your experience? I see that you say Gigabyte has been good so far. Thanks! Reply
  • Staples - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link

    The 965 performs very well no matter what board it is on. I will be waiting till you get a 650i Ultra board to review. I am holding out on a Core Duo and my next purchase will be between these two chipsets. Reply
  • Kensei - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link

    Nice old school reference back to the double-mint twins. You definitely dated yourself with that one Gary.

    Kensei
    Reply
  • Hikari - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link

    Not really, I saw a double mint advertisement on TV with twins the other day... Reply
  • Kensei - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link

    Really! I didn't know they had done a remake of that commercial.

    Ken
    Reply

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