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Biostar is very well known for manufacturing mainstream motherboards, and they recently decided to also attack the high-end market with their T series. TForce 590 SLI Deluxe is based on the most high-end NVIDIA chipset for the socket AM2 platform, nForce MCP 590, competing with products from tier 1 manufacturers like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI, but costing a little bit less, yet promising the same performance level and a lot of features. Let’s take a look at it!
What immediately caught our attention was its package. Its cables, CDs and manual are stored in a very beautiful pouch. This motherboard also comes with two gifts that we’ve never seen on other motherboards. First, a universal cell phone charger that allows you to virtually connect any cell phone to the USB port of your computer to charge your cell phone using your computer power supply. Secondly, a headset with a microphone for you to use VoIP solutions like Skype and Battlefield 2.
You can take an overall look of the motherboard in Figure 5. As you can see, it uses an active heatsink (i.e., with a fan) on its north bridge chip and passive heatsinks on the south bridge chips and MOSFET transistors from the voltage regulator. You can also see that it has two PCI Express x16 slots, supporting SLI x16, one PCI Express x4, one PCI Express x1 and two standard PCI slots.
Let’s talk more about this motherboard.
[nextpage title=”More Features”]
In Figure 6, you can see the detail of the passive heatsinks used on this motherboard MOSFET transistors from the voltage regulator circuit and south bridge.
This motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports as you can see in Figure 7, both controlled by the south bridge using two Marvell 88E1116 chips to make the physical layer interface.
The south bridge used by nForce 590 SLI brings one ATA-133 port and six SATA-300 ports, supporting NCQ, RAID0, RAID1, RAID0+1, RAID5 and JBOD. On this motherboard one of the SATA-300 ports is installed on the motherboard rear panel (see Figure 7).
You can also see in Figure 8 that this motherboard has a POST display, which can tell you through a two-digit code what is wrong if your computer doesn’t turn on. You can also see that this motherboard has a reset and a power switch soldered on it.
In Figure 9 you can also see a VIA VT6307, which provides two FireWire (IEEE1394) ports. One of them is soldered directly on the motherboard (see Figure 7), while the other one is available through an I/O bracket that comes with the motherboard. This motherboard also provides ten USB 2.0 ports, six soldered on the motherboard and four available through the use of I/O brackets.
As we mentioned before, this motherboard has two PCI Express x16 slots, supporting SLI x16, one PCI Express x4, one PCI Express x1 and two standard PCI slots.
On the audio section a Realtek ALC882 codec is used, which provides an impressive 103 dB output signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), a 90 dB input signal-to-noise ratio, eight audio channels (7.1 format) and SPDIF output using up to 192 kHz sampling rate (the input is limited to 96 kHz). This motherboard provides coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs and inputs, however it comes only with one I/O bracket, so you have to choose if you want to connect it as an input or as an output. This codec also features two independent audio channels for audio streamming, available on the audio front panel header.
On the memory side, TForce 590 SLI Deluxe has four DDR2-DIMM sockets, supporting up 4 GB up to DDR2-800. On this motherboard sockets 1 and 2 are orange and sockets 3 and 4 are green. To use DDR2 dual channel mode just install each module on sockets with the same color.
This motherboard requires an eight-pin EPS12V power supply and also has an extra 12V power connector using a regular peripheral power plug. Biostar does not explain when this extra connector should be used. We recommend you using it.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Biostar TForce 590 SLI Deluxe main features are:
- Socket: AM2.
- Chipset: NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI.
- Super I/O: ITE IT8716F.
- Parallel IDE: One ATA-133 port controlled by the chipset.
- Serial IDE: Six SATA-300 ports controlled by the chipset (NCQ, RAID0, RAID1, RAID0+1, RAID5 and JBOD).
- USB: 10 USB 2.0 ports (six soldered on the motherboard and four available through I/O brackets).
- FireWire (IEEE 1394a): Two ports controlled by VIA VT6307 chip, one soldered on the motherboard and another available through an I/O bracket that comes with the motherboard.
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with Realtek ALC882 codec (24-bit output resolution, 20-bit input resolution, 103 dB output signal-to-noise ratio, 90 dB input signal-to-noise ratio, up to 192 kHz output sampling rate and up to 96 kHz input sampling rate) with coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs available through an I/O bracket that comes with the motherboard.
- On-board video: No.
- On-board LAN: Yes, two Gigabit Ethernet controlled by the chipset together with two Marvel 88E1116 chips.
- Buzzer: No.
- Power supply: ATX12V v2.x (24-pin) with EPS12V connector.
- Slots: Two PCI Express x16 slots, one PCI Express x4, one PCI Express x1 and two PCI slots.
- Memory: Four DDR-DIMM sockets (up to 4 GB up to DDR2-800/PC2-6400).
- Extra features: Passive heatsinks on the voltage regulator transistors, POST diagnostic display, cell phone charger, headset with microphone and pouch for storing cables and accessories.
- More Information: https://www.biostar.com.tw
- Average price in the US*: USD 180.00.
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this first look article.
The truth is: there is almost no performance difference between motherboards targeted to Athlon 64 CPUs, since processor based on AMD64 architecture have an embedded memory controller, so the chipset doesn’t play any drastic role on performance. Because of this the decision on what socket AM2 motherboard one should buy must be based on extra features, price and overclocking capability.
On the feature side we only found one thing really missing compared to the most high-end socket AM2 motherboards from ASUS and Gigabyte we have reviewed so far (M2N32 SLI Deluxe and GA-M59SLI-S5), and that was the extra SATA controller, which provides more than six SATA-300 ports on these motherboards. These two boards from ASUS and Gigabyte also have an all-copper passive heatsink solution, feature not found on TForce 590 SLI Deluxe, and here is exactly where Biostar is saving some money. Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5 also has a third PCI Express x16 slot (which works at x8), feature not found on other socket AM2 motherboards based on nForce MCP 590 we’ve seen so far.
Other features are just the same. Even though this motherboard uses an “inferior” audio codec compared to those two other high-end motherboards, ALC882 provides an outstanding 103 dB signal-to-noise ratio plus 24-bit resolution and up to 192 kHz sampling rate on its output. The main difference between this codec and the ones used on the abovementioned motherboards is on its input circuit, which has a maximum resolution of 20 bits (compared to 24 on other high-end codecs) and a maximum sampling rate of 96 kHz (compared to 192 kHz on other high-end codecs).
Thus Biostar TForce 590 SLI Deluxe appears as an interesting solution for those users willing to buy a very high-end socket AM2 motherboard based on nForce MCP 590 but willing to save some bucks. However, if you miss the abovementioned features, maybe a motherboard from a different manufacturer will be a better pick.