Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review :: TForce 550 Layout

01-19-2007 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun

The layout of the board is mostly ok. One issue I had with the layout was the positioning of the 24-pin power connector. The power cable has to cross over the CPU cooler or around it to provide power to the board. The board is a bit short; meaning the normal position on the bottom right corner of the board was not a possibility. The 4-pin power connector is in a much better spot, right on the right hand top corner of the board.


Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review 24-pin power

24-pin power

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review 4-pin power

4-pin power


The CPU area of the board is clear of obstacles, allowing for after-market cooling solutions to be used with the board. The 4 DIMM slots are rated to use 1GB modules, meaning the board supports up to 4GB of unbuffered non-ECC DDR2 800Mhz memory. As a budget board, the amount of memory is sufficient for all but the craziest enthusiast.


Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Layout

Layout

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Memory

Memory


Expansion on the board is interesting. As a non-SLI board, the TForce 550 has a single PCI Express x16 slot, 2 PCI Express x1 slots and four PCI slots. This is enough expansion for anyone wanting a new motherboard, as you can add RAID controllers, TV tuners, CL X-Fi sound cards and still have room for other devices. If you want to install an 8800GTX with this board the first PCI Express x1 slot will be covered.


Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Heatsink/Fan

Heatsink/Fan

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Rear of board

Rear of board


Biostar decided to light the board up with two LEDs that indicate whether the system is working properly or not. If both lights are on that means normal operation. If a single LED is on, that means you need to check the manual to see if the problem is most probably, memory or CPU related. If both lights are off then the problem is to do with the chipset. The nForce 550 chip is cooled by a heatsink and fan, keeping it cool.


Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review SATA ports

SATA ports

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review USB headers

USB headers

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Rear I/O

Rear I/O

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review PCI Express x1 slots

PCI Express x1 slots


There are four SATA ports on the board. Four ports are enough for the enthusiast as you can RAID four drives together. Enthusiast boards have up to 10 SATA ports, but this board is targeted more at the mainstream market so four is sufficient. There are six USB 2.0 ports on the rear and two further headers bringing the total supported by the board to 10 USB ports.


Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review CD-In

CD-In

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Sound Effect

Sound Effect

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Mixer

Mixer

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review 3D Audio Demo

3D Audio Demo



Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review Audio I/O

Audio I/O

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review ITE chip

ITE chip

Biostar TF550 Motherboard Review JCFan

JCFan


Onboard sound is provided by the REALTEK ALC681 HDA CODEC. This CODEC is unknown to me as it is the first time I've encountered it on a motherboard. Realtek lists it as a HDA Value product, meaning for the mainstream market. It has four stereo DACs and one stereo ADC, compared to the ALC882 which has five stereo DACs and three stereo ADCs.