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TP43D2-A7 Software, BIOS, And Accessories

Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100
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The TP43D2-A7 doesn’t include any third-party applications, but Biostar has added a few of its own utilities.

TSeries Overclock 3 supports changes in FSB clock speeds plus CPU, DRAM, northbridge, and CPU FSB voltage. We didn’t have any problems setting up voltage levels and clock speeds just as we would in BIOS, though using BIOS to make the changes did give us a slightly better maximum speed.

Biostar also includes a hardware monitor utility, but the temperatures displayed can’t be considered accurate.

The TP43D2-A7 also includes a Windows flash utility and an email tech-support client. A few of our experiences with Windows flash utilities would show that the tech-support client is a smart add-in.

BIOS

The TP43D2-A7 has a relatively good selection of BIOS tuning controls, but the wide range of selectable frequencies appears almost ludicrous in light of the motherboard’s limited voltage selections.

BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)

FSB Frequency

100 to 800 MHz (1 MHz)

Clock Multiplier Adjustment

Yes

DRAM Ratios

Up to DDR2-1066 (By Boot Strap)

PCIe Clock

100 to 150 MHz (1 MHz)

CPU Vcore

+5%, +10%, +15%

CPU FSB Voltage

+0.10 V, +0.20 V, +0.30 V

Northbridge (MCH)

+0.10 V, +0.20 V, +0.30 V

Southbridge (ICH)

Not Adjustable

DRAM Voltage

1.80 - 2.50 V (0.10 V)

CASLatencyRange

tCAS:3-7; tRCD: 3-10; tRP: 3-10; tRAS: 9-24


The most limiting of TP43D2-A7 voltage settings appears to be CPU vCore, although the +15% setting resulted in an increase of almost 20% on our Core 2 Duo E8600. Since most budget systems use air cooling, this particular limitation should affect few builders.

Biostar’s Over-Clocking Navigator menu is simplified through the use of several sub-menus. The main menu shows major frequencies and ratios only.

The DRAM Timing Configuration sub-menu lists the most important timings, but enabling manual configuration disables automatic configuration for all settings. We experimented with various tWR, tRFC, tWTR, tRRD, and tRTP settings but were unable to get perfect stability at reasonable timings. Leaving SPD detection on locked us in at 5-5-5-15 latencies, which was fortunately the timings we’d chosen for running our Ballistix DDR2-800 kits at DDR2-1,066 speed.

PCIe clock control can be found in the Clock Gen Configuration sub-menu.

The TP43D2-A7 Voltage Configuration sub-menu has a single GTL Reference Voltage control, in addition to ordinary adjustments. Most buyers who need per-core GTL Reference settings are probably in a somewhat higher-priced market.

The TP43D2-A7 can store 10 BIOS profiles, allowing easy restoration of previous BIOS configurations.

Accessories

Accessories

Documentation&Software

Motherboard Manual

Motherboard Driver DVD

Hardware

2x SATA Data Cable

1x 80-conductor Ultra ATA cable

1x I/O Panel Shield

1x 4-pin to SATA power adapter


The TP43D2-A7 installation kit is slightly lighter than most other low-cost motherboards, in that it doesn’t contain a floppy cable. While most users won’t install a floppy drive, these are still useful for adding AHCI drivers during installation of Windows XP, which low-budget buyers so often favor.

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