Market Survey, Part 1: A Comparison Of The Latest Pentium 4 Motherboards

Biostar P4TAW Extreme (Intel 925X)

Board revision: 1.0

BIOS version: TAW1022 (October 22, 2004)

The P4TAW Extreme is colored red, in the classic Biostar fashion. Intel's 925X chipset is deployed here, along with a Firewire controller from VIA, and a two-channel UltraATA controller from ITE (8212F). That leaves two x1 PCIe slots, three 32-bit PCI slots, and the obligatory x16 PCIe connection for the graphics card.

What's really distinctive about this motherboard is its set of network connections. The board does have a Broadcom chip, also connected via PCI Express, but it operates solely as an interface for the RTL8650 Realtek component, so sadly there is no Gigabit capability. However, the show-stopper is that the RTL8650 functions as a 10/100 Mbit switch with integrated Firewall and a router. Biostar put the chip and four ports on a separate card that goes in a white slot behind the bottom PCI slot. Unfortunately, there were no instructions to this 4-port card in the box.

For a while now, Biostar has been including in its packages the WinFlash program for convenient updating of the board's BIOS from within Windows. Although big producers have been offering this kind of feature for a few years now, smaller board makers are now also jumping on the bandwagon.

Biostar was on-target in our test processor clocking: we recorded 199.5 MHz, just a hair below the specifications. At 4.86 GB/s, memory performance was in the acceptable range.

Following a CMOS reset we did observe one little anomaly, as 1.360 V CPU voltage was displayed in the BIOS, though only 1.250 V was being used. This display read correctly again after manually adjusting the core voltage.

The Biostar P4TAW Extreme does not offer any digital inputs or outputs among its connection options.

The P4TAW Extreme is equipped with a Broadcom BCM5751 Gigabit network controller, which cannot be used, however, as a direct LAN connection.
Biostar P4TAW Extreme (Rev. 1.0)
Platform Socket LGA775
Northbridge Intel 925X
Southbridge Intel ICH6R
BIOS TAW1022 (10/22/2004)
Memory DDRII-533
Connectors onboard/panel
USB 2.0 4 / 4 (optional)
IEEE1394/Firewire 1 / 1 (optional)
Serial COM Port 2 / none
Parallel LPT Port 1 / none
Game none / none
LAN 0 / 4
WLAN none / none
SATA 8 / none
Audio analog 8 / none
Audio digital none / none
Connectors onboard only
PCIe 16x 1
PCIe 1x 2
IDE (PATA) 3 (6 channels)
Fan 4 pins (CPU) 1
Fan 3 pins (System) 2
Mass Storage Controller
ICH6R 2x IDE (ATA100)
4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1)
ITE 8212F IDE RAID 2x IDE (ATA133 RAID 1,0,0+1)
Broadcom BCM5789KFB PCIe for RC8650 Card
Realtek 8650 PCIe 4x 100 Mbit/s LAN
C-Media CMI9880 AC97
VIA VT6307 2x 1394b (800 Mbit/s)
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