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Biostar TZ68A+

From $100 To $160: Five Z68-Based Boards, Compared
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Continuing in its efforts to conquer the budget overclocking and value-oriented gaming markets, Biostar’s TZ68A+ presents the least-eleborate I/O panel in today’s review. We seriously question why the firm would present only two USB 2.0 ports on the rear panel and six internally when the chipset supports a total of 14. We'd hate to run out of accessible connectivity and sour this board's value by being forced to buy a USB 2.0 hub.

Biostar does exploit other free features however, such as the Multi-I/O controller’s parallel port output. Though we’re sure a few customers will pick the TZ68A+ over its competitors exclusively for this more legacy feature, we’re almost as certain that more customers will pick a competing solution for its extra USB ports. A USB 3.0 controller boosts the total I/O panel port count to four, but doesn’t add a front-panel interface.

Biostar’s goal is low-cost performance rather than connectivity, so it’s the cheapest board in today’s review to support AMD CrossFire graphics across two cards. The second slot’s four-lane connection through the Z68 Express PCH (rather than splitting the processor's 16 available lanes) introduces latency and compromises the value of this added feature, however.

Biostar moves its front-panel audio connector two slots up from the bottom-rear corner, making it easier to reach from above the board, while also making it more difficult those who prefer to run their cable behind the motherboard tray to reach from below.

The remaining layout is clean, with the CPU power connector oriented for easier access to its latch. The four SATA 3Gb/s ports could potentially be blocked by a triple-slot secondary graphics card in the four-lane slot or a full-length PCI card, but those are unlikely combinations for a four-lane slot or a consumer-level build.

Biostar’s inclusion of only three SATA cables is likely adequate for most mid-budget builders, though any higher-priced competing products should have at least four.

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