Biostar P4TAW Extreme
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You cannot fail to be impressed by the outstanding specification level of Biostar's P4TAW Extreme as soon you take it out of the box. It sports eight-channel high definition audio, Intel's well-equipped ICH6WR Southbridge with Matrix RAID and a total of four SATA ports, a second RAID chip with two UltraATA/133 channels, FireWire ports, eight USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet.
However, the most remarkable feature of this board, which Biostar calls U20, is located in the final expansion slot, which is fitted with a SOHO router card containing a Realtek network chip and a total of four (!) network ports. Biostar has earmarked three of these for LAN connections, and the fourth as WAN interface for Internet connectivity. But we were still very confused to discover that the back panel did not contain a network port for the actual network chip (a 5751 from Broadcom), although thanks to the SOHO router card, this should not be a problem in practice.
Biostar is pushing the envelope with the inclusion of these options, which have hitherto been unavailable on consumer-category motherboards. The slight increase in cost for the versatile network interfaces enables you to build a PC based on the P4TAW for use as a router, firewall and a DMZ machine.
As usual with 775 boards, the ATX12V plug needs a power supply compliant with the 2.0 specification. Although almost all motherboards will happily operate with a standard ATX power supply, these have a locating lug on the socket that is too small to securely retain the 2.0 spec. power supply plug.
Biostar uses lightweight heatsinks to cool both chipset components; we are delighted to note that the manufacturer has decided against the use of fans. The accessory package is not lavish, but includes everything you need. Only four of the eight USB ports can be used, since no adapter is supplied.