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Biostar Hi-Fi B85S3+ Motherboard Review

Our Verdict

For less money, this board offers a solid featureset, and the same quality of components used by more recognized companies. The minor BIOS glitches (e.g., when saving screenshots) are hardly worth mentioning. A mainstream user who isn't going to run a RAID configuration or use multiple graphics cards will find a lot to like on this one — including a little money left over. Enthusiasts will probably want even more features (e.g. RAID, multiple graphics cards, serious overclocking options), but there aren't any "gotchas" that the intended market will notice. Buyers might also appreciate being able to add RAM without discarding their original kit.

For

  • Quality components • Number of ports • Speaker header • Front and rear USB 3.0 • Four DIMM slots • Three-year warranty • 95W CPU support

Against

  • 3-Pin fan headers • No pilot or diagnostic LEDs • Unpolished BIOS • Minimal accessories

Introduction

Most people who buy big-box computers on a tight budget are probably going to end up with an H81 system, capped at PCIe 2.0 and with minimal expansion options, sometimes limited to USB 2.0 and only a couple of SATA ports. For not a whole lot more money, B85 fixes all of this. Today, we're looking at an offering from Biostar, which is actually not much more expensive than a lesser H81 system. In fact, if I were ordering in the $60-$80 range today, I’d have to skip this board, because it is now down to a mere $58 on Newegg.

This motherboard uses the ALC892 codec, but utilizes better surrounding components, and claims 100dBA S/N on the outputs. Typical for this codec is 97dBA S/N, so this board should punch a little over its weight in audio output quality. It's an omission, then, for the board to not include optical SPDIF Output, but it is still going to beat the usual ALC662 found on budget boards. This board uses a Realtek network controller for its RJ-45 port, and does not include a wireless NIC.

  • Sakkura
    Why no info on the fan control for case fans? Do the 3- pin headers allow voltage control, and if so, how does the BIOS handle fan curves?
    Reply
  • DonkeyOatie
    Is the BIOS updated enough to run chips like i5 4460?
    Reply
  • SuperVeloce
    you're joking, right? Practically every motherboard that left the factory in Q1/Q2 2014, has the support for "haswell refresh" cpus.
    Reply
  • Onus
    16675885 said:
    Why no info on the fan control for case fans? Do the 3- pin headers allow voltage control, and if so, how does the BIOS handle fan curves?
    This is a good question. Although there are no case fans on my testbed case, there ought to be a way I can check for this in the future. I'll keep this in mind; thanks.

    Reply
  • Calculatron
    I think this is the motherboard that I said Biostar should have submitted for the sub-$60 LGA-1150 motherboard round-up, back in April.

    Better late than never, I suppose!
    Reply
  • Onus
    Since I was asked to look at the $60-$80 segment, I suspect this board was in that range when THG ordered it; the price may have come down some. It is a nice board, it would not have been unreasonable to make it "Recommended" rather than merely "Approved," although I suspect that one of the ASRock H97 boards may be close enough in price to make that a higher bang/buck proposition.
    Reply
  • quilciri
    I remember back in 2011, with the Llano chips, if you overclocked them, the USB 3.0 controller would switch to USB 2.0 mode.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    16677526 said:
    I think this is the motherboard that I said Biostar should have submitted for the sub-$60 LGA-1150 motherboard round-up, back in April.
    I wouldn't have minded having it come across my bench back then. But I think Joe is right, it was probably just above the price range back then. This would have been tough competition for those other four boards, especially with the four RAM slots. That's something you get with a full-width board. That and a secured board edge ( I really don't like boards that are narrower than the spec and just hang off the edge ). Then again, the H81 chipset can't handle more than two DIMMs, even if you have the space. That's yet another advantage B85 has.

    The lack of a TOSLINK doesn't bother me. The board does have the header if you want to buy the break out adapter. But if you don't have Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect, you can only get 5.1 audio over the S/PDIF from pre-encoded sources, like a movie DVD. Game sounds and every other generated audio is reduced to 2.0, which you can get from the 3.5mm jack. So unless you're using your computer to watch a lot of movies, and you're using fiber optic cables for audio instead of HDMI, there's not a lot of need for it.
    Reply
  • DonkeyOatie
    16676133 said:
    you're joking, right? Practically every motherboard that left the factory in Q1/Q2 2014, has the support for "haswell refresh" cpus.


    I wanted a definite statement. There are boards in distant parts of the world that lack this feature.


    Firstly, apologies for not making my intention clearer. I knew exactly what I meant but, as a teacher, I should have been less hasty.

    I advise a lot of people around the world on system builds as so many of us do. What often comes up for budget systems is the PCPartpicker note. – Some Intel B85 chipset motherboards may need a BIOS update prior to using Haswell Refresh CPUs.
    Many of these posters are spending all the money they have on their first build and are full of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) Often, nothing I can say will persuade them that they do not need a Z97 board like their mate told them to get.

    My statement was intended to prompt the reviewer to add wording to the review similar to what SuperVeloce suggested. Say This motherboard supports haswell refresh cpus.
    We regulars use this site a lot and 'know' all this stuff, but it is also important to remember the first-timers.
    Reply
  • beetlejuicegr
    He is right, DonkeyOatie i mean, i also built a system for a friend and i was stressed up until the system booted if i would have to run around to use another cpu to bios update so that the haswell refresh cpu i had would work.
    Reply