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Generation Change: Eight Motherboards For The Athlon 64

Biostar K8VHA Pro

Board revision: 1.0

BIOS Version: 1001 (October 1, 2003)

Biostar also sticks precisely to the AMD specification: 2.0 GHz and 200.0 MHz FSB clock speed. The layout of this board is a little different than most, since the Northbridge is situated almost right next to the CPU. We give a thumbs up to the two power connectors at the top edge of the board because it means a short route to the power supply and no cables unnecessarily cluttering up the casing.

The board foresees an IDE RAID controller, but the board we received for the test didn't come with one. The VT8237 from VIA features the usual two UltraATA/133 ports as well as two ports for SATA devices.

Biostar designed the board for two DIMMs, which should certainly suffice for practical use. It also supports ECC memory. A VT6307 from VIA is included and enables the use of two FireWire ports. Realtek now also offers a controller for Gigabit Ethernet: the RTL 8100S. Biostar put it on the K7VHA Pro.

Biostar also added a CNR slot for cheap expansion cards (e.g. a modem function) something which is likely to be of interest mainly to big customers. Practical if you're in a hurry are the pin panel's differently colored connectors.

The standard package comes with a slew of software including Synamtec Internet Security 2003 which also contains Anti Virus Ghost 2003 and a host of handy utilities for updating the BIOS on Windows, automating overclocking and easy monitoring.

If you're looking for a computer that's as noiseless as possible, you won't find it yet if you go with Biostar, since one of its shortcomings is that it doesn't support Cool & Quiet.

But while Biostar might be a little far from first place in the benchmarks, it compensates for that with an outstanding price/performance ratio, as the equipment leaves little room for criticism. Only the overclocking capabilities are a bit limited due to a lack of voltage changing options.