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Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100

TP43D2-A7 Software, BIOS, And Accessories

The TP43D2-A7 doesn’t include any third-party applications, but Biostar has added a few of its own utilities.

TSeries Overclock 3 supports changes in FSB clock speeds plus CPU, DRAM, northbridge, and CPU FSB voltage. We didn’t have any problems setting up voltage levels and clock speeds just as we would in BIOS, though using BIOS to make the changes did give us a slightly better maximum speed.

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Biostar also includes a hardware monitor utility, but the temperatures displayed can’t be considered accurate.

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The TP43D2-A7 also includes a Windows flash utility and an email tech-support client. A few of our experiences with Windows flash utilities would show that the tech-support client is a smart add-in.

BIOS

The TP43D2-A7 has a relatively good selection of BIOS tuning controls, but the wide range of selectable frequencies appears almost ludicrous in light of the motherboard’s limited voltage selections.

BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)
FSB Frequency100 to 800 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM RatiosUp to DDR2-1066 (By Boot Strap)
PCIe Clock100 to 150 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU Vcore+5%, +10%, +15%
CPU FSB Voltage+0.10 V, +0.20 V, +0.30 V
Northbridge (MCH)+0.10 V, +0.20 V, +0.30 V
Southbridge (ICH)Not Adjustable
DRAM Voltage1.80 - 2.50 V (0.10 V)
CASLatencyRange
tCAS:3-7; tRCD: 3-10; tRP: 3-10; tRAS: 9-24

The most limiting of TP43D2-A7 voltage settings appears to be CPU vCore, although the +15% setting resulted in an increase of almost 20% on our Core 2 Duo E8600. Since most budget systems use air cooling, this particular limitation should affect few builders.

Biostar’s Over-Clocking Navigator menu is simplified through the use of several sub-menus. The main menu shows major frequencies and ratios only.

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The DRAM Timing Configuration sub-menu lists the most important timings, but enabling manual configuration disables automatic configuration for all settings. We experimented with various tWR, tRFC, tWTR, tRRD, and tRTP settings but were unable to get perfect stability at reasonable timings. Leaving SPD detection on locked us in at 5-5-5-15 latencies, which was fortunately the timings we’d chosen for running our Ballistix DDR2-800 kits at DDR2-1,066 speed.

PCIe clock control can be found in the Clock Gen Configuration sub-menu.

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The TP43D2-A7 Voltage Configuration sub-menu has a single GTL Reference Voltage control, in addition to ordinary adjustments. Most buyers who need per-core GTL Reference settings are probably in a somewhat higher-priced market.

The TP43D2-A7 can store 10 BIOS profiles, allowing easy restoration of previous BIOS configurations.

Accessories

Accessories
Documentation&SoftwareMotherboard ManualMotherboard Driver DVD
Hardware2x SATA Data Cable1x 80-conductor Ultra ATA cable1x I/O Panel Shield1x 4-pin to SATA power adapter

The TP43D2-A7 installation kit is slightly lighter than most other low-cost motherboards, in that it doesn’t contain a floppy cable. While most users won’t install a floppy drive, these are still useful for adding AHCI drivers during installation of Windows XP, which low-budget buyers so often favor.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • V3NOM
    interesting, although pretty much anyone building a P775 system these days would spend a bit more than $100... and somethings really weird with this commenting thing cos i can't read what i'm typing... it just ... doesnt fill the box? just when i type something it instantly goes to the left instead of filling the box... but anyway, interesting if a bit useless article.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    FWIW, the issue with text disappearing from the commenting box as you're typing is something I've reported and m waiting for a fix still. Thanks for confirming that it's still an issue.
    Reply
  • rjcorrin
    Yes - everyone has money shooting out of their pantless ass to buy more expensive motherboards. I use a gigabyte Ep35 DS3L and am very happy with it. What is a >$100 board going to give me? Is it just that you want to waste money? I'm guessing you are one of those people who carry a balance on your credit card and lease a Lexus - you debt-carrying phag.
    Reply
  • jsc
    "What is a >$100 board going to give me?

    I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports.
    Reply
  • I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
    Reply
  • rjcorrin
    "I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."
    The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection. Then you would have had enough space to install "Mavis Beacon Teaches Touch Typing". That would give you something else to do with your hands during your "adult film" marathons.
    Did you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?
    Reply
  • rjcorrin
    "I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."
    The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection. Then you would have had enough space to install "Mavis Beacon Teaches Touch Typing". That would give you something else to do with your hands during your "adult film" marathons.
    Did you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?
    Reply
  • gaiden2k7
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $99 during black friday... would that top this list? :)
    Reply
  • Noya
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $84.50 during Black Friday, pwned you ninja gaiden fag.
    Reply
  • malveaux
    Wait, no AMD stuff?

    :(
    Reply