Market Survey, Part 1: A Comparison Of The Latest Pentium 4 Motherboards

Biostar P4TAW Extreme (Intel 925X)

Board revision: 1.0

BIOS version: TAW1022 (October 22, 2004)

The P4TAW Extreme is colored red, in the classic Biostar fashion. Intel's 925X chipset is deployed here, along with a Firewire controller from VIA, and a two-channel UltraATA controller from ITE (8212F). That leaves two x1 PCIe slots, three 32-bit PCI slots, and the obligatory x16 PCIe connection for the graphics card.

What's really distinctive about this motherboard is its set of network connections. The board does have a Broadcom chip, also connected via PCI Express, but it operates solely as an interface for the RTL8650 Realtek component, so sadly there is no Gigabit capability. However, the show-stopper is that the RTL8650 functions as a 10/100 Mbit switch with integrated Firewall and a router. Biostar put the chip and four ports on a separate card that goes in a white slot behind the bottom PCI slot. Unfortunately, there were no instructions to this 4-port card in the box.

For a while now, Biostar has been including in its packages the WinFlash program for convenient updating of the board's BIOS from within Windows. Although big producers have been offering this kind of feature for a few years now, smaller board makers are now also jumping on the bandwagon.

Biostar was on-target in our test processor clocking: we recorded 199.5 MHz, just a hair below the specifications. At 4.86 GB/s, memory performance was in the acceptable range.

Following a CMOS reset we did observe one little anomaly, as 1.360 V CPU voltage was displayed in the BIOS, though only 1.250 V was being used. This display read correctly again after manually adjusting the core voltage.

The Biostar P4TAW Extreme does not offer any digital inputs or outputs among its connection options.

The P4TAW Extreme is equipped with a Broadcom BCM5751 Gigabit network controller, which cannot be used, however, as a direct LAN connection.

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Biostar P4TAW Extreme (Rev. 1.0)
PlatformSocket LGA775
NorthbridgeIntel 925X
SouthbridgeIntel ICH6R
BIOSTAW1022 (10/22/2004)
USB 2.04 / 4 (optional)
IEEE1394/Firewire1 / 1 (optional)
Serial COM Port2 / none
Parallel LPT Port1 / none
Gamenone / none
LAN0 / 4
WLANnone / none
SATA8 / none
Audio analog8 / none
Audio digitalnone / none
Connectorsonboard only
PCIe 16x1
PCIe 1x2
IDE (PATA)3 (6 channels)
Fan 4 pins (CPU)1
Fan 3 pins (System)2
Mass Storage Controller
ICH6R2x IDE (ATA100)4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1)
ITE 8212F IDE RAID2x IDE (ATA133 RAID 1,0,0+1)
Broadcom BCM5789KFB PCIefor RC8650 Card
Realtek 8650 PCIe4x 100 Mbit/s LAN
C-Media CMI9880AC97
VIA VT63072x 1394b (800 Mbit/s)