Testing The E-Class: 9 Pentium 4 Motherboards With The 845E Chipset

Biostar P4TDK: Focus On FireWire

Board Revision: 0.91BIOS Version: 0410V (April 10, 2002)

The Biostar P4TDK comes with hardly a lick of extra hardware. Besides the standard chipset features, the board has an AC97 sound system based on the CMI9738 chip from C-Media and a VIA FireWire controller (VT6306). There could have been a total of three ports if a suitable adapter module had been included in the package. But we assume that Biostar just forgot to include it with our test model.

The AGP slot uses a slider to lock the card in place - a solution that we didn't think was as reliable as other hook-based systems. Biostar has placed an eyebrow-raising four DIMM sockets on the board, with a few limitations, though. Since the 845E can only address four so-called rows at a time, you can only use a maximum of two double-sided DIMM banks or four one-sided ones. If this limitation is considered, the sockets offer you a lot of flexibility.

Unlike most of the other boards, the Biostar uses voltage converters with large heat sinks that also got mighty hot during our test runs. This makes the Biostar board somewhat unsuitable for systems that are supposed to be as quiet (read: with as few fans) as possible.

We found the board to be a high-level performer without stability problems.