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Pipe Dreams: Six P35-DDR3 Motherboards Compared

Biostar T-Series TP35DC-A7 Deluxe

Biostar realizes that the majority of buyers will not be using CrossFire configurations and designed its latest T-Series motherboard for single-card value instead.

Warned that all boards would receive the same level of scrutiny as retail products, the company nevertheless rushed its TP35DC-A7 Deluxe to us weeks in advance of a public debut.

Features Overview

Biostar shipped its TP35DC-A7 Deluxe motherboard prior to receiving its first shipment of chipset cooling heatpipes, and instead substituted two standard sinks. The following photos do not represent the final appearance even though component layout will be the same. A silkscreened outline of the heatpipe shows its cooling path around both chipset components and all VRM transistors, but Biostar's substite parts on this pre-release board point to the needlessness of extravagant designs.

Biostar equips its TP35DC-A7 Deluxe with an eight-phase VRM and all-solid-capacitor construction normally reserved for the most expensive boards, yet the retail product will likely come at a middle-market price. The single PCI-Express x16 slot is another attempt to increase value, because the majority of buyers are expected to use a non-CrossFire compatible nVidia graphics card.

Biostar moves its memory slots around 1.2" downward from traditional placement, but maintains graphics card to DIMM latch clearance by also moving the PCI-Express x16 slot downward by two positions. Serial ATA and Ultra ATA connectors are also positioned with extra room for large graphics cards, and are located within easy reach of a case's lower drive bays.

The top PCI-Express x1 slot has a clear path as far forward as the memory slots for support of medium-length expansion cards, but sits in the second slot postion as the topmost spot is instead filled with a 4-pin "Molex" connector. This leaves the board with six slots out of seven supported by the ATX form factor.

The Ultra ATA connector's forward-facing orientation may cause cable installation problems for cases that have a bay tightly against the motherboard area, but this somewhat rare problem can be solved by installing the cable before "dropping" the motherboard into the case. More challenging will be routing the Ultra ATA cable from the bottom of the board to a case's upper drive bays.

Floppy and power cable connections are exceptionally placed for use in traditional tower case designs, where fairly short cables can still reach the upper-rear ATX12V connector (eight-pins), upper front ATX connector (24-pins), and a centrally mounted 3.5" drive bay. The only difficult-to-access connectors are Front-Panel Audio and CD inputs, placed in the all-too-common lower rear corner.

The lower front corner features power and reset buttons perfect for bench-testing the board, features usually associated with upper-range products.

Biostar TP35D3-A7 Deluxe (Revision 0.51)
NorthbridgeIntel P35 GMCH
SouthbridgeIntel ICH9R
Voltage RegulatorEight Phases
BIOS518 (05/18/2007)
266.7 MHz (FSB1066)266.0 MHz (-0.2%)
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard1x PCIe x163x PCIe x12x PCI3x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)1x Serial Port Header1x Parallel Port Header1x Floppy1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)6x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s1x Front Panel Audio1x CD-Audio In1x S/P-DIF Out1x S/P-DIF In1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)2x Fan 3 pins (System)1x Internal Power Switch1x Internal Reset Switch
IO panel2x PS2 (keyboard, mouse)2x RJ-45 Network6x USB 2.06x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In + Line-In)2x eSATA (External Serial ATA) interface
Mass Storage Controllers
Intel ICH9R6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
Marvell 88SE61211x Ultra ATA-100 (2-drives)2x SATA 3.0Gb/s
Network
2x Marvell 88E8056 PCI-E2x Gigabit LAN Connection
Audio
HDA (Azalia) Controller InterfaceRealtek ALC888 8-Channel Codec

The lack of IEEE-1394 FireWire controller reminds us that the TP35D3-A7 Deluxe is really targeted towards the mainstream market, but mainstream buyers will be suitably impressed by its dual gigabit network controllers.

Further upscale convenience comes by way of two External SATA ports. PS/2 keyboard and mouse, six USB, two RJ-45, and six analog audio ports will fill the majority of connectivity needs, but buyers will also find digital audio inputs and outputs plus serial and parallel port breakouts on the board's surface.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Dont get any biostar mobo, they all have capacitor problems in my experience.
    Reply
  • Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R support up to 4GB DDR3 memory. However, could 8GBs 2x4GB DDR3 modules be used as long as it is within the top 1333 limit on the board?
    Reply