Biostar TPower X79
Often perceived as a contender for extracting some of the best overclocking value, Biostar stepped its game up a bit with its TPower X79 by providing twice as many USB 3.0 ports compared to most competitors. We find six of those connectors on the I/O panel and two available via front-panel header.
Biostar's customers aren’t even forced to give up a bunch of other features to get those extra ports, since the board still features a third-party SATA/eSATA controller, three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots electrically wired to run at x16-x16-x8, a Port 80 diagnostics display for overclocking failure analysis, and integrated power/reset/CLR_CMOS buttons for bench testing.
The TPower X79 even has two high-capacity EPS12V connectors to feed its mid-capacity voltage regulator. Perhaps the most significant compromise is a quartet of memory slots, giving you one shot to grab the quad-channel kit you need and no room for an upgrade. With a Web price of only $230, that sacrifice is fairly small in exchange for such a wide range of added controllers.
Unfortunately, installing a third graphics card will be problematic for performance enthusiasts, since the extra-stiff USB 3.0 front-panel connectors of most cases block the installation of most cards. As with Asus' board, two-way CrossFire and SLI are preferred, and Biostar provides an extra space between the top two x16 slots to assist airflow between a pair of boards.
Competitors could learn a thing from Biostar about low-cost installation kits, as the TPower X79 includes six SATA cables to support all of the chipset’s native ports. But perhaps Biostar could also learn something from ASRock, the company that enables three-way SLI with a bundled bridge and smarter header placement. The TPower X79 is almost exclusively focused on dual-card graphics configurations, though going the single-GPU route is certainly an option too.