Biostar TA75A+ Motherboard
By Gabriel Torres on August 4, 2011
So far, Biostar has released three motherboard models based on the AMD A75 chipset for the new AMD A-Series of CPUs with integrated graphics chip (“APUs”): the TA75A+, a full ATX model; the TA75M+ and the TA75M, which are microATX models. Let’s take a look at the full ATX model.
AMD released two chipsets for the new socket FM1 platform: the A55 and the A75. Both are single-chip solutions. The A55 is an entry-level solution, supporting six SATA-300 ports, 14 USB 2.0 ports, and four x1 PCI Express lanes. The A75 is a high-end solution, with six SATA-600 ports, four USB 3.0 ports (making it the first chipset with an integrated USB 3.0 controller), eSATA port multiplier (“FIS-based switching,” which allows you to install more than one hard drive to a single SATA port), and the other features found on the A55. Click here to learn more.
As mentioned, the Biostar TA75A+ motherboard uses the ATX form factor.
The Biostar TA75A+ comes with two PCI Express x16 slots, two PCI Express x1 slots, and two standard PCI slots.
The first PCI Express x16 slot is connected directly to the CPU integrated PCI Express controller, and it always works at x16 speed. The second PCI Express x16 slot is connected to four PCI Express lanes on the A75 chipset, so it always works at x4 speed.
If you install a dual-slot video card in the first PCI Express x16 slot, you will “kill” the first PCI Express x1 slot, and if you install a dual-slot video card in the second PCI Express x16 slot, you will “kill” one of the standard PCI slots.
AMD CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket FM1 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,866 MHz under dual-channel architecture. However, Biostar says the TA75A+ supports memory up to 2,000 MHz through overclocking.
The Biostar TA75A+ has four memory sockets, and since DDR3 memory modules can now be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GB modules.
The first and third sockets are red, while the second and fourth are white. In order to achieve the maximum performance, you should install two or four memory modules in order to enable dual-channel architecture. When only two modules are used, install them in the red sockets.
The AMD A75 chipset is a single-chip solution and is also known as an FCH (Fusion Controller Hub). This chip supports six SATA-600 ports with RAID (0, 1, and 10). These ports are located at one of the edges of the board and were rotated 90°, so they won’t be blocked by the installation of long video cards on any of the two PCI Express x16 slots.
There is no support for a floppy disk drive controller or an ATA-133 port.
This motherboard has 10 USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard. It also has four USB 3.0 ports, two available on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a front panel connector, all controlled by the chipset.
There are no FireWire (IEEE1394) ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC892 codec. The main specifications for this chip include 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, and 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good for the mainstream user, but if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing, you should look for a motherboard that provides an SNR of at least 97 dB for the analog input.
The portrayed motherboard comes with independent 7.1 analog audio outputs, meaning that you won’t have to use the “line in” or the “mic in” jacks when installing an analog 7.1 speaker set. The Biostar TA75A+ doesn’t have an on-board optical SPDIF output, which we think is a main drawback. However, you can install an optical or coaxial SPDIF connector using the available “JSPDIFOUT1” header.
This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111E controller.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with a keyboard PS/2 connector, four USB 2.0 ports, HDMI connector, DVI-D connector, VGA connector, one Gigabit Ethernet port, independent analog 7.1 audio outputs, and two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors).
The motherboard has a legacy serial port on a header labeled “J_COM1.” You will need to buy an adapter if you want to use this port. It also has an infrared interface, making it inexpensive for you to add an infrared sensor to be able to use a remote control or to connect devices using infrared technology (IrDA).
The TA75A+ has a POST diagnostics display, which shows, through a two-digit code, which component is preventing the computer from turning on.
In Figure 7, you can see all the accessories that come with this motherboard.
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Biostar TA75A+ has four phases for the CPU main voltage (VDD a.k.a. Vcore) and one for the CPU VDDNB voltage (integrated memory controller). We couldn’t figure out how the CPU VDDP voltage (integrated video controller) is generated, and probably doesn’t have a separate voltage regulator. Therefore, this motherboard uses a “4+1” configuration.
This motherboard uses solid ferrite-core coils, which present less energy loss than iron-core coils (i.e., they improve efficiency) and solid capacitors.
The motherboard provides a series of five LEDs for you to monitor its phases. See Figure 10.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
The Biostar TA75A+ offers some overclocking options, listed below (2011-06-17 BIOS):
For a better understanding of what these options do, please read our Understanding All Voltage Configurations from the Motherboard tutorial.
This motherboard also provides adjustments for memory timings.
The main specifications for the Biostar TA75A+ motherboard include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The Biostar TA75A+ is an entry-level motherboard for the new A-Series CPUs from AMD, using the ATX form factor instead of the microATX one. It comes with only the basic options provided by the chipset, which are more than enough for the average user, since this chipset provides USB 3.0 and SATA-600 ports.
It competes directly with the ECS A75F-A, which is cheaper (USD 85 vs. USD 100). This model from ECS has a few small advantages, such as one eSATA-600 port (converted from one of the original SATA-600 ports), an on-board optical SPDIF output, and an external clear CMOS button. The portrayed model from Biostar, on the other hand, has a POST diagnostics display, independent analog audio jacks (on the ECS A75F-A they are shared), has a voltage regulator with one extra phase with monitoring LEDs, far more overclocking options, and an embedded infrared interface.
4If you are looking for an inexpensive motherboard for an A-Series CPU from AMD using the ATX form factor, both motherboards are good options, but if you are on a budget and don’t care about the little advantages the Biostar TA75A+ offers over the ECS A75F-A, the model from ECS is the obvious choice.