When we discussed Biostar TA990FXE mainboard, we were always bringing up certain issues. We still do not know for sure what the maximum supported system memory size is. Nvidia SLI graphics card configurations are not supported for some reason. The board has connectors only for three cooling fans, only one of which (the processor fan) allows adjusting its rotation speed. Out of fourteen USB 2.0 ports, which are supported in the chipset, the board only has eight – four on the back panel and four as two internal onboard pin-connectors. The cooling system heatsinks are fastened with not very reliable plastic push-pins with springs. The Power On and Reset buttons are hard to notice and inconvenient to use. “Watchdog Timer” technology is missing or doesn’t always do its job. There is no Clear CMOS button and the Clear CMOS jumper is in a very inconvenient spot. Numerous little issues in the BIOS are quite disappointing. It is very inconvenient that the sections menu is at the bottom of the page, the window for the text information is way too small, so you have to use the scroll bar most of the time. It is difficult to adjust voltages without knowing their current values; you need to use two parameters on two different pages to adjust the processor Vcore. The memory timings need to be set twice, individually for each of the memory channels. The rotation speed of the case fans cannot be adjusted at all. For some reason they got rid of the option that could allow you to select a BIOS section as a startup page and you no longer can provide your individual settings profiles with descriptive names.
Despite all these numerous shortcomings, there are a few very pleasant features, such as the company’s brand name reusable Velcro tie, which will be irreplaceable for cable management inside or outside the case. This is the first mainboard that has native support for the new Bulldozer processors and doesn’t require a BIOS update with an old CPU model. At the same time it is the first mainboard that didn’t allow us to overclock our test processor despite the fact that all necessary options and settings were formally present.
However, Biostar TA990FXE mainboard has one very strong response that may make up for all little issues and inconveniences mentioned above -extremely affordable price of about $130. I am sure a lot of users will be ready to compromise and disregard some of the issues if the price of the mainboard is justified by its functionality and meets their expectations. However, do not forget that there is another mainboard based on AMD’s flagship 990FX chipset – ASRock 990FX Extreme 3. This solution has more fan connectors, more USB 2.0 ports, and Nvidia SLI support. Maybe it is even capable of overclocking new processors, who knows? Overall, as we have already mentioned in the beginning of this article – the biggest challenge for the DIY users is to make the choice. We, in our turn, are simply trying to make sure you have everything you need to make this choice and be certain that it is the right one.