BIOSTAR K8NHA Pro (NVIDIA nForce3 150)
BIOSTAR is one of the few manufacturers that rolled out Socket754 mainboards on chipsets from both VIA and NVIDIA. Notwithstanding the different chipsets, the two mainboards from BIOSTAR are similar in characteristics and come with almost the same accessories sets.
The BIOSTAR K8NHA Pro seems to be a sort of a compromise between price and functionality. The mainboard supports all basic interfaces and protocols, but the engineers tried to save on everything they could. At the same time, the BIOSTAR K8NHA Pro has something original about itself. Its variation comes with an integrated Wi-Fi controller - Realtek RTL8180 that supports the 802.11b standard. In this case, the mainboard’s package will include a riser-card with the analog part of the wireless solution and an antenna. The mainboard we got for our tests had nothing to do with wireless networking, the slot for the exclusive riser card was substituted with an ordinary CNR slot. By the way, this is a peculiarity of the mainboard, too, since only BIOSTAR equips its Socket754 mainboards with a CNR slot.
As for the mainboard’s functionality, it has an AGP 8x, five PCI and two DDR DIMM slots. Note that the BIOSTAR K8NHA Pro comes with only two memory slots, while many other Socket754 products have three of them. Well, the integrated memory controller of the Athlon 64 processor supports exactly two double-sided DDR400 modules. Three slots can be used only if you install single-sided modules or when clock the memory at a lower frequency.
The BIOSTAR K8NHA Pro supports two Parallel ATA channels through the chipset (the third ATA/133 channel, available in the nForce3 150, is not implemented on this mainboard) and six USB 2.0 ports. The rear mainboard panel carries four USB connectors, the other two are onboard. The accessories don’t include any brackets for the system case: they saved on that, too.
BIOSTAR put off the implementation of the network controller available in the chipset as it cannot boast any high bandwidth. Instead, they integrated a Gigabit LAN controller, Realtek RTL8110S. Although they did use the audio implementation offered by the nForce3 150 chipset. There is a six-channel AC’97 2.3 codec, Realtek ALC655, supporting Jack Sensing technology. However, I assume they could have done a better job on the sound implementation, as this codec has a bunch of features that haven’t been used. The connections panel of the mainboard carries only three audio jacks, while the SPDIF output is available as an onboard connector.