The mainboard we got for our tests had empty spaces left for additional chips that were not soldered up. So, theoretically, the BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro may also come with a Wi-Fi WLAN controller and a rarely seen IDE RAID controller supporting two ATA/133 channels.
Now let’s have a look at the PCB design. The PCB is equipped with an AGP 8x slot, five PCI slots, one CNR slot (a rare thing!) and two DDR DIMM slots. The fact that this mainboard supports only two memory slots is not crucial. The memory controller of the Athlon 64 supports only four memory banks when DDR400 SDRAM is used. It means that you cannot install more than two double-sided DDR400 memory modules into a Socket754 mainboard.
With a lot of slots, extra chips and landing places for potential controllers, the PCB of the BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro has a strange design, resembling the one of the AOpen AK86-L. The first thing to catch my eye was the K8T800 North Bridge located behind the CPU socket. We haven’t seen such a solution until the arrival of the Athlon 64 – the North Bridge used to be responsible for the memory and had to be installed next to the memory slots. Now that the memory controller is integrated into the processor itself, the North Bridge can be placed anywhere around the Socket754.
The PCB design of the K8VHA Pro is not only unusual but also has a few noticeable drawbacks. For example, the installed graphics card may block the clips of the memory slots. This is the result of the PCI slots being shifted off the left edge of the PCB for the CNR not to be shared with the last PCI. The IDE connectors are also placed in front of the PCI slots, which is not very convenient. The ATX power supply connectors found themselves at the far end of the PCB – one of the most improper places, since the attached power cables will hang over the CPU cooler. Another upsetting thing is that the BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro has only two fan connectors, which may be insufficient for a modern system.
The three-channel CPU voltage regulator sends the nominal voltage to the processor. The CPU temperature is measured by the integrated thermal diode. The BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro supports Cool’n’Quiet technology, but for some reason never mentions it.
This mainboard cannot be recommended for overclockers. Although the BIOS Setup offers the full range of settings for configuring the memory subsystem, save for ECC enabling, the CPU overclocking options are scarce. There is in fact only one thing you can do – increase the FSB frequency from 200MHz to 250MHz with 1MHz increment. The BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro doesn’t allow changing the voltages of the CPU or memory, so there is little benefit from FSB overclocking. CPU overclocking on the BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro will give poorer results than on other mainboards that allow increasing the CPU voltage.
So, it’s all clear with this mainboard. The BIOSTAR K8VHA Pro is a stable and high-performance platform, but doesn’t suit for overclocking at all. However, there is nothing else we could complain about except these scarce CPU overclocking capabilities and a few design drawbacks. Moreover, it is recommended by AMD for use with its Athlon 64 3200+ processors.