Biostar TF8200 A2+ Motherboard
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 06-07-2008
Provided by: Biostar

For the last two generations, nVidia has utilized a three digit model number for their full-size traditional nForce chipsets, and a four digit number to identify their micro-ATX GeForce integrated graphics designs, as seen with the 500/600 and 6000/7000 series. Now the boundaries between nForce and GeForce have blurred, as both the 700 MCPs (Media and Communications Processors) and 8000 mGPUs (Motherboard Graphics Processing Units) include onboard graphics chipsets. The driving force behind this change is the Hybrid SLI technology, which offers GeForce Boost for mainstream graphics card users, and Hybrid Power for high-end gaming card enthusiasts.

GeForce Boost combines an inexpensive, mainstream discrete graphics card such as an 8400GS or 8500GT with the onboard 8000-based graphics chipset to provide a performance increase in much the same manner as dual video card SLI (Scalable Link Interface) systems. At the other end of the scale, Hybrid Power allows high-end video cards like the 9800GTX and GX2 to go into a power save mode when not needed, utilizing the onboard graphics chipset when in 2D operation, and switching to the discrete graphics when more demanding 3D applications are used.

The Biostar TF8200 A2+ ships with a user manual, software CD, two SATA cables, SATA power adapter, an IDE cable and I/O backing plate. The board itself is a full-length ATX, unlike some other manufacturers who have chosen to implement the 8200 chipset in a more traditional micro-ATX format. In doing this, Biostar has further bridged the gap between nVidia MCP and mGPU, as the TF8200 appears very similar to Biostar's other TForce offering, the TF720 A2+. They share many of the same features, although there are minor differences in the onboard graphics. The TF8200 is based off the 8200 chipset rather than the 8100 of the TF720, and offers HDMI whereas the 720 does not. But other than that and some slight layout changes, the two boards are almost identical.

The TF8200 makes use of a passive heatpipe southbridge and voltage regulator combination cooling system. An optional DIY thermal cooling fan accessory can be added to the top of the vreg heatsink if active cooling is desired. There is also an optional MDV or Multi-Digital View accessory card that plugs into the first white slot on the board for running multiple displays from the onboard graphics chip. The front corner of the board is packed, including six SATA-II ports, an IDE and floppy connector, four USB 2.0 headers, power and reset buttons as well as all the front panel wiring pins. The CMOS battery and jumper are located inconveniently close to the 16x PCIe 2.0 slot, especially if you plan to use a full size video card with a cooler that overhangs the slot. Connections for serial and parallel ports as well as audio jacks are located along the edge adjacent to the last PCI slot.

The rear I/O section contains PS2 keyboard and mouse jacks, HDMI port, DVI and VGA connectors, four more USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit NIC and six jacks for the Realtek 8+2 Channel HD audio. An 8-pin +12v EPS power connector can be found beside the 4-phase power components. The mounting holes for the optional thermal fan can be seen on top of the heatsink. Around front is the AM2+ CPU socket, rotated 90 from usual, with the four DIMM slots along the side edge. The 24-pin ATX connector ends up along the front edge of the board.

The TF8200 will be installed and tested using the AMD 9850 Phenom quad processor, with support for the latest HT 3.0 specification. The new nVidia chipsets also include official support for dual-channel DDR2-1066, so a pair of OCZ's SLI-Ready PC2-8500 sticks are added. This memory should automatically set to 533Mhz with tighter timings on boards that support EPP, Enhanced Performance Profiles.

Up next, BIOS options and settings.

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