Biostar TPower i55 Review
The TPower I55 in Detail
Starting with the PCI side of the motherboard we have two PCI-e slots which either run at x16 in single, or x8 in Crossfire/SLI. We've also got a PCI-e x1 and a PCI-e x4. In keeping with the all-rounder theme a board at this price tends to have we've also got two standard PCI slots just above a floppy connector. So you could theoretically use this to upgrade your old Pentium III and keep your peripherals.
On the bottom right corner we're much more in the 21st century with three USB 2.0 headers. The southbridge has a sturdy aluminium block helping to dissipate heat. Below that is the diagnostic POST 7-seg display and the power and reset buttons.
The area surrounding the CPU socket looks very cramped from this shot but actually it's all well designed. The heat-sinks are no taller than a bare DIMM and really do look the part. No problems with fitting a good tower cooler in here. On the right of the DIMM slots we have the ATX24 socket and an IDE. The placement of the IDE is better than most as at least it's up where it's most likely to be used, i.e in the transfer of an old optical drive.
One thing we absolutely have to give brownie points for is the front panel connectors. For a reason we've yet to fathom it seems to be the vogue for manufacturers to not only use a plain black header, but to not even mark the board to show what pins are what. Anyone who's been under a desk with a torch trying to put their case connectors back on will know what I mean. Biostar though not only use a clear colour-coded header, but mark the board clearly too. It may be a small thing but we love it.
The TPower I55 has six SATA II 3Gbps sockets. Although SATA 6Gbps does have an advantage with SATA 6Gbps hardware, it makes no difference to standard drives and so isn't really missed, especially at this price.
The back of the I55 has all of the standard connectors we're used to seeing. As well as a PS2 port which is actually useful as we couldn't get the board to use our USB keyboard to enter the BIOS, a problem we've seen on previous Biostar motherboards.
Before we get on to the BIOS, just a couple of shots of the heat-sinks. They add a nice air of quality to the board that belies its price-tag. It does mean that the board is a bit of schizophrenic with the top half looking very expensive and the bottom like an explosion in a 2001 crayon factory.