AMD users on
a tight budget have been treated to very compelling collection of integrated
graphics chipsets from which to pick. The Biostar TF8200 A2+ is no exception. A
large part of this motherboard's appeal comes from its integrated nVidia Geforce
The Geforce 8200 compares well against AMD's 780G and
790GX chipsets in many of the benchmarks we threw at it today. Both platforms
feature a form of hybrid graphics for Crossfire or SLI, HDMI output, and onboard
HD content decoding. Reducing the power draw of a discrete graphics card via
Hybrid Power is a feature that's still exclusive to the Geforce 8200. In
practical terms, the feature is novel but not particularly decisive.
The performance of nVidia's Geforce 8200 chipset is
neck-and-neck with AMD's Radeon HD 3200-based graphics found on AMD 780G-base
motherboards. Neither IGP is suitable for hardcore gamers looking to play the
newest 3D titles, but should be sufficient for older 3D games, and completely
fine for everyday 2D desktop applications. Hybrid SLI is largely pointless in my
opinion. When paired up a Geforce 8500GT the resulting framerates aren't fast
enough to play today's games or justify the added cost of a value-oriented PCI
You'll be better served by adding in a
card like the Radeon HD 4850 when your budget permits,
if gaming's your thing. The Biostar TF8200 A2+ motherboard offers up a PCI
Express x16 slot for that very reason.
On the Home Theatre Output front, you get HDMI 1.3A,
DVI-D and VGA outputs to play with. nVidia's hardware-based video decoding
delivers 1080i content, but the CPU load on our Athlon 64 5000+ based test
system was over 60%. Comparable tests on AMD 780G/690G platforms were half this.
In real world terms it will deliver good HD playback, but if you plan on doing
much else while watching a movie you may encounter playback issues.
For all of its integration, the TF8200 A2+ requires a
few extra purchases in order to get the most out of it - there are only four
available USB ports, and scant little bundeled in the box. For a motherboard that costs around $100 CDN ($80 USD, 40 GBP), this is
unfortunately pretty common.
Stil, for anyone planning to build a home theatre PC
that operates quietly, or a cost effective PC with HD content decoding
capabilities, the Biostar TF8200 A2+ is a worthy platform to consider.
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