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Biostar P4M890-M7 VIA P4M890 Core 2 Duo Motherboard Review
Biostar P4M890-M7 VIA P4M890 Core 2 Duo Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
When it comes to the essentials, this board offers exactly what you need to build a simple working computer.
 77% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Biostar Dec 28 2006   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Biostar P4M890-M7

It has been a while since PCSTATS tested an Intel motherboard bearing VIA chipsets, but despite the flurry of nVidia nForce and Intel 900-series chipsets VIA does indeed have solutions of its own. The VIA P4M890 is not the newest of the bunch, but it does offer good performance for Intel Core 2 Duo class processors, and it is absolutely rock bottom affordable. The VIA P4M890 has a concise set of features, really nothing more than the basics, but with a UniChrome Pro integrated videocard all the important bases are well covered (network, video, IDE/SATA I RAID, audio, ect.) The Biostar P4M890-M7 motherboard PCSTATS is testing in this review for you today is a purebred mainstream motherboard. When it comes to the essentials, this board offers exactly what you need to build a simple working computer. There are no fancy features or accessories here, apart from the integrated UniChrome Pro videocard, and for this reason the Biostar P4M890-M7 motherboard is incredibly inexpensive; just $53 CDN ($46, £23 GBP) for an Intel Core 2 Duo motherboard is pretty stunning!

We're going to be realistic with our expectations here, for Biostar's P4M890-M7 motherboard is best suited to the corporate world and those of you looking to build a simple computer on a very small budget. The Intel Core 2 Duo processor is arguably the best processor on the market as of this writting, and the Biostar P4M890-M7 provides a very cost effect platform to build a simple PC from. The onboard UniChrome Pro IGP won't get you fully through Windows Vista with all the eye candy it offers, so the board also has a PCI Express x16 expansion slot.

Based on the VIA P4M890 Northbridge and VIA VT8237R+ Southbridge the Micro-ATX Biostar P4M890-M7 motherboard sports its no-frills 128-bit 2D/3D onboard UniChrome Pro videocard, a 10/100 network card, 5.1 channel audio, 1.5GB/s SATA I & two IDE channels, and a PCI Express x16 and x1 expansion slot. True, these onboard peripherals are a bit bland, but the critical points are covered.

The Biostar P4M890-M7 supports all Socket 775 processors from the Intel Celeron D to the Pentium 4/D up to Intel's Core 2 Duo processor (from 533Hz to 1066MHz FSB). The board has two DDR2 memory channels which accommodate up to 4GB of DDR2-533 (PC2-4200) memory. If you find the onboard UniChrome Pro videocard lacking, there's a PCI Express x16 slot for a stand alone videocard. You can also upgrade the system through the PCI Express x1 for high bandwidth devices and two 32 bit PCI slots for legacy devices.

Biostar P4M890-M7 Motherboard Review


User's Manual, Driver CD, Ultra/133 IDE Cable, Floppy Cable, I/O Shield

The Biostar P4M890-M7 is a tiny Micro ATX motherboard measuring in at 190 x 244mm in size. Components are closely spaced, leading to the ever-annoying issue about removing memory when the videocard is installed. Otherwise though, the layout of the motherboard is pretty good and most ports and headers are placed in accessible areas. The board is compatible with older ATX 1.4+ 20 pin power supplies with ATX12V connectors, however it is advisable to use an ATX 2.0 power supply if this motherboard will be equipped with a Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. Biostar equips this entry level motherboard with KZG and OST brand electrolytic capacitors.

The VIA P4M890 Northbridge and VT8237R+ Southbridge chipsets do not generate all that much heat, refreshing after working on scorchers like the Intel 975X, P965 Extreme or nVIDIA nForce 680i. The small passive aluminum heatsink on the Northbridge is cool to the touch even with the system operating at full load, and it's totally silent. :-)

If this board will be the foundation of your first home-built PC, you should find the user manual well documented and easy to follow. There's a lot of good information in the manual but it can get a bit technical at times so brush up on your lingo before reading.

About the only thing to keep in mind with the Biostar P4M890-M7 motherboard is that the P4M890 chipset incorporates a single channel memory controller. Late model Intel Core 2 Duo motherboards just about all use dual channel memory controllers, so while this might give the Biostar P4M890-M7 a bit of a handicap, it's not as big a deal with most workstation applications and software. Have a look through PCSTATS office oriented benchmarks a few pages forward, to see what we mean. Games do tend to see an impact because the memory is single channel only, however it's not as large as you might expect.

High Definition Content Playback: System Load Test

With all the companies pushing High definition content like no tomorrow, it's time to find out whether the systems of today, like the Biostar P4M890-M7 motherboard, are ready for the high definition content of tomorrow. VIA is a bit vague about whether the onboard UniChrome Pro videocard supports High Definition Acceleration. It certainly supports the 1080p resolution as well as traditional MPEG-2 acceleration, let's see how it handles High Definition content.

CPU Load when running High Definition Video

To test the high definition video playing capabilities on the Biostar P4M890-M7 motherboard, and specifically its VIA UniChrome Pro onboard videocard via the VIA P4M890 chipset, we'll playback a video downloaded from Microsoft's WMV HD Content Showcase through Windows Media Player 10. "The Discoverers" (IMAX) video is available in both 720P and 1080P formats. The Core 2 Duo E6600 processor utilization during playback will be monitored via Task Manager.

CPU utilization when running the 720P version of the Discoverers video hovered between 18-24%. Looks like High Definition content acceleration has become standard equipment and the VIA UniChrome Pro videocard does pretty well.

When running the higher bandwidth 1080P version of the Discoverers video, CPU utilization also jumps between 18-24%. The VIA UniChrome Pro IGP and VIA P4M890 chipset is somewhat lesser known than Intel's latest core logic offerings. PCSTATS will look at what the VIA P4M890 has to offer next.

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Contents of Article: Biostar P4M890-M7
 Pg 1.  — Biostar P4M890-M7 VIA P4M890 Core 2 Duo Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  VIA P4M890 and VT8237R+ Chipsets
 Pg 3.  Biostar P4M890-M7 Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the tiny Biostar motherboard
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC WorldBench 5.0
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SuperPi, PCMark05
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3, Quake 4
 Pg 11.  Workstation Magic, Low End Surprise

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