Now it's time for us to get a look at the motherboard itself. The first thing we noticed was the placement of the memory slots. The last time we saw the memory slot arrangement like this was back when AMD Athlon 64 first made its appearance on the 754-pin package. Since then the memory has always been put on the right hand side, however, BIOSTAR has gone retro and placed it on the very top edge of the board, above the CPU rather than to the side of it.
The PCB is the same full size ATX 30x24cm design, so no size changes have been made. The 24-pin ATX power connector along with the single IDE port provided by the 750a MCP are on the right hand edge, so these haven't changed. BIOSTAR has gone with using the 4/8 pin CPU power connector that Intel now uses on all their 45nm ready motherboards; this is placed in the top left corner behind the PS/2 ports.
The six SATA ports along with a single FDD port are placed in the lower right hand area of the board, lined up one behind the other with the FDD connector below it. Three USB headers line up right on the bottom right hand edge along with the colour coded case connector header.
Thanks to AMDs retention mechanism used to hold down the CPU heatsink, there is quite a bit of room by default for the mounting plate to keep components away from the CPU. BIOSTARs board is quite clean with its CPU socket space; our OCZ Vanquisher was installed and removed without any personal injuries.
The CPU is fed its power through a 4 phase solid state voltage regulation system. The iron core chokes have been replaced with ferrite core chokes and copper capacitors are used rather than electrolyte, allowing for a cooler running and more stable voltage flow.
Continuing along, we now come to the rear I/O ports. In terms of layout there isn't really anything special here; no eSATA, S/PDIF audio or anything really interesting. The only change from the norm is the inclusion of a DVI-I video port. Since the 750a is Hybrid SLI compatible, it has a built in GeForce 8300 GPU and BIOSTAR has elected to support the IGP as well as Hybrid power and Hybrid SLI.
Last but not least are the expansion slots. The 750a supports SLI in its original basic form; that is, the same form that NVIDIA brought it out in back with the nForce 4 chipset, by splitting channels. If you're in single GPU mode, the orange x16 slot gets 16 lanes to go with it. If you want to make use of SLI, eight lanes must be diverted to allow the second GPU some bandwidth. The diverting is also something we aren't real pleased with.
While digital switching is available and doesn't cost much more than installing a paddle card, BIOSTAR has cheaped out by requiring you to actually set eight banks of jumpers to divert the lanes to the second GPU. If we had to do it ourselves, the old paddle card would have been better, however, this jumper design really isn't on. One PCI Express x1 slot makes up the last of the PCI-E options and three PCI legacy slots give you the final arrangement.
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