We have had the opportunity to play with the BIOSTAR TPower X79 motherboard for few weeks now. Truth be told, it’s been a great board. It is packed with the features most people need, plenty of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 eight of them in fact (6 on the I/O panel, 2 through an internal USB 3.0 header), enough expansion slots to run either 3-way NVIDIA SLI or 3-way AMD CrossFireX. About the only thing that’s missing is FireWire, and not many people use that anymore so I won’t hold it against them. Leaving IEEE1394a (Firewire) out helps keep the cost down and that is what BIOSTAR is good at. They keep their price points low for those of us on a budget. As I’m writing this the BIOSTAR TPower X79 is currently retailing for only $214.99 after rebate! That is by far the lowest cost Intel X79 motherboard we have had the chance to look at.
As I just mentioned the BIOSTAR TPower X79 is the lowest cost motherboard that we have looked at for the Intel X79 chipset. We were comparing the BIOSTAR TPower X79 to boards like the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme, GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD7 and the ASRock X79 Extreme9 that we looked at last week. Each of these boards is at least 150% the cost of the BIOSTAR TPower X79 motherboard. Sure the performance of the BIOSTAR TPower X79 was a little lower compared to these more expensive boards, but not enough that you would a difference in the day to day operation of your system. The differences between the top board in each benchmark and the BIOSTAR TPower X79 was no more than 1-2 frames per second in any given gaming benchmark. If the BIOSTAR TPower X79 was carrying a retail price of $300-$440 like our other boards today, sure I might be a little harder on the TPower X79. For the price though, I’d be surprised if you could find one to perform any better. The price versus performance value is really high with this board.
One area that BIOSTAR made a great move, was in their selection of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller. Since we have started looking at Intel X79 motherboards they have all come with Texas Instrument TUSB7340 controllers, Fresco FL1009 controllers, or ASMedia ASM1042 USB 3.0 controllers. The ASMedia ASM1042 has been the reigning champion in our SuperSpeed USB 3.0 testing. The fine gentlemen at BIOSTAR opted to use the ASMedia ASM1042 USB 3.0 controller and the BIOSTAR TPower X79 was able to outperform all of our Intel X79 systems with the exception of the ASUS R4E which it was right on par with. When I say outperform, I’m not talking 1-2MB/s. In HD Tune 4.61 the next closest average read speed was ~31MB/s behind the BIOSTAR TPower X79! The next closest average read was ~44MB/s behind the TPower X79! If you are looking for a board with superb SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance at a great price point, then look no further.
Throughout the testing I was definitely happy with the performance level considering the price of the BIOSTAR TPower X79. I was however a little disappointed with the overclocking. We were able to hit 4.4GHz without adjusting anything but the multiplier within the BIOS. This gave me high hopes for what we could do with our Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme processor! Unfortunately, that was nearly the limit of the BIOSTAR TPower X79. Even increasing the BIOSTAR TPower X79 VCore voltage to 1.5V we weren’t able to get anything over 4.5GHz stable. We have had our 3960X up to 4.9GHz so we know it’s capable, but we just couldn’t get there today. Once again it comes back to how fast do you want to go and how much do you want to spend? The ASUS Rampage IV Extreme which is the only board to hit the 4.9GHz mark retails for $439.99 plus shipping, which is more than double the cost of the BIOSTAR TPower X79. So I’m not to horribly surprised that we didn’t hit the same overclock levels, but I was hoping.
The BIOSTAR TPower X79 motherboard is currently retailing for only $214.99 after rebate. This is $85.00 below the next lowest price Intel X79 system board that we have looked at which is the ECS X79R-AX. Between the BIOSTAR TPower X79 and the ECS X79R-AX I would easily choose the BIOSTAR TPower X79, not just because of the lower price either. The ECS X79R-AX gave us issues during our testing and the BIOSTAR TPower X79 was rock solid throughout. As I said we didn’t experience any issues with the BIOSTAR TPower X79, if you happen to though. BIOSTAR backs up the TPower X79 and all of their motherboards with a three year warranty from the manufacturer date code for a little bit of peace of mind in your investment.
Legit Bottom Line: The BIOSTAR TPower X79 Socket 2011 motherboard is a great motherboard for those looking to build an Intel X79 system on a budget. The gaming performance was a fuzz below our other X79 motherboards today, but the differences weren’t something that would make or break you gaming experience! The BIOSTAR TPower X79 offers great features at a great value!