After a roller coaster of a testing session, we are left wanting so much more out of a product that we know can deliver. Let’s recap its redeeming qualities. The initial build quality is solid and the board is well laid out. The on-board sound is one of the nicest integrated audio solutions we have ever heard, especially on what is considered to be an entry level product line. The heat sinks are very tastefully decorated and the audio circuit has lovely blue LED lighting to accent the board in a case. The top PCI-E x 16 slot is of the 3.0 standard, meaning you could utilize a nice discrete GPU solution and maximize use of all that bandwidth should you so desire, possibly even a PCI-E SSD. The included on-board power/reset switches and debug display makes system tuning and diag outside of a case a breeze. The board also supports memory speeds of up to 2600 MHz, pretty stout assuming you have memory that will clock that high since these APU’s like having loads of memory bandwidth.
Ultimately, however, there are some pretty glaring issues with the board. It seems that Kaveri APUs do not play nicely in this product at present, which was unexpected as other reviews of this product seem to indicate that Richland chips work beautifully in this board, capable of overclocking those chips to well north of 5 GHz on the CPU cores stable all day. Kaveri, on the other hand, seemed to even have performance issues at stock on the iGPU side of things, falling significantly short of the standard deviation of reported test results. The other thing we’ve noticed is that this board doesn’t seem to be in existence anywhere, though Biostar confirmed to us that the MSRP on the board is $89 US. This is a VERY aggressive price for a product like this, just not for Kaveri just yet.
Once these issues are resolved for Kaveri, we would have no problems whatsoever recommending this product to anyone looking for an excellent A88X chipset board without hurting your wallet too much. Until then, we can still recommend it if you have a Richland chip and want one of the best audio solutions out there; think 760K with something like a GTX 760 or an R9 280. With all that being said, in spite of the issues we encountered, we still feel comfortable with setting it up with a PureOverclock Good Hardware award. If Biostar makes this board more widely available and works out that Kaveri issue, they will have all the makings of a winner here!
Biostar HiFi A88W 3D ATX Motherboard
Big thanks to Biostar for sending us our review sample, and as always feel free to discuss this and other PC related topics in our forums.