Biostar Racing B150GTN Motherboard Review
   
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Biostar Racing B150GTN Motherboard Review

January 4th, 2017 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

We may have seen a Biostar motherboard or two here at pcG before but I myself have never actually owned one or reviewed one (amazing I know), well as you can see from the title of this review this is all about to change. And, this is no ordinary Intel Z170 based motherboard either. This, the Biostar Racing B150GTN not only features a Intel B150 chipset but it’s also ITX in size too.

The Biostar Racing B150GTN is an ITX based board with a single LGA 1151 socket supporting all LGA 1151 processors, but note overclocking on the B150 chipset is not supported. In addition to this the board features two DIMMs supporting RAM modules up to 16GB and 2133MHz and a single PCI-E x16 3.0 slot. While there’s also 4 x SATA 6GB/s ports, a U.2 32Gb/s Connector, a M.2 socket (on the back of the board) supporting both SATA and PCIE, an Intel based LAN port and a Realtek ALC892 8-Channel Blu-ray Audio audio solution.

 

‘Further extending the BIOSTAR custom LED lighting options is the ability to add LED strips directly from the motherboard via compatible 5050 headers. BIOSTAR’s 5050 LED Fun extends the customization options of VIVID LED DJ allowing a full system lighting setup to be controlled from one central interface. BIOSTAR Racing motherboard comes with the exclusive 5050 LED FUN feature for DIY lovers. You can connect LED strip with on-board 5050 header directly and control it via Vivid LED DJ.’

 

 

The Biostar Racing B150GTN arrived at pcG in a small (as you would expect for an ITX Motherboard) carbon fibre styled box with very little on the front save for the brand, product name and a few Intel logos.

The back of the box is where you’ll find plenty more information as well as an image of the board with various markers highlighting various aspects and features as well as an I/O layout, all really useful information actually. In addition to this Biostar have chosen to highlight the following:

  • U.2 Connector 32Gb/s
  • 5050 LED Fun
  • Vivid LED DJ
  •  

     

    On opening the the box we can see that the Biostar Racing B150GTN is adequately packaged and presented with the Motherboard itself lying in the top of the box in a cardboard frame and further protected by an anti-static bag.

     

  • IN THE BOX
  •  

    In the box, other than the Motherboard itself, we find a User’s Manual, Vivid LED DJ instructions, I/O shield, Drivers DVD, LED strip and rather surprisingly four SATA cables.

    At the time of review, the Biostar Racing B150GTN is retailing at More Computers for approximately £94 and comes with a 1 year warranty.

     

    Specifications/Features

    courtesy of Biostar

    CHIPSET Intel B150
    CPU SUPPORT Intel® Core™ i7 LGA 1151 Processor
    Intel® Core™ i5 LGA 1151 Processor
    Intel® Core™ i3 LGA 1151 Processor
    Intel® Pentium® LGA 1151 Processor
    Intel® Celeron® LGA 1151 Processor
    Maximum CPU TDP (Thermal Design Power) : 95Watt
    MEMORY Support Dual Channel DDR4 2133/ 1866 MHz
    2 x DDR4 DIMM Memory Slot
    Max. Supports up to 32GB Memory
    EXPANSION SLOT 1 x PCI-E x16 3.0 Slot
    STORAGE 4 x SATA3 Connector
    1 x U.2 32Gb/s Connector
    1 x M.2 Key M 32Gb/s Connector, support M.2 type 2260/ 2280 SATA 6Gb/s & PCI-E Storage(on the back of the motherboard)
    USB 4 x USB 3.0 Port
    1 x USB 3.0 Header
    2 x USB 2.0 Port
    1 x USB 2.0 Header
    LAN Intel I219V – Gigabit Ethernet PHY
    INTEGRATED VIDEO By CPU model
    Supports DX12
    Supports HDCP
    CODEC Realtek ALC892 8-Channel Blu-ray Audio
    Support Biostar Hi-Fi
    REAR I/O 1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse
    4 x USB 3.0 Port
    2 x USB 2.0 Port
    1 x HDMI Connector, resolution up to 4096 x 2160 @24Hz, compliant with HDMI 1.4a
    1 x DVI-D Connector, resolution up to 1920 x 1200 @60Hz
    1 x RJ-45 Port
    5 x Audio Connector
    1 x S/PDIF Out Port
    INTERNAL I/O 1 x USB 3.0 Header
    1 x USB 2.0 Header
    4 x SATA3 6Gb/s Connector
    1 x U.2 32Gb/s Connector
    1 x M.2 Key M 32Gb/s Connector, support M.2 type 2260/ 2280 SATA 6Gb/s & PCI-E Storage(on the back of the motherboard)
    1 x Front Audio Header
    1 x Front Panel Header
    1 x CPU Fan Header
    1 x System Fan Header
    1 x 5050 LED Header
    H/W MONITORING CPU / System Temperature Monitoring
    CPU / System Fan Monitoring
    Smart / Manual CPU / System Fan Control
    System Voltage Monitoring
    DIMENSION Mini ITX Form Factor Dimension: 17cm x 17cm ( W x L )
    OS SUPPORT Support Windows 7 / 8.1(x64) / 10(x64)
    BUNDLE SOFTWARE Racing GT Utility
    BullGuard
    BIO-Remote2
    ACCESSORIES 4 x SATA Cable
    1 x I/O Shield
    1 x DVD Driver
    1 x User Manual
    FEATURES Supports PURO Hi-Fi
    Supports 100% Solid capacitor
    Supports BIOS-Flasher
    Supports Charger Booster
    Supports BIOS Online Update
    Caution!! The specification and pictures are subject to change without notice!

    * Additional details available here

     

    First Impressions

     

     

    I would have to say (and while there’s no power running through the board) that the Biostar Racing B150GTN is not a great looking board, it’s not necessarily a bad looking board either, but, well you get the idea…

     

     

     

    Looking at what I would call the right side of the board and working left to right; in the far left corner we find the main Front Panel header this is then followed by the four SATA 3 6Gb/s ports. Next to this we find something that I’ve never seen before and that’s a U.2 port that supports U.2 devices up to 32Gb/s. In fact I must confess I’m not even sure what you plug into this (this page will give you some idea though). Next up we find the main 24-pin power connector behind which we have the two DIMM slots. Each slot supports 16GB of RAM and caters for speeds up to 2133MHz.

    On the opposite side (left) we find the main I/O panel (detailed below). In the image above note the small cables, that do look a little unsightly, attached to the two carbon fibre (effect) heatsinks, a tell tale sign that something might just happen to these when the board is powered up…

     

    Looking at what is effectively the top of the board we can see that it’s dominated by the LGA 1151 socket. Note that the heatsink to the right of this is bolted directly to the board, which is always good to see. Looking at the edge of the board and working left to right we find the RGB controller port (to the right of the DIMM) for the supplied LED strip, next to this we find the only CPU Fan header on the board. Further along we also find the 8-pin CPU power connector.

    Looking at the bottom of the board and again working from left to right, in the far corner we find the main bank of blue capacitors supporting the Realtek ALC892 on-board audio solution this in turn is followed by the single x16 PCI-E slot. Above this left we find a single system fan header (just above the cable connector) and a single USB 2.0 header to the right with the USB 3.0 header further in-board. Here we also see the main Racing heatsink (that’s NOT screwed to the board, shame!) complete with logo and cabling.

     

     

    As you can see from looking at the back of the Biostar Racing B150GTN things are a little more interesting than normal. Centrally we see the LGA 1151 socket’s backplate, above which we see the bolted heatsink screws. To the right of the backplate we also find the battery, precariously close to the socket. To the right of this we find the M.2 slot supporting both SATA and PCI-E devices. North of this we can also see the isolated audio circuitry of the Realtek ALC892 chipset.

     

     

    Taking a quick tour around the board let’s first look at the larger of the two carbon fibre effect heatsinks. Both of these, as can be seen from the cabling illuminate when the board is powered up. RGB illumination is supported via software and via the UEFI. I was a little disappointed to see that the larger of the two heatsinks is simply clipped to the board while the other is screwed. The Biostar Racing B150GTN features four SATA 3 6Gb/s ports as well as the rather more intriguing U.2 port to the right.

     

    • PS/2 Mouse & Keyboard port
    • USB 2.0 x2 ports
    • DVI-D
    • HDMI
    • USB 3.0 x2 ports
    • Intel LAN port
    • USB 3.0 x2 ports
    • Audio I/O ports
    • Optical S/PDIF-Out

     

    Hardware Installation

     

    A new build was put together to support the Biostar Racing B150GTN Motherboard with an Intel Core i5-6600K Skylake CPU and new DDR4 memory in the form of G.Skill RipJaws 2400MHz. The following components were also used:

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply SilverStone Strider Platinum 750W
    Motherboard Biostar Racing B150GTN CPU Intel Core i5 6600K
    CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S RAM G Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB
    Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Classified SSD Samsung SM951 512GB M.2

     

    Installation of the Biostar Racing B150GTN was quite easy, thanks in part to the fact that there’s only four screws. 😉 But joking aside I did run into one small problem in the fact that the battery (that’s on the back of the board) was fouling with the CPU Cooler’s backplate as can be seen below. This was relatively easy to rectify though as the battery is simply held in place by a sticky (very sticky!) tab.

     

     

    For this test as the Biostar Racing B150GTN was equipped with such a slot I used a Samsung SM951 Pro 512GB M.2 SSD. All of the relevant power cables (that’s two) from the Silverstone Strider 750W PSU were then plugged into the B150GTN along with all of the case fans. I had to use a fan splitter cable (not supplied) to power up the three chassis fans aboard the HAF HB test Case. Final cables included USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 which are both catered for, which is good to see! And of course the fiddly Front Panel connectors, no Q-Connector to help us here unfortunately. That just left the installation of our test GPU an EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Classified.

    Now it’s time for some testing…

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    For all of our Z170 testing we will be using Windows 10 (DirectX 12), therefore a new installation of Windows 10 64Bit was performed and the following Drivers were installed. The latest Biostar Drivers were used and these can been obtained (here). Although the Biostar Racing B150GTN has its Drivers and Utilities available on the supplied DVD, we here at pcG try to keep up with the latest Drivers and software where possible.

    * The latest BIOS (B15AI810.BSS) was pre-installed and used throughout testing.

     

    Drivers installed:

    • Chipset – 10.1.1.38
    • On-Board LAN ( Intel ) – 11.6.0.1100
    • On-Board Audio – 6.0.1.8010
    • Nvidia Driver 376.33 WHQL
    • RACING GT Utility – 1.16.1612.0100

     

    Hardware Performance

     

     

    The Biostar Racing B150GTN booted first time and without issue, which is always a good start. Once into the UEFI could see that everything attached had be recognized correctly by the BIOS. The Intel Core i6-6600K was clocked at 3.9GHz, while the 8GB of G.Skill 2400MHz RAM was running at the default clock of 2133MHz, the effective maximum supported by the B150 chipset. Most important of all though was that fact that the Motherboard had also found our Samsung 951 Pro M.2 SSD that was hiding away on the back of the board.

    IMPORTANT: Due to the use of the Intel B150 chipset there is no overclocking facility here in the UEFI. The Biostar Racing B150GTN still supports all LGA 1151 Processors (including K series derivatives) but overclocking the K series CPUs is not possible.

     

     

    The only thing that I needed to do in the UEFI was to set the Boot Option Priorities to get the board to boot from the M.2 drive. With this done no further UEFI changes were made.

    It’s quite interesting having a Motherboard that doesn’t support overclocking and doesn’t have a raft of features as it keeps things nice and simple. Not just for me as a reviewer but for you the consumer too! 😉

     

    • Benchmark Results Biostar Racing B150GTN + Intel Core i5-6600K @ 3.9GHz +8GB RAM @ 2133MHz
    Benchmark Result
    Hitman 73.95
    Rise of the TombRaider 79.68
    Unigine Valley 74.50
    3DMark Firestrike (Extreme) 7885

     

    • Benchmark Results Asus Sabertooth 990FX R3.0 + AMD FX 8350 @ 4.5GHz + 8GB RAM @ 1800MHz
    Benchmark Result
    Hitman 66.67
    Rise of the TombRaider 73.57
    Unigine Valley 69.00
    3DMark Firestrike (Extreme) 7506

     

    • Benchmark Results ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 + Intel Core i5-6600K @ 4.4GHz +8GB RAM @ 2400MHz (pcG test system)
    Benchmark Result
    Hitman 69.13
    Rise of the TombRaider 80.57
    Unigine Valley 73.90
    3DMark Firestrike (Extreme) 8082

     

    Well despite the fact that we are dealing with a stock clocked PC here (as there’s no overclocking on the B150 chipset) the results are good, very good in fact. If you look at the difference between the Biostar Results (top) and our Overclocked Test Rig (bottom) you can see there’s really nothing in it. Only the 3DMark result shows any real discernible difference thanks to its heavier use of the CPU in certain tests. From a pure Gaming point of view the Biostar Racing B150GTN can certainly hold its own.

    While testing I also took a quick look at the M.2 performance while using our Samsung SM951 Pro 512GB drive. Again the B150GTN put in a good showing with both the maximum Read and Write speeds exceeding the manufacturers claims in our ATTO test. With a maximum Read speed of 2.27 GB/s and a maximum Write speed of 1.60 GB/s.

     

    Additional Software/Features

     

    Luckily (for me as I’m no fan) there’s not much software bundled or available to support the Biostar Racing B150GTN, but this is good news in my opinion. The only real software worth covering here is the Racing GT software that allows control over the LED lighting (among other things) aboard the Motherboard.

     

    Software (Command Center)

     

     

    The Racing GT software has four main panels, the first of which simply provides System Information (above left). The second option is Smart Ear; now maybe my ears are broken but I couldn’t really Ear (haha) any difference at all when using the Gain control. Volume and Mute on the other hand worked fine…

     

     

    Vivid LED DJ allows control over the LED lighting aboard the Biostar Racing B150GTN. There’s various Modes but most of them are a little basic and you’re likely to just want to pick a colour and stick with it. But the end result looks good and with the included LED strip further lighting can be controlled also. The final feature is the H/W Monitor that allows you to see various system monitoring values, such as System Temperature, CPU Temperature and fan speeds etc.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    For under £95 the Biostar Racing B150GTN has proved itself to be a great little Motherboard, especially for Gaming. The simplicity of the board is one of it’s most appealing features, as is the inclusion of a high speed M.2 port with the LED illumination simply being the icing on an already tasty cake.

    The Biostar Racing B150GTN arrived at pcG in a small (as you’d expect for an ITX Motherboard) carbon fibre effect box. The motherboard itself and its contents were found to be adequately packaged and presented. There’s a little more in the box that you’d expect also in the fact that you get four (not two) SATA cables and a dedicated LED lighting strip that can be controlled via software.

    Once out of the box I was initially a little disappointed by the simple black design of the board, but in a way it’s good as no colour or theme is being forced upon you. And, this is likely to be by design as it’s the LED lighting aboard the B150GTN that sets the mood so to speak. General board layout is good, especially for an ITX board although the cabling for the LEDs within the heatsinks looks a little messy. The inclusion of the high speed M.2 port on the back of the board is great and totally in keeping with the board’s size and likely intended use, i.e. very small enclosures. Note though that the battery, also found on the back of the board did initially foul our CPU Cooler’s backplate. But as it was simply held in place by a sticky tab this was easily rectified.

    From a pure performance point of view we must first cover that as the B150GTN uses a B150 chipset there’s no overclocking supported. That meant that our Intel Core i5-6600K and 8GB of RAM were forced to run at stock speeds (3.9GHz and 2133MHz). But as you can see from the benchmarks above this had no real bearing on Gaming performance, as we’ve seen and stated before. This makes the B150GTN a really good choice for a small yet compact Gaming Rig.

    In fact there’s very little to dislike about this board to be honest. Yes it may lack certain features but all a Gamer needs is here, even the performance. Throughout testing the Motherboard never put a foot wrong with rock solid stability during testing and Gaming. This topped with the inclusion of that high speed M.2 port (that you really should try and use) makes the Biostar Racing B150GTN a real winner in our minds. It’s simply a Motherboard that’s easy to recommend…

     

    Verdict

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    Biostar Racing B150GTN

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    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the Biostar Racing B150GTN a Gold
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     

    Many thanks to Biostar for providing this sample for review

     



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