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Biostar A68N-5000 Review

Biostar A68N-5000 Review

Earlier this year AMD and their partners released a range of products aimed at the low end of the market. Products for those who were on a very limited budget, or with minimal needs. Maybe media use, some minecraft gaming and web browsing as some examples. The AM1 platform was well received and that could well be the reason manufacturers are looking to do the same, at a slightly different point in the marketplace. One where we don’t need to install our own APU. In our Biostar A68N-5000 review we take a look at a mini-ITX board which features a bundled AMD A4 APU and passive cooling.

Biostar A68N-5000 Review – Packaging and bundle

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The A68N-5000 arrives in a fairly standard motherboard box which gives us plenty of information on the key features. Inside we find a manual, software CD, IO bracket and SATA cables.

Biostar A68N-5000 Review – The Board (and CPU)

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As noted earlier in the article Biostar use a mini-ITX board for this product and despite its low cost approach they make the effort to use a moistureproof PCB. Added to that are some decent quality MOSFETs and low ESR, solid state capacitors. All combining to maximise reliability and stability.  Added to that we have electrostatic protection, extra fuses on the USB ports which are capable of fast charging phones/tablets and our BIOS has virus protection. Finally as far as the overall design goes, the A68N-5000 has over current, over voltage and over temperature protection.

As far as standard features go, the A68N-5000 has a single PCIe 16x slot (2.0 spec, 4x), two DDR3-1600 capable slots which are dual channel config and we have two SATA 6GB/s ports. Power is provided by 24pin and 4pin connectors and we have onboard 5.1channel audio (Realtek ALC662). Audio can be passed out via the 3.5mm connectors on the back panel, or by HDMI and along with those connectors we get 2xPS/2, VGA, 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 and Realtek GB LAN (8111G).

cpuz

In terms of the APU used Biostar go with an A4-5000 which is a Kabini range product which features 4 cores. Usually found in mobile systems this quad core chip is rated for 1500MHz and supports 64bit versions of Windows without issue, including 8.1 and from our quick test Windows 10. Built in to the A4-5000 is a Radeon HD 8330 graphics chip which supports DirectX 11, features 128 cores and runs from 500MHz up.

NOTE: This APU cannot be upgraded.

soft

Biostar bundle a small selection of software with their A68N-5000. This starts with a small application that allows us to change the image shown as we turn on the PC. We can also update the BIOS using another too, get support information as well and monitor temperatures. Also present is a software control panel which allows us to configure internet traffic to best suit our needs. Finally Biostar note that they give us an app for Android and iOS devices which turns them into a remote control, ideal for using the system as a media device.

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Before we look at the performance of the A68N-5000 here is a quick look at the BIOS. All of the key features are available to assist in monitoring and tweaking the board. We also note the presence of a tool to help us update the BIOS from USB.

Biostar A68N-5000 Review – Performance

3DMark FireStike
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DOTA 2 1280×720 Medium
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Minecraft 1920×1080
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Youtube HD 1080 Playback
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Music Conversion
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SATA3/USB3
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Power Use
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Biostar A68N-5000 Review – Conclusion

We noted earlier in the review that Biostar are looking to offer a more simple approach to entry level computing than is offered by AM1. On that front they have succeeded. For some users the thought of buying an APU/CPU and then installing it could be daunting, here we get it pre-installed and then just need to  screw it into a case and add memory (push the modules into slots, thats it). So really a very simple process. The built in graphics core means we don’t need an additional card and nothing is more simple than connecting a screen to HDMI, picture and audio quickly and simply for novice users.

The BIOS used by Biostar is reasonably easy to use, though most users can set the default options and everything will function fine. When in Windows the additional software is also decent. Biostar give us the phone app to act as a remote control which will please some, we thought the internet configuration tool would appeal to most of the target audience too, quick and simple to use.

In terms of performance the A68N-5000 gives us exactly what we would expect. We can play basic games like Minecraft without issue, even some higher level games like DOTA 2 are playable with medium settings which is great. HD video plays without problem and as we noted the latest version of Windows runs fine. There is also enough power to perform basic content creation tasks like converting music.

Would we change anthing about the board? Keeping in mind the price point Biostar are trying to hit, not much. It would be nice to have a couple of extra native USB 2.0 ports. And the four USB here are a bit too close together for our liking, larger USB devices such as flash drives can be a tight fit. The 4x PCIe slot means it is ok for some entry level graphics upgrades, not mainstream, and potentially a slot capable of Wi-Fi would have been appreciated.

In summary. A well priced product which offers decent media and productivity use with the ability to perform some basic gaming. All with low power use and in a form factor which is simple to build a system around.

 

Value Award

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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