IT‘S BEEN VERY clear for some time that the Chinese motherboard makers wants a slice of the action, but it’s hard to break into a market where the Taiwanese brands are so well established, so most of their products only go on sale in China. We spotted an unusual P67 board from a Chinese motherboard company called Topstar which we can see why it would have a certain appeal.
Topstar isn’t a brand that we’ve ever heard of before, but the company appears to have been making motherboards for quite some time, although none of their products look all that impressive to be honest. The H-P67 as the model in question is called doesn’t really fall in the impressive category either, as it’s mostly a fairly average ATX board. However, it has a couple of features that makes it stand out.
For starters, there’s a large “void” just in front of the expansion slots, a space where you’d normally find the SATA connectors, maybe the chipset and various other bits. As you can see from the pictures, it’s labelled SSD SATA3.0 and it has a 90 degree angled SATA connector with power to which a 2.5-inch drive would be attached. There are four screw holes to secure the drive to the motherboard so it doesn’t fall off when installed in a tower case.
The slot layout is also very unusual in that this is a full size ATX board, yet it only has three, well, actually four expansion slots. There’s a pair of x16 PCI Express slots, although judging by the fact that the second slot is labelled as “slave”, you’re looking at a switchable setup which means when both slots are in use they operate at x8, with the lower slot being disabled by default. The board also sports a single PCI Express x1 slot as well as a full-size mini card slot, most commonly found in notebooks and a feature you don’t see on a lot of desktop boards with the exception of some recent Jetway models.
This is also the first motherboard we’ve seen that uses VIA Labs VLI801 USB 3.0 host controller, despite lack of USB-IF certification at the moment. In terms of connectivity options there isn’t much out of the ordinary, as around the back you’ll find a pair of PS/2 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and 7.1-channel audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF out. The board also has headers for an additional eight USB 2.0 ports and a parallel port. Finally it has four SATA ports, all of which appears to be SATA 3Gbps ports.
Even though this isn’t a product we’d buy, it’s interesting to see that the Chinese motherboard manufacturers are inventive and are coming up with their own unique solutions. The H-P67 is even using all solid capacitors, although the power regulation is a fairly basic 5-phase solution, suggesting that this isn’t the board of choice for overclockers. Still, give a couple of years and we might get a few new Chinese motherboard brands that start to compete with the established Taiwanese players.S|A
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