Packaging & Accessories: 3 out of 5
If it was not for the include LED 5050 strip light this would be a solid 2 out 5; however, including a LED controller and LED light strip is impressive given the frugal asking price of this motherboard. To us that does boost the score by a point and place it in the slightly above average category.
Layout & Aesthetics: 13 out of 15
We are not overly enamored with LED lighting and prefer a nice clean look to our builds, nonetheless this motherboard is darn good looking, is easy to work with, and besides the M.2 on the back, there really is not any major missteps. Overall we consider this board to be above average in this category.
Build Quality & Warranty: 17 out of 20
On the one hand this motherboard is not precisely built like a tank, nor does it come with anything beyond an industry standard warranty. On the other Biostar does have a good reputation in the industry for standing behind their products. More importantly this motherboard is built better than most in its price range.
BIOS & Software: 16 out of 20
The BIOS certainly is unique in its layout and for the most part this added quirkiness just adds to the overall appeal of it. With that being said Biostar may have made great strides in the BIOS department but a fully populate Favorites shortcut section is sorely missed. This does make the BIOS a touch harder to work with and we would have docked it even more points if not for the fact that the included software is darn decent and bloat free.
Special Features: 15 out 20
The combination of integrated LEDs, a dedicated LED header for adding more LEDs, and an easy to use controller for said LEDs is a darn impressive… and actually overshadows the included U.2 and M.2 ports – which is saying something. On the other hand, this board lacks WiFi abilities and as such some will love what it has to offer and others will find its special features a tad underwhelming.
Value: 19 out 20
For most consumers this motherboard is going to be a great value and it is only audiophiles, wireless users, and overclocking enthusiasts that will feel it is a little lacking. Overall this board is a great value for its asking price.
Final Score: 85 out of 100
Once again we are impressed with Biostar has been able to do and offer so much for so little! Micro-ITX motherboards as a rule are some of the most outrageously expensive options available. This is because they are so small and require a lot of time and effort in finding room on the board for all the various options consumers demand. Essentially, the rule of thumb with motherboards is the smaller the board the bigger the price tag. Biostar on the other hand have distilled down exactly what a good motherboard needs to have, and removed the price inflating features that few will miss. The end result is a small motherboard that is big on value – so much so that belies its small asking price.
While yes we do wish they had included a WiFi module the fact of the matter is B150 based systems are not going to be used in shoe-box LAN gaming builds. They are going to be used either for a small work build or as the foundation for a Home Theatre PC build. As such the Ethernet port is much more valuable and opting for an Intel and not Realtek more than makes up for this issue. You may feel differently. The same holds true for the lack of overclocking. It’s a B150 and overclocking and B150 don’t even belong in the same paragraph let alone same sentence. However, that has not stopped Biostar from including a surprisingly good and robust power delivery subsystem that is more than up to the task of handling even the highest factory Intel i7 CPU.
Equally impressive is this bad boy comes not only with the usual M.2 and SATA port options but an honest to god U.2 port! Ask anyone who has ever used a U.2 based SSD if they ever pan to go back and you will quickly be educated on how bloody marvelous the U.2 plus OS combination is. Even if you never plan on using it, having the luxury of choosing between SATA, M.2, and U.2 is bloody marvelous.
The very fact that Biostar were able to do all this and include their 5050 RGB header and an LED light strip is rather impressive. In the end the very few minor missteps are more than made up for the positives of this motherboard, and when the asking price is taken into consideration anyone interested in a tiny motherboard that is big on features, but small on price should take a long hard look at what this board has to offer. You may just save yourself some time, money, and effort.