It just might be the most baffling component to purchase when assembling a new desktop. The models numbers are weird and confusing, there's a plethora of options and form factors to consider. Yes, we're talking about the motherboard. Thankfully for you, we've got our favorite trio from 2009 below.
We couldn't recommend Intel's newest Core i7 and Core i5 processors without a proper motherboard to support them, and that's why the Asus P7P55D Deluxe is here. Chock full of features including intelligent performance enhancements, ATI and NVIDIA multi-GPU support, and an overclocker friendly BIOS, this $216 board offers serious bang for the buck if you're already committed to building a high-end (and potentially expensive) rig.
Asus P7P55D Deluxe
EVGA has earned a solid reputation in the gamer mobo market as of late, and the EVGA X58 3X SLI Classified is as solid as they come. Offering support for Core i7 CPUs, room for 24GB of RAM, more than a few PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, numerous SATA ports and a wicked look. You'll pay a chart-topping $425 to get this in your rig, but you'll be computing with the best of the best.
EVGA X58 3X SLI Classified
For the AMD crown we have the MSI 790FX-GD70 AM3, a mobo designed to suit AM3-compatible Phenom II chips that made waves earlier in the year. This one supports CrossFireX, HyperTransport 3.0 (handling speed up to 5200MT/s), room for 16GB of RAM, four PCIe 2.0 x16 slots and plenty of other connectivity portals. It will also keep your wallet happy at around $175.
The case. The chassis. The enclosure. It goes by many names, but almost always it gets taken for granted. When it comes to system building, however, real DIYers know just how important the right one is, so here are our top three from the past year.
We found many things to like about the towering (yet classy) CoolerMaster ATCS 840 when we first spent some time with it. For just under $200, it's actually one of the cheaper all-aluminum, premium options when looking for a full-size case that can handle a few years of expansion, and there's even a choice now between black and silver.
Cooler Master ATCS 840
You knew there was no way we would pass over the Thermaltake Level 10 on this list, and while it failed to grab our top spot (there's little "value" to be found here), it's easily the case to get if money is no object and extreme design is your primary objective. This is probably the wildest, sexiest case we've ever seen, and if you have just under $1000 you don't mind parting with, it can be yours.
Thermaltake Level 10
We couldn't round out this list without including over favorite mid-tower of the year. The NZXT Panzerbox offers excellent air-flow, and the all-black, pure aluminum design is bound to suit just about anyone. There's room for four HDDs, a trio of optical drives and plenty of expansion cards, and at around $120, it won't break the bank.