Motherboards

Some might say that there has never been a better time to be a PC enthusiast. Compelling new products fighting for our attention abound, as the computer hardware scene is bursting at the seams with upgrade options. For example, it wasn't long ago that AMD launched the world's first DX11 videocard and now the company features a full lineup of products at a wide variety of price points. NVIDIA's answer to the Radeon HD 5000 series has just arrived as well, and the battle for dominance in the graphics market is as fierce as ever. SSDs are also becoming increasingly more affordable,... Read more...
It has been quite a while since AMD launched a new high-end desktop chipset. The 790FX has been riding high at the top of AMD's line-up for over two years now. It has been paired to newer Southbridge chips and AMD did follow up with the 790GX about a year and half ago, but for all intents and purposes AMD's flagship desktop chipset has remained unchanged for what is equivalent to an eternity in Internet-years.Today, however, a new chipset will finally supplant the 790FX/GX at the top of AMD's line-up. As its name suggests, the 890GX features an integrated graphics core, but there's more to the... Read more...
Although the Core i7 and X58 combo is a proven performance leader, there are still plenty of Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad CPUs out there in the wild.  The Core 2 is still a very capable processor with many models costing less than half the price the cheapest Core i7 processor, the Core i7 920.  Thus, systems based around the P45 chipset are still a viable option for getting good, if not great, performance at a vastly more affordable price. Up until now, when users thought of a micro-ATX board, they typically expect find a slimmed down version of a full sized product,... Read more...
With today's launch of their new "Lynnfield" based Core i5 and i7 800 series processors, and the accompanying P55 Express chipset, Intel's current flagship CPU microarchitecture--codenamed Nehalem--finally trickles its way down into the mainstream computing segment. Since Nehalem first landed on the desktop in the form of the Core i7 line of processors, it has unequivocally owned the performance segment of the market.  They are simply the fastest desktop processors currently available, bar none. But while the Core i7 was riding high, Intel still had the established Core 2 line-up to satisfy... Read more...
As details of upcoming Lynnfield processors and P55 chipset-based motherboards hit the scene, there is a growing buzz within the industry about the effects of bringing Nehalem down into the mainstream market segments. While X58 and Core i7 performance dominates, complete system pricing has kept some average consumers looking to upgrade wistfully on the fence. That roadblock will likely be cleared by P55 as the companies involved eagerly expect to see widespread adoption of the high performing and relatively affordable platform.   On August 18, 2009, Loews Hotel in Santa... Read more...
For the last several years AMD has delivered a series of solid, cost-effective mainstream chipsets with integrated graphics. First with the original 690G which offered a wealth of features and surprisingly competent IGP performance. Then later with the 780G and 790GX chipsets, which added a little more graphics horspower and IGP features, while keeping the price palatable. Now AMD is ready to kick it up another notch with today's announcement of the new 785G chipset. You might not be entirely surprised to hear the 785G being announced. The 785G is one of the worst kept secrets this season, with... Read more...
Thanks largely to all of the attention surrounding the Intel Atom platform and its alternatives like the Via Nano and NVIDIA Ion, small form factor (SFF) systems have been generating tech news in a big way for the past half year. While tiny toaster-sized machines have been relevant for some time, as proven by the continued success of Shuttle Computers, it has been a relative niche that doesn't get nearly as much hype as gigantic, fire-breathing gaming rigs. Historically, there have been very good reasons why tiny little ITX machines weren't more mainstream. Pre-Atom, they have been a rather... Read more...
Nearly every motherboard manufacturer on the market today makes at least one line of products for the "enthusiast" market. Typically, these motherboards are a bit flashier, offer better cooling, enhanced overclocking, more features and are priced significantly higher than their mainstream variants. In the majority of cases, these boards are half-hearted attempts to cash in on unknowing buyers who think that these boards will overclock better than their mainstream siblings. One of the brands that has been producing motherboards, which are actually in tune with what high-end users are demanding,... Read more...
The latest socket AM3 compatible Phenom II processors have been available for several weeks now and they had proven in our initial coverage to be excellent chips, a notable improvement over their predecessors in several respects, including overclocking and in their support for higher clocked DDR3 memory. Thanks to the Phenom II's ability to use both DDR2 and DDR3 memory types, they can be used in existing AM2+ boards, which is an excellent solution for many current AMD users. The AMD 790GX chipset offers an excellent low cost DDR2 solution for Phenom II owners but currently... Read more...
Many positive commentaries have been written about Intel's current flagship Core i7 processors and its companion X58 Express chipset, due to the solid performance gains offered by the platform. In addition to the increased performance offered by Core i7 processors though, the X58 chipset also brings with it native support for ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU technologies--provided support is available in the BIOS--as well as support for the flexible triple channel memory controller integrated into the Core i7.  What might be concerning for some, however,... Read more...
  When we think about what is perhaps the one draw-back that enthusiasts and gamers could point to with respect to an Intel chipset-based motherboard, historically, it was lack of NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU support.  Though you could drop more than one AMD ATI Radeon-based graphics card into a P45, X38 or X48-chipset based motherboard, for the most part, SLI was a no-go, save perhaps for a few custom OEM solutions.  This wasn't too much of a problem for gaming purists that wanted in on NVIDIA powered multi-GPU action, since there was always the most recent revision of the nForce chipset... Read more...
If the recent release of Intel's X58 chipset has taught us anything, it's that change can be good.  In our first two forays with these new boards and Intel's Core i7 processor, we've been firmly impressed by the performance gains seen over legacy Core 2 architectures, much less AMD's recent advancements and new offerings.  Now, with some time under our belts, we're going to take a look at two new Intel X58 Express chipset based boards from ASUS and MSI that we've put through the test ringer.  Focusing on the upper-tier of the PC market, both come fully stocked with additional components,... Read more...
AMD has been fighting an uphill battle on two fronts for the last few years. For a time, fierce competition from NVIDIA, coupled with some of their own problems executing, put the ATI graphics division in a deep hole. And ever since the introduction of the original Core 2 processors, and more recently the Core i7, AMD's processor division has fallen well behind Intel in terms of overall performance.Starting in November of 2007 though, we got a sense that AMD was slowly, but surely, clawing its way back into the fight. It began with the introduction of the Spider platform, which consisted of AMD's... Read more...
Intel's recent launch of the Core i7 processor and its accompanying chipset platform, was met with plenty of buzz and splash, due not only to the product's architectural enhancements but also its performance gains.  However, the new serially enabled Core i7 also brought fairly significant platform changes as well. Though some folks may be resistant to it, most times, change is good.  And Intel's new, more scalable QPI serial interface was long overdue.  In fact, the Core i7 marks what could be considered one of the most significant changes... Read more...
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