OK, we've looked over the
boards, and their bundles. We've ran them
through benchmarks designed to show individual components
strengths, overall performance comparisons, and gaming frame
rates. After having these boards on our test-bench for
the past few weeks, we came up with our final ratings.
Chaintech APOGEE 9PJL -
At this stage of the game, the
Chaintech APOGEE 9PJL itself is more style than substance.
It was a great looking board, and came with the best
bundle of the bunch, but the lack of a memory performance
tweak led to the 9PJL placing last in just about every one
of the benchmarks. The good news, is that this can
easily be turned around by a (working) BIOS revision.
Chaintech also shortchanged the board somewhat by using
the ICH5 South Bridge instead of the ICH5R, meaning that
no RAID configurations are possible by IDE or SATA.
To a lesser degree, this was also the only board that
didn't come with on-board Gigabit Ethernet. The good news
would be that these omissions probably have something to
do with the price point of the board. At prices as
low as $152, the 9PJL is a still a good performer at a
great price, earning
it a 7.5
on the HotHardware Heat Meter.
865PE Neo2-FIS2R -
The MSI 865PE Neo2-FISR was
another board that was somewhat held back by its BIOS.
In this case, it was not the omission of any options, but
memory problems that will surely frustrate many users.
One of the earliest boards on the Springdale scene, it
still needs a bit of BIOS tweaking to alleviate the memory
issues and allow for higher overclocking. This was a
good looking board with color coding of the ports and even
the front panel headers, making system setup a breeze.
The blinking lights in the NB fan will surely please the
case-mod crowd, and it really makes the board stand out as
being "different" from the rest. The bundle and
on-board connections allow for all sorts of devices to be
connected, making this an ideal board for digital video
editing or other multimedia excursions. Even with
the very complete bundle, we were still able to find the
board priced at around $162. We're giving the MSI
865PE Neo2-FIS2R an
on the HotHardware Heat Meter, at least until the problems get ironed
Albatron 865PE Pro II
Albatron has sure come a long
way, baby. Mostly unheard of a year or two ago, they
have really begun to impress reviewers with some quality
hardware. The 865PE Pro II was no exception.
Albatron chose the best on-board audio solution in the VIA
Envy 24PT chipset, the only chipset that provides 8
channel output at this time. They also didn't skimp
on the other features, with FireWire, a CSA based Gigabit
Ethernet solution, and RAID configurations for both SATA and
IDE drives all available. Unfortunately, these
features do come at a price, with the Albatron 865PE Pro
II board commanding a $184.99 price point. Still, a
case could be made that the performance was very good, and
the bundle had most, if not all, of the pieces one would
need in a new setup. The Albatron 865PE Pro II earns
on the Heat Meter.
It finally came down to these
two: the Abit IS7-G and the Asus P4P800 Deluxe. Abit
has come up with another great board with the IS7-G.
When we think of Abit, we think of performance and
overclockability, and we were not disappointed. Throughout
testing, we didn't come upon any major headaches, and the
addition of the Game Accelerator led the Abit IS7-G to
some high benchmarks. The bundle lacked a little
pizzazz, but was fuller than some of Abit's other recent
offerings. The only question that came about was
with the odd tailing off of the performance at high clock
speeds. The price to performance ratio was
outstanding, with the Abit listed on some sites as low as
$158. We had mostly good feelings about the IS7-G, rating
it with a
on the HotHardware Heat Meter, but we still felt that
there was one board that was just a bit better...
Showdown Winner - Asus
Asus P4P800 Deluxe -
When all was said and done,
and the boards were placed safely back into their boxes,
we looked back at our notes and charts for an answer as to
which of the boards was going to be the "one".
Performance-wise, the Asus P4P800 dominated the charts,
displacing the "hype" about the HyperPath technology with
facts about its true worth. The memory benchmarks
consistently showed the Asus P4P800 head and shoulders
above the rest. Not only did it put up some of the
best numbers, making it the "fastest" board, it was
the best overclocker, tying the Abit IS7-G for the highest
overall speed, but also having the highest stable
overclock at 285MHz for the FSB. If only the board
and bundle were spruced up a bit. My heart aches for a
"black pearl" version of this board, similar to the P4PE
(incidentally, the board that this will most likely
replace in Asus' repertoire.) Anyone who has seen
pictures of that board knows what I am talking about.
Visual issues aside, the Asus P4P800 Deluxe has overcome
all challengers, and at a relatively low price of only $142.99.
give it a
on the HotHardware Heat Meter, and a coveted Editor's