Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tech Link (Motherboard): Core 2 Duo Platforms From Asus - A Top To Bottom Comparison

Wow, GamePC went crazy and tested a slew of Asus* boards supporting Conroe. It's a good review, it's a 17-pager article (if you can read all that, congratulations) that compares five(5) (judging from the image) boards based on i965 and i975. If you can drag yourself to read all through it, you might learn something new and I missed that chance, but still, maybe you can just zoom in on a motherboard that you like and see how it performs. Expand for more...

The Final Word
With so many motherboards being produced in such a small span of time by the same manufacturer with feature sets so similar, you would expect these boards to overlap themselves quite a bit. Well, they certainly do in a lot of ways, but each board still manages to have a unique feature or point of attraction, making none of the boards we’ve looked at today completely out-done by another board.
As our benchmarks have shown, there is very little raw performance difference between the available Core 2 Duo chipsets on the market, and almost zero difference between various motherboards using the same type of chipset. Our tests showed that Intel 975X motherboards tend to perform the best in most scenarios versus the Nvidia nForce4 and Intel P965 chipsets, likely due to the higher memory bandwidth and lower latencies, which affect all applications and benchmarks. However, these benchmarks only take into account if your system requires a single graphics card. If you require multiple graphics cards, your choices are narrowed down quite a bit.

If you require multi-GPU operation, you don’t have a ton of choice. If you want an SLI configuration, there are a scant few SLI-enabled motherboards on the market for the Core 2 Duo, including the P5N32-SLI SE Deluxe platform we’ve looked at today. However, our recommendation would be to wait for the upcoming nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition chipset which will be out shortly, which should outperform today’s boards in most every way. If you want Crossfire, you’ll have to go with an Intel 975X motherboard, which are plentiful on the market today. Crossfire still remains largely un-popular, so we doubt this feature will be of major importance to many potential buyers.

If money is no object, we would go ahead and purchase the P5WDG2-WS Professioanl or P5W DH boards. The P5WDG2-WS Professional is more expensive, but has PCI-X slots and high-end SATA-II/RAID abilities, whereas the P5W DH has Wi-Fi, a remote control, and lots of multi-media centric features. We would only choose one of these boards over the P5B Deluxe if you have a specific feature which you needed to have (like Crossfire or PCI-X expansion slots). Beyond these features, they will perform almost identically to P965 motherboards, but at a higher price. Both are great boards, but a bit over priced at this time. Hopefully prices will fall as the boards become more plentiful on the market.

The lowly P5B also puts up very solid numbers, and despite its lackluster feature set, the board remains an excellent value. There are cheaper Core 2 Duo solutions now hitting the market, but the P5B hits a good spot in terms of price/performance, and we think it’s a good (albeit somewhat boring) platform all around.

As a single graphics card user, I found that the feature set and price tag of the Asus P5B Deluxe was the most impressive of the bunch. It’s a bit less expensive compared to Intel 975X motherboards, but it does feature Intel’s new ICH8R Southbridge and consumes less power compared to the 975X as well. Performance wise, it will give 95-100% of the performance of the 975X. In my eyes, it’s got the best mix of price / performance / features / overclockability. It’s not the best board in any one of these categories, but it’s above average in all of them, which makes it a very solid platform overall. This is our pick.

Source:Core 2 Duo Platforms From Asus - A Top To Bottom Comparison

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