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What are you looking for in a Motherboard Review?

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I expect I'm in the extreme minority here, but I've often wondered about ECC support on consumer-ish motherboards. Particularly with AMD platforms, it feels like ECC support is sometimes present, though hardly ever supported officially.
Topics like getting unsupported features like ECC to work are going to be challenging.

The first is widespread consumer interest. If ECC doesn't work on a Motherboard A even if a reviewer got it working, if Reader Q asks Manufacturer A for help, they're just going receive the standard "that feature is not supported on this product" reply.

From a practical standpoint for the reviewer, how many hoops do they need to jump through to get this unsupported feature to work?

This appears to be the reason why The FPS Review frequently splits out their reviews of graphics cards: the primary review at out-of-the-box stock clocks and a separate review/article for overclocking said card. When you read one FPS article about overclocking, it's clear that a lot of time was spent pushing card settings to the limit, beyond the limit, and dialing back down until stable performance is attained.

Sure, I'd love me some ECC memory support, but ultimately it needs to come from the manufacturer and be under warranty coverage.
 
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ir_cow

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Topics like getting unsupported features like ECC to work are going to be challenging.
Unsupported is the key here. I looked into this before. Ryzen / Threadripper unofficially supports ECC. Its up the motherboard manufacturer to include support. Since it isn't officially supported by AMD, most boards that do will not list it in the specifications. I declined DDR4-3600 ECC ram for this exact reason. I couldn't get a clear answer from (RAM vendor) what MB supported ECC. If you take a look at ASUS X570 ProArt, on the specifications page one line just says "ECC Memory (ECC mode) support varies by CPU.". Super helpful with no additional information lol. The point I'm making here is since it isn't officially supported, unless the MB vendor makes big claims about real ECC support in marketing, I cannot dock them in the review for it not working. A nice little bit of information to know that it work / didn't work for me, but that isn't a guarantee you will get the same results.

Let's say you decide to add three more metrics to your reviews. Including set up time, testing, equipment teardown, data analysis and writing, let's say two of these metrics take 30 minutes apiece and the third takes an hour. If you have ten boards queued up, that's twenty more hours of your time by my calculation. And what if some of these tests require additional equipment? Who pays for that?

Will TPU increase compensation for your additional effort?
I can't get into details here. Wiz can chime in if he wants. I'm the motto of "show your worth, before asking for more". The only person who can gauge if its worth the extra time invested is Wiz. The way I se e it is, more content drives traffic. Good content keeps people coming back. How much site traffic is organic and how much comes from search engines. These are stats Wiz keeps close and that isn't our business.

If for example (random numbers) 85% of all review page traffic is from search engines. I would prioritize more reviews over longer in-depth reviews. However, this is the tricky part. Why is 85% of the traffic from search engines? Is it because TPU comes up as #1 for the most content (no one else reviewed said product), or TPU reputation is highly valued and people specifically click on TPU. Maybe neither. These are the questions site owners have to think about.

One thing for certain, you aren't going to be adding more data points to your reviews without putting in more time and effort.
Yep
 
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I expect I'm in the extreme minority here, but I've often wondered about ECC support on consumer-ish motherboards. Particularly with AMD platforms, it feels like ECC support is sometimes present, though hardly ever supported officially.

I particularly enjoyed this article from Hardware Canucks - https://hardwarecanucks.com/cpu-motherboard/ecc-memory-amds-ryzen-deep-dive/
Yeh it seems difficult to tell and get info on beyond the OS reporting that it was detected. Early on I had a support ticket with MemTest86 and they helped get ECC error injection working with Zen+ but Zen2/Zen3 and AGESA bios updates came along and wacked that capability. I can say that ASRock seems to include and advertise ECC support on their boards. ASRock Master SLI/ac (before I literally blew mine up with PBO) and ASRock Tiachi x570 does support it. I got real confirmation eventually when the OS to reported corrected errors with RAM overclocking. Aside from the bit correction the reporting of a problem is the most useful feature to let you know when something is going wrong and seemingly hardest to confirm when not supported officially.
 
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To be fair I never really read much of the performance results on motherboards. They're all so similar, I barely care. I just scan whether its not in a weird place and that's as far as that interest goes.

More important:
- Feature set
- Quality of implementation of said feature set
- Build quality
- Placement of connectors etc. Spacing between slots.
- How it looks in a case
- How it OC's (stability and tweakability, but also ease of use and how BIOS settings reflect what really happens)
- QVL/general support quality wrt parts/CPUs/etc.
- Audio

Would also appreciate a list/matrix of features/price/chipset capability of all motherboards attached to each review, preferably growing as more boards are added each gen. That's the main source for me really when I go out to pick a MB.

The overarching theme: 'will this just work?'
 
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With AMD new socket on the horizon, I figured it was time to reflex on current reviews and see where I can improve. This is where I need your help. Tell me what you want to see in a motherboard review!
It might be too volatile to test for a review but will the boards temp sensors and safety features work if one decides to do something stupid with PBO. In other words will it catch fire, throttle, or shut down?
I have a couple nice pictures of what can happen when the motherboard burns up but it's probably the rare exception.
 
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Well, here's hoping that the future brings more (any) consumer boards with official ECC support! I was really excited when W680 boards were announced but so far it seems like nothing consumer oriented has come from that.
 
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I can't get into details here. Wiz can chime in if he wants. I'm the motto of "show your worth, before asking for more". The only person who can gauge if its worth the extra time invested is Wiz. The way I se e it is, more content drives traffic. Good content keeps people coming back. How much site traffic is organic and how much comes from search engines. These are stats Wiz keeps close and that isn't our business.

If for example (random numbers) 85% of all review page traffic is from search engines. I would prioritize more reviews over longer in-depth reviews. However, this is the tricky part. Why is 85% of the traffic from search engines? Is it because TPU comes up as #1 for the most content (no one else reviewed said product), or TPU reputation is highly valued and people specifically click on TPU. Maybe neither. These are the questions site owners have to think about.
Site operators like Wiz can pay for better search engine result placement regardless of content quality.

This is how Alphabet makes the lion's share of its revenue: Google AdWords. The top hit on a search engine doesn't automatically make it the best. In many ways, it's a popularity contest but you can stuff the ballot box with paid votes. So when you search for "air conditioning repair Ames Iowa" the top search result will be a certain company near Ames, IA that likely paid for that ranking. Whether or not that A/C company will do a better job than their competitors cannot be surmised.

Google's search algorithms are secret but remember the prank where a bunch of people on the Internet manipulated Google's search results by getting "weapons of mass destruction" to point to a page that stated there were no weapons of mass destruction? Good times, good times.

Anyhow, Wiz will need to weigh the benefits of more expansive equipment reviews. There is a line between thoroughness and eyeball-rolling prattling about pedantic minutiae. That line is different for each and every one of us. At some point, that 20-30 page review is going to get tiresome to a portion of the readership.
 
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Anyhow, Wiz will need to weigh the benefits of more expansive equipment reviews. There is a line between thoroughness and just prattling on about pedantic minutiae. That line is different for each and every one of us. At some point, that 20-30 page review is going to get tiresome to a portion of the readership.
In the case of motherboards perhaps less is more, and with that I mean, be very thorough on the things that stand out about it, and don't bother too much with the samey stuff. Because really, the vast majority of boards is in a good place altogether wrt performance, but right now that's the lion's share of each review's work (and page count) it seems. I'm not sure that's the best balance.

More expansive, or differently focused?
 

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If this sort of thing takes off, I'm gonna start reviewing restaurants and let GoFundMe pay for my dinner check.

Oh, and if you guys have any bottles of grower Champagne, feel free to send them to me. I'll be happy to review those for you too.

:):p:D
It'd never work on the high end, but if people want something budget reviewed it's a viable method
Theres a thread ATM about TPU merchandising, i wonder if we could use that and have users vote towards what they want reviewed next

A simple poll for chipset, and let the comments section or reviewer go from there
 
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VRM configuration, build quality, thermals, BIOS gimmicks, software. Everything else can be found on a spec sheet (except for overclocking which doesn't interest me).
 
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It'd never work on the high end, but if people want something budget reviewed it's a viable method
In the land of $5+ espresso drinks, there are probably a million people within two hours drive who would love to have their mid-priced meals paid for by crowd funding (I'm in the SF Bay Area). Down in L.A., there are probably 2-3 million people who would sign up for this.

And I'm not sure how many people would toss in five bucks into a pot for a crowd-funded restaurant review when they can spend a few dollars more and actually fill up their stomach. When a tank of regular unleaded gas is $80 and hamburgers (beyond fast food) start around $15, that $30 lunch doesn't sound very expensive, does it?

It was mostly a joke anyhow. If someone could get others to pay for their lunches via blatant unabashed crowd sourcing, it would have been done by now.
 
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IF something had to be removed, what is the least important, informational or pointless general. This is a hard one because if it didn't make sense to have it, it would probably already be removed.
The "Audio Quality" page and tests should be nuked entirely. The audio snobs are all using external DACs anyway and the rest of us don't give a flying fuck. Condense that entire page into a single paragraph in the "Board Layout" page that shows the photo of the audio section currently on the "Audio Quality" page, plus a comment on the codec used, and that's all that's needed. Obviously, special comment should be made when there is no onboard audio (e.g. ASUS' upcoming X670E ITX boards).
 

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The "Audio Quality" page and tests should be nuked entirely. The audio snobs are all using external DACs anyway and the rest of us don't give a flying fuck. Condense that entire page into a single paragraph in the "Board Layout" page that shows the photo of the audio section currently on the "Audio Quality" page, plus a comment on the codec used, and that's all that's needed. Obviously, special comment should be made when there is no onboard audio (e.g. ASUS' upcoming X670E ITX boards).
I agree with this. Years ago it was important, but now everyone has USB headphones, wireless headphones, Audio over HDMI or audio SPDIF. However it doesn't save much time in the grand scheme of things. Maybe 10 minutes.
 
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I agree with this. Years ago it was important, but now everyone has USB headphones, wireless headphones, Audio over HDMI or audio SPDIF. However it doesn't save much time in the grand scheme of things. Maybe 10 minutes.
I tried *shrug*
 
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A little bit more in the audio department would be great.
From the reviews it seems like most of the motherboards with same chipset and in the same price range have similar quality, it sounds logical but is this the case?
 
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That may be silly, but when I look for a new motherboard I first look at the onboard sound quality and its bundled audio software (dts+, dolby etc)
 
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Count me as another who recommends reducing coverage of onboard audio. It’s only important to identify if there’s something unusual (good or bad), otherwise “onboard audio works as expected” is sufficient.

I haven’t made an analog audio connection to any of my desktop PCs (including Macs) in well over a decade. I know the sound quality goes to crap the moment the onboard DAC converts to an analog signal due to all of the EMI inside the case.

I‘ve also dumped analog wired audio for notebook PCs in the past five or so years. Admittedly the only time I use headphones or earbuds is the rare teleconference. The notebook PC's audio is unimportant to me.

An acknowledgement of bundled audio software is worth retaining though.
 
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Good reviews so far.

I always find that for motherboard reviews, no one really tests the onboard sound quality. A lot of these boards advertise premium sound components, so a bit of comparison would be nice.
 

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Good reviews so far.

I always find that for motherboard reviews, no one really tests the onboard sound quality. A lot of these boards advertise premium sound components, so a bit of comparison would be nice.
It is a hard thing to do. The best way would be like EVGA NU Audio Sound Card Review or FiiO K9 Pro ESS Desktop DAC & Amplifier Review or better yet (Sorry TPU!)

Review and Measurements of EVGA NU Audio PC Card - Audio Science Review - Best site for audio reviews.

This stuff is outside my expertise. I understand what I'm reading here, but I couldn't write it. Also think about how much time this would add. If I did it, a lot. RightMark isn't the best solution because it relays on the input and out of the onboard audio to be good. I've come across boards that had horrible results and it was just the input line that was trash. It is also a bit subjective. I could say that the audio is great but the input is bad without a real test besides my ears. Its better than nothing right?...or is it..
 
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It is a hard thing to do. The best way would be like EVGA NU Audio Sound Card Review or FiiO K9 Pro ESS Desktop DAC & Amplifier Review or better yet (Sorry TPU!)

Review and Measurements of EVGA NU Audio PC Card - Audio Science Review - Best site for audio reviews.

This stuff is outside my expertise. I understand what I'm reading here, but I couldn't write it. Also think about how much time this would add. If I did it, a lot. RightMark isn't the best solution because it relays on the input and out of the onboard audio to be good. I've come across boards that had horrible results and it was just the input line that was trash. It is also a bit subjective. I could say that the audio is great but the input is bad without a real test besides my ears. Its better than nothing right?...or is it..
If you can attempt such an endeavor, it will set you that much more ahead of other reviewers. Your methodology will obviously evolve as you learn more. Perhaps you could get some training and I'm sure @W1zzard will help get what you need for equipment when you are ready. I know it will be difficult and a whole lot of work, but the reward could also be great.
 
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[...]What do YOU want to read about in a motherboard review?

I would like to see more focus on analyzing default settings and how they deviate from CPU manufacturer recommendations/specifications or common sense.

In particular, CPU settings concerning power savings (C-states, etc), power/current limits and voltage corrections (AC/DC Loadline, etc), if any overclock is present by default and so on.
 

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Onboard sound definitely matters, but it's also not worth spending large amounts of time on.

If the testing is mostly automated, that makes it easy - the discussion should be on the outputs and supported features, since as discussed many people use digital audio instead (HDMI/DP and USB)
 
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Adding to VRM testing point :
In lower end or problematic motherboards reviews, I would love to see how much negative offset (-0.1V or -0.2V) on Vcore can help them cope with higher CPU models (if they are supported). Obviously with decresed max. turbo ratios by 100 - 400MHz when they unstable, or for "die quality lottery" margin to make everyone happy.

Last month I wanted to buy cheapest B660 full ATX MB, but there were simply no tests/reviews of them anywhere :(
I eventually picked Gigabyte's B660 DS3H DDR4 "open box" with discount.
 
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Adding to VRM testing point :
In lower end or problematic motherboards reviews, I would love to see how much negative offset (-0.1V or -0.2V) on Vcore can help them cope with higher CPU models (if they are supported). Obviously with decresed max. turbo ratios by 100 - 400MHz when they unstable, or for "die quality lottery" margin to make everyone happy.

Last month I wanted to buy cheapest B660 full ATX MB, but there were simply no tests/reviews of them anywhere :(
I eventually picked Gigabyte's B660 DS3H DDR4 "open box" with discount.
Why would you want to pair a cheap motherboard with a high-end CPU?
 

Mussels

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Adding to VRM testing point :
In lower end or problematic motherboards reviews, I would love to see how much negative offset (-0.1V or -0.2V) on Vcore can help them cope with higher CPU models (if they are supported). Obviously with decresed max. turbo ratios by 100 - 400MHz when they unstable, or for "die quality lottery" margin to make everyone happy.

Last month I wanted to buy cheapest B660 full ATX MB, but there were simply no tests/reviews of them anywhere :(
I eventually picked Gigabyte's B660 DS3H DDR4 "open box" with discount.
That's something you can work out once you know the boards maximum VRM wattages anwyay


If a board can only handle 200W without throttling, you already have the answer to what CPU's are supported. Instead of testing a dozen CPU's, you can test one high end model and discover the wattage limits, and then look up the wattages of the various CPU's. Same information, far less work.

Why would you want to pair a cheap motherboard with a high-end CPU?
Why not? Motherboards don't add any performance - the only time a motherboard can be a performance detriment is this one situation of VRM's that cant handle stock


An A320 runs like an x570 with no performance change
(Random screencaps from youtube, first result when searching)
1662965009708.png

1662965090579.png



By that metric, it's absolutely worth knowing if a motherboard is going to hamper performance - if they say they support high end CPU's on a budget board, they better deliver
 
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