ATI, the company that is most known of their powerful and quality graphic card solutions, released their first Crossfire mainboard chipset with the RD480. Today they present the new Xpress 3200 chipset. The most important feature is support for x16/x16 PCI-Express when running in Crossfire mode. There are also a lot of other interesting changes.
AOpen is offering a wide range of products, many of them geared toward living room multimedia. The dual-core capable AOpen i945Ga-PHS is a motherboard designed to be used for building a Media PC. Its outstanding feature is integrated VGA with analog, TV and HDTV output without the need of any addon card. This gives you everything to build a very low profile Media PC.
ABIT is one of the most popular motherboard manufacturers for enthusiasts and gamers. Their products are full of innovations like UGuru or SilentOTES. The AT8 is the latest Crossfire capable board from ABIT and uses ATI's RD480 chipset. As southbridge the ULI M1575 is used. What makes this board even more interesting is its competitive price which will lie in the USD 120 range.
From a feature perspective ECS offers a very well rounded board with the PF5 Extreme. Having one Gigabit and one Fast Ethernet port is exactly the combination which I think is a good compromise between speed and price. Getting six SATA ports and two PCI-E x16 ports for around $120 is also very nice. However, if you are looking into overclocking more than just a little bit this board might not for you. It has quite a few issues when it comes to overclocking.
The ECS PF88 Extreme is a unique motherboard. Its SIS 656 chipset offers users the possibility to purchase CPU add-in cards, called SIMA cards which allow to run a completely different CPU architecture on the motherboard. At the moment SIMA cards are available for Intel Pentium M Socket 479, AMD Socket 754 and AMD Socket 939. Together with the on-board Socket LGA 775 this means that you can run any mainstream CPU available today. However, there are a few BIOS bugs, one allowed us to get a POST screenshot at 6750 MHz.
ATI video card specialist Sapphire has built this Crossfire-ready motherboard with enthusiasts and gamers in mind. Special care has been given to providing the whole range of needed BIOS options to properly tweak the motherboard. Its unique white design will make the board stand out of the crowd.
When I first heard that DFI is coming up with a new "Expert" version of this board, I was wondering if they could really improve things so much that it warrants a new product. Yes they did! There are a lot of improvements compared to the older LanParty NF4 series. For example you can finally run four 512 MB memory modules at 1T timing.
ASRock has engineered the 939Dual-SATA2 around ULi's new M1695 chipset. The board has both AGP 8x and PCI-Express x16 slots which do not suffer from performance loss like other manufacturers' implementations. You can even use both slots at the same time. General performance is very close to that of the competition. Suprisingly the board is a good overclocker as well, it reached an amazing 380 MHz HTT after some tweaking.
ABIT has engineered the AL8 for Intel Socket775 to be a good compromise between features, performance and price. Apart from the standard features, the motherboard has Gigabit Ethernet, an extra SATA controller, 8 Channel Audio and ABIT's uGuru.
We also found out why other reviewers could not overclock past 220 FSB and describe how to fix it. Our best result was 4568 MHz @ 326 FSB.
ECS has built the RS400-A motherboard around ATI's RADEON XPRESS200 chipset for the Intel LGA Socket 775 platform. Keeping cost down was a driving factor during development of this board. It can be used with DDR1 or DDR2 memory modules. Also available are slots for PCI-Express x16 and AGP. This board looks like an upgrader's dream, but does it offer the performance enthusiasts want?
When it comes to ATI video cards, Sapphire is one of the top, if not the number one manufacturer. After their tremendous success with video cards, they are now entering the motherboard business.
Sapphire's PI-A9RX480 is based on the ATI RX480 chipset and is specifically developed to fit the needs of overclockers and enthusiasts. The BIOS shines when it comes to overclocking options. For example DDR Voltage can be selected up to 4.0 V.
At this year's Computex in Taiwan, ECS announced the big brother of the successful KN1 Extreme Motherboard - the ECS KN1 SLI Extreme. It is based on NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI chipset and aims at delivering an affordable SLI motherboard, while still having features like Dual Ethernet and IEEE1394. During all our testing the KN1 SLI showed excellent performance, but can it deliver the overclocking the enthusiasts want?
The DFI LanParty series is legendary among overclockers. We haven't seen any other board offer that many overclocking features. For example, being able to your run your memory at voltages of more than 3.3V is pretty unique. A well thought out components layout and little on-board switches make overclockers happy.
The Albatron K8SLI is a budget oriented Socket939 motherboard based on NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI chipset. While it has been designed with cost in mind, performance has not been left out. Innovative features like second BIOS on an external add-in card and automatic SLI switch make this board easy to use. Overclocking possibilites are good as well, we managed to reach a maximum FSB of 390 MHz.
Albatron has built a competitively priced motherboard, which is based on Intel's high-end i925XE chipset. It comes completely passive cooled, only the CPU fan is producing noise, making it a good Media PC motherboard.
Abit, one of the top manufacturers for enthusiast motherboards, has asked the Pro-Gamer Jonathan Fatal1ty Wendel for ideas on making a top-notch gaming board.
The Fatal1ty AA8XE is an awesome overclocking motherboard for Intel Pentium 4 LGA775, it offers loads of features geared towards the hardware enthusiast and gamers. We could overclock our P4 CPU by over 50% for a final clock of 4514 MHz @ 323 FSB.