Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 Motherboards You Care The Most About

Chipsets often follow the lead of processor technology, so support for sixcore processors was a big modification in high-end motherboards. Intel introduced the H55 and H57 chipsets, similar to the P55 chipset with the addition of the H models letting you take advantage of the graphics capabilities built into some Core i3 and Core i5 processors. AMD announced the 890GX, which offers a built-in Radeon HD 4290 graphics core and six native 6Gbps SATA ports, as well as the 890FX chipset, which supports AMD’s six-core processors and two graphics cards in CrossFire at full x16 speed.

Winner: Evga X58 FTW3
The Evga X58 FTW3 was by far the most popular choice for builders in our Dream PC roundup, and it’s certainly designed for enthusiasts. The X58 FTW3 includes Evga’s EVBot for handheld overclocking, an onboard CPU temperature monitor, and Evga’s EZ Voltage read points. The 8-phase power design combines with a large passive heatsink to offer high overclocking potential, and there’s a handy onboard Clear CMOS button for when your frequencies go too high. If you run into trouble, we also like the onboard diagnostics LED readout, and the feature came in handy to help us figure out what was wrong with a test system. With Evga’s E-LEET tuning utility, you can adjust the system overclock within the OS.

The motherboard features three PCI-E slots, and you can run two cards in SLI or CrossFire at full x16 speed or three graphics cards with one running at x16 speed and the other two at x8. This X58 board also offers a wide variety of connectivity for your storage devices and peripherals. There are two 6Gbps SATA ports, six 3Gpbs SATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and support for 12 USB 2.0 ports (eight external, four internal). RAID 0/1/0+1/5 configurations are available. For memory, the X58 FTW3 offers six DIMM slots that can hold up to 24GB of DDR3-1600. Evga tops it off with a three-year limited warranty.

First Runner-Up: Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7
This 890FX motherboard offers an XL-ATX form factor, which gives the space to support up to 4-way CrossFire and another add-in card. In total, there are six PCI-E x16 slots. Gigabyte designed the board so that you install graphics cards in the first, third, and fifth slots, which work at either x16 or x8 speed depending upon how the other PCI-E slots are filled. The 890FXA-UD7 also natively supports Phenom II X6 processors, giving you the ability to use AMD’s top performers.

There are six 6Gbps SATA ports and two 3Gbps SATA ports, along with 14 USB 2.0 ports (eight external, six internal) and two USB 3.0 ports. On/Off Charge technology lets Apple products (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch) draw more power than standard USB ports to charge faster. Another feature we like is Gigabyte’s Auto Unlock support to turn on a previously disabled core on AMD Phenom II dualor tri-core processors. The built-in power, Clear CMOS, and reset buttons make it easy for you to tinker with BIOS settings and return your PC to a working order if something goes wrong.

Second Runner-Up: MSI P55A-GD85
MSI started the year off with a bang by releasing the P55-GD85, which includes a Marvell chip to add two 6Gbps SATA ports, an NEC chip to add two USB 3.0 ports, and a PLX PCI-E bridge chip to improve PCI-E bandwidth and maintain the capacity necessary for the 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0 connectivity. Power users will also appreciate the P55-GD85’s DrMos (a technology to stabilize power delivery) and SuperPipe heat dissipater, which is a full copper 8mm heatpipe. In short, the board is ideal for those who want to overclock their Intel LGA1156 processor.

The P55-GD85 supports up to 16GB of DDR3 memory running at up to 2,133MHz, and there are four DIMM slots. There are two PCI-E x16 slots (one runs at x16 speed, while the second can run at x8), and the board supports either SLI or CrossFire. We also like that those not familiar with overclocking can use the OC Genie to easily boost their computer’s speed.

2010 Processors You Care The Most About

Source of Information : Computer Power User (CPU) January 2011

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