Budget Core 2 Platforms from ECS and Gigabyte

Intel’s latest chipset family, the P3x-series, can certainly be qualified as a hit thus far. While Intel P3x-series chipsets, like the mid-range P35 series and the budget-targeted P31 series, don’t sport any truly exciting new features in comparison to their previous generation counterparts, they’re showing themselves to be extremely reliable and very flexible thus far. While high-end (performance minded) buyers will most likely opt for Intel’s coming upcoming X38 and X48 chipsets, the P35 and P31 Express chipsets will no doubt become the base for the vast majority of Intel platforms over the next...

Intel P35 Express Comparison: ASUS & Gigabyte

We first took a look at Intel's P35 Express chipset back in May, when it was released into the wild to supplant the still relatively youthful P965 and usher in the era of DDR3 memory and 1333MHz FSB Intel processors. The P965 is a tough act to follow. Despite its intended mid-range market placement, Intel didn't hamper the P965 in any way except for the lack of official Crossfire support. With its excellent feature set and good performance, the P965 presented an excellent value and became many people's first choice for all of their single-GPU needs. For the P35, Intel has wisely chosen not to change...

Asus Blitz Formula and Extreme P35 Motherboards

If you're a PC hardware enthusiast - and chances are pretty good that you are if you're reading HotHardware - Asus is a company that needs no introduction.  Asus' track record for building quality products targeted squarely at power users is well known and documented, so we'll forego the history lesson here and get right to the point. A couple of motherboards recently landed in the lab that filled a large void in the marketplace.  Just after the introduction of Intel's new Core 2 Duo and Extreme processors with 1333MHz front side bus frequencies, if you wanted a motherboard that officially...

AMD 690 Chipset Update: More Power, More Performance

Back in February of this year, we took a look at the AMD 690 series chipset and praised it for its affordability, power efficiency, and strong performance relative to its competition.  Since then, the 690 series chipset has gone on to be somewhat of a success for AMD with over 35 different motherboards based on various flavors the chipset currently and more on the way. Not content with the status quo, engineers at AMD have taken the 690 series chipset and optimized it further through some BIOS and software level enhancements that result in marked performance gains in a number of situations...

nForce 650i SLI Shoot-Out: MSI P6N SLI vs Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI

As hardware enthusiasts, our enthusiasm for the latest and greatest PC gear often surpasses our bank account's ability to fund another upgrade. That's when we fall back on the always practical approach to maximizing our bang for the buck. Thankfully, this usually doesn't equate to buying products we're too ashamed to put in a modded case. Many companies cater to the more value conscious crowd while still bringing in enthusiast-oriented features. One example of a product that offers a lot of bang for the buck yet maintains a fair amount of enthusiast-oriented features is the NVIDIA nForce...

Abit IP35 PRO P35 and AB9 QuadGT P965 Motherboards

It’s been almost one year since Intel launched the 965 series of chipsets, which were originally designed to be packaged with Intel’s Core 2 Duo series of processors. While the 965 series didn't perform quite as well as Intel’s flagship 975x chipset in some cases, most notable in multi-GPU configurations, it made a name for itself due to its more flexible nature along with lower power consumption and heat output, and strong overclocking, which were made possible due to the more refined manufacturing process used to build the chipset. Not only was the 965 series a great overclocking chipset for...

Gigabyte GA-N680SLI-DQ6

Gigabyte has almost always been a well respected brand amongst PC enthusiasts, but it seems the company has come on very strong in the last year or so.  Gigabyte has released a number of highly praised motherboards is recent months, like the GA-P35T-DQ6 and GA-965P-DQ6 2.0 that were all lauded for their feature sets, performance, and overclockability. In this article, we're going to showcase yet another Gigabyte-built mobo - the GA-N680SLI-DQ6 - that seemingly out does every other current desktop motherboard in a number of key areas.  How do four Gigabit LAN controllers, 10 SATA ports,...

MSI P35 Platinum Motherboard

Just around this time three years ago, Intel launched their 925X and 915 motherboard platforms, bringing to market a new microprocessor socket, support for DDR2 memory, and support for PCI Express. Although the chipsets were decent performers and had good features, Intel was criticized for forcing the adoption of these new technologies when the market wasn’t really demanding it. At that time, Intel’s NetBurst processors trailed AMD’s and the company caught a lot of criticism from motherboard partners, OEM computer manufacturers, and press alike....

Computex 2007: ASUS Crosslink, MSI Dual Radeon 2600 Pro

Last night in our Pre-Computex coverage, we saw that ASUS had some interesting looking displays set up at the front of their booth, but they were covered up and we weren’t able to take a close look at what was underneath.   Today, we were able to dig a little deeper into ASUS' booth, however, and hiding in one display was their new Crosslinx-enabled Republic of Gamers motherboards. Crosslinx is going to be featured on a couple of P35-based motherboards to enhance their PCI Express lane configurations for optimal performance in a multi-GPU configuration....

Intel P965 Shoot-Out: Asus P5B-E vs. MSI P965 Platinum

There's something to be said for Intel's chipset release practices.  Typically, each major revision has consisted of multiple versions: a powerful, enthusiast high-end chipset, and then a number of slimmed down versions.  Note, we say "slimmed down" instead of "stripped down", as much of the architecture and feature set remains untouched.  The result is usually a plethora of mid-range boards that are cheaper than the flagship models, that have a few limitations or exclusions in comparison to the upper-end boards that not every user will necessarily need or want. In the case of...

Intel P35 Bearlake Motherboard And DDR3 Memory – Asus and Corsair

Motherboard chipset technology isn't refreshed at the same fevered pitch that processors, memory or IO products are.  A CPU or GPU speed-bump is like low-lying fruit relatively speaking, but chipset enhancements can usher in a whole host of stability, interoperability and verification challenges.  Let's face it, when the product is the basis for a platform foundation, forward migrations can be painful if not carefully planned, so the upside benefits need to be worth-while for both the end customer as well as the manufacturer.  If you asked us a year ago, what Intel's path to a higher...

ASUS M2A-VM HDMI 690G Motherboard

At the end of February '07, AMD released their first new chipset since the AMD/ATI merger.  The goal with the new 690G/V series was to bring improved integrated graphics to the market, with better performance and broader compatibility.  Initial impressions were generally positive; with an integrated Radeon XPress 1250, support for two monitors and options for DVI or HDMI outputs, the 690 series did bring something different to the table.  Since the 690G's release, we've spent some time with several models from MSI and now ASUS, with the M2A-VM HDMI being the latest model to land...

DFI LANParty UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R nForce 680i LT

While they are still not known as a tier 1 player in the motherboard market, on par with the likes of MSI, Asus, or Gigabyte, DFI is a still a highly regarded name in many circles. DFI is one of the few companies in the market which are genuinely in tune with what overclockers and enthusiasts are interested in. Their LANParty series in particular has garnered piles of awards and is often used in many "extreme" overclocking projects due to the flexibility provided by their products. LANParty boards are flashy and over-the-top, but at their core, they have been solid through and through....

Nvidia nForce 650i Ultra Chipset Launch

Nvidia based motherboards and SLI technology typically go hand in hand. In the past, SLI technology was only featured on high-end Nvidia platforms, although throughout the years Nvidia has moved this technology down to lower and lower price points. In years past, one would only purchase an SLI enabled motherboard if they had a specific need to run SLI graphics cards. Nowadays, with SLI boards so cheap, even those who don't need this feature will grab SLI-enabled motherboards, simply because there is a small price variance between SLI and non-SLI platforms and the future expansion options are attractive....

Hybrid vs Native Dual X16 SLI: Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus vs Abit IN9 32X-MAX

In early November of last year, NVIDIA unveiled their successor to the nForce 5, the nForce 600 series. The starting line-up included three solutions supporting Intel's Core 2 processor, each aimed at a different segment of the market and each with a different price point. The most expensive chipset in the series, the high-end 680i SLI provided a host of new features including dual X16 SLI support with a third X8 PCI-E slot. Next comes the 650i SLI, which lacks many of the 680i's fancier features like dual x16 SLI support, but makes up for it with a significantly lower price point. Finally at the...

NVIDIA nForce 680i LT SLI

Nvidia had been somewhat slow getting out of the gate with their initial Intel Core 2 compatible chipsets. Their first nForce 4 and nForce 5 series products for the Core 2 weren't very well received by enthusiasts, who mostly opted for more stable and less power hungry Intel based chipsets, unless Nvidia's SLI technology was an explicit requirement. While it has taken them a bit longer than expected to get their footing for this new processor architecture, it seems like Nvidia is truly hitting their stride with the nForce 600 series of products. Currently, Nvidia...

Asus CrossHair NF590 SLI: Republic of Gamers

For almost as long as there have been PC enthusiasts, it seems that Asus has been there catering to them with feature laden, high-performance products.  Nowhere is it more apparent that Asus caters to enthusiasts than with their motherboards. Yes, some of their notebooks and graphics cards are cutting edge as well, but the company has released literally hundreds of enthusiast-class motherboards in their history. Over the years we have evaluated a myriad of Asus-built mobos here at HotHardware, and with the exception of only a couple of designs, they have all been stand-out products in...

AMD's 690G/V Series Chipset Preview And Performance Testing

With no major processor architecture updates in the immediate future and their DX10-capable graphics solutions still a few months away, the new AMD seems to be slowly picking up slack as we roll through the first two thirds of Q1 '07.  Today, AMD is officially introducing their first new chipset since the ATI acquisition, the AMD 690G/V Series.  Comprised of an RS690 Northbridge and SB600 Southbridge, the 690 series chipset's goal is to provide a full-featured motherboard backed by a solid integrated graphics solution, thanks to an integrated ATI Radeon x1250...

Asus P5N-E SLI Nvidia nForce 650i SLI

Nvidia's newly launched nForce 680i SLI for Intel's Core 2 processors is undoubtedly the most lavish, extravagant, and exiting chipset currently on the market. This chipset, which we recently looked at in depth with our review of the high-end Asus Striker board, features such features like DDR-1200 memory support, triple PCI Express x16 sized slots, 16 x 16 SLI support, and it's designed specifically for the ultra high-end gamer. Nvidia released this high-end chipset first in order to provide attention to their product line, which certainly worked well. Now that Nvidia has arguably...

Asus Striker Extreme Nvidia nForce 680i Motherboard

There are only a few motherboard makers today who don't design boards with the enthusiast in mind. It's been proven that the enthusiast market, as small as it is, gets the most press coverage of any segment of motherboards. Thus, enthusiast markets do have the ability to influence purchases of an entire company's range of motherboards. Unfortunately, motherboards which are truly designed for the enthusiast are few and far between. Sure, it's easy to put some flashy heatsinks and some basic overclocking controls in to try to lure the casual gamer to their brand - but the true enthusiast...

975X Express Motherboard Round-Up: Foxconn, Abit, and MSI

To coincide with the launch of the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors, many manufacturers released new or updated motherboards to support Intel's cutting edge CPU. Over the past few months, we've taken a look at a handful of these motherboards, including products based on chipsets from Intel as well as NVIDIA. Today, however, we're going to focus on a trio of boards all based on Intel's current flagship chipset for the Core 2 and Pentium D, the 975X Express. The 975X Express has been available for quite some time.  In fact, it was released in late 2005 just before...

MSI K9N SLI Platinum nForce 570 SLI Motherboard

  Nvidia's SLI technology launched in mid-2004, and was designed to provide high-performance rendering power for gamers. Because the technology was brand new, and the fastest thing on the market, SLI configurations demanded exorbitant price premiums over single card configurations, despite first generation issues like software compatibility, driver problems, and hardware issues. Setting up a "budget" SLI system was simply out of the question at first, as SLI-enabled graphics cards were only available at the high end of the price range, as were SLI-enabled motherboards. Now that...

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