Battle of the Boards

PC World by Jon L. Jacobi motherboardsA PC is only as good as its motherboard. Our lab tests of PCI Express models will help you find the right one--whether you're building a system from scratch or upgrading the machine you've got. Techies and PC gamers routinely soup up their systems to maximize performance and appearance. My own computer has been refurbished so many times that I can't even remember when I bought the case. But at the heart of every home-built PC or system rebuild is a motherboard, and choosing the right one can be difficult. Most of the boards are built around a small number of chip sets, resulting in similar designs that can be hard to differentiate. But the details of motherboard design--the connectors the board comes with, the firmware the manufacturer uses, and even the physical layout of components--are important considerations. To help you find the best centerpiece for your machine, PC World road-tested 14 state-of-the-art boards for Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 CPUs. Thanks to NVidia's NForce4 chip sets and some new competing chip sets from ATI and Via, PCI Express graphics technology is finally available on both AMD and Intel platforms. That let us select boards with all the technologies you'll need to keep your PC up-to-date: PCI Express (PCIe) graphics, Scalable Link Interface (SLI) graphics, 3-gigabits-per-second Serial ATA (SATA II), and gigabit ethernet. read more...

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