Four Mainstream Core 2 Motherboards

ExtremeTech By Loyd Case Core 2 Duo Intel's spiffy Core 2 processors offer great performance and low power usage relative to past Intel desktop CPUs. And DDR2/800 memory is now fairly common. But neither of these hot tickets is useful by themselves: They need an underlying infrastructure to work well. That infrastructure is the motherboard.Today, we're looking at four mainstream motherboards. While some are suitable for overclocking, that's not the focus of this article. We're taking a look at these with an eye towards the majority of users who may never tweak a clock multiplier or a voltage setting. Note that all these boards—even the ones really not well suited for overclocking—allow you to tweak a variety of settings. But what seemed more interesting to me was how these went into a case, where the connectors were located, and how it all hangs together in a normal system build. Of course, I also took a look at performance, running a subset of our standard benchmark suite. But in reality, the performance differences are so minor as to not be a major differentiator. Of the four boards, three use the Intel P965 chipset, while one uses the G965 (with integrated graphics). Two are RAID capable, shipping with Intel's ICH8R I/O controller hub, while two ship with the standard ICH8 and leave out RAID support. All but one of the boards support the latest Intel quad-core desktop processors, while the lowest-cost board only supports Core 2 Duo< (and earlier CPUs.) Prices range from $110 to over $200, with the priciest board offering the richest set of features. Interestingly, even the cheapest board now offers eSATA capability, for fast external storage, plus integrated multichannel HD audio. Let's take a look at our contenders. read more...

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