Building a Better System
- Soyo SY-P4I865PE Plus Dragon 2 Pentium 4 Motherboard (Soyo-SFP4I865PE)
- MSI 655 Max-FISR Pentium 4 (Microstar/MSI-MS6730010)
- Asus A7V600 Motherboard (Asus-A7V600)
- ABIT VI7 Pentium 4 Motherboard (ABIT-VI7)
- Leadtek Winfast K8NW
- Intel D875PBZ Motherboard (Intel-BOXD875PBZLK) $275.00 (Check Prices) via Amazon Marketplace
- Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP Motherboard (GigaByte-GAK8NNXP)
- Chaintech 9PJL2
Slight Speed Differences
The PC World Test Center evaluated the motherboards by putting them into PCs that were identical except for their motherboard/CPU/RAM combinations. Each test PC had a 120GB Seagate Barracuda 7200 Serial ATA hard drive and an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card. Our analysts ran speed tests on each PC with a set of application scripts that simulate real-world use. As noted earlier, we found no significant performance differences that we could attribute to the motherboards within each category, although of course we saw varying results between the two categories owing to the classes of CPUs and the different amounts of RAM they used.
Predictably, the four relatively expensive motherboards--the ones carrying the Pentium 4 Extreme and Athlon 64 CPUs--did better on our gaming tests. In our test using Unreal Tournament 2003, frame rates for the configurations with the 64-bit AMD Athlon 64 FX-51 CPU hovered around 140, and the boards with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition posted frame rates around 130. In the less-expensive category, the two boards using the 2.8-GHz Intel CPU performed somewhat better than the two with the Athlon XP 2700+, but all four budget boards produced rates below 100 frames per second. Note, however, that we tested within the classes of motherboards and didn't test high-end CPUs in low-end motherboards (or vice versa), nor did we compare mixed classes of products. You might be able to plug a high-end CPU in one of the low-end boards and get fast performance.