Build-a-PC ’08– Part I: The Mobo

OK, so I want to build a new computer.  Right now I’m settled on an Intel rig.  While the new AMD Phenom chipset is tempting, performance is still lagging and Intel, as of right now, still has a leg up.  When the final decision comes (likely closer towards the middle of January) things may be different, but as of now, Intel seems the way to go.

Looking at components the hardest choice, regardless of chipset, is the motherboard.  Most, or at least many, reviews focus on overclocking (something I’m not looking for as of now) and customer reviews are peppered with comments about DOA boards and duds; even on the high-end and well reviewed boards.  This review-filled quagmire makes separating the wheat from chaff rather difficult.   As of right now I’m down to three Intel based boards ranging of the high-end/mid-range market.

At the top of the heap is the ASUS Maximus Formula. Retailing for about $260 it uses the new Intel X38 North Bridge while still utilizing the “standard” DDR2 memory (rather than the assrapingly expensive DDR3). It offers two PCIe x16 slots (2.0 specification) leaving room for a SLI setup. Of the three boards it supports the most memory speeds (1200/1066/800/667).

Middle of the heap is the ASUS P5K Deluxe Wifi Edition. Retailing for around $230 ($199 at newegg.com) it runs the older P35 north bridge and supports 1066/800/667 DDR2 memory. Unlike the Maximus it has only one PCIe x16 slot (with a second running at x4) but also has 2 eSata ports for external storage and built in Wifi.

Last is the GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Rev. 2.0. Retailing for about $180 it’s features are comparable to the ASUS model above, minus the Wifi and only supporting DDR2 memory at 1066 Mhz.

All three boards support Quad-core and Core 2 Duo chips (the two ASUS boards also support the Core 2 extreme, but I’m not spending a grand+ on a CPU). Both ASUS boards have AD audio, the only thing I know about that is that it isn’t Realtek (a common standard and featured on the Gigabyte board).

Anyone out there with thoughts on matter feel free to chime in. Next time I’ll post on the CPU (right now I’m leaning towards the low-end quad core, Q6600) or maybe cases.

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