Introduction

Welcome back to another edition of the Price Guides. For those of you who need some advice on new motherboards, we have a complete look at today’s market segment along with our recommended picks. As another reminder, the RealTime Price Guides will be leaving the beta testing phase, and moving into production real soon! Please send us your comments and suggestions on how we can improve our engine. Of course, you can always view the existing release of the engine here.

We have been real busy over the last few weeks improving the engine for final deployment. Since our last motherboard update, we have added logical “NOT” searches, an improved developer RSS feed and tons of new products. Currently, our developers are working on tweaking the system to differentiate between retail and OEM products.

Over the last few weeks, we found a couple of bugs in the RSS feed, but those should all be fixed by now (apparently, RSS has strict interpretations on ampersands). For those interested, the official QuickSearch RSS feed forum thread is here.

nForce4 (AMD) motherboards are starting to show some actual maturity with decent driver and BIOS releases, and PCIe video cards are starting to really show headway against their AGP counterparts. Finally, we also have some PCIe options for Socket 754. Intel motherboards are about to undergo another revision in the next couple of weeks, and Anand had a small preview of 955X during the Dual Core Intel launch last week. Even though the 945/955 Intel northbridge revisions are just revisions on the existing 915/925 platform, the existing platform will not support dual core processors; so if dual core chips are important to you, don’t get stuck with an old motherboard.

Athlon 64 PCIe
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  • Ivo - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    The nForce4 chipset offers performance and features, which are very interesting for the gamer's community. At the same time, the nF4 is hot and noisy and, therefore, not appropriate for users who like the 'cool and quiet' option of AMD-based computers. For that folk the VIA and ATI solutions are better even now, when they are suffering from partly outdated southbridges. For me, right now, the 'Albatron K8X890 ProII' is the best home/office-intended A64 mainboard.
    Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Thursday, April 14, 2005 - link

    That's not an nForce limitation, it's the memory controller.

    Most boards however will work at DDR400 but with a 2T command rate.


    Again:
    One minor correction: "Abit nForce4 Ultra (939) AN8"; the AN8 is an nForce4 non-Ultra board. The only ABIT nForce4 Ultra is the Fatal1ty, so far (they may release an AN8 Ultra).
    Reply
  • essjae - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    What about teh nforce memory limitation? If you have 4 double-sided DIMMs, the speed drops from 400 to 333.

    How many single-sided 512MB and 1024MB DIMMs are really out there?

    That was the deciding factor for me to go with VIA and not nForce, I have 4 512MB TwinX DIMMs that I wanted to use.
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    LoneWolf15: From what was conveyed to me from the other writers at AT, the nForce4 Intel solution was definitely not ready. There is an analysis scheduled in the near future.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    Taken from the article:

    "Let's also not forget ATI's upcoming Intel SLI motherboard nor NVIDIA's (in)famous nForce4 Intel Edition. We will have some words on Intel nForce4 boards in the very near future, but from some of our preliminary trials, it seems that NVIDIA has a "nowhere near shipping" chipset. If we follow the evolutionary chain of paper launches over the last few years, maybe by this time next year, we will be introducing products shipping in 2007."

    Unless I'm very much mistaken, HardOCP just did a preview on an NForce 4 Intel board. To be sure it's an nVidia reference board, but they had no stability issues and this would indicate to me that an NForce4 Intel solution is far closer to production than you suggest.

    I agree, paper launching is a lousy thing, and we should hold manufacturers and vendors responsible for it; however I would guess we'll see these boards in the next six months, unless mainboard manufacturers are telling you something I don't know (which is of course possible).
    Reply
  • EODetroit - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    At work I custom order and build all of my company's computers, probably building about 30 of them per year. I'm lucky that my company lets be do it all myself instead of just ordering Dell's, since I rather enjoy it. And I think you're wrong that PCIe video cards are less expensive than AGP.

    Just go to Newegg and check AGP video card prices, discounting the obscure bargain brands since we want good 2D for business use, and no one knows what the $15 video card will be like:

    The cheapest Radeon in AGP is $29.99 (Sapphire Radeon 7000), the cheapest GeForce is $33.99 (AOpen GeForce MX4000).

    Now lets do the same thing for PCI Express:

    The cheapest Radeon in PCIe is $64.00 (Sapphire Radeon X300 SE), and the cheapest GeForce is $61.50 (XFX GeForce 6200 w/TC).

    All prices include shipping to the US.

    As you can see, if 3D isn't a concern (like it isn't for me since I build computers for people to work on, not play games on, so I actually like to buy video cards with shitty 3D capabilities), and all you want is good 2D performance, you save $30 just from sticking with AGP over PCIe. And a Radeon 7000 is just as good at 2D as anything else sold in the past five years (or better).

    If you want to talk about what's cheapest, PCIe not only isn't cheaper, its actually twice as expensive. I don't know how you can claim otherwise, since its impossible to find a PCIe video card of any variety at all at less than $55.
    Reply
  • NordicNINE - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    The MSI RS480 is a nice board. Esp for the price.
    No overclocking features that I could find, but still a fast, cheap, stable board with good onboard video. Also, it's not a Radeon 9600 onboard. It's actually a X300. I'm surrpised the MSI board has no overclocking since all the ATI "Bullhead" sample boards had lots of overclocking. Also the onboard is pretty usable. World of Warcraft ran at 1280x104 with some of the features turned down fine.
    Reply
  • paulsiu - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    While PCIe is technically better than AGP, most people don't see the technical differences. In addition, other than video card and may be some drive cards, there are virtually no PCIe card. PCIe video cards are no faster than AGP cards, so there is little or no compelling reason to upgrade except may be for SLI.

    In general, I find it strange that a lot of the manufacturers have push hard for PCIe. My only guess is that it is cheaper to make a PCIe card than AGP. Both ATI and Nvidia have release PCIe only version, gotten lukewarm responses and had to create AGP versions.

    I am also somewhat disappointed that VIA will not do a dual AGP and PCIe for the AMD. Even though PT880 Pro has been release, I haven't seen a single board that uses it.
    Reply
  • yde - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    #13, I think the core & memory speeds are slightly lower according to nvidia specs. I don't think there is a huge difference - other than price - when the cards are set to identical speeds.
    What's more, card builders offer different timings for their models, so you cannot easily compare performance.
    Could this be seen as a hidden push for buyers to choose PCIe?
    Reply
  • arfan - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    Is it true that AGP much slower benchmark than PCI in the same chipset (example 6600GT AGP vs 6600GT PCI) ? Reply

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