Price Guides June 2005: Motherboardsby Kristopher Kubicki & Larry Barber on June 19, 2005 1:00 PM EST
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This week we have some awesome deals on AMD and Intel motherboards. It wouldn't be a Price Guide if we didn't throw in our weekly reminder to give the RealTime Price Engine a try, so stop what you're doing and test it out! Do you like product alerts, buy recommendations and trend information for CPUs, memory, motherboards and lots of other computer products? Of course you do, that's why you're reading a Price Guide! RTPE has all these neat features and many more, so give it a try and send us some feedback.
Last month during our motherboard edition of the guides, we took a look at some of the PCIe options for Socket 754 and hinted at the new motherboards on the way from Intel. The 945P and 955X motherboards successfully launched a few weeks ago and like most of Intel's motherboard launches, boards were on the shelves immediately (if not a little before) the actual launch dates. Kudos to Intel for at least temporarily giving us reason to believe that not all PC component "launches" are just product-less media events. Unfortunately, ATI's "launch" of Xpress 200 Crossfire was probably the furthest thing from a retail product launch we have seen since the GeForce 5xxx a few years ago. But we will get to that in a minute...
Dual core processors are here. AMD folk won't need a new motherboard for their X2 dual core chips, but they will need a second mortgage. Intel dual core chips are significantly cheaper, but require one of those new Intel 945P and 955X boards we just mentioned. Since a lot of people want us to mention DTCP-IP ("featured" on the new 945P and 955X motherboards), we will talk a little bit about that as well - and whether or not it should hinder your next purchase decision.
Athlon 64 Socket 939
Last month there were only 15 nForce4 products, this month there are over 40. VIA shows up in much smaller force with an additional 4 K8T890 motherboards, but whether or not they stick around in the core logic arena long enough to offer driver support for those motherboards remains something to be determined. PCIe is really the only way to go in our opinion - particularly for AMD systems. By the way, G70 shows up later this week (on retail shelves!) in PCIe form - another reason not to jump all over AGP.
First, check out the AMD nForce4 SLI motherboards available right now. Our personal favorite still remains the ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe and Premium lines, but there are some very aggressive rebates right now on the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum SLI [RTPE: MS-7100-020] which won our Editor's Choice award several months ago. There was a bit of discrepancy about overclocking on the Neo4 Platinum when using Winchester or Venice chips, but MSI engineers have assured us the latest BIOS fixes this problem.
If you already have a very nice AGP video card, then by all means spring for an nForce3 AGP motherboard on Socket 939. However, there are several things to consider first; expect to see Socket M2 DDR2 processors from AMD early next year with very little AGP support if any. Also, start to expect product launches (like G70) showing up en masse for PCIe, with AGP support just trickling in behind. We already pay a premium for AGP hardware, as is painfully apparent with the GeForce 6600 series. It isn't in the best interest of AMD, NVIDIA, Intel or ATI's to have two separate hardware specifications running around and unlike the PCI to AGP transition several years ago; AGP carries no legacy development tree. We are already starting to see technology that can only work on the PCIe bus (TurboCache) - don't expect these companies to keep up support for the PCI hack that is AGP any longer than they absolutely have to.