Introduction

Welcome to our latest price guide, covering all of the recent happenings in the motherboard marketplace. Many changes have occurred since the launch of AMD's AM2 platform, including the introduction of the new nForce 5xx. We expect the nForce 5xx chipsets to only be used for AM2 motherboards, but theoretically they could be used for the Socket 939 platform as well. The reverse is also true, of course, and there are already a few nForce4 AM2 boards on the market.

Now that AMD finally has a unified platform, you will be able to buy "one motherboard to rule them all." AM2 boards support everything from the lowly Sempron 64s, through the mid-range Athlon 64s, and up to the high-end dual core Athlon X2 and FX processors. We wouldn't recommend a $200+ motherboard to run a $65 Sempron in most cases, but if you are thinking about getting the platform now and upgrading CPUs once X2 prices drop, it's certainly an option.

While our initial AM2 overview article didn't show a significant increase in performance with the AM2 platform despite the increased RAM speed, it's good to see AMD now has a unified platform for all of its processors just as with the Socket A days. The biggest change for AM2 is the support of DDR2, something Intel did two years ago with the introduction of the 915 and 925X chipsets. Of course, AMD has the benefit of seeing much lower DDR2 prices than Intel saw when they transitioned, and as we'll see in this price guide, prices on the new AM2 motherboards are very competitive, so anyone looking to buy a new processor, RAM, and motherboard really shouldn't have any qualms about going with an AM2 setup rather than the older Socket 939 boards.

There are many motherboards that are covered in this price guide and we have tried to make it as readable as possible. As always, we use our Real-Time Pricing Engine for all prices. The price tables are continuously updated, so while we will be looking at a snapshot of the current market prices you may find that the article text becomes outdated; feel free to do your own research using the RTPE before making a purchase decision. Our RTPE includes pricing information on hard drives, motherboards, processors, and video cards, and we cover these sectors with our Price Guides. However, it also covers LCD monitors, sound cards, and RAM for both laptops and desktops. As always, send us your comments, suggestions and concerns either via e-mail or use the comment section below.

With the addition of a completely new platform, we've got a lot of motherboard options to cover. We will start this week's Price Guide with AMD's AM2 motherboards before working our way through the other AMD options. We will finish up with the Intel line-up, including a look at socket 775 boards and some thoughts on Core 2 Duo support.

AMD AM2
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  • Boushh - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    Asus is offering the P5WDH Deluxe (based on the 975X chipset) and the P965 based P5B and P5B Deluxe. All offering Core 2 Duo/Extreme support. One Dutch etailer is offering the P5WDH for 211 Euro (including VAT, excluding shipping), delivery in 2-3 days.

    Your text is not clear about Core 2 Duo capable boards. On the one hand you say: 'If you need a replacement motherboard, however, there's no reason to wait.'. Suggesting that Core 2 Duo boards are available, but they are not listed in the price guide !! And on the otherhand you say: 'One big question that remains: which socket 775 motherboards will officially support Core 2 Duo once it becomes available?'. Saying that you actualy don't know which boards can support the Core 2.

    It would have been nicer if you would list the boards that absolutely DO support the Core 2 (like the above mentioned Asus boards), and list the boards that MAY support the Core 2 (the list of 975X boards).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    "One Dutch retailer..."

    That's the problem: we know there are some boards that are scheduled for retail availability very shortly, including the ASUS board you mentioned, but they're really not shipping in any reasonable fashion yet. It's also a little unnerving that no motherboard manufacturers are coming out beating the drum and saying how great their motherboards are because they offer Conroe support. We may see something like the 945/955 product launch where even though it was technically possible to run dual core chips on older chipsets, the only way to officially get such support was to buy one of the new motherboards.

    Personally, there's no way I'm going to spend over $200 on an Intel motherboard right now unless I am absolutely certain it will support Core 2 Duo. The motherboard manufacturers all have test chips internally by now (and have for some time), so I'm a little curious as to why no one has been able to come forth stating which boards can support Conroe. Perhaps they are just under strict NDA from Intel and are not allowed to make such statements until the official launch has passed? If so, Intel certainly isn't doing any of the motherboard manufacturers any favors.
    Reply
  • Boushh - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    I see what you mean.

    Asus says that it supports: 'LGA775 socket for Intel Core2 Duo, Core2 Extreme and next generation Mulit-Core CPU'. But if you look at the CPU support, the list is empty. So that means that the Core 2 would fit in the socket, but without the CPU support list it's unclear if it will actualy work.

    And with the Core 2 officially still a month away, I do understand your point for not adding these boards to the list (just yet) ;-)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    They'd be added to the list if we could find them at US retailers. :) Probably another week or so.... Reply
  • Quiksel - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    quote:

    'If you need a replacement motherboard, however, there's no reason to wait.'
    This doesn't imply that C2Duo boards are out, it merely states that if you have a dead board, you probably need a replacement, hence, no reason to wait... Sure, some might not want to use their dead computer for a couple of months, but I know I would want it up and running.

    As for C2Duo support on existing mobo's goes, it is certainly fair to say that we aren't sure what will end up being supported since the procs aren't out and tested just yet. No reason not to be on the safe side, especially these guys when they are recommending products. Certainly they would not want to be on the receiving end of an angry customer finding out a board that Anandtech said would work with Conroe ends up being not compatible in the end. Let's just reserve judgment when the chips arrive, shall we?
    Reply
  • shabby - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    Why dont these charts ever appear correctly when you click on print this article? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    Probably an error in the code that generates the tables. I have passed it on to our website administrator to have him look at it. Reply

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