It's a very easy job to criticize, since anyone can have an opinion, making it vocal is expressing criticism and doing that is one of the simplest things a reviewer can do. Although that helps you, the consumer, with your buying decision, it doesn't have nearly as dramatic of an affect on shaping the industry as a whole. So instead of addressing the problems with the current generation of motherboards, in this article, we're going to be taking a look at what goes into making a good motherboard. We'll preview six of the upcoming next generation motherboard platforms and discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully give you a better idea of what to look for in a next generation motherboard, a purchase that is right around the corner for many.

We've picked three motherboards based around the recently announced i820 chipset and three motherboards that support the incredibly popular Athlon processor to aid us in our quest for perfection with motherboards.

Before diving into the boards we need to make clear that not a single one of these boards is ready for introduction into the mass market. They are all pre-release samples and can't be judged in terms of performance and stability. What we can do is mention the fact that performance trends generally don't vary too much from motherboard to motherboard as long as they are using the same chipset. Stability depends more upon the motherboard in particular and it also doesn't vary too greatly from motherboard to motherboard, so long as the same manufacturer makes them.

Since we received these samples, two of them have been released to the public and they are available for sale (the FIC SD11 and Gigabyte GA-7IX which are, coincidentally, both Athlon motherboards). However, the purpose of this article isn't to compare the boards and provide a clear winner, but, rather, to set a standard that you, as a consumer, can expect to see from motherboard manufacturers when you do decide to pick up one of these motherboards for your next system.

This first part will concentrate on what we like to call "The Athlon Craze" and will address the three Athlon boards, the second part will follow shortly and will focus on the i820 based motherboards.  

The Athlon Craze

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