Lab Notes

Over time we have seen tremendous improvements in motherboard development. Comparing the stability and compatibility issues of motherboards from just 5 years ago to those of today makes you truly realize how much this industry has matured in recent history; and we see that trend continue today in this roundup.

The most important aspect of any product you put in your PC is stability. We're glad to say that all the boards reviewed here were very stable in our stress tests, even with all the memory slots populated. In the past we noticed that motherboards from big manufacturers like ASUS and Gigabyte were generally the only stable solutions while boards from smaller names suffered; we are starting to see that trend disappear. This has a lot to do with the solid engineering job manufacturers put into designing the board and also the increased quality of components used. Manufacturers are a lot more selective of the parts they will use today and their equipment has improved as well.

We also noticed that features have now become a very important part of different motherboards. In the past, as long as a motherboard had memory slots and worked it was considered to be part of the norm. Today, manufacturers try to integrate as many features as possible such as RAID controllers, on-board audio and LAN, debugging devices, as well as overclocking features. Out of the boards we tested in this roundup, almost half of them contain some sort on on-board RAID controllers and all but two boards feature on-board audio (some of them even have 6 channel audio solutions).

Almost all boards in this roundup are rich in overclocking features as well. In the past, only a handful of boards would feature adjustable FSB speeds in 1MHz increments. In this roundup, all but two boards have that feature. Moreover, all the boards offer a decent range of selectable CPU core voltages and some of them even provide I/O or even DDR voltage manipulation for more flexible overclocking.

The icing on the proverbial cake comes in the manuals. While some boards still came with a thin booklet containing a little bit of information on jumpers and connectors, a lot of the boards actually came with very detailed manuals with all the details about the board. It's not a big deal but it's nice to see that all parts of the package are improving.

KT266A vs. ALi MAGiK 1 ABIT KR7A-RAID
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  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 29, 2003 - link

    How do I get my Engine to Memory clock to run synchronous for my Epox 8kha+ board Reply
  • xrror - Saturday, August 14, 2021 - link

    This was such an exciting time in PC hardware. Intel was still trying to cram Rambus down the industry's throat - and obstinately trying to strong arm the mobo makers and force chipset makers to Rambus licensing. We still had VIA, SiS, ULi, and even nVidia in the chipset market, and with AMD's Athlon line still extraordinarily competitive and Intel in full attack they could no longer just consider AMD as a side-show - this was their leverage against Intel and they had to treat Socket A as premium platform. Reply
  • NegativeROG - Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - link

    I still have this board. AND, I invested all of a $10,000 inheritance in Rambus RDRAM. I'm smarter now (I hope). But, you are right about exciting times in the PC space. I navigated away from AMD for a bit, but came back, and will stay forever. Team RED! Reply

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