Celebrities and athletes have great sway over how and what we buy. Cars that win NASCAR races peak consumer interest. Gear that we see experts and athletes use on TV generates far more interest than run-of-the-mill hardware.
So for people who want a board optimized for a badass gamer like Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, it makes sense to buy his Fatal1ty P67 Professional motherboard.
It’s a little difficult to review MSI’s new Fusion-based E350IA-E45. Normally, our motherboard reviews consider the CPU as an adjunct to the board since consumers may populate the board with one of numerous CPUs.
That’s not so with the Mini-ITX MSI E350IA-E45 which, as its name implies, incorporates AMD’s brand new 1.6GHz E-350 with AMD’s Radeon HD 6310 graphics part soldered to the board, so you better be happy with the CPU you get.
There’s good news and bad news for Intel lovers. The bad news is for folks who just bought a motherboard using the LGA1156 socket: Yup, it’s obsolete already. The good news: The LGA1155 motherboards using Intel’s performance P67 chipset are swimming with improvements such as native SATA 6Gb/s support, front-panel USB 3.0 headers, and UEFI. The biggest change, of course, is support for Intel’s new line of Sandy Bridge CPUs. These second-generation Core ix processors are not only fast, they’re cheap and overclock like hell. To find a suitable home for your new Sandy Bridge chip, we gathered up boards from old foes MSI and Asus to see whose next-gen motherboard deserves the honor.
Hit the jump for the reviews and an exclusive video look at all the boards!
If there’s one thing we know about Gigabyte, it’s that the mobo maker loves USB 3.0. We mean, it loves USB 3.0. How much? The company has been pushing USB 3.0 as its number one feature for a while now, and this tact has apparently worked. The company claims that it’s the No. 1 USB 3.0 motherboard company, whatever that means.
We love Sandy Bridge, and we even like some aspects of the P67 chipset. But, we’ll say it again: Intel’s decision to cheap-out on SATA 6Gb/s will create massive port confusion. With the Asus board, we had to RTFM to figure out which port went to which controller and at what speed. The situation is murkier with the P67A-GD65. The board features eight SATA ports and tells you which are SATA 6Gb/s. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you which controller they’re running off of.
We’ll be honest: We’ve had the most hands-on time with Asus’s new P8P67 Deluxe board of any P67-based board this cycle. That’s because Asus sent a functioning board to us far before its competitors (including Intel) did, and as such, we conducted the bulk of our Sandy Bridge chip testing with the P8P67 Deluxe board.
Usually, early boards mean soldered-on wires, unpredictable performance, and hiccups that are often a consequence of very early hardware. None of that was true of the P8P67 Deluxe board. Out of the box, it offered rock-solid stability and its performance was excellent across the board.
With both LGA1156 and AM3 scheduled for termination sooner rather than later, there’s only one safe harbor that will carry you through this year: LGA1366.
Fortunately, it’s no longer a major financial stretch to get into Intel’s enthusiast socket. Yes, you can spend a massive amount of cash on a board that you can boot using the Bluetooth on your phone, but for many DIYers, $200 is the maximum they’ll spend on a mobo. Enter Gigabyte’s GA-X58-USB3. As the name implies, it’s a USB 3.0 board using Intel’s elderly but still quite capable X58 chipset.
Ready to finally build your post-recession machine?
That’s good, because we’ve decided to round up the best and brightest motherboards available. And we’re not talking Micro ATX, sub-$100 budgetrino boards here. We reached for the most feature-filled, over-the-top X58 and 890FX boards from the top three mobo vendors.
Want to know how over the top? One board lets you remotely reboot or overclock it using your cell phone. Another features power connectors usually found only on dual-processor server motherboards. Hell, one has a heat pipe so freaking big, some editors here thought it was some sort of new PCI-E add-in card. And one board is so large, you’ll have to buy a case specifically for its generous dimensions.
So if you’re ready to build a machine that will motor you away from those recession doldrums, keep reading because the best board here will be the one you want in your AMD or Intel machine.
It’s almost impossible to drop a processor into MSI’s 890FXA-GD70 motherboard without overclocking it. The reason has nothing to do with MSI not letting you run a chip at stock speeds—it does—but the temptation to goose your processor presents itself at every turn. If you’re poking around the BIOS, you need only enable the OC Genie Light option for a free speed boost. Alternately, you can turn a knob on the motherboard to make front-side-bus adjustments on the fly. And yet a third way to overclock is to fire up the included Control Center software and start moving sliders, or press the OC Genie button and be done with it. Using the latter option, we were prompted to restart our test bed, at which point the MSI board cranked our Phenom II X4 955BE up from 3.2GHz to a stable 3.68GHz. Not bad.
Any old scrap heap will get you from point A to point B, but it’s about the ride, playa, and that’s where the Crosshair IV Formula shines. Not only does the red and black color scheme look pimp, the board backs up its ferocious style with extensive overclocking controls and enough cooling potential to blow down a brick house. How so? Asus plopped eight freakin’ PWM fan headers around the motherboard.