It pays to be an Intel fan these days. You have not only the supremely powerful Penryn CPU in your corner, but also a host of performance-oriented, feature-packed motherboards to choose from. Contributing to the bounty are two recently released enthusiast core-logic chipsets—Intel’s own X48 and Nvidia’s nForce 790i Ultra SLI—which represent the pinnacle of LGA775 computing. But which should you choose? Even two chipsets that offer similar features can differ markedly in performance. And the variations even persist within different mobos using the same chipset. That’s why we’ve called in four of the hottest Intel-based motherboards currently available, two representing X48 and two representing 790i. We’ll put these boards through their paces to determine a winner in each camp—and ultimately, the superior chipset.
The complete feature, including links to reviews, benchmarks, and more after the jump!
With home theater PCs becoming increasingly commonplace and the line between computers and fully fledged media centers continuing to blur, we can't think of a better time for AMD to bring back ATI's once popular All-In-Wonder series. Apparently AMD has seen the writing on the wall too, and today announced the AIW's return, now with HD.
It's been a long two years since the last time an All-In-Wonder videocard surfaced, and to see what enticing enchancements AMD has in store for its comeback, you'll have to click through the jump.
From the same company who brought enthusiasts sub-zero CPU temperatures through its Vapocill cooling sytem, and, more recently, was chosen by HP to handle cooling duties for the Blackbird 002, Asetek now sets its sights on the Radeon HD 4870 and becomes the first to offer a liquid cooling solution for ATI's new flagship videocard. Not settling for simply being first, Asetek looks to set the bar high by touting a GPU temperature reduction by as much as 26 degrees, while operating at a fairly quiet 30 dBA, all in a single-slot cooling package.
Maybe Intel should give up on making performance motherboards. You’d think an Intel chipset would stand the best chance in a board designed by Intel. That’s not the case. The desktop partner to Intel’s crazy-ass Skulltrail platform, the DX48BT2 board is code-named Bonetrail, and of the four boards here, it is the most disappointing.
If the EVGA nForce 790i board is a Shelby Cobra—a bristling big-block V8 with drum brakes and leaf springs—Asus’s Striker II Extreme is a high-tech, twin-turbo, all-wheel-steering Nissan Skyline GT-R R35. In other words, the Striker II Extreme is a spectacle of bells, whistles, and doohickeys. So much so that you actually won’t mind shelling out $450 for it. Read on to find what your dough'll getcha.
We weren’t impressed with Nvidia’s follow up to the popular 680i chipset. The 780i felt like a retread of the original and lacked support for Intel’s top proc: the 1,600MHz FSB Core 2 Extreme QX9770. Plus, PCI Express 2.0 was simply tacked on as an extra chip and DDR3 support was glaringly absent.
Nvidia heard our complaints and created the 790i chipset, represented here by EVGA’s Ultra SLI board. It has native PCI-E 2.0, 1,600MHz FSB support, and DDR3. This board even addresses another shortcoming of the 680i and 780i reference boards: lack of eSATA. Read on for the full review!
Gigabyte must have read our minds when we were thinking of our dream motherboard because the X48T-DQ6 has a feature we’ve been longing for: eight frigging USB ports! That’s just one of the things Gigabyte does right with this motherboard. Based on Intel’s DDR3, 1,600MHz FSB chipset, the X48T-DQ6 is a far better example of what a performance X48-based board should be than, well, Intel’s own implementation. It's fast and overclocker-friendly, with the safety net of an Intel chipset.
On the eve of the GeForce GTX 280 launch just last week, ATI unveiled a bombshell—a brand-new GPU architecture that utilized better process technology and a more power efficient design to outperform Nvidia's gargantuan new GPU. ATI eschewed the huge, hot monolithic GPU for a more compact, but modular core. With twin goals of decreased power consumption and more efficiency per die area, ATI looks poised to dethrone Nvidia, and all without building a videocard that sports an aural footprint roughly equivalent to a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
With the new RV770 GPU comes two products, the $200 Radeon 4850 and the $300 Radeon 4870. While their prices vary wildly, the videocards all use the same GPU. Click the jump to find out exactly what makes it tick.
Cnet reports that Intel's upcoming Centrino 2 processors are beginning to preview at resellers, as backordered of course. HP's 6930p Toshiba's Qosmio G55 and others are among the first laptops expected to use new Intel’s latest mobile processor. Even though Intel’s "Montevina" Centrino 2 mobile platform roll out was scaled back by Intel in May, processors are still slated for July 14th. Intel may be feeling a bit of heat from AMD’s roll out of “Puma” their next generation mobile processor for the fall 'back to school' sales.
The Centrino 2 is offering low-power processors with TDPs as low as 5W. That should offer us a nice long battery life. Better graphics processing is in the cards with the inclusion of the GM45 chipset, a much needed improvement for integrated graphics laptops with Vista. Rumor has it that these CPUs will eventually have Wi-MAX support. Some earlier leaked details have processor offerings between 2.26GHz and 3.06GHz and having up to 5 cores.
Zalman’s CNPS9700 has been the Godzilla of coolers and a Best of the Best champion for more than a year. But it’s finally facing its Megalon in Thermaltake’s DuOrb cooler. The extra-wide cooler, shaped in a 20-centimeter-wide figure eight, comes with two 8cm blue and red LED fans tucked inside two rings of copper fins.