We’ll be the first to admit that we were unimpressed by DDR3 when we first tested it last year, but there’s finally a glimmer of hope.
What changed our minds? Asus’s spanking-fast P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP@n mobo, which uses the enthusiast-oriented X38 chipset. The X38’s main highlights are apparently useful DDR3 support and PCI Express 2.0 support. We say “apparently” in reference to DDR3 because we didn’t have a DDR2 version of the board for a direct comparison, but from our tests, the X38 with DDR3 is a winning combination. Also good to have but not a proven performance boost yet is PCI-E 2.0, which doubles the bandwidth of PCI-E 1.0 from 8GB/s to 16GB/s. But does PCI-E 2.0 matter?
Gigabyte cranks up the specsmanship for its GA-N680SLI-DQ6, which offers no fewer than 10 SATA ports and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Yep. Four. What you’d ever need four Ethernet ports for, we don’t know.
We loved MSI’s last nForce4 board so much that we gave it a Kick Ass award and even bumped the Asus A8N32-SLI board from our Best Of The Best list. Unfortunately, MSI was so late to the nForce4 SLI x16 party that the board debuted right on the cusp of the AM2 launch; thus its lifespan was brief, and product was impossible to find.
Oh, how the world turns. Last month you marched past the Intel 975X chipset motherboards holding your nose, but with the release of the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme CPUs you’ve made a U-turn to give this chipset a second look.
Asus’ modus operandi of late has been to rush out new board designs so far ahead of its competitors that the other guys just seem to give up. Witness the company’s A8N32-SLI Deluxe board. In the dual-x16 nForce category, it was the only game in town for months on end.