Here we go again! It's time for our second look at what's going into the Maximum PC Dream Machine 2008! If you're just joining us, here's the skinny: once a year, the Maximum PC staff descends to its underground lair. After a number of bizarre and dark technological rituals (we sacrifice an iMac), the team emerges with a gift blessed by the Gods of Technology themselves: the Dream Machine. It is, hands-down, the single-greatest computer you could ever hope to assemble based on the year's best (and sometimes unreleased) products!
This is an epic three-part series, and you're on step number two. If you want to start from the beginning, check out our unveiling of the rig's keyboard, mouse, display and hard drive(s). If you're ready for more Dream Machine action, we're taking a look at the system's CPU(s), motherboard, optical drive, and memory this time around.
Grab a cold beverage and prepare to feast your eyes on splendor by clicking that little "Read More" link.
If you want AMD performance without the cost, MSI’s K9A2 Platinum might be the ticket. It’s a bare-bones yet performance-oriented board for Phenom procs that boasts no fewer than four x16 physical PCI-E 2.0 slots, as well as support for eSATA and SAS drives and loads more features than you'd expect from a board of this price.
Out of sight and out of mind usually means no one even knows–or cares–that you're alive. That’s the problem AMD’s chipset division has faced lately.
With Nvidia still ruling the roost in Phenom and Athlon 64 chipsets, AMD’s chipset division doesn’t get much press for its new chipsets. Here’s a news flash though, some pretty compelling motherboards are using the new 790FX chipset.
Asus's M3A32-MVP Deluxe is one of them. One of the first boards to support AMD’s Phenom, the M3A32-MVP is pretty much the reference board as far as Phenoms go.
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!
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.
In the November 2007 issue, we took an in-depth look at RAID—short for Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks—and broke down the pros, cons, and most importantly, speeds of the various RAID permutations you would find on a typical multidrive setup. Here we’ll examine the medium itself: the RAID controller, which tells the drives in a RAID setup how to interact. As you’ll see, there are RAID controllers of differing types, technologies, and price points, and we want to learn whether these variations translate into performance differences. After all, even the fastest RAID configuration ultimately depends on the performance capabilities of its physical host.
MSI’s new motherboard doesn’t have a mere heat pipe to wick heat from the chipset and voltage-regulator modules. It has a full-on loop de loop heat ride through the amusement park known as the P35 Platinum. Why include the crazy Circu-Pipe? We don’t really know, but it sure does look cool.