The most exciting news in motherboards would be the introduction of 800MHz solutions from Intel and SIS. The Intel 875P chipset grabbed the majority of the spotlight over the last couple weeks, but that doesn’t mean they are the only solutions available. If you want a good example of what i875P is capable of, check out our MSI Neo2 review from last week. Keep in mind, however, that the i875P is just one of three solutions for 800MHz FSB.

Abit’s BH7 was one of the first 800MHz 845PE boards available; and we also took a look at that motherboard a few weeks ago Since we were very impressed with the 800MHz FSB Intel CPUs, the 845PE boards are good choices if you are on a budget crunch. Don’t forget that SIS also has a revision of 648 that is capable of 800MHz, although currently only Gigabyte has a motherboard available. The upcoming 648FX and 655FX chipset are something completely different that we will see more of in upcoming weeks.

While we liked i845PE, the chipset that has everyone buzzing is i865. This chipset is available now and has been for several weeks. However, AnandTech and most other review sites were under NDA which prohibited us from discussing any details about it. The i865PE will eventually phase out the i845PE, which has been a great chipset for the last several months. Our highest recommendation for motherboards this week would be the Albatron Px865PE Pro II, which we reviewed just recently.

So what about SIS 655 and Intel E7205 (Granite Bay) motherboards? Well, they are nice, but you probably do not want to buy one any time soon. E7205 really does not offer any performance advantages over i875 or i865, but is still priced in the $175 to $200 range anyway. SIS 655 boards came down considerable in price to hit the sub $150 market, but an 800MHz revision is necessary to keep competitive with Intel’s offerings.

NVIDIA and VIA have not been idle either. The somewhat moot release of 400MHz FSB sparked “new” chipsets in the form of KT600 and nForce2 Ultra 400. As most people know, nForce2 Ultra 400 is no different than the existing nForce2 available back in December (with the exception of a few optimizations).Forums users have been reporting 400MHz (and higher) overclocking on the ASUS A7N8X Deluxe for months. To call the nForce2 Ultra 400 a “new” chipset might be giving it a little more credit than it deserves.

KT600, on the other hand, seems a little more innovative, but certainly not extraordinary. The resemblance between KT400A and KT600 is very clear, but KT600 will actually be adopted by more than one motherboard manufacturer. As you can see from our price engine, KT400A is only represented by the DFI LanParty motherboard. KT600 should perform better than nForce2, but the question that has to be asked is how much more will consumers pay for a single memory channel solution that will be phased out in 5 months?

Even though we usually have the inside scoop on these things, we have to question the usefulness of 400MHz FSB motherboards. How many 400MHz CPUs does AMD plan on releasing in the next 5 months (before Athlon64 debuts)? Even if they do release more processors based on 400MHz FSB, does it really make sense to buy a whole new board and processor that AMD has announced they will discontinue in September? It seems like the decisions AMD is making will only hurt them in the long run. Development and marketing for all these revisions costs time and money. Kudos to NVIDIA for the foresight to integrate 400MHz in the original nForce2 design in order to avoid pumping out another motherboard chipset with a 6 month shelf life.

As long as we are talking about NVIDIA’s motherboard chipset again, let us touch base on what other things they are working on. The nForce3 chipset was just released for Opteron based systems, but motherboards have not really hit the mainstream market yet. NVIDIA also mentioned to us that they were working on a single memory channel revision of the nForce2 in order grab the low end AMD market from VIA and SIS. With nForce2 motherboard prices as low as they are, we recommend grabbing a lower priced nForce2 board for under $90 rather than a crippled product that will cost about the same anyway.

CPUs Memory
Comments Locked


View All Comments

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now