One of the most important components of a high performance rig is a quality motherboard. ProClockers has a large library of unbiased motherboard reviews in today's top form factors from the industries top manufacturers. Whether you are looking for ATX motherboard reviews, ITX motherboard reviews, or mini-ATX motherboard reviews, we have you covered.
The first motherboard we will take a look at is the P8P67 Pro, which will be ASUS’ performance motherboard for users on a budget, or in other words a top-shelf mainstream board. In the lineup it falls just under the Deluxe but above the EVO. The P8P67 Pro holds a few similarities to the P7P55 Deluxe we reviewed here, looks is the only thing they have in common. The new board sports a new chipset for Intel's also new Sandy Bridge processor: the P67 North Bridge. So, what does that mean for the consumer? Well, the PCIe 2.0 is increased from 2.5GT/s to 5GT/s, meaning the USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s connections will not hog up a lot of bandwidth since there is more to share. That is just the tip of the iceberg though, read on to find out more as we review this brand new ASUS motherboard utilizing Intel's brand new chipset and Core i5 2500K CPU!
As great as those features may be, it is all the other things that ASUS has integrated into the new Crosshair that set the motherboard apart from the competition. First, it begins with the CrossLinx 3 which with the help of the Lucid HYDRALOGIX engine gives the end users the ability mix and match different graphic cards and allows them to run together, enhancing the gaming experience. Not only does this give nVidia fans the option of running SLi on an AMD chipset, but to have an Crossfire-SLi hybrid if you so choose.
The above is enough to have many of us begging for more money in our allowance to go out and grab this motherboard. There is still so much more to the Crosshair IV Extreme, which we will be talking about in the review, and it is only going to add to your desire to own this board.
For those who are looking to keep things truly budget oriented, ASRock is not leaving the people out in the cold. Thus enter the 870iCafe; a simple motherboard with basic features, yet still retaining great looks. The 870iCafe may be lacking some of the features that'd make it an ideal gaming or video editing platform (namely Crossfire, 7.1 surround sound and USB3 support), as it has just the bare essentials; however, this review is not about what the 870iCafe isn't offering, but what it is. So you may be left asking "What pray tell do you have to say that is positive?" Well read on and find out!
Now ASRock has for us yet another entrant into the world of high end motherboards, the 890FX Deluxe4. The Deluxe4 offers all the great offerings of it's older sibling Deluxe3, but also includes some new and nifty features. ASRock AIWI, DDR3-1866 overclock mode, ASRock APP Charger, just to name a few! Also a welcomed change is their PCB color choice, goodbye teal green and helllllooo black. However, the feature that really makes the 890FX Deluxe4 stand out is not the looks, but the fact it is one of the first series of motherboards from ASRock to have a USB 3.0 header that you can connect a front USB3 panel to, which is even included!
It is motherboards like the new ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3 that offer a lot in the form of integrated goodness. Perhaps so good that one may not even need to upgrade to a dedicated video of audio card. In regards to the components, the M4A88TD-M/USB3 is packing the AMD's new 880G and SB850 chipsets. While we may have recently reviewed motherboards that shares the 880G chipset, the difference lies in the south bridge chips, as the others use the outdated SB750. So what does that mean for us consumers? Native SATA 3 (6Gb/s) AHCI v1.2, 22 available PCIe lanes and an integrated gigabit NIC.
The M4A88TD-M/USB3 gives us most of these features. What it does lack is dual 16x PCIe slots, but then again this is an mATX motherboard, so the chances of wanting dual PCIe on a mid-range chipset is slim. Not to say this board doesn't provide, because we love the features in which the board does offer and we will talk about them in further detail as the article goes on.
In order to get all the performance out of AMD's latest Thuban core you can elect to go any number of routes, as there are several chipsets that support it. The more recent are the 870, 880 and 890 chipsets, and then still more variations within these three chipsets. Being one of the biggest of all the motherboard companies, ASUS has released many motherboards that bear these different offerings. Their new M4A890TD PRO/USB3 is the sibling to the big hit Crosshair IV. The M4A is embedded with the 890FX North Bridge and SB850 South Bridge, each of which make for AMD's top-tier chipset.
The features the new motherboard and chipset offer are what many of us as computer users are looking for, which would be dual 16x PCIe slots supporting ATI’s Crossfire, USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s. While other makers offer this combination, what set the M4A890TD ahead of the rest is the multitude of BIOS options that ASUS gives the user to achieve a stable overclock. We will talk about some of these options, as well as explore the layout of the motherboard, later in the review.
Over on my test bench today is a new budget motherboard from Jetway. Jetway has been a big player in the OEM market but are fast changing the perception that it isn't all they are. Over the past few months we have seen Jetway produce some great performance-oriented motherboards, some of which overclocked very respectably. Today’s sample is an all-around motherboard boasting AMD's 880G chipset. While it's integrated Radeon HD 4250 will not win you any performance or overclocking records, but you will gain a solid platform for a home theater PC (HTPC), or perhaps even a simple office workstation.