OCC Roundup: Motherboards of 2007hardnrg -
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Even though you're going for a budget motherboard, it doesn't mean that you have to go without the features of the higher end boards. You might not want or need a graphics card, but still want to connect to your digital TV. Maybe your home cinema system supports 7.1 digital sound and you'd like to make the most of movies without spending more money for a soundcard. How many things do you have with a USB connection? I used to think the number of LEDs in my room at night was ridiculous, but now it's the number of things that utilize USB. My printer, phone, PSP, camera, memory card reader, keyboard, mouse, MP3 player dock, external harddrive, Playstation controller converter, webcam, and flash drives are all USB. I don't want to have to buy a USB hub; my computer should have plenty as standard!
So below is a list of what I think a good budget motherboard should have. Each feature will award the motherboard a number of points. These points will be added to give the motherboard an overall feature score.
- Onboard VGA (showing it's age, but still useful), +1
- Onboard DVI (allows connection to DVI and HDMI displays), +3
- Onboard HDMI (allows connection to digital TV with audio), +5
- TV output (standard definition composite/S-Video), +2
- USB ports (you can never have too many), +1 per port
- Onboard co-axial/optical digital audio output (single cable for surround), +3
- Award BIOS with manual RAM timing control (SPD timings are usually looser than the spec), +2 for ATX, +4 mATX
Group 1: Budget / Entry Level
Ok, so now that we have compared the motherboards based on their abilities and functionality, we get a clearer picture of which is the better performer in the broader sense of the word.