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OCC Roundup: Motherboards of 2007

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Group 1: Budget / Entry Level

The current price of the motherboards was found by taking the lowest price (not including rebates) when searching on Newegg, Pricewatch and Pricegrabber websites. This is combined with the "Feature Score" earlier in the review, and scaled to be within a range of 0 to 100, to give the Performance:Price ratio, or "bang for buck".

And the winners of Group 1 are...

Abit AN-M2HD
This motherboard manages to cram so many features in, it's hard to believe it all fits on a micro-ATX board! With VGA, DVI, HDMI and S/PDIF out of the box, you can connect this straight up to your flat screen TV, hook up the digital surround sound, and fit the motherboard in a sleek micro-ATX case to give you a fully featured entertainment/home cinema PC. Being able to manually set all the timings, speed and voltage values for the RAM means that you won't lose performance by the RAM being set to the SPD, which is almost always set looser than the specs for maximum compatibility.
An equally impressive range of display connectivity: VGA, DVI, TV-out (standard defintion), support for a healthy 10 USB ports, but no S/PDIF output, and no control over the RAM timings.

Group 2: Mainstream / High End

Since the performance results are so close in this group, a look towards the overclocking results on the CPU and RAM are needed to determine the boards that stand out with the most value and the most performance. Here are the current prices for the motherboards in Group 2.

And the winners of Group 2 are...

Abit IP35 Pro
Abit does it again! Although not quite as overclockable as the ASUS P5K Deluxe, the Abit IP35 Pro comes within a whisker and for almost $40 less. Top-of-the-range performance for a very modest price.
DFI Lanparty UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R
This is the most expensive motherboard, probably mostly due to its scarcity, and you will almost certainly have trouble buying one new. This board deserves a mention though, as the range of voltage options in the BIOS gives you stability that you cannot get on any other 680i board, especially with Quad Core CPUs. So for SLI with a Core2 CPU, this is the king; continuing the legend of DFI Lanparty.

It's been an interesting year for motherboards, with each chipset having certain quirks, and lots of healthy competition at all price points. I'm personally looking forward to what 2008 has in store for us with new high-performance chipsets on the maturing 775 platform. No doubt the budget sector will continue to amaze me, but I wonder what else they can cram on the board!

Look out for the next OCC roundup coming soon...

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