As all experienced PC builders know, itâ€™s never easy to choose the components for a new computer. Hopefully this group test should help you make your motherboard decision a bit easier.
We have chosen the award winners accordingly to their performance, features and to some degree cost. Below are the winners in each category as well as a few words explaining why they impressed us so much.
AMD Athlon boards
Even though this was the most expensive board on test, we feel that the DFI Lanparty NFII Ultra offer loads of useful features for a small extra outlay. The performance is also very impressive although it was not the fastest board on test. If youâ€™re after something different, which is rare among motherboards, then this is a real treat. With the Lanparty boards DFI has managed to produce a new exciting range of motherboards that it is hard to ignore. And if youâ€™re like the idea of carrying your PC around to a gathering of likeminded individuals, DFI even supplies a carrying harness in the box.
DFI Lanparty NFII Ultra
Our first recommended award goes to EPoX and the 8RDA3G.
Its performance is second to none in Sysmark 2002 which is an amazing feat in itself. It also comes at an amazing price being the only nForce2 board under Â£75.
You might not get all the bells and whistles but that canâ€™t be expected at this price. If a fast, affordable motherboard is what youâ€™re after, you canâ€™t go wrong with the EPoX 8RDA3G.
The next award goes to Leadtek and the K7NCR18D Pro II Deluxe Limited. This board offers some unique features and excellent performance. It is quite expensive, but definitely worth the money. However, if you want one of these boards you better rush out and get one as it is a Limited Edition and wonâ€™t be around forever.
Leadtek KtNCR18D Pro II Deluxe Limited
Intel Pentium 4 boards
A bit unexpectedly, MSI and the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R takes home the Editorâ€™s Choice.
A combination of excellent performance, great features and an affordable price makes this a superb platform for anyone building a Pentium 4 system. It really shows that MSI is serious about becoming a major player in the performance consumer market and we canâ€™t wait to see what MSI comes up with next.
MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R
Weâ€™re short of words when it comes to describing the Chaintech Zenith 9CJS, but in short wow will do. This is the mother of all motherboards and if money was no object weâ€™re sure we would see this board popping up in every new PC.
But thatâ€™s its only downfall, as it is terribly expensive, but with a product such as this thatâ€™s to be expected. Plus weâ€™ve been told that there will be more exciting products with even more features in the near future from Chaintech.
Chaintech Zenith 9CJS
The final award goes to EPoX and the 4PDA2+ which offers a good set of features at an amazing price. This is without a doubt the best Pentium 4 motherboard you can get for under Â£100. It might no be as exciting or fast as the MSI or Chaintech boards, but even so, this is a great motherboard
All the motherboards where tested using 512MB of PC3200 DDR memory, 60GB UDMA-133 hard drives and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics cards with 64MB of memory.
We benchmarked all the boards with Bapco Sysmark 2002, Futuremarkâ€™s 3DMark 2001, Futuremarkâ€™s PCMark 2002 and Sisoft Sandra 2003.
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying us with the equipment that made this group test possible.
Intel â€“ CPUs and Motherboard Testing Rig
Akasa â€“ CPU Coolers
AMD â€“ Athlon Processors
Connect3D â€“ Graphics Cards
Corsair â€“ Memory Modules
Crucial â€“ Memory Modules
Evesham.com â€“ Power Suplies
Seagate â€“ Hard Disks