Price Guides, September 2005: Motherboardsby Anand Lal Shimpi & Howard Johnston on September 16, 2005 12:00 AM EST
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More AMD Motherboards
Over the past few months we've seen a flood of Socket 939 motherboards and CPUs come to the market. Prices of these parts have dropped close to their Socket 754 counterparts now. For mid to high range systems, we strongly recommend purchasing the Socket 939 combo. The only reasong to go with Socket 754 is for Sempron based budget systems, and the price difference is only about $50 at most.
For those looking to breathe new life into their Socket 754 rig, you can look at the MSI K8N Neo3-F [RTPE: MS-7135-010]. It features both AGP and PCIe slots, giving you the option to migrate to new components when they come out. Note that you must use an MSI-approved video card like the GeForce4 Ti4400 in its AGP slot. The AGP-like slot is actually called "AGR" (Advanced Graphics Riser) by MSI, and it runs off a tweaked PCI bus. Performance with high-end cards like a 6800GT will suffer, so unless we start to see ULi M1695 for socket 754, AGP owners are in a difficult situation as far as upgrades go.
Those looking for better overclocking options - maybe take one of the 90nm Sempron-64 parts and shoot for 2.50+ GHz - would be better off with either the DFI Infinity 754 or the ASUS K8N4-E Deluxe. EPoX 8NPAJ is another option.
If NVIDIA isn't your brand, there are other PCIe players in the market now. MSI will once again be our pick in a category this week for the ATI RS480 based Xpress 200 RS480M-IL [RTPE: MS-7145-020]. This board offers a lot of features like SATA RAID and IEEE 1394 for under $80.
Lastly, we have the nForce3 based 754 boards. If you already have a socket 754 system, there's not much reason to buy a different AGP-only motherboard, short of your current motherboard failing. The $90 DFI LanParty UT remains the best socket 754 AGP overclocking platform that we've seen, and it even supports the 90nm Sempron and Turion chips with an updated BIOS. It's still difficult to recommend, as it's a dead end purchase. EPoX, Biostar, ASUS, and Abit all make lower-cost nForce3 boards, so if you're looking for a simple replacement they may be the better choice.