Jun 25, 2007
What does one look for when purchasing a motherboard?

There are so many different chip sets and it means nothing to me. I can find two boards $100 difference with the same "basic stuff" (ie. same socket, DDR 800, SATA, etc.)

Why would someone want to spend extra?
Some motherboards will let you use two video cards (Crossfire, SLI) instead of one, some will let you use 3 PCI cards (instead of 2), some will let you use 8 SATA devices instead of 4, some are supposed to last longer, consume less, generate less heat, support FireWire, wireless, integrated graphics, etc. There are lots of things to look at. And yes, some overclock better than others. Some even have special tools for easier overclocking (LCD panels inside, for crying out loud, like the Striker Extreme for example).

Are you just curious, in general, or are you planning to buy a motherboard soon?


Dec 29, 2005
Generally speaking, a newer chipset will offer features not present on a previous chipset and will potentially support newer processors. A good example of this is Intel's new X38 chipset...

The new chipset supports up to 8 GB DDR3 (1333) memory, FSB800, 1066 and 1333, as well as dual PCIe 2.0. The updated MCH also integrates support for Intel’s upcoming 45 nm Penryn processors.
Lots and lots of factors when comparing chipsets too. The most important IMO is the way they handle GPUs.

If you want to use two nVidia video cards the best chipset is 680i (because it allows both cards to work at max speed and it even adds LinkBoost for another few percentages of speed).

If you want two ATI cards the best would be X38, again because it gives both cards the max bandwidth.

If you only want one video card, of either type, then P35, 680i or X38 are all fine. P35 is the cheapest (usually) and it's more mature than X38, so I guess it will still be very popular in the near future.

When it comes to future-proofing, some 680i motherboard will need BIOS updates to support Penryn. Theoretically, P35 and X38 won't need that, but we'll see...