Top motherboard companies guide

Author
Guest
Posted
February 27, 2002
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318091
This article gives a non-bias view of all top motherboard manufacturers. Use this as a guide to buying your next motherboard.
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Page 1
<b>Introduction</b>

This little large comparison is meant to help some people that just don't know what to get. There are many people tired of reading countless reviews that conflict each other, and make a mess of things when it comes down to buying their new board. All information in this article is my opinion, and may not always be exact. The statements are trends of manufacturers, and may or may not reflect on any individual board they make, as many companies tend to score big once and a while. It is also quite possible while a review makes it look like an amazing board to buy, in the future this will go bad, which is something that I tried to show here. The information was taken from pentium and socket 7 boards on up till present, with more weight being carried for newer boards, but penalties given for bad boards in the past. If a rating doesn't correspond to what's said, its probably because I forgot to say why.



Obviously everyone has different tastes for boards, so I rated each topic individually, you can always decide what you want the most. I tried to turn my hatred for certain manufacturers away, and they did get a fair rating, On the other hand, I tried to be fair to my favorite companies and not give them perfect scores. I certainly surprised myself how some companies ended up, with ratings very close to the top when I myself consider then to be good, but not that great, but on reflection, realized how good they really were. I may or may not have missed some great boards under the memorable boards area, and if you think I missed one, give me shout in the forums.



While almost all the major manufacturers are featured here, there are about a dozen others that are not. These companies tend not to give out boards for reviews, and when they rarely do, its never great. I suspect that they pretty much make poor products, and should be avoided all the time.



Also note that just because one brand does not get a good rating, it doesn't mean they are essentially bad. Read the ending of the review for my overall opinion, even scores less than average I would recommend in some cases, as most of the time stability is the most important factor. The highest rating is only a 8.5,

Page 2


<b>How They Are Compared</b>:



<b>Performance</b>:

This is the performance of the board, and chips compared to others of its own kind. The performance is based on benchmarks from around the web, and how they average according to what I've seen. Most boards benchmark within 5% of each other now, which can be the gain of a whole chipset. Its one of the hardest categories to judge, as very few companies are consistent.



<b>Stability</b>:

The stability is based on what some reviews have commented on, but mostly from user feedback in various forums. As of late, most boards are quite stable, but a few years ago, stability was a vital stat, with numbers of crashes per day, and it was not rare to see double digits in a review. It is still an important stat, but as software and hardware have matured, its harder to judge.


<b>
Overclocking:
</b>
This is rated on how many overclocking bios options are usually included in the boards. It is also rated on the more important factor, how can it overclocks. Bonus points are always awarded to companies that are innovative in the field.


<b>
Price:
</b>
The price compared to other boards is measured. Of course, options like onboard ethernet, RAID, and sound are accounted for, while brand name is not. Some of the marks are not based on pure price, but more on my opinion if the board is worth it.


<b>
Features:
</b>
This is whether or not a manufacturer puts additional options on the board like RAID, sound, NIC, etc. Bonus points go for manufacturers that offer additional models, or gives you the option to add them on or not.


<b>
History:
</b>
This takes into account the past performance of their products. If a manufacturer's boards randomly die on you after a couple years, or they just tend to have a lot of problems with them, it should be listed here.


<b>
Support
</b>
The web page and personal support are judged here. 5 points go to each. If drivers, bios, and other info is available on the web pages, and if personal response to emails is given are the deciding factors.


<b>
Products worth mentioning:
</b>
Listed here are the outstanding, or very bad products made. Outstanding products are ones that are the top of its class by a large margin, and ones that the buyers and say how much they love. Usually these are the boards you still here about over a year after they are sold. Most of the time this correlates to their brand name, if you've heard of them they'll probably have some points here.

Page 3


Asus


<b>
About:
</b>
Asus is probably the best know motherboard manufacturer around. They have a history of reliability, stability and performance all in one. They've been making boards for quite a long time, and are one of the few survivors from the socket 7 days. Asus has a large product line up, and tend to produce boards for most chips, but they do avoid anything that could be troublesome, as they seem to value their reputation. They are a large company, making video cards, cd drives, and even notebooks, there is little they don't make.


<b>
Website:
</b>
http://www.asus.com/index.asp

http://usa.asus.com/index.asp



<b>Performance:</b>

Asus boards tend to perform among the top few boards released for any particular chipset. They are not always the #1 guys, but they are usually quite close. This generally signifies, to me, that the board was made right, and not just copied of the reference designs.

Rating: 9/10


<b>
Stability:
</b>
You are hard pressed to find a board that is more stable then Asus, they simply do it right. Occasionally a board is designed which is more stable than Asus, but I have never seen one that doesn't sacrifice a massive amount of performance to gain that stability edge (FIC AD11 is an example). They undoubtedly have the best stability / performance of any board there is.

Rating: 10/10


<b>
Overclocking:
</b>
Over the last few years, Asus has went from a moderate overclocking board, to one of the best. It isn't abnormal to see them in the top 2 or 3 for overclocking, Abit and Epox generally pull ahead of them in this department. These boards tend not to be designed to overclock, but they do offer complete voltage controls, and adjustments for multipliers, etc. Rarely does Asus take the initiative to add more overclocking potential to their boards.

Rating: 8/10


<b>
Price:
</b>
If Asus had any bad points, this is it. I don't think they are any board manufacturers that are as costly as Asus. The closest competitor would be Abit, they are often a little cheaper though. I firmly believe in "You get what you pay for" and with Asus, it is true. They make fast, stable, reliable boards there are few companies that match them, and its generally worth the no hassle installation and issues for a few extra dollars. Its hard to put a price tag on their boards, since few have all the options on them that Asus carries.

Rating: 5/10


<b>
Features:
</b>
Asus boards are often feature rich. Boards always come with Asus's software package for temperature monitoring, and internet updates for bios flashing. Many also come with a software package for anti-virus, but it really depends on the model. RAID is becoming a standard on Asus boards, as well as a good quality on board sound system. A network card is considered optional, something which hopefully will change in future boards. Unfortunately they don't always include the most USB headers, or the best RAID chips possible.

Rating: 9/10


<b>
History:
</b>
Of all the Asus boards sold, there really isn't anything bad outstanding about any of them. Most of the boards don't die prematurely. Rarely do their boards have any outstanding issues either. Since the presocket7 days, Asus has made their boards quite similar to the way they do now, if history tells you much about a company, you can pretty much trust these boards without reading a online review.

Rating: 10/10


<b>
Support:</b>

Their website has a lot of support information. From driver updates, to bios downloads. You can even grab beta bioses, which is a huge plus. There are many boards sold and they have a huge user base for support as well. E-mail support I've always heard mixed reviews, many claim there is no response, but the only time I needed it, it was great.

Rating: 8/10


<b>
Products worth mentioning</b>

Asus has made many outstanding products in the past few years. From the widely used and loved P5A for the socket 7s, to the TUSL2-C and the newer A7V 266-E. There are many boards that people remember from Asus, and its difficult to list them all.

Rating: 9/10



Overall Rating: 8.5/10 If you want a good board, its a guarantee. You will get solid performance, and low hassles, although you may end up paying a little more.

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Page 4

Shuttle


<b>
About:
</b>
Shuttle has been making boards for quite some time. They survived the motherboard drop out since the super 7 days, and have risen to be one of the top producing companies in their market. They tend to limit their board choices to just a few chipsets, and are willing to take chances to capture new parts of the market. Their popularity is rising.


<b>
Website:
</b>
http://www.shuttleonline.com/

http://spacewalker.com/



Performance:

Shuttle boards are rarely performers, usually they fall into the middle of bunch. Their boards often follow the reference designs. The constantly poor performance these boards obtain shows little for the thought and design that go into their products.

Rating: 5/10


<b>
Stability:
</b>
These boards are often stable, but nothing that is impressive. In fact, they have released some boards which were extremely unstable, so bad that VIA had to correct the board design for them. I don't think that Shuttle's design team is quite capable yet. Overall, they usually produce a decently stable product, even if you have to comprise their features to gain stability.

Rating: 6/10


<b>
Overclocking:
</b>
This is something that shuttle just doesn't do well. They are not the worst, but they often lack good FSB controls, and voltage modifications. In addition to that, their FSB just does not raise that high. They have never, to my knowledge, done anything original further this area of their boards. But at least they still give for some extra performance

Rating: 6/10


<b>
Price:
</b>
This is Shuttle's main strength. They generally offer a basic board for a dirt cheap price. They have been running this way for years, and it hasn't let them down. Now that they are becoming a better known company, they may or may not keep this strategy. They are not always the cheapest, but you generally don't want to buy the cheapest boards.

Price: 9/10


<b>
Features:
</b>
Along with performance, this is where shuttle really fails. They just are not innovative. They follow reference designs, and keep the basic on board sound. Their latest board is offering RAID along with decent onboard sound, which is a true rarity from them. Unfortunately, the board is far from stable, with 3 DIMMs, and very unstable with all 4 filled. I'll say it again, Shuttle engineers just aren't capable.

Rating: 2/10


<b>
History:
</b>
Shuttle's history surprisingly, is not all that bad. They have usually stuck with boards that are plain and cause few problems. There are exceptions like their AK31 rev1 which required the VIA redesign, and AK35GTR which is brand new, and looks awful. Their P4 boards seem decent, and don't cause too many issues. Their earlier socket 7 boards were always reliable. They are a mixed bag, but are much better than some companies.

Rating: 6.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Their web support is great, drivers, bios, etc. They also provide a forum on their website for information. I have never heard anything awful about their e-mail support, but nothing amazingly good, except to say that they will answer it.

Rating: 8/10



Products worth mentioning

AK31 rev2 was not a bad board, it was cheap, and that's it. It wasn't even fully designed by them, but I'll give them some credit for making up a horrible name. The SV24 is a ultra small computer, its not the most incredible product out there, but it is very interesting, and with some small modifications, could be almost as good as a full desktop computer. It's truly innovative

Rating: 4/10



Overall Rating: 5.9/10 Shuttle's boards are hit and miss, sometimes they are a disaster, sometimes they shine. If the boards have what you want on them, then you might want to take a chance and get one.

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Page 5

Epox


<b>
About:
</b>
Epox is a bit of a new comer to the game. They haven't been around too long, but they have made a name for themselves. Their reputation started in Europe as a solid, well built board that can overclock, and they have just poured it on from there. They now hold many awards and recognition through out the tech world compared to the little they had just a couple years ago. Many resellers are still in the dark about them, especially smaller shops. Still being a somewhat small company, they don't manufacturer boards for every chipset, in every configuration, so you have to take what you get. (Epox just informed me that they do have offices in the US, despite what I was told from them before)


<b>
Website:
</b>
http://www.epox.com/html/english/default.htm



Performance:

Epox boards are not performance kings. They will make a decent showing, and benchmark anywhere from the middle to the top few of the pack. Normally this would be a sign of just a decent manufacturer, but they design their boards differently than most, and as you'll see, it works.

Rating: 6.5/10



Stability

Epox has been making their name, on part, by the stability of their boards. Its quite rare to find a manufacturer that is so young to get something like this right. From VIA, to AMD, their boards are like a rock. Some of their first boards were not so stable, but they were still well above average.

Rating: 9/10



Overclocking

In my mind, Abit has always been the best at overclocking, but recently Epox has taken the crown. They have made boards which have gone in excess of 200 MHz FSB (8kha+), and people are still increasing the speeds with new bios updates. Even their old boards were wonderful overclockers, and most people will not give up their 8k7a boards.

Rating: 10/10


<b>
Price:
</b>
Surprisingly they are not the most expensive boards out there. Epox boards tend to be reasonably priced, but unlike other cheaper boards, theirs are actually worth buying. For the quality of the board you get, its well worth it.

Rating: 8.5/10


<b>
Features:
</b>
Epox doesn't have a huge line of boards, but they do tend to offer a feature packed version, and a plain version. They ship boards out with some decent software, and more extra hardware than I'm used to. Their boards also include a 2 digit display for error codes on their boards, to help eliminate and installation problems, which is a nice feature nobody else seems to have.

Rating: 8/10


<b>
History:
</b>
They aren't any boards out there that have died for no known reasons, or major problems with the board design. The only problems I've heard of epox having was on the initial release of the 8kha+, they released a large number of bad boards (2/3 RMA rate apparently). This was a major screw up, and made me lose a lot of confidence in the company, hopefully it never happens again.

Rating: 7.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Epox support is simply incredible. E-mails are answered within the hour, and they have a number of bios updates for you. Drivers are also available from their site.

Rating: 10/10



Products worth mentioning

The 8kha+ and 8k7a/8k7a+ are all amazing boards. Anyone that owns one would not trade it for another, and its very rare for any company to get such great boards out in a row. Even the few people in North America that own early Epox boards will remember them for quite a while.

Rating: 8/10



Overall Rating: 8.4/10 Epox makes a solid board, you can't go wrong with them. They push onto new grounds often, and you may get a board you'll never want to get rid of.

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Page 6

Intel



About

We all know Intel. I guess they figure if they can make money off CPUs, then they can do it for chipsets, and if chipsets, why not motherboards too. They have, and will be able to outlast most companies, as they never run low on supplies of their chips (which often happens to other companies they don't like). Their boards are designed for people that want the Intel name, and insurance that it will run properly, with no tweaking, or issues.



website

http://intel.com/products/server/motherbd/index.htm?iid=ipp_home+server_motherbds&



Performance:

Intel boards usually perform decently, but they are never the best, nor the worst. On average, they are probably just a bit above the halfway mark. They have absolutely no motivation to make a fast board, as that is not their market.

Rating: 5.5/10


<b>
Stability:
</b>
On the other hand, this is Intel's market. Their boards are stable, and that's how they want them. They are willing to sacrifice performance for it.

Rating: 10/10


<b>
Overclocking:
</b>
Intel and overclocking don't go together. They will not, and will never allow for overclocking.

Rating: 0/10


<b>
Price:
</b>
They know they can get away with a higher price then most board makers. People are willing to pay anything to Intel it seems, and the boards are priced for it. They are often some of the most expensive boards on the shelf, yet they offer almost no features.

Price : 1/10


<b>
Features:
</b>
Intel boards often don't have any features. The more than is put on a board, the more likely you'll get some issue with it, so if you want RAID, buy a separate controller. Maybe Intel will join the 21st century soon. You will not find Intel boards with non-intel chipsets.

Rating: 1/10



History

Since their boards really don't have anything in them, nothing really goes wrong. Unlike the company, the motherboard section really has no glaring problems. The are built to last, and be problem free, and that's what they are.

Rating: 10/10


<b>
Support
</b>
You paid enough for the board, so they give it to you. Although their webpage support is quite poor in comparison of others, it still works.

Rating: 8/10



Products worth mentioning

None, they make nothing for enthusiasts. This only includes motherboards, not chipsets.

Rating: 0/10



Overall Rating: 4.4/10 If you think everything else sucks, and just want to get something that runs, then Intel is for you. It runs, will be stable, but that's about it.

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Page 7

Iwill



About

Iwill started in accessories and has since, moved to motherboards. Although they are the loudest company around, they have a bunch of devoted fans. They were growing in popularity extremely fast just a short time ago, but due to them only producing ALi chipset boards, that popularity is dying. While the Iwill name still carries some weight, they are not as big as they could be.



website

http://www.iwillusa.com/home/home.asp



Performance:

Iwill, when they used chipsets other than ALi, generally perform very good, being right near the top of the group. On average they range from #2-4 in the performance rating. The ALi chipsets however, are a lower performing solution all together, even their latest and greatest can't keep up to the past versions of other chipsets.

Rating: 8/10



Stability

With the ALi chipsets, Iwill boards are extremely stable, and its one of the benefits of ALi. With older KT133 chipsets and such, their boards were below average on times, but they also produced many boards that were stable. This may be a reason why they switched to ALi. Compatibility problems plagues the older ALi chipsets.

Rating: 7/10




<b>
Overclocking:
</b>
Iwill has been known for some great overclocking boards. Especially their overclocked stability. With the release of the XP333 there is no dispute that they are incredible innovators for overclocking. They have been able to hit 200Mhz FSB quite easily, and their past boards were always among the best. The new features in the XP333, and the feedback design they chose it commendable.

Rating: 10/10


<b>
Price:
</b>
Iwill boards are moderately priced, a little on the high side. They have lots of features on board, seeing as they are known for their own accessories solutions. RAID and non-RAID versions are usually available.

Rating: 7/10



Features

Iwill generally puts a good number of features on their boards, but also sells bare boards. Most of their boards are quite similar to other top manufacturers but tend to just have more on them. Decent sound is also usually on board.

Rating: 8.5/10



History

Iwill's history is not bad, but not amazing. A few of their earlier boards had some stability problems, which with the new ALi chipsets have been traded for compatibility problems. Even their new XP333 has problems, but they try.

Rating: 5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
The Iwill page seems to have a good source for drivers and bios updates. However, and maybe its just me, I was unable to find any e-mail support. You can leave a message on their message board though, which may prove to be just as useful.

Rating: 6/10



Products worth mentioning

XP333, KA266, KK266 are 3 great boards, all had great performance and overclocking. Iwill still seems like a small company, and board releases from them are more rare then others.

Rating: 8/10



Overall Rating: 8.3/10 Iwill boards are often good, but they are putting themselves in a niche market, if you want to be there, get one. Its unlikely you'll doubt getting one.

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Page 8

ECS



About

aka: EliteGroup and PC Chips. Both of these brands are made by ECS. ECS is one of the top selling motherboards around. They have been making boards for quite some time and produce the boards for a few other companies, like Shuttle. They do not design their boards though, which is the major difference.



website

http://www.ecsusa.com/index.cfm



Performance:

ECS boards are not the top performer, they are actually around the bottom on average. These boards are geared to sell to anyone, and most people don't check performance. Since the company seems to churn out a new board for each chipset, I'd guess they have little time for optimizations.

Rating: 3/10



Stability

Even though ECS boards are somewhat stable now, compared to the competition, they are far below average. People wanting to save a buck on their home systems often use these because they are good enough.

Rating: 4/10



Overclocking

ECS boards by default have no good overclocking options, there are overclocking bioses which bring the board up to "poor" overclocking levels. The boards themselves overclock better than the bios implementation, but that still isn't great.

Rating: 3/10



Price

These boards are among the cheapest around. Some lower than I've seen anything before. This can lead to extremely cheap PCs in the home made by anyone, and put together in small stores as a barebones PC.

Rating 9/10



Features

ECS boards have few features, occasionally you'll find a NIC, or a very cheap version of onboard sound. You also won't the option of adding components. They are very plain.

Rating: 2/10



History

ECS has a bad history. Their boards are not stable, and often have many problems with compatibility. The worst part about the boards, and still continues to be a problem is just low quality. Boards arrive DOA often, and more often just die after being used for a bit. The price might make up for it, but to me, its not worth the hassle.

Rating: 1/10


<b>
Support
</b>
The ECS webpage is well laid out for support. Everything you need is there, but stories of their e-mail support is not so great. Most people don't even bother after the first try anymore. Their webpage also does not work with Opera, so they lose 1 point, as that is extremely unprofessional.

Rating: 2/10



Products Worth Mentioning:

The ECS K7S5A is one of the cheapest boards I've seen anywhere, and while there were a lot of RMAs, and a lot of issues with it, its a nice attempt to open up the market.

Rating: 2/10



Overall Rating: 3.3/10 If you are cheap, and can't spare a buck, then ECS might be for you. Its a gamble, as you can receive a dead board and end up paying more for shipping, or the board just might crash like crazy with you config, but you could be a lucky one (when's the last time you won the lotterySmile)

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Page 9

Abit



About

Abit has been competing with the top manufacturers for quite some time. They've been around since before the super 7 days, and have had the brand name since then too. They are top seller, known for quality and stability. Asus, Abit and Aopen used to be the top 3, but boards around, but a lot has changed since the early pentiums.



website

http://www.abit.com.tw

http://www.abit-usa.com



Performance:

Abit's performance is usually among the top boards, but its not too rare to see it dip to the middle of the pack. I've notice this happen when they try to add something more then other boards have, but traditionally, they fight with Asus for top performance, along with one other board which happens to find its way to the top.

Rating: 9/10


<b>
Stability:
</b>
Abit boards are traditionally very stable, and they make it a rule. They do emphasize more features then stability, but they never let it slip. Even during the win95 days, when boards would hit 9-10 crashes a day, Abit would stick around 2-3.

Rating: 9/10



Overclocking

Abit boards are also known for how well they overclock. They used to be the kings of overclocking, but recently Epox and Iwill have been beating, they are attempting to take that crown back with a good fight. Their boards are also very stable when overclocked, they are a quality product.

Rating: 9/10



Price

The price for Abit boards come with a bit of a premium. The aren't the most expensive, but they always offer a nice array of features, and performance with stability. This is one brand I don't mind paying for.

Rating: 6.5/10


<b>
Features:
</b>
Abit boards often have a cheap version without RAID and sound and a more expensive version. They both are quite costly, in my opinion, and the RAID is worth the price increase. They tend to implement a lot of new overclocking features, and their softmenu is a nice plus.

Rating: 8.5/10



History

Abit has a good like of boards. Some of them are stellar and some are not so great. Abit does have periods where their production and new product lines will drop off, as they tend to make things right. There are a few issues with boards, but nothing severe, and nothing that is worth of blaming the board manufacturer on.

Rating: 8.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
The Abit webpage is a great source of information, and there are a lot of Abit fans around to help you out. Abit e-mail support is somewhat lacking from what I've been told, much like most major companies.

Rating: 7.5/10



Products worth mentioning

I'd have to say that Abit has the most memorable boards of any company around. From the infamous BP6 to the KR7A-RAID, there are few boards that run as good as theirs. Surprisingly they have a lot of famous Intel boards.

Ratings 10/10



Overall Rating: 8.5/10 Abit boards are generally a solid buy. They have few issues, great reliability, and will not disappoint you.

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Page 10

MSI



About

MSI is a manufacturer that has been around quite a while. They are also known as Microstar, and sell some boards under that label, although MSI has a better reputation. They are known as a middle quality manufacturer, but have a following like they were a massive innovator.



website

http://www.msicomputer.com/



Performance:

MSI rarely performs well, they are usually around the middle of the pack in terms of performance. MSI tends to put their boards for sale very fast, and do not spend the time necessary to fix performance issues. Unfortunately, release date seems to be a higher priority for them. Their only top performing board actually had a large price gap between their normal boards.

Rating: 5.5/10



Stability

During the super 7 days MSI boards were awful, they were not worth for sale, in my opinion. Today they are much improved, but still not great. Their rush to the market approach leaves testing little time to alter any issues that might occur.

Rating: 7/10



Overclocking

The overclocking features of their boards don't seem to suffer too much as the rest of their features. They offer some good bios options, but their boards only overclock moderately. They have never topped the charts.

Rating: 6.5/10



Price

MSI boards are priced well, for what you get. They usually include some decent features, which are almost always the greatest selling point of their boards. Overall they are a decent investment for what they give you.

Rating: 8/10



Features

The one highlight of MSI boards is that they always throw in some feature to their boards. Their latest board has USB 2.0 chips, they offer red PCB on some boards, RAID, and sound on a few designs.

Ratings: 10/10



History

MSI's history is bleak. They have gone from awful to mediocre. Their current boards have a few compatibility problems, and a large number of their Athlon boards have gone inexplicably dead after just over a year of use. This seems to be a very poor quality control issue on their part.

Rating: 2/10


<b>
Support
</b>
MSI does provide decent support via the web, and in person. Their webpage is full of tools that you can use, and you can get actual human response from your questions.

Rating: 8/10



Products worth mentioning

K7T Turbo Limited Edition w/RAID was a great board, unfortunately the board was one of the ones that just goes dead after some use. Usually after the warranty period.

Rating: 1/10



Overall Rating: 6/10 MSI is the height of mediocrity. They aren't really fast, not especially stable, and don't overclock amazing.... priced decently, and have a good set of features. If you want

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Page 11

Chaintech



About

Chaintech makes more than just motherboards, and has done so for quite a while. They are not out to set any records, and target the value market. You'll find the boards around a bit, and tend to be the choice for uninformed buyers.



website

http://www.chaintech.com.tw/

http://www.chaintech-excel.com/



Performance:

Chaintech performance is usually poor, they are not even decent in this category. You will be lucky if it benchmarks even at the middle of the pack. Even if they copied the reference design, there would be large jumps in average performance, I'm guessing they are attempting to minimize their costs. There are the occasional board which scores high, but that is rather inconsistant.

Rating: 1/10



Stability

Chaintech, in all the motherboard brands reviewed here, has one of the worst stabilities. They have gone from awful, to decent as of late. They are currently one of just a few boards that actually needs to be tested for stability. When compared to some brands not even in this review, they aren't all that bad, but a far cry from server material.

Rating: 1/10



Overclocking

The company does not cater to the overclocking crowd. They have minimal settings, and aren't really stable enough to overclock in the first place. Overclocking results are on the low end, even when attempted. You will still find various jumpers, most of them not even included into the bios.

Rating: 3/10


<b>
Price:
</b>
These boards are cheap, as they are meant to be. They must be designed to be cheap, as its the only reason for their performance. In my opinion, it isn't worth it, but many find that it is. But for price alone, they are quite good.

Rating: 9/10



Features

Chaintech often adds a few options to sweeten the deal. They add sound, and video, but you won't find RAID or anything really useful. But for the crowd its targeted for, it is more than good enough.

Rating: 3/10


<b>
History:
</b>
Chaintech's history is constant, they make low quality boards that are cheap. All their boards are below the competition in almost every way. On the plus side, there isn't a huge number of incompatibilities, or RMAs, which is refreshing for value boards.

Rating: 4.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Chaintech has a large number of sites available to the end user, if you speak a non english language, chances are there is a site configured to you. My first attempt to get files failed, but I've gone back and since updated this section. Bios downloads are easy to get, but drivers are still complicated, requiring you to know the chipset (which many people don't) of the board. The site for the US also doesn't seem to be working properly, as bios and drivers are not listed there. Chaintech has a large team speaking many languages to provide email support, and they promised a 24 hour return period (highly european based, you will most likely have to wait till the next day).

Rating: 6/10



Products worth mentioning

None, they are forgettable.

Rating: 0/10



Overall Rating 3.4/10 I would avoid these boards, they are at best, going to setup OK, and run somewhat stable. If you are running win95/98 you might not notice it too much, but you will for anything else. If you can live with a possibly unstable board, they aren't a bad buy, there doesn't seem to be large many problems with them after purchase, like many higher end boards.

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Page 12

AOpen



About

AOpen has been making motherboards since I can remember, but their popularity and presence have been quite odd. They have gone from the top 3 manufacturers, to a point where I thought they went out of business. During these times, their other products which aren't so cutting edge has kept them alive, from NICs to CD drives.



website

http://www.aopen.com/



Performance:

AOpen used to be one of the better performers in the pentium days, but since they have dropped out and came back, their performance isn't as great as it used to be. Their last few releases are getting better and better, who knows what level they'll return to. Their emphasis on quality still stands, which is very refreshing.

Rating: 7/10



Stability

Aopen used to make an extremely good product, and they still do. I've heard of no stability complaints from current boards from both reviews and from users. Although the AK77 Plus has a lower CPU voltage then normal it didn't seem to cause problems. This might just be a sign of good design, or luck.

Rating: 8/10



Overclocking

The days of overclocking have come a long way from when Aopen was last a major competitor, and they are not up to par anymore. They never were the greatest at it in the first place, but lack of multiplier adjusts, voltage tweaks, and jumpers that remain on board show how much work they have to do here.

Rating 2/10



Price

Unfortunately Aopen has decided that they should keep their prices in the range that they were before. They remain quite high for boards with much to be desired. They no longer hold their brand name, and should lower their prices to reflect it.

Rating: 4/10



Features

Onboard sound and RAID are not a problem to get on their boards. They are obviously pushing to become a major player again, and including everything the big boys have in theirs. Bringing a nice black PCB to the arena is also a nice feature for some, the boards look really nice too.

Rating: 6/10



History

Aopen, in my opinion, made some major mistakes. They went from the top of the industry to out of sight. When the original Slot A Athlon was introduced, Intel tried to use their power and convince many manufacturers that they should make Intel only boards. Fortunately most people didn't listen and cave in, although a few did, which you no longer see around. Aopen was one of the few that also seemed to follow Intel, and their loyalty did not pay off, thankfully they have returned and are making AMD boards now. Their boards in the past have never had major problems of any type, and yet to have any.

Rating: 8.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Aopen's web support is not bad, they give you access to drivers, bios updates, etc. There is no help forum, and they pretty much tell you that e-mailing them is useless. They should really give their support page a face lift.

Rating: 4/10


<b>
Products worth mentioning:
</b>
With the new generation of boards, they really have no worthy products. Back in the day though, they had a few really good boards, and like MSI, even released special edition boards.

Rating: 5/10



Overall Rating: 5.6/10 Their current boards are decent, but cost a little much. They are show stoppers, but they'll give you a solid computer, maybe in a few months, they'll be back on top, hard to tell.

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Page 13

Soltek



About

Soltek is quite a new company compared to most that make motherboards. They don't have a diverse product line, or they don't manufacturer other hardware. Their sales are based in Europe and do have a good record there, they are far more popular in that part of the world than here. Soltek is something that isn't available in almost all the stores here, but they are on most shelves across the ocean, which is similar to epox, except epox is getting more and more popular.



website

http://www1.soltek.com.tw/English/home/01.htm



Performance:

Traditionally, Soltek is lacking in performance, they are generally on the bottom of the charts, although some of their latest KT266 and KT266A boards perform quite well.

Rating: 2.5/10



Stability

Soltek is geared to the average crowd, and does not have extreme stability. Personally having used one, I can say they are decently stable, but not like a rock, this includes the KT266 versions. They aren't bad, but could be better, and I don't think the small amount of instability would make me not want to buy them.

Rating: 7/10



Overclocking

Soltek has an extremely unique for of overclocking we don't see on other boards called Red Storm Overclocking, which is constantly being improved. This feature finds the limits of the board, CPU, and other devices and overclocks as far as it can. It's a neat device, and I wouldn't mind seeing it on more boards. The boards overclock quite well too.

Rating: 9/10



Price

These boards are usually quite reasonably priced. Especially for what they come with.

Rating: 7.5/10



Features

Along with the overclocking hardware, occasional RAID, and some low quality onboard sound, the boards come with some decent software. Soltek boards usually are randomly colored, its rare to find any manufacturer to have more than 2 colors, but they ship 4-5, maybe more.

Rating: 7.5/10



History

Soltek doesn't have much of a history, which isn't good, or bad. Seeing as they do have a good following in Europe, their boards and history can not be too bad, especially for such a young company. There haven't been any reports of Soltek DOAs, or dead boards around, but I doubt anyone has them, as of now, only one major website even sells them here. The rating is based on their European popularity, there isn't anything else to go by.

Rating: 7/10


<b>
Support
</b>
The Soltek website provides absolutely no technical information at all, it is completely unacceptable. There is a vague e-mail address for technical questions, but I wouldn't put much hope in it. Seeing as they don't have a large user base, you might want to reconsider them.

Rating 0/10



Products worth mentioning

None

Rating: 0/10



Overall Rating 5.1/10 The company isn't bad, but they are not sold here yet. If you want to get one, shipping may end up costing a lot. There isn't anything bad about them, except their performance is usually next to last.

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Page 14

FIC



About

Also know as First Mainboards. FIC has been around for quite some time, over 20 years which makes them more senior then most motherboard companies. They have a lot of manufacturing capabilities, and definitely produce boards for other companies. They often target the OEM market.



website

http://www.fica.com/main/main.stm



Performance:

Boards by FIC rarely perform, generally in the last third of the benchmarks, their boards are geared to OEMs and others that just want a cheap board. FIC has no problem sacrificing performance for stability, and they do so on a regular basis.

Rating: 2/10



Stability

The most stable board I've ever had the privilege of testing was made by FIC. I've never been able to get a board to crash on me, the AD11 just wouldn't budge. Most of their boards are geared for OEMs, and as such, are stable. Occasionally they do have a board out that isn't the most stable, but it rarely is bad.

Rating: 8.5/10



Overclocking

FIC boards do have some overclocking options, but are not tuned for it. They have moderate overclocking results, and some of the finer functions need to be done by switches on the board itself. For all but the most hardcore overclocker, their options are fine.

Rating: 4.5/10



Price

Geared as a OEM board, the pricing is generally on the lower side. With only the most needed features onboard, FIC is a very reasonable solution of the do it yourselfer.

Rating: 8/10



Features

Onboard sound is a standard feature on FIC boards, and occasionally you'll get RAID with them. FIC has the best software package I've seen on any motherboard, including a bunch of Norton Utilities, Anti-virus, and the standard compliment of temperature monitoring and drivers. RAID is rare, and isn't something you'll likely find.

Rating: 7/10



History

In this case there are no glaring mistakes, or reports of DOAs or boards dying in the future. The only issue I do have with them is that they don't prepare for future hardware, an example is that many of their boards will not support the Athlon XP, even though all others with the same chipset do. This is a serious problem, and should be fixed. Of course if you have an Intel board, there is no problem, since they will likely change sockets on you anyway.

Rating: 7/10


<b>
Support
</b>
The FIC webpage is first class, with the support features, and a request for tech support via e-mail. From personal experience I know they are a good company to deal with, emails answered timely and well.

Rating: 8/10



Products worth mentioning

The AD11 being the only board I couldn't crash has to be mentioned. I thought I lost my touch for a while, but I know I still got it, as I went back to school and kindly crashed some Intel chipsets, DELLs suck. The AN11 has similar characteristics, and has RAID, I'd definitely give that board a go.

Rating: 2.5/10



Overall Rating: 5.9/10 They make a good stable board, they aren't fast and are usually quite plain. They won't disappoint an average user. There should be a comment here about their board layout. FIC lays the components out on the board to maximize the stability and minimize the cost, this can make it extremely difficult to install certain HSFs, and impossible for others. If you don't want to crack the core, be careful.

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Page 15

Gigabyte



About

Gigabyte has been about for a bit, but really hasn't been active until recently. The last 4 years they've sky rocketed in size. Gigabyte is the choice manufacturer for a few other board names, and they also have made a large number of reference boards for companies. Gigabyte has left the performance market and moved to the stability and reliability area. This tactic might not impress you or me, but OEMs and the server market love it.



website

http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/index.html



Performance:

As said, Gigabyte has left the high end performance area. They used to be very competitive in it, scoring within the top 4 most of the time, but have dropped back to the middle of the pack lately to focus on stability. With their recent company moves, its doubtful they'll move back to the performance area again, its just not worth it.

Rating: 6/10



Stability

Their boards are being focused on reliability and stability. The dual bios option is just one sign. From personal experience, I've noted their boards to have a high degree of stability. They aren't extremely stable, but they are far above average. Their stability during their performance market days was questionable.

Rating: 7.5/10



Overclocking

Gigabyte does offer the full array of overclocking features, but their boards are not geared for it. As with most quality boards, they do overclock decently, but they aren't up with the best. There aren't any real innovations for it.

Rating: 6.5/10



Price

This board is one of the best values for what you get. They offer a lot of features for a moderate price, and they are usually features that you want. More and more companies need to follow their pricing scheme, its extremely fair.

Rating: 8.5/10



Features

Along with MSI, Gigabyte is one of the best companies for on board features. They offer their dual bios, blue PCB, RAID, sound, and many times a NIC. Having the NIC is useful, and I hope more companies adopt that policy. Their boards generally ship with a decent software package also, including EasyTune.

Rating: 10/10



History

Few gigabyte boards arrive DOA and die during their normal lifetime. They are a reliable product, although a few people have questioned their dual bios feature. There are quite a few that lost their original bios to have the secondary bios never kick in like its supposed to. Gigabyte will replace the board, but its no fun.

Rating: 8/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Gigabyte web support is pretty complete. They offer bios and driver updates, unfortunately they admit that their e-mail support has been horrid. They are attempting to fix it, but this is rarely accomplished without a major overhaul.

Rating: 5/10



Products worth mentioning

The 7dxr+ board was great, it had everything anyone could want and more. They have also released a few boards similar to it, and should be commended for it. I truly think that NIC, sound, and anything other than graphics should be mounted on board. Other than AGP, only 1-2 PCI slots should be available.

Rating: 4/10



Overall Rating 7/10 They are solid boards, not fast but work well. For anyone that wants something reliable, you can count on them without shelling out a lot of money.

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Page 16

Tyan



About

Tyan was one of few manufacturers that started in the workstation business and moved to desktop boards. Although they concentrate their production on workstation and dual processor boards, they do have a selection of desktop products. Tyan is one company that actually has a decent naming system, where boards are named according to their function, and not just a bunch of numbers.



website

http://tyan.com/



Performance:

Tyan boards put performance second only to stability. They constantly end up on the higher end of the benchmarks, although they really don't release many boards. Their dual CPU configs also perform very well, usually above the competition.

Rating: 7/10



Stability

Tyan puts stability above anything else, and they get it. Their server boards must be stable, they have no choice if they want to sell them. A company that can make a stable server board should have little problems making a desktop the same way.

Rating: 9.5/10



Overclocking

At the expensive of free speed, Tyan chose stability. The number of overclocking options on their boards are low at best, often using jumpers if they even exist. Their performance is quite low when you do overclock, rarely getting too much past stock speeds.

Rating: 2/10



Price

Tyan boards command a little more money for what they have. You are pretty much assured you'll get a nice stable board, but it will cost you. Their server boards are costly, and that's how they are supposed to be, unfortunately some of that carries over to the desktop.

Rating: 4.5/10



Features

Tyan uniquely names their boards in four categories. One for high end servers, one for cheap servers, one for the desktop, and a integrated desktop division, named Thunder, Tiger, Trinity, and Tomcat, respectively. You have quite a few options to choose from but not as much as some of the premier manufacturers.

Rating: 6/10



History

Tyan has a good history, with no real thorns in their side. The only comment I can say is that they might not update their products for future hardware, but this is a rare case.

Rating: 7.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Tyan web support works great, and is complete. Their e-mail support is also top notch, you'll get a good reply, within a reasonable time.

Rating: 9.5/10



Products worth mentioning

The Thunder K7 and Tiger for the AMD 760MP chipset is famous, as the first dual CPU AMD board. Their other boards are pretty plain, and nothing to brag about.

Rating: 4.5/10



Overall Rating: 6.3/10 They are solid, fast boards, but they lack overclocking goodies. They carry a higher price, but you get what you pay for.

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Page 17

Soyo



About

They are a medium sized company, nothing really outstanding about them. They just make boards and a living it seems. Not innovative, but just solid and reliable.



website

http://www.soyousa.com/home_top.html



Performance:

Soyo often performs decently, but not always on top. Their boards are often hit and miss, where they either stick to the reference design, or go all out and give you a great board.

Rating: 6.5/10



Stability

Soyo boards are always average or above average for stability. They either follow the reference design (which usually aren't geared for high performance), or their own designs are quite good. They are not one of the best, but more than good enough for most.

Rating: 7/10



Overclocking

Again, Soyo boards really depend on the model. If they follow the reference design you'll get worse then normal overclocking, but their good boards tend to overclock as well as some of the better manufacturers around. They are not a leader in the field.

Rating: 6/10



Price

Soyo tends to integrate a lot of components on some models, and leave others completely bare. Their prices are on par, or slightly then premium brands for their higher quality boards, but tend to be higher for their bare boards.

Rating: 6/10



Features

As already said, you either get everything or nothing. Their feature rich boards have RAID, sound, NIC, and everything you want. They are very nice, but other boards just come with something like AC97 sound.

Rating: 6/10



History

Soyo has made good boards for a while. They do have a few RMAs, but nothing too bad. Boards don't seem to go dead all of a sudden, other than that, there really isn't any trouble with them.

Rating: 7.5/10


<b>
Support
</b>
Their webpage is made up well, with drivers and bios files. However, their e-mail support is poor, and they recommend that you phone if you want a response. While some people like to phone, most of us don't have the time to wait for it.

Rating: 5/10



Products worth mentioning

The SY-K7VDRAGON Plus was just one of those boards that has everything in it, there are a number of boards they have like this, but to me, its not too special.

Rating: 2/10



Overall Rating: 5.8/10 As already mentioned, some Soyo boards are great, and some a duds. They either do a half assed job or a great one... Something I couldn't recommend without research.

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Page 18

VIA



About

Welcome to the newest company to sell motherboards. VIA doesn't make them, they just get other people to and they resell them. The whole reason why they do this is because Intel won't say they can have a P4 license. It would be very hard on VIA to make a chipset and not have most companies use it, so they design their own boards (they have to for the reference design anyway). They are the largest chipset manufacturer, and are a large and powerful company.



website

http://www.via.com.tw/en/index/index.jsp

http://www.viavpsd.com/



Performance:

As a reference design, they often aren't the fastest, but they are ahead of the majority of manufacturers. Since the only manufacturers that make the same chipset boards they do are lower quality ones, they are quite high in performance comparatively.

Rating: 7.5/10



Stability

VIA boards are stable, and since most of the time they are reference designs, they have to be stable. An unstable reference design would completely wipe out the business for that chipset.

Rating: 9/10



Overclocking

They might not be the best, or anywhere close to the top manufacturers, but they surprisingly do a good job, especially when you compare it to the likes of their competitors. They reach modest speeds, and have most options in the bios.

Rating: 6/10



Price

VIA boards are priced with the competition, and aren't the best or the worst. It depends on the model you get. Since VIA chipsets are cheap in the first place, quite a few people got these boards and didn't even know VIA made it, it was just cheap.

Price: 7.5/10



Features

VIA boards offer a large range of features. Its a bit surprising that each chipset has so many models, but RAID, onboard sound (a few types), NIC, and more are included. Its nice to see a manufacturer give you the options.

Rating: 8.5/10



History

VIA has no real history, as they are less then a year old.

Rating: NA


<b>
Support
</b>
VIA has their webpage full of drivers and bios updates, but no personal support to be seen. I may have missed it, but I checked everywhere.

Rating: 4/10



Products worth mentioning

They don't make enough boards to qualify for this. Especially since the boards are always with reject chipsets.

Rating: 0/10



Overall Rating: 6.1/10 VIA makes decent boards, there is no way to know how they hold up in the long run. Their boards are not the best, but a decent buy.

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Page 19

NMC



About

Personally, I've never heard of them, or known anyone to buy their boards. The only way I know about them is that Tom's Hardware seems to get them for just about all the tests they do. They make graphics cards along with other components.



website

http://www.enmic.de/www/uk/index2.htm



Performance:

They are just a normal board manufacturer, they really don't excel anything and basically sell their boards just because they are there.

Rating: 3/10



Stability

The reviews I've seen on these boards make them look very poor. Since Tom's seems to be the only ones that review them, I have no basis to go on with stability, as they completely ignore the issue. But I can take a look at their reliability and issues, and I have to say it looks bad. They have many bios problems, and a lot of their features don't work as they should, like USB. I'd avoid them

Rating: 2/10



Overclocking

Even at their best, they don't overclock too well. Some boards have overclocking options on them, but they consider that a feature, especially bios overclocking.

Rating: 3/10



Price

As they don't seem to be sold here, I have little to compare the prices to. Tom's also doesn't list pricing as a factor in their reviews. I'd imagine they are usually cheap, as they couldn't survive any other way.

Rating: N/A



Features

Their version of a feature is what is standard on most boards. They don't offer RAID often or decent sound on most of their products. They are some of the most plain boards I've seen. Most of their features are just poor, they copied the Epox LEDs.

Rating: 2/10



History

I don't know enough about the company to say anything about them. I doubt they are sold in North America.

Rating: N/A


<b>
Support
</b>
I don't know much about their personal support but they don't have an e-mail address for you to use, most likely because its obvious they can't speak English. They have bios revisions, and some drivers, but not everything. Their bioses seem to have a lot of big problems.

Rating: 3/10



Products worth mentioning

None

Rating: 0/10



Overall Rating 2.2/10 I'd avoid getting one of these boards, they have poor to no support and a lot of problems with them, its a recipe for disaster.
<br/>
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Page 20

Supermicro

About
Supermicro is a company that has been making server boards for quite some time. They are not heavily into the desktop motherboard area, but have made quite a few. Unfortunately I haven't seen a AMD based board from them, as they are extremely slow to adapt to new technology. Being est. in 1992 makes them one of the younger companies around. Just a note, supermicro does not send out many boards for reviews, and when they do, its mostly their workstation boards that get reviewed, so I don't have a large sample set to work off of.


website
http://supermicro.com/

Performance:
At the cost of performance, stability comes first for supermicro. This generally leaves their boards right on the bottom of the heap for performance, sitting right next to chaintech.
Rating: 2/10

Stability
Well, here is where supermicro's lack of features pays off. Their boards are stable, and they are built to be stable as a top priority. My experiences with their boards have shown them to be quite stable, although a few review sites have ran into problems, but minor ones, which could be more software related.
Rating: 9/10

Overclocking
This term doesn't seem to apply to supermicro. I think their dictionary is missing a page or something (mine is missing several). Even boards like the 440BX doesn't even have good overclocking features. Its really a shame, I can understand not putting them on workstations, but desktops are a must.
Rating: 1/10

Price:
Comparing prices, you'll notice that supermicro is often hovering around the price of Asus boards, unfortunately for them, supermicro doesn't include the RAID, enhanced sound, and software packages Asus hands out.
Rating: 2/10

Features
Feature rich is not a good description of supermicro, at best, you are looking at cheap sound and onboard video. There might be an optional ehternet, but that is very rare. This company is losing points for using only intel and serverworks chipsets, along with no AMD boards. They rarely give you software, and I've heard of many complaints on extremely poor manuals.
Rating: 0/10 (I can't give negatives)

History:
I have heard of few complaints, DOAs, or failing boards from supermicro. They do make quality boards, and their history is a good one. They lost points earlier for sticking with few chipsets, and non-AMD products. There are very few issues with their boards, and when they come up, they are not major.
Rating: 10/10

Support:
First thing I noticed was the lack of drivers, there are bios files, but no downloads for drivers anywhere, which I feel is a necessity, as people that just don't know what they are doing should know, even if there are no drivers. There is a faq section, and the ability to email them, although it seems they wish to strongly encourage you to ask the place where you bought the board.
Rating: 7/10

Products worth mentioning
They have a wide variety of well known workstation boards, but their desktops are rather boring. Nothing that gets me excited.
Rating: 1.5/10

Overall Rating 4.1/10 If you want a stable, reliable board, then supermicro might be for you. But if you might ever be interested in overclocking, or having a good performing board, then stay away.
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Page 21

DFI



About

This company reminds me very much of FIC. They focus on OEM channels, and they make a lot of other products. They used to be a leader and innovator in the motherboard seen, but now they just make them, and focus on their other product lines.



website

http://sj.dfi.com.tw/frame.asp



Performance:

DFI much like FIC doesn't perform great, they sell a lot of OEM equipment where performance isn't worth much.

Rating: 3/10



Stability

They make their boards very stable, and I've never seen a complaint from one person, or reviewer of the boards being unstable. It comes at the price of performance, but its well worth the no hassle computer.

Rating: 9/10



Overclocking

DFI has never been much into overclocking. They will sometimes offer a very basic set of adjustments, but not always. The weird thing is that the boards tend to overclock a little above the rest, which I don't understand. It still must lose major points due to their complete lack of features on most of their boards.

Rating: 4/10



Price

DFI makes a lot of boards, due to the quantity they sell, they are pretty cheap for the quality you get. You don't pay for fancy boxes and any brand name, and their boards come with a very OEM feature set on them.

Rating: 8.5/10



Features

As a manufacturer of OEM products, you tend not to get the best features on them. There is sound, the occasional NIC, and RAID, sometimes video also. They don't carry much of a selection

Rating: 2.5/10



History

DFI has a very stable history. Few RMAs, or other dead boards, no major issues or problems. They have a few, but so do all companies. Some of their boards don't seem to be as upgradable as others in its class.

Rating: 8/10


<b>
Support
</b>
DFI has a very nice support section on their website, including a beta section, which more companies should make clear, in my opinion. All drivers are easy to access as well. I could not find a e-mail, or phone number for personal service.

Rating 5/10


<b>
Products worth mentioning:
</b>
They haven't made anything that has got me to notice them, other than just plain, cheap and stable boards. Its a very nice thing to do, but gets no fame.

Rating: 0/10



Overall Rating: 5/10 They don't impress a lot of people, but they don't turn many away either. Someone who values a good solid system will be very happy with them.
<br/>
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Page 22

Acorp



About

Acorp is a medium sized company with a very small profile here in North America. Over half their boards sold are in Europe, and many in Asia. They have a very good manufacturing facility, and I'm sure much of their production is contracted out.



website

http://www.acorpusa.com/



Performance:

These boards vary in performance but are rarely great performers, on average they are a little below average, as expected from a manufacturer of this type.

Rating: 4.5/10



Stability

Acorp tries to make a stable board, but unfortunately they are often not. Some of their boards have a performance mode which should be avoided all together, as it is not stable. RAM timings are often slightly off, and at best tend to have average stability, its a shame, because the company could be quite popular.

Rating: 3/10



Overclocking

Acorp is one of the worst overclocking boards I've seen. They sometimes offer some features and adjustments, but even then they come close to last on the list.

Rating: 2/10



Price

On the plus side these boards are cheap, almost as cheap as ECS boards but tend to have a few more features. Most places don't stock them in North America so it might be hard to find one to buy.

Rating: 9/10



Features

While Acorp doesn't offer a large number of features, they offer a few different ones like sound, NIC, and RAID, but rarely all in one board. They have offered something similar to the Gigabyte dual bios, but its, in my opinion, a ingenious version of it. They have the 2nd bios chip hidden inside the board.

Rating: 4/10



History

Acorp's nice manufacturing plant and quality control keeps their DOAs nice and low. As they aren't popular in this area, you don't hear of many problems with them, and as they aren't popular overall, I'd be tough to get a good idea of how well they hold up. From what I've seen its pretty decent.

Rating: 7/10


<b>
Support
</b>
The website is full and complete, with numerous methods to contact them. Unfortunately for them they didn't want to support the P4X266 chipset board because of a fear of Intel, that was a poor decision, but they do seem to support it now.

Rating: 7/10



Products worth mentioning

Their P4X266 board (4VPX266A)was the first on the market, and its nice to see a company to take risks.

Rating: 2/10



Overall Rating: 4.8/10 They are very cheap boards, but aren't the most stable. I'd say they were an average board with below average stability. Not on my recommended list.
<br/>
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Page 23

Quick Reference





<table>
<tr><td>Company</td><td>Performance</td><td>Stability</td><td>Overclocking</td><td>Price</td><td>Features</td><td>History</td><td>Support</td><td>Products</td><td>Overall</td></tr>
<tr><td>Abit</td><td>9.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>6.5</td><td>8.5</td><td>8.5</td><td>7.5</td><td>10.0</td><td>8.5</td></tr>

<tr><td>Acorp</td><td>4.5</td><td>3.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>4.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>4.8</td></tr>

<tr><td>Aopen</td><td>7.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>4.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>8.5</td><td>4.0</td><td>5.0</td><td>5.6</td></tr>

<tr><td>Asus</td><td>9.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>5.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>9.0</td><td>8.5</td></tr>

<tr><td>Chaintech</td><td>1.0</td><td>1.0</td><td>3.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>3.0</td><td>4.5</td><td>6.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>3.4</td></tr>

<tr><td>DFI</td><td>3.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>4.0</td><td>8.5</td><td>2.5</td><td>8.0</td><td>5.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>5.0</td></tr>
<tr><td>ECS</td><td>3.0</td><td>4.0</td><td>3.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>1.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>3.3</td></tr>

<tr><td>Epox</td><td>6.5</td><td>9.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>8.5</td><td>8.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>10.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>8.4</td></tr>

<tr><td>FIC</td><td>2.0</td><td>8.5</td><td>4.5</td><td>8.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>2.5</td><td>5.9</td></tr>

<tr><td>Gigabyte</td><td>6.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>6.5</td><td>8.5</td><td>10.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>5.0</td><td>4.0</td><td>7.0</td></tr>

<tr><td>Intel</td><td>5.5</td><td>10.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>1.0</td><td>1.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>4.4</td></tr>

<tr><td>Iwill</td><td>8.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>8.5</td><td>5.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>8.3</td></tr>

<tr><td>MSI</td><td>5.5</td><td>7.0</td><td>6.5</td><td>8.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>8.0</td><td>1.0</td><td>6.0</td></tr>

<tr><td>NMC</td><td>3.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>3.0</td><td>NA</td><td>2.0</td><td>NA</td><td>3.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>2.2</td></tr>

<tr><td>Shuttle</td><td>5.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>6.5</td><td>8.0</td><td>4.0</td><td>5.9</td></tr>

<tr><td>Soltek</td><td>2.5</td><td>7.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>7.5</td><td>7.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>5.1</td></tr>

<tr><td>Soyo</td><td>6.5</td><td>7.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>5.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>5.8</td></tr>

<tr><td>Supermicro</td><td>2.0</td><td>9.0</td><td>1.0</td><td>2.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>10.0</td><td>7.0</td><td>1.5</td><td>4.1</td></tr>

<tr><td>Tyan</td><td>7.0</td><td>9.5</td><td>2.0</td><td>4.5</td><td>6.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>9.5</td><td>4.5</td><td>6.3</td></tr>

<tr><td>VIA</td><td>7.5</td><td>9.0</td><td>6.0</td><td>7.5</td><td>8.5</td><td>NA</td><td>4.0</td><td>0.0</td><td>6.1</td></tr>

<tr><td>Average</td><td>5.3</td><td>7.0</td><td>5.2</td><td>7.0</td><td>5.9</td><td>6.7</td><td>5.7</td><td>3.3</td><td>5.7</td></tr>
</table>






Conclusion



Top Ten.



1st &#8211; Abit,Asus

3rd &#8211; Epox

4th &#8211; Iwill

5th &#8211; Gigabyte

6th - Tyan

7th - VIA

8th - MSI

9th &#8211; FIC, Shuttle

11th to 20th (in order) Soyo, Aopen, Soltek, DFI, Acorp, Intel, Supermicro, Chaintech, ECS, NMC.


There you have it, the top motherboard manufacturers there are, all summed up. Personally, I prefer Asus boards, I have bought quite a few, and used all myself. I don't consider price, as motherboards are just too important. To be honest, even though DFI might be rated low, they have a high stability rating, and since its hard to tell how well they perform by human eye, if you own one, you'll be very happy. There seems to be a growing trend for cheap motherboards out there, and I don't like it one bit. <br/>
You might hear that AMD is unstable from a lot of intel zealots, but the real problem is people are buying extremely cheap motherboards, there are major problems and issues popping up on the forums from this. Just look at the recent boards, ECS's SiS board must have set a record for number of problems, Soyo, MSI, and Shuttle sold a lot of boards, and they really are causing a lot of problems. From what I've seen on forums, there are few complaints about Asus, Epox, Abit or even Iwill boards (with the exception of the initial Epox shipping error). <br/>
Remember, just because your chipset is good, doesn't mean your motherboard will be. The boards RAM timings need to be perfect, and cheap boards making 4 DIMMs available is just major problems. So do yourself, and everyone else a favor, don't be a cheap ass, pay a little more and get the quality boards. Even though I know most of you will say "I bought 10 Shuttles or ECS boards and never had a problem" It still doesn't mean the boards are good, and it doesn't mean you won't regret it in the future. For people that say VIA chipsets are unstable, or anything to that matter, these are the people you should never, ever take advice from. Why? Simple, they buy the cheapest boards possible, and while VIA chipsets aren't perfect, they are 100% stable, and its the motherboards which aren't stable.<br/>
If a manufacturer is not on this list, then avoid them. They obviously don't like to send out boards for review, and there is most likely a reason for it. I've excluded a lot of names that show up occasionally, and review very poor the few times they are done.<br/>
So next time you are confused about which board to get, and why, you have an unbiased opinion to help you. Asking in forums will only yield a bunch of zealots recommending one brand constantly for no reason, and they don't even take into consideration your needs. Decide for yourself, you'll be happier that way.

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