- What the North Bridge and South Bridge Do
- Mobo Integration Madness
- What We Look for When Testing Motherboards
- How We Test Motherboards
- Careful Considerations for New Mobos
- Our Top Pentium 4 Chipsets: Intel's 875P and 865PE
- Also Solid: ATI's Radeon 9100 IGP
- Pentium 4 Chipset Pretenders
- Our P4 Mobo Recommendations
- The Back Story: Summer of Athlon XP
- Enter the 64-bit Chipset
- Why Hasn't Intel Integrated the Memory Controller?
- Looking to Overclock?
- Looking Ahead: Future Chipsets & Mobos
- VIA Makes Its Move
- Prepare for BTX
- New Sockets Forthcoming
How We Test Motherboards
To test the performance of the boards and chipsets, we run our usual suite of tests that stress memory bandwidth, the CPU, and hard drive performance. We use SYSmark 2004 (for extensive information on this all-knowing benchmark, turn to page 146) to gauge application performance. For games, we run Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament 2003, 3DMark2001 SE, and AquaMark 3 benchmarks. We use SiSoft Sandra 2004 to measure memory bandwidth, and we also throw in Premiere Pro, SPEC's ViewPerf 7.11, and our standard Photoshop 7 test for good measure.
In an effort to reproduce "real-world" conditions, we assiduously try to avoid using engineering samples; essentially hand-made by mobo manufacturers, these early boards can be tweaked and rarely match the results of the final product. Instead, we rely on production-quality motherboards from two top manufacturers.
When possible, we try to use the fastest possible CPUs for testing. For our "VIA vs. the World" mobo feature in the May 2004 issue of Maximum PC, for example, we used a 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition for the Intel chipsets, and the new Athlon 64 FX-53 in Socket 940 boards for the AMD tests.
It's critically important that, during testing, we isolate variables by using the same hardware components and drivers across the board.