- 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
Our P4 Mobo Recommendations
You've already read about our favorite P4 chipsets. Here's a quick breakdown of our favorite P4 motherboards.
Intel D87PBZ: Built on the new 875P chipset, this board introduced Intel's move to dual-channel DDR400 RAM. It showcases a host of new goodies, including an 800MHz system bus, 8x AGP, native Serial ATA support, and a special port that hooks gigabit Ethernet directly to the north bridge. The Bonanza board also features the ICH5R south bridge, which adds soft RAID Serial ATA to the equation as well. Outfitted to appeal to the moderate tweaker, Intel has included a "burn-in" mode that's really just an overclocking switch. Sure, the feature offers just a 5 percent overclock, and the switch doesn't let you juice up your voltage, but this protects nutjobs from frying their CPUs, and maybe that's for the best.
Chaintech 9JCS Zenith: Chaintech took the Ginsu knife approach with its 875P motherboard bundle: You not only get the motherboard, you get a screwdriver, SATA data cables, and SATA power cables. You also get a full set of rounded Parallel ATA cables, a bay-mounted media reader, and front-mounted USB and FireWire ports. And if you order now, you also get an infrared remote control and an LED read-out that displays the POST codes as you boot. We love this mobo because it has plenty of features: RAID, CSA-LAN, and an Ethernet controller. It also has optical SPIDF out and two FireWire ports.
Our Favorite Mobos of All Time
One of the nice things about working at Maximum PC is that over the years, you get to see the vast majority of products within most of the major component categories. These are our favorite mobos of all time:
Abit BP6: Abit'x BX6 was arguably one of the most favored motherboards for overclockers back in the day, but the company's BP6 was really a head turner. This rogue motherboard let you do what Intel said was strictly verboten: run dual Socket 370 Celerons. To Intel's chagrin, many, many dual cellie boxes were pressed into service as poor-boy rendering boxes and workstations.
Asus P2B: In the late 1990s, Intel's Pax Pentium II was firmly entrenched not only because of the Pentium II's stellar performance, but also because of the rock-solid foundation laid by the much beloved 440BX chipset. Many 440BX motherboards are dear to us, such as the Abit BH-6/BX-6 series, but Asus's P2B solid reliability and excellent performance makes it a personal favorite.
MSI 6167: In many ways, MSI's 6167 motherboard was nothing special to write home about. Based on AMD's in-house 750 chipset, the board wasn't even close in maturity to the competing 440BX motherboards of the day. But what the 6167 lacked in bling, it more than made up for in courage. Because most motherboard vendors were fearful of retribution from Intel, Athlon boards were few and far between. The MSI 6167 (as well as FIC's SD-11 and Gigabytes GA-7IX) existed, which in turn made it possible for the Athlon XP and Athlon 64 to even exist.