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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide July 30, 2007

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    May Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Bao Ly :  May 1, 2003


    Intel Motherboard: ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (i875P)

    Current Cost: $190
    Months on list: New
    Price Change: N/A

    When it comes to truly high-end motherboards, a few names spring immediately to mind. ASUS, ABIT, MSI are a few of the top manufacturers, but each month, a superbly equipped ASUS motherboard usually catches our eye. The ASUS P4C800 Deluxe is another gem, featuring the 800 MHz i875P chipset, and with all the onboard amenities you expect of an ASUS "Deluxe" board. The 875P Northbridge enables official dual-channel DDR 400 support (6.4GB/sec bandwidth, 4-GB Max) for their 800MHz FSB enabled processors, while still maintaining support for current 533MHz and 400MHz FSB processors.

    The ASUS P4C800 uses the aforementioned i875P Northbridge and ICH5 combination, but there's always a bit more to the motherboard than just the chipsets. Also included are some nifty features such as AGP 8X/AGP Pro, Serial and Parallel ATA RAID 0, 1 and 1/0 with the integrated Promise RAID controller, onboard Gigabit LAN, integrated 6-channel audio, and IEEE 1394 Firewire support. The P4C800 Deluxe also sports Multi-RAID for both ATA-133 and Serial ATA RAID 0, 1 and 1/0 functionality. By using all 4 ATA ports (2X ATA-133, 2X SATA), RAID 0 and RAID 1 arrays can even co-exist.

    ASUS has also gone all-out on the overclocking options, using a new feature called AI Overclocking. All the standard features are present and accounted for, such as 1 MHz FSB increments, voltages and AGP/PCI locking, but ASUS goes a bit further. Their AI Overclocking features an auto-detect feature that will tune your CPU and memory settings to optimum. While most will want to get their hands dirty, it is an interesting option for high-end users unfamiliar with down-and-dirty overclocking.

    ASUS A7N8X Deluxe Motherboard (nForce2)

    Current Cost: $144
    Months on list: 5
    Price Change: -$11

    The NVIDIA nForce2 chipset has been the AMD performance leader for months now, and it's is once again in the spotlight for this month's Extreme Guide. With very few compelling reasons to drop the previous Extreme pick, we've once again gone with the Asus A7N8X Deluxe. ASUS has always been one of the first to market with new motherboards, and their products feature high performance and excellent quality as well. The dual-channel DDR feature of this motherboard increases the memory bandwidth significantly over previous single-channel Athlon XP motherboards, and to top it all off, this motherboard supports both 266 MHz and 333 MHz FSB Athlon XP processors. As an added note, be sure to nab a Revision 2.0 board and get 400 MHz FSB support for future CPU upgrades.

    Starting off with the NVIDIA nForce2 chipset, the A7N8X comes with an AGP 8X port, 3 DIMM sockets (for up to 3GB of DDR), with support for up to DDR400 DIMM. To run in dual channel DDR mode, you must install two sticks of memory into the different colored DIMM sockets. The A7N8X has onboard LAN capability, Serial ATA RAID support, and onboard 5.1 audio support. Additionally, the board features a dual IEEE 1394 port for a pair of Firewire devices, and for increased connectivity, there is a USB 2.0 controller that allows up to four external USB 2.0 devices. Flexibility is the key with this motherboard, and it can run RAID mode 0, or 1 with the Serial ATA interface.

    System Memory

    Corsair XMS 1GB PC-3200 Low Latency Platinum with Silver Heat Spreaders (2x512-MB)

    Current Cost: $304
    Months on list: New
    Price Change: N/A

    Since both the Intel and AMD Extreme Gaming Systems are using dual-channel DDR motherboards, it is only logical to go for a pair of high quality 512-MB DDR modules. 512MB is sufficient for most users, and although we feel that 1-GB could be slightly overkill, it will benefit the user in the long run, as memory upgrades will never be an issue.

    Not surprisingly, we've decided to stand pat with the Corsair brand of memory, while upgrading the actual modules just a bit. Corsair has never let us down, and their memory modules are renowned for quality and performance. To take advantage of the dual channel DDR feature on the motherboards, we're including a pair of Corsair's Low Latency 512MB DDR400 DIMMs (2-2-2-6 timings) with pre-attached Silver heat spreaders, in each system.

    We're going with DDR400 modules again because, the Intel Pentium 4-3.0C/i875P system will take full advantage of them, and getting better quality memory with lower latencies has always been a good idea with future upgradeability and possible overclocking in mind. More importantly, why get lower grade memory, when DDR-400 is priced fairly close to their slower grade counterparts?

    Page 1 Introduction and Case
    Page 2 Processors and Cooling
  • Page 3 Motherboards and Memory
    Page 4 Hard Drives and CD/DVD-ROM
    Page 5 Video Card, Monitor and Sound
    Page 6 Mouse, Keyboard & Controller
    Page 7 Communications, Operating System, etc.
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Conclusion

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