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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide July 29, 2009





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    May Value Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Vince Freeman :  May 18, 2007

    Motherboards

    When selecting a motherboard for our Value Gaming System, it is important we find the best overall value, while ensuring the most future-proof and high-performance hardware possible. Naturally, these goals are often at odds with each other, and the sticker price is usually the main stumbling block. To find that right combination, the motherboard needs to be affordable, but also have a good mix of performance, overclocking, and onboard features. Whether you're buying a low-cost gaming system or an ultra high-end powerhouse, the motherboard is still one of the most important components, as it provides the backbone for your entire computer and determines your future upgrade path.

    Athlon 64 X2 AM2 Motherboard: Biostar TForce 570 SLI (nForce 570SLI)

    Current Cost: $90
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    The Socket AM2 platform is the only viable AMD platform, and when it comes to value, the nForce 500 series is the logical path. Last time out, we chose the Biostar TForce 550, but since we have a few dollars extra in the AMD budget, the Biostar TForce 570 SLI is a welcome addition. This not only gives us a slight performance and features upgrade, but also the potential of SLI video in the future. The Biostar TForce 570 SLI is an impressive board for the money, and we have always been very pleased with the price-performance rating of mainstream Biostar motherboards.

    The Biostar TForce 570 SLI is powered by the nForce 570 SLI chipset, which adds a few high-end features (such as SLI) to the feature list, while maintaining others like SATA 3.0 Gb/s, Gigabit LAN, and High Definition Audio. It includes support for all Athlon 64, 64 X2, and FX-based processors using the Socket AM2 package, along with offering up to DDR2-800 memory speeds. This chipset is a superb combination of performance and value, as to find a high-end feature like SLI, even the nForce 570 SLI's SLI x 8 Mode, is exceptional on a $90 motherboard. Add in Biostar and their more enthusiast-oriented T-Series into the mix, and you just know you're going to get a lot of board for your money.

    The Biostar TForce 570 SLI may sport a $90 price tag, but it has a serious feature list. The board includes support for AM2-based processors, along with 4 DDR2 sockets capable of handling up to 4GB of DDR2-800 memory. Onboard expansion slots include 2 x PCIe x16 graphics (SLI x 8 Mode), 2 x PCIe x1, and 3 x PCI, while storage options offer 2 x PATA devices, 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s and 1 x Floppy. The motherboard also has 10 x USB 2.0, Realtek ALC888 8+2-Channel high definition audio, and integrated dual Gigabit LAN. The Biostar TForce 550 motherboard was a great value for Socket AM2 systems, and the upgraded TForce 570 SLI is even better.

    * Please also note that Biostar is now offering a $20 mail-in rebate on the Biostar TForce 570 SLI, bringing its eventual price down to an amazing $70. This rebate only applies to valid purchases between May 1 and May 25, 2007.

    Core 2 Duo Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 (P965)

    Current Cost: $90
    Consecutive Guides: New
    Price Change: N/A

    It can be very difficult to find a name brand Core 2 Duo-compatible motherboard within our budget, especially when we're looking to move to the P965 level. The recent Core 2 Duo price drops certainly helped, but it's still a very tough nut to crack. Thankfully, we were able to locate a mainstream P965 motherboard that filled our requirements admirably, and we could finally set loose the old i945P chipset. The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard makes its first appearance in the value guide, and offers an excellent feature set, rock solid operation and the stability of an Intel performance chipset.

    The Gigabyte board features the Intel P965 Express + ICH8 chipset, a combination that provides a solid base for any Core 2 Duo based platform. Memory support also upgrades to DDR2-800 speeds, and the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 can handle up to 8GB of memory in its four DDR2 sockets. The GA-965P-DS3 includes 1 x PCI-Ex16, 3 x PCI-Ex1, and 3 x PCI slots, and offers 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s and 1 x PATA for storage use. Some of the other onboard features include 10 x USB 2.0, 8-channel high definition audio, and Gigabit LAN. Gigabyte also offers a range of overclocking options, including clock speed and voltage settings for the processor, memory, PCI-E, and chipset options.


    Page 1 Introduction and Case
    Page 2 Processors and Cooling
  • Page 3 Motherboards
    Page 4 Memory, Hard Drive and DVD Writer
    Page 5 Video Card and LCD Display
    Page 6 Soundcard, Speakers and LAN
    Page 7 Input Devices and Operating System
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Closing Remarks


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