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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide April 26, 2011
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Monthly Value Gaming System Buyer's Guide


August Value Gaming PC Buyer's Guide

By Vince Freeman :  August 31, 2007


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: Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 (nForce 570 SLI)

Current Cost: $95
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

The move to the Athlon 64 6000+ does not require a platform change, but we're always looking to improve in any area possible. When it comes to performance Socket AM2 motherboards, the nForce 500 series is the logical path, and the nForce 570 SLI is the optimal choice. This month we are moving to the Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 motherboard, which is based on the nForce 570 SLI, and offers a ton of value for its $95 price tag. This board not only provides a great mix of performance and features, but also opens up the door to SLI video as a potential upgrade. Gigabyte has been consistently delivering on low-priced motherboards lately, and the GA-M57SLI-S4 is certainly at the top of the scale when it comes to sub-$100 SLI products.

The Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 is powered by the nForce 570 SLI chipset, and adds enthusiast-level features like SLI to the mix, while providing high-end options like SATA 3.0 Gb/s with RAID, Gigabit LAN, and High Definition 7.1 Audio. The motherboard includes support for all Athlon 64, 64 X2, and FX-based processors using the Socket AM2 package, and includes 4 DDR2 sockets capable of handling up to 16GB of DDR2-800 memory. Onboard expansion slots include 2 x PCIe x16 graphics (SLI x 8 Mode), 3 x PCIe x1, and 2 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, 2 IEEE1394a Firewire connectors, Realtek ALC883 8-Channel high definition audio, and Gigabit LAN.

Core 2 Duo Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L (Intel P35)

Current Cost: $92
Consecutive Guides: New
Price Change: N/A

The transition to the Core 2 Duo E6750 requires a 1.33 GHz platform, and the mainstream Intel P35 chipset would seem to be the best choice. Unfortunately, few P35-powered motherboards fall below the $100 price range, and fewer still have the necessary features and options. Gigabyte has come through again. Their GA-P35-DS3L motherboard is a perfect match for our guide, and its sub-$95 price tag is a real marvel for what you get. It is based on the powerful Intel P35 chipset, which supports both the 1.066 and 1.33 GHz Core 2 Duo and Quad models, and Gigabyte even lists support for upcoming 45nm processors.

The Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L motherboard is powered by the Intel P35 Express + ICH9 chipset, which is a very solid combination for the Core 2 Duo E6750 processor. The 4 DIMM slots support DDR2 in 667, 800 and 1066 MHz formats, with a maximum of 8GB total. Onboard expansion include 1 x PCI-Ex16, 3 x PCI-Ex1, and 3 x PCI slots, while storage options feature 4 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s and 1 x PATA. Other onboard features include 8 x USB 2.0, 8-channel high definition audio, and Gigabit LAN, along with a range of overclocking options, including clock speed and voltage settings for the processor, memory, PCIe, and chipset options.

Page 1

Introduction and Case

Page 2

Processors and Cooling

  • Page 3


    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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