Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100

Test Settings

Test Configuration

CPU

Intel Core 2 Duo E8600

3.33GHz, FSB-1333, 6.0 MB Cache

Memory

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6,400 2x 2.0 GB

Overclocked to DDR2-1,066 CAS 5-5-5-15

Hard Drive

Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500 GB

7200 RPM, SATA 3.0 GB/s, 16 MB cache

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Network Controller (offline)

Power

Cooler Master RS850-EMBA

850W, ATX12V v2.2

Software and Drivers

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1

Graphics Driver

ATI Catalyst 8.9

Chipset Drivers

Intel INF 9.0.0.1009

Onboard Device Drivers

Motherboard Driver DVD


Intel’s Core 2 Duo E8600 uses the recent E0 stepping for increased efficiency and better overclocking capability. Although this mainstream processor might be a little above the market of today’s low-cost boards, the same stepping has started appearing in lower-cost models.

With so much value in overclocking, we also had to find each motherboard’s maximum achievable memory speed. Crucial’s spectacularly-overclockable Ballistix DDR2-800 4.0 GB dual-channel kit has shown us stable speeds beyond DDR2-1200.

Different builders have different ideas about which CPU cooler offers the best value, but consistency takes primary importance in hardware comparisons. We’ve had such good results with Swiftech’s three-fan radiator, the MCP-655b, and the Apogee GTX water block that these components are now mounted into a test bench.

Benchmark Settings

3D-Games

Crysis

Version: 1.2.1

Test 1: Low Details, No AA

Test 2: Very High Details, 8x AA

Demo: CPU-Benchmark + Tom's Hardware Tool

Supreme Commander

Forged Alliance

Version: 1.5.3599

Test 1: Low Details, No AA

Test 2: Very High Details, 8x AA

Demo: WallaceTX_006_006

Benchmark: Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037

Unreal Tournament 3

Version: 1.2

Sound and DirectX10 Enabled (Full Screen)

Test 1: Texture/Level Details: 1

Test 2: Texture/Level Details: 5

Demo: vCTF-Reflection_fly

Time: 12/60

World in Conflict

Version: 1.0.0.9

Test 1: Very Low details (No AA, No AF)

Test 2: Very High details (4x AA, 4x AF)

Demo: Game-Benchmark

Audio Encoding

iTunes

Version: 7.7.0.43

Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min

Default format AAC

Lame MP3

Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)

Audio CD Terminator II SE, 53 min

Wave to MP3, 160 Kb/s

Video Encoding

TMPEG 4.5

Version: 4.5.1.254

Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)

Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.3

Encoding mode: Insane Quality

Enhanced multithreading

Enabled using SSE4

Quarter-pixel search

XviD 1.1.3

Display encoding status = off

Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1

Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)

MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec

28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)

Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 kbps)

Mode: PAL (25 FPS)

Profile: Tom's Hardware Settings for Qct-Core

Productivity

Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9

Version: 9.0

Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

Adobe Photoshop CS 3

Version: 10.0x20070321

Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-Photo

Benchmark: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4

Filters: Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e,

Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes

Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8

Version: 8.0.134

Virus base: 270.4.5/1533

Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of compressed files

Winrar 3.80

Version 3.70 BETA 8

WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3

Compression = Best

Dictionary = 4096 KB

Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

Winzip 11

Version 11.2

Compression = Best

Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)

Synthetics

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.02

3DMark, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00

System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks

Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646

SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2

Version 2008.5.14.24

CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia

Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
41 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • Anonymous
    I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • V3NOM
    interesting, although pretty much anyone building a P775 system these days would spend a bit more than $100... and somethings really weird with this commenting thing cos i can't read what i'm typing... it just ... doesnt fill the box? just when i type something it instantly goes to the left instead of filling the box... but anyway, interesting if a bit useless article.
    -5
  • cangelini
    FWIW, the issue with text disappearing from the commenting box as you're typing is something I've reported and m waiting for a fix still. Thanks for confirming that it's still an issue.
    5
  • rjcorrin
    Yes - everyone has money shooting out of their pantless ass to buy more expensive motherboards. I use a gigabyte Ep35 DS3L and am very happy with it. What is a >$100 board going to give me? Is it just that you want to waste money? I'm guessing you are one of those people who carry a balance on your credit card and lease a Lexus - you debt-carrying phag.
    -9
  • jsc
    "What is a >$100 board going to give me?

    I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports.
    5
  • Anonymous
    I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
    13
  • rjcorrin
    "I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."
    The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection. Then you would have had enough space to install "Mavis Beacon Teaches Touch Typing". That would give you something else to do with your hands during your "adult film" marathons.
    Did you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?
    -16
  • rjcorrin
    "I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."
    The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection. Then you would have had enough space to install "Mavis Beacon Teaches Touch Typing". That would give you something else to do with your hands during your "adult film" marathons.
    Did you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?
    -13
  • gaiden2k7
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $99 during black friday... would that top this list? :)
    4
  • Noya
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $84.50 during Black Friday, pwned you ninja gaiden fag.
    -8
  • malveaux
    Wait, no AMD stuff?

    :(
    -8
  • gwolfman
    lol @ rjcorrin's 1st comment.

    In reply: Maybe he already had HDDs laying around of smaller size and thought it best to save money by spending a few more dollars on more SATA ports than hundreds on new 3 x 1TB HDDs. You're reasoning is asinine and self contradicting.
    6
  • Tindytim
    rjcorrinDid you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?

    Did you happen to notice you're using Firefox? It, not this comment box, does that.

    rjcorrin"I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection.

    And what about Raid? And all the PC's I've had in this Millennium have had 2 Removable Disk drives.

    Not to mention I have multiple OSes installed, and an extra drive I use for storage (I reformat often). So I have plenty of drives.
    2
  • gwolfman
    Ummm, maybe I missed it but I didn't see anywhere that said what video/graphics card was used in these test. Anyone!?! I'm curious because of the power consumption numbers. Thanks.
    1
  • cambion
    Attention to detail alert... The MSI Neo3-f has eight SATA ports not, as the article claims, six.
    3
  • rjcorrin
    gwolfmanlol @ rjcorrin's 1st comment.In reply: Maybe he already had HDDs laying around of smaller size and thought it best to save money by spending a few more dollars on more SATA ports than hundreds on new 3 x 1TB HDDs. You're reasoning is asinine and self contradicting.


    I am suggesting he can reduce the bytes of crap he is retaining by legalizing his content. For all I know, he already has 8 terabyte SATA drives.
    Seriously, running all 8 SATA ports is going to take a massive case and an equally massive power supply. This dude doesn't need more SATA ports, he needs a data center.
    -11
  • rjcorrin
    cambionAttention to detail alert... The MSI Neo3-f has eight SATA ports not, as the article claims, six.


    This is the exact number of ports on the DS3P. So, again, what does a >$100 board going to give me?
    -1
  • tmc
    Though this does give you an what our Taiwan & Chinese friends have in the goodie bin at the local computer store.. you will still want to wait to bu
    -3
  • tmc
    tmcThough this does give you an what our Taiwan & Chinese friends have in the goodie bin at the local computer store.. you will still want to wait to bu

    Ugh, got cut off..
    Wait to build your system until Q1, Q2 processor price cuts of 2009.. especially if you have your heart set on $ inTEL $ 775 vs amd.
    1
  • rjcorrin
    TindytimDid you happen to notice you're using Firefox? It, not this comment box, does that.And what about Raid? And all the PC's I've had in this Millennium have had 2 Removable Disk drives.Not to mention I have multiple OSes installed, and an extra drive I use for storage (I reformat often). So I have plenty of drives.


    /Sarcasm
    Maybe I should load up a few more OSes, Opera, IE (6 & 7) and Chrome to fully analyze the capabilities of this text box. I should probably hook up a raid array (mode 0+1 anyone?) to maximize my system performance and maintain the integrity of my porn collection prior to starting my full analysis of this text box.
    /sarcasm
    Do you get any real work done on that computer of yours? Seems like you're spending all your time loading operating systems, plugging in drives, reformatting, and flipping between your extensive collection of linux derivatives. Get a life dude!! You are a hacker-poser!

    And...
    Merry Christmas to EVERYONE!! (even the Jews)
    -9
  • orangedrink
    Merry Christmas
    6