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Conclusion

Shootout at the Core 2 Corral: Seven P965 Motherboards Compared
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With such a wide selection of products priced from $100 to nearly $300, choosing one based purely on features would be a little narrow-minded. The Asus P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP certainly leads the pack in terms of features, but with average performance and overclocking ability.

The highest-priced Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 comes in second place based on features alone, but with performance and overclocking abilities taken into account, lands near the bottom of our list. We're at a loss to explain why this board provided the lowest stable overclock, given its massively-cooled 12-phase power regulator and extensive range of overclock settings.

At the opposite end of the price scale, a full-sized circuit board allows optimal ATA connector placement on Foxconn's P9657AA-8KS2H. This board is all-business, lacking any unnecessary features that would increase its price, and would be better suited to commercial system builders rather than the "build your own" market.

Abit's AB9-Pro leads in terms of overclocking ease. This board was able to boot at much higher CPU clock speeds than others we tested, even if it couldn't force the CPU to remain stable beyond its normal capabilities for extended periods of time. The AB9-Pro might also have posted some impressively high bus speeds, had Abit added a multiplier adjustment.

Third from the top in performance and second from the bottom in overclocking, the GA-965P-DS3 was the most expensive board we tested to use Intel's "basic" ICH8 Southbridge, rather than the mid-market ICH8R. Exceptionally well organized for a reduced-size board, comparisons with the full-sized competition highlighted cramped quarters around the CPU cooler.

The clear winner in performance testing and the mid-market value leader, the MSI P965 Platinum competes with high-priced models on features, but at a middling $150 manufacturer-suggested price. Savvy shoppers can find the P965 Platinum for around $135 online.

Second-place performer Biostar TForce P965 Deluxe represents a surprisingly good value for the low-cost market. At $105 it's the cheapest board in our lineup to feature Intel's enhanced ICH8R Southbridge, and its unique layout allows full access to all six expansion slots even when a two-slot graphics card is used. Although the MSI P965 Platinum was top pick for Editors Choicea, a pretty low price and reduced feature set gave the Biostar TForce P965 Deluxe great value, earning it our "Recommended Buy" award.

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