Big Business: 18 P4 boards In Price / Performance Face-Off

Big Business: In Search Of The Price/performance King

Once again, we try to identify the best motherboards on the market. However, this time, we will look at how the boards accommodate the needs of both corporate buyers and the savvy techy.

Techies often already know what they want before they read anything. They look for a motherboard with a specific chipset and certain features that is high on their wish list. This group represents users who obsessively scour the media and other sources for the latest and greatest CPU, RAM, or graphics cards.

However, the average Joe user relies on buzzwords from advertisements or by word of mouth. The average consumer PC buyer might seek a 2 GHz CPU, at least 256 MB of RAM, a hard drive with 80 GB or more, 64 megaBytes on the graphics card, and so on. The average user's buying habits often mirror those of high-volume buyers, as well. Not infrequently, a large number of motherboards or out-of-the-box PCs must be ordered to accommodate huge numbers of customers at electronic retail store outlets and other retail channels. Budgets are tight. With four- or even five-digit unit counts, a price difference of only a few dollars or Euros for the motherboard can make or break a purchase.

Thus, the average consumer and the corporate buyer are faced with similar questions: How do I keep costs low without cutting corners on performance standards or must-have features?

The average Joe consumer's or corporate buyer's dilemma convinced us to ask suppliers to send us boards they deemed suitable to satisfy the demands of corporate customers and price-conscious consumers. We then geared our benchmarks accordingly for the 18 motherboards we tested.