Conclusion: AOpen Is Cleverly Open
All the motherboards in this review offer an adequate feature set that is suitable for most types of home and multimedia or office computers. They mostly differ from each other by specific features such as Firewire (AOpen, Foxconn and Gigabyte), dual Gigabit Ethernet (Foxconn) or certain detail solutions (Abit). Performance is very comparable and does not allow for making a buying decision. Also, there were no shortcomings that would give reason not to buy one of these six motherboards.
If you want to go with a Pentium 4 or Pentium D computer today, do still tread carefully, however. The real downside of Intel's current architecture is high leakage currents, which means king-size thermal dissipation and cooling requirements. Unfortunately, Enhanced SpeedStep is not available for all processor models and eases the problem only partially, leaving the user along with high thermal numbers and electricity bills.
Finally, AOpen is the first motherboard manufacturer to counter this handicap and extends what SpeedStep does. The i945Pa-PLF is able to dynamically reduce the FSB clock when idle and thus can be called a clever solution. If you are looking for a wide feature set, you should also consider the boards from Foxconn or Gigabyte. As long as this is not necessary, AOpen wins our recommendation and editor's choice.