SPONSORED BY Intel - Intel Inside, Including the Motherboard?

Key Business Features

Key Business Features

As mentioned, Intel supports a wide array of motherboard solutions, each sporting a different collection of features catering to a somewhat different audience. In the past, Intel has occasionally been accused of being slow to adopt cutting edge features, and this has been true in a sense. Especially for business buyers, Intel wants to provide a suitable amount of time to make sure that a given feature is going to be widely supported by the market (e.g., integrating eSATA ports when there are plenty of eSATA drives). Integrating features too soon may only add cost, complicate designs, and add unnecessary support concerns without any commensurate, real world benefit to the user.

Still, Intel makes sure not only to integrate modern “must-have” features but plenty of others besides. Some of these include:

USB 3.0. With a theoretical top speed of 5 Gb/s, USB 3.0 is ten times faster than its 2.0 predecessor. That may not matter when you plug in a mouse or keyboard, but if you’re a mobile worker who wants to run applications from a flash drive or transfer a 15 GB presentation to an external hard drive, USB 3.0 will let you run those apps at natural speed and complete those transfers in a fraction of the former copy time. This means you spend more time being productive and less time waiting.

Dual LAN. Some high-end Intel motherboards offer two Ethernet ports. This can provide connection redundancy (in case one port fails) as well as the ability to bond channels for higher performance.

DisplayPort. This is the new and coming replacement for DVI and VGA. DisplayPort offers many feature advantages over legacy formats, including higher bandwidth and the ability to support multiple displays from a single cable. Intel and other vendors have announced that they will no longer use DVI and VGA ports by 2015, so the time to start transitioning to the new format is now.

Dual Graphics. Studies have shown that having a multi-monitor workstation can yield significant user productivity gains compared to single-display systems. This is why Intel enables all of its business motherboards with dual-monitor output support.

Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Many Intel motherboards integrate TPM functionality, using discrete logic for secure encryption. The TPM moves the encryption process from software to hardware, greatly improving security against outside attack.

Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) and vPro. Descended from years of development in Intel’s server products, AMT involves several hardware features throughout the CPU, chipset, and LAN controller that allow remote administrators to have out-of-band management over client systems. Out-of-band means that even if the PC’s operating system is down and unresponsive, an admin can still track, troubleshoot, patch, and repair a system with AMT from anywhere in the world. AMT is a subset of the motherboard features Intel markets under the vPro brand umbrella.

“With the newer versions of AMT, we also now have KVM—short for keyboard, video, mouse,” says Intel product marketing engineer Stephen Bigbee. “We’ve all had times where people call you and their system’s not working. It’s hard to understand what they’re describing because you can’t see it. With KVM, you can remote into their system, see what they see, and take over their screen. It’s just so much easier. If the LAN driver goes down, remote manageability is dead on a normal system. But with AMT, you don’t need those drivers. KVM lets you feel like you’re right there, fixing the system.”

Lucid Virtu. Many sites, including Tom’s Hardware, have found Intel’s Quick Sync (embedded within new Sandy Bridge CPUs) to be easily the fastest, highest quality transcoding technology available on desktops today. Virtu allows users to leverage Intel integrated graphics for tasks such as transcoding and switch to a discrete graphics card for tasks such as gaming.

BIOS Vault. Having a BIOS update interrupted in mid-operation is the kiss of death for a motherboard—unless that board has a backup BIOS standing by. BIOS Vault provides this backup, ensuring that users can regularly update their platforms without fearing mishaps.

Fast Boot. Fast Boot is a BIOS-level feature on some Intel motherboards. When enabled in conjunction with an SSD, Intel’s Bigbee notes that system boot times can drop to an average of only 12 seconds.

Get the latest updates on Intel Desktop Boards here.

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  • joex444
    Guess you can buy press. But we already knew that.
  • Anonymous
    The 3 years guarantee is fake! They send you back the mobo lying about imaginary corrosions!
  • Benihana
    I happen to be a grade-A idiot and now want to buy an Intel motherboard because this article presents data so well. Who else wants some free money?
  • trauquen
    someone said intel motherboard now is not designed by self, they are ODM products, not OEM products. is that truth?
  • Lutfij
    seriously, i'm beggingin to doubt my 2+ years membership at Tom's cos of this so called "article"

    I thought Tom's was engaged in bringing us groundbreaking reviews - not things to read when we need to go to sleep.

    Face it intel - manufacturers are able to reverse engineer your boards and come out with tonnes of goodies with a slight bump in prices! Period!
  • hurfburf
    What kind of dumbass falls for these bullshit advertorials?
  • Lutfij
    Anonymous said:
    What kind of dumbass falls for these bullshit advertorials?

    people who aren't enlisted on pc/tech forums and swindlers :P with this rubbish report even intel can fool its CEO into buying their crap :D
  • CoolnQuiet
    Ahem, Mini-ITX was developed by VIA in 2002. Not by Intel! Who writes this nonsense?
  • Anonymous
    My first and last intel board was purchased with my i3 core (gen1). Pure garbage after 6 months. Slow POSTs became non boots unless I started the machine and hit the reset button. Stick it sideways intel.
  • Anonymous
    Well, it's good that it says SPONSORED on the first page, as this could just as well have been written by Intel...
  • cec8992
    So is there anything good about Intel boards?
  • justjc
    I guess we now know why the Intel was favoured, with a way more expensive chip and a lot of tests that we all knew would favour a more powerful CPU with Quicksync, in the AMD A8-3500M APU Review
  • joe_bloggs
    For shame! Makes one long for the days of Dr Thomas Pabst. Yes, he's the one who founded this site but hasn't been associated with it for a long time now. Here's an example of how he took on the mighty Intel years ago:
  • leonardo
    I had just started coming around to viewing THG as a legitimate tech site...until this sleazy Intel infomercial. 1. Are your readers so stupid as to view this as an a real article - even if you did cover yourself with the lead-in, "Sponsored." 2. This is the type of tripe one views on a nameless, triple digit cable channel with about 12 viewers, late at night. 3. The marketing maroons at THG now trump the tech writers?
    OOOOPS, I thought this was about CUDA
  • Anonymous
    Cool down. Life is not for free. Intel paid toms to post this article as a commercial. You should not be mad at toms for posting it, if you like the site as a whole you must accept that they need the commercials to survive. As seen from all these comments you are smart enough not to be fooled by such things.
  • marraco
    I owned or managed motherboards from Intel, PCCHIPS, ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, QDI, and other trademarks. Only PCCHIPS was worse than Intel.

    Bar PCCHIPS, Intel makes the worst motherboards I ever suffered.

    The list of Intel troubles I had include:

    -SATA ports don’t working without an IDE disk installed. It made impossible to install windows on a mother with single SATA disk.
    -Obsolete ICHx drivers non working on Windows XP SP2 or SP3. The new ones were NOT available as download from Intel, because they “were included” on windows (SP0). I was forced to extract drivers from Asus motherboard files, edit text files, and install the updated drivers. Had the same problem with ICH9, and ICH10 Intel mothers. In other words, updated Intel drivers are frequently only available for non Intel motherboards.
    Like the cake, Support is a lie.

    -Memory module incompatibility. They worked OK on Gigabyte, Asus, and MSI with same chipset and processors, but Intel mobos don’t even boot, because they were “not registered”.

    -Multiple memory modules with different timings non working on Intel. They were working without problem on other mothers, but Intel doesn’t know how to manage it.
    Like the cake, Stability is a lie.

    -Frequently USB dispositives don’t work on Intel, but they work on non Intel mothers. I had a large pile of pen drives.

    -Pooooor BIOS. Intel have the worst BIOS ever.

    -Poorly featured motherboards.

    -Trouble booting with more than one video card installed.

    -Disgusting integrated video. Both ATI and nVidia had far better integrated video than Intel (and better chipsets features). The only “fix” Intel found was to forbade third party chipsets… and Intel video still suxks, and his drivers are plain disgusting.
    -Far overpriced. Intel mothers cost too much, and just for entry level features.

    -The Rambus fiasco. Rambus memory was not available on my city, and it was cheaper to replace the entire motherboard with an MSI one with DDR than buying the Rambus memories…. AND the DDR was faster.
  • Anonymous
    Well, at least they admitted, that this article is bought. I guess, they had to, because everyone would suspect a late April-Fool, if THG suddenly recommends Intel-Mobos...
  • Avro Arrow
    Heh, I think that this article should have had"(take this with a grain of salt)" at the end of the title. Intel made a BAD mistake with this crap because most of us here on tomshardware are experts, enthusiasts, technicians and hardcore gamers who do NOT buy "brand-in-a-box" desktops with Foxconn motherboards branded as Intel. That's right folks, Intel doesn't actually make their own motherboards. They contract out to Foxconn (who we know makes crap) and I'd take pretty much any motherboard make over Foxconn. Intel's motherboards are reliable? I used to be a sales rep for Tiger Direct and I'll tell you that Intel mobos are absolute garbage unless you're using the system for business apps that need all the power of a P1 with Win95! Motherboard brands have tier levels according to quality and features. Here is how they rank:

    Tier 1 - Legendary features, performance, reliability and reputation. These boards appeal to enthusiasts and generally are beyond reproach. These makers have legendary board series names that are recognised as the pinnacle of motherboard design. They demand a price premium for their products and still tend to outsell the Tier 2 and 3 levels at the consumer level:
    ASUS - Crosshair, Sabertooth, Rampage, EVO
    Gigabyte - Assassin, Sniper, UD5, UD7
    MSI - Platinum, Big Bang, GDxx Series

    ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI are generally recognised as the finest desktop motherboard makers in the world. Tyan and Supermicro are Tier 1 as well but in the server category.

    Tier 2 - Lesser-known names that are making a name for themselves by offering great performance and reliability at great prices. Generally these brands are younger than Tier 1 and don't make no-holds-barred overclocking performance boards (yet). Tier 2 also includes makers that were previously Tier 3 but have worked hard to improve their reliability, feature sets and performance:

    ASRock, Biostar, ECS, Zotac

    Tier 3 - Names that are generally unknown or have dubious reliability reputations. They have a limited selection and pander more to the OEMs (Acer, Dell, HP & Lenovo) than they do to the consumer market. They are generally dirt cheap (with one glaring exception) and offer decent value for users who know little to nothing about computers (people who buy brand-in-a-box desktops). Generally any attempts at production of high-end boards results in fiascos due to their generally inept (or crack-smoking) designers and bad corporate philosophies (low wages, high employee suicide rates, refusal to pay for quality components, greed, arrogance):

    Foxconn - Possibly the worst tech company ever but possibly the largest because of their massive production capacity and huge contracts with desktop and laptop OEMs.
    Intel - Made by Foxconn and priced like Tier 1 but have very good corporate customer support. If you have any expertise at all, Intel boards are just not worth it. If you're a tech-moron and don't know anyone with expertise, an Intel board would be an attractive idea for a first-built because you could be on the phone with them as they walk you through the installation. Personally, I'd just watch a YouTube video and use a Tier 1 or 2 depending on the build's purpose.
    JetWay - Young, small and relatively poor. I expect that they will one day become Tier 2 if they can ever stop tripping over their own feet.