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Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100

Test Settings

Test Configuration
CPUIntel Core 2 Duo E86003.33GHz, FSB-1333, 6.0 MB Cache
MemoryCrucial Ballistix PC2-6,400 2x 2.0 GBOverclocked to DDR2-1,066 CAS 5-5-5-15
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD5000AAKS 500 GB7200 RPM, SATA 3.0 GB/s, 16 MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Network Controller (offline)
PowerCooler Master RS850-EMBA850W, ATX12V v2.2
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate SP1
Graphics DriverATI Catalyst 8.9
Chipset DriversIntel INF 9.0.0.1009
Onboard Device DriversMotherboard 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
CrysisVersion: 1.2.1Test 1: Low Details, No AATest 2: Very High Details, 8x AADemo: CPU-Benchmark + Tom's Hardware Tool
Supreme CommanderForged AllianceVersion: 1.5.3599Test 1: Low Details, No AATest 2: Very High Details, 8x AADemo: WallaceTX_006_006Benchmark: Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037
Unreal Tournament 3Version: 1.2Sound and DirectX10 Enabled (Full Screen)Test 1: Texture/Level Details: 1Test 2: Texture/Level Details: 5Demo: vCTF-Reflection_flyTime: 12/60
World in ConflictVersion: 1.0.0.9Test 1: Very Low details (No AA, No AF)Test 2: Very High details (4x AA, 4x AF)Demo: Game-Benchmark
Audio Encoding
iTunesVersion: 7.7.0.43Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)Audio CD Terminator II SE, 53 minWave to MP3, 160 Kb/s
Video Encoding
TMPEG 4.5Version: 4.5.1.254Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode: Insane QualityEnhanced multithreadingEnabled using SSE4Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.1.3Display encoding status = off
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec28 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 9Version: 9.0Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version: 10.0x20070321Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-PhotoBenchmark: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4Filters: Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e,Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134Virus base: 270.4.5/1533Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of compressed files
Winrar 3.80Version 3.70 BETA 8WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3Compression = BestDictionary = 4096 KBBenchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Winzip 11Version 11.2Compression = BestBenchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
Synthetics
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.023DMark, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarksWindows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMediaMemory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • jsc
    "What is a >$100 board going to give me?

    I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • gaiden2k7
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $99 during black friday... would that top this list? :)
    Reply
  • Noya
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $84.50 during Black Friday, pwned you ninja gaiden fag.
    Reply
  • malveaux
    Wait, no AMD stuff?

    :(
    Reply