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Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100

Conclusion

Who makes the best-value motherboard for under $100? It really depends on what features you’re looking for. The Asus P5QL Pro offered the best performance and lowest price, but its performance leadership was too small to make us forget about the motherboard’s cramped layout. In fact, the MSI P43 Neo3-F tied for lowest price, and its relatively good layout makes it a similarly good choice in spite of its 0.52% slower performance.

Anyone trying to put off buying a graphics card will, of course, prefer a motherboard that has onboard graphics, and the good news for these buyers is that the ECS G45T-M2 is relatively fast and stable. The only reason we couldn’t recommend it to a wider group of value-seekers is that it can’t be overclocked at all, and overclocking is where most of us get better value.

Our top two picks for overclockers are the ASRock P45XE and Jetway BI-500. The BI-500 allowed slightly better CPU stability, but the P45XE allowed much greater bus speeds to be used. Because the average low-budget overclocker will be limited to low-multiplier processors, the P45XE might be the better choice.

Finally there’s the gaming crowd who could find extra value by using a pair of low-cost Radeon HD 4830 graphics cards in CrossFire mode. The two motherboards in today’s comparison that had the best overclocking capability also featured the CrossFire-supporting P45 chipset, but only one of these is a true CrossFire-enhanced design—the ASRock P45XE supports automatic switching between a single graphics card in PCIe 2.0 x16 mode and dual cards in x8 mode, while the Jetway BI-500 forces the second graphics card to limp along using previous-generation PCIe technology {and} x4 pathways.

Good performance and excellent overclocking capability make ASRock’s motherboard look like a good performance value, but added features are where the P45XE really shines. These include proper CrossFire support, automatic PCIe switching for CrossFire mode, and the rarely-seen but much-appreciated ability to set AHCI drives as removable devices. This overwhelming combination of performance, overclocking capabilities, and mid-priced features leads us to select ASRock’s P45XE as the best overall value in a budget-enthusiast motherboard.

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