Motherboard Trends 2003: Consumers Are Spoilt For Choice
Originally, we planned on doing a second part of the last comparison One Tough Cookie: 10 Boards with Intel i875P Chipset: Part I . However, because the situation with other test candidates and BIOS software has changed, we have retested all the motherboards.
In the next few months, two chipsets will set the pace for the Intel P4 platform, namely the 875P as the top model and the somewhat cheaper 865 with its derivatives. It is also apparent that the Grantsdale chipset, which is not due to be released until mid 2004, will expand the current generation. The two modules are therefore designed to last a long time and are ideal as upgrades or for OEM use.
The current favorite is "Dual-DDR400," and motherboard buyers are basing their purchase decision on criteria such as "FSB800" or "HT-Support." As far as the ambitious user is concerned, selecting the perfect motherboard is anything but a trivial pastime - never before have customers been able to choose from such a wide range of products. Another plus is the extremely long list of features, previously unheard of for motherboards, thus making the purchase of additional components superfluous for the time being. This comes as a result of higher integration.
The most striking feature of the new boards is the optical aspect. Every manufacturer is desperately trying to attract attention through a specific layout and the design of the packaging. The solutions typically rely on lavish, high-gloss print instead of spartan, generic packaging. If you want to be noticed, you have to resort to unconventional methods and have fresh ideas. Hence, bright-colored carrier bags, funny T-shirts, cult stickers, compact screwdrivers, rotating flashing lights or fluorescent round cables are now the trends; the actual hardware, i.e., the motherboard, has long ceased to suffice as a means of wooing customers. What's more important now is to provide enough accessories to make the package burst, and everything at a reasonable price!
Nevertheless, the key is an evenly balanced overall package, the right mixture of features, equipment and performance for critically minded users.