Just because everybody talks about Intel's Core 2 Duo processor doesn't mean AMD shouldn't be on your radar screen. Now, there is a healthy crop of mature socket AM2 motherboards available to power Athlon 64, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX and Sempron processors. Thanks to recent price drops, AMD still offers a nice price/performance ratio compared to that Intel.
Moreover, the 940-pin socket AM2 is not going away anytime soon: It will host the upcoming 65-nm processor generation and you will be able to upgrade to faster and more efficient processors by simply upgrading your motherboard's BIOS.
With the memory controller firmly on the Athlon 64's CPU die, which removes previous performance limitations, we find the battle for supremacy in the AM2 arena not strictly in the raw performance arena, but rather on the feature front. Bundles, the number of ports, flexibility, stability and even the "wow factor" have come into play here more than ever before.
We had a look at the newest high-end, deluxe and fully-featured AM2 boards available for the enthusiast to play with. Here are the competitors:
- Asus M2 Crosshair
- Asus M2N32 SLI Deluxe
- Biostar TForce590 SLI Deluxe
- Epox MF570 SLI
- Foxconn C51XEM2A
- Gigabyte M59SLI S5
- MSI K9A Platinum
- MSI K9N Platinum
Now that we're familiar with the entries, let's have a closer look at each motherboard.