Performance Is King: Who Makes The Choice?
Mobo performance differences with the same chipset should be practically negligible - that's at least what happens in the graphics business. Instead, features, reliability, service and value for money should be the main criteria for making an informed purchase decision. An IT manager at a large enterprise may see that way, but the enthusiast and thrill seeker doesn't quite see it that way. Performance is essential, and the press responds correspondingly, always with the benchmark graphics and blazing headlines about "who's the king."
Recently we came across an example of the lengths some companies will go to kick up performance. We discovered overclocking with the MSI 865 Neo 2, which could only be seen using special tools that we have access to, but that are not available to the general consumer. The ingenious MSI approach dynamically increased the FSB clock from 200 MHz to 216 MHz, but only when applications took up nearly 100% of the CPU load. With a 3 GHz processor, this would result in a clock increase to over 3.2 GHz. Accordingly, MSI was able to achieve best of class performance with numerous publications and editors.
Following on, in our last test, the Asus P4P800, equipped with the Intel 865PE chipset (Springdale), placed at the head of the pack in the benchmarks. This made it just as fast as the much more expensive P4C800 motherboard, which is based on the Intel 875 chipset (Canterwood). Our discovery seemed to indicate that the purchase of a P4C800 seemed unnecessary. Why pay more for a chipset when you could get the same thing from its lesser cousin? However, we had to keep in mind that the MSI 865 Neo 2 and the 875 Neo boards do not differ from the press samples and are sold as such in stores. At least MSI allows the customer the option to decide whether or not to use dynamic overclocking or not.