Well, the outcome of our investigation appeared not so simple. First of all, we can’t answer the question: which chipset for Socket754 platform is the most optimal solution today. even if we take into account that mainboard manufacturers will integrate more onboard controllers to make up for insufficient functionality of the NVIDIA nForce3 150, the products based on it will still suffer from one very serious drawback: slower HyperTransport bus, which serves to connect the chipset to the CPU. As a result this leads to performance drops in the applications, which use the AGP bus a lot. At the same time, VIA K8T800 is free from this drawback, but suffers from another ones, such as low IDE controller performance and synchronous clocking of the processor and AGP/PCI buses, which can theoretically impose certain limitations over the overclocking potential of these boards.
At the same time, I have to mention that the integration of the memory controller into the CPU as well as very long and thorough development of the Athlon 64 processor the mainboards built for it proved highly stable and performed very close to one another. This way, you can base your choice of an Athlon 64 platform on such things as rich features set and CPU overclocking opportunities.
Summing up the results of our roundup I would like to single out a few products, which I would recommend paying attention to in the first place, if you are looking into a stable and reliable Athlon 64 system. They are:
- Albatron K8X800 ProII. This mainboard on VIA K8T800 chipset impressed us with the richest set of features for efficient CPU overclocking. Among all 13 mainboards reviewed today, this solution from Albatron boasts the most advanced options for voltage management and CPU clock frequency multiplier adjustment. At the same time, it offers a well-balanced set of features, which makes it not so expensive, as some competing solutions.
- ASUS K8V Deluxe. Despite a slight lag behind the leaders in the main performance benchmarks, this mainboard offers an excellent list of features, boasts high-quality design and mounting and attractive overclocking opportunities. Moreover, this mainboard is supplied with a WiFi card, which you will simply love, once you try it out.
- Chaintech ZNF3-150. We were highly positive about this product from the very beginning: stylish looks and very rich accessories set did their job. Besides, Chaintech ZNF3-150 performed really fast and stable and proved pretty successful during overclocking.
- Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP. This is an excellent alternative to ASUS K8V from a different manufacturer and based on a different chipset. The features list is not any smaller, the overclocking friendly functions are pretty sufficient, the stability leaves no concerns, and the performance is quite high, I should say. I would also like to point out that Gigabyte’s mainboard also features a couple of onboard LAN controllers, unlike the solution from ASUS.
- Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL. This is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a low-cost Socket754 platform. The mainboard is not loaded with any additional controllers, but due to the VIA K8T800 chipset it doesn’t lack any essential features. Moreover, it costs not much at all, performs pretty fast and copes great with all Athlon 64 overclocking tricks.