The motherboard, a computer's principal printed-circuit board, serves as home to the system's main components, hosting such parts as the memory, or RAM, expansion slots, and central processing unit (CPU), the computer's so-called "brain." Not surprisingly, the industry's two leading makers of those brainy chips---California neighbors Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc.---also market extensive lines of motherboards optimized for their world-class processors.
AMD and Intel are fierce competitors in the computer parts industry. Intel closed out 2008 controlling about 81.9 percent in overall global CPU sales, while AMD held approximately 17.7 percent.
The European Commission, acting on a complaint by AMD, fined Intel $1.45 billion in May 2009, accusing the chip giant of anti-competitive practices by paying personal computer makers to delay or not produce PCs using AMD microprocessors. Intel has appealed the fine and ruling.
If you're thinking about purchasing a new motherboard, but can't decide between one from AMD or Intel, go to both manufacturers' websites and do some research. Compare motherboard prices and read several product reviews in the consumer-electronics press. AMD produces a variety of low-cost motherboards with exceptional performance. Intel motherboards are a bit pricier and require more power than AMD's motherboards. Intel motherboards are designed for high data transfer speeds and support additional memory sockets.
Regardless of which manufacturer that you decide to purchase from, you should select a motherboard that best suits your needs and budget. If you're searching for a board that provides solid stability, and you want to be able to overclock it, invest in a motherboard designed for gaming. AMD and Intel offer several lower-priced motherboards capable of handling high-powered gaming systems.
Reasonably Priced AMD Motherboards
The Gigabyte AMD 770 GA-MA770-UD3 motherboard has fewer features than the more expensive boards. The socket type is AM2+/AM2 socket and includes one PCI-Express 2.0 slot. The retail price is $74 to $92 as of 2009.
The GigaByte GA-MA790X-UD4P motherboard provides support for the AM3/AM2+/AM2 socket and includes two PCI-Express 2.0 slots. The retail price is $106 to $129 as of 2009.
The GigaByte GA-MA790GP-UD4H motherboard provides support for the AM2+/AM2 socket. Includes two PCI-Express 2.0 slots. The retail price is $114 to $146 as of 2009.
Reasonably Priced Intel Motherboards
The GigaByte GA-EP45-UD3R motherboard features Intel's Dynamic Energy Saver technology, and it provides support for the latest Intel Core 2 multi-core processors. The retail price is $119 to $146 as of 2009.
The Asus P5Q Pro is an Intel P45 chipset-based motherboard. Provides support for dual-channel memory architecture and one PCI Express 2.0 x16 lane for extreme graphics performance. The retail price is $129 to $199 as of 2009.
The MSI X58M motherboard is ideal for the Core i7 platform. Provides support for 6 DIMM slots for a maximum of 24GB of memory. The retail price is $164 to $230 as of 2009.
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