In the computer
world choosing the right motherboard is often the most difficult decision to
make. Not only does it affect the processor choice but it also affects future
upgradeability of the system. To put even more pressure on you, with the
videocard market split between nVIDIA SLI and ATi CrossFire, there's also the
chance you could be "betting on the wrong horse" as the technologies are not
cross compatible due to licensing reasons.
While Intel's latest and greatest Core 2 Duo processor
line is more powerful than AMD's Athlon64 socket AM2 chip, most gamers are still
going the AMD route due to better gaming support. nVIDIA's SLI technology has
been around with us for a bit over a year now, and it's also the preferred
choice of gamers.
If you're in the market for a new gaming PC, Asus has
one heck of a motherboard for you to set your sights on. The Asus M2-CROSSHAIR
retails for $266 CDN ($240 US, £126GBP). The board is priced at a premium, but
then again gaming is an expensive hobby and it comes with a whole host of
gamer/tweaker friendly options that might make it worthwhile in your eyes.
From the awesome looking blue LEDs all over the
motherboard PCB to the convenient power, reset and Clear CMOS buttons, the
motherboard is an absolute pleasure to work with.
The rear panel LCD doesn't just look cool, it's also
very useful if you're having a hard time with the system. If you're having a
hardware problem, the LCD will tell you exactly what is the issue, when you're
in Windows XP, you can put whatever slogan you want back there. =D
The Asus M2-CROSSHAIR has the most memory options we
have ever seen in a motherboard. Experienced tweakers will absolutely love
tweaking this board!
The overclocking options available here are pretty mind
blowing - but be careful when adjusting voltages. The values go high enough to
kill hardware if you don't know what you're doing. It's also a good idea to get
some major cooling on the CPU and the VRM/chipset heatsinks before you even
think about increasing CPU voltage to 1.85V. Take it from us, totally forget
about pushing 3V+ voltage to the DDR2 RAM if you're a novice!
M2-CROSSHAIR performed quite well in the benchmarks, but then again the socket
AM2 Athlon64 platform is strong on all fronts.
In our tests we notice that an SLI'd pair of nVidia
GeForce 7800GTXs wasn't really enough to push the M2-CROSSHAIR motherboard to
its breaking point, but future generations of nVIDIA videocards may benefit from
the added bandwidth that LinkBoost offers.
When it came to overclocking, the Asus M2-CROSSHAIR was
an absolute beauty. It rose to 325 MHz motherboard clock speed, and that teamed
that up with monster voltages could potentially add up to the best enthusiast
class Socket AM2 motherboard on the market.... I know this board and our Socket
AM2 processors are begging for some Prometeia Mach II GT action, just imagine what might be
There is no getting around the fact that the Asus
M2-CROSSHAIR motherboard is an expensive platform, but it's also one of the
fastest and most well equipped Socket AM2 motherboards PCSTATS has tested. If
you want a killer gaming rig, start with the right motherboard and the Asus
M2-CROSSHAIR fits that bill very nicely.
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