MSI builds good quality boards with performance in mind. Though not the best, they provide a nice cross between function, features and price. The MSI P6N-SLI Platinum is definitely an enthusiast's board, supporting two x8 PCI Express video cards in SLI configuration, or one x16 card in single mode. The board supports all of the latest dual core processors for Socket-775 from Intel, including the Core2Quad. Front Side Bus speeds up 1,333MHz and a tweakable BIOS indicate this board is ready for overclockers! There is also Gigabit LAN, SATA-II, and eSATA, for all your RAID requirements. Hyperthreading is also supported, which should come as no surprise. The NVIDIA® nForce 650i SLI chipset is currently one of the most popular around and allows for lots of tinkering. Up to 8 GB of DDR-II memory is possible using 533/667/800 interface speeds. 1.8v DDR-II DIMMs are supported, but stability problems may occur with different brands unless voltage and timings are manually adjusted to optimal values in BIOS.
• Internal Slots include two PCI Express X16 slots (supports PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant; the 2nd PCI Express X16 slot will operate at x8 mode when SLI Technology has been enabled), one PCI Express x1 slot and three 32-bit PCI slots.
• Support is available for 3.3V/5V PCI bus interface.
• Audio by Realtek ALC888 HD Audio provides flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing and is compliant with the Azalia 1.0 spec.
• On-Board Peripherals include 1 floppy port, 1 Serial port, 1 parallel port, 1 audio jack (5-in-1) with coaxial/optical SPDIF out, 8 USB 2.0 ports (4 Rear, 4 Front), 1 RJ45 LAN jack, 1 "D-Bracket II" pinheader, 2 IEEE 1394a (Firewire) connectors (1 Rear, 1 Front), 1 CD-in pinheader, 1 eSATA port in an 11.96 in. x 9.61 in. ATX Form Factor.
Intel is not only the king of processors, it is also the maker of some of the most stable motherboards on the market. But this is not necessarily an indicator of being the best when it comes to this particular item. There are many more factors to consider, especially if you are an overclocker or customizer. BIOS options are among those considerations and Intel usually doesn't include a lot of the options that enthusiasts like to see. However, the Intel D975XBX2 board isn't totally "average Intel" fare. These boards sport 800 MHZ to 1066 MHz front side bus speeds and support HT processors. This is the first board in a long time from Intel to actually have a very consumer-friendly BIOS, and it is more tweakable than anything I've ever seen from this company. There is also eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet, RAID support, and support for up to EIGHT gigabytes of ECC or non-ECC memory. There is also Intel's high-definition audio with digital SPDIF and eight USB 2.0 ports, as well as three IEEE-1394a. There is also an ATI Crossfire version of this board on the market for those who feel compelled to run dual graphics processors. Fitting this board with a processor should be no problem, since there really aren't many of the current processors from Intel that won't work in this board, though I can't see why anyone would want to put an older single core processor in this monster. That would be like putting a Cessna engine on a 747! It might roll, but it really wouldn't fly! This board also supports Intel's Precision Cooling Technology, so with the new Core2Duo family running so much cooler, and all the tweakability available, this should be great for overclockers!
AMD processors have slightly fallen out of vogue lately with the new Intel procs making the come-back that they have. But AMD is not altogether out of the running, and in fact, has some new tricks up its sleeve for later this year or early next year. Socket AM2 motherboards are still popular and command respect in the market place with technology that in ways still supersedes a few of the tricks necessary for Intel processors. The ASUS Crosshair motherboard is the current cream of the crop for AMD procs, with the nVidia nForce 590 SLI MCP chipset. The board supports a full range of processors, from the lowly Sempron line, all the way up to the Athlon 64 X2. Cool 'n' Quiet Technology guarantees low system temps under most conditions without the noise of conventional fans. Heatpipes and a newly designed fan system funnel heat away from crucial areas of the board. A 2000 MHz standard front side bus speed and maximum 8 gigabytes of unbuffered DDR-II ECC or non-ECC memory running at 800 MHz will handle anything you throw at it. Two x16 PCI Express slots power an SLI setup with twin nVidia graphics cards at full speed, leaving one x4 PCI Express slot open for other duties. There are also 3 PCI 2.2 expansion slots. Though there is only one PATA 133 connector, storage is better served using the 6 SATA connectors, which run at 3.0Gb/s and supporting RAID 0, 0+1, 5, and JBOD across all SATA drives.
Overclocking features on this board are abundant! ASUS has what it calls NOS, or Non-Delay Overclocking System, which consists of AI Overclocking, AI Clock Skew, AI PEG Link (which does automatic tuning for graphics cards), ASUS O.C. Profile (which allows you to save and share an overclocking profile), ASUS C.P.R (CPU Parameter Recall), and Extreme Tweaker. There is also support for an adjustable FSB/DDR-II ratio.
The Audio SupremeFX card feaures Jack sensing, jack retasking, and an ADI 1988B 8 channel high-definiton codec. There are audio ports for 8 channels, plus coaxial optical SPDIF on the backplane. There are many more features of this board I haven't touched on, but space here is limited. This is obviously one killer board if you are still in the AMD camp!