Anyone looking at building a new desktop system should not look any further than Intel Core 2 processors, and when time comes to pick a platform you should have Intel's own P35 chipset in mind as it officially offers 1333MHz FSB support and will be compatible with upcoming 45nm processors. This translates in a fairly 'future-proof' platform, with some models currently available supporting DDR3 memory already.
But as new as this chipset is, deciding that you want a P35-based motherboard is not enough. Most major manufacturers have already launched several different models powered by the chipset, to give an example, ASUS currently offers a dozen motherboards models all based on the Intel P35.
We have rounded up some of the better examples available for one big article where we shall compare them side by side. Although we have nine motherboards to compare, they come from just four different manufacturers: Abit, ASUS, ECS and Gigabyte. These boards range from $90, all the way up to $230.
As mentioned before, there are a number of Intel P35 motherboards that offer support for DDR3 memory, and while we have a few of these boards on hand, such as the ASUS P5K3 Deluxe/Premium and the Gigabyte P35T-DQ6, we are deliberately excluding them from the comparison. At the moment just 2GBs of DDR3 memory will set you back around $400 which is quite ridiculous, making it pointless (for the time being) to buy a DDR3-capable motherboard given the price premium. That leaves us with the nine motherboards we are testing today that support DDR2 memory exclusively.
For this P35 round-up we have tried to include a high-end version and a budget version motherboard from each manufacturer. The boards will be put through the usual batch of tests, while we will also compare their overclocking abilities side by side. Before jumping into the benchmarks we will briefly list the features and go over the layout and design of each motherboard.
Initially we had planned to include a few MSI motherboards that were going to be supplied by the manufacturer itself. Unfortunately once we explained our plan for a comparison against competing boards, they got cold feet and pulled out. Not sure exactly what we should make of this, so make of it what you will. Because the news came somewhat last minute we did not have time to purchase these motherboards without delaying the article further, we apologize for the omission.