The author would like to acknowledge Vijay Anand's tremendous contribution to this article.
When AMD launched the desktop processor based on the new AMD64 technology in September during the annual Computex show in Taipei, users all around the world heralded the dawn of 64-bit computing. The Athlon 64 managed to get a lot of users' attention mainly because of its flexible architecture which allows one to use the processor even in current 32-bit environments. That in itself could help move the industry into the 64-bit space as it allows users to run current legacy codes while they wait for new operating systems and applications to be made available.
Several months has passed and there seems to be no news of the heavily patched version of Windows XP for AMD64 processors. Though the press/media had a whale of a time trying out the beta version, it was still buggy and a lot of device drivers have yet to be fully implemented. As such, 64-bit didn't quite much impress us, at least until we see full optimizations done in our everyday applications. To make matters worse, the availability of the processor was poor and that made it even harder for users to even think of building one themselves. Of course, the price of the processor was steep and that kept users away.
All that is slowly changing now as we began to see more and more chips hitting the stores today. Although still not as popular as the Athlon XP or the Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading, its popularity is slowly growing - but not as fast as when they released the K7 several years back.
Today, we take a look at some of the more popular Socket-754 motherboards offered by the various motherboard manufacturers in Taiwan. Though we'd like it to be as complete as possible, the release of these boards are still trickling through. However, at this point, we can be quite certain that at least 80-85% of the more popular brands/models are covered in this single article.
In this shootout, we've limited it to reviewing boards based on either the NVIDIA nForce3 or VIA K8T800 chipsets. Although SiS recently won the best performing award for their 755 chipset, manufacturers still have yet to introduce any boards based on that. Thus, we've decided to skip that altogether and perhaps leave that category opened for another round-up. For ALi or AMD based chipsets, it's suffice to say that such solutions would not make it to the retail shelves although ALi-based chipsets may hit the budget and OEM market in very limited quantities.
To find out more about the features and performance aspects of these chipsets for the AMD64 architecture, check our recent Athlon 64 Chipset Shootout article here