ASRock Conroe 945G-DVI
Support for LGA 775 CPU up to Core 2 Duo Extreme; onboard Intel graphics; 8-channel audio; maximum 4 GB DDR2 RAM; four SATA ports; Gigabit LAN; up to eight USB 2.0 ports
The ASRock Conroe 945G-DVI is based on Intel's 945G chipset. Though designed for older Pentium D CPUs, with BIOS revision, this motherboard supports the latest Core 2 Duo CPUs. It offers both onboard video and a PCIe slot. Though falling in the low-end category, the Conroe 945G-DVI scored quite close the newer, 965G-based motherboards that cost almost thrice as much! This board is very well-suited for most common applications like surfing, office suites, entertainment, and moderate gaming. The Conroe 945G-DVI motherboard gives truly amazing performance at a very low cost.
Runner-Up: Gigabyte GA-945GM-S2
Support for LGA 775 CPU up to Core 2 Quad; 8-channel HD audio; maximum 8 GB DDR2 RAM; CrossFire support; eight SATA ports; e-SATA support; SATA RAID support; Gigabit LAN; up to 10 USB 2.0 ports
Based on Intel's latest P965 Express chipset, the Gigabyte's GA-965P-DQ6 offers support for Intel's latest Core 2 Quad CPUs. This board boasts of good gaming performance, thanks to CrossFire support. Eight SATA ports ensure you never run out of ports to connect your hard drives. SATA RAID support lets you configure your hard drives to RAID 0, 1, 5, or 10. A passive heatsink covering the Northbridge and the Southbridge increases cooling efficiency. The use of solid-state capacitors also increases the life of the motherboard. The scores this board clocked clearly indicate that it is an ideal choice for those who intend to use their PC for gaming, 3D designing, or audio/video editing. Though a bit more expensive than the competition, strong performance and features bring in the Zero1 Award for the GA-965P-DQ6.
Runner-Up: MSI P965 Platinum
Support for LGA 775 CPU up to Core 2 Duo; 8-channel HD audio; maximum 8 GB DDR2 RAM; CrossFire support, five SATA ports; e-SATA support; SATA RAID support; Dual Gigabit LAN; up to eight USB 2.0 ports
Unlike some 975X boards, this board supports a maximum DDR2 frequency of 800 MHz. The area around the CPU socket is not cluttered, permitting easy installation of a larger heatsink. The two PCIe slots are CrossFire compatible, and apart from the normal SATA connectors, there is an e-SATA connector at the back. Dual Gigabit LAN makes this board ideal for gamers. For the overclocking fraternity, there is a dedicated entry in the BIOS-Fox Central Control Unit-that lets you do your thing. The cool combination of features, performance and price make this board a Zero1 Award winner.
Runner-Up: Intel D 975XBX