you plugged it into your three-year-old motherboard with a 915 chipset and BSOD. Don't panic. All you need to do is go out and spend some more money on a new motherboard. Doh! The Intel P965 chipset was designed specifically for Core 2 duo users on a budget - 975 is still pretty expensive. So if youâre looking for a motherboard with an Intel 965 chipset with bags of performance, read on.
Before you go shopping for a motherboard, you need to follow your mothers advice and make a list of things you want it to have. The motherboard is a very important component in any PC, it's basically the heart of the system. If youâre not careful, buying the wrong motherboard could make it incompatible with something else you already own, hinder performance or not support hardware you plan to purchase in the future. There are a couple of things that a 965 motherboard (and a Core 2 processor in general) will require as a standard.
- The first is DDR2 memory. If youâre still using DDR memory, itâll have to go. DDR2 can reach much higher speeds and keep your system running smoothly without creating bottlenecks for the processor.
- PCI-Express graphics are also going to be on the list. If you buy a Core 2 processor youâre going to need a PCI-Express graphics
card. If you fancy running two graphics cards in SLI mode you'll be limited to NVIDIA solutions as the 965 doesn't support ATI crossfire cards. If youâre looking for integrated graphics to save some money, the G965 chipset
offers it but don't plan on playing any games - well apart from Minesweeper!
Other features you should check out are SATA support - ideally 6 SATA ports for plenty of storage options - USB 2.0 and Firewire, a RAID controller that allows you to combine your individual hard drives in different ways, such as striping (putting two disks into one partition to effectively double the speed), mirroring (using two drives to store the same data in case one drive crashes), or both. There are other lthings, like the number of PCI slots (handy for soundcards etc), the number of USB ports (everythings USB these days and ports quickly fill up - 4's a minimum), does the board use passive cooling (important if you want a quiet working environment), bundled accessories such as cables for connecting everything up and overclocking support if you plan of tweaking for performance boosts.
So, now that we know a little bit about what weâre looking for, we can point you in the right direction and help you pick the best Intel 965 motherboards on the market. While some people consider plenty of features to be the most important thing, others prefer something that is priced more competitively, even if it lacks a couple of bells and whistles. As a compromise, the first three are motherboards ranked solely based on their features and performance, while the last two are cost-effective solutions for the budget conscious.
It may be incredibly expensive, but itâs got pretty much anything youâd want a motherboard to have. As one of Gigabyteâs top motherboards, the GA-965P-DQ6 has solid capacitors, which is an industry first and ensures that the motherboard will last longer (well, at least the capacitors will). 12-phase voltage regulation for the processor is also a first and delivers more stable power to the CPU. And, though youâll most likely never use it, the motherboard features four eSATA ports to externally connect a SATA hard drive. RAID, of course, is built into the motherboard, as is a PATA connector for two devices and an additional two SATA slots, giving you a total of eight.
ASUS P5B Deluxe
The Asus P5B Deluxe motherboard are a little more affordable with basically the same feature set with the advantage of killer overclocking performance - 535 FSB isn't unheard of with this board. The P5B Deluxe also has RAID support, with seven SATA connectors in the motherboard and one eSATA port outside. A PATA connector lets you connect two PATA devices, like the GA-965P-DQ6, and a black PCB gives it that professional look. It also has dual gigabit Ethernet capabilities if you have two separate networks to hook up to.
Abit AB9 Pro
The AB9 Pro has most of the same things as the first two, but itâs got a total of nine internal SATA connectors and one eSATA connector, two more than the P5B Deluxe. It has RAID and PATA support too. Itâs even got a little LED on the motherboard to tell you whatâs happening with the BIOS. The only real fault is the placement of the floppy and PATA connectors. Both of them are adjacent to the PCI slots, instead of their usual location near the memory and power connector. Your cables might not even reach that far, and if they do youâll have a lot more clutter in your case than you want. If you can live with that, the AB9 Pro packs a good punch for the money
Now we transition to a different playing field, where the best value wins. The ECS P965T-A doesnât lack much, actually. While it doesnât give you RAID support, it still has a PATA connector. Five SATA ports are as many as youâll really ever need anyway, so besides the RAID youâre not going to miss much. Quality is always a concern when youâre on a budget, but ECS is a pretty reliable brand.
MSI P965 Neo-F
Not much missing on this one either. Itâs got five SATA ports as well, along with PATA support, but the floppy and power connectors are in strange places. Plus it only has one PCI-Express x16 slot, while the four motherboards above all have two. Other than that, this motherboard is just fine, and MSI is a good brand.
Motherboard images courtesy of Newegg.com.