Top Five Intel P965 Motherboards For Core 2 Duo Processors

Core 2 Duo processors are the best thing since Half Life 2 but getting one will probably require a motherboard upgrade.  The Intel P965 chipset is built from the ground up to support Core 2 Duo and it's a more economical solution to it's bigger brother, the 975.  Here's a list of five of the best P965 motherboards available.  Some win on features, others on value, but all of them are definitely worth a look when it's time for an upgrade.
So you bought yourself one of the new Core 2 Duo processors, and you were really excited and and...
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 you’re 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 you’re 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 you’re still using DDR memory, it’ll 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 you’re 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 you’re 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 we’re 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.

Motherboard #1

Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6

It may be incredibly expensive, but it’s got pretty much anything you’d want a motherboard to have.  As one of Gigabyte’s 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 you’ll 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.

Motherboard #2

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.

Motherboard #3

Abit AB9 Pro

The AB9 Pro has most of the same things as the first two, but it’s 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.  It’s even got a little LED on the motherboard to tell you what’s 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 you’ll 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

Motherboard #4


Now we transition to a different playing field, where the best value wins.  The ECS P965T-A doesn’t lack much, actually.  While it doesn’t give you RAID support, it still has a PATA connector.  Five SATA ports are as many as you’ll really ever need anyway, so besides the RAID you’re not going to miss much.  Quality is always a concern when you’re on a budget, but ECS is a pretty reliable brand.




Motherboard #5

MSI P965 Neo-F

Not much missing on this one either.  It’s 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
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