It's not unusual for many users to start getting a little antsy around the holidays as they contemplate various upgrades they might want to make. They say it's better to give than to receive, so we at AnandTech thought it might be nice to give you some good advice for holiday purchases, and if you're lucky you might receive a few choice upgrades.

Motherboards are one of the most important components in any computer system, but at the same time they're one of the most difficult decisions you face when it comes time to upgrade. You might think that going out and spending a ton of money on a motherboard would be a guarantee of success and quality - you get what you pay for, right? -- but as we've discussed recently that's frequently not the case. We have used and abused many motherboards over the past year, and there has been more than one occasion where a significantly cheaper motherboard easily surpassed some of the high-end offerings.

To help out with your holiday shopping, we've put together a comprehensive motherboard guide, looking at everything from entry-level products up to high-end enthusiast offerings. We will be looking at both AMD and Intel options, including the latest X58 motherboards for Core i7 systems. We will have several other component buyer's guides over the coming week, but the motherboard is the heart of any modern system so we felt it would be best to start there.

Meet the Contenders


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  • bob4432 - Monday, December 15, 2008 - link

    this is the board to use if overclocking is of prime importance to you. Our only knock against the board is that it does not overclock quad-core processors as well as the Gigabyte or ASUS boards.

    in the first sentence you say this is the board (biostar) to get for o/cing, but then state that it won't o/c quads, so imho, this would not be the board to get for o/cing????

    the way i read it, you contradict yourself in the whole midrange intel area. why not just recommend the gigabyte or asus boards since they o/c everything well, not just dcs?
  • zebrax2 - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    if you read the whole paragraph you could easily understand that this board is recommended because of its ability to overclock dual cores and anyway both the gigabyte and the asus board are also recommended anyway Reply
  • symbul - Monday, December 15, 2008 - link

    It's a bit late to buy for Christmas I think. The best deals were on Black Friday and the Thanksgiving weekend. I got a brand new Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P for 100$ during that time. At that price point, everything else is moot, unless you really need a x48 chipset motherboard. Reply
  • djc208 - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - link

    I jumped on that one as well. If anything it was nice to see it recommended to re-affirm my purchase. Should have gotten a second one for my Sage server with all the ports on it, but it'll get that as a hand-me-down when I finally go to something with DDR3. Reply
  • Noya - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    I gotta say the best deals were on eBay thanks to Microsofts Live Cashback. From Black Friday to that Sunday, they were offering 30% cashback. And if you were smart, you bought from a buyer that combined the shipping in the price and claimed "free shipping".

    I was on a budget as usual, but bought a Gigabyte UD3p for $84.50 and a Q8200 for $119 (e8400 was $121, but I wanted a quad as I only upgrade every 2 years). Besides, the UD3p overclocked my Q8200 to 3.3ghz without even trying. Fry's had 2x2gb Ballistix DDR2-800 for $20 with rebate, though their site was laggy for a few days. was selling tons due to valid rebates also as the invoice was from

    Graphics cards were crazy cheap- 4870 1gb @ $165, gtx260 core 216 @ $175, gtx280 @ $240-250 and the 4870x2 @ $300-315.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, December 15, 2008 - link

    Where were motherboard deals on Black Friday? CompUSA is gone from retail, Circuit City and Best Buy were never real motherboard players, and Fry's is only in the West.

    Etailers have been running special pricing all along and you can buy through early next week and still get a motherboard in time for Christams from Newegg, ZipZoomFly, mwave and others.

    Still others will get cash or gift cards for Christams that they will use to buy motherboards, video cards, memory, and other computer components AFTER Christmas. This article and the other guides that will appear this wekk will be very useful to many potential buyers, if not all.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - link

    I thought Black Friday was very weak this year. Maybe CompUSA leaving the market is to blame, but there wasn't anything I though was worth getting up very early for. My brother-in-law and I went to Circuit City around 8AM, he bought a wireless keyboard/mouse, I bought a USB TV tuner, we both would not have cared much if they were sold out. We then swung by Sears to pick up a My First Craftsman set for a friend's kid and went home. Unless you were looking for a TV or still chasing a Wii this was not a good year. Reply
  • JeBarr - Monday, December 15, 2008 - link

    Yes an article such as this is a tad lat for christmas anyways. Not just here but most all review sites seem to have gotten lazy this year when it comes to holiday-type buying guides. I guess too much time was spent beta testing all those x58 boards, didnt leave much time for anything else. Reply
  • Elvis2 - Monday, December 15, 2008 - link

    I like the layout :) Reply
  • flipmode - Monday, December 15, 2008 - link

    With that $170 price of the DFI x48 mobo, I am surpised with the recommendation of the $160 Biostar P45 mobo. I am curious, what is the thinking there? Is there something wrong with the DFI mobo? Because if not, how could it *not* be the *only* recommendation in the $150 and above range? Even for people that don't want to spend more than $150 I'd say save up the extra $20 to get the x48 fer cryin out loud. Reply

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