Business Oriented Integrated Motherboard Roundup
Faced with the purchase of dozens of new computers, government agencies, schools and businesses
need to find ways to keep costs down while still
getting the equipment they require. "White box" systems based on integrated motherboards offer one of
the best ways to lower the price of a new PC, as long as
the application is right. Businesses looking to build workstations for high-end applications will obviously
have to side with more expensive computers, but for
the majority of standard office work System Administrators on a budget are well
An integrated motherboard is generally classed
as a motherboard with on board video, audio and networking capabilities although many more features
may be present. In the past this term was used
mainly with Micro ATX boards, but now it's used to describe mainly the
The integration of many different components (videocard, soundcard, network
interface card) allow manufacturers to lower costs and sell a product for less
than if all four equivalent technologies are sold separately. Since everything can be put on
to one circuit board, costs associated with running different manufacturing lines,
packaging and shipping are decreased greatly. From users perspective the end result is exactly the
What would persuade a
system administrator to buy an integrated mainboard based PC from a white box distributor over that of
a large OEM like Dell, Compaq or IBM is price. The advantages to buying from those
companies is obviously going to be service and support.
integrated motherboards are not without their compromises, blistering gaming
performance and other such high end applications are never quite best served.
Additionally smaller sized Micro ATX motherboards often limit the number of PCI
expansion slots and less DIMM slots. While some even come without an AGP port,
the ones that do will at least give you the option to upgrade in the future. In
any case if we take the example of a school purchasing 50 new computers it is
cost that factors in most importantly, with performance and features battling it
out for second place.
did a recent poll say were the top four things that people upgraded in their
computers? Number one was memory, which gets sucked up by bloated OS's and
software ("Bloatware"). Upgrading memory can be as simple installing a new stick
of RAM, or at worse removing some of your current memory and buying a much
larger stick to make up for the lost RAM.
on the top four things people upgrade are processors. With any PC all you need
to do for the most part is swap out the processor and sit back and enjoy the
increase in speed.
drive upgrades rounded out the third spot, and with OS's and programs are
getting larger and larger this is unlikely to change. Most integrated mainboards
can accept up to four IDE devices with some of the standard sized ATX mainboards
even bringing IDE RAID into the equation. True Micro ATX integrated mainboards
will always be limited to at most three hard drives and one CD-ROM.
most integrated boards have onboard video, many users never upgrade to a high
end videocard. If this isn't the case though, make sure the integrated mainboard
has an AGP expansion port. New videocards are exclusively AGP and the PCI based
cards are usually no better then the integrated video on the
be testing the MSI MS-6378, MS-6390, MS-6368,
MS-6533, MS-6524, Epox 4GLA+ & 4G4A+,
Iwill mP4G and Abit BG7. Evaluations
will be based upon office based benchmarks, features and price/performance
ratio. Motherboards will be grouped by AMD AthlonXP and Intel Pentium III, and
Intel Pentium 4's in another. While there is a mix of Micro ATX and standard ATX
boards this factor will be taken into consideration when we draw our
conclusions. Both ATX and Micro ATX have their benefits and downside and each
formfactor has it's ideal applications.
three major CPU form factors out there to consider; Socket 370 (Celeron/Pentium
3,VIA C3), Socket A (Duron/Athlon/AthlonXP) and Socket m478 (Celeron/Pentium 4)
- we've assembled ten to test and see how they stack up against each other.