Intel has definitely come up with the trump card when it comes to their Core architecture. It has finally given away the "more GHz is better" crap they have been trying to push down our throats ever since the Pentium 4 came on the market. When Athlon 64 made its mark, Intel was in extreme damage control.
One of the biggest embarrassments for Intel (though they would never admit this) was the fact their mobile CPU (the Pentium-M) was able to kill in gaming benchmarks, whilst the highest clocked Pentium 4 processor was quite dismal in comparison, showing Intel just how flawed the Pentium 4 was for this task. While having some major downsides, the Pentium 4 was the best processor for multimedia applications such as movie and audio encoding tasks. Its raw power was unmatchable by the Pentium-M or the Athlon 64.
Learning from its technological mistakes, Core architecture came from the ashes of the Pentium 4 with a vengeance. Core architecture was based around the Pentium-M's extreme power saving features as well as its gaming performance, along with this came the extreme multimedia capabilities of the Pentium 4. The result is the Core 2 series of CPUs, the Duo being the best value and power for your money.
While having a good CPU is one thing, you need a solid platform to back it up. Until recently, Intel has relied on its 975X and P965 chipsets. 975X was designed primarily for the Pentium Extreme series of CPUs, and while compatible, the Core 2 series features didn't really come up to par. Without DDR2-800 memory support and an outdated Crossfire setup, its performance was behind the 8 ball. P965 really filled the gap, but that's about all, without a true Crossfire setup it has some performance issues when running two ATI graphics cards. This is where Intel has finally looked at future-proofing some of its CPUs and chipsets, hence the launch of the new Intel 3 series of chipsets, with the P35 being the first mainstream to gaming platform to emerge.
Now that P35 has been given the all clear and is designed to run with the new 1333MHz FSB CPUs, P35 based boards are hitting the shelves. Today we have five on offer, each from a different company. The purpose is of course to see what is on offer, what is worth your money and who has the best features. Gigabyte, ASUS, ABIT, Foxconn and ECS put their mid-range boards on the chopping block for us, so let's get stuck into this.