While Intel is still for the time being trying to push the 975X as the better option for the enthusiast market, its clear to anyone who keeps up with the industry that the P965 is simply the chipset of choice for the Core 2 series - especially as the chipset price is cheaper and now it includes ATI Crossfire support with Catalyst 6.9 drivers and above.
The only claim that the 975X chipset has over the P965 now is that is runs its second PCI Express x16 channel through the Northbridge rather than the Southbridge and is able to offer more bandwidth, our sources tell us when it comes to Crossfire performance, P965 is 10% slower than 975x. While this may be a slight downside, the overclocking and shier performance of the P965 outweighs its small cons list.
- ASUS Motherboard Thoughts
The ASUS P5B Deluxe is one of the best P965 boards we had here in our labs, almost up there with the impressive Gigabyte DQ6 motherboard which knocked our socks off.
Its performance was remarkable, its bundle features were great and overclocking was fantastic. Layout was clean, placement of connectors was good and in all we recommend this board as our Intel Core 2 motherboard of choice in this roundup with the only drawback being that it is the most expensive of the lot by quite a large margin.
Rating - 9 out of 10 and Tweak Town's "MUST HAVE" Best Performance
- Foxconn Motherboard Thoughts
While it didn't quite reach the level of the ASUS board in overclocking, its performance and price are extremely competitive - in fact, it is one of the cheapest P965 motherboards on the market at the moment.
We criticised both the Foxconn and MSI motherboards for not supporting ATI Crossfire dual graphics but if you're buying either of these (cheap, no thrills but solid performing) motherboards, you probably aren't looking at spending the extra dollars on a Crossfire setup anyway.
Layout was good, placement of connectors was reasonable and the only thing we would have liked was more phases on the CPU voltage regulation for a more stable and lower overall power consumption.
Rating - 8.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Best Value Award
- MSI Motherboard Thoughts
While the board MSI sent us isn't their top of the line P965 board, we were hoping for more.
While we did manage to get some good overclocked FSB speeds out of it, those with locked processors won't be able to lower the multiplier as we did to overcome the CPU as the limiting factor.
For those who are looking at a board with locked multiplier CPU's this is good only as a stock board but its price tag is quite attractive.
Rating - 7.5 out of 10
Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!