Motherboards to Buy
Product Model: ASUS Rampage III Extreme
Our Review: ASUS ROG Rampage III Extreme (X58 Express) Motherboard
Product Model: Asus P7P55 WS SuperComputer
Our Review: ASUS P7P55 WS SuperComputer (P55 Express) Motherboard
Product Model: GIGABYTE H55N-USB3
Our Review: GIGABYTE H55N-USB3 (Intel H55 Express) Mini-ITX Motherboard
One of the things that made this a difficult piece to write is that there really have been very few truly bad motherboards this year. We have run into a very small number of boards that completely failed, but for the most part this year has been good for performance motherboards.
At the very top end we have two boards that really stood out this year. For the top end slot when money is no object and you want the highest benchmarking numbers you can get, the GIGBYTE X58A-UD9 is the board you are looking for. It can do just about anything (It even has a floppy port just in case you might need one). However, the thing that gives the UD9 the top billing is its support for four way SLI and Crossfire at full x16. You just can't beat that.
Right behind this and still in the X58 range is the ASUS Rampage III Extreme. This board also has a ton of bells and whistles. You get Bluetooth overclocking, USB overclocking, three-way SLI and an excellent power regulation design. Of course, the component selection is also very well done with some FPCAPs thrown in to ensure clean power to the CPU and RAM.
Taking a step down to the P55 world and we find the ASUS P7P55 WS SuperComputer falls right into our mid-range price and performance envelope. Despite its lack of USB 3.0 or SATA 3.0, this board can perform with the best of them. We were more than happy with not only the stock performance, but also the overclocking potential on this board. The extra NF200 also gives you options for three-way SLI and Crossfire, making this a great choice in the sub $200 price point.
Interestingly enough, our second board in this range is the MSI 870A Fuzion. Although it is really an AMD 770 chipset, it still is one of the few boards out there for AMD CPUs that allow you to run SLI. MSI has not forgotten about USB and SATA 3.0 either. These have been tacked on using the typical NEC and Marvell based controllers. This board allows for some great headroom if you have your eye on a pair of mid-range GPUs to drop into it.
The last item on our list of recommended boards is the GIGABYTE H55N-USB3 Mini-ITX motherboard. We were very impressed with its performance and the amazingly small size of the board. You can choose to run this as an entry level system with a Core i5 661 or go nuts and drop in a Core i7 875K if you choose to. The only thing that limits you here is the small area for a good CPU cooler. After you sort that, there is not a whole lot this board won't do for you.