Over the past few weeks, we've looked at dozens of AMD and Intel desktop CPUs to determine which ones offer the best value for money.
Clearly, in the $ 100 to $ 200 range, the Intel Core i5 750 emerged victorious at the top of the spectrum. Those who want to spend a little less are the best two options currently available for the Phenom II X4 925 and the Core i3 540 at around $ 150. However, when we tightened our budget, everything was AMD.
Looking at parts under $ 100, the result wasn't a big shock given our previous results. For around $ 100, the Athlon II X4 630 and Phenom II X2 555 top the food chain and offer unmatched performance in their class. The potential to unlock two additional cores on the latter was just the icing on the cake and gave us the performance of Phenom II X4 955 at the push of a button.
In fact, the AMD AM3 platform seems to be the way to go for the budget-conscious user, and the best part is that there is a wide range of affordable motherboards to choose from.
Because of the way AMD was forced to play its cards, it's easy to find and buy an AM3 motherboard that even supports the latest Phenom II X6 processor for less than $ 100. Many of these motherboards also have newly released technologies such as SATA 6 Gbit / s and USB 3.0, which makes them even more attractive.
Today we're putting together some of these affordable AM3 motherboards to see how much money they offer. And we're serious, the three motherboards we hand-picked for testing are from renowned manufacturers and sell for less than $ 100. As part of our evaluation, we're going to try to unlock the Phenom II X2 555 processor ($ 100) on each board to essentially get the performance of a $ 160 part without spending the extra money on it.
Competitors include the Asrock 880GMH / USB3 ($ 85), the Gigabyte 870A-UD3 ($ 95), and the MSI 870A-G54 ($ 90). All three motherboards are equipped with a current generation AMD 8 chipset. However, this does not mean that they are all the same, as we will find out in a moment.