The Top 5 Best Motherboards of All Time

cgrant26

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Any "Top 5 of all time" mobo list is incomplete without the Abit NF7-S Rev 2.
It had awesome overclocking, reliability, stability, longevity, 3rd party support that went on for years and a cult-like following among it's fans. Today when you ask "what's the best board for overclocking?" (for Intel or AMD) you'll get no shortage of answers. Back then, when you asked that question for AMD, the answer was almost universally "NF7-S Rev 2"

What other board(s) can that be said for?
 

sirmonkey1985

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No DFI boards??


most dfi boards were a royal pain in the ass to use or in the case of the s754 DFI lanparty UT NF3 250Gb which i'd consider the best overclocking board they released came after the socket was killed by AMD in favor of s939..
 

Ycarcomed

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most dfi boards were a royal pain in the ass to use or in the case of the s754 DFI lanparty UT NF3 250Gb which i'd consider the best overclocking board they released came after the socket was killed by AMD in favor of s939..

Pretty valid point. They had some great boards back in the day though, but I might be letting my nostalgia get the better of me haha.
 
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Can't disagree with this list. Saw ABit (RIP one of the best motherboard makers of all time) and Asus Rampage so I am content.

But man, 440BX was a BEAST chipset.
 

revenant

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I want to put in a mention for the MSI K7N2L which I ran for a long ass while. I ran an Athlon xp at 2200mhz or so on it and some corsair cas2 ddr. It was rock solid for so long. I still have a couple K7N2L's today - one running a voodoo2 sli setup. I played about 6 hours of quake 2 on it in February.
 

d50man

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BX133 soft bios overclocking with raid > BX6
P2B- SERIES just damn dependable boards
P6T was at 4GHZ on launch day 920 c step
IC7-MAX 3.8ghz on kingmax BGA memory
EVERYTHING DFI LANPARTY! r.i.p.
 

somebrains

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ASUS P4C800 Deluxe, a pair of 6800 Ultras, aio cooled P4 570j.
8gb of ram, Thermaltake aluminum case, I think I had a pair of Hitachi drives in it.

I was 29 years old, and spent $2000 on that box around 2004.

Nice to see my habits haven't changed much.
 

noxqzs

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My two favorite boards of all time were the ABIT 440BX and the R3E x58. Those two boards were the best bang for the buck. Getting a 300MHz Celeron to run close to 600MHz on a car heater core and DIY waterblock brings back some memories. I just recently gave away the R3E to a friend in need and I wanted to cry giving that board away. In my mind the board and 980x in it were still worth the price I paid for them.
 

Keljian

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Wow...my top 5 is more eclectic.. Hmm let me think

Gigabyte K8NS-Pro - Athlon 64 socket 754 in what turned out to be a very stable and overclockable guise.

Tyan Thunder K7 - The first dual AMD board using actual AMD designed chips - though it was physically massive and had no (easy) overclocking, it was a heck of a motherboard in it's day, in a sea of VIA chipsets - this was the first serious workstation/server board for AMD with an AMD chipset.

Asrock z97-extreme 6 - The only native x4 m2/nvme supporting board featuring the z97 chipset.

ABit BP6 must be mentioned! - While I didn't have one of these (as I was on AMD's Athlon 600 at the time) dual celerys at 533 was a thing, and deservedly so.

The Asus x370 Prime pro - Hidden gem of the current generation - Had issues on release but now those have been ironed out, it's a heck of a board for a very good price - with an intel nic. Stable as a rock.

Honourable mentions:
I couldn't find a more informative link to it, but this 386 board was a huge deal in its day. It has a socket for a 486 upgrade or maths co-pro, and lots of convenience addons.

The Asrock B85M-Pro4 - what you need, and very little you don't. Pedestrian by its contemporaries, but stable.. well as a rock. One of the few matx boards of its era with VT-D + 4 memory slots for a consumer board.
 
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Budwise

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DFI Lanparty NF4 Ultra-D for sure. It was THE overclockers board for socket 939 back in the glory days of AMD Opteron overclocking.

board.jpg
 

Dan_D

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DFI Lanparty NF4 Ultra-D for sure. It was THE overclockers board for socket 939 back in the glory days of AMD Opteron overclocking.

View attachment 66248

That board was a piece of shit. I installed dozens of them in builds for customers. I had to fight with all but one of them. Each one of those shit boards had its own psychotic personality. Hardware that lacks consistency isn't good hardware.
 

revenant

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That board was a piece of shit. I installed dozens of them in builds for customers. I had to fight with all but one of them. Each one of those shit boards had its own psychotic personality. Hardware that lacks consistency isn't good hardware.

I knew that was coming in 3...2...1... bingo!
 
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Dan_D

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I had one of those too. The KT7A was better than my original KT7, but they were both junk. I replaced it with an A7V133 and all my problems disappeared immediately.
 

cyclone3d

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My favorite boards of all time.

1. ASUS P5A-B - fastest SS7 board ever. (not sure why this board is a tiny bit faster tan #2)
2. ASUS P5A - second fastest SS7 board ever.
3. Abit KT7A/KT7A-RAID - with a modded BIOS, you can run a mobile Barton, and with a socket-wire "mod", you can use the higher multipliers. Board is good up to about 2.4Ghz. Fastest Socket-A board that still has an ISA slot that I have found.
4. Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P - arguably the best Intel P45 based board ever made.
 

FlawleZ

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I had a great experience with the DFI LanParty SLI-D. Not sure if the slight differences had any reliability impact but mine still worked until a few months back when I sold on here.

Didnt read every post but I didnt see the EVGA SR-X mentioned. Was it just not innovative?
 

dexvx

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I mean, there are simply way too many great motherboards.

Abit NF7 series. Been mentioned before, needs no intro as arguably the best Socket-A enthusiast board.

Aopen i975-YDG. Before Core2 Duo became officially available on the desktop, you could buy this sweet board. Officially supported Core-Duo's and later mobile Core2 Duo's.

Asus P4P800/P4C800 with CT-479. Start from a Pentium-4C and you can upgrade all the way to a Pentium-M Dothan (which matched Athlon FX in gaming) overclocking with the CT-479.
Asus PC-DL. Take a 875 chipset and give it 2 sockets. Dual Xeon's for relatively cheap!
Asus TX97-X. One of the first ATX boards. Start out with a Pentium 133. End with a K6/3 66FSB, talk about longevity.

DFI P55-T36 (see below)
DFI LanParty NF4 series, arguably the best nForce4 S939 boards.

I also disagree about the Asus P8Z77 the first 'real enthusiast' mini-ITX board. The DFI P55-T36 was IMO, should take that title. The only issue was that it was well ahead of its time, as mini-ITX was not as prevalent.

https://www.bit-tech.net/reviews/tech/motherboards/dfi-mi-p55-t36-mini-itx-motherboard-review/1/
 

Dan_D

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I had a great experience with the DFI LanParty SLI-D. Not sure if the slight differences had any reliability impact but mine still worked until a few months back when I sold on here.

Didnt read every post but I didnt see the EVGA SR-X mentioned. Was it just not innovative?

The SR-X wasn't innovative. It was a new version of the SR-2 which predated it. The SR-2 was nothing more than EVGA's take on the Intel D5400XS. It was also rare and extremely expensive.

It was rare, and expensive

Indeed.

Where's that Asus A7V motherboard :woot:

That was probably the best motherboard of that generation from a technical standpoint. However, it's layout wasn't great compared to the ABIT equivalents.

I mean, there are simply way too many great motherboards.

Abit NF7 series. Been mentioned before, needs no intro as arguably the best Socket-A enthusiast board.

Aopen i975-YDG. Before Core2 Duo became officially available on the desktop, you could buy this sweet board. Officially supported Core-Duo's and later mobile Core2 Duo's.

Asus P4P800/P4C800 with CT-479. Start from a Pentium-4C and you can upgrade all the way to a Pentium-M Dothan (which matched Athlon FX in gaming) overclocking with the CT-479.
Asus PC-DL. Take a 875 chipset and give it 2 sockets. Dual Xeon's for relatively cheap!
Asus TX97-X. One of the first ATX boards. Start out with a Pentium 133. End with a K6/3 66FSB, talk about longevity.

DFI P55-T36 (see below)
DFI LanParty NF4 series, arguably the best nForce4 S939 boards.

I also disagree about the Asus P8Z77 the first 'real enthusiast' mini-ITX board. The DFI P55-T36 was IMO, should take that title. The only issue was that it was well ahead of its time, as mini-ITX was not as prevalent.

https://www.bit-tech.net/reviews/tech/motherboards/dfi-mi-p55-t36-mini-itx-motherboard-review/1/

I agree with most of what you've said. The P4P800 and P4C800 motherboards were absolutely fantastic and utterly reliable. The PC-DL was great and so were the NF7 boards from ABIT. However, the DFI boards were junk. Inconsistency never wins points with me. I worked with tons of those motherboards back in the day and each and every one of them behaved differently, sometimes even with the same hardware configuration. They also took a lot of time to dial in. It felt like the tuning and testing effort it takes to get that last 100MHz of an overclock out of a chip pushed to its max, but for stock speeds. That's bullshit. Any motherboard you can't run just about every setting on "auto" and get a usable system out of it is a piece of shit. Its not well QVL tested and QC from any company that puts out a product like that is questionable at best. Even those piece of shit 680i SLI reference boards with all of their problems were at least consistent.

The DFI motherboards were basically all as bad as that garbage FIC VA503+, with the only difference being once dialed in the DFI boards usually ran for a decent amount of time before shitting the bed. God help you if you ever updated the BIOS or lost all your settings though.
 

dexvx

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However, the DFI boards were junk. Inconsistency never wins points with me. I worked with tons of those motherboards back in the day and each and every one of them behaved differently, sometimes even with the same hardware configuration. They also took a lot of time to dial in. It felt like the tuning and testing effort it takes to get that last 100MHz of an overclock out of a chip pushed to its max, but for stock speeds. That's bullshit. Any motherboard you can't run just about every setting on "auto" and get a usable system out of it is a piece of shit. Its not well QVL tested and QC from any company that puts out a product like that is questionable at best. Even those piece of shit 680i SLI reference boards with all of their problems were at least consistent.

The DFI motherboards were basically all as bad as that garbage FIC VA503+, with the only difference being once dialed in the DFI boards usually ran for a decent amount of time before shitting the bed. God help you if you ever updated the BIOS or lost all your settings though.

DFI does have quite a bit of love hate relationship. It's quite true they required a bit more tweaking to get high OC's, but the fact remains that they were (for the most part) the only boards on the market that allowed you to tweak as much. I've never had issues with running DFI boards running stock speeds with default settings.

I think DFI and Aopen had a fair number of very unique designs that sets them apart from the competition. They were the only manufacturers that dabbled in the mobile (Pentium-M/Core Duo) CPU's that offered much higher perf/Watt when most everyone else was just doing Pentium 4/Athlon64.

Anyways, more thoughts:

Asus K7V, best KX133 slot-A board. I don't agree with A7V being the best KT133 board, as Abit had a better alternative, IMO.
 

Dan_D

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DFI does have quite a bit of love hate relationship. It's quite true they required a bit more tweaking to get high OC's, but the fact remains that they were (for the most part) the only boards on the market that allowed you to tweak as much. I've never had issues with running DFI boards running stock speeds with default settings.

I think DFI and Aopen had a fair number of very unique designs that sets them apart from the competition. They were the only manufacturers that dabbled in the mobile (Pentium-M/Core Duo) CPU's that offered much higher perf/Watt when most everyone else was just doing Pentium 4/Athlon64.

Anyways, more thoughts:

Asus K7V, best KX133 slot-A board. I don't agree with A7V being the best KT133 board, as Abit had a better alternative, IMO.

I understand people sometimes had good experiences with DFI boards, but my sampling wasn't isolated. I was building systems and servicing PC's professionally as well as working in IT back then. I took on motherboard reviews as a third job after that. I didn't just build or work on one or two machines with DFI Socket 754 or S939 motherboards in them. I built between one and two dozen of them. I serviced probably half as many again. Out of the lot of them I had only one DFI motherboard in that era ever work at stock settings without tweaking. Those machines were all varied configurations, so it wasn't like I was building ones that had odd ball hardware that was unlikely to be QVL'ed by anyone. Quite the opposite. I was using high end and popular hardware of the day in most cases.

I've worked with more motherboards than I could ever count. I have never seen a brand that was less likely to behave out of the box than DFI. MSI has been similar off and on, but at least the settings that resolve issues on one MSI work for that entire generation of motherboards using that socket or chipset.

As for the ASUS K7V, I never used one. However, I had multiple problematic KT133 boards from ABIT and none of them ever worked right. ABIT was my go to brand at the time too but I switched to an A7V133 and all my problems disappeared instantly. While the ABIT boards had a better layout and arguably better features, they were flaky in my experience. Again, this was based on multiple samples of that board and only one ASUS motherboard. Take that for what you will.
 

blank

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The Asus P3B-F is the best 440BX board, particularly the 2 ISA slot version. They've aged amazingly well and as we all know are rock solid. Honorable mentions of boards from the second half of the 90s include the Asus P5A (mentioned above, I prefer the B version) the Asus TUSL2 (great with the 1400s), and a cult favorite of mine the Asus CUB-X (440BX with s370). I am also a big fan of Asus VLB boards, such as the VL/I-486SV2GX4. For newer boards, I think the late windows XP compatible boards are excellent, basically Z77 boards like the Maximus V.
 
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You should do a Top 5 Best AMD boards of all time, too.
 

stilup

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My Abit NF7-s was a great motherboard. The community support was enthusiastic and long-lived. I still miss Abit pushing Asus and other motherboard makers.

EDIT: Yes, mine was a v2 also.
Abit NF-sV2.0 started it all! we had soo much fun in the Abit forum, Way Back....still have it!
 
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Smoblikat

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Nice writeup, I would argue the ASRock Z77 Extreme11 (or even Z97, which I think still had an Extreme11 variant) or the Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 should have taken one of the spots on the list, The Z77E11 for it being a sheer monster of a feature packed board (I had an EVGA SR2 at the time and still consider the Z77E11 a "better" board, using it to this day) and the Z68E3G3 for being easily the best "budget" motherboard ever released for LGA1155. Before the 2nd gen I series, ASRock basically made sh**ty boards for ASUS, but then for whatever reason were able to actually start making their own things around 2011ish, this board was an absolute beast for its price. All of the features and stability you would expect from high end manufacturers like ASUS, but at a biostar/foxconn price.

Also, on your #1 spot you mention sandy bridge still being relevant for gaming, which is true (I main a 3770K still and own a 2500/2600K machine too) but sandy bridge is LGA1155 and P67/Z68, not X58 and LGA1366 which is what you were mentioning in your post. Im just splitting hairs here, but I figured I would mention that in case noone else had :p
 
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P4C800-E Deluxe

That plus a [phase change cooled dothan in the socket adapter and Mushkin BH-5 had me at the top of several leaderboards back in the day.
 
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Dan_D

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Nice writeup, I would argue the ASRock Z77 Extreme11 (or even Z97, which I think still had an Extreme11 variant) or the Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 should have taken one of the spots on the list, The Z77E11 for it being a sheer monster of a feature packed board (I had an EVGA SR2 at the time and still consider the Z77E11 a "better" board, using it to this day) and the Z68E3G3 for being easily the best "budget" motherboard ever released for LGA1155. Before the 2nd gen I series, ASRock basically made sh**ty boards for ASUS, but then for whatever reason were able to actually start making their own things around 2011ish, this board was an absolute beast for its price. All of the features and stability you would expect from high end manufacturers like ASUS, but at a biostar/foxconn price.

Also, on your #1 spot you mention sandy bridge still being relevant for gaming, which is true (I main a 3770K still and own a 2500/2600K machine too) but sandy bridge is LGA1155 and P67/Z68, not X58 and LGA1366 which is what you were mentioning in your post. Im just splitting hairs here, but I figured I would mention that in case noone else had :p

I never worked with any of the aforementioned ASRock motherboards. ASRock stopped sampling HardOCP years before I wrote this list.
 

Dan_D

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Also, on your #1 spot you mention sandy bridge still being relevant for gaming, which is true (I main a 3770K still and own a 2500/2600K machine too) but sandy bridge is LGA1155 and P67/Z68, not X58 and LGA1366 which is what you were mentioning in your post. Im just splitting hairs here, but I figured I would mention that in case noone else had :p

One more thought: Sandy Bridge may work for gaming today, but it's starting to show its age. Keep in mind that when I wrote the article and the post it was based on, it was a couple years back. Today, I wouldn't recommend sticking with a Sandy Bridge based system, nor would I advise someone try and snag one on the used market and game with modern titles on it at this point.
 

/dev/null

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One more thought: Sandy Bridge may work for gaming today, but it's starting to show its age. Keep in mind that when I wrote the article and the post it was based on, it was a couple years back. Today, I wouldn't recommend sticking with a Sandy Bridge based system, nor would I advise someone try and snag one on the used market and game with modern titles on it at this point.

Agreed SB/IB isn't for anyone who is an enthusiast, but for a $300 computer that is going to do 1080p/60hz or below on non-AAA titles, I don't see any issue. Only issue I see is official "win 10" support I don' think starts until ivy or haswell....I think Sandy is out for sure.

Also: I built a BUNCH of PR440FX systems. That board was awesome :)
 
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