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ADVICE ON BUYING A MOTHERBOARD
SELECT A SOCKET
Last updated: 12/20/99

This is the hard part.  There are three primary choices for the average PC: Socket 7, Slot 1, or socket 370.  In the above motherboard pictures, the top one has a Socket 7 and the bottom one has a Slot 1 (the socket type has nothing to do with the form factor).

Presently, I would opt for a socket 370 motherboard.  This is the relatively new specification for some flavors of the Intel Celeron processor and there are  rumors that it may become the standard for other Intel processors.; but since you can get versions of many of the Intel processors for Slot 1 motherboards and the socket 370 motherboards generally cost more, I would avoid the socket 370.

With this elimination, the choice is really a processor choice and it's between Intel Slot 1 processors (Pentium III/II, and Celeron) on the one hand and processors from other manufactures, such as AMD and Cyrix, on the other.  I lean towards AMD K6-2/3 for home and hobby and, more conservatively, toward the Pentium II/III for business.  In my experience, AMD K6 processors do make good business machines and network file servers.  However, using the philosophy expressed in the old adage, 'one never got fired for buying IBM,' Intel does have same sort of name identification advantage as perceived by many in the business community.  It is certainly a consideration when trying to sell to business.  Also, AMD may have the disadvantage of being caught on the weaker side of uninformed thought in the old software/hardware finger pointing game. The Celeron is also a good alternative for home or business and is quite popular for cost conscience, overclocking gamers.  But, from my perspective, doesn't have the same status as the Pentium name in business.

I have found that AMD chips and socket 7 motherboards are usually more price competitive, but the Celeron has helped Intel move into the low-end market.

The Intel chips make better game engines with their faster floating point processors; but, the powerful AMD K6-3 processor is a contender.

Super7 motherboards (essentially, Socket 7 motherboards with a 100 Mhz Front Side Bus and supporting faster, PC-100, memory) can cause problems if not installed correctly.  There are several additional pieces of software which have to be installed with Windows and the BIOS's tend to change more and usually have to be flashed during the installation.  But, don't get me wrong.  A Super7 motherboard is quite a stable one once installed.

Which socket?  The choice is yours.  I have a computer with a Socket 7 motherboard and a 400 Mhz K6-2 sitting on my desk.  I would be just as happy with 400 Mhz Pentium and happier with a K6-3, if I weren't resolute in my opinion about not buying CPUs that cost more than I think they are worth.

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