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Clone motherboards, cards and so on, never have good labeling. Good markings take time, and of course, money. The majority of what you pay for when you buy top-notch products is not the product it's self, but the extra's. Labeling, good manuals, and available drivers that are highly compatible, that’s what the extra cost is for. Ever work on upgrading a Dell built server on the same day as a cheap import? It’s amazing. The same upgrade (adding 256 of RAM, setting Wake on LAN, and adding a second processor) took only a few minutes on the Dell , and over an hour on the cheap import. The problems on the import ran from having to disassemble most of it to get at the second slot, and resetting a lot of BIOS manually (by jumpers). Meanwhile the Dell took only a minute to install the hardware, and a tinker or 2 in soft BIOS…Go figure

Note, I am not pushing Dell here, but I am pushing demanding quality from products
In my experience, Asus and Abit mainboards tend to be well arranged. My previous board, the Abit P5A-B even had the CPU clock speed, multiplier and voltage jumper settings printed on the board themselves. Expensive boards tend to be logically arranged, have better documentation, are more stable and often have a "unique" feature to set them apart from the competition.

Don't be fooled by cheap boards with extra features, for example, on board video, sound, modem, nic, etc... I have had experience with these before, and they are nasty! For example, the on-board video on said cheap board used system RAM, but would only work if there was a pair of matched SIMMs installed. I was forced to swap one of the DIMM for a pair of SIMMs from a friend of mine (happy to have his SIMMs upgraded to a new DIMM). (Don't offer to build cheap computers for your relatives for free, kids!)

A different board forced me to underclock the CPU because of incredible system instability. More expensive boards with cheaper CPUs can make more sense...

Remember, you get what you pay for... If your time is at all valuable to you, pay the extra and get a decent board. If stability or compatibility is an issue, get a good board from a reputable manufacturer.

Cheaper boards are more expensive in the long run.


Whoops. It looks like I'm pushing Asus and Abit boards here. These are the two manufacturers that I've stuck with, due to the what I've mentioned above. There are other good manufacturers, eg, Tyan, Gigabyte and others. Check out sites like Tom's Hardware and Anandtech for reviews. It's worthwhile doing research on what you're getting.

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