Effective: Feb 10 2002
Version: 1a

Go to Latest Version 1b

Scoring is based on the following 5 categories:

Features 40
Installation & Ergonomics 10
Stability & Compatibility 25
Performance 15
Package & Support 10
Total 100
    Notes:
  1. Each scoring category has a maximum score possible which cannot be exceeded. Scores that exceed this maximum will be scored at the maximum(example: If a board scores 45 in the features category it will be scored as 40 in the review).
  2. Scoring modifiers that are mutually exclusive are highlighted with the same background color. Only one modifier from the color group can be applied.
  3. As motherboard technology changes so must our reviewing criteria. We have scoring modifiers in place to handle new technology in the current scoring system. We will update this as needed. Each review will provide a link to the current scoring system used.

Features

The features of a motherboard determine the functionality and usefulness of a motherboard and thus comprise the lion's share of the score, at 40 points out of a possible 100.

Base Score: 0
Max Score: 40

Score Modifiers Points
# of PCI slots over 5 (ex: 7 slots = +2) +1
# of memory slots:
More than 2(4 banks) for DDR and Rambus
More than 3 for SDRAM
+1
Maximum Memory over 2GB(ex: 6GB +4) +1
# of 64-bit PCI Slots (ex: 2 64-bit PCI slots = +2) +1
AGP Pro +1
Universal AGP slot (support for different AGP card voltages, ie. 1.5v, 3.3v) +1
2 standard back panel USB ports -2
2 standard back panel USB + 2 USB port headers on-board -1
More than 4 physical USB ports (ex: 6 USB ports = +2) +1
Cooling fan power headers:
Single CPU: < 3 or >5
Dual CPU: < 4 or > 5
-1
Dual BIOS +1
BIOS Flash Protection +1
Removable BIOS chip(not soldered) +1
Active Cooling on Chipset +1
Jumperless CPU Clock + Frequency Setting +1
Jumperless CPU Voltage Setting + Spread Spectrum Feature +1
AGP Voltage Setting +1
Adjustable VIO memory voltage +1
Adjustable FSB/PCI/MEM ratio +1
IRQ selection for each PCI slot in BIOS +1
P4 12V support for older PS compatibility +1
Extra IDE controller (over 2) +2
Extra IDE RAID controller (in addition to the two standard) +5
Wake on LAN +1
Modem Ring On +1
Suspend to RAM +1
System Health Monitoring +1
Auto speed-down or auto shutdown on fan failure +1
Auto speed-down and/or auto shutdown on heat alarm +1
Chassis intruder alert +1
Keyboard/Mouse Power on +1
Standard Sound on-board +2
6 channel sound on-board +3
6 channel sound on-board + digital out +5
LAN on-board +1
Firewire(IEEE1394) on-board +1
VGA on-board + AGP slot +3
VGA on-board and no AGP slot (excluding server boards) -15
SCSI on-board +7
SCSI RAID on-board +10
Diagnostics LED on-board or on rear bracket +1
Diagnostics via Voice +1
Reset or power on buttons on-board +1
BIOS Flash in Windows or Live BIOS and driver updates +2
USB/Smartmedia or other BOOT security key if includes complete package(no optional purchase needed) +2
New non-standard Technology(UDMA 133, Serial ATA, USB 2.0 each) +5

Installation & Ergonomics

The physical layout of the components and how they are positioned affect the installation of the motherboard into a system and the installation of components onto the motherboard. Ergonomics plays a small yet important role and can really make the difference between a smooth installation experience and a hairpulling one.

Base Score: 0
Max Score: 10

Score Modifiers Points
Correct floppy connector location +1
Correct IDE connection location +1
Correct power supply connector location +1
Bad location for any other connectors(ie. USB headers, fan connectors, etc.) each. -1
Any physical difficulty for installing CPU and fan(capacitors, etc.) -1
Protective film around CPU socket +1
Installed AGP card does not block any memory slots +1
Securing AGP slot(locks agp card into socket) +1
Clearly marked jumpers and header printed on the board +1
Clear CMOS switch or jumper +1
Too many jumpers(STR - keyboard power on or enable disable jumpers) -1
Jumpers with headers(tabs to place and remove them easily) +1
Angled LED and control headers +1
Jumperless design(dip switch and clear CMOS jumper acceptable) +1

Stability & Compatibility

This is the second most important category. Once you have the features you need it helps if they work reliably and with other standard PC components. See how we test for stability here.

Base Score: 0
Max Score: 25

Score Modifiers Points
Passes 24 hours tests in prime95 and Check-It Pro +10
Passes test when all IRQ's are used without BIOS mod. +10
Passed test when all IRQ's are used but IRQ's had to be tweaked manually +5
Overclocking Stability - overclocked by 15% clock and voltage and prime95 runs for min 5 hours +5

Performance

Performance scoring is derived by comparing the test results to other boards in its class. These tests scores are based on a standard system setup which utilizes the same CPU, hard drive, and video card. See how we test for performance here.

Base Score: 0
Scoring Range:1-15 (calculated from weighted average)

Test Category Testing Software WA = Weighted Average Scoring
Office BapCO Sysmark 2001 0-100 WA 1-15 points by WA of total score derived from 4 types of tests
Gaming Direct3D Madonion 3Dmark 2001 0-100 WA
Gaming OpenGL Quake III 0-100 WA
High-End OpenGL SPECviewperf 6.1.2 AWadvs-04 0-100 WA 0-100 WA
DRV-07 0-100 WA
DX-06 0-100 WA
Light-04 0-100 WA
MedMCAD-01 0-100 WA
ProCDRS-03 0-100 WA

Package Value & Support

This is calculated based on the contents of the package and how well the manufacturer supports it product through the various standard means in the market.

Base Score: 0
Max Score: 10

Score Modifiers Points
Clear and detailed printed manual. +2
Internet Site support - maintains up to date BIOS upgrade, driver, and manual sections. +3
Phone support - able to speak to a technician in 20 minutes or less. +1
E-mail support - e-mail answered within 2 business days. +1
Support - incorrect answers to support questions. -1
Proper CD and drivers. +2
Major software included(each). +2