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[ The PC Guide | Articles and Editorials | Choosing Your Motherboard ]

What's In A Name?

Probably the next most important consideration is the manufacturer of the motherboard, and the vendor from whom you purchase it. This is not because there is a huge difference in quality, performance or other factors between well-known manufacturers, but because there is a difference in support. One thing that is certain is that a certain percentage of motherboards will be either DOA ("dead on arrival") or will fail within the warranty period. Typical numbers for the major manufacturers are between 3% and 5%. This doesn't sound like much, but what it means is that one out of every 20 or 30 boards will eventually have a problem. Depending upon how much tolerance you have for down time and/or extra cash outlays, the manufacturer (and vendor) support may be very important (and worth a few extra bucks). Some manufacturers have end-user support (via email or even phone) while others have none and require you to deal with your vendor. In addition, some manufacturers are quicker to research and resolve BIOS problems and identify compatibility issues, which may be important to you as well.

Since all manufacturers will require you to at least attempt to get support from the vendor first, you should make sure that the vendor will provide support for longer than 30 days. While some manufacturers will handle RMAs directly if the vendor absolutely refuses to, many times they will charge a fee for the service. This can leave a bad taste in your mouth about that manufacturer and lessen your enjoyment of the product. To be fair, the manufacturer really isn't set up to handle thousands of customer emails and calls, which is why they prefer that you contact your vendor. Information about manufacturers and vendors can be found on the web (survey sites) and on hardware newsgroups (via Dejanews or your local newsreader). Be careful of some of the newsgroup comments, however, as people sometimes take their frustrations out on those who are not at fault. Try to get a fair size sample of comments before making a judgment.

Next: Speed Means Nothing If You Crash

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