CPU Support for recently launched CPUs
This mini-review started quite simple. I ordered Phenom II X6 microprocessors as soon as they were launched, and, when the time came to test them, realized that my socket AM3 motherboard, ASRock M3A780GXH/128M, that was used to test almost every Athlon II and Phenom II microprocessor, is not compatible with Phenom II X6. Now I need to order new socket AM3 board, but which one to get? To avoid this kind of problem in the future, before buying new motherboard I decided to research how well different motherboard manufacturers support recently released microprocessors.
For my research I used CPU support data from CPU-Upgrade.com website. The data was current as of May 16 for all motherboard manufacturers, but ECS. ECS CPU support data was validated on ECS website. At first, I looked for motherboard compatibility data with six-core Phenom IIs. Support for these Phenom II CPUs was added not only to Socket AM3, but to a certain number of Socket AM2 and AM2+ motherboards too, therefore I split results by socket type. Each row in the results table shows manufacturer name, socket type, the number of motherboards that support at least one Phenom II X6 model, total number of motherboards with this type of socket, and percentage of motherboards that support six-core Phenoms. The results are presented in the table below. Manufacturers with better CPU support are listed first.
As can be seen from the table, support for Phenom II X6 CPUs was added to a pretty good percentage of Gigabyte, ASUS, Biostar and ASRock motherboards. Gigabyte looks rather better than other manufacturers due to decent support for socket AM2 and AM2+ boards.
The next test involved Core i5-680 microprocessor, that was launched one week earlier than six-core Phenom II CPUs. Every socket 1156 Gigabyte and Biostar motherboard is compatible with this CPU:
ASUS, ECS and MSI motherboards are not compatible with this processor. That is very unfortunate, because the Core i5-680 comes with newer K0 core stepping, and it's not likely that the processor will work without proper BIOS update.
Finally, I looked at how good is the support for Pentium Dual-Core E5500, which was also introduced in April. The E5500 is not the fastest Pentium model, it doesn't have any new features or core stepping, so adding support for this model should be easy, right? Wrong. 42% of Gigabyte socket 775 motherboards are compatible with this CPU. The rest of manufacturers provides almost no support, or no support at all:
To be fair, those low percentages in the table above don't mean that the processor won't work in motherboards that don't show support for the E5500. My suspicion that the processor doesn't require BIOS update, but the manufacturers could at least validate the processor compatibility.
Now, the final results. I calculated average value for each motherboard manufacturer, and included it in the table below. As before, the manufacturer with best CPU support is listed first.
From 6 motherboards manufacturers, examined in this article, Gigabyte provides the best CPU support for recently launched processors. ASRock and Biostar motherboards lag behind Gigabyte, but still have satisfactory CPU compatibility. Don't anticipate prompt BIOS updates if you have ASUS, MSI or ECS motherboards. If you often test processors, that were launched not long ago, or if you like to upgrade to the latest and greatest processors, then Gigabyte motherboards, or carefully selected ASRock and Biostar motherboards, could be the best choice for you.
Jun 30: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 95W sold in Japan
Apr 27: Six-core AMD Phenom II X6 processors are out
Apr 19: Intel introduces Core i5-680 and Pentium E5500