Hard as it may be to believe, Intel's latest desktop chipset, the 975, is gamer-orientated.

Given the struggle it's had convincing gamers that Pentium pips Athlon 64 for performance, it's an interesting tactic for Intel, not least because it comes just before the release of Conroe - the chip that puts the boot on the other foot, as its games performance is nothing short of astounding.

But that's for the future; right now, the Pentium chips of choice are the Presler and Extreme Edition cores, and the 975 chipset is the first to support Intel's latest dualcore efforts, at a frontside bus speed of 1,066MHz.

Add in the fact that most Presler cores can be overclocked to around 4GHz, and you're looking at a system that rivals Athlon 64 setups for games, and offers the media-handling joy of a common or garden Pentium.

The other 'bonus' is that it offers hardware-based virtualisation - which, to be honest, isn't really of interest to anyone except server technicians, but there we go.

High price

A well-stacked rig will require you to mortgage the family pile though - add a standard 3.4GHz Presler core to this board, and your shopping list is close to the £400 mark.

Add an Extreme Edition dualcore Pentium, and you're talking closer to the marriage-wrecking sum of £800. Nurse!

And that's the thing - to get the most out of this board, you need a Presler or Extreme Edition core. While the board will happily work with a lower-spec LGA775 chip - such as the 2.8GHz 800- series
Intel CPU we used - you won't see the real benefits of that honking great 1,066Mhz front-side bus. And the combined costs are, sadly, out of reach for most of us mere mortals. If you can find the justification to couple them up, however, you'll be the envy of the server. Al Bickham