A few short years ago, dual CPU territory was left to those with serious amounts of cash and a penchant for servers. The boards and the matching CPU sets were quite expensive. It's not that everything is free now, it just isn't as expensive. Unless you had some sugar daddy willing to spend the bucks, you most likely ended up warming your hands in front of your heatsinks.
Abit stepped in and changed the dual CPU environment with its BP6. Through the use of Celerons, the BP6 effectively brought an inexpensive, mainstream variation of dual CPUs to the masses. Not only had the Celeron shaken itself from its vegetable like roots, it could offer as much performance as dual Pentium IIs. It wasn't enough to get the power of a regular Pentium II for half the cost, now you could get twice the power. Egos grew, wallets stayed thick, and processing power increased - life was grand.
If having dual CPUs wasn't enough, how about RAID? Now RAID was truly a rare thing to find in the personal computer a few years ago. The SCSI RAID cards back then used to cost more than an entire low-end computer, and still do. A single SCSI drive alone can set you back quite a bit. For the cost of a full blown RAID setup, you could have put a down payment on your next car. Now motherboards offer onboard RAID with a nominal price increase. True, IDE RAID doesn't quite compare to the likes of an Ultra160 card with 32 MB onboard cache with four Seagate X15s in tow - but it's better than nothing.
The average consumer has never had it this good. Lots of processing power, cheap dualie boards, and RAID are now available for prices never seen before.
Today we have a collection of dual socket 370 boards that use VIA's Apollo Pro 133A 694 chipset. The three offerings come from Abit, ASUS, and MSI. The boards all have significant differences, not to mention the different variants within each model line. Let's break out the CPUs and get down to the business at hand!