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Too Many Motherboard Options! What The Difference?

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May 1, 2006 11:36:54 PM

So I'm getting ready to do a massive complete system build. I'm looking at doing some overclocking on my system memory as well as the processor. I'm trying to keep things simple and quiet. I'm having a hell of a time trying to pick the best price/performance motherboard. A few requirements. I must have a 1394 Firewire and 2 PCI-e (x16?) ports. I would like to have the option of SLi.

So if go with DFI I have the following models. What gives!? They are only seperated by $10 But there must be a difference in the chipset overclocking options?

DFI
LP UT nF4 SLI-D
LP UT nF4 SLI-DR
LANPARTY nF4 SLI-DR
LP[UT]nF4 SLI-DR Exp

or how about ASUS? The last one has two x16 dedicated PCi-e slots?

A8N-SLI
A8N-SLI Deluxe
A8N-SLI Premium
A8N32-SLI Deluxe

How about an MSI board or Abit board? I'm just lost on who makes a great board. I don't mind paying for a good motherboard, but with so many options do I just buy the most expensive one?
May 7, 2006 1:51:04 AM

Quote:
So I'm getting ready to do a massive complete system build. I'm looking at doing some overclocking on my system memory as well as the processor. I'm trying to keep things simple and quiet. I'm having a hell of a time trying to pick the best price/performance motherboard. A few requirements. I must have a 1394 Firewire and 2 PCI-e (x16?) ports. I would like to have the option of SLi.

So if go with DFI I have the following models. What gives!? They are only seperated by $10 But there must be a difference in the chipset overclocking options?

DFI
LP UT nF4 SLI-D
LP UT nF4 SLI-DR
LANPARTY nF4 SLI-DR
LP[UT]nF4 SLI-DR Exp

or how about ASUS? The last one has two x16 dedicated PCi-e slots?

A8N-SLI
A8N-SLI Deluxe
A8N-SLI Premium
A8N32-SLI Deluxe

How about an MSI board or Abit board? I'm just lost on who makes a great board. I don't mind paying for a good motherboard, but with so many options do I just buy the most expensive one?


Well reading the specs on the manufactors website will probably clue you in nicely to the differences. For example the A8N32-SLI has a 2 real PCI-16x slots (the other 3 Asus boards go to 2x 8X when in SLI mode). The SLI Premium has passive cooling. The A8N-SLI and Deluxe are AWFUL MOTHERBOARDS. Avoid them at all costs. (Just ask Wusy!)

As for the DFI boards, the UT boards use the Nforce 4 Ultra chipset instead of just the NF4 chipset. The more pricey ones again have passive cooling.

Now to answer your questions above. Unless you can provide 2 video cards at the time of purchase or within about 90 days, SLI is WORTHLESS and a waste of your money. Say you wait 6 months to buy that 2nd video card. Well at that time, the top performing card will smoke your dual card setup in terms of FPS, will use less power, run cooler, and oops you just spent more money! (1 7900GTX- $500ish 2 7900GTs in SLI- over $600- case in point. The GTX is equal or better in most benchmarks. And going SLI with anything under that like a 7600 is just stupid.)

Look at the $122 DFI Lanparty Ultra D board. It is great (has onboard firewire, rocks for overclocking) and will be a great motherboard for it. It has 2 PCI-E slots, but it not SLI. You can mod it to be SLI if you are so inclinded to do so. However, like I said, unless you can provide 2 cards within 90 days, dont fall for the SLI hype.

If you can go SLI, get this:
DFI Lanparty UT NF4 SLI-DR

Hope this helps you.
a b V Motherboard
a b K Overclocking
May 8, 2006 8:48:01 AM

Two 7600GT's in SLI would toast any single card in OpenGL.
Related resources
May 8, 2006 1:18:03 PM

Quote:

As for the DFI boards, the UT boards use the Nforce 4 Ultra chipset instead of just the NF4 chipset. The more pricey ones again have passive cooling.

None of the mid and high end DFI boards have passive cooling. I'm in the process of planning a new system, and I'm sorting out the good MB's with passive and the ones that are easily modded to be passive.

Many of the DFI boards, including the one you recommended has a chipset fan that is in line with one of the graphic card slots. So you can't replace the chipset fan with a big heatsink. It is possible on the Expert version.

I really like DFI, but the nice passive cooling on the top end Asus boards are very appealing. The Asus A8N32 SLI Deluxe has been shown to be a great overclocker.

Quote:

Now to answer your questions above. Unless you can provide 2 video cards at the time of purchase or within about 90 days, SLI is WORTHLESS and a waste of your money. Say you wait 6 months to buy that 2nd video card. Well at that time, the top performing card will smoke your dual card setup in terms of FPS, will use less power, run cooler, and oops you just spent more money! (1 7900GTX- $500ish 2 7900GTs in SLI- over $600- case in point. The GTX is equal or better in most benchmarks. And going SLI with anything under that like a 7600 is just stupid.)

You talk as if you are so sure, but I've seen a lot of benchmarks that would disagree. In some cases, 7900GT SLI destroys a single 7900GTX. 7900GT SLI is between the performance of a single 7900GTX and a 7900GTX SLI. http://www.guru3d.com/article/Videocards/326/20

Am I willing to spend $500+ on a 7900GTX now? Er... But $300 for a 7900gt is reasonable (although, still kinda crazy). An year from now, I'll still have the same computer and adding a second 7900GT wouldn't be so costly, and would significantly improve performance...until I replace my whole system again.

Overall, the total price will probably be the same, but the SLI option is a lot more doable.
May 8, 2006 7:15:10 PM

Ask anyone on the board like Prozac or Wusy about what a waste SLI is. But then again, its your money not mine. By the way, it won't improve performance that much. 30% TOPS. And the top performing card will a year from now perform much better.
May 8, 2006 7:40:26 PM

Not to discount what other forum members are saying...but are you saying that the top technology websites are posting erroneous information regarding SLI?

Even on this very website, just look at any graphics card review that covers SLI performance. The performance gains are very, very significant.

Quote from Guru3d.com... "As you can see you'll gain the most bang for you bucks with the slower cards. Your performance will go up almost 100% As most of you know F.e.a.r with maximum settings is a total biach to run. Stunning SLI results all over the entire line of cards."

I've read dozens of graphic card reviews and SLI benchmarks are always like this. I don't remember reading any that said how SLI was a huge disappointment and a waste of money.

SLI isn't for everyone, but it's a great technology that has and will provide significant FPS boosts for a lot of people. Don't make a blanket statement saying that SLI is hype and don't make statements that are easy to prove false by cutting and pasting from practically any graphics card review.
May 8, 2006 7:44:45 PM

LP[UT]nF4 SLI-DR Exp

Has better OC options and its EXTREMLY stable.
Tis the board I've got :D 
A genuine piece of art from DFI, props to DFI :D 

The difference through all DFI boards are extra features. The eXpert version is what it says, for experts who knoe how to OC the right way.
Nice things cost money.
ASUS just sucks, not superior features for OC.
THe true ENTHUSIAST would get a DFI board, nothing else. Keep in mind the price as well :twisted:
May 8, 2006 7:47:16 PM

LP[UT]nF4 SLI-DR Exp

Has better OC options and its EXTREMLY stable.
Tis the board I've got :D 
A genuine piece of art from DFI, props to DFI :D 

The difference through all DFI boards are extra features. The eXpert version is what it says, for experts who knoe how to OC the right way.
Nice things cost money.
ASUS just sucks, not superior features for OC.
THe true ENTHUSIAST would get a DFI board, nothing else. Keep in mind the price as well :twisted:
May 8, 2006 11:18:10 PM

The passive cooling of the ASUS A8N32-Deluxe is appealing. I'm really getting pissed with noise coming from behind my desk. I've also heard the overclockability of the ASUS boards is limited. I'd like to get into overclocking. I've done some minor work with raising my FSB 15mhz, but nothing major. I'd love to have voltage control and everything.... so I guess the DFI boards are the way to go? The problem that I have...... noise levels. I can handle a computer that is over 40 db. I know overclocking requires fans and therefore noise...but is there a way of doing it? The way that I had planned on going about my overclocks... 120mm fans and good airflow around the case. Quality CPU coolers. I know that Zalmans are excellent.....you just overpay for their designs. The passive ASUS heatpipe is very apealing for the northbridge....but does that limit the ability for the chipset to cool and therefore overclock?

The SLI option is just something for me to toy with. In all reality, its not practical for my type of games. I'm by no means hardcore. I don't play as many FPS.......Oblivion is more my style.....and yet that game wants a beast of a card. But there again with my noise issue, 2 cards means alot more fans and noise.

What about Abit or MSI? How do those boards compare? If I wanted to get a "great" motherboard for overclocking and features which should I look at? I'm hearing DFI for overclocking......but I want quiet also. Should I forget about the overclock and go for silent?
May 9, 2006 7:05:01 PM

Silent PC and mobo's

For information on silencing your PC, a great reference is http://www.silentpcreview.com/. Tons and tons of information. http://www.madshrimps.be/ also has a lot of reviews for cooling/silence related products.

A link from silentPCreview forums' with some mobo information and recommendations: http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=29036

Quieting the chipset fan

The only mid to high end DFI board that can be easily modded to replace the chipset fan is the Expert version. You can replace the fan with a Zalman Northbridge heatsink.

You can also add a voltage control to the chipset fan to slow it down. In many cases, it'll still do a fine job cooling, and won't be so loud or whiny.

ASUS and overclocking


From the research I did, the Asus A8N32-dlx is a very good overclocker. A couple reviews I read actually named it as one of the best. Very stable, top quality components and tons of OC'ing options. Premium is good (probably more than enough for a typical OC'er). The other two ASUS boards are good mobo's, but not for overclocking.

The DFI Expert and Asus A8N32 are two of the best mobo's and are, as a result, quite expensive.

CPU Cooler

For the CPU cooler, I highly recommend the Scythe Ninja. It's big, but widely regarded as the best and actually less expensive than competing choices.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1683...

Other mobo's

Abit and MSI and Epox and.... all great companies who offer comparable products. Similar feature sets and some of them are great OC'ers too.
May 9, 2006 9:48:28 PM

Since there was a little debate over SLI in this thread, I did want to qualify my recommendations for the original poster.

Since you are saying that sound is a factor and SLI is just something you might want to play with, I'd recommend against it. Non-SLI mobos are significantly cheaper. The DFI Expert and the Asus A8n32 are total overkill if you aren't definitely planning to use SLI.

Also, a lot of videocards have really loud fans, so you'd have to invest in 3rd party VGA coolers as well. SLI is a great technology and a good upgrade option, but it's not for everyone.

Although I've researched SLI mobo's, it's more for fun (kinda, heh). A non-SLI mobo makes more sense for me. In the past, I usually buy/make a totally new computer instead of doing incremental upgrades. Then I remake the old computer to fit another purpose...HTPC, server or small internet computer to give away.

I am an avid gamer, but sound is a huge factor for me as well. In my current system, I have a huge passive cooler on my videocard, a huge heatsink + 120mm fan on my CPU, fan controllers on everything, passive chipset cooler, 120mm case fans, and one of the quietest PSU's. Other than the hard drive, I can't hear my computer at all from a few feet away.

Anyways, I'm currently research the best overclocking non-SLI mobo's and I'll post again.

Oh, btw, although DFI is widely regarded as making the best overclocking motherboards, the sheer number of options makes them really difficult to manage, even for overclocking experts. DFI-street.com has lots of great information.
May 9, 2006 11:15:59 PM

Some interesting 3DMark benchmarking results. I was looking at the official database and checking out what motherboard were used to score the best scores.

The two most common boards are the DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 SLI-DR Expert ($175) and the ASUS A8R32-MVP Deluxe Socket 939 ATI CrossFire ($185). The ASUS A8N32-SLI also showed up several times. SilentPCreview also recommends the DFI Expert, so if you want the best SLI board, that's it.

Note: In the GeForce 7900GT top 10 benchmarks, one benchmarker used the Abit KN8 SLI, which is a $100 board. Of course, there are a hundred other variables that aren't listed in the database, but still...

As for a non-SLI board, the DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D ($125) is mentioned very often as the best overclocker. It's recommended earlier in this thread. If you do pick a DFI board, be sure to go to dfi-street.com to read their overclocking guides.
May 15, 2006 1:37:57 PM

Prescott=FAILURE
ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe=Prescott

The above is wusy's BANNER.
I have also been looking for a good board, and I will thank you all for clearing alot of issues that I had up, and for presenting more, but thats fine. I am sticking with heatpipes.

Personally I am leaning toward the MSI K8N Diamond which has limited
heat pipes on it.(heat pipes are good as 46 cel in summer)
The twin ethernet is a really good design, different pathways so no bottlenecking, the sound chip is good, now all I have to find out is, is it stable?
Anyone know?
!