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Motherboard Choices: Head Hurts...

Last response: in Overclocking
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February 21, 2007 3:33:00 PM

So I just spent around 4 hours comparing and contrasting every motherboard out there to try and spec out exactly what I want/need for the next iteration of my home system. Consequently, I'm more confused than when I started. So, I would like to have a conversation with the experts here at tgforumz that might shed some light on my predicament.

So first thing's first. What am I used to? Well, right now I have a little 2.4gHz P4 that I jacked from a defunct Sony Viao OC'd to 3.1 stable, a NVidia 6600GT, 1GB of DDR-400 Corsair Value Select, a DVD burner, 3 x 250GB WDD caviars, a 76GB Raptor for my OS drive, and a crappy TB Santa Cruz soundcard I jacked from an old Dell I bought ages ago. All this sits on a MSI 865PE Neo-2--which was a hand-me-down when a buddy of mine went 64 bit--powered by a Sparkle 450 watt PSU.

Now that you know where I come from, I should explain where I want to go =). I do lots of development work under Linux (SuSE 10.2 running Compiz/XGL under gnome currently) and less under Windows (XP, Vista Business[sic] ) so compiling takes up alot of my time. I also like doing the occasional H264 encoding job, and playing Oblivion during those rare chances that I am in Windows. Most of my gaming is done on consoles or in an emulator, and I'm not terribly freaked out if I can't run Oblivion will all the settings on. That said, I don't know if I would benefit from a SLI rig.

So the big question is, what is the most cost effective way of building my target system with mostly hand-me-down parts that I already have? My upgrades will have to be:

1) PSU - The new mother boards have different power connectors, and I need some more power anyways. I'm amazed that this thing is stable with a 450 watt PSU and all the drives it's running. I will have no problems with choices here.

2) Graphics Card - This could be the source of an entirely different post, but let's assume that I'm only going with one to begin with. I want the best bang for my buck, and my target price range is around 200-250 bucks here. Suggestions welcome, or I can do the research myself =).

3) Mother Board - This is what is killing me. There are so many options out there and I'm not entirely sure what would be best. I'm currently torn between NForce 650i and Intel P965 chipsets. I have looked at anything from MSI to ASUS. Some suggestions based on your configurations would be great. The only features I really require are that it is reliable and overclockable.

4) Processor - I bought a little 805 D a while back after Tom's Hardware published the guide on how to OC it to the moon. I'm planning on getting as much Hz as I can out of this little guy on air cool. Later I could upgrade to something with more teeth (a la bigger L2 caches).

5) RAM - Lots of options here. I haven't really sat down and figured out what RAM I need to mesh with the rest of my choices, but this should just be a matter of how much I want to spend.

Sorry for the long post. I have thought about this way too long =P. I look forward to replies!
February 22, 2007 3:25:48 AM

RAM
I would recommend Corsair. Corsair is the all-around best RAM. As of now, Newegg is having a fantastic deal on Corsair RAM: $207 for 2 x 1 GIG.

CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800


Video Card
The 7900GS series is where you're going to get the biggest bang for your buck. Recently, Newegg dropped prices on the eVGA card from $175 to $160 and are offering a $15 rebate.

EVGA 256-P2-N624-AR GeForce 7900GS 256MB

Now if you insist on spending inside your $200 - $250 range, then go with the XFX 7900GT. (Keep in mind that if you go this route, you're paying about $75 just for 4 more pixel pipelines.)

XFX PVT71GUDF3 GeForce 7900GT 256MB


Power Supply Unit
The CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX is a great PSU. It has modular cabling and has every motherboard connector available. I have one of these babies, and I really like it. It runs my system with no problems. Oh and Newegg is having a sale on it as well.

CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX


Hope this helps.
February 22, 2007 1:02:57 PM

So thanks alot for your reply it was very helpful!

But, the main thing I am looking for is motherboard recommendations that would support my theoretical system configuration. Good find on the RAM, I'll probably pick it up now.
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February 22, 2007 1:08:37 PM

I would have recommended a motherboard, but I'm not too familiar with the Intel chipsets. I really don't pay attention to Intel's bull sh!t, so I couldn't be much help to ya there. :lol: 


P.S. I forgot to mention that Newegg is offering a $40 rebate on that Corsair RAM. (So that brings the total to about $167). :D 

Another thing, when your parts arrive, make sure you get all the rebate stuff taken care of as soon as possible. I made the mistake of procrastinating, and ended up screwing myself outa $40. :oops: 
February 22, 2007 1:32:00 PM

Yeah. The main issue I am having is deciding whether or not to go with an Intel chipset or an Nforce chipset. I'm primarily in linux, so it would be nice to talk to some people who know what's going to be compatible.

I have been looking intently at these boards, but the reviews for some of them aren't too good and it still doesn't solve my nforce or intel dilemma.

MSI P965 Express
MSI P965 Platinum
ASUS P5N-E
ASUS Commando

So far the Commando looks like it has the best upgradability options (but it's as expensive as hell), and if I wanted to try SLI I'd have an extra 4X PCIe lane to play with.

Would a 4X PCIe lane support a decent graphics card in SLI or would that be a bottle neck? I would feel much better if that was an 8X lane...
February 25, 2007 12:56:57 PM

Since you already have the D805 Dual-core processor I would say the Asus P5B would be a good choice. It can run the 805 and could be upgraded to Core2D later. This Fall the E4300 may only be $125. With this m/b you will need DDR2 ram and PCI-E video card. This would be a good cpu (or the E4400) for superior compiling and decoding.

A cheaper option is the AsRock 775i65G which will run your 805 nicely and is upgradeable to Core2. It uses the same intel 865 chipset as your Neo, but you can reuse your existing DDR ram and AGP video. And the m/b is only about $45 or less. Your existing HD/OP should just fire right up with little problem. This m/b goes to 1200FSB and could conceivably o/c the E4400 to 3.0GHz.

I think your current power supply may be fine. Sparkle is an decent brand and 450w is lots of power. I have a 420w ps and my P5B runs stably at 500FSB. I would try it and if you have problems you could then upgrade.

With ram, this is the most crucial part of the system. Scrimping here will cost you in system stability and performance. I bought 2 X 512mb Crucial Ballistix DDR6400 on EBay for $92 and highly recommend this ram. It easily goes to 2000FSB and beyond. I know it is more expensive when new, but these Micron chips will give your entire system a shot in the arm. Other ram like Buffalo Firestix PC6400 also often feature similar Micron chips and can be had for less (I think NewEgg has a sale on now, but this brand are NOT ALWAYS Micron.)
February 25, 2007 1:58:22 PM

hi
it seems to me that you are in the same place i was....choices choices what mobo what videocard...well for me it is all clear
for a mobo i choose this for a alternative to commando mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/CustratingReview.asp?item...
it is a good mobo mid range price nice capacitors for stability and nice oc features and of course sli ...
i choose that mobo for 3 reasons
1 silent cooling
2.price
3.asus well known good product(not so good with the tehnical support)
4,support for core duo and quad core for future upgrade...
just pay attention to memory and for that read the list from asus website
i recomend http://www.newegg.com/Product/CustratingReview.asp?Item...
as for the psu, cpu and video card i have to do my research first...
hope it hepls (fingers crossed) :D 
ps that is my personal choice..yours may be different
February 25, 2007 2:42:43 PM

Hey guys,

Thanks so much for everyones reply! So I made the decision to go with an Intel chipset, so that leaves the P5B as my top choice! I was cruising newegg and I found an openbox one for 130 bux, so I'm prepping the credit card right now!

I still have one last question. Say I theoretically maybe kinda eventually wanted to run two NVidia GPU's in SLI. Would the 4X lane on the P5B be enough bandwidth for decent cards like say dual 7900GS?
February 26, 2007 11:34:30 AM

965 doesn't officially support SLI.
You can run it using hacked drivers but the last ones of those that I know of use 80 series (i.e. quite old) drivers & we're now into the 100 series.
!