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Time to upgrade. What motherboard do I really want?

Last response: in Motherboards
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April 17, 2007 5:23:53 AM

I'm currently running an Asus P5G board that has served me well for a few years with a 3.2GHz CPU.

It's time to upgrade but I'm totally out of the loop on motherboards.

Here's what I'll want from mine:

1. AMD or Intel but I'm leaning AMD 64 Dual Core due to recent price cuts. Plus the AMD should run much cooler which would be a welcome change.

2. I want a really stable board.

3. Not likely to bother with overclocking. Nice to have but not a big deal.

4. Onboard video won't be used but if it's there it's okay in a pinch for shifts between cards.

5. Onboard audio is no concern. I'll be running X-Fi on it.

6. Leaning towards the Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTX for video.

7. I will not be running any type of advanced drives. No RAID. I'll be running some okay SATA drives and one ATA drive. I also have one ATA CDR and one SATA DVD-R (though that's acting flakey lately).

8. Lots of USB 2.0 stuff.

9. Good networking would be nice.

Obviously I'd like to get this for as little as possible. I'll probably go newegg.com or mwave.com (I love having them pre-set up the board, CPU and memory). My first thought was something around $100-$125 but I can go higher if I really need to. I just don't see the need to spend $200.

The core use for the motherboard will be games. First-Person stuff, Flight Sim X and then mainly lower-end stuff.

In the past I've had good luck with Soyo, Gigabyte, Abit and Asus.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
April 17, 2007 5:55:53 AM

Look at the DFI products. Even if you never plan to OC they use a higher grade of caps which are what always died on my Asus systems...and if you do want to OC nothing beats a DFI.
April 17, 2007 5:57:02 AM

Don't change your board is good.
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April 17, 2007 11:11:17 AM

Don't change? I should keep the current Intel, non-64-bit, non-dual core, 2 to 3 year-old board?

I must admit, that's the very last thing I expected to hear.

I can't imagine you're serious about that. The reason I say that is that I've actually wondered about it. I'm at 3.2GHz and all the other new dual core stuff, while dual core, are slower. It's the surrounding elements that are faster and very few things are using the dual cores.

However, the RAM is here is pretty dated. Dated enough that I can't even recall how fast it is and I'm sure the board can't handle anything near as fast as what current boards can.

ZOldDude, I'd been looking at DFI all of the last 3 times but just couldn't get to pulling the trigger mainly because their boards looked like I'd pay more for features I'd never use. Otherwise they looked great.
April 17, 2007 12:13:48 PM

Quote:
The reason I say that is that I've actually wondered about it. I'm at 3.2GHz and all the other new dual core stuff, while dual core, are slower. It's the surrounding elements that are faster and very few things are using the dual cores.

but the CPU architecture is a lot more efficient & although in GHz terms they are slower in application performance terms they are faster.

Core 2 Duo's run cool as well & Intel are supposed to be having a price cut on 22nd April (as well as some new CPUs & the new P35 chipset mobos should be showing up shortly too).
The AMD system is probably still the cheapest way to go but not necessarily the best bang for the buck.
April 17, 2007 1:53:51 PM

In the CPU end $200 is generally my target area of price. I can't see spending $400-$600 on a CPU that ends up half that price in 4-6 months. Plus I can spend $600 on 3 CPU's over a longer period and get far more performance in the end and be happy all along.

If there's a Core 2 Duo processor that's considered solid at that price target (or about to be in that target) then I'd really prefer to go that way.

So I'm still pretty unsure what the motherboard choices should be at this point.
April 17, 2007 2:47:21 PM

Quote:
Don't change your board is good.


Congratulations, sir, for...

:trophy: DUMB IDEA OF THE WEEK! :trophy:






Anyway, with that said, back to the original question.

AMD or Intel? Currently, Intel's CPUs are faster and run cooler and overclock VERY easily. However, AMD has slashed the prices of their CPUs in an attempt to compete, so if you're not overclocking and looking for a budget chip AMD looks good. For example, the Brisbane X2 4800+, a 2.5GHz processor for around $130-$140. It'd be faster than Intel's 1.8 GHz e4300 but probably a bit slower than the 2.13 GHz e6400. But for Intel, the e4300 will be cut to $113 on April 22, and it can be overclocked to and past the best AMD CPU there is.

For Intel boards, the MSI P965 Neo-F is a good stable board at stock speeds, or for overclocking the e4x00. The Gigabyte 965P DS3 is more expensive but a very popular Core 2 board because it's stable and overclocks like nobody's business.

Personally I'd recommend a 2GHz e4400 ($133) and the MSI 965P Neo-F (~$90). Fast at stock speeds and can get a decent overclock.
April 17, 2007 2:53:30 PM

Thanks Jeff.

The MSI sounds pretty interesting though I have no experience with them. I'll start reading up on it. At $90 I'm way ahead of what I thought I'd end up paying. In fact, the processor you mentioned also seems amazingly cheap.

$90 for the MSI
$133 for the processor

$223 for those two pieces is about what I thought I'd pay for the processor alone. Is 2GHz really fast enough? Are there any gotchas with the MSI boards that you know of? On Newegg there's this one comment that's concerning: "Avoid the Jmicron controller on any board at all costs. On this board, using an ide optical drive forces PIO mode, you CANNOT use DMA/UDMA! With only PIO mode support, you will poll the processor and slow the sytem down any time you access the drive." I believe my CDR would be a problem there.

Any idea what memory you'd couple with it? I'm thinking 1GB is enough as I have that much now and never really use it. I suspect it's the one area I could stand to improve next time around. I bought some value ram from Corsair last time and while its served me well enough, this setup was always slower than I would have thought and I suspect it's because of that.
April 17, 2007 3:47:34 PM

Yeah it's a bit silly that the P965 chipset doesn't do IDE, but you can use DMA mode by setting up the JMicron as a RAID device in the BIOS then load the driver with F6 to get DMA support I think.

2GHz is decently fast if it's on a Core 2 Duo. Even the 1.8GHz for $20 cheaper is okay quick.

The MSI P965 Neo-F doesn't reach a very high max FSB. I think it's FSB tops out in the low 300s. So overclocking an e6xxx CPU would be a bit of a problem because with their stock FSB of 266 there isn't much room for improvement. But the e4xxx stock FSB of 200 means you can increase the FSB to 266 in the BIOS and run the e4400 at 2.66GHz without technically overclocking the board at all.

1GB is enough for XP but 2GB is nice to have and a must for Vista. DDR2-533 or at most 667 is all you need on the Neo-F board, but if you want to spend a little more and get an e6xxx series processor on a DS3 board to get big-time overclocks you'd need DDR2-800.

Oh and about the video cards, there is no 8600GTX. You probably meant the 8600GTS, and it looks like a decent card, though the 8800GTS 320 isn't a whole lot more expensive and a much better performer.
April 17, 2007 3:57:56 PM

Well with what I'd save here I can probably go to the 8800GTS.

I can't believe these boards are 965's. Mine is a 965. Might be the first time I've EVER upgraded (and I'm an old fart these days) and not changed chipsets and that includes upgrading months after the last upgrade. This one's been years and it's still the 965. Amazing.

I'll call MSI to ask about the IDE situation. Right now I don't want to have to be upgrading all the drives too. Still PISSED that my newish Plextor DVD is dropping dead on me for no good reason and Plextor's reaction is, "Oh, they do that."
April 17, 2007 4:04:38 PM

Well unless I'm grossly mistaken, the P5G is on the 915 chipset and doesn't support Core 2 Duo. The 965 is Intel's newest chipset.

Good idea calling MSI, they'll hopefully be able to give you details.
April 17, 2007 8:23:59 PM

the MSI P6N Platinum or P6N Sli-Fi might be an option for you. both have IDE (2 headers) & SATA (4) support, run great at stock speeds with the option to OC if you choose to later, and IIRC, 6 USB ports (maybe only 4?). the Platinum has a few things you may never use/care about, but you never know (eSata, SPDIF/optical outs, solid caps, etc.).

they are in the $100-$150 range.
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