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Need advice on buying a mobo...

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April 26, 2007 3:14:00 PM

I already have a Core 2 Duo 6600 and 2GB of Crucial Ballistix 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1000 (PC2 8000). I can't find any motherboards that support DDR2 1000, though. Are they going to be made in the near future or should I just get a mobo rated for DDR2 800? I have a bit over a month before I buy the rest of my parts, but the RAM and processor are set in stone at this point. Any mobo advice or recommendations would be appreciated.

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April 27, 2007 6:28:55 AM

What sort of graphics are we talking here? Are you gaming on this box? You into nVidia SLI or ATI crossfire?

Also, how much of an upgrade path do you want to provide yourself later? Are we dropping in a hot new processor in two years time?

With those two things, It's much easier to narow down your chipset options. Since the chipset IS the mainboard, essentially, it's rather hard to pick one until you pick your core logic.

Based on your memory choice, I think you are a premium chipset man.

This means expensive boards ($200-$400 range).

Give me more information and I can narrow this down for you. I follow the chipset and mainboard markets rather closely.
April 27, 2007 7:48:17 AM

Do you also follow AMD MOBOs? I am looking to build a nice AM2 rig, SLI, 4 GB, usual ports probably in the Antec 900.
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April 27, 2007 12:43:43 PM

Thanks for the response... I guess I should have been more specific. For graphics, I'm looking towards an 8800GTX and I'd like SLI capabilities just in case I end up wanting another card. As for an upgrade path, I figured I'd go for a mobo that could handle Core 2 Duo as well as Quad cores.

I'm looking forward to any recommendations and I'm still wondering when mobos with DDR2 1000 support will be available!
April 27, 2007 1:51:42 PM

Sounds like are looking for a 650i/680i MB. Many good ones out there, eVGA has a good one.
Should not have a problem with DDR2-1000 RAM, watch the voltage requirements
April 27, 2007 4:14:27 PM

All the 650i/680i mobos I've looked at list DDR2 800 or 667 as their memory standard. I'd assume that DDR2 1000 would be backwards compatible with these (which isn't wrong... right?). However, wouldn't my DDR2 1000 memory lead to better performance in a mobo with a DDR2 1000 standard rather than a DDR2 800 standard? The only problem is that I haven't seen any mobos supporting greater than DDR2 800...
April 27, 2007 5:13:58 PM

You're pretty much into (MB) OC territory at DDR2-1000 speed. I don't think there even is a DDR2-1066 standard yet, so it would be hard to certify boards for that.
In any case, a non-OC C2D CPU w/1066MHz FSB data rate will have its throughput saturated by RAM running at DDR2-533 in dual-channel mode, so there's not much need for DDR2-1000 speed in practice.
April 27, 2007 6:03:59 PM

agree. You arent using that ram at full speed unless you overclock, or wait for intel's bearlake chipset (x38 is premium chipset name, we now know). Due out Q3 2007, says the remarkably accurate as of late intel roadmap.

You definately want an nVidia 680i SLI chipset, you definately dont want an nVidia 650i (not enough lanes for full speed SLI)

The 680i SLI will support a future core quad processor.

with the 680i SLI there are ten or eleven board partners:

Five of them dont produce the board, they are taking a 680i nVidia reference board and branding it. All the reference boards are made by the same contract manufacturer and all are truly identical, save for maybe some bundled accesories. The reference board (I dont personally like it much) is available from eVGA, BFG, XFX, ECS and supposedly Biostar, altho it's not up on their website as of early this week. There is also a Foxconn board that appears to be a reference board, at least to me.

The reference board isnt bad, it just lacks a feature or two that I personally want. It is going to tend to have the most mature drivers, as it has been out the longest. Surely any bug with this one nVidia jumps on with a quickness, as it affects five or six board partners.

There are also five manufacturers implementing the 680i core logic around their own designs, really four to me because one is using the 680i LT, a lesser northbridge than the 680i SLI northbridge.

You can get these boards from Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, Abit, and DFI (680i LT). Gigabyte claims to be shipping, as does MSI, but actually buying one is quite the trick at this time. An Asus can be had in the striker and the P5N32-E SLI, the only differences between the two being, as I understand it, some onboard power and reset switches, and a post code indicator (and something like a hundred bucks difference, in price). The striker is pointed at gaming enthusiasts, and the P5N32-E SLI at workstation customers, so it's easy to see why they are priced as they are. Dont be fooled, a P5N32-E SLI is every bit as much mainboard for menos dinero.

Im not very familiar with the Abit Board...

Gigabyte's offering is arguably the most feature rich, with I believe ten SATA ports (in other words, an additional controller chip) and quad gigabit ethernet.

MSI's board is equally cool in that it has X-Fi (24 bit hi definition) audio onboard with a creative labs controller chip, a mainboard first. Also worth noting are four PCIe x16 connectors that can run in 16x 16x 8x (off) mode, or 16x 8x 8x 8x mode, depending on which slots are populated.

DFI's version uses the 680i LT northbridge, losing what are some crucial features, to you, and therefore to me is not a contender in this conversation. Anyone with the hardware you have/ are buying should have the best premuim chipset.

I think Asus boards are difficult and shoddily constructed, but then I've fixed about a million of them at work, so what do I know?

I would recommend that you avoid intel chipsets in this case. Of all of the boards I just spoke of, I personally believe Gigabyte or MSI are the best... but they also cost the most, are the hardest to find. Both boards are on backorder at zipzoomfly.com. The most economical would have to be the P5N32-E SLI from ASUS or the 680i SLI reference board. I heard Mattel is putting out a Barbie version reference board with pink solid state capacitors, but this may just be a rumor. Wouldnt surprise me, everyone else is selling them, lol (yes, that was a joke).

Im waiting on the Gigabyte myself.

Considering your video card choice, I would like to point out the BFG version of the 8800GTX video card. Instead of air cooling, one version has a watercooling block... rather neat when you consider the card becomes a single width card, and doesnt block any other slots. Thermaltake makes a version of the Armor case with watercooling built in. I plan on using this exact setup, and only cooling BFG's 8800GTX with it. Unfortunately, those cards are rather expensive at around $900.

Happy building.
April 28, 2007 12:16:57 AM

Wow, thanks for the detailed replies! I was right to come to TH for advice.. :p 

The boards tsponholz linked to are a bit out of my price range, so I guess I'll look through the 680i boards and make a choice. From what you guys said, it doesn't sound like having the better memory would raise performance an awful lot.
!