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C2D Motherboard Suggestions

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October 21, 2007 9:53:27 PM

I'm currently in the planning stages of building a brand-new C2D gaming rig, and I'm a bit swamped with all the current choices. Here's are my 2 base beliefs with this build:

#1 - I have no need, or plan, for SLI on this new system.
#2 - If I go with a Conroe-based system, I don't want to future-proof myself out of the 45nm CPU's/DDR3 memory.

So here is the major conflict - do I build a Conroe system now (most seriously looking at a E6850), or do I hold-off for the Penryn CPU's (possibly the E8500)?

Either way, since I don't need SLI, I am looking for solid mobo recommendations (i.e. - go with one of the new Intel-based chipsets, pick a nForce 680i system, etc...).

Thanks in advance, guys!

Scott
October 21, 2007 10:53:20 PM

how long do you plan to keep the board? 5 years? 10 years? cuz right now ddr3 can't justify the extra money it costs. The speed gain is negligible at best. ddr2 is the best bang for the buck.

There's always something better around the corner. Intel will phase out single cores by Q1/2008. There will be 8-core cpus. You can wait until you can't use a computer anymore.

Or you can buy it now. The best chipset is P35. The most popular choices are: ASUS P5K (don't cut corners & get SE cuz it doesn't overclock as well), ABIT IP35-E, GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R.
October 21, 2007 11:16:31 PM

akhilles said:
GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R.


only get the ds3r if you want to run raid. if you don't, get the ds3l and save yourself a few bucks. It is a great board.
Related resources
October 21, 2007 11:35:32 PM

Thanks for the quick replies, guys!

I guess it comes down to a simple performance question - is the 45nm E8500 at 3.16GHz going to give me any real performance increase over the 65nm E6850? I know a 'real' answer to that question is going to be spotty at best, because the chips aren't out 'till 01/08, but if it even comes close to being 'negligible', then I won't wait...

I've seen SO many people talk about the Gigabyte board - and a quick Google search on that board come back with quite a number of reviews from May/June classifying it as a 'mid-range' board. Did a recent BIOS update from them turn this board into a real 'sleeper'?

I've been an ASUS guy for the last 4 years, but I'm starting to see way too many negative comments about their recent products. And, I've been building AMD systems recently around the nForce4 technology (I haven't kept up with the Intel tech at all :sleep:  ). The performance benchmarks alone are what's causing me to jump to the other side of the fence (oh, the pangs of guilt :D  ).

Scott
October 21, 2007 11:50:56 PM

I own the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L and have had no luck trying to get Windows to install. The MB comes with only one IDE port so I needed those for your DVD and your DVD-R. That meant I had to install SATA drives and I have as of yet been able to get it done. I have spent over 8 hours trying to get XP Pro to work with me. I have changed the settings on the MB a couple different ways (turned on AHCI, enabled native mode), and the other combinations you can make up. The MB and XP just don't seem to work together at all for me. At this point, I would throw this MB away and go back to my simple IDE MB except I can't let this stupid thing win. There are no drivers on the MB disk according to Gigabyte as it is all in the bios settings. If anyone has any words of wisdom that can help me, please let me know.
a b V Motherboard
October 22, 2007 12:21:41 AM

noiro said:
I own the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L and have had no luck trying to get Windows to install. The MB comes with only one IDE port so I needed those for your DVD and your DVD-R. That meant I had to install SATA drives and I have as of yet been able to get it done. I have spent over 8 hours trying to get XP Pro to work with me. I have changed the settings on the MB a couple different ways (turned on AHCI, enabled native mode), and the other combinations you can make up. The MB and XP just don't seem to work together at all for me. At this point, I would throw this MB away and go back to my simple IDE MB except I can't let this stupid thing win. There are no drivers on the MB disk according to Gigabyte as it is all in the bios settings. If anyone has any words of wisdom that can help me, please let me know.


Strip the system down to basic components. i.e. 1 hd, 1 optical drive, 1 stick ram, 1 video card. If you have a rev. 2 board, go into BIOS and disable all things related to Vista. There are a few. The best way to spot them is to DL the PDF version of the manual, and search for all instances of Vista. Much faster than hunt and seek in the BIOS.

Also check BIOS to make sure RAID and AHCI is turned off. Enable SATA Native mode.(page 39).
October 22, 2007 12:57:12 AM

For Installation issues, try using an XP SP2 CD and you should be fine.
I've never seen an issue installing from a SATA CD/DVD Drive using SP2.

Another question for the poster, what features do you need?

Example - Raid? How Many HDDs might you use (over 3 or 4?)?
Do you want eSata? FireWire? You already said no to SLI/XFIRE.

If the answers are no, then something like the Gigabyte P35 DS3L should work fine.

If you are gonna go for extreme OCs, the DS3R may do better due to built in chipset cooling.

Most likely, the DS3L would do you just fine.
October 22, 2007 2:12:29 AM

Here goes:

#1 - I don't plan to over-clock.
#2 - I will have 4 SATA-II Seagate HD's in this machine (2x250 & 2x320). The 320's are data storage, the 250's will be each dedicated to an OS (I'm going to dual-boot XP Pro & Vista Ultimate).
#3 - I plan on running 2GB of the best-running Corsair DDR2 I see that they offer (I'm a bit brand-loyal to them!).
#4 - I'm going to use either an XFX or eVGA 8800GTX 768MB video card.
#5 - I'm also assuming that with a setup like this, I'm going to need at least a 750W PSU, and I'm leaning towards an Antec P182 case (I've looked at the P190, but I'm not sure I need 1200W of power!).
#6 - I don't believe that I'll need FireWire or eSATA.

Scott
October 22, 2007 3:09:00 AM

I was contemplating a SATA DVD burner from Plextor, considering how thrilled I've been with the PX-760A in my current system.

That PSU you linked to looks like it's got long enough cables to do the behind-board wiring that the P182 case supports.

I was looking at this memory as well (seeing the Gigabyte has a 1066 FSB):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the first time in my life, I'm happy to say that money isn't too much of an issue with this build - I have almost $3800 as a budget. :D 
a b V Motherboard
October 22, 2007 3:17:02 AM

w2sjw said:
I was contemplating a SATA DVD burner from Plextor, considering how thrilled I've been with the PX-760A in my current system.

That PSU you linked to looks like it's got long enough cables to do the behind-board wiring that the P182 case supports.

I was looking at this memory as well (seeing the Gigabyte has a 1066 FSB):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the first time in my life, I'm happy to say that money isn't too much of an issue with this build - I have almost $3800 as a budget. :D 

You could always build my suggested system and send me the left over money! :lol: 

I can't help much with the 1066 ram. I have read both good and bad things about it, but never used it. If you overclock anyway, I hear it is a waste. I do trust Corsair quality though. You might look at some of the Tom's system builds as I think they used that ram recently in a something or another gaming rig.
October 22, 2007 3:30:16 AM

Can I ask just 2 more questions?

#1 - The E6850 supports the 1333 FSB option, but I've seen many an owner today on my Google searches with either P35 or eVGA 680i mobo's using DDR-800 RAM.

Isn't it going to degrade the performance of the CPU using the slower memory?

#2 - All these new Intel chipsets confuse the hell out of me - aren't X38-based mobos a higher-performance setup than the P35, or are they more geared to the C2E & C2Q CPU's?

Also, if I decide not to waste my money on the 'Dominator' memory (since I'm not going to overclock), I still like the enhanced heat spreaders on these (and the 4-4-4-12 is nice too!)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...(Desktop+Memory)-_-Corsair+(XMS+Series)-_-20145177
October 22, 2007 3:47:46 AM

noiro said:
I own the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L and have had no luck trying to get Windows to install. The MB comes with only one IDE port so I needed those for your DVD and your DVD-R. That meant I had to install SATA drives and I have as of yet been able to get it done. I have spent over 8 hours trying to get XP Pro to work with me. I have changed the settings on the MB a couple different ways (turned on AHCI, enabled native mode), and the other combinations you can make up. The MB and XP just don't seem to work together at all for me. At this point, I would throw this MB away and go back to my simple IDE MB except I can't let this stupid thing win. There are no drivers on the MB disk according to Gigabyte as it is all in the bios settings. If anyone has any words of wisdom that can help me, please let me know.
Go buy yourself a SATA DVD and your XP will slip right in. Let me know how you faired.

Edit: Before you install using the SATA DVD be sure to default all of the insanity that you loaded into the BIOS. SATA set for native IDE operation, no AHCI. You might even zero write the drive with the manufacturers tools before the install to ensure that you don't have any residual garbage that will confuse the XP install. Also always do the full format to check for bad sectors.
a b V Motherboard
October 22, 2007 4:10:57 AM

w2sjw said:
Can I ask just 2 more questions?

#1 - The E6850 supports the 1333 FSB option, but I've seen many an owner today on my Google searches with either P35 or eVGA 680i mobo's using DDR-800 RAM.

Isn't it going to degrade the performance of the CPU using the slower memory?

#2 - All these new Intel chipsets confuse the hell out of me - aren't X38-based mobos a higher-performance setup than the P35, or are they more geared to the C2E & C2Q CPU's?

Also, if I decide not to waste my money on the 'Dominator' memory (since I'm not going to overclock), I still like the enhanced heat spreaders on these (and the 4-4-4-12 is nice too!)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...(Desktop+Memory)-_-Corsair+(XMS+Series)-_-20145177

This Tom's articles explains ram way better than I ever could. http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/10/03/pc_memory/ . In theory the best match for a 1333FSB would be DDR2 667, so with DDR2 800, you actually have some overhead to play with. The general rule of thumb I was taught, was to get the ram one step above the actual need. Hopefully the article will explain it better.

The X38's are supposed to be higher performing, but they are still new, so their may be bugs to squash as yet. If anything the x38 is geared more toward the 45nm Penryn chips and DDR3 memory.

If you like those heat spreaders, go for them. That ram is only $10 more than the regular XMS2. Keep in mind that the heat spreaders only really come into play when overclocking. But, they do look nice in clear sided systems.
a b V Motherboard
October 22, 2007 4:57:55 AM

I'd get the e6850 if you buying soon. If I'm not mistaken, the Penryn chips will be the last for 775? If this is true, than you can still get the e6850 and upgrade to the latest Penryn in a year or two for a little speed bump if you want to. I'd probably get the e6850 now and just OC it later when I feel that I need more speed. The Intels right now are pretty easy to OC, so I wouldn't be too concerned about it.
I'd personally get the DDR2 800mHz, since it'll allow you to OC later easier and isn't that much more than the 667mHz ones right now. As far as the mobo's concerned, I'll just get the p35 based ones right now, since the x38's are way overpriced and DDR3 right now doesn't make any financial sense.
Recap:
1) Stick with DDR2 800mHz CAS 4 if possible (you'll thank us later, if you OC later)
2) e6850 would be fine now, this way you can enjoy it now and don't have to wait for a newer release. You can always OC this chip (costs nothing if you have a good QUALITY PSU) later and get more use out of your system.
3) with that much budget, why don't you support both sides and build a comparable AMD build and do your own benchmark tests and report back to us, so we can see a 3rd party's perspective!!

Total for a quality build like this would be in the $1500-$2000 range depending on what/where you spend your $.

October 22, 2007 11:26:41 AM

Thanks guys for all the help!

I've been stuck building systems for so long on DDR, where the FSB was directly influenced by the working speed of the memory (as in how the Athlon 64's required DDR400 minimum to run, etc).

When DDR2 came out, I wasn't ready to move anything in that direction, so I never payed attention to how RAM speed & FSB operation affected each other...
a b V Motherboard
October 22, 2007 12:28:58 PM

w2sjw said:
Thanks guys for all the help!

I've been stuck building systems for so long on DDR, where the FSB was directly influenced by the working speed of the memory (as in how the Athlon 64's required DDR400 minimum to run, etc).

When DDR2 came out, I wasn't ready to move anything in that direction, so I never payed attention to how RAM speed & FSB operation affected each other...

The AMD's still need the faster RAM to operate to the maximum. The current C2D's can get by with the slower DDR2, since it's not so dependant on the memory speeds. So if you go with an AMD setup, use at least DDR2 800mHz memory, preferably the CAS 4 stuff.
October 24, 2007 12:41:27 AM

Guys,

OK, I'm going to go with the E6850 and the Gigabyte mobo, but I have one small question:

What's the difference between the GA-P35-DS3R and the GA-P35C-DS3R? Is is better cooling on the P35C?

I can't seem to tell in the pictures...

Edit - whoops, now I see that the P35C is a DDR2 & DDR3 combo-compliant version. Should I not waste my money over the regular P35-DS3R?
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2007 1:05:44 AM

The C supports DDR2 and DDR3 RAM. If you can get by with 4 SATA ports and no RAID, then the DS3L would be another aforementioned option. The quality on these boards is the same. The price differences are based on number of features.
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2007 2:00:57 AM

w2sjw said:
Guys,

OK, I'm going to go with the E6850 and the Gigabyte mobo, but I have one small question:

What's the difference between the GA-P35-DS3R and the GA-P35C-DS3R? Is is better cooling on the P35C?

I can't seem to tell in the pictures...

Edit - whoops, now I see that the P35C is a DDR2 & DDR3 combo-compliant version. Should I not waste my money over the regular P35-DS3R?

I think DDR3 right now isn't a good financial choice and so I don't recommend it. This might change later, but DDR2 is doing just fine, especially for the price right now. DS3L has no RAID support and 4 SATA ports, DS3R has RAID support and 6 SATA ports along with other features, DS3R (p35C) has the same as the regular p35 mobo, but has the DDR2/DDR3 options as previously stated. You can decide on which one works for you and which one has the options that your looking for. They are all good mobo's and you shouldn't have any issues with OC'ing any of them too.
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2007 2:01:47 AM

lunyone said:
The AMD's still need the faster RAM to operate to the maximum. The current C2D's can get by with the slower DDR2, since it's not so dependant on the memory speeds.


I thought it was just the opposite. AMD was slow to move from DDR to DDR2 because the faster memory was not required for maximum performance. Can you cite any sources to support your contention that the opposite is now the case?
October 24, 2007 2:22:56 AM

I priced out the system a little while ago - it came to $1700 (guess I WAY overshot my budget needs!).

C2D E6850
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI
Corsair XMS2DHX DDR2-800
Antec P182 Case
Zalman 9700 heatsink
XFX 8800GTX 768MB video card
2x250GB Seagate 7200.10 HD's

Are there any of you guys here that use the Zalman 9700 or 9500 with either the P180, P182, or P190 cases? I love Zalman coolers, but don't want to have any clearance issues with the side of the case...
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2007 2:44:47 AM

rockyjohn said:
I thought it was just the opposite. AMD was slow to move from DDR to DDR2 because the faster memory was not required for maximum performance. Can you cite any sources to support your contention that the opposite is now the case?

Here's an older review at Anandtech on some of the differences with DDR and DDR2. There are other links, but this is what I've found so far. The Intel setups w/C2D's don't have a memory controller built in, so if you use 533mHz or 667mHz memory, you don't see much difference. The only difference that you see is when you start to OC the FSB to get your CPU OC'd.
http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2741&p=4
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2007 2:47:15 AM

w2sjw said:
I priced out the system a little while ago - it came to $1700 (guess I WAY overshot my budget needs!).

C2D E6850
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R
OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI
Corsair XMS2DHX DDR2-800
Antec P182 Case
Zalman 9700 heatsink
XFX 8800GTX 768MB video card
2x250GB Seagate 7200.10 HD's

Are there any of you guys here that use the Zalman 9700 or 9500 with either the P180, P182, or P190 cases? I love Zalman coolers, but don't want to have any clearance issues with the side of the case...

I thought your budget was $3800? Is this a problem only spending $1700?
October 24, 2007 3:46:26 AM

Actually, I said that wrong! I was anticipating quite a bit more... :lol: 

I'm still teetering a bit on the PSU. I'd like to have a modular design of at least 600W, but still be able to keep the center fan in the lower compartment of the P182...
a b V Motherboard
October 24, 2007 4:25:06 AM

w2sjw said:
Actually, I said that wrong! I was anticipating quite a bit more... :lol: 

I'm still teetering a bit on the PSU. I'd like to have a modular design of at least 600W, but still be able to keep the center fan in the lower compartment of the P182...

Well we could've recommended a Cooler Master case and saved you over $50 more. And then also recommended a different GPU and saved you more there, etc, etc. Hehehehe. No I think you have a decent build. I'm not a OCZ PSU kinda guy, but that is me. I'd go for Seasonic, PC&C, Antec for starters but I'm sure th OCZ Game series is good too.
October 24, 2007 11:35:54 AM

I've been looking more at PSU's this morning, and more often than not, the OCZ has 6 SATA power connetctors (the 4 HD's + the SATA DVD burner I want to run pretty much defines my needs).

Again, I want to thank you guys for your time & patience while helping me out! :hello: 
a b V Motherboard
October 26, 2007 8:22:44 AM

lunyone said:
Here's an older review at Anandtech on some of the differences with DDR and DDR2. There are other links, but this is what I've found so far. The Intel setups w/C2D's don't have a memory controller built in, so if you use 533mHz or 667mHz memory, you don't see much difference. The only difference that you see is when you start to OC the FSB to get your CPU OC'd.
http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2741&p=4


The article you cite only compares AMD socket 939 using DDR memory with AMD socket AMD using DDR2 memory. It says absolutely nothing about Intel CPUs nor offers any comparison with them. It is totally irrelevant to your contention that "The AMD's still need the faster RAM to operate to the maximum. The current C2D's can get by with the slower DDR2, since it's not so dependant on the memory speeds."

I still think you contention sounds very strange and would appreciate a source that is to the point. If the AMD needs, and therefore is making good use of, faster memory than C2D can, then the AMD must be processing faster.

In addition. now I don't understand your new point that "Intel setups w/C2D's don't have a memory controller built in, so if you use 533mHz or 667mHz memory, you don't see much difference. " While the C2D does not have a built in controller, is still requires and uses a memory controller on the motherboard. If the C2D does not see much difference between 533mHz and 667mHz I doubt that it has much to do with having a controller on the motherboard versus one on the chip, unless you are saying the channel from the controller to the cpu bottlenecks the CPU? Does the design archtecture of C2D systems include this design flaw?


November 2, 2007 9:02:22 PM

Follow-up

Well, I ordered everything last Thursday night, and had everything in 1 big shipment on Monday the 29th.

So far, I'm astounded by the system's performance! Getting things set up on the mobo with the Antec case & the Zalman 9700 cooler took some serious pre-planning (like the ATX12V plug), but I got it all in without issue. The 9700 is keeping the CPU at room-temp while idle, and that downright amazing (to me)! I recorded the lowest core temp I've even seen in my life this morning (13 C), as it gets quite cool in the fall & winter down here in the den.

My biggest two surprises where the results of the Half-Life 2 video stress test (285.3 fps) and my score on 3DMark06 at 1280x1024 (11535). The 3DMark06 score really blew me away - is that 'normal' for a build like this, or is that an 'exceptional' score?
a b V Motherboard
November 2, 2007 10:20:06 PM

NICE!!! Way to go, looks nice <drools> :) 
!