E8400 SLI Motherboard recommendations

I am about to upgrade my system with a new motherboard, CPU, memory and video card. I've been out of the loop on the recent advances and am hoping for some recommendations. I'm open to any suggestions, but I'm mainly looking for motherboard/memory recommendations.

Current Specs:
Core 2 Duo E8400
EVGA 512-P3-N802-AR Geforce 8800 GT 512MB
Vista Business (probably 64-bit)
4GB of RAM (type? speed? 2 sticks vs. 4 sticks?)

SATA support is a must, thought SATA RAID is not required.
WiFi support is not required (nor really desired)
On-board audio is nice, but not required. (I use USB headphones.)

I'm not planning to run SLI for the moment. However, I do want SLI support. The idea of going with the 8800 GT (512MB) is that it's priced low enough to be able to add another one down the road, without sacrificing solid gaming experience now.

The computer will primarily be used for gaming (the usual gambit). However, I do use it secondarily for some video editing, software development, etc. It will be part of a home network (wired), for which I have a router, etc.

I've built my last several computers, so I feel comfortable with putting it all together. However, I've never really gotten into overclocking. I am looking to OC this particular setup a bit, so motherboards/memory that would make that easier (or possible) would be preferrable. By a bit, I mean within what's stable with air cooling. I realize I can get more from water cooling, but I'm just not comfortable with that at the moment.

Price is some object (no $300+ motherboards please). However, I'm not looking to necessarily go the cheapest route either. I'm looking to get a motherboard that will provide me with a solid platform for a couple of years.

Finally, please no Abit motherboard recommendations. While I'm sure the products are solid, I've had some bad experiences with them in the past and am just not interested in testing those waters again.

Thanks and I appreciate any and all help.
22 answers Last reply
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  1. Im actually researching the same exact thing. Right now im leaning towards the Gigabyte X38T-DQ6 or possibly the Asus Maximus Formula as i've had an overall good track record with asus. You wanna wanna read up on them.
  2. Thanks for your response. Problem is, though, both of those boards support Crossfire and I'm looking for SLI. I'll look to see if there are SLI equivalents.
  3. I have been looking into the same thing. The 780i boards will definately support the E8400, but they are pricey and all have support for 3 way SLI, which is a waste in my opinion. Also, the 780i seems to be basically a hacked 680i; nVidia just threw on an extra chip. It's not really "new" technology. Further, from what I gather, the 780i runs hot and will require additional cooling, which I don't like for noise reasons. Also, OC stability has been questionable. Some are seeing great results, others not so much.

    Apparently newer 680i boards will support the E8400, but not all of them will. There are reports of bios flashes resulting in dead boards. I am not sure how to tell 100% if a 680i will support the E8400 or not. Also, with the 680i again, you are using older technology.

    From what I can gather, nVidia doesn't have anything that really compares to the X35/X38 chipset from a thermal or stability standpoint. I would love to be corrected on this, but my research has led me to believe that right now, it would be better to go with an X35 or X38 chipset and one 8800GTS. I would love to do 8800 GTs in SLI, but I am completely unimpressed with the price/performance of the SLI boards.
  4. Sanadar said:
    Thanks for your response. Problem is, though, both of those boards support Crossfire and I'm looking for SLI. I'll look to see if there are SLI equivalents.

    No problem at all, i read your entire message so im not sure why it didnt click to me that you were looking for an SLI board. I'll try to do a bit of research and see what i can come up with.
  5. How bout a board with 750i SLI
    MSI P7N Platinum, ASUS P5N-D etc...?
  6. The 750i doesn't have two X16 PCI slots. It would run each card at x8.
  7. Maybe you'd get 2 extra fps with a x16x16 board, and that would probably not be due to x16x16...and the man did say price is an issue...100€+ the difference opposed to 780.
    Btw.. I noticed something about the p5n-d on ASUS' website, saying that it's "2x x16 SLI hardware ready"... anyone know what that's about?
    And it says that it supports dual Pci-e 2.0 x16 SLI..
  8. First of all, thank you to you all for your responses. It's certainly helped me focus my research.

    In researching the ASUS P5N-D, I'm finding more and more that people aren't recommending SLI at all right now. Too many stability problems, issues with not supporting Dual Core CPUs (or limiting it to a single core), etc. Maybe I need to drop the idea of future SLI for the time being. So that leaves me with two questions.

    1) Dropping SLI support in favor of better stability, OC, etc. should open things up a bit. Would the original recommendations of "Gigabyte X38T-DQ6 or possibly the Asus Maximus Formula" be the leading choices? I would think that the added Crossfire support would be costing me money for a feature I wouldn't be using. (And just curious, would the fact that it supports Crossfire cause me issues in running a single NVidia card?)

    2) Would the EVGA 512-P3-N802-AR Geforce 8800 GT 512MB as a single card give me enough "umph" graphics-wise for gaming? I do like high level settings (though doesn't have to be the absolute best) and do run 1600x1200 when possible. I was willing to go this route when considering SLI in the near future (a few months down the road), but if this is my only card I have to wonder.
  9. I was thinking of upgrading myself this month using pretty much the same stuff you are... E8400, Zotac 8800GT 512 AMP! edition and adding one more down the road in SLI on a ASUS P5N-D mobo.
    Btw.. I don't know what you mean by SLI lilmiting dual-core cpu's..? I don't think they could sell products like that..

    With the p5n-d you get support for SLI and all current Intel cpu's, and with a bios upgrade all the future ones too if they don't change the platform alltogether...
    There were problems with the 680i SLI boards in the past but I think they've dealt with those by now..
    Ad 1)
    Check the features you need or want, I bet both boards would do the OCing job nicely..unless you're going for the extreme, in that case I'm not your man.
    Crossfire support wouldn't mess with an nvidia card.
    Ad 2)
    I don't know about that specific card, but an OC'd 8800GT 512 runs with the top dog video cards if not ahead so it should do just fine.

    There you go, another piece of my mind!

  10. It wasn't specifically SLI limiting dual-core CPUs, but one of the P5ND boards only supporting single core (for a dual core CPU) because of a chipset limitation. I didn't bookmark the page I found that on and can't find it again. I've had ASUS boards in the past (my current board is an ASUS), so I suspect this is probably a one off issue. Wanted to mention it, though, in case someone knew if it was more systematic.

    In doing more research on the P5N-D, I found that the ASUS CPU Support page (http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx) does not list the P5N-D as supporting the E8400. This lines up with a note on ZipZoomFly for the motherboard: "Note: Currently does not support 45 nm Intel Core 2 Quad processor." While I suspect they'll add support eventually (if possible), that's enough evidence for me to shy away from it.

    From the looks of it, I'm either going 680i (because 780i is too expensive for very little extra bang - if any) if I want SLI or something with the X35/X38 chipset.
  11. Doing a Newegg power search with the North Bridges marked SLI and 2, 3, or 4 PCIExpressx16 gives 17 choices. In order of customer rating:

    ASUS P5N-E $120: suppports SLI at only 8x
    EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1 $230: possible
    MSI P6N SLI Platinum $140 : suppports SLI at only 8x
    ASUS Striker Extreme $300: too expensive
    ASUS P5N32-E $210: possible. See http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=2104
    MSI P6N SLI-FI $105: suppports SLI at only 8x
    ABIT IN9 32X-MAX $210: you don't want Abit
    EVGA 122-CK-NF67-T1 $170: possible. 680i LT is trimmed down. See http://www.hothardware.com/Articles/NVIDIA_nForce_680i_LT_SLI/
    MSI P6N Diamond $215: possible. See http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2182&page=1
    EVGA 122-CK-NF68-T1 $200: possible
    ABIT Fatal1ty FP-IN9 $128: you don't want Abit
    ECS NF650iSLIT-A (V1.0) $85 : suppports SLI at only 8x
    JetWay 775GT1-LOGE $70: old nForce 570
    GIGABYTE GA-N650SLI-DS4L $100: suppports SLI at only 8x
    Foxconn NF4SLI7AA-8KRS2 $42 : suppports SLI at only 8x
    JetWay JN650GE-PB $105: low rating
    JetWay J775GT2-LOG $75: low rating

    That leaves 3 EVGA's and 2 others as "possible".
    For the EVGAs, see http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r19298804-EVGA-122CKNF68A1-mobo-what-HSF-will-fit
    In the MSI review it beats 6 other SLIs. Looks good to me.
  12. Just to let you know, 650i chipsets don't support the e8400
  13. So if you don't care about SLI the GIGABYTE GA-X38-DQ6 LGA 775 Intel X38 is the way to go? On the pricey side though I hate paying as much for the board as I do for my 8800GT
  14. Well, after more research and much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, at this point I've zeroed in on the EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1. I've not been able to confirm compatibility with the E8400 yet. I have emailed EVGA and requested the information. I'll be sure to post the reply (if any) I receive.

    So, if I go with the EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1 what type of memory should I look to get that will give me reasonable OC'ing potential? The specs for the motherboard state DDR2-800, but I'm assuming I probably want something a bit faster to handle the overclocking. Recommendations?
  15. my evga nf860i works fine with my e8400

    and it overclocks very well, 4.2ghz@1.41-42

  16. vince251 said:
    my evga nf860i works fine with my e8400

    and it overclocks very well, 4.2ghz@1.39

    Very Nice! Is that stable?
  17. Vince251 already posted that the EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1 motherboard does indeed work iwth the E8400. Just to share, here's the information from EVGA that I received.

    When asked if the motherboard was compatible with the E8400:
    The E8400 Wolfdale is compatible with the 680i, you must first flash the bios version to P32. You can find the latest bios version here: http://www.evga.com/forums/tm.asp?m=230599

    I then replied and asked if the motherboard could be flashed with the new processor installed.
    You might be able to flash with the new processor installed. However, you will probably not be able to get past the post screen. If you put the bios on a floppy or cd from another computer, you should be fine.

    Not completely reassuring that I won't need a different CPU just to get the BIOS flashed.
  18. Vince251,

    That's good to hear that not only it works, but it's nicely overclockable. Are you air cooling or water cooling? I'm hoping to reach 4Ghz with air cooling (using a ZALMAN CNPS9500A http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=10007430).
  19. What does everyone think of the Abit IP35 Pro for the E8400???
  20. ya it is stable,but i increased the vcore to 1.41. i use the Zalman CNPS9700NT and it does not go over 70 on full load.
  21. What is better the ZALMAN 9500A or Zalman CNPS9700NT for the E8400 on a Abit IP35 Pro???
  22. I forgot to mention I would probably go for the ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler because it is just as good but "lighter and smaller" then the Zalman 9700 which is from what I heard a... MONSTER.
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