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Help with Motherboard Choice for New Build

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May 6, 2008 11:40:53 PM

Hello and thank you for taking the time to help me out, it is much appreciated.

I'm building an entirely new PC and I have everything narrowed down except for the motherboard. I've been browsing around NewEgg for the last couple days but I can't seem to narrow down what would be the best choice, so I'm looking for some more expert advice. This PC will be largely for high-end gaming on a budget, might be doing some OCing later.

Here is what I am planning on pairing up with the new motherboard:

Case: Antec Nine Hundred
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 Kentsfield 2.66GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W
Video (x2, SLI): EVGA 512-P3-N801-AR GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16
Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
CPU Heatsink: ZALMAN 9500A 92mm
PSU: OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI ATX12V 700W Power Supply 100 - 240 V

In essence I'm looking for DDR2 800 support and 2 PCIe 2.0 x16 slots for some SLI action.

Any ideas? My specs are not set in stone, so suggestions on modifications (i.e. video, memory, etc) to better suit another type of board are welcome. I'd like to not have to upgrade this PC for quite awhile.

Again, thank you very much.

a b V Motherboard
May 6, 2008 11:51:27 PM

Quote:
In essence I'm looking for DDR2 800 support and 2 PCIe 2.0 x16 slots for some SLI action.


Yeah. You would be limited to the latest Nvidia SLI chipsets, 790. If you mean what company, ASUS and Gigabyte make high quality enthusiasts boards. ASUS introduuced a new expanded more overclocker oriented AMI BIOS with it's X38 series release. I assume that BIOS expansion would include the Nvidia 790 chipsets or at least the company's top of the line ROP (Republic of Gamers) editions. Gigabyte is good too, Award BIOS with Gigabyte.
May 8, 2008 3:55:01 PM

I've found an X38 ASUS board that looks like it will work.

ASUS MAXIMUS FORMULA LGA 775 Intel X38

Their X48 board (Rampage) is slightly more expensive and doesn't seem to be worth the extra cost.
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a b V Motherboard
May 8, 2008 4:00:33 PM

Does not support SLI. The X38 chipset supports Crossfire, not SLI.
a b V Motherboard
May 8, 2008 11:18:39 PM

I see. Evga's own product page doesn't mention PCIE 2.0 16 x 2 under the more specific 'at a glance' specifications. It's mentioned at the top of the page though.

The 790 series orogonally offered the feature as Nvidia chipsets go, I didn't realize this board is newer.

http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/123-YW-E175-A1.pdf

May 8, 2008 11:42:37 PM

badge said:
Does not support SLI. The X38 chipset supports Crossfire, not SLI.


Ah, thank you very much; I should've done my homework a bit more. I was looking at the ASUS Striker II Formula 780i, however it seems that the NB runs really hot. The XFX MB-N780-ISH9 780i looks good aside from the NB fan blowing directly on the video card, which could be an issue?

Would the ASUS P5N-D 750i do the job? None of these are 790i, however it looks like they fit the bill, unless I'm missing something? All the 790i's appear to support higher memory standards than what I'm looking for, and I'm not sure if issues could arise there.

Thanks.

Edit- Thanks guys, I'll take a look into the EVGA 750i FTW as well.
a b V Motherboard
May 8, 2008 11:54:32 PM

Well, the 780i definately does not support PCIE 2.0 16 x 2. When the 790i came out, that was the issue that gave that support. The 750i now also gives PCIE 2.0 16 x 2 if you want the latest and greatest for SLI. Sure, that ASUS supports the same chipset as the Evga mentioned in the thread. $149 looks like price relief too if you are considering the 790i. ASUS would be a better choice than XFX in my opinion.

What kind of monitor are you using? SLI is kind of pointless for a common desktop personal PC. unless you are using a 32" screen or a very high resolution in a theatre room setting or something, you are not going to get the intended effect of SLI.
a b V Motherboard
May 8, 2008 11:59:47 PM

Ha, now I look at the XFX and see 780i PCIE 2.0 x 16. I don't know. Must be because I don't buy or follow closely Nvidia chipsets anymore. LOL. I'm an Intel X38/48 CrossfireX guy.

May 9, 2008 12:07:09 AM

It looks like the EVGA 780i does have PCIe 2.0 x16. And yes the price point is a concern; I'm not looking to fork over $300 for a board if I don't have to.

http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/132-CK-NF78-A1.pdf

I have a Dell 20" WS. I was originally looking at SLI for longevity of the system as a whole; two GPUs in SLI would have a longer lifetime than a single.

Of course, this is the first homebuilt I've done in quite a few years (engineering school), so I'm slowly catching up on new tech. :) 
a b V Motherboard
May 9, 2008 12:07:58 AM

I think some of the manufacturers have released new revisions of the 680i boards. New to me anyway. That what it appears like to me. I see PCIE 2.0 16 x 2 plus PCIE 16 x 1. So, yeah, these boards are more recent releases of the chipset with obviously newer technology than simple SLI PCIE 1.0 capability. Yoiu have to check the specs closely to be sure what you are getting with the chipset as video capability goes.
a b V Motherboard
May 9, 2008 12:12:31 AM

If you buy the first card planning to SLI, most often before you have a chance to buy the second card a new seriers is released that a bottom level entrant will stomp all over your SLI 'old' system. I have two currently running SLI systems. Two 7600GT's with an FX55 on an NF4 chipset. Then a monster two 7800GTs on an NF4 chipset. woooohooo. My single 3870 will out peform all four cards hooked together. I won't buy another Radeon 3870 now, because the 4870 will be releaseed soon and kill two 3870's. Did I mention this is a vicious cycle.
May 9, 2008 12:15:29 AM

badge said:
You have to check the specs closely to be sure what you are getting with the chipset as video capability goes.

Exactly, I'm learning that quickly. :) 

I'll look around at these few boards and make a decision from there. Thanks a lot for all the help.
a b V Motherboard
May 9, 2008 12:20:12 AM

I imagine the $149 ASUS 750i board will do a nice job. I would certaily take a look if I were considering a high end Nvidia SLI system. How about a single high end 9800 series card as opposed to two 8800's in SLI? One single superior video card is better than two inferior ones.
May 9, 2008 12:21:54 AM

badge said:
If you buy the first card planning to SLI, most often before you have a chance to buy the second card a new seriers is released that a bottom level entrant will stomp all over your SLI 'old' system.

Hm, I see. So you feel that a single decent card is better since you can upgrade to another single later on, which would, by itself, outperform an older SLI combination?

edit- nevermind, you answered it. :) 
a b V Motherboard
May 9, 2008 12:26:42 AM

Well, if you are putting together a system intended for two 8800's in SLI, go for it. But yes, one single superior GPU is more desirable than two inferior performing cards.
May 9, 2008 1:19:23 AM

Well The 750i that I have purchased can be found for $179-$200.
Badge is correct in the single GPU for the most part. But ATM 2x8800GT which is $300 will out perform ANY current single GPU to date and also be cheaper than for example the 9800GX2 which = fail. The dual 8800GT's will last IMO about another year possibly more playing games at max if the rest of your system is good aswell. Just my 2 cents..
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