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Help With Choosing A Motherboard

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August 23, 2008 5:14:21 AM

Hello everyone. This is going to be the first computer that I build from the ground up. It's based on an (awfully) expensive model made by HP, only I've found that buying the OEM parts and putting it together yourself is much cheaper (and saves me almost $1000), and it's usually better too. There's just one problem; they don't tell you what kind of motherboard to use.

Can anyone help me?

The hardware I'll be using is;

OS: Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Processor: Intel Quad Core 2 (2.83Ghz)
RAM: 8GB (4GB x2)
HD: 1.5 TB (750GB x2)
Graphics: nVidia GeForce 9800GT (1GB)
Sound: Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Gamer

Then of course, a monitor, the case, and the mouse and keyboard, fans, etc., but that's irrelevant to my question.

So please help me out; what is the fastest kind of motherboard I should use?
should
PS: If there's more I need to fill you in on, just let me know

More about : choosing motherboard

August 23, 2008 5:21:35 AM

They also didn't tell you what power supply or case. I will recommend a corsair 750w tx or gamexstream 700w psu.
I will recommend either the ATI 4850 or 4870 graphics cards intead.
P45 is you don't want to add a 2nd graphics card. X48 if you do.
Asus, gigabyte are good brands. (P5Q pro for p45 is probably the best bang/buck)

Gskill, ocz, muskin, or corsair all have good ram. Lower timings, and voltages are always good. 800 if you don't plan to overclock, 1066 if you do.
Ditch the sound card for now, get it later if you feel it's necessary.
August 23, 2008 5:29:54 AM

thanks for the reply, but I only got about part of what you just told me.

parts I understood;
corsair 750w tx or gamexstream 700w power supply unit
ati 4850 or 4870 graphics card

parts i didn't understand;
...just about everything else.

what is p45? by who? what is x48? by who? what do they do?

and also;
800 if you don't plan to overclock, 1066 if you do.

what? 800 by who? what is it? same with 1066.

i'm a noob to this. this is my very first time, so don't be surprised i've asked these.
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August 23, 2008 5:34:09 AM

P45 is the best bang/buck ratio motherboard chipset for crossfire, while x48 will give better performance because it has x16 instead of x8 pci slots (for your graphics card). 5-10% more performance for $100-150 more.
The only difference between the two board types are the 2nd gpu slot in the P45 is x8 in crossfire, while the X48 allows full x16.

800 ram just means that the cpu fsb (front side bus) cannot exceed 400mhz. the 1066 is similar. Overclocking is the process of going into the bios and speeding up the processing by changing the front side bus or multiplier.

If you don't plan on overclocking, get 800 ddr2 ram by OCZ, G. SKill, muskin, or Corsair brand. (low timings, and 1.8-2.0 volts lower is better)
August 23, 2008 5:42:46 AM

okay. yeah, i know what overclocking is, because that's what i'm going to try to do, it's just i didn't understand the model numbers or anything like that.

so then who is the p45 motherboard made by?

oh, and btw, i will be getting the sound card. i can't 'just ditch it for now' because i will be doing a lot of sound-related work with it. just thought i'd throw that out there in case it means that i should change the hardware somehow.
August 23, 2008 6:32:14 AM

1. what is the budget you are working at, that will help with recommendations?

2. what do you mean by sound work? the reason it was recommended that you ditch it is all of the problems with x-fi on the newer set ups. this is a big change from the past but now most people are going with onboard sound because of all the improvements and vistas capabilities with it. if you know for a fact that won't work for you then i would recommend not going x-fi. get a zonar soundcard. but if you aren't 100% sure then do that last. try onboard first and see what you think.

3. ram - i doubt you will be overclocking enough to need 1066. 800 can still be overclocked plenty. just make sure to get 1.8v. mushkin is at the top of my list right now. 4gb should be plenty. 8 would typically be overkill. are you doing some major cad type stuff? specific reason for 8?

4. gpu - in order to give good recommendation need to know uses for it. gaming? other stuff? resolution of monitor(s)? all major factors in gpu choice

5. mobo - gpu choice and budget will be big factors in recommendation so once we have all the answers can better suggest

August 23, 2008 6:40:27 AM

P45 is a chipset made by INTEL, various manufacturers use the chipset example of p45 motherboards is the P5Q pro made by ASUS.

The X48 is also a chipset made by Intel. Examples of mobo's that use these is the ASUS RAMPAGE.

Chipsets determine what type of RAM you can run and which processors your able to use also how many pci-e lanes are available.
August 25, 2008 7:44:46 AM

@ bdollar

1) more or less $2000 (+/- $500)

2) I'm a musician, and I demand will not touch anything that's not the best when it comes to sound quality, especially when recording.

3)don't worry about why i want 8gb of ram. besides, after reading about it, i probably won't be overclocking anyways. (i'm sorry if i come off as a bit of an arse, but i kinda hate it when people ask me why i want to overdo certain things sometimes. there are just times when i'd rather overdo something for no specific reason other than personal taste/wants, and this is one of them.)

4) recording and gaming (i like to set everything set on ultra hi-res).

PS: in essence, what I was trying to say in #3, is this;
I'm telling you my destination; what I want my end result to be, and I'm asking what I need to get there. I'm open to suggestions, but don't try to change the entire course. In other words, it's alright if you change the names (IE: don't get nVidia, get ATI), but DO NOT change the numbers (IE: don't get 8gb, get 4gb).
Again, I don't want to come off as an arsehole or anything, but I'm just telling it like it is on my mind.
Thank You
August 25, 2008 10:22:49 AM

If you want to pay over the odds for components on a whim then fair be it. But some of the suggestions made to you are very reasonable.

- 8Gb of RAM is excessive and will cost you extra. 4Gb is the sweet spot for Windows Vista, if you were to buy 2x2Gb modules you could add extra later if you can justify the need. I have just doubled the 2GB RAM in my XP machine and it has made almost no difference.

- You should also be using DDR2-800 RAM if you aren't attempting an overclock but go for DDR2-1066 if you are. If you don't understand what it means , don't ask, go and look it up on the memory forums or just type it into newegg and pick one of the manufacturers suggested here.

- The Q9xxx series quad cores are significantly more money than they ought to be at the moment. You could save lots and lose only an insignificant amount of performance with a Q6600. Adding a small overclock would in fact make the q6600 more powerful than the one stocked. Note if you choose that option you will want an aftermarket heat sink.
I don't know what the thoughts are from forum users as to whether a high clock dual core would be better. Developers still aren't utilising all 4 cores and certainly won't be in music software. Maybe an E8400?

- You will want a P45 motherboard. There is a review on THG:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/intel-p45-motherboard,rev...

- You will definitely want an ATi 4870 series graphics card. It will outdo that 9800GT. It will also give you access to most of the high graphics settings in games. A 9800GT isn't going to give you that high res, high eye-candy.

- I would also agree with bdollar - you should start with onboard sound and then upgrade IF you feel the need. Onboard sound is not the terrible thing it once was. You could save yourself money this way. The major problems with Vista have been related to sound card (although much of this is sorted now).

I understand that you are being obsessive about numbers but if you will not accept recommendations then there isn't a lot of point in asking for comments.

Jeremy
August 25, 2008 1:39:13 PM

quick point. you have a budget. therefore when we recommend it is in relation to that budget. so dropping down somewhere allows you to raise somewhere else. if you want to maximize your 2k that is how it works. if you just want brank recommendations that is fine but then you may be wasting money in one area and not spending enough in another. on here we give our BEST recommendations and you can do with them as you please. we'll try to explain why we recommend what we do. ultimately it is your rig and you can take them or leave them.

1. mobo - intel x48 mobo allows you to add another gpu at full x16/16 if you desire at some point. if you have no desire to crossfire your gpu (add another) then the recommendation for the p45 board is spot on .
2. gpu - 4870x2 best there is right now. can add another later when prices come down or if you really want to beef up the settings. you didn't tell me your resolution but if you use less than 1920x1200 this may be overkill but you did say you like things ultra high settings. and if you ar 1920x1200 or higher this will really be a great card.
3. ram - gave my opinion already. (go with mushkin 1.8v if doing ddr2 800)since you are sure you want 8gb one thing you could do to take advantage of some of that is turn off the page file cache in vista and just use ram instead of it having to access hard drive.
4. cpu - q6600 is a great card especially if you want to try overclocking. i haven't priced all of these options but this is one area you could save a little by getting q6600 if you need more $ for the gpu.
5. hdd - is you are near top of your budget and need to cut something down a little bit western digital makes a 640gb hdd for $85 that is great and about the best deal price per gb you can find.
6. soundcard - understand you want the best sound. highly recommend reading as many reviews as you can about x-fi with new set ups. then recommend seeing what you think of onboard (with an open mind :)  ). if it doesn't cut it then look into an Asus Zonar card and see what you think. really it depends on how good you want it. you can spend your whole $2k on the soundcard alone, especially if you want top of the line recording. The zonar is a "regular" price range model but there are tons of more expensive cards made specifically for recording (like digidesign, m-audio, presonus, etc).

again i didn't take the time to look up each of these recommendations to see what the tally brings so if it is high then let me know and i can show you where to save.
August 25, 2008 2:21:46 PM

^ +1. Very good comments.

Although some reviews are suggesting the gains in Xfire with an X48 over P45 are only around 5%.

Jeremy
August 25, 2008 2:36:09 PM

oh really? do you have the links. i hadn't heard that. p45 is a great board if that is all the difference x16/x16 makes then that isn't much. would love to read more about that.
August 25, 2008 3:14:03 PM

No sorry it was just a snippet that someone else had posted - I can't gauge reliability I'm afraid. But if it is correct then X48 is a big investment for a small gain.
August 25, 2008 7:37:24 PM

Here's what I've got down so far

OS: Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Motherboard: P45
Graphics Card: ATi HD 4870X2
Sound Card: Asus Zonar (Sorry, but I just don't use onboard sound. i don't care how good it is, it's just not the same as having a separate sound card dedicated to just sound.)
RAM: 8GB Mushkin 1.8v DDR2 800
CPU: I guess I'll just bite the bullet and get a Q6600 and try my hand at overclocking. It would be a good learning experience for me I suppose.
HD: 1.5TB
Extra Cost: Heatsink (so how much do those run you? Unless you have a better cooling solution.)

Anything else you guys want to add?
August 25, 2008 8:03:46 PM

How big is the screen that you are running? If it is anything around 22" the 4870X2 is too much power. It will sit idle most of the time.

I can't really be bothered adding anything else because you aren't listening to advice given.
August 25, 2008 8:21:14 PM

I'm running a 27" monitor.

Dunno how you could say that, considering that I'm taking most of the advice (most, not all) given. I'm pretty much following all you peoples' suggestions about things, I just don't want to change my RAM, and I don't want to use onboard sound. I'm not following 2 pieces of advice on personal tastes; 8gb RAM and putting in a sound card. Other than that, all other suggestions made, like what kind of sound card, what kind of graphics card, and the lowering my CPU, I'm pretty much following. I don't know how that somehow means that I'm not listening to anything, but ok, my original question was answered anyways.

Thanks to all who have given advice.
August 26, 2008 5:40:59 AM

heatsink go for Arctic cooling 7 Pro. its only $20 on newegg.
!