New build - mobo question

Hey all, I am compiling parts for a new build - everything is brand new, nothing is being reused since my current comp and monitor are both old (I'm on a CRT). I've been following trends and benchies for things like HDD's, video cards, and CPU's so I have a pretty good handle on what I need and what I'm getting in those areas. But I'm a total noob with mobo's and they just confuse the heck out of me, all those north bridges and south bridges, and new ones constantly coming out with new "features" that I don't understand etc.

Here is my current build, all parts from newegg. I welcome any and all suggestions for any of the parts, but I am particularly interested in mobo suggestions and advice, as I'm really not sure what mobo I would need and why.

Current potential build:

CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 - Retail - $170
Cooler - Stock
Thermal Paste - Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - $6
Video Card - ASUS EAH4850/HTDI/512M Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Video Card - Retail- $153
Monitor - Acer AL2216Wbd Black 22" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor with HDCP support - Retail - $200
Hard Drive - 2x Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $170
Ram - OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail - $45
Sound Card - Creative Sound Blaster SB0570 Audigy SE 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail - $30
Speakers - Logitech Z-2300 200 watts RMS 2.1 Speaker System - Retail - $91
Lan - Onboard
CD/DVD - LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model iHAS120-04 - OEM - $24
Power - OCZ GameXStream OCZ600GXSSLI 600W ATX12V NVIDIA SLI Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail - $60
Mobo - GIGABYTE GA-X38-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $200
Case - COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $50
Mouse - Logitech MX310 930928-0403 Black/White 6 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB + PS/2 Wired Optical Mouse - Retail - $25
Keyboard - Logitech 967740-0403 Black USB Standard Internet 350 USB Keyboard - OEM - $9

OS = Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM - $100

TOTAL = $1,333

I plan to do a lot of gaming - all current games and whatever's coming down the line. I don't care about gaming at insane resolutions but I think 4850 should handle anything current mostly at max at the standard 22" widescreen monitor default resolution.

I don't plan to overclock (also something I'm not familiar with, plus I don't see it as necessary with that cpu anyway). I plan to use stuff like photoshop and video/audio editing and encoding. Also I may potentially end up using this pc as a home theatre pc. So basically I plan to do everything and everything on this sucker, push it to the limit. But I'm also not expecting miracles.

My budget total for everything is between $1000 to $1500 max (hopefully closer to $1000).

A few questions:

I also noticed this cheap board on newegg:
GIGABYTE GA-G31M-S2L LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $59
It is the highest rated on the egg and is ridiculously cheap. Would it suffice for me and should I downgrade from the $200 monster I chose? Should I go for different northbridge chipset, and if so, why? I have X38 but maybe P45 is better or something? I also plan to RAID the 2 HD's I'm buying so I'm also not sure how to find out which board supports RAID.

Why is there such a huge difference in price - why is one mobo $60 and the other $200? Also the G31M only supports PCI Express 1.0 - would that bottleneck the HD 4850 card? And finally, I am using DDR2 800 ram but the board supports higher standard - is my ram gonna work?

I appreciate any and all answers and advice/suggestions!
6 answers Last reply
More about build mobo question
  1. Does the G31 even support the E8400? I would go for a P43 chipset, personally.
  2. Will you crossfire any time soon?

    If no then the P45 will do fine. If you are going to Crossfire get the X38/X48.

    The G31 is a basic chipset. The Southbridge ICH7 DOES NOT SUPPORT RAID. If you want to RAID you will have to get a RAID controller. You will need a board that has the ICH9R or ICH10R for RAID.

    The GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DS3R has the ICH10R and is only $135.

    The X38 is a higher end Chipset It will support PCIe 16X/16X in Crossfire mode, more performance, and overclocking. The G31 will give you OK performance and will not support Crossfire. The G31 would be for a Media Center PC or a computer for some one that will just do basic stuff on the computer like internet and Minesweeper.

    Get the P45 or higher for a gaming system.

    IF you are going to overclock get higher memory. The E8XXX series will do way over 400 FBS, DDR2-800 (400X2) would hold back on overclocking. If you just want to do a mild overclock then DDR2-800 would be fine. Just because the board supports DDR2-1200 does not mean you need to get 1200. Intel has a memory multiplyer, you can has the memory run to DDR2-667, DDR2-800, DDR2-1000, DDR2-1066 and so on. When you have a CPU that is 333 FBS(1333) and the RAM is running at 1:1 the RAM will run at 667(333x2), If you have the RAM at 5:4 the RAM will run at 800(400X2).

    The only thing I would change is the Stock cooler. Get a aftermarket one like the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283

    And get the bracket

  3. If you're not going to crossfire go with P43. It's the same thing as P45, except without crossfire.
  4. There is quite a performance myth around regarding P45 crossfire vs x38/x48.

    The truth is, at the resolution of your 22" monitor, you would see a difference of 2-4 frames per second average, between the 3 chipsets. A few games might give a difference of 6 frames, possibly.

    One or two early reviews indicated worse performance on the P45 chipset, but those were done on very early pre-release boards with immature drivers.

    Here is a recent comparison.. while looking at the pretty bar graphs ignore the bars and look at the actual numbers:

    Check out Crysis at 1680x1050 in that review:
  5. I am not going to crossfire or overclock right now, but now that I think about it, maybe 1 yr down the line or so I'll pop in another HD 4850 to keep it fresh, but that's prolly the only upgrade I'll do before buying a whole new system about 3 yrs from now. I might also overclock a little, maybe to 3.5 Ghz ish or so.

    So I'm thinking this board:
    Foxconn P45A-S LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $110

    It's cheap but seems to have everything I need, including explicitly stated RAID support. It also has 2 identical PCIe 2.0 x16 slots so based on the benches Proximon gave, it looks like the boards with identical slots of PCIe 2.0 x8 or higher do the best for crossfire. But for RAID tho, I don't need a separate controller card or anything right since the board has everything I need to set that up right?

    I'll also include an aftermarket cooler as suggested,
    XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail - $25
  6. I would have thought the ASUS P5Q Pro... It has a simplified RAID setup called Drive Expert that would make setting up a simple RAID easier. it also has the best overclocking BIOS. 3.6Ghz on an E8400 is so easy, usually, that it's practically stock.

    The Foxconn board has everything you need, yes, as does the ASUS.

    Get the rear support bracket for the Xigmatek as well, to eliminate the push-pin system.

    I think that covers it. Your selected PSU will not power both video cards a year from now, probably, if you decide to upgrade. If you have some extra cash you might consider a Corsair 750TX for $120.00.
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