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Mother Board clarification / recommendation ... and a couple others

Last response: in Systems
September 24, 2008 4:55:44 AM

Greetings all,

Been enjoying researching the articles and reviews here, and the real world info on these forums. Putting together a system hopefully this weekend and have a couple questions i need clarified.

My main concern and biggest question is, i'm looking at a few different x48 mobo's and not sure when it lists it as DDR2 1200 if DDR2 800 will work instead (possibly OC'ing it ... but not right away, just want this thing to run stable first)? Or does it require DDR2 1200? ... i fell for the low DDR2 prices when i first started looking at components, and so i am stuck with some OCZ DDR2 800.

Gigabyte and DFI both have a couple x48 mobo's that fit what i'm looking for as well as Asus' P5Q and the rampage of course, but don't think i want to spend that kind of money if i don't have to. Hoping for solid capacitors. Basicly looking at getting probably an E8400 and sticking in the DDR2 800 i already have. Is dual gigabit lan actually useful, or will a single built in 10/100/1000 be sufficient? Looking at the x48's because i may crossfire, but probably not right away, but when i do, will want pcie2.0 and i don't want to be stuck with x8 pcie slots. I will probably end up OC'ing also, but only with air, and not too radically.

Don't think i'll need a quad core, as the most cpu intensive thing i do is EQ2 and a very small amount of converting homevideo hi-8 tapes to DVD.

Have an Antec 300 case and PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 W already delivered today.
Deciding between a HD 4870 1 gig version or choking down the price for the x2 version. Probably going to go with the Dell Ultrasharp 2408 WFP A01. Want HDCP, 1:1 pixel mapping, preferably not a TN panel, though still considering (in order after the Dell):
Samsung 245T or ToC T260 HD
BenQ FP241VW
So will be playing at 19 x 12 with max eyecandy hopefully!
Also LG GGC-H20L Blu ray / DVD burner / HD-DVD drive
Wish i could afford a Velociraptor, but will probably end up with a 1 gig WD Caviar Black, or Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, or Samsung Spinpoint F1 (maybe raid version), or Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 (or Ultrastar).

And finally planning it all with Vista 64 ... not sure if Home Premium or Ultimate? is the extra networking, bit locking, back up, and remote access really worth $100??? Also, if i'm no IT guy, should i go retail instead of OEM?

I know that's a LOT of questions! i've spent LOTS of hours researching, only to find out there is more i need to know, Lol. Just spending enough money that i want to be sure, so any help you guys can offer will be greatly appreciated!

80 Ranger of Unrest ... dying to play on something besides the Athlon xp 3000+ with 1.5 gigs ram and a Ti 4200 Geforce, hehe

PS- wish i could afford the Logitech Z5500 speakers, not satisfied with the G540's i think it was that i listened to, any 5.1 speaker recommendations around (preferably under) $100 while i'm at it? :-)
September 24, 2008 12:54:01 PM

Choice of ram speed largely depends on the target speed. Most everyone doesn't overclock so they grab a OEM (HP, Compaq...) PC at BestBuy and be done with it. Also need-to-know is the cpu. By default, ram runs at half the cpu FSB. Take E8400 for example:

1333 FSB (CPU) / 2 = 666.5 or 667 Mhz (RAM)

Divide the FSB by 4 and multiply it by cpu ratio to get the actual clock speed:

1333 / 4 * 9 = 2999.25 or 3Ghz

Say, your ram is maxed out at 800mhz:

800 / 2 * 9 = 3600 or 3.6Ghz

That's your max overclock. It's doable on stock air cooling. On air, I'd say you can max out the cpu at 4.2Ghz.

4200 / 9 * 2 = 933.33333333333333333333333333333 Mhz (RAM)

That's the ram speed necessary to reach 4.2Ghz. Keep in mind you'll need better aftermarket cooling. So stick to 3.6Ghz.

Look into GA-EX38-DS4 or GA-EX48-DS4.

Even though you're getting a 24 incher, EQ2 is a 2004 game so any mid-range modern gpu can handle it at 1920 x 1200. I think the HD 4850 will do.
September 25, 2008 6:05:13 AM

Thanks, Auscanzukus! That is greatly helpfull info! I saw that the E8400 was a 1333 fsb speed, and i didn't see much in the way of 1600 fsb cpu's; are there any that you could recommend that wouldn't break the bank (as i'm sure a quad at that speed would) and obviously have at least 3 ghz clock speed?

... followed your link and the only one i found was the Core 2 Extreme QX9775 ... which doesn't list x48 (or anyother chipset i've heard of) as compatable ... only the Intel E5400??? With FBD memory as opposed to DDRx??? ... so why have a supported 1600 fsb when no processors that actually have that will work with it? ( ya, ya, i know, oc'ing, Lol, but still) The Extreme QX9770 i wasn't clear if there were typos or if it really takes a LOGA775 board, hehe.

You listed an X38 board, and i have read that the x48 is nothing more than an x38 reworked to "officially" support 1600 fsb ... but i have my doubts, as most x38 boards don't really come with PCIe 2.0 slots, though they are listed as x16 x16, call me a marketing sucker, but i want the pcie 2.0 ... or is this a case of (as i am ASTOUNDED at the amount and degree of typos in data entry even on well reputed sites like Newegg, that it basicly becomes useless to try to do an advanced search, as half the time, the people who type up the product descriptions must not even know what they are typing. There REALLY should be some form of standardized check list instead of typing different names for the same thing but from a different manufacturer /end rant) incorrect and misleading, and therefore useless information?

i also love racing games, and have friends who love RTS and FPS games that do the occasional lan party, hence wanting to up the ante on the system and get something that will be playable for a while, but at a reasonable price.

Thanks again for your info and time; i'm getting excited to see this thing finished!

Related resources
September 25, 2008 2:38:58 PM

You heard right about X48 VS X38. Both do PCIE 2.0 CF. GA-X38-DS4 & X48 support up to QX9770 officially. It's just a matter of bios updates:

Intel Core™ 2 Extreme QX9770 3.2GHz 12 MB Yorkfield 45nm C0 135W 1600 F3

The Extreme Core 2 means the cpu multiplier is unlocked. That means, in theory, you can overclock it to anything, BUT, in reality, you'll be bottlenecked by air cooling. The average max stable o/c for C2D/Q is about 3.6Ghz for 65nm and 4Ghz for 45nm. Unless you're getting better than air cooling, you're wasting money on Extreme. Cuz you can o/c the regular edition to about the same clock speed. FOR LESS!!!

FYI, always google the mobo model and trust the manufacturer's specs.

The best gaming chip is still dual core. Most games are still single core. A handful is multi-core. The E8400 has been around for months and sought after by many. The low price is a bonus. You can o/c this cpu to 4Ghz on air.

Then you'll want HD 4870 or better for the latest RTS & FPS & racing cuz they're pretty demanding.

Revise your build list.
September 25, 2008 2:59:47 PM

What's your budget?

Either way, I'd start out by listing parts where you can save and still get more or less the same performance.

1. Motherboard: Go for a P45, Asus P5Q Pro and Gigabyte EP45-DS3R instead of X38 or X48 (chances are you won't be CF'ing)
2. HDD: If you're looking into the terabyte range, then the Spinpoint F1 is a pretty solid choice without breaking the bank.
3. HD4850 will more than suffice for what you want to do, even a 8800GT or 9800GT will do (if you're looking to save a couple more bucks, but I'd hang with a 4850).
4. I'm personally thinking about getting the Toc 260 as well (not the HDTV version), I've seen it in person and the color and picture quality looks great (better than my current Samsung which is pretty good as well).
September 27, 2008 4:50:06 AM

Sorry i didn't get back to you guys sooner, RL included a funeral along with the rest of the normal rat race things. Appreciate the new feed back, i will be looking into this first thing Saturday morning (Pacific time zone), and i'll try to post my revised ideas :-)

September 29, 2008 12:01:38 AM

My budget is <$2000, including a monitor ~ $600, so would love to hit less than $1300 if i can with the remainder.
So here is what i have put together as a wish list on newegg:

GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail, i didn't see that the egg had the x38 version of that, which Aus recommended...

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 - Retail
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM Wanted a 1 gig drive, but hey, this is reported to perform a tad better, and heck .64 of a gig is still a heck of a lot of storage!
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM hard time deciding, but i don't think Ultimate is worth almost $100 more?
SAPPHIRE 100243-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail some think this will be overkill, but i don't want to have to upgrade any time soon
LG Black LG Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner SATA Model GGC-H20LK - OEM ... this makes me a little nervous, as some of the BD players got negative reviews due to not being able to play dual layer BR discs...
Logitech 920-000325 Black USB Wired Ergonomics Wave Keyboard - Retail i really like the feel of this keyboard, wouldn't mind going a little cheaper on one, currently have a Micro Innovations $12.00 special from Staples, that has a lifetime warranty, and spill "proof" design ... i have kids, hehe, and it performs just fine /shrug
Logitech G5 2-Tone 7 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB Laser Mouse - Retail was looking at the MS 6000 laser mouse, but they were out of stock :( 
Logitech G51 155 watts RMS 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers - Retail again, i'm torn, no one NEEDS a 5.1 system, and it will be a little awkward to set up, but i think it will be worth it. This had good reviews for the price ... i tested one of the little brothers of this in a local box store ... and was NOT impressed by the bass ... hoping this is a step up

Still haven't purchased the LCD, looking at the Dell Ultrasharp 2408wfp rev. a01, or HP's LP2475W...

And i want a joystick and probably a racing wheel :D 

Planning to buy before the night is thru ... Thanks again for the help!

September 29, 2008 1:49:40 PM

The list looks great and much more fine-tuned for gaming.

X48 is better than X38 cuz it supports FSB 1600MHZ out of the box.

Vista Ulimate comes with both 32 & 64 bit. If it doesn't, you can request it from MS for a shipping fee. If you can get Home Premium for $100 less, go for it. Both sport the eye-candy Aero interface.

Look into Logitech's gamepad, joystick & wheel & pedal. They're the best, IMO.

September 29, 2008 5:53:21 PM

I don't understand why you're getting an X48 board when you're not running the top of the line setup and need every single FPS you can get after CF'ing. That's just me.

There was an article on P35, P45, X38 and X48, you really should check it out before paying an extra $100 for an X48 when you don't really need it.
September 30, 2008 4:56:28 AM

Thank you both for the reply.

I did not catch the detail of Ultimate have BOTH, i was confused by the box saying something to that effect, but the concept never fully took root in my tiny little cerebellum :-p . After looking at the x38 and x48 in numerous side by side comparisons, it seemed like the newer and slightly improveder (hey, everyone else gets to make up words, why can't i? Lol ) was worth the extra $39 dollars ... and i do understand your concerns, Johny, but i give myself about a 70% chance of ultimately CF'ing, and being stuck at x8 x8 just doesn't seem worth it, though excluding that little tidbit, the new P45 boards are REALLY nice, wish the x48 had some of the goodies they had, but with the likelihood of upgrades make the CF limitations not worth it imho. i got that x48 board on sale and with free shipping so i don't think i lost quite $100.

There was a new post on anandtech yesterday i think, about the 4870 1 gig cards, and it concluded that at 1900 x 1200 and higher, with all eye candy turned on, it beat the NEW 216 gtx260 in all but 2 games, and beat the gtx 280 in a few, and beat the 512 version of the 4870 by a fairly significant amount; they concluded for those resolutions, it was pretty much the best bang for the buck card. So all in all, it looks like this system should be a pretty decent performer /shrug.

i did try to get one of the Logitech joysticks, but newegg was out of stock :(  , i'll have to try later. just want to get the system up and running for now :) 

Thank you guys muchly for the help!