I had a failed Asus P5e earlier, had to return it, then moved around.
Now I am ready to build up the system (for gaming, etc...) around my Conroe 6850.
PLEASE, any MOBO and MEMORY recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
I need 2 pci2.0x16 slots at least (so I can run crossfire video dx10.1 cards). Also, I need a PCI express slot for my sound card. I am open to getting either DDR2 or DDR3, although I know DDR2 is cheaper, I would rather get the best possible MOBO for my build, then get the BEST POSSIBLE RAM for the specific MOBO.
I have already made choices for ATI (not nvidia), my case, my cpu, cpu cooler and my monitor (especially note 1900 x 1200 resolution gaming).
I recommend that unless you really know what you are doing, you should avoid reading those "reviews" on newegg (if that is what you are referring to). So many people clearly have no idea what they are doing and then blame the motherboard. We've seen more than one person come to these boards that are on their second or third RMA before they start to think maybe it could be something THEY are doing wrong.
Who do you think is most likely to post a review? Someone who is satisfied, or not satisfied?
DDR3 boards and memory are not more stable, or reliable.
You don't need 1200 or 1066 memory. That "memory standard" crap they put in the specs is just put there to make you feel like you are getting a faster product. If anything, it's a statement about how far the board can be overclocked.
The only memory you need is DDR2 667Mhz. You will end up buying DDR2 800Mhz RAM because it leaves you some flexibility if you want to overclock.
The QVL is a list of memory the motherboard manufacturer happened to test. They did not test all memory, in fact they probably tested only a few bad sticks, as they are likely to have preferred vendors.
Get 1.8V 800Mhz memory from any reputable vendor such as Mushkin, G.skill, Corsair, OCZ, etc. and you'll be fine.
I want the best BOARD and MEMORY combination I can get at the fastest but most stable speeds for the Conroe 3.0 e6850.
And, i need it to have -at least 1 pci express 1 slot for my non-mobo audio solution (creative x-fi pci express or asus xonar pci express audio).
-at least 1 (preferably 2) PCI slots for my Video Cooler (might need 2 if I end up with 2 4870 cards, since I know how hot my current ati1900gt card is and its cooler needs)
-an IDE/FDD slot so I can install XP (raid controller install)
-Space for my LGA775 Thermaltake CPU Cooler (can't remember the model number, but its fairly compact at the base, not overtly bulky)
-Ability to run CROSSFIRE (dual, never quad in my case), preferably in DUAL x16 cofiguration, although it seems rare compared to crossfire in dual x8 or x16/x8
-ATX, but doesn't matter since my Thermaltake ARMOR case can handle all mobo configurations, including BTX
I currently have ddr2 667 memory running in my old intel 945, pentium D 820 setup.
I would like to ran at the mininum 800, but would prefer 1066 or 1200 ddr2 and am not against ddr3, for the right board/memory combination.
I want to try and run the fastest most stable board with all those above criteria. I am not a big overclocker, but would like to be able to bump the Conroe up to around 3.4-3.5 if its possible without too much super tweaking.
I have had an ASUS board before and had problems with it, but wouldn't mind ASUS again (my current notebook is an ASUS - runs great) -
BUT, I didn't care for their ASUS software package that runs their motherboard in the windows environment.
I had the ASUS P5e3 for a couple weeks before RMA'ing and had a chance to work around in the ASUS utlities.
They didn't work that well, and it didn't work without them.
I would like to find a manufacturer other than ASUS that meets the above criteria listed at the (crossfire and memory) speeds listed, but I am not sure such a board or manufacturer exists.
The onboard heatsinks are a good distance from the socket, and it certainly seems to meet every other req. I really like the expansion slot layout.
You should not be so worried about memory speeds. Anything above double the front side bus is very minor. You could likely reuse your 667 and never notice the difference. At stock of course. Once you OC you'll need more.
I like that board too, its on my newegg wishlist as well (with the rampage and the 2 dfi boards), but when I look on Tom's Hardware Forum regarding this board, there are tons of people who have problems running HD4870's on it for some reason.
Gigabyte doesn't have its own forum, so nothing to check there. Tom's forum generally has some knowledgable people on it, so it has me slightly worried about it.
Otherwise this the Rampage and the DFI boards meet the spec's I need...
It looks like according to the best cards for the money listings for this month by Tom's, that I should go with crossfired 4850's instead of a 4870 or even 4870x2.
Also, should I scrap the pci express 1 sound card, get a regular pci sound card and then go with a P45 board instead?
They seem to be cheaper, but again, its tough to find one that allows full x16/x16 2.0 crossfire support...
This is a tough choice. I want to get this right from the start.
Most problems with new builds generally start with picking the right components and not picking incompatible one's to begin with.
Thanks for all of your help Proximon and everyone else!
It's true that CF 4850s are the best performance/price ratio. CF 4870s are faster, but almost double the price.
You will loose some performance, depending on the game, by switching to a P45 board. Probably not a good trade off at that resolution. No P45s have full bandwidth. It's built in to the chipset: x8/x8 or x16/x4
Alright, pulled the trigger.
I'm still a little nervous, but I hope I didn't end up with the wrong board.
I went with the ASUS Rampage Formula. It looks like its QVL mem list was more stable at the higher speeds than the Gigabyte X48 - DQ6.
Also, the layout of the Rampage with a PCI slot next to each PCI 2.0 x16 slot is favorable for extra PCI slot coolers, if needed when I end crossfiring.
And, lastly, it comes with a nice PCI express sound solution built in, the Supreme FX 2 for free - which I actually liked on my P5E in its short life.
This will save me the extra $150-$200 on the Xonar (which has some serious game support issues in either vista or xp) and the WILDCARD creative (and its horrible drivers/support) X-Fi titanium pci express sound cards.
I also ordered some new memory, the OCZ reaper HPC ddr2 1200 2x1gb ram modules.
Looks like its on the QVL supported list for the Rampage Formula, so hoping I don't have issues with it.
And, I have a Kingwin 850watt PSU, but its tier 5 on the PSU ratings list and I think it may have lead to some of the issues with the original x38 ASUS P5E.
So, i ordered a new Siverstone DA 800watt ATX 12 v 2.2 EPS 12v Crossfire ready Modular PFC psu. Should be plenty of power and its a TIER 1 psu, on the PSU tiered rating list.
Should be super solid and plenty of stable power on the Single 12v rail (rated at 70a).
I am going to wait and upgrade video after I get it up and running.
I am unsure how to go with my new video setup. It looks like 1gb 4850's have risen in price to +$220 and they are only DDR3.
The HD 4870 is DDR5 (much more efficient/faster transfers) and the 1gb models are about $280.
Until then, my build will be (when it arrives......):
-cpu: CONROE e6850 3.0
-video: ATI 1900gt 256mem DDR3 (until crossfire upgrade)