G31 motherboard?

I'm building a new computer for home, but I'm having difficulty figuring out the least costly motherboard that fits my needs and won't bottleneck the other components.

I'm looking for something to run RealFlight G4.5 (RC flight sim). Other than that, the PC will mostly be used for basic applications (MS Office, internet, mail, etc.). It's in my home office and won't be used to play movies, so I don't need HDMI or high end audio outputs.

I'd like the PC to be quiet. Overclocking the processor a bit might be nice, but I don't need a BIOS with endless overclocking options. I'm okay giving up a little performance for a quiet, reliable PC.

I've already purchased a video card (Sapphire 4830) and power supply (500W OCZ StealthXStream - no SLI). I haven't decided on a processor yet, but it will likely be an E7400 or a Core 2 quad somethingorother. I plan to use 4 GB of PC6400 RAM.

There are a number of forum entries that say not to bother with anything less than P35, but I haven't found any that explain why.

Can someone tell me what the shortcomings are of the G31 motherboards as compared to the P45/G45s? Is it just the 2 RAM slots, no SLI, and less overclocking options, or is there something about the G31 boards that will be a bottleneck in a Core 2 processor / Radeon 4830 system?

If I need to spend more on a better board, that's fine. I just don't want to if I don't need to.

This is one of the boards I'm looking at (GIGABYTE GA-G31M-ES2L):
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  1. The gigabyte g31 will work fine. My compaq pc came with an msi g31; I changed it to an ecs g33 to get 4 memory slots.
  2. Thanks. So why do so many threads say not to bother with anything less than P45/G45? What are the G31/G33 boards missing? Is it all just overclocking options? I've literally spent over 8 hours reading about system boards, but still haven't figured it out.

    I almost bought a refurb'ed Dell 518 from their outlet, but they (Dell) said it came with a G33 board, and I didn't know what I'd be missing (besides no overclocking whatsoever).

    The thing I don't understand is why the budget builds on this site use a $75 processor (E5200), but then spend $100 on a motherboard and $30 on a CPU cooler, to get almost the same performance as a $120 processor (E7300/E7400). I'm NOT saying that this is a bad choice. I'm asking what the logic is because I don't understand the benefit of the $100 motherboard over the $50 motherboard.

    I've seen this: http://compare.intel.com/pcc/default.aspx?mmID=34470,34469,29000,30686&familyID=10&culture=en-US
    but (besides more RAM) it still isn't clear how the 45's are better/faster than the 30's.

  3. I don't have an answer for you, but I was curious about the exact same thing (I'm looking to use the same Motherboard for a similar build). In the past I would say spend more on the motherboard as it's the first building block for all other components and the ability to upgrade is king. 10 years ago when I built my P3 450@660 on an asus p2b-f (old 440bx chipset) - [laugh now] it literally lasted me 10 years. It was top of the line at the time and part of the the reason it lasted so long was the ability to upgrade. But now... Upgrades usually mean replacing the motherboard, cpu and memory so why spend alot on a motherboard for a few extra options?

    From what I've seen there is a lot of hype on on hardware these days (I guess there always has been), but from what I've read there is little difference in actual performance with the G31 and G33 (p31/35). The p45 will support DDR3, but in all honesty if you are going to buy DDR3 you might as well be looking at core i7. In reality you'd get more out of the throwing the extra cash at the processor than DDR3 and a P45 mb.

    BTW I'd go with a faster duel core over a quad. Most programs still only use 1 processor and by the time mainstream support is wide spread for multi-core it will be time to buy a new motherboard, cpu, and memory... and you'll be able to do it alot cheaper. Check out some benchmarks and you'll realize the duel core is just as fast as a quad core for everything except synthetic bench marks or a few multi core apps (of which there are very few) and they are not going to appear over night - look how long 64 bit support is taking...

    just my 2 cents after looking to do a new build after many years of watching hardware go by...

  4. Update:

    I first bought the Gigabyte GA-G31M motherboard with an e7300 and 4GB OCZ gold memory. I overclocked it a bit, then a bit more, then it became a fascination. Next I added a Hyper TX2 cooler and replaced the memory (OCZ gold wouldn't overclock) with Patriot Viper LLC. Next I replaced the Antec 300 case with an Antec P182 to try to muffle some of the noise. Next I replaced the Hyper TX2 with a Xigmatek 1283 - same temps, but quieter.

    I ended up at 3.4 GHz (340x10 @ 1.33125v) on the proc, with the memory OC'ed to 1020 (5-5-5-12). That gave me around 12,500 with 3DMark06 with the 4830 OC'ed to clean settings (690/1000, no artifacts).

    There seemed to be some confusion about the G31's PCI x16 slot, as to whether it runs at x16 or x8, so I bought the highly acclaimed P45XE thinking I might get more performance with its x16 2.0 slot and supposedly great OC capability. I'll do a separate post about that long journey, but the short version is that the GA-G31 and P45XE gave me the same performance measurements on 3D, and the GA-G31 gave me better performance than the P45XE on memory.

    So in the end, after about 80 hours of experimenting, I'm running:
    Gigabyte GA-G31M-ES2L board
    e7300 OC'ed to 3.4
    4GB Patriot Viper LLC memory OC'ed to 1020, 5-5-5-12
    Sapphire Radeon 4830 OC'ed to 700/1000 @ 1920x1200 single monitor, no OC with dual monitor (card doesn't like OC & dm)
    Xigmatek 1283 cooler
    Antec P182
    OCZ StealthXStream 500 PS

    This combination ended up costing about $500 AR. I got the same performance and temps with the Hyper TX2 and Antec 300 for about $100 less, but it was just too loud. I might end up spending another $25 on a Zalman 700 GPU cooler to make it even more quiet.
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