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Motherboard selection

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December 26, 2008 1:11:38 PM

I had planned out a new build a while back and had started getting a few smaller components but had to halt for financial reasons. Now I am starting to build again but need some assistance with the MB. This is to be a mid-range gaming system (around $1-1.5k) and will be used for gaming. Typical games would be Fallout3, Crysis, Bioshock, and the like. But not ultra high resolutions (generally will be like 1280x1024) Will be running Vista 32 bit business. Bear in mind this rig will not be overclocked and I'd prefer not to screw with the BIOS settings, voltages, etc if it can be helped. Also, am not bothering with raiding the op sys drive as I have an external drive which I use the built in Vista backup utility to back up the entire main drive to).

Current component list is:

Parts already purchased
Thermaltake M-9 case
Samsung DVD-RW dual layer w/lightscribe (forget the model)
Xigmatek HDT S1283 heatsink
A-DATA 4GB (2x2) DDR 800 PC2 6400
Lite-on DH-401S-08 Blue Ray optic drive

Unpurchased
2x Aerocool XtremeTurbine 120mm fans
Corsair CMPSU-750TX power supply
2x Seagate 1.5 TB SATA HD (for data, game installs, Raid mirrored)
EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Superclocked 896 MB
Intel e8400
Western Digital 74GB 10k Raptor (Op sys drive)

The motherboard:
Gigabyte GA-EP45C-DS3R
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS4

The EP45 has DDR2 and DDR3 slots so I can use the existing memory that I have now and pick up DDR3 later if I wanted to boost things up. But that board only has 1 x16 speed PCI-express slot so no Crossfire (or at least, not at the full x16 bandwidth) if I were to decide to get a 2nd card later.

The X48 can handle 2 video cards at the full x16 each ... but no DD3 memory slots.

Opinions?

More about : motherboard selection

December 26, 2008 1:50:02 PM

You can't crossfire EVGA GTX260, so adding another would be useless. You could of course op for a ATI HD4870 1gig video card, it'll give the same performance as the GTX260.

IMO if you have the money, go for the X48. X48 allows for potential crossfire upgrade. DDR3 memory will give you the least amount of performance upgrade. DDR2 at 1200mhz will perform just fine.
December 26, 2008 2:25:42 PM

1280x1024 (or 960) is not a demanding resolution for a GTX260 nor will your fast dual-core CPU cause unacceptable frame rates with tomorrow's games. Crysis is an anomalous outlying FPS data point for any comparison, so you will have to tailor Crysis specifically to your desires, but almost any other game will have optimum if not maximum FPS and IQ always available with your choices.

My removed point is: you will not gain noticeable improvement in but a few games and in but a few circumstances with SLI/Xfire over a single decent card. None of those circumstances will be able to be taken advantage of by your rig, so why build your rig as if it is going to run SLI/Xfire? Satisfying Pascal's wager in PC form?

You should pick parts optimized for one GPU unless you are actually buying and installing 2 GPUs. History (the PC game world has history now) has shown the next generation of GPU has been better than 2 of the one before it (in actual measurable game results), so don't 'anticipate' installing a 2nd GPU. Instead anticipate replacing it and build your rig for easy in and out!
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December 26, 2008 2:32:18 PM

+1 bf2

There is absolutly no point in Crossfire/SLIing at that resolution.

So go with the p45

You could go with a 4870, but the 512mb version is fine for you, the 1gb version is more for higher resolutions.
December 26, 2008 2:48:11 PM

^+1. Also note that P45 allows CrossFire, and what ever you do keep a way from the P45C (note the "C") chipset. It has RAM compatibility issues.

1. Get the bolt in kit for the S1283.

2. Get the Corsair 750, it's an over kill but will let you CrossFire down the road.

3. Get a P45-UD3R (Single card) or P45-UD3P (CrossFire) or P45 P5Q Pro (CrossFire)

4. What is the max resolution of the LCD/CRT? If max resolution is only 1280*1024 I recommend getting a new LCD.

5. Also note you will probably have to go in to the BIOS to change boot order, and possibly RAM voltages (most DDR2 800 need 2v. Default voltage is 1.8v)
December 26, 2008 3:20:36 PM

The default voltage for the RAM I have is 1.8v (I made sure of that). So shouldn't be a problem with the RAM. I have a CRT for now, will pick up a LCD later on. I didn't know about the bolt in kit for the heat sink, will have to look in to that.

Also, anyone have any opinions in regards to the EP45 chipset vs x48? If I decide to stick with a single card, as BF2 recommends, is there much advantage to the x48 over the EP45 if you take multiple video cards out of consideration.
December 26, 2008 5:08:23 PM

Well Shadow, if we can nix out the x48 cards since multiple video cards are unlikely, and the C edition of the EP45s should be avoided. And we can rule out the EP45 cards that only support DDR3 and/or do not have RAID then that leaves the following cards in that line as contenders:

GA-EP45-DQ6
GA-EP45-DS3LR
GA-EP45-DS4P
GA-EP45-DS4
GA-EP45-DS3P
GA-EP45-DS3R
GA-EP45-DS5
GA-EP45-UD3LR
GA-EP45-UD3P
GA-EP45-UD3R

There any other technical issues with this series of board aside from the memory issue?

The last question. With the raptor drive and 2 secondary hard drives in mind along with the 260 card, and assuming now that a 2nd video will not be added, how far down could the PSU be dropped in voltage?
December 26, 2008 5:24:18 PM

topgun505 said:
The last question. With the raptor drive and 2 secondary hard drives in mind along with the 260 card, and assuming now that a 2nd video will not be added, how far down could the PSU be dropped in voltage?


Voltage? You mean wattage and you don't want to skimp on your PSU, always overbuild your PSU as they age and your PC power requirements go up with time, not down.
December 26, 2008 5:44:05 PM

^ True that. With a good PSU it'll last ~5-6years.
Quote:

GA-EP45-DQ6
GA-EP45-DS3LR
GA-EP45-DS4P
GA-EP45-DS4
GA-EP45-DS3P
GA-EP45-DS3R
GA-EP45-DS5
GA-EP45-UD3LR
GA-EP45-UD3P
GA-EP45-UD3R

I'll vote for the UD3P since it'll allow CrossFire if needed.


Note: If getting any of the above boards DO NOT INSTALL the DES software.
December 26, 2008 5:47:22 PM

Doh. Yeah yeah. Not yet awake from the holidays. Yeah, I know having the extra wattage couldn't hurt. Just wondered if that was going to be TOO much overkill on the PSU. Eliminated the DQ6 as well on the list as the extra ethernet ports are not needed. Some of the ones on that list (which came off of Gigabytes website) seem to be near impossible to find so that may whittle it down some more as well.

@Shadow. Nearly all the models in that list have 2 ports (the problem is you can either have 1 and x16 or 2 cards at x8, so you're choking the bandwidth and thus kinda negating any benefit a 2nd card would bring to the unit). So I think it is safe to agree with B2 that the system should be designed with either 1 or 2 cards in mind from the get go and stick to it. If 1 card, then will go with the EP45, if 2, then need to go with the x48. Since I'm not a max-res gamer 1 card sounds like it will be sufficient.
December 26, 2008 6:00:22 PM

Try this Power Supply Calculator. I'd say just drop down to Corsair TX650 if no overclocking and no dual GPU. Stay with 750 if you want room to Crossfire later--pair it with whether your mobo choice has Crossfire.
December 26, 2008 6:12:34 PM

That's pretty nice Ake. According to that a 500 watt would be just enough. So yeah, if no 2nd GPU a 650 would probably be a pretty safe bet but after looking at both the 650 and the 750 ... that'd only be saving $13 so may as well keep it at 750.

After some searching whittled it down to the UD3LR, UD3P, UD3R, DS4P, DS4, and the DS3R

All are pretty similar. The last three are about $60 more though, and after a bit more poking around it looks like the UD3P would probably be the best bang for the buck.
December 26, 2008 7:12:59 PM

Right now would be a bad time to use seagate 7200.11 drives . The failure rate is pretty high. Something definitely wrong with the manufacture . Lots of bad stories if you google
The one I got in november was DOA , and hasnt been replaced yet . The five year warranty seems to mean that they take 5 years to send you a replacement .

December 27, 2008 12:03:26 AM

Quote:
@Shadow. Nearly all the models in that list have 2 ports (the problem is you can either have 1 and x16 or 2 cards at x8, so you're choking the bandwidth and thus kinda negating any benefit a 2nd card would bring to the unit). So I think it is safe to agree with B2 that the system should be designed with either 1 or 2 cards in mind from the get go and stick to it. If 1 card, then will go with the EP45, if 2, then need to go with the x48. Since I'm not a max-res gamer 1 card sounds like it will be sufficient.


The x8 isn't limiting much with the latest drivers. Yes, I know about the benchmarks done by Tweaktown,etc but those are with older drivers. Imo, sacrificing 5-6 fps (due to x8) over X48 is not a big problem. Yes, a single card will do fine but having a second lane enables you to CrossFire down the road which is a nice thing to have for ~$20-30 over a single x16 socket board(imo).
December 27, 2008 12:45:16 AM

You should get either a 4850 or a 4870 512mb edition. Don't get 1gb of video RAM because it is a waste of money at that resolution.
December 31, 2008 1:10:43 PM

I ended up getting the UD3P board. I did have one final related question. Shadow, ya mentioned the bolt kit for the CPU. I am seeing like 5 different versions of the bolt kit on their site. I can rule out some as 1 is for AMD and 2 are for the new core type. In the descriptions they state "It is used for 4pcs heat-pipe" or "It is used for 3pcs heat-pipe" I assume this means 3 tube vs 4 tube heat pipe?
December 31, 2008 1:16:59 PM

Bah ... disregard. I see now way at the bottom they have a cooler-compatibility listing. Looks like I need the Crossbow ACK-I7751. Anyhoo ... thanks for the help. :) 
!