I'm in the market for X58 motherboard and I'm finding layout to be my primary concern.
I'll eventually complete the build with three wide GPUs (SLI or Crossfire + [hacked?] PhysX) and a PCIe x1 sound card. My chassis, the CM Storm Sniper Black Ed., maxes out at 7 expansion slots (like most cases). What I require is a motherboard that can accommodate this giant pile of cards, still have the backplates line up with the case and hopefully not sacrifice mobo connectivity or accessibility. Too tall an order? The only board I'm currently sure of is the as-yet-unreleased Asus Rampage III Extreme ... and to be honest, the thing scares me a little. 8-pin, 4-pin and 2 molex? Yikes. At first glance, the layout on the Gigabyte UD5 looks good, but then I realize a wide card in the bottom slot would cause all sorts of problems, the least of which being I would need an 8th slot in my case to accommodate the exhaust. Seems quite a few X58 boards share a similar layout.
The rig is all purpose, including HTCP. The card is a rather expensive Auzentech HomeTheatre HD, so it needs a home! The onboard sound is quite good even on my aging P35 mobo, but I'm an mid-level audiophile w/ expensive bookshelf speakers and a high end pair of headphones. For me, onboard sound really doesn't cut mustard.
The build I have in mind isn't brand new, I'm recycling quite a few aspects of my old rig - the case, the PSU, my 285 GTX (for now), 160gb SSD, DVD-RW, etc. I'm parting the rest out and expect to bring in around $300-$400 USD to get started with (already moved my old ram for $100). I was on the fence, almost upgraded my 775 board to ride out another year on the old socket, but if I don't sell off my spare components now I never will (not without taking a huge loss). I figure that decision saved my around $150 USD I was prepared to spend. All told, I'm willing to spend $600-$700 moving to 1366; motherboard, processor and memory. I wouldn't hesitate to drop $300ish on a mobo assuming it provides the layout and functionality I require.
Yeah, the prices are pretty extravagant. $300 I can stomach, $400+ seems a little ridiculous. But then, I guess that's what I get for trying to build something ridiculous. ;P They're all good suggestions, though. Thanks! I'm running a gimp rig at the moment, 850w PSU in a Storm Sniper Black ... running a stock e6600 and 2gb of 667 econo-ram. hehe Just waiting for the right board to catch my eye ...
What if I were to figure out an aftermarket cooling solution on the 285, which would be seated in the bottom slot? Something that would eliminate the need for a rear exhaust? I wonder if this would be a better solution? I could then buy a less extravagant motherboard (like the UD5) and still have my third card for PhysX in a 7 slot case ... any thoughts?
EDIT: Regardless, I'd probably be better served selling the 285 and putting the funds toward the DX11 Xfire/SLI cards. I can't justify spending over $400 on a board simply to accommodate a GPU that likely won't even be used by the majority of games (unless devs suddenly start falling over themselves to implement ridiculous levels of PhysX). With something like the UD5 or the UD7, if I end up with Xfire and do decide to add a third card for PhysX, I guess that's when I start watercooling.
There's a hack to allow PhysX with an ATI primary. It would seriously behoove Nvidia to do away with that particular restriction. It's easy to ignore and obviously won't stop the enthusiast from choosing Red over Green, and it certainly isn't helping their reputation as the Nazis of GPU development.
Yeah. Definitely overkill, I admit that. If I can sell the 285 for a reasonable amount, I'll likely go that route.
... though I have seen several threads discussing how a low end PhysX card can negatively impact high end SLI/Xfire configurations. I don't have any links or proof, but that's an entirely different thread altogether. =)