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Motherboard for a new i7 gaming build.

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September 30, 2010 2:41:42 AM

I'm planning on building an i7 gaming system sometime in the next few months and I'm kind of unsure where to go on the motherboard. My plan for the components:

i7 950,
6GB of RAM (3 2GB sticks, probably whatever I can find cheapest when i build the system, I'll pick a company after I've picked a mobo)
a single 5850 for now, but in the future I might buy another or replace it altogether with a 5970 or one of ATI or Nvidia's upcoming cards. (my graphics budget will likely go way up in about a year, but I'm currently on a 5-year old laptop so I'm planning to build the desktop first).
a 600GB WD raptor hard drive,
generic DVD reader/burner,
a Corsair 850 HX power supply (I don't want to have to replace it if i go for a crossfire setup or even a whole new build later.)
all put into an antec 300, the illusion model just because I'd rather get all my fans with it than buy them separate.
running windows 7, but thats not really relevant to the components.

I know an i7 is overkill for a single gpu, but I'll be doing (non graphics) work on this system as well, and also don't want to have to replace my cpu/mobo later if I decide to go SLI/crossfire. $250 for a 600 gb hdd is a lot, but I'm currently using an 80 gb hard drive and dont expect to use all that much more space in the new build. I want to keep the bones of this system going for as long as I possibly can, so low capicity/high price ssd's are out but a comprimise between speed and space works for me.

Same "keep the bones" approach goes to the motherboard selection. I want something that will hopefully last quite awhile, but I don't want to pay a huge premium for overclocking features I won't use. Ive had good experiences with ASUS in the past, so I'm leaning toward their P6X58D-E, but their sabertooth x58 seems to be basically the same board, recolored and advertised as more stable. I'm not interested in overclocking anything, but that dosen't mean I'm going to buy a board I haven't heard much about just based on advertising. The ASRock X58 extreme6 caught my attention for their space between the PCI slots, which would probably be nice for cooling if I do end up running a crossfire setup, but I'm kind of leery of the brand as I haven't had any experience with them. I'm by no means limited to ASUS, I'll buy whatever looks best at the best price, but its just that these are what I've found myself, I'm open to (and looking for) suggestions on the mobo and I'd like to hear what anyone thinks of the build overall as well.

handy links -
ASUS P6X58D-E http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131641
ASUS sabertooth http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131665
ASRock extreme6 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157213
a c 216 V Motherboard
September 30, 2010 3:13:56 AM

I think I might pick the sabretooth version, based on the longer 5 year warranty.

I think I would plan on a SSD. It makes everything feel so much snappier.

Consider a 80gb SSD for your OS, apps, and frequently used files. Add a 1tb drive for storage and backup.

For that $250 drive budget, you can get a 128gb SSD . Will that hold everything?

As an interesting alternative, consider the Seagate momentus XT 500gb hybrid drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It has a 4gb MLC cache which adapts to your usage pattern. Here is a review:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/3734/seagates-momentus-xt...
September 30, 2010 3:43:38 AM

Thanks for the quick reply.
I didn't want to go with two drives because my current 80 GB drive has me installing and uninstalling things fairly often, so I expect my total data usage to be ~200 GB, which is too much for a single SSD but a lot less than your average HDD. (I dont really have anything I keep in storage, most of the space is games/os/other programs i use fairly often.)
I've thought about a hybrid drive, but I'm a little scared to go with a relatively new technology. They sound great in theory, but its hard to say for sure how good they are in practice. Reviews look generally good, but only time will tell how reliable they are in the long run. I like the idea, but I'll have to think about it. Its hard for me to go against a type of hard drive I've personally had going strong for so long.

As far as the motherboard goes, I'd just like to know if there are any important differences between the two, just from looking at the specs I feel like I'm missing something, as the sabertooth one is advertised as "better built", has the same basic features, a longer warranty, and somehow costs less. Usually there isn't a win/win, so I kind of wonder what the drawback is. I'm up for any other motherboard suggestions as well, I can't possibly have listed the only 3 decent 1366 motherboards.
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