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Good Motherboard for Core 2 Quad Processor

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April 1, 2010 6:31:28 PM

Hey guys,

I am working on pricing a build for my brother who wants a good computer to replace his 10 year old desktop. I have settled on the Core 2 Quad Q8400 processor. We are looking at somewhere between $600-$800 for the system itself. I am hoping that some EXPERIENCED builders can give me some good, bang-for-your-buck suggestions on the following...

Motherboard - I think this is the most nerve-racking choice. You scour newegg and EVERY mobo on the site has people both praising and trashing every mobo. You can never find a consensus "good" mobo through the user reviews. We will NOT be over-clocking or doing anything crazy. I just want to drop the CPU in and have it work. I am going to get a case with front USB ports, so the mobo needs to support that. I haven't picked out a particular case yet, and we are not worried about the "cool" factor as far as the case goes, so if you have a good mobo/case combo you'd recommend, I am all ears.

Graphics Card - I want something that will play video crisp and clear on a nice big monitor, and will be able to play most games. That said, I don't need to run COD:MW2 at 4 million frames per second. I want something that will do a good job with handling the graphics but doesnt cost and arm and a leg.

Power Supply - I was thinking the Antec 650W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139005 would be more than enough. I really like the cable management system Antec has with their Power Supply Units, and I am well aware that the PSU is not an area you want to skimp on. Antec is a quality name and this seems like it will be more than enough for the system we are designing.

Any information you can provide is appreciated. Also, I was just going to use the stock fan that comes with the processor. Do you think this will suffice since I am not doing any crazy tweaking, or would it still be worth the few extra bucks to get an Arctic Cooling fan/heatsink for the processor?

If you are interested, I plan on setting up the system the same as my personal PC I use. It will have a Raptor drive in the front for the OS and programs he uses, and a 1TB media drive in the back for photos, video, etc. CD/DVD drives seem like they are a dime a dozen, so I'll just get a Sony drive probably. If you can think of anything I am missing, I welcome any and all comments! Thanks for taking the time to read and reply and I look forward to everyone's suggestions.

Edit: Win7 64 bit upgrade license is already bought. I am going to install XP and then just upgrade (I already have an XP license). So the $600-$800 range does NOT need to include OS costs. Thanks!)
April 1, 2010 6:51:46 PM

To start, don't build with the Core 2 Quad. The LGA775 socket is a dead socket and offers absolutely nothing for the future. You're building an obsolete computer before you even click "buy".

Second, if by "really big monitor" you mean a 1900x monitor, you're budget isn't going to allow a lot of great gaming at that resolution unless you drop the CPU and some additional features.

Third, if you're not overclocking, you don't need anything other than the stock HSF. If you want a quieter setup or want to overclock, Arctic Cooling still isn't a good idea. The HSF I listed below is easily one of the best and one of the cheapest.

Fourth, VelociRaptors are a really bad idea right now. For a third of the price, you can get a Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB or Seagate 7200.12 500 GB (these also come in a 1 TB size). Both will be faster, quieter and run cooler. Or you could spend about the same and get a small SSD that will be an order of magnitude faster.

You could really start by following the guidelines. We need to know what he's planning to use the computer for. A pure gaming build is different from a workhorse, which is different from an HTPC. We also need to know the resolution of the monitor to effectively recommend a GPU.

Here's a general build that would be good at everything, especially if you overclock the CPU. It's also a very upgradeable build:

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $265 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5770 $150
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $130
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
HSF (if OC): Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $35

Total: $779
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April 1, 2010 8:58:21 PM

MadAdmiral said:
To start, don't build with the Core 2 Quad. The LGA775 socket is a dead socket and offers absolutely nothing for the future. You're building an obsolete computer before you even click "buy".

Second, if by "really big monitor" you mean a 1900x monitor, you're budget isn't going to allow a lot of great gaming at that resolution unless you drop the CPU and some additional features.

Third, if you're not overclocking, you don't need anything other than the stock HSF. If you want a quieter setup or want to overclock, Arctic Cooling still isn't a good idea. The HSF I listed below is easily one of the best and one of the cheapest.

Fourth, VelociRaptors are a really bad idea right now. For a third of the price, you can get a Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB or Seagate 7200.12 500 GB (these also come in a 1 TB size). Both will be faster, quieter and run cooler. Or you could spend about the same and get a small SSD that will be an order of magnitude faster.

You could really start by following the guidelines. We need to know what he's planning to use the computer for. A pure gaming build is different from a workhorse, which is different from an HTPC. We also need to know the resolution of the monitor to effectively recommend a GPU.

Here's a general build that would be good at everything, especially if you overclock the CPU. It's also a very upgradeable build:

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $265 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5770 $150
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $130
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
HSF (if OC): Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $35

Total: $779


Thanks for the response. I have a few questions about your suggestions. First of all, I have a raptor hard drive and definitely notice the difference between it and a 7200 RPM drive. Yea I know the raptor is a bit noisy, but that is not a concern. So I am wondering why you believe a 7200 rpm drive would perform better than a 10000 rpm drive...by my math, the raptor is 38% faster and hard drive speed is typically one of your biggest bottlenecks. So if you could expand on why you believe the two choices you listed are better, I would appreciate it.

I appreciate the concern on the CPU. I know this is technically a preference and usually should not matter, but I am, and have always been, an Intel guy. Are you suggesting I move to an i5 or i7 processor? That seems like a lot of money to drop on just the CPU. Typical use for this PC will be internet and maybe some video/photo editing. A game or two here of there maybe, but we are more console gamers so this will not be a primary gaming machine. In my mind, I would like to get a good 3-4 years out of this machine, and I thought a Core2 Quad would be more than sufficient, given the usage details.

I want to buy a typical 24 inch monitor and run it at the standard high resolution which I believe is 1920x1080. Like I said, this will not be running COD:MW2 and trying to get 80 fps. Some LIGHT gaming maybe, but mostly a machine for internet and video/photo editing that will open programs fast and not hang, etc. I hope you can reply and provide more information about the things I inquired further about. Thanks for posting!

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April 1, 2010 9:03:41 PM

He's probably pointing to the fact that the 7200.12 uses a 500 gb platter(s) per drive. I haven't actually done the research on if or by how much is it faster then velocirapors.

If you can afford it (including mobo and memory cost) then definately get an i7. I mean until the hexa's all start coming out it is pretty much the best right now. With that said my AMD Phenom ii 955 is treating me very well and i have no complaints.
If you want 3-4 years out of your current build then don't d0 the LGA775 route.

5770 is a good choice if you don't want to drop +$300 or +$400. For your 1920x1080 it will work well for you at medium-high setting on most games.
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April 1, 2010 9:10:59 PM

+1 to the HDD above. The Seagate 7200.12 500 GB/1 TB, Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB/1 TB, Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB (6 GBps model only)/2 TB all use a large platter. That means they've caught up to the 10K RPM drives. If you already own a Raptor, by all means use it. Just don't buy another one.

With the CPU, AMD is just as quality, just much, much cheaper. On average, it will cost a good $100 extra to go from the X4 955 to the i5 and $300 to go from the X4 to the i7-930. The i5/i7 are both more powerful, but they're not great price to performance buys at your budget level. The X4 955 is a good substitutre at a much lower price.

As for seeing hexacore CPUs, you need to either choose the AM3 socket (AMD only current socket) or the LGA1366 (the i7-9xx's). That said, the Intel socket is going to become a dead socket very soon, while the AM3 is going to be the main socket for several years. Also, if you want a six core CPU, Intel will charge you $1,200 for it. AMD will likely charge $300.

The X4 line of CPUs will meet or beat the C2Qs. They're also more future proof, so it's really a no brainer on which one to buy.

Trust me. If I was giving you a gaming card, you'd know it. At $800, you can have a gaming card (the HD 5850 for $300) or you can have a good CPU and a lot of quality.
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