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~500 Budget gaming. Choosing the right MOBO

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April 25, 2010 5:27:23 AM

Hello, I'm looking for a new budget build, but I'm not sure what motherboard I should choose. I've narrowed it down to 3 models (or 4, more on that later). My starting budget is ~450$, increasing as I sell my old PC to about 650$.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 1-2 weeks (depending on availability) BUDGET RANGE: 450$+

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, multitasking, surfing the internet, watching films

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: HDD, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: http://www.emag.ro COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Romania

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD (for budget reasons)

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (yes to core unlocking) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (future)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I have two building paths, a new AMD build or a Intel build with a slightly damaged sk775 board. I would prefer the AMD build because I don't think there's any Intel CPU with the same potential as an Athlon II X3 440/Phenom II X2 550BE in the same price range.

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First the parts independent of build:

GPU: HIS ATI Radeon HD 4770 118$
DVD: Sony AD-5240S-0B OEM 23$
RAM: Kingmax DDR3-1333 2GB CL9 1.5V 64$ (+another later) or A-Data DDR3-1333+ 2x2GB CL7 1.55V-1.75V 150$ (not sure if I'll manage)
PSU: Delux ATX 600W 36$ Retail Value (cheap Romanian made I believe, exchanging with Kingmax 512DDR400CL2.5, temporary until I sell some parts and buy a proper PSU)
Flash Drive: Adata c902 13$ (for OS installations)

Intel Build
MOBO: Asrock P45R2000
I've got this board in exchange from helping a friend find a replacement and a laptop + a firewire card. The problems with this board are a supposedly bad DDR2 slot, and most importantly the bent CPU pins. While trying to send the board to warranty for the RAM slot, he managed somehow to bend most of the pins slightly to one side (by putting the protective plastic cap under the metal cover I believe). Of course the board was refused for CID, afterwards he used it for another year with no issues except the ram one. All in all I want to sell this for 65$.
CPU: I can go as high as Core2Duo E7500 (142$) with the money saved on mobo, which is disappointing. A more logical choice would be Pentium Dual Core E6500 (95$) and use the rest for PSU, CASE and another RAM module.

AMD Build - The meat of the problem
I have 3 boards to chose from and I just can't make up my mind. Should I go for value, build quality, warranty, phase, 140W CPU support (for unlock and OC), crossfire capability, I need suggestions.

CPU: Phenom II X2 550BE 126$ or Athlon II X3 440 121$/Athlon II X3 435 107$ (All BOX)
I intend to get the X2 BE and unlock it from the start (with no OC). If I'm successful and the CPU is stable I'll stick with it, if not I'll take the second option (is 100Mhz worth the extra cash?).

MOBO:
Asrock M3A770DE 80$
Asrock 770 Extreme3 102$
Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P 103$/94$ (opened, full warranty)

Asrock 2years warranty. Gigabyte 3years warranty.

Other Questions:
Can anyone tell how many phases the Asrock 770 Extreme3 has? (apparently you can tell from images, not me..)
Is the Hybrid CF worth anything with the 4770?
I'm not sure where the input is going to come from so I wonder if posting the price equivalent in €/£ would help?

That is all

More about : 500 budget gaming choosing mobo

April 25, 2010 9:25:18 AM


I'd sell the Intel board and go for an AM3 build, the E6500 gets schooled bad by even a stock X3 425. I'd recommend getting the Asrock M3A770DE as it has virtually the same options and capabilities as its counterparts unless you must have SATA 6.0GB or usb 3.0. The Asrock 770 Extreme3 is the other choice if you DO need these things tho.


GPU: HIS ATI Radeon HD 4770 118$
DVD: Sony AD-5240S-0B OEM 23$
RAM Memorie Kingmax DDR III 2GB, 1333MHz $66
PSU: Delux ATX 600W 36$ Retail Value - I've got no idea how many +12v rails it has or how many amps, however the reviews on the site seem to say its OK but a bit dodgy.(I'm surprised I can still read Romanian after 11 years)
HOWEVER I recommend
Antec BasiqPower 430 $70 - Much more trustworthy and most probably better quality
CPU AMD Athlon II X3 435 $107
CASE Spire Rolo SP-2857B $30 - cheap but it will do the job
Flash Drive :Adata c902 13$ (for OS installations)
Motherboard Asrock M3A770DE 80$

Totals to just under $500 US, by the way I hope the currency converter i used was right.

Also, the Asrock 770 Extreme3 is most likely a 8+2 design, and don't bother Hybrid CF.
April 25, 2010 10:47:04 AM

RAM: It's that or A-Data DDR3-1333+ 2GBx2 CL7-7-7-20 1.55V-1.75V 150$ but I'm not sure I'll manage this.
PSU: I'll stick with the Delux in the beginning because I want something high end 400W-500W, maybe modular. When that time comes I'll start looking for reviews.
CASE: I'll keep it in mind.

Don't bother looking for PSU & CASE, because I haven't done that yet. Anyway, thanks for the input, I'll try to trim the list further.
Related resources
April 27, 2010 7:33:33 AM

The 4850 gets you about 80% of the performance for about 65% of the price of a 5770 so its up to you if you can afford it. If money's not an issue get the 5770, if your on a tight budget then 4850 will do fine.
April 27, 2010 8:01:59 AM

Just a quick headsup from a M3A770DE owner, My first build is on one and I'm happy with it, theres overclocking potential and core unlocking, ramwise I have 4Gb of 1600 fitted but it runs at 800, if i try upping it in bios it bluescreens on me but the 1333 ocz gold I had before that worked fine, never tried pushing that Ram though, Good luck with the gfx card and post your progress for us :) 
Moto
April 27, 2010 9:18:23 AM

Ya AsRock has always viewed as just another cheap motherboard manufacturer, but their AMD 770 chipset motherboards I've found to be very good value for money.
Im running a Phenom II X2 550 on a A770DE+ and it unlocked it to a quad-core no problem, plus there are a heap of OC options once I get my water-cooling setup running.
April 27, 2010 9:40:19 AM

Well comparing stats on that techpowerup and this toms review, the 4770 & 4850 are equal $/FPS@1650 while the 5770 is 10-15%/$ slower with 0xAA and almost even with 4xAA. I think I'll bite the bullet and hope for the best.

The Kingmax RAM is standard speed & voltage, so I hope there's not going to be any issue there (the a-data plan has been axed) and I don't think I'll OC it, not at first anyway. And speaking of oc and unlocking, do you know any handy guide for stress testing?

The thing is that I want this build delivered by the end of the month because I'll qualify for the 30days return policy. That is also the reason I'm sticking with the x2 550. If I don't have any luck with it, I'll return it for an x3 435.

Thank you both, I'll update as soon as I have new info.
April 27, 2010 9:45:14 AM

Just have a look in the CPU and RAM section of the forums, there will be very good sticky posts in both sections about OC'ing and stress testing etc.
Looking forward to hearing about how everything works out.
May 2, 2010 12:24:34 AM

Parts arrived on the 29th, but I didn't have the chance to install them until yesterday. Working fine as far as I can tell for now, hopefully I can start and do some testing today.

Installed W7HP, with only updates and drivers so far. BSOD on first install try, apparently from sata operation mode. Oddly enough windows xp from the old setup still runs OK. I do intend keeping XP for some older games that have problems in W7 (Call of Duty 2 runs with 100+ ping).

One problem I currently have, is that I cannot see the SATA drive in XP. Apparently it will work if I set sata op mode to from ahci to ide again, but it's kind of a bother to change that when I want to boot the other OS.

Here are the specs on the PSU: (is this any good?)
AC Input 230V/50Hz 6A
DC Output (Max)
+12V1 +12V2 +5V -12V +3.3V +5Vsb
18A 18A 28A 0.3A 28A 2.5A

Old vs New:
CPU: AMD Sempron 2800+ 2Ghz SkA
MOBO: Gigabyte GA-7N400E-L nForce2
GPU: Gigabyte 7600GS 256DDR2/128biti AGP
RAM: 2x512MB Kingmax DDR400MHz CL 2.5

CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 550BE
MOBO: Asrock M3A770DE
GPU: Sapphire 5770 512MB
RAM: Kingmax DDR3-1333
Total cost: 453$

That's about it for now, next it's unlocking and testing.
May 2, 2010 10:05:02 AM

No luck with unlocking the cpu, went as high as 1.425Vcore with 1.35NB. Bios (tried 1.40 & 1.50) displays it as B50, but I can't enter either windows. At lower <1.375V windows freezes when loading, higher and it's after that. Best result would be W7 playing the logon sound, while the screen is black.

Should I push it further (I'd rather not risk this and just replace it with an x3 435 ? If yes, how high? Is the PSU the problem? Is this better asked in the OC section?

Oddly enough, CPU-Z says the mobo has SB750 with bios 1.50 (didn't look at 1.40), while web page and box says it's SB710. Will check the board next time I shut down.
May 3, 2010 11:57:30 AM

Return it for a X3 435, better performance since for games, core > cache. You can also try unlocking the 435 as well, since you've got nothing to lose. The AsRock motherboard I bought came with a driver CD you ran before or while installing windows which installed its specific drivers that sorted out the sata problem.

I'm running XP on a sata hd and had a similar problem till i realised I should have a look in the manual and see what it says, a few of AsRock motherboards have this niggle but its always pretty easy to run the disk which takes a min or 2 and then continue on with the OS install.

The power-supply is decent and will be fine powering the 5770 but you'll have to up-grade it if you get anything bigger. It's probably not as efficient electricity-wise as an Antec or name-brand but ehh, what-ever, it evens out the cost with the savings you made on it .
!