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Expensive boards vs not-so-expensive... what's the real difference?

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June 16, 2011 1:31:00 PM

Hi,

I need to buy a new mobo for my next upgrade. I'm going with an i5-2500k and I'm looking at articles here at Tomshardware to help me decide on a mobo, but I can't seem to understand what's the real difference between mid-range boards and the high-end boards. For example I'm looking at this article for the mid-range boards and there's a chart there for performance with Crysis.
Then there's this article for the high-end boards and there's barely any difference between the mid-range boards and the high-end boards if you put the charts side by side. There are even some tests where the mid-range boards perform slightly faster than the higher end ones for some reason.

So I'm confused. Why should I ever buy a more expensive mobo other than some kind of special feature I might be interested in?

Or basically, is an ASRock P67 Extreme4 a good choice of a board? I need room to SLI two GTX460's and hopefully fit a sound card in there... unless the on-board audio is better than my ages old sound blaster.

Thanks for any advice!
a b V Motherboard
June 16, 2011 2:07:42 PM

Higher-end boards have more features for the most part including:

Higher quality components add to longevity
More SATA II and III connections for greater expandibilty
PCIe slots and lanes for greater expandibilty
More USB 2.0 and 3.0 connections.

There's a balance with the quality, functionality, price and your own personal experience.

I'm not a fan of ASrock personally because they aren't really proven in my book, though they have gotten some good reviews. Gigabyte and Asus have been around a while and have proven solid quality. These are the only brands I'll choose from when considering motherboards.

On-board audio is now pretty good compared to the old sound blasters. We used to use the PCI sound cards because the on-board sound processing with older architectures used to affect gaming performance (ie P IV systems). This is no longer an issue.

My on-board sound on the Gigabyte motherboard in my signature powers 7.1 sound in games that have it with no problem.
June 16, 2011 2:10:28 PM

Yes Asrock P67 Extreme4 is very good board.

Mostly there are 2 differences between midrange and highend boards:
- component quality ( better power regulators giving you more stability, durable solid capacitors, better cooling etc).
- features (some add additional network adapter, sata ports or even PLX chip to allow more slots runing at x8/x16 etc).
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a c 715 V Motherboard
June 16, 2011 2:55:27 PM

Choice of a MOBO DEPENDS on your NEEDS & GOALS.

Examples:
CPU Goals: i7-2600 @ Stock vs i7-2600K @ 5GHz {Phases}
GPU Goals: Integrated GPU vs 3-WAY GTX 580
Storage Goals: HDD 1TB 7200 RPM vs RAID 0 OCZ Vertex 3 <or> OCZ RevoDrive
Connectivity: USB Keyboard & Mouse vs BlueTooth Keyboard & Mouse
Etc.

The ASRock P67 Extreme4 is essentially a stripped-down ASUS P8P67 PRO with no BT and less phases. Otherwise ASRock is a good MOBO and it's owned by ASUS; often less is better since there are a limited number of lanes. Adding extra goodies like BT, SATA ports, etc over Intel spec takes away from other performance items.
June 16, 2011 3:11:18 PM

Well my goal is an i5-2500k, which I might try overclocking some time in the future, but I don't think there's really a need to do that (never OCed CPU/Memory before).
Plus 2x GTX460, 8gb DDR3 1333, and just a standard single HDD.
Simple USB keyboard and mouse.
Nothing fancy, really.

Best solution

a c 715 V Motherboard
June 16, 2011 3:24:29 PM
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Based upon your statements then the ASRock P67 Extreme4 is perfectly fine :) 

OC the i5-2500K is as simple as raising the CPU Multiplier and at a point increasing the vCore as needed. The limiting OC factor is the OEM HSF and that can always be swapped-out in the future. OC SB is a 2 minute operation and insanely easy, too easy in fact.

The i5-2500K is the best SB CPU you can buy, very few if any games use Hyper-Threading and clock-per-clock the performance for gaming is identical to the i7-2600K; the 2600K benefit is for HT Apps like Photoshop, etc and multi-threading.
June 16, 2011 5:48:53 PM

Yeah, it's for gaming. I don't need a juicier CPU.

Thanks a lot for all your replies! You guys are great help :) 
June 16, 2011 5:49:12 PM

Best answer selected by guitarxe.
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