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


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!
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Choice of a MOBO DEPENDS on your NEEDS & GOALS.

    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

    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.
  4. 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.
  5. Best answer
    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.
  6. Yeah, it's for gaming. I don't need a juicier CPU.

    Thanks a lot for all your replies! You guys are great help :)
  7. Best answer selected by guitarxe.
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