Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

Too Board — Best Sub-$175 Z68? (too many options!)

Tags:
  • Motherboards
  • Product
Last response: in Motherboards
Share
November 29, 2011 3:26:34 PM

Hello and thanks for reading.

THE CPU
I'm pleased to say that I just picked up an i5-2500K at the pleasing price of $180 (Microcenter sale).

THE CHALLENGE
But I'm stumped as to which mobo to choose — one look at NewEgg will have you drowning in options. And, confoundingly, all seem to get four stars.

MY PICK SO FAR
The leader thus far is the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68. It seemingly boasts a huge number of current features, including PCIe 3.0, making it somewhat "future-proof." Further, it seems a steal at $125, with a $10 rebate to boot @newegg.

THE QUANDRY
But, reading various reports shows this board, while an amazing value and probably a great solution for most, isn't without its warts. Many have mentioned inferior documentation, sub-par customer service, various crashes and bugs, and a variety of features not working properly. In short, reliability may be an issue. Also not sure how much of an overclocker it is (though I have low OC ambitions).

And it surely has its rivals from solid players like Gigabyte, Asus, MSI, and Biostar, to name a few (I have a Gigabyte now and it's rock solid, but that's a sample of one). Each appears to have multiple Z68 platforms so closely matched and priced that it feels like you're in one of those sci-fi novels with clones. And it doesn't help that not a one of them gets the universal blessing from users.

I CAN'T KNOW WHAT I DON'T KNOW I NEED
The other problem is I don't know my mobo requirements, really. Sure, it needs to accept the i5-2500K. I also want PCIe 16 x2 in case I go SLI or Crossfire at some point. Some 3.0 USB and SATA 6 sound nice. And at least one PCI slot for my sound card (maybe another for...something). Accepting 1600 RAM w/o OC is also a plus. Good onboard audio if I don't use my sound card would be good too.

Beyond that, I have no idea what's worth it. I don't even know if I need a Z68 board — I've read that it has a few features beyond the P67s that most of us will never use (onboard graphics and a buffer for tiny solid state drives). I've even read that the P67s are more overclockable (though, again, I don't plan on OC'ing...or not much).

PLEASE HELP ME FIND MY WAY
Can anyone make sense of it all and find a solid deal, so I can buy with confidence?

THANKS
Thanks in advance for your input, candor, tips and other contributions.

- ELB

More about : board 175 z68 options

Best solution

a c 717 V Motherboard
November 29, 2011 8:42:35 PM

IMO with a SB (K) CPU if the 'plan' is to OC then the magic number is 12-Phases to the CPU. GEN3 PCIe has no meaning unless you have: 1. Ivy Bridge CPU, 2. Two or more GEN3 GPUs. The primary PCIe isn't limited to 'GEN2 or GEN3' the GEN3 kicks in as a 'switch' to the second, third or fourth (CF only) GPU's. Meaning even a so called 'GEN2' MOBO can run 'GEN3' on it's primary GPU link (non-switched) -- if using as stated IB CPU and GEN3 GPU.

Next, Z68 'worth' is primarily 'Quick Sync' {MPEG-2/4/H.264 output} and SSD Caching {<64GB SSD + HDD}.

That all said, I would choose any of the following including the ASUS P8P67 PRO (REV 3.1) -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

Out of the bunch, the P67 ASUS P8P67 PRO (REV 3.1), and either the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO or P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 would be 'my picks' regardless of the over $175 budget. Reason, 12-Phases or higher allows for a Lower vCore = Lower Temps = Higher OC all of which is better for the CPU and will add a longer life to the CPU.

Good Luck! :) 
Share
November 29, 2011 9:44:25 PM

What a sublime response! So knowledgeable.

Sad that the "picks" are on the expensive side, but now I'm seriously considering, since I now have some sense as to why they are worth paying more for.

If only I understood all the OC lingo (i.e., phases). I suppose I shall have to learn.

I guess my next question would be whether a non-water-cooled system can take advantage of all this.

Any RAM recommendations while you're at it?

- ELB
m
0
l
Related resources
a c 717 V Motherboard
November 29, 2011 10:28:19 PM

Here's the thing, the ASRock you posted is fine for most users -- update the BIOS prior to installing the OS. However, the ASRock's lack of 'smooth' power to the CPU often requires e.g. i5-2500K @ 4.5GHz 1.40v~1.45v vCore (voltage to the CPU); where as many 12-Phase (like gears) requires 1.30~1.35v vCore.

If you like ASUS then like ASRock; ASUS owns them and it's their budget line.

Therefore, a few issues:
1. 1.35v vCore can be cooled on many aftermarket HSF (CPU fans), but 1.45v typically require ether full water or e.g. Corsair H100 to cool the CPU.
2. >1.35v vCore shortens the lifespan of the CPU; unfortunately no one can answer 'how long'.
3. Hotter temperatures yield Loud Fans.
4. Higher vCore costs more money to manage and maintain.

Nice spreadsheet it will give you an idea -> https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AoXai57oo6AGdD...
m
0
l
November 29, 2011 10:35:21 PM

Best bang for the money if you do not care about Gen3 and if you are in no need of additional slots:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The best all rounder if you do care about Gen3 (agreed with jaquith):

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gen 3 / PCIe 3.0 will not be supported on the first slot if the motherboard has switches and more PCIe X16 slots. In these cases only 8 lanes go directly from the CPU to the PCIe slot (the first). The rest 8 from the CPU must pass through the switches and therefore the first slot will run PCIe 3.0 X8 which is equal to PCIe 2.0 X16. Probably a bios update will disable the other 8 lanes when one PCIe 3.0 card is used. In SLI both slots will run PCIe 2.0.
m
0
l
November 29, 2011 10:43:47 PM

jaquith said:
Here's the thing, the ASRock you posted is fine for most users -- update the BIOS prior to installing the OS. However, the ASRock's lack of 'smooth' power to the CPU often requires e.g. i5-2500K @ 4.5GHz 1.40v~1.45v vCore (voltage to the CPU); where as many 12-Phase (like gears) requires 1.30~1.35v vCore.

If you like ASUS then like ASRock; ASUS owns them and it's their budget line.

Therefore, a few issues:
1. 1.35v vCore can be cooled on many aftermarket HSF (CPU fans), but 1.45v typically require ether full water or e.g. Corsair H100 to cool the CPU.
2. >1.35v vCore shortens the lifespan of the CPU; unfortunately no one can answer 'how long'.
3. Hotter temperatures yield Loud Fans.
4. Higher vCore costs more money to manage and maintain.

Nice spreadsheet it will give you an idea -> https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AoXai57oo6AGdD...


The voltage to the CPU is not that much board and chipset dependent but bin dependent. This means that it is mostly up to the processor that you will buy and how good its bin is. If you are lucky with any board it will require less voltage to run at high frequencies. If you are not than even on the best board on the market it will perform lousy when at overclocking. 8+2, 12+4+2, 16+2 phases make not much of a difference in the case of processors which are not that power hungry like Sandy Bridge.

AsRock is not owned by ASUS. ASUS formed it in 2002 but today AsRock is a property of Pegatron Corporation and has no ties to ASUS.
m
0
l
November 29, 2011 11:00:35 PM

Okay, I hear what you're saying about 1.35v being okay on a air-cooled system. And I have no intentions of going water cooled.

So, how about this:

New case: NZXT GAMMA GAMA-001BK (and add at least four of the optional six 120mm fans)
Also use this instead of stock fan: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler
As for the mobo, didn't Jaquinth say I could go with this?: ASUS P8P67 LGA 1155 PRO <REV 3.1>

I know it's a P67 rather than a Z68, but will I take advantage of any of the Z68 features? From what I have read, it's not something I'm likely to make use of.

And that board is only $164 (after rebate) at Amazon. Seems like a good compromise between a $120 board and a $215 one.

Yes? No?

Any thoughts about RAM? I was thinking G.Skill Ripjaws X 1600 2x4GB.

Also, I'm thinking about a OCZ Vertex 3 120 GB solid state drive, and loading Win7 and any HD-intensive games on that. Good idea as is or anything I should know?

Finally, I have no idea what OC to expect with the above and my i5-2500K. From what I've seen, would 4.0 or 4.2 be modest yet meaningful, because that's what I'm going for (I definitely favor stability and life over squeezing every last drop from the system).

Thanks again for the advice. All of the input has been very informative and helpful.

- ELB
m
0
l
a c 717 V Motherboard
November 29, 2011 11:40:24 PM

gokica said:
(1) Gen 3 / PCIe 3.0 will not be supported on the first slot if the motherboard has switches and more PCIe X16 slots. In these cases only 8 lanes go directly from the CPU to the PCIe slot (the first).....

(2) The voltage to the CPU is not that much board and chipset dependent but bin dependent.....

(3) AsRock is not owned by ASUS. ASUS formed it in 2002 but today AsRock is a property of Pegatron Corporation and has no ties to ASUS.....

(1) Not correct, oddly in the case of two or more the 1st PCIe is a direct link so PCIe 2.x or PCIe 3.x depending on the CPU, and the remaining PCIe lanes are PCIe 2.x no matter what CPU in a non-'Gen3' switched MOBO. See -> Tom's story showing how the PCIe paths work. Reality check, the fastest GPU today cannot saturate fully even PCIe x8 (2.x).

(2) 'Bin' aka Quality of the CPU is more about stability and typically >4.5GHz, but sure to a degree the vCore is affected. However, apples to apples the 12-Phase and higher LGA 1155 + SB has a confirmed correlation to lower vCore. Proven fact.

(3) ASUS owns via shareholding: ASUS, Pegatron and the Unihan Corporation. Not even debatable.
m
0
l
November 30, 2011 6:23:06 PM

jaquith said:
(1) Not correct, oddly in the case of two or more the 1st PCIe is a direct link so PCIe 2.x or PCIe 3.x depending on the CPU, and the remaining PCIe lanes are PCIe 2.x no matter what CPU in a non-'Gen3' switched MOBO. See -> Tom's story showing how the PCIe paths work. Reality check, the fastest GPU today cannot saturate fully even PCIe x8 (2.x).


The article is just confirming what I said in the first place. PCIe 3.0 X8 is practically equal to PCIe 2.0 X 16 so MB with more PCIe slots and switches can not offer true PCIe 3.0 X16 speed is it does not incorporate PCIe 3.0 switches. That is why you need Gen3 board. Producers have new boards comming out with PCIe 3.0 ready stickers for this reason. Gigabyte failed by saying that all of their boards will be PCIe 3.0 compatible because they did not tell the truth about the mid and high end Mobos which always come with more PCIe 2.0 slots and switches.

jaquith said:
(2) 'Bin' aka Quality of the CPU is more about stability and typically >4.5GHz, but sure to a degree the vCore is affected. However, apples to apples the 12-Phase and higher LGA 1155 + SB has a confirmed correlation to lower vCore. Proven fact.

Show me.

2034602,8,388864 said:
(3) ASUS owns via shareholding: ASUS, Pegatron and the Unihan Corporation. Not even debatable.
said:


Agreed. Although ASUS and AsRock have no relation when it comes to components use. The motherboards and the graphic cards in particular are completely different builds and the support is like two different worlds. There is no tech wise relationship either.
m
0
l
November 30, 2011 6:27:10 PM

Oh sorry for the double post.

Jaquith: "(2) 'Bin' aka Quality of the CPU is more about stability and typically >4.5GHz, but sure to a degree the vCore is affected. However, apples to apples the 12-Phase and higher LGA 1155 + SB has a confirmed correlation to lower vCore. Proven fact."

Show me the facts.
m
0
l
December 7, 2011 1:07:59 PM

Not that anyone is likely reading anymore, but I ultimately went with the following (along with the i5 2500K I'd already purchased):

- ASUS P8Z68-V (not LE, LX, PRO or Deluxe...just V)
- G.Skill Ripjaws 1600 2x4GB
- Antec 300 Illusion Case (like the 300, but comes with fans w/speed controllers and funky blue lights!)
- Hyper 212+ CPU cooler
- Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120 GB solid state drive

I ultimately went with the V because it's superior to the lesser LE and LX (allows for x8 x8 SLI or Crossfire and, more importantly, I'd heard the LE and LX don't offer "voltage offset" (or some such thing) options that are important for OC tuning). And the only difference between it and the PRO version is $40+ and two additional SATA 6 Gb/s ports. I've got two HDs in this machine that can make use of SATA 6Gb/s (, but I'm not sure what else I'd get that could use it. And I don't see a huge advantage here over SATA 3Gb/s (of which, both the V and V PRO have four). I did some reading, and there is a difference, but I'm not sure it's terribly meaningful for most real world use (slightly longer data transfer times, etc.).

I chose the Antec 300 case because it offered more clearance for the Hyper 212+, already a tight fit, than the NZXT GAMMA.

I chose the Mushkin Chronos over the OCZ Vertex because the price has become competitive, and the Mushkin uses more advanced and rarer tech that results in performance-leading numbers.

That's it. Again, thanks for all the input — it helped me make what I think is an excellent choice.

- ELB
m
0
l
December 9, 2011 3:52:19 AM

I'm still reading!-- this thread has been very helpful, largely in part to your thoughtful questioning. Thank you for this!
m
0
l
a c 717 V Motherboard
December 9, 2011 1:03:34 PM

Helpful for a migraine to argue with people which I chose not to do.

'Bin' issues aka luck of the draw -> http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1578110
"Results are representative of 100 D2 CPUs that were binned and tested for stability under load; these results will most likely represent retail CPUs.
1. Approximately 50% of CPUs can go up to 4.4~4.5 GHz
2. Approximately 40% of CPUs can go up to 4.6~4.7 GHz
3. Approximately 10% of CPUs can go up to 4.8~5 GHz (50+ multipliers are about 2% of this group)
Additionally it is recommended to keep 「C1E」and「EIST」option enabled for the best overclock scaling. This is different than previous Intel overclocking expectations where the best scaling was with disabled power states or power management options."

"Phase Control change to extreme – this value will allow for scaling to 50+ multi without issues"

Phase to vCore - one of many posts and collection of data; see -> http://www.overclock.net/t/916189/official-intel-p67-z6... which I posted above. Carefully examine both spreadsheets and note the correlation to 12+ Phase MOBO's to lower vCore. Best to throw the data in a spread sheet and average vCore to CPU GHz.

----

Yhis is my last post in this thread.
m
0
l
December 10, 2011 10:39:15 AM

jaquith said:
Helpful for a migraine to argue with people which I chose not to do.

'Bin' issues aka luck of the draw -> http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1578110
"Results are representative of 100 D2 CPUs that were binned and tested for stability under load; these results will most likely represent retail CPUs.
1. Approximately 50% of CPUs can go up to 4.4~4.5 GHz
2. Approximately 40% of CPUs can go up to 4.6~4.7 GHz
3. Approximately 10% of CPUs can go up to 4.8~5 GHz (50+ multipliers are about 2% of this group)
Additionally it is recommended to keep 「C1E」and「EIST」option enabled for the best overclock scaling. This is different than previous Intel overclocking expectations where the best scaling was with disabled power states or power management options."

"Phase Control change to extreme – this value will allow for scaling to 50+ multi without issues"

Phase to vCore - one of many posts and collection of data; see -> http://www.overclock.net/t/916189/official-intel-p67-z6... which I posted above. Carefully examine both spreadsheets and note the correlation to 12+ Phase MOBO's to lower vCore. Best to throw the data in a spread sheet and average vCore to CPU GHz.

----

Yhis is my last post in this thread.


It is your last post because your vanity is amongst the greatest from all the forum members that I have talked to.

All this mumbo jumbo above is aimed just to show that you are very well informed which you may be but it does not say anything related to the actual issue. Let me remind you that you said:

"Here's the thing, the ASRock you posted is fine for most users -- update the BIOS prior to installing the OS. However, the ASRock's lack of 'smooth' power to the CPU often requires e.g. i5-2500K @ 4.5GHz 1.40v~1.45v vCore (voltage to the CPU); where as many 12-Phase (like gears) requires 1.30~1.35v vCore. "

This is where you are completely wrong. 0.1v difference on the vCore is huge and it may show as a real difference between two 2500K and 2600K CPUs for example only if their bin quality differs but it may not show as a difference if one board has 8+2 phases or 16+2 etc.

I know this not by reading the charts on Internet and trying to compare something which is not comparable but from my experience. I have had ASUS P8P67 Deluxe and now I have P8Z68 V-Pro Gen3. First I had 2500K and now I have 2600K. With my latest build, for the purpose of benching we sat down together with friends, one of them owner of Maximus IV Extreme + 2600K and the other owner of Sabertooth P67 + 2500K. The point was knowing which CPU can overclock the furthest and how much the motherboard quality can help.

The results were very interesting. My current CPU managed to overclock at exactly the same speed and voltage on the Maximus and on the Sabertooth as well. The bin is good so for 5.0GHz the required vCore is 1.4v (24 hours stable on Prime95) on each of the 3 boards but no less vCore on the Maximus. The other 2600K behaved just the same when placed on my board and the 2500K was not that good so for 5.0GHz it required 1.5v on the Sabertooth and P8Z68 V-pro. Maximus showed very small difference up to 5.0GHz. The 2500K on the Maximus did require 1.49 and on the other two boards 1.5. We did not try to go further with the frequency. The coolers used were 2 Noctua NH-D14 and CM 212+ and the difference between the two types of coolers was remarkable at high frequencies.

Maybe the difference did not show because all products have similar bios, they are all made by ASUS but they do have slightly different VRM specifications.
m
0
l
December 20, 2011 1:59:03 PM

Best answer selected by ELB.
m
0
l
a c 717 V Motherboard
December 20, 2011 3:03:17 PM

gokica said:
I am sorry for bringing up an old topic but I have to present something which I have been looking for to show regarding ASUS and AsRock relationship.

This proves that they are no longer related:

http://lab501.ro/stiri/asrock-pci-e-3-0-si-gama-fatal1t...

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?2738...

ASRock - Ted Hsu Chairman
ASUS - Ted Hsu Founder

A few of us once had the patience to shift through both ASUS and ASRock plus Pegatron corporate reporting's, all of these companies are 'publicly traded'; example -> http://www.pegatroncorp.com/download/GDR_Listing_Partic... Next to confuse the issue more you also have Investment groups, Holding companies including Cayman (offshore), Venture, Trusts, etc. However, if you follow the money you'll determine as we did ASUS owns ASRock.

Regarding, the slide where ASRock 'attacks' ASUS and Gigabyte it means zip. The money still flows to the ASUS and other overlapping investors i.e. same wallets.

A similar example is the relationship of ownership of Verizon, Vodafone, T-Mobile, etc. Vodafone owns, last I looked >40% of Verizon and majority ownership of T-Mobile. Vodafone wants GPRS for Verizon older CDMA, but in either case Vodafone wins i.e. same wallets.

Competition is fine if again i.e. same wallets!!!
m
0
l
December 20, 2011 11:41:38 PM

I am not going to say that you are wrong (although I do not see any proof to support your statement) while I presented let us say something more concrete.

But we were talking about motherboards. You said: "If you like ASUS then like ASRock"

I said and I am still saying NO (a big one). Actually if you like ASUS than you will not like AsRock.

ASUS and AsRock products and support have nothing in common. Totally different league. Even if the money from both companies go in the same pocket, both companies deliver totally different products and this is what matters to us, the buyers of these motherboards.
m
0
l
a c 717 V Motherboard
December 21, 2011 12:07:13 PM

Then WIKI or otherwise look-up the Financial Statements and Corporate Filings yourself and take, as we did a few hours -- then you'll know ASUS holds a major stake in ASRock. Further, look at the MOBO designs and you'll see copycat design -- just with less 'doodads' and cheaper components.

As far as me liking ASRock -- I like them fine just not so much with SB (K) CPU's <or> if your plans include, as I said, a lower CPU OC.

I really don't recommend a vCore > 1.40v --- so if the ASUS counterpart (+$50~+$75) can yield a 5+ bin e.g. 4.00GHz vs 4.50GHz OC with the SAME vCore then it seems important to let folks know that there are better alternatives.

ASRock = Budget minded
ASUS = Improved Performance

Basic features = similar for 'most' folks.

Now, we can argue IMO silly stuff all day long. However, you have no hope of changing what I know.
m
0
l
December 21, 2011 2:50:52 PM

jaquith said:
Now, we can argue IMO silly stuff all day long. However, you have no hope of changing what I know.


We are not arguing but argument-ing.

jaquith said:
Further, look at the MOBO designs and you'll see copycat design -- just with less 'doodads' and cheaper components.


I can not see copycat design except if you refer to the design of all motherboards out there which must be similar because Intel or AMD basically dictate the board components placement.

It is just that I will never buy AsRock thinking that it is related to ASUS and therefore to be convinced that AsRock offers same or similar support and expertise interwoven in their products. To me they are producing completely different and unrelated products. This was my point (once again).

I think the rest of the issues are elaborated so people can believe what they want.

But this leads nowhere useful anymore and the topic is already "Solved".

Thank you for the discussion. See you in the other threads.
m
0
l
!