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Choosing a motherboard sucks

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December 23, 2011 3:27:12 AM

I have begun buying parts for a new build, but I am having a terrible time deciding on a motherboard. Every time I read a thread, article or review, responses are so conflicting it's impossible to decipher what boards and manufacturers are worthy of my money. What gets me the most is when I think a board is decent and then come to find out that 10-15%+ of the reviewers got a bad board, or it stopped working, or something didn't work correctly. It's almost as if it's hopeless.

Anyway this is a comparison of the boards I'm looking at:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|13-157-271^13-157-271-TS%2C13-157-250^13-157-250-TS%2C13-131-773^13-131-773-TS%2C13-131-759^13-131-759-TS

ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3

ASUS P8Z68-V LE ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z Micro ATX

ASRock Z68 Extreme4

Budget for mobo ~$150-200


The rest of the build:

Case: HAF 912
CPU: i5 2500k
RAM: G.Skill ripjaws or Corsair vengence 8gb or 16gb DDR3 1600
PSU: Corsair Pro series 850w
GPU: (SLI) MSI 560ti HAWK (two cards)
SSD: Crucial M4 64gb
HDD: wait until prices come back down? otherwise Samsung spinpoint F3 1TB
HSF: Cooler Master 212 Evo

So far I've purchased the case, PSU, and SSD.

I just want a solid and DEPENDABLE board that won't let me down running two 560ti's for BF3, Adobe Create Suite, and architecture software (Revit, AutoCAD, etc.) use (including rendering).

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Merry Christmas!

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a b V Motherboard
December 23, 2011 4:44:48 AM

Every vendor is going to ship some lemons. It's just the nature of working at this scale.

Asus is typically regarded as the premier manufacturer but Gigabyte and MSI can both make claims that their boards are built to last.

Asrock, while they make great gaming boards at rock bottom prices, they often do so by using thinner pcbs, less expensive caps and lower power phases. That all adds up to boards that are going to be less dependable.

Motherboard selection has really gotten much easier over the years. If you go back to 1366 there were real differences between boards and if you weren't careful you could end up with a motherboard that was going to limit what you could do.

Today that's not so much the case. As long as you stick with Z68 or P67 you'll find that the 'performance' is exceptionally close across the spectrum. This means all you really need to look for is a board that is going to support specific features you're looking for.

If dependability is your primary concern then take a look at the Asus Sabertooth or MSIs military grade boards. These are boards that were built with stability and longevity in mind.

The things that you want to look for as far as features are concerned are the number of SATA 6Gb/s ports, USB 3.0 ports and internal headers, Quick Sync (if you encode at all), SRT (if you plan on using a SSD as a HDD cache).

You can ignore any mention of PCI-e 3.0 as it's nothing more than a marketing ploy. All current PCI-e 2.0/2.1 slots will be upgraded if you move to IB.
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December 23, 2011 4:56:07 AM

a4mula said:
You can ignore any mention of PCI-e 3.0 as it's nothing more than a marketing ploy. All current PCI-e 2.0/2.1 slots will be upgraded if you move to IB.

I would not bet on this. First of all, not all the lanes/slots are CPU dependant (yeah, I'm splitting hairs). But routing the signals over the board and the switches used by manufacturers for the 2nd slot can affect the 3.0 capability (just look for MS vs Gigabyte Gen3 articels). So while the CPU would work, it would use 2.0/2.1 compatibility instead of 3.0.
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December 23, 2011 3:28:45 PM

Thanks for the replies all of you; great discussion. I was originally looking at the Gigabyte board just like that one that wasn't B3. (I still don't completely understand what the B3 is all about yet..) but decided it was no good after I saw how many issues people had with it.

I appreciate the insight you offered up a4mula. That was really helpful. I like the idea of an MSI board, being that I plan to purchase MSI gpu's. I did a bit of reading about this board and am thinking it might be a winner:

MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) $229 - $30 MIR = $200.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=13-130-...

It has a 5yr warranty; good feature set; supposedly high-quality components.

Anyone else have this board?
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a b V Motherboard
December 23, 2011 3:37:55 PM

I personally am a huge fan of MSI, because not a single one of their products I have ever owned has failed me yet. I myself have an MSI 790FX-GD70 motherboard and two MSI HD5770 GPU's - haven't had a single problem with any of them. Had to have been the easiest setup I've ever done, and it POSTed on the very first try. I know people will say that Gigabyte or Asus boards "are better because they overclock more", but if you're buying a board for maximum overclocking, then longevity wouldn't matter to you anyway - if you're going to be OCing to the motherboard's limits, parts are going to start dying prematurely no matter what you buy.

Plus, MSI boards just look awesome. :D  Quality components, excellent warranty, excellent customer service... they're certainly up there with the best.

You get what you pay for. And although people will argue that with "But XXXX board is faster and overclocks better," you can't benchmark build quality or component choice.
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December 23, 2011 4:36:30 PM

The motherboard is the only component I will only buy locally for easy returns/exchanges. It is the most likely to be DOA part. Last year I got a Gigabyte mobo for my i7-950 build at Fry's and paid for the extended warranty. It was my first build that just worked right away. My only battle was installing the dang CPU cooler. I felt lucky.

To ensure stability, I also got a quality PSU and use a UPS to ensure no power fluctuations affect it. I also made sure the various fans kept it cool, since heat can damage it.

My experience has been that once it works, it keeps working. So, regardless of what brand you choose, buying locally gives you the ability to replace the mobo without having to wait days or weeks for a replacement. You also don't have to agonize over what part to replace if the memory, hard drive, or GPU don't work right, because of the pain of mailing things back.
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a b V Motherboard
December 23, 2011 4:45:02 PM

DXRick said:
The motherboard is the only component I will only buy locally for easy returns/exchanges. It is the most likely to be DOA part.


Great advice, never really thought about it, but yeah. RAM would be a good idea as well as it's by far the 2nd largest culprit.

If you have a Microcenter in you area you can typically bundle CPU/Motherboard for less than any deal you'd find online anyways. If not you might be able to get one of the larger Electronics stores to honor Newegg on at least a mobo purchase. Though, I've never personally tried.
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December 23, 2011 6:35:20 PM

That is good advice. However, I got antsy and just ordered all the remaining parts for my build including the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3). Let's hope it's not a lemon! I read a number of reviews and it seems like everything I want so long as it works as described.

More advice for anyone who may read this: call your credit card company BEFORE placing a large order. My payment was halted because Wells Fargo thought it could be a fraudulent charge. So, placing the order required a call to the card company, and then a live chat session with newegg to resubmit my order. Lesson learned.

Now I have to figure out why the MSI mail-in-rebate forms won't open to be printed... Nothing is easy.
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a b V Motherboard
December 23, 2011 6:59:40 PM

tisue001 said:

Nothing is easy.


Wouldn't be any fun if it were.

Congrats, and enjoy the build. Keep us up to date and post some pics and a buildlog when it's all said and done.
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December 23, 2011 9:12:03 PM

Thanks a4mula. I'm pretty excited to get the rest of my rig together and start gaming and working on something more powerful than my Dell laptop.. I didn't realize there was a buildlog, but I'll check it out and post some pics along the way.

Thanks all.
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December 23, 2011 9:12:29 PM

Best answer selected by tisue001.
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