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Is the MSI Z68MA-ED55 the motherboard for me?

I'm looking at building to build a gaming/general purpose rig soon and I'm trying to settle on a motherboard.

I'm wanting to overclock an i5 2500k, mostly for value. I plan on cooling it with a Corsair A50. I'd be delighted with a stable 4.5 GHz and could be satisfied with a bit less. I'd probably clock the system back down at or near stock a lot of the time, assuming the included BIOS/software doesn't make switching between different OC profiles a hassle. I want this system to last me at least ~2.5 years as my main PC and beyond that as a nice hand-down.

Also, while I don't plan on running 2 GPUs to start with, I'd like to have SLI/Crossfire open as a possibility down the line.

From what I can tell, the Z68MA-ED55 seems like a pretty good fit at $140 shipped, $110 after rebate. Do you guys think I'm correct in this assessment?

Other boards I've been considering include the Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 (pros vs the ED55: inexpensive without a rebate, x8/x8 SLI/xfire), the ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 and Extreme4 (which are feature-rich but seem to be plagued with some technical issues) and more expensive options which seem to have everything I want/need and more, but come with price tags that I feel might kill the value proposition.

Opinions? Would running x16/x4 really be noticeably inferior to x8/x8 if running, say, xfired 6950s? Does anybody know the exact phase count for the ED55 (I think it's 6+4?) or is able to attest to the quality to this board's VRM vs. the alternatives I mentioned? Is there anything else I may be missing, or another board you'd recommend?

Thanks.
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  1. If you want Crossfire buy a motherboard with x16/x8 or x8/x8 for Crossfire.
    MSI don't have that option. Ill buy ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3.
  2. Thanks, sosofm. So you think the running x4 on the second GPU would be involve taking a bad hit to performance.

    One thing I don't like about the Extreme3 Gen3 besides the seemingly hit or miss aspects of the board and iffy build quality is its lack of a firewire header -- the case I've chosen has a firewire front connector and having a non-functioning connector is going to bug me. I probably won't end up using any firewire devices though, so maybe I should try to not let that bother me too much.
  3. Best answer
    To benefit to the max bandwith of PCIE you SLI on x16/x8 , x8/x8 , the more expensive motherboards have x16/x16 , but the diference is 1% so is insignificant.
  4. sosofm said:
    To benefit to the max bandwith of PCIE you SLI on x16/x8 , x8/x8 , the more expensive motherboards have x16/x16 , but the diference is 1% so is insignificant.

    Yeah, I figured at x16/x4 would present a bottleneck, but I'm not sure just how much of an impact that would have on the bottom line performance-wise.

    In any event, I ended up going with the ASRock Z68 Extreme4. On paper it has every feature I wanted at a fairly moderate price (under $150 with all the newegg discounts factored in, and with no messing about with rebates). I'm a bit worried about quality of some of the components and issues that have been reported with the iGPU, but I'll be using a discrete graphics card, so as long as that problem doesn't affect transcoding I think I'll be happy.

    Thanks for the responses.
  5. Best answer selected by Tukka.
  6. This topic has been closed by Nikorr
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