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Z68 BUYING ADVICE

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January 26, 2012 5:38:04 AM

Greetings all.
I am trying to piece together a system, I have been researching for the better part of two weeks, and I am more than lost.

I am currently running an (acer) Athlon 2 5000+, 3gigs DDR2, Vista, Radeon HD 6670.

I am looking to build a machine that will make the upgrade worthwhile, without breaking the bank, and give me room to grow. Power and reliability and (yes i will say it anyway) "futur-proof". It will primarily be used as a media center HD video storage, transcoding and some editing. Several large sata drives. Gaming is covered by the PS3.

the current PC has run into two problems. The nvidia chipset won't support hard drives larger than 2Tb (lack of FW update), and I can't help but feel my 300w (so far reliable) PSU is quickly reaching capacity (4 int. HD, DVD+R, WIFI Card, GPU, Ext HD, webcam, etc.) and it just doesn't seem worth it to invest much in said system.

I have decided on building around a i5-2500k with 8 gigs DDR3 and 550-650W PSU. I am going to keep the Radeon 6670 as it does what I need it to so far and I am on a budget. Windows 7 to start, and in the future I would like to get into Linux and overclocking.

>>>>So the Mobo Question: I am stuck around the price range of the Asus P8Z68-V Pro, Gigabyte Z68XP-(UD4, UD3P) or maybe an MSI board.... Z68A-Gd(60,80?). The ASRock Extreme4 is a bit pricey for me, so i was inclined towards the Asus.

********Questions:
1) significance of Gen 3 vs the previous gen same model board if I don't plan on upgrading this system or GPU (other than memory and OC) in the next 3-5 years.
2) Virtu ....Helpful or hinderance?
3)pci-e backwards compatibility
4)I was going to get 2000mhz memory, but it seems that 1600 mhz is more realistic?

At least two of my HDs support Sata 6gb/s so I want to know I will be able to expand on that.

thanks in advance.

More about : z68 buying advice

a b V Motherboard
January 26, 2012 6:07:25 AM

Since gaming is not in play, the system you propose is way overkill on a few points.

First, other than boot drive, SATA 6/gb gets you little in such a setup. However, supply seems to lean mostly that way these days. Such drives will still run fine on SATA 3/gb ports. For boards that have more SATA 6/gb ports, the price goes up, so it is up to you to decide. Whether you use the extra features of the z68 or not, I would still get it as it is the latest, and therefore the most "upgradeable" IMO.

One feature you will find valuable is the included Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers. Most folks think this is just about SSDs, but it actually helps with multiple hard drive setups as well.

Based on my many years of experience, I would limit my search to ASUS and Gigabyte branded boards. Asrock and MSI are just OK most of the time, but also seem to have a high problem rate when you get into overclock and such, and sometimes just out of the box. They may work fine initially, but many have issues down the road. To achieve their lower cost, they use lesser grade components. Not bad components, just lesser grade. Their QA is also a little bit lax IMO. I know these things due to the fact that I worked in electronics manufacturing for 17 years as an engineer.

For the ASUS or Gigabyte board, just pick the features you want which will determine the price. Quality is the same across the entire line. I would recommend uATX since you only have the one video card. No sense paying for unused board real estate. They still have some higher end uATX boards with plenty of ports, etc.

For ram, DDR3 1333 is just fine as is 8gb.

You can certainly get the i5-2500k and overclock it, but once again, since gaming is not involved, the i3-2100 would work just as well. It is a dual core, but acts like a quad due to the mutithreading.

You are spot on about the PSU. you have been close to maxing it out. A good quality 80 plus certified or better 500w will work just fine with a little overhead cushion to take care of component aging issues. Look for units from Antec, Seasonic, and Silverstone. Corsair makes good units as well, but the lower cost ones in this wattage range can be a bit iffy, You have to go to the higher end to get a decent one, and then the other makers will have Corsair beaten on price.

edit: spelling
a b V Motherboard
January 26, 2012 6:14:43 AM

My board with a i3 2100 and dual 5770's.

http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3...

I'm loving it, can't wait to get a k series and put it through it's paces (also has better power phasing if you get the UD3P over the UD3. I highly recommend it, and I was a die hard ASUS guy, my last 4 or 5 boards were ASUS, but I won't be going back anytime soon...

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January 26, 2012 7:53:51 PM

Ok so I have done more research,

comparing the boards and based on feature/availability come down to:

Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 (price/availability (canada))
Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3P (price/availability)
Asus P8Z68-V ( or PRO)
Asus Maximus IV gene-z/gen3

The Asus are all gen 3 with Virtu.

Maximus IV
SupremeFX X-Fi 2 (8-ch audio)
power is 8+2
Ps/2 mouse :D  (my wireless MS ball mouse refuses to die)
ROG features/overclock
doesn't list SRT, but I am led to believe this is standard on the Z68?

P8Z68-V
Tons of features
Power is 12+2?
4 Sata 6/gb/s (pro)
Bluetooth. remote/phone connect feature? I have an android, but wonder if this will actually be worth anything in the end?

I don't think i can go wrong either way. The v-pro is a bit pricier, but I am led to believe the Maximus IV is a friendlier board.

Any more advice is appreciated
January 26, 2012 10:29:49 PM

The gene z board is strictly for people looking to run discrete graphics as it removes the vga and dvi. I would say this is your better option if you can deal with the fact that its micro atx. Call me biased tho, i love that little board.
a b V Motherboard
January 26, 2012 11:18:08 PM

First thing I ask myself is what peripherals do I have and what does that mean for my board. Myself, I have a Logitech WLS KB and mouse, it was PS2, so I had to have that. My wireless card is a Linksys PCI so I had to have at least one usable PCI slot. I refuse to ever have less than 4 RAM slots, etc etc. That's what got me to my current board. The only thing it doesn't have is backplate eSATA (not my biggest concern) but it did have Firewire, so I knew I could work around the eSATA...

I think you should take inventory of everything you have to go into your box and make sure whatever board you pick has everything, or the closest to everything you need so you don't have to drop money on replacement periphs after you get your board...
January 27, 2012 12:08:40 AM

I have the v pro z68 and wished I had liked the smaller board. The smaller board however has great reviews and can be pushed to 5gh. Stick with a 2500k anything less is gimped. Realy I'd try and get a better gpu and a SSD for boot/os its such a big upgrade its so fast.
January 27, 2012 12:12:07 AM

I got the Asus P8Z68-V LE. It can save you $100 over the pro, but it only has 2 SATA 6GB/s and no bluetooth. I figure that that $100 can go toward an ivy-bridge or later motherboard with crossfire or SLI down the road. You can also use the second PCIe slot or PCI slot the board has to add more SATA 6GB/s or a bluetooth. The gen3 wasn't available when I bought, but my AMD 7970 isn't bottlenecked, and I'd want to upgrade motherboard when I next upgrade my video card(s) anyway.

Note the first board was dead, but the replacement has allowed me to overclock my i5-2500k to 5.0Ghz.

A couple months ago I would have said get 1600Mhz RAM because it has virtually the same performance as faster RAM for the same price. However now I feel that that could be said for 1866MHz RAM as 8GB should be less than $60.
January 27, 2012 4:03:13 AM

Thanks for the input everyone. I had to realign some of my expectations with (financial) reality, and I ended up settling on the Asus Maximus IV gene-z/Gen 3. people all over the net love it, more so than the P8Z68-V Pro, seems friendly enought, It has PS/2, And it was about 25$ cheaper($cdn) than the v-pro. As much as the P8Z68-V Pro has going for it, it realistically will be a while before I use all that capacity. (also I am sick of reading through cryptic benchmarks, and stats for minor day to day differences :kaola:  :kaola:  :kaola:  )

I also scaled back the processor to the I3-2120 (3.3 ghz hyperthreading) and saved about 100$ there. I will leave the 2500k and tweaking for another day.


In the end it will look like this:

Asus Maximus IV gene-z/Gen 3
I3-2120 3.3ghz
8gb Corsair Vengeance 1600mhz CL7 (basically all they had left in stock)
OCZ ZS Series 550W 80plus bronze
+ my current Radeon HD 6670 for graphics.


a b V Motherboard
January 27, 2012 4:13:07 AM

Sounds like you got a good thing going with some room to grow. I have the i3 2100 and for it being a 'lower' quality, I'm very happy with it and is working marvelously. Someday I'll do the k series or wait til Ivy Bridge options open up, but my gaming hasn't been hurt by my choice!!
!