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Looking for easy-to-setup motherboard (first time builder here)

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February 1, 2012 1:56:11 AM

I've been pushing my old computer (a pre-built Acer) along for a while now, and I feel I've finally saved up enough money to finally upgrade. I say my computer is old, but really I've been gradually upgrading it for a while now, the only parts that are still part of the original pre-build are the motherboard/CPU/cooler, the hard drive, and the optical drive. Everything else has been upgraded and I'm confident I can reuse most of it.

So really, for my new computer I really only need 3 things, a new mobo, a new CPU, and a new copy of Windows 7. (And eventually a graphics card... since I will want to game on this thing one day). I surprised myself and managed to save up 1000$, but having thought about it I don't want to spend it all if I can avoid it. I'd like to say I'm going to draw the line at 700$ (unless someone shows me a fantastic deal that just begs me to drop more into this). But I’ve noticed that usually when shopping online prices can inflate pretty quickly due to shipping and taxes, so I’ll actually say that my price range is around 575-600$, which will push the final total to around 700.

For the CPU I think I’m going to settle for the Core i3-2125. It’s 20$ more expensive than the base-i3, but it comes with Intel HD 3000 graphics, in case I want to do some basic gaming until I get a real graphics card. I was really tempted by the quad-core i5s… but I just don’t think I’ll need them. I doubt I’ll do any over-clocking or SLI/Crossfire. I might try some super high-end games one day… but by that point the Ivy-Bridges will have come out and I can upgrade (that’s the beauty of LGA 1155). For the next 6 – 12 months, I figure the i3 will do me fine. With the OS I’m going with Windows 7 (I’m a total noob at Linux), but I think I’m actually going to go for the Pro version. It’s 150$, but it offers Windows XP compatibility. This will be important I think if I want to download classic games like Worms/Warcraft III.

Now for the center-piece… the mobo. I’ve been eyeing two contenders, and I’m just really not sure if I’m even in the right general direction. After the earlier two I’m left with a decent 275 – 300 $ budget, but I only want to buy what I need.

Gigabyte
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... (160$)
This mobo has USB 3.0 along the back, a USB 3.0 header on the mobo (I only have 1 USB 3 slot on the front of my case so this is fine). 8 USB 2 slots along the back, an HDMI port, room for 2 graphics cards (though I doubt I’ll ever need more than 1), AND… this neat little mSATA slot in the middle of the board. It basically fits a tiny SSD that you can use to boost your mechanical hard drive. Or maybe even run all of Windows 7 (but that would require very expensive large-capacity ones). I doubt I’ll be able to afford it on my budget, but it’s still really cool.
The problem with this one is that it runs TouchBIOS… now… I don’t know what the difference is between UEFI and BIOS (aside for the basics), but I know that UEFI is the new way to go. I think it’s supposed to be easier to use, and I’ve heard word on reviews and commentaries that this board doesn’t have real UEFI. People commented how MSI’s was better, which brings me to my second choice(s).

MSI
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... (175$)
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... (190$)
These look quite solid, and supposedly they run a real UEFI deally. They have a bit less USB 2s, but 4 ports should be enough… USB 3.0 is all over it, like the last board. They also have little buttons on the board itself for reboot and power on, which is cute. They are a little more expensive… but if the UEFI means I have less chances of f***ing up the OS installation, then by all means MSI take my money. I am wondering if I should spend that 15$ extra to get the 65 model… from what I can see the only difference is that it comes with even more 6 Gb/sec SATA ports. The 55 model only has 2… but even that I think will be more than enough. I don’t even own an SSD yet, I don’t think I’ll own more than 2 anytime soon…

I have also heard lots of good things about ASUS, but their boards are even steeper price-wise. Like the thread title says, what I want is ease of use, idiot-proofing, and future-proofing. I want something reliable and solid that will still be able to turn on in 18 months. Having room for growing into new technology (like the LGA 1155) is fine too, but I DON’T want bleeding edge. If my card can’t get that latest USB3.0 driver that runs 8% faster, or if I can’t run a 4-way SLI super-setup, really… that’s fine.


And please... while I will accept any advice or help that is offered, I would appreciate more than just quirky one-liners. This is my first build and I really want it done right.
a b V Motherboard
February 1, 2012 2:07:02 AM

I wouldn't go for the i3 2120 just because the i3 2100 is cheaper and you said you would buy a graphics card someday. Make sure to get a OEM version of Windows 7 to save for money.

Don't go SLI/Crossfire, it's a pain in the a** to get them to work together.

I have a better option for the mobos.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - ASRock Extreme3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - ASUS ROG Maximus Gene-Z

They are the top of the line performers for that price.
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February 1, 2012 2:55:51 AM

I should specify, I'm Canadian, so I'll be doing my shopping from Newegg.ca or Amazon.ca

I'll get a graphics card... one day, but that could be in 6+ months. All I know is that my current mobo has a GeForce 9200, and it can handle Portal 2 and Starcraft 2 (not all that smoothly, but on lowered graphics it does run). I've heard that the HD 2000 is a bit less powerful than my 9200, while the HD 3000 is a bit more powerful. If only to continue running the games I've been playing... I figure I should spend the extra 20$. Unless I can find a really good graphics card that beats them all for under 100$.

And don't worry, I never was really convinced by the benefits of SLI. I might try it one day, but it certainly isn't a priority.

About those suggestions though... do you know if they will be Ivybridge compliant? I saw in a video review that the ASUS Maximus will support 32nm CPUs, and wikipedia tells me that the Ivy will be a 22nm CPU... Also, it looks like the only ASRock board in that list that supports front-USB3 is the 215$ one. That does fall in my budget but... yeah, I want to make sure it's future-proof. Also neither of these mention UEFI in their description, how easy are they to set up?

I'm also hoping to get multiple inputs in this matter, so please, other commentators join in any time.

EDIT:
Oh Woah Wait! That 215$ mobo, that's an X79, nuh uh... that's the Sandy Bridge E boards. No way am I going near those 1000$ CPUs, those are just crazy. If that's the case then I'll just choose one of the cheaper ASRocks that don't have front-USB3.
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a b V Motherboard
February 1, 2012 3:06:10 AM

Yes, every 1155 socket mobo will be compatible with Ivy Bridge with a BIOS update. The ASRock is only $120... I don't know what you're talking about. Almost all mobos these days have native USB 3.0 support.
The mobos have their own BIOS that is very easy to navigate. You shouldn't be touching the BIOS in the first place unless you know what you're doing.

You remind me of Linus from NCIX, you look similar and you both live in Canada :) 
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February 1, 2012 3:46:55 AM

Right... not sure why the first time I clicked the ASRock link you posted it sent me to this list here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

And yeah, when I said USB3 support I mean the ones with the header on the motherboard itself (the only mobo in that list with front USB3 is the X79 one). I would rather plug the front USB 3.0 port on the mobo itself rather than passing through the back, but it's not a big deal, I can always get a PCI-e card or something later on.

I thought that when I install the operating system I had to shuffle through the BIOS/UEFI... As I said, this will be my first build. I've swapped out parts before, but I've never done an OS installation. If I can save enough money I might even get an SSD, though I hear those require an even more involved installtion (something to do with RAID?)
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a b V Motherboard
February 1, 2012 3:55:55 AM

Yeah I changed the link, I'm dirty ;P. As I mentioned before, most mobos today have a native USB 3.0 header. As far as I know of, you just turn on the computer when you're done building and it'll tell you to put the OS disk in so that you can install - then you're done.

I'm not much of a hard drive dude so I don't have the most robust knowledge on RAID.
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February 1, 2012 4:02:26 AM

Well, you've reasured me.

I'll still wait to hear from more people, but that Extreme3 does look quite good for it's price. It's actually 150$ here in .ca land, but that's still a very good deal. Each item would then be 150$ (funny, huh?), which brings me to 450$ before taxes and shipping. That leaves me with a good 150$ extra to flex and work.

Maybe even get a graphics card right off the bat...
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a b V Motherboard
February 1, 2012 4:11:32 AM

If you have money for an extra graphics card, save money by going to i3 2100. Get a really cheap nvidia 520 (plays games at low to medium settings on most games with good FPS) and save money for a real graphics card (future 7000 or Keplar)

EDIT: Found a article on RAID and stuff like that.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/259807-32-raid
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