I'm starting to spec out a new PC build and looking for some help. I've decided to go with an Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge processor. Now I'm looking for a motherboard. I'm looking to build a PC for purposes of photo/video editing and some gaming (plus every day usage). I want to keep the cost at a minimum, but would like something that is good quality and expandable (decent number of expansion slots).
Here are the features I determined I want so far:
- Intel, LGA 1155, P67 (maybe Z68 if there's a particular reason I should go this route)
- 4 memory stick slots
- USB 3.0
- SATA 6GB/s
- PCI Express 2.0
- SLI/Crossfire support
- Doesn't need onboard graphics card (will be purchasing GPU)
What are some recommendations that you suggest? There are many makers out there, what are the most dependable ones? I know Asus and MSI were good, but not sure if that still holds true today. Thanks for any suggestions, much appreciated.
Each Socket 1155 CPU all have in built graphics, and to be able to utilise that embedded graphics card the motherboard must have a video output such as a VGA, DVI or HDMI port. All H67 motherboard have at least one video output so that the CPU GPU can be used. Whilst this is a great feature it is worth noting the integrated graphics are not much cop and only really suited to HD video playback and very basic gaming. The main advantage of this is to eliminate the need for a small sub £30 graphics card and to bring down the overall cost of a workstation PC or media Centre that does not require a dedicated graphics card. The H67 like all the other chipsets does support dedicated graphics cards too, so should the need to add a higher end graphics card arise, it is a straight forward procedure.
The downside of a H67 chipset is it supports very limited overclocking even if an unlocked ‘K’ Series CPU (i5 2500K & i7 2600K) is installed. To the overclockers, this is a completely no go chipset, but for everyone building a sandy bridge system on a budget it makes a great choice.
The P67 chipset was also available at the launch of the Sandy Bridge CPU. The upside of this chipset is it supports the option of running two dedicated graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire and the option to overclock K series CPU’s.
The downside is not being able to support the integrated graphics on the CPU so a dedicated graphics card is a must. It makes it a popular choice for the enthusiast and gamer.
Launched 5 months after the P67 and H67 chipset the Z68 chipset combines the advantages of the H67 and P67 Chipset so that overclocking, dual dedicated graphics cards and use of the integrated CPU graphics is available. Whilst on the surface it would seem that this would be the chipset to go for, how many users that have 2 dedicated graphics cards will actually want to use the onboard graphics when they already have 2 more powerful graphics cards in their system anyway?
The only real advantage is for users that wish to access the HD graphics features such as quick sync, but considering it’s only supported by very few transcoding programs and there are not many people out there that need or will want to transcode, it makes it almost pointless to choose Z68 over a P67 chipset.
Same applies to users that want to overclock the CPU but use the onboard graphics card; it’s a very limited market.
Finally, another feature of a Z68 chipset is known as SSD caching which is where it allows the use of a small (say 10 or 20 GB) Solid state hard drive to act as a cache for a larger ‘traditional’ hard disk. If you are already planning the use of a Solid State drive this feature is redundant.
If you can’t afford a decent size SSD (40GB+) then there are more cost effective ways around using a small SSD and SSD cashing like spending less on a motherboard, (H67 chipset or even a P67 chipset) and putting the saved money into a decent size SSD.