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Good mATX mobo for 1100T + HD4870

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April 11, 2011 10:20:33 PM

Hi,



Short version:

Looking for Micro-ATX (AM3) mobo to take:
1100T
16GB DDR3
eSATA
PCIE x16
2 PCI

Preferably ASUS or MSI, although if you feel some other brand is as reliable and powerful, feel free to suggest!



Long version:

I've only used this site for reviews in the past so I guess I'm leeching a bit here... anyways:

My first PC (Circa 1999) lasted 9 years (with a new GFX card and HDD here and there).
The replacement, I built in 2008 (ASUS M3A78-EMH + ATHLON X2 5200+) - it was built to run some very intense scientific simulations - it wasn't going to live long after that experience, so wasn't worth splashing out over (hence the low spec).

It has finally died (a year later than expected), and so now I'm looking at building another expensive PC with the target of a 10-year lifetime (not counting HDD/GPU upgrades)



I'm looking for a mobo that will run:

AMD X6 1100T or 1090T - Hyperthreading tends to slow down the kind of programs I run (excluding web browsers and Office, which don't stress it anyway)

Half a dozen SATA hard disks (speed unimportant; some of them may be external on 1394/eSATA. I need reliability, so want to avoid USB storage). I do regular differential backups and have had bad past experience with RAID, so on-board RAID features don't matter to me.

4GB DDR3, with possibility to expand to 16GB (for a project scheduled for next year...).
Speed of the initial 4GB is not important, the 16GB will be but I'll look into that when I need it.

Radeon HD4870, will get upgraded when a single Radeon with twice the cores comes out at a decent price [maybe has already].

2 x Creative Audigy 2 ZS (PCI cards)
Don't worry about the GPU overlapping a PCI slot, I have that solved already in the current box. I use these old cards for their EMU parallel processing rather than normal audio, the X-Fi doesn't have that... The drivebays are useful for doing quick and dirty guitar/keyboard recordings too :p 

I'll use it for scientific work and occasional gaming (mostly older games - CS, COD4, etc) that the previous box ran fine at.
Most of its use will just be general internet, skype and MSOffice - so something energy-efficient would be nice too (the previous box cost around 20p / ~US$0.30 per day it was used, in electricity)



I've looked at the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula - perfect apart from the price.
I've also looked at the M3A88TD-M / -V EVO, not sure how much I'd be losing by taking one of those instead of the Crosshair.


Oh, also - I'll be running XP x64, 7 Ultimate, BASH and occasionally trying Haiku when I get bored.


Windows software that I'll be using often:
Office 2k (low reqs)
Opera & Chrome (low reqs)
Delphi 7
VMWare Workstation (RAM heavy)
MikTex
Steam: CS, CS:CZ, CS:Source, Portal, Portal 2 (hopefully!), Half-life
COD4, Guitar Hero 3, NFS MW, Battlefront

All the games I listed work fine on the HD4870, so unless that card will cause problems with AM3 boards, I'll be keeping it for a while. I don't want nForce boards, thats just a personal preference rather than for any deep technical reason.

Thanks in advance,
Mark
April 12, 2011 6:00:44 AM

Are you looking for a Micro-ATX board or a regular ATX board? You contradict yourself in your post.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 12, 2011 6:13:34 AM

I'm confused:

1) Why do you want a computer to last 10 years? It won't be able to do anything good in 5 years.

2) Why an 1100T? It gets thoroughly outperformed in the fast majority of ways by an i5-2500.

3) Do you overclock?

4) You should just get an ASRock 870 Extreme 3.
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April 12, 2011 1:17:33 PM

dalauder said:
I'm confused:

1) Why do you want a computer to last 10 years? It won't be able to do anything good in 5 years.

2) Why an 1100T? It gets thoroughly outperformed in the fast majority of ways by an i5-2500.

3) Do you overclock?

4) You should just get an ASRock 870 Extreme 3.




1. My last PC (built 1999 ish) still works and I still use for general web browsing, office, skype, music, dvds, graphic design, etc. It can play CS, GTA IV and Battlefront (as I said, it had a GPU upgrade a few years ago). I'm not a gamer as such, I just play games every now and then - so I don't need to stick with the latest tech.

2. A 1100T is cheap and having lots of cores is more important for my work than Intel's features - Hyperthreading tends to cause a 10-30% drop in performance for a lot of my scientific software, and my X2 5200+ handles my current games fine (with a decent graphics card). Also, AMD are cheap and their prices tend to fall faster than Intel's - when you leave a non-server (i.e. not Opteron, Xeon, etc) processor thrashing through FPU-heavy simulations at 100% usage for a few months, it will generally die or start throwing occasional BSODs within a year due to hysteresis. I'm essentially looking for a disposable processor with lots of cores that'll be cheap to replace in future. If I had the money, I'd get two 12-core Opterons and a dual-socket server mobo.
One particular advantage of a six core over a quad is that when I want to use the PC while its doing heavy work, I set process affinities to free up one core for my use, so my apps don't get slowed by the work. On a quad, that takes 25% of the proc away from work, on a hex it only takes 17%.

3. I used to overclock, never really got enough out of it though (I stick to air cooling as the PC does tend to travel a lot - hence mATX).

4. Aren't ASRock just ASUS's budget boards?
April 12, 2011 1:21:17 PM

bdcrlsn said:
Are you looking for a Micro-ATX board or a regular ATX board? You contradict yourself in your post.



Yeah sorry, looking for Micro-ATX. I'd just looked at general AM3 boards initially to see what specs were available. Is it possible to get a mATX board without onboard video these days?

-Mark
a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2011 12:17:30 AM

1. You can use a computer for general web browsing 10 years later, but my Dad's 10 year old machine (P4 2.4GHz socket 478 1024MB RDRAM w/ fresh Windows XP install) has bad performance in Youtube, Skype, and graphic design. I'm VERY skeptical about yours playing GTA IV at even 800x600 on absolute minimum settings.

2. Okay, 1100T is alright for you. i5-2500's match performance though and i7-2600's blow them out of the water in every way. Considering it's $230 vs $300 for the 1100T vs i7-2600K, I'd still do the i7. The Sandy Bridge CPUs also run MUCH cooler, which should be good for longevity. Also--there's a solid chance the 1100T will be out of production in 12 months with Bulldozer coming. But I'll take your reasons.

3. Overclocking. Athlon x2 5000+'s and similar only got 200MHz from OC'ing. It wasn't worth it for me either. Typically, the Phenom II's go up to 4.0GHz though--a huge boost and the Sandy Bridge's (i5-2500K, i7-2600K) go past 4.5GHz--a bigger boost.

4. ASRock, more or less. Most agree the ASRock 870 Extreme 3 is the best balanced AM3 ATX board. But you need mATX. I'd look for these things: 4 slots for memory and brand. ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, EVGA, Biostar, in that order. No Foxconn, ECS, or Jetway trash though. Really the only difference you'll notice in most usage is overclockability, which can vary slightly between boards.
April 13, 2011 1:30:54 PM

dalauder said:
1. You can use a computer for general web browsing 10 years later, but my Dad's 10 year old machine (P4 2.4GHz socket 478 1024MB RDRAM w/ fresh Windows XP install) has bad performance in Youtube, Skype, and graphic design. I'm VERY skeptical about yours playing GTA IV at even 800x600 on absolute minimum settings.

2. Okay, 1100T is alright for you. i5-2500's match performance though and i7-2600's blow them out of the water in every way. Considering it's $230 vs $300 for the 1100T vs i7-2600K, I'd still do the i7. The Sandy Bridge CPUs also run MUCH cooler, which should be good for longevity. Also--there's a solid chance the 1100T will be out of production in 12 months with Bulldozer coming. But I'll take your reasons.

3. Overclocking. Athlon x2 5000+'s and similar only got 200MHz from OC'ing. It wasn't worth it for me either. Typically, the Phenom II's go up to 4.0GHz though--a huge boost and the Sandy Bridge's (i5-2500K, i7-2600K) go past 4.5GHz--a bigger boost.

4. ASRock, more or less. Most agree the ASRock 870 Extreme 3 is the best balanced AM3 ATX board. But you need mATX. I'd look for these things: 4 slots for memory and brand. ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, EVGA, Biostar, in that order. No Foxconn, ECS, or Jetway trash though. Really the only difference you'll notice in most usage is overclockability, which can vary slightly between boards.



1. Seriously, the graphics card upgrade + Windows 2000 allows it to play DVDs, youtube, etc... as for skype, MSN web calls came about a few years after I built that PC :)  Just to make this seem even dafter (compared to your P4), this was a 1GHz AMD Duron........... Ok, it probably won't handle COD6, HTML5 or Bluray though! Oh also, I replaced the cheap 64MB DDR that I'd initially built it with, with the fastest 2x512MB modules I could get about 5 years ago - this roughly quadrupled its speed for disk-unintensive stuff.

2. Thanks for the info, I hadn't realised that - I might reconsider an i7... The main reason I'm avoiding Intel for now is that cores are more important than clocks for me, if I could afford it then I'd go 12-core Opteron.

3. Any idea how far the i7's can go on air cooling? I use a Scythe big shiruken at the moment (cools the rest of the mobo nicely), I imagine thats probably near the best air-cooling I could fit in an mATX case, although I'm open to better air ideas.
I wasn't planning on overclocking this one much, but if I can get a decent gain (300MHz was about the limit with my X2 5200+, 10% is barely worth the effort)

4. Ok, I checked up on ASRock. From using them in mid-end AM2 builds for friends, I was under the impression that they were just budget ASUS, looks like they have some decent stuff. Thanks for the blacklist too.



Having looked into Bulldozer, I might wait for that to come out if its only a few months away...


Thanks for the advice people

-Mark
a b B Homebuilt system
April 14, 2011 12:40:20 AM

1. Thanks for the nostalgia throwback to hardware of my youth.

2. i7-2600's (especially K) only have 4 physical cores, but destroy Phenom II's on per clock efficiency, making them awesome. Bulldozer may destroy i7-2600's on floating point/shear math work--especially considering the Flex Unit and FMAC. Bulldozer on June 7th: http://www.legitreviews.com/news/10472/

3. Sandy Bridge (i5-2500K/i7-2600K) can go to 5.0GHz+ on air cooling (up from 3.3/3.4GHz--huge boost!). But it's not limited by heat. All SB's do 4.5GHz pretty much. Most go higher. Not all do 5.0GHz.

4. I'm personally running an EVGA (got a crazy deal on it http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). I'd buy a Gigabyte or ASUS if it only cost me $10 or $15 because it might OC higher. But largely, I'd decide between top manufacturers mostly on color.
April 14, 2011 12:57:34 AM

dalauder said:
1. Thanks for the nostalgia throwback to hardware of my youth.

2. i7-2600's (especially K) only have 4 physical cores, but destroy Phenom II's on per clock efficiency, making them awesome. Bulldozer may destroy i7-2600's on floating point/shear math work--especially considering the Flex Unit and FMAC. Bulldozer on June 7th: http://www.legitreviews.com/news/10472/

3. Sandy Bridge (i5-2500K/i7-2600K) can go to 5.0GHz+ on air cooling (up from 3.3/3.4GHz--huge boost!). But it's not limited by heat. All SB's do 4.5GHz pretty much. Most go higher. Not all do 5.0GHz.

4. I'm personally running an EVGA (got a crazy deal on it http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). I'd buy a Gigabyte or ASUS if it only cost me $10 or $15 because it might OC higher. But largely, I'd decide between top manufacturers mostly on color.




Cheers

2. I'm not sure whether that efficiency would materialise for my programs, the reason I'm looking at Bulldozer is because separate threads on one "module" get their own ALU/AGU/FMAC, whereas on i7 (so I believe anyway), they don't, and the performance gain in i7 comes from threads on the same core not trying to use the same resource simultaneously. I've seen a few benches where multi-threaded POVRAY takes 30% longer on an i7 with hyperthreading enabled than on the same i7 with it disabled - for the cost of i7, that thought scares me a little as my work programs are usually float-intensive (one recent program had a loop in each thread, consisting of over 90% FPU instructions, the loop being repeated between a billion and a trillion times).

3. Very nice... that might convince me, if Bulldozer turns out to be overhyped crap like Phenom

4. Thanks, I've used ASUS for years and their only real problem seems to be their website which is down half the time I try to use it (have to go to uk.asus.com instead). I've come close to using Gigabyte a few times, which of ASUS and GB would you say gives the best reliability?

-Mark
a b B Homebuilt system
April 14, 2011 3:50:56 AM

2. Performance gain in Sandy Bridge comes from more efficient (work done per clock) architecture. That's why an i5 matches or beats an 1100T. It overclocks much higher so clock rate would matter as well. There is NO scenario I know of where an 1100T matches an i7-2600 and VERY few where it beats an i5-2500. Do not confuse Nehalem i7's with Sandy Bridge i7's. You don't make it clear in your discussion which one you are referring to. If said benchies were from before December 2010, they are no longer applicable.

But you are correct about Bulldozer from what I know. It should crunch numbers better than any of them.

4. Between ASUS and Gigabyte, I really can't pick a preference quality wise. Gigabyte tends to come with a light blue color scheme that doesn't match the rest of my build, but it also has a dual bios thing that's a nice safety net to assure it will post if you use terrible settings. I don't know if ASUS has that.
!