I'm stuck between two very similar (seeming -_-) micro-ATX motherboards. I'm set on my CPU (An Intel Core i7-3820, socket LGA2011) and have already purchased it. I'm also set on the micro-ATX form factor. Nothing else will be shorter than me once I set it up on my desk, and I don't need the extra silicon of a full-size for anything.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are the specs:
I want my motherboard to support two HDDs and one SSD. Either of these can do that. One of them supports "green" SATA, on which topic I must admit that I have no knowledge. Are there any advantages to green Sata or eSata? (or are they different things, which is probably the case?)
I also want to be able to upgrade later. My understanding is that the X79/LGA2011 is the best option for this, hence my decision to get an LGA2011 socket processor. It would be nice if I could know what specific/unique features are available to Asus or to ASRock, because the names they give things (X-Fast Ram? WTF?) don't really help much. The ASRock apparently comes with a bunch of extras, but so does the Asus, and I'm not in it for the software bundled in or anything. I just want to make sure that I get the best motherboard.
Also, will either of these come with USB connections for me to put in the front of my case? Because I need to know whether I should and/or must buy an additional cord in order to get USB Ports in the front, which are a must-have.
I really don't know which to choose - they seem about the same, in most all respects. My best guess is that you will agree with me, that they are highly similar, but hopefully I can come away more educated about my final decision. Thanks in advance!
RE: WTF? XFast RAM - it's used if you have a 32-bit OS and want the otherwise wasted RAM (anything >4GB) to be used in the form of a 'RAM Drive.' I can only assume you can still partition some RAM for a 'RAM Drive' even with a 64-bit OS. RAM Drives are indeed nice to have for ultra fast e.g. Scratch Drives'.
IF you want an mATX then I'd get the ASUS Rampage IV GENE. However, please note I've seen a lot of issues on several OEM MOBO's with the i7-3820 so before you do anything update and use the latest BIOS. A big advantage to ASUS is USB BIOS Flashback if you have a either a corrupted BIOS or an unsupported CPU to update the BIOS without a CPU or RAM.
Most MOBO's have some form of 'Green' technology. ASUS has several options including an EPU switch (some MOBOs) and/or EPU BIOS options R4G.
You mentioned (2) HDD's, if running in RAID then IMO don't get Western Digital unless you're getting Enterprise version which support TLER.
Yes, both MOBO's come with both USB 3.0 and 2.0 Front Panel Connection Headers for your case.
Thanks a ton, jaquith. That clears up quite a few of my questions.
I take it that you have had good luck with Asus in the past. I've heard in various places that ASRock is the "new kid on the block" in some respects when it comes to motherboards/computer parts. But if I were to purchase their motherboard and then the BIOs was incompatible, are there not similar options for BIOs updating available? It seems odd that an OEM board would be allowed to just not work out of the box.
Thanks also for the hard drive advice. It looks like our new one will be a Seagate and I think that I am comfortable with that decision. I have recently changed plans, so I will not be accommodating our old Western Digital anymore, just copying some of the files onto the new HD.
To my knowledge, ASUS is the only MOBO Mfg with that way to update the BIOS. Otherwise if the CPU is not supported you'll need to send it back to the OEM, borrow a supported CPU, or take it to a shop...that's why ASUS came up with the technology.