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Need help completing budget system - $500

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July 12, 2011 5:15:54 PM

I'm looking at building my own system for the first time. For years I've owned commercially made towers that I would squeeze extra years out of by upgrading. So I know my way around a motherboard. The problem is that this last computer was really poorly made. Clearly going a little cheaper screwed me over. Also, I had recently dumped a bunch of money into RAM, a new power supply, a new video card and a new internal SATA card. So it occurred to me that now was a better time than ever to just take what I have and work towards a fully self-created system having already so many of the pricy parts. Plus, one of my best friends warned me last time I should just make my own system and I didn't listen and, well, here I am...

My question to you guys is where do you think I should go from here to read up on how exactly to do this? I guess I'll need to know what I am still missing and what the best I can afford is for each component. I'm also thinking about things like dual-core vs quad-core and amd vs intel.

My details, specs, and needs are below. Hope this helps you help me.


Approximate Purchase Date: As soon as possible, I've got a project in Sony Vegas to complete.

Budget Range: $500

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
Streaming media to media players
Basic video and audio editing (nothing overly complex) - Sony Vegas, Sound Forge, Photoshop
Good Web/Email connectivity
Some gaming

Parts Not Required:

Keyboard
Mouse
Monitor
Speakers
DVDR-DL
OS - Win 7 64-bit
Power Supply - Antec Truepower New 23652 TP-650 650-Watt EPS 12V 80Plus Certified SLI Ready Power Supply
Video card - EVGA GeForce GTX470 1280 MB DDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card
RAM - Corsair Memory 4GB PC2-5300 667Mhz 240-Pin DDR2
PCI cards:
- WinTV PVR
- Vantec 6-Port SATA II 150 PCI Host Card

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, amazon

Parts Preferences: Am more interested in quality than name brand but I'm not sure I know enough to choose between AMD and Intel or quad and dual core.

Overclocking: no, never have

SLI or Crossfire: Sorry, don't know what this is.

Additional Comments:
I would like an affordable case that will provide the following:
- ROOM!! So sick of micro consumer models!!
- lots of hard drive slots (3 maybe)
- lots of SATA ports (I lost three now in one shot because of the size of my video card)
- 2 optical drive slots
- 10 or more USB ports
- 2 Firewire ports
- 3 PCI slots (my current tower had 1 so I couldn't use my PVR and SATA card)
- I'd like to run my current 6GB of RAM for video editing, don't know how that affects which CPU I buy
- flashy and nice-looking are irrelevant to me. Case mods dont interest me in the slightest.
July 12, 2011 8:11:06 PM

tinpanalley said:
I'm looking at building my own system for the first time. For years I've owned commercially made towers that I would squeeze extra years out of by upgrading. So I know my way around a motherboard. The problem is that this last computer was really poorly made. Clearly going a little cheaper screwed me over. Also, I had recently dumped a bunch of money into RAM, a new power supply, a new video card and a new internal SATA card. So it occurred to me that now was a better time than ever to just take what I have and work towards a fully self-created system having already so many of the pricy parts. Plus, one of my best friends warned me last time I should just make my own system and I didn't listen and, well, here I am...

My question to you guys is where do you think I should go from here to read up on how exactly to do this? I guess I'll need to know what I am still missing and what the best I can afford is for each component. I'm also thinking about things like dual-core vs quad-core and amd vs intel.

My details, specs, and needs are below. Hope this helps you help me.


Approximate Purchase Date: As soon as possible, I've got a project in Sony Vegas to complete.

Budget Range: $500

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
Streaming media to media players
Basic video and audio editing (nothing overly complex) - Sony Vegas, Sound Forge, Photoshop
Good Web/Email connectivity
Some gaming

Parts Not Required:

Keyboard
Mouse
Monitor
Speakers
DVDR-DL
OS - Win 7 64-bit
Power Supply - Antec Truepower New 23652 TP-650 650-Watt EPS 12V 80Plus Certified SLI Ready Power Supply
Video card - EVGA GeForce GTX470 1280 MB DDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card
RAM - Corsair Memory 4GB PC2-5300 667Mhz 240-Pin DDR2
PCI cards:
- WinTV PVR
- Vantec 6-Port SATA II 150 PCI Host Card

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, amazon

Parts Preferences: Am more interested in quality than name brand but I'm not sure I know enough to choose between AMD and Intel or quad and dual core.

Overclocking: no, never have

SLI or Crossfire: Sorry, don't know what this is.

Additional Comments:
I would like an affordable case that will provide the following:
- ROOM!! So sick of micro consumer models!!
- lots of hard drive slots (3 maybe)
- lots of SATA ports (I lost three now in one shot because of the size of my video card)
- 2 optical drive slots
- 10 or more USB ports
- 2 Firewire ports
- 3 PCI slots (my current tower had 1 so I couldn't use my PVR and SATA card)
- I'd like to run my current 6GB of RAM for video editing, don't know how that affects which CPU I buy
- flashy and nice-looking are irrelevant to me. Case mods dont interest me in the slightest.


Well you do have some great parts you can keep and use!

SLI is running 2 nvidia GPUs, Crossfire is running 2 ATI GPUs.

Hard drive would definitely be the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB, that is a large amount of room, I don't think you need much more? $60-70

Your RAM is older, I suggest getting a pair of 2GB G. Skill Ripjaw DDR3 1333 sticks (4GB total) $35-40

the i3-2100 is only $120 and will run most of the stuff you will want to run. If you have a local microcenter, you might want to pickup the i5-2500k for $180 which is a great deal, you also get $40 off your mother board. $120

To support these, a new motherboard is needed too, I would probably go with the ASRock extreme 4, some people will give different answers like the ASUS p8p67 PRO but I say go with ASRock $150 OR
You can get a little bit cheaper with a gigabyte or asrock entry board, about $110

Last but not least you need an awesome case!! In your range, the HAF 922 or the Antec 900 would be the way to go!!! $100 OR
If not, you could also get the HAF 912 or Antec 300 illusion which are great cases as well $65

This total would run you around $500 depending on your choices from above, you should be able to find some deals on some of these items. Like I said microcenter has the i5 for $180 and if you buy any compatible motherboard (p67, H67 or Z68) you get $40 off that as well.

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July 12, 2011 8:56:12 PM

so basically you will need a case, mobo, cpu and ram (youre gonna need ddr3, sorry)

looking at your needs (yes, i actually read your connectivity list, its going to be hard to find a board with 2x firewire), i would suggest the following purchases based on quality and value:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
this is a great combo deal. the biggest downside to the mobo is that its not the greatest overclocker. but since you dont overclock, id say its perfect. its going to be hard (perhaps impossible), to find a similarly priced board with 10 usb ports and a firewire. you dont need a z68 board (an h67 or h61 works fine for no overclocking) but the video outputs on those boards take up room for extra ports, and one with all these connectivity features would end of costing about the same anyways. The asrock is a good board, but i think it is intended more for the enthusiast user. A common misconception with mobos is that if you keep paying more, you get more and more quality. At the very low end, quality suffers, but high-end boards fail just as much as mid-range ones. The gigabyte board also has a longer warranty.

the biggest decision, imo, is whether you want an i5-2400 (or 2300/2500) or an i7-2600 (the "k" processors are for overclocking). The i5's are very powerful processors. The only real advantage of the i7 is in applications like video editing. However the performance difference isnt HUGE anyways (at least, not as huge as the price difference). AMD processors simply cant compete at the moment, btw. You can afford an i7 in the budget, so its something to consider. Microcenter is indeed the best place to buy your processor if you live near one.

Its really hard to choose a case for someone else. The antec 300 and 300 illusion are a great choice for grown-ups. The main difference is the illusion comes with 2 extra fans (LED fans, unfortunately). Theyre mid-towers, not full towers, but i wouldnt say theyre cramped by any means (not like a slim tower). Newegg reviews actually triumph in the case department: if you sort by best reviewed, the first page will be full of great cases. I would choose a few that you dont hate, and we can help you refine. One thing to look for is front panel connectivity. The mobo will determine what you can plug into the back, whereas a case can have a variety of front panel connectors which plug into mobo headers (not all mobos have the appropriate headers).
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July 13, 2011 12:15:11 AM

Ok, here's some thoughts based on the help you guys gave me, including questions about things that aren't clear to me.

First of all thanks a lot, I'm totally in a better place now understanding what to get. MUCH appreciated.

- Why exactly is it necessary for me to get DDR3 as opposed to DDR2? Is it really so bad to have DDR2?
- The HAF 912 seems awesome for me for one simple reason: the fact that the 3.5 slots are accessible from the side and don't require unplugging things from the mobo just to get at the HDDs as appears to be the case with the Antecs.
- That Antec 300 is WAY too small for me. I want room but that doesnt mean I want one of those cases that look like spaceships either.
- I guess if I can add on via hubs and PCI cards I don't necessarily NEED 10 USB ports. I'm just sick of running out, that's all. Hopefully, all these motherboards have only 2.0?
- As for firewire, same thing. One or two is fine. I can also get a firewire card or a card with firewire and USB ports, I would imagine.
- Why is Intel preferred over AMD nowadays?
- I'm not sure I understand what makes a certain CPU better than another. Price-wise what is a "crappy CPU", a "good for the next year CPU" and a "you'll be fine for a few years" CPU? Just so I get a sense of what I'm looking at online. Or does it not work that way?
- It's important to me that I get more than one PCI slot and my PCI-E video card takes up two slots. Which means it usually overlaps a PCI, right? Is there a motherboard out there with 3 PCI slots? I feel like I'm gonna lose one because of the video card I have.
- Sorry, one last question: how do I know how much RAM a mobo will permit to be used on it? Or is that not how it works? I know that for more than 4GB I need 64-bit Windows, which I have but how do I know the max a mobo have?

Whew.. lots more questions than I expected. Sorry guys. But thanks for the help.
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July 13, 2011 2:00:21 PM

-DDR3 is just the newer and better RAM, if you are getting a new MOBO, which you need, DDR3 is the only compatible one.
-the HAF series and Antecs are great cases, if the 922 isnt affordable, the 912 is still great :]
-Some have USB 3.0 as well, you can definitely get additional USB ports and extenders like a Belkin or something
-Some MOBOs will have it, if not then
-Intel's sandy bridge series uses smaller 32nm pins I think, they are able to perform way better then anything AMD has right now, but the AMD bulldozer series is coming out soon and will most likely be able to compete with Intel.
- You don't need to go overboard and get an i7, you just need a decent clock speed, probably above 3.0 GHz. the i3 and i5 are good enough, you don't really overclock so like the other guy said, you can probably get an i5-2400 and will be good for a few years
- All the newer ATX motherboards spread out the PCI slots so you have room for this, that Z68x board is really good, with cool features the z68 series has to offer. Also the PCIe 2.0 slots are spaced out so your GPU should fit fine. I'm actually getting the z68MA myself for like $75.
- The specs should tell you how much RAM it supports, but 4GB is fine really
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July 13, 2011 2:11:37 PM

gammerx said:
-Some have USB 3.0 as well, you can definitely get additional USB ports and extenders like a Belkin or something

Is USB 3.0 something I should be prepping for now?
gammerx said:
-Some MOBOs will have it, if not then

Yeah, I'm trying to get firewire on the mobo or the front panel on the case to free up PCI slot use.
gammerx said:
that Z68x board is really good, with cool features the z68 series has to offer.

I was told by someone that the z68 isn't a good option because it doesn't allow the use of Quick Sync. Thoughts?
gammerx said:
- The specs should tell you how much RAM it supports, but 4GB is fine really

Not for video editing. 4GB is a minimum, even with a powerful video card. I'll have to have the ability to go up to 8GB of RAM in addition to my video card. Maybe that will be different with this new CPU from my old crap but still I can tll you for sure that 4GB won't be sufficient.

THANKS for the answers! And for the continued help.
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July 13, 2011 2:30:54 PM

USB 3 is good to have, products are in development, right now its mainly external HD and flash drives.

the Z68X has a 1394 slot

well they are wrong. Z68 is a combo of the H67 and P67 meaning it supports the onboard graphics AND a discrete card. The best part is virtu: this allows you to use quick sync WITH you graphics card! so yeah that mobo has quick sync, and ssd cache so no worries.

if PCI spacing worries you then
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
works as well, this one says virtu too, not sure why the other doesn't.

for video editing yeah I could understand having more. these support 16GB + so if you really wanted it you could get 4x4GB chips. 2x4GB chips should work fine as well, if you get that combo for mobo/ram that was posted earlier, you can just grab another pack of RAM (the same kind of course)
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July 13, 2011 3:01:50 PM

gammerx said:
well they are wrong. Z68 is a combo of the H67 and P67 meaning it supports the onboard graphics AND a discrete card. The best part is virtu: this allows you to use quick sync WITH you graphics card! so yeah that mobo has quick sync, and ssd cache so no worries.

Isn't it true that for a mobo to support Quick Sync it has to have video output and therefore an onboard GPU? I've been doing a lot of reading online and saw that somewhere.

What do you guys think of this one?
http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3...
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July 13, 2011 3:09:26 PM

the z68 has built in Intel graphics, and some of them support quick sync. If you put a graphics card on that MOBO also, it will use quick sync for both.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68-express-lucidlo...

that link you posted tells you what you just asked, it does have quick sync ;] That one is fine too, just keep in mind its a little more expensive then just the X, it'll probably run $20-40 more depending on the model
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July 13, 2011 3:52:50 PM

Ugh... getting confused with all the options.

I understand all the components, the case, the HDD, the RAM, and I've even decided on the CPU but the motherboard is still undecided.

I'm looking at these:
1. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
2. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
3. http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3...
4. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here are some revised thoughts about my motherboard after having gotten more knowledge from you...
- I would prefer the firewire on the board rather than on an expansion card just to save future slot space. I only need one.
- I have a feeling it's good for the motherboard to have its own video output, no?
- HDMI doesn't matter so much to me. I don't use LCD monitors and even if I did, DVI would be sufficient which I have on my video card (as well as HDMI).
- I DO still think I need PCI because right now I don't want to replace my PVR with a new PCI-e version so that means I'll want at least one other PCI to be safe.
- I do think I'll need one or two more PCI-e for future upgrades.
- USB 3.0 simply doesn't matter to me right now.
- I HAVE to be able to get to 16GB of RAM. Even with 6GB, I've been chugging along slowly at times in video editing.
- Additional graphics processing power is obviously important to me so if a mobo can provide that, then that would be nice.
- I just want to be sure that the SATA ports aren't set up to be right under the PCI-e slot as they are on my mobo now so that I end up losing 3 of them just by plugging in my video card.

Other than that, I'm pretty much ready to buy.

Oh... also, I don't need 1 TB on my C: drive. I have a secondary 1TB drive for media and I only use that for storage. The C: drive is just for installations. The one that crashed was 320GB and I only had about 150GB in use. What I'm more interested in is that it not crash on me AGAIN! Why can't SSDs be cheaper? :) 
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July 13, 2011 5:34:43 PM

go with the z68A because it has virtu, it doesn't offer that much more, otherwise you would need the z68XP which has virtu but that's $170, save the $40 for other stuff.

Well this just went the opposite direction xD If you really want the firewire port, and dont care about virtu get the z68X, if you want both, spend extra and get the Z68XP.

Do you really want quick sync and SSD cache? If not you could get a cheaper h67 or something since you arent overclocking.

as for video output, not sure if it matters with what you are getting

HDMI is just for nice screens

these MOBOs will have regular PCI slots too

you will be fine for ram, just get 4 4GB chips, not a big deal they all have 4 slots

the gtx 470 is great, If you had money to go higher to the 560 or 560ti that would be good but I dont think you need that much

the SATA slots are usually across the board now

the F3 spinpoint is just a really good drive, the price differences are insignificant so just go with that...

TL;DR
Do you want the z68 for quick sync? or is the h67/p67 good enough for you? (will save some $)
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July 13, 2011 7:53:31 PM

gammerx said:
Do you want the z68 for quick sync? or is the h67/p67 good enough for you? (will save some $)

Well, I still don't get why I would want a mobo with Quick Sync or Virtu over one without. I guess, the bottom line for me is performance. If I have to get a separate card for firewire then so be it. But what I don't want to do is be moaning later because the video processing isn't as good as it could be. My point is there are solutions for the firewire and not many cheap solutions for processing issues. Right?
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July 13, 2011 8:13:19 PM

So I did some more research for both of us since I am building mine as well. The z68 boards (non-H and P X) don't support the integrated graphics or something?

Cheap processing would be AMD, if you live near microcenter, the i5-2500k is worth getting because it is $180 and if you buy a compatible mobo, its basically $140. I am gonna say go for a p67 motherboard, I'm looking at the MSI p67 G45 or the ASRock pro 3 which are like $110. If you want to drop like $40 more the extreme 4 is really good too and supports just about everything. If you want to stick with gigabyte then get the p67A D3 I think you should do the same as me, they are a bit cheaper then the z68 boards we were looking at before too!

Also, virtu and all that is more for video editing and rendering then gaming, so I will be going with the p67 :]
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July 13, 2011 8:18:46 PM

gammerx said:
Also, virtu and all that is more for video editing and rendering then gaming, so I will be going with the p67 :]


Ok, well video editing is way more important to me than gaming so I'll have to think about this now.
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July 14, 2011 5:34:45 AM

alright thats fine. You have a $500 budget to work with, you already have a GPU and PSU, RAM is cheap. Other things left are case, CPU and Mother board so say $500 - 35 for ram = 465. that gives you 180 for the i5 which brings you left with 285. If you get the HAF 912, that brings it to 215 so you can find any good Z68 motherboard you want. Find one with virtu and quick sync support, and your 1394 port too :p 
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July 14, 2011 5:46:45 AM

gammerx said:
alright thats fine. You have a $500 budget to work with, you already have a GPU and PSU, RAM is cheap. Other things left are case, CPU and Mother board so say $500 - 35 for ram = 465. that gives you 180 for the i5 which brings you left with 285. If you get the HAF 912, that brings it to 215 so you can find any good Z68 motherboard you want. Find one with virtu and quick sync support, and your 1394 port too :p 


Well, let me ask you... I was talking to some people on another site and they said that getting a card with an IGP is pointless for my budget because I have a great video card and the kind of motherboards that I'll have to get that have an IGP are going to cost more and eat into my budget. They suggested I just go with a non-IGP mobo and at some point just buy some cheap crap GPU to have as a safe backup in case anything ever goes bad with my main GPU.

What do you think of that?
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July 14, 2011 12:04:27 PM

yeah, its not a bad idea, you dont need to just buy a random crap card though >.> you arent overclocking right? you can just get an H67 so you have integrated graphics in case your GPU goes bad.
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July 14, 2011 5:22:40 PM

or he could save $80 on an i5-2500k by going to microcenter and still get that mobo.

My suggestion: go to microcenter, get the i5 2500k and z68x ud3 for $280 before taxes
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July 14, 2011 7:11:35 PM

Cool. Thanks, guys.
...just realised that the Z68 only has 4 SATA ports. 2 hard drives, my optical DVD drive, and I'd only have the ability to plug in one more hard drive. That might be tight for me. Might have to buy a SATA card as well.
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July 14, 2011 7:27:11 PM

You really need more then that?
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July 14, 2011 7:31:10 PM

I've ended up until now with several HDD enclosures out of a need to plug in other hard drives. I wanted to eliminate that possibility going forward. A third hard drive and another optical drive might force me to need more, yes.

There's gotta be one like this that has 6 SATA. But I know you guys probably wanna kill me already. :sweat: 
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July 14, 2011 8:00:16 PM

oh wait you want more than 4 SATA 3gb/s?
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July 14, 2011 8:07:37 PM

Oh man... I didn't think there was 3gb/s and 6gb/s. I'll have to figure out which I need. Just HDDs and optical drives really. And eventually an SSD.
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July 14, 2011 8:13:52 PM

I agree with gammerx, i5 2500k (that is, if you have a microcenter around you) plus a nice Z68 board (with Lucid Virtu, so around 180 bucks for a Z68 board that fits your needs), with the left over money you can buy expansion cards for firewire if you need additional ports.

Mobo - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I believe this form factor is perfect for you, and horizontal SATA ports mean the issues with big GPU cards become irrelevant. You get 8 SATA ports, although 2 are Marvell, and I have no idea what the difference is between Marvell controllers and the boards controller, just that some drives don't work on the Marvell controller (the grey ones) if I recall correctly? (Someone else will need to explain to you what the difference is if you have a question about that)

2 PCI slots for your 2 cards, PCI Express 2.0 for your GPU, and 3 PCI x1s for a firewire addon card if you need an additional one.

And why I say get the 2500k and Z68, is that people DO change their minds. I told myself I would never overclock my C2D on my 680i... well I finally did and yeah, its easy and fun now, along with the increase in performance! Overclocking on the new Sandy Bridge boards are basically so simple a monkey can do it now, as opposed to overclocking on previous generations of boards. Also, with the Z68 and unlocked processor, you have a lot of options if you need to get extra juice for the future or use certain features on the board.
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July 14, 2011 9:16:16 PM

the z68x-ud3 has 8 sata ports... again, its perfect for your needs.
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July 14, 2011 10:32:03 PM

Yeah, I agree. Oh and if I wasn't clear before, I should reiterate now... for the benefit of a better mobo for my other needs, I'm totally ok with not having a firewire port and using my PCI card instead.

What you guys wouldn't know is that when I work on an editing project, that project gets its own HDD for the most part with all raw assets on the same drive including project files. Sometimes, (and lately more often with the price of internal HDDs lately) I'll have to put 2 projects on one HDD but that's the most. It's just the way I organize myself. So, that's why I can't be fussing around with enclosures and USB cables all the time. It's getting old and dangerous as quality shock resistant enclosures get pricey.

What I didn't know was that 1TB HDDs are actually better quality than lesser sizes. Still don't really get why... but that's another thread.

I'm gonna go backwards through all your great options to find the mobos without firewire and see if any of them in addition to the z68x-ud3 had 6 SATAs.
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July 15, 2011 12:46:32 AM

they want you to buy the more expensive ones :p 

they all pretty much have 4 3gb/s and 2 or 4 6gb/s
If you want the virtu get the Z68A if not get the Z68X.
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