What middle-to-highend motherboard that supports 2 GPU's fully

Hey there,

after 10days of research I'm more confused than before. . . I would say that I know lots about PC-hardware, constantly keeping myself up-to date, so I figured that now, after 5 years of notebook use, I'll build a nice workstation and that'll probably take me a day or two to figure out what I need to buy (in terms of compatibility)

I WAS WRONG. . . lol

My main concern is the motherboard, since the rest I've mostly figure out already. . . the "future hardware" of my workstation:

antec h20 920 watercooler

16gb corsair vengaince CL9 (2x8gig kit)
mushkin enhanced 90gb as systemdrive
256gb samsung 830
(got lotsa external terabyt HDD as archives)

corsair obsidian 550d (silent but also good cooling, others were bit more silent but suffer from bad airflow)
be quiet! straight power E9 CM 680w

GTX 560 TI for now and in 2-3 months I'll NEED something like a gtx 670 as second GPU that sits on my motherboard and is NOT in SLI, since it'll be used by software to do some heavy rendering.

NO CLUE! lol. . .

As motherboard specifications go, I need 2-4x SATA 6gb, 4x usb3.0, and there are some board with 1-2 thunderbolt connectors, so one of these might be cool to have for futerproofing. . .
But most importantly:
PCI-E 3.0 16x for TWO GPU's . . . this is where I go nuts. . . most motherboards say 2-3x PCI-E 3.0 16-lane but if you read on you find out the second and/or third slot is "8 electroical" wtf is that?!

Does this mean that the second GPU will be cut down in speed?
Again, I do not need crossfire or SLI, the second, more powerful cpu will be used ONLY as a render-gpu. I will not connect any monitor or something else to it.

How I'm I gonna find a motherboard that got plenty of the modern connectors (sata 6gb, usb and maybe a thunderbold) AND supports atleast 2 GPU's FULLY!

(btw the rest of the hardware is not set in stone, but i feel rather good about my choices after reading a ton of reviews etc chosing "test-winners" and stuff like that, but if ya wanna give me a tip on these as well, woudl totally appriciate it!)

ANY help is appriciated. I'll galdly read lotsa pages if this will net me a answer to my question (should you only got links and no proper answer for me)
thx alot!
15 answers Last reply
More about what middle highend motherboard supports fully
  1. ok, most likely you will not see much if any performance difference between a x16 or x8 since PCI bandwidth isn't getting fully saturated in the x8 slot except is crazy 3+ multi card configurations. but if you really want a x16, x16 board that would be the ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution with a Intel® P67 Express Chipset ; Nvidia NF200*1

    you will be able to run x16, x16 or x16,x8,x8 or x8,x8,x8,x8 set ups.

    ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution Motherboard Review
    Designed for true power users, the P8P67 WS Revolution uses a built-in NF200 controller that enhances bandwidth availability between the board and the four graphics card expansion slots. This is ideal for NVIDIA GeForce SLI™ and AMD CrossFireX™, as the new motherboard can easily handle 2-Way SLI in dual PCI Express X16, while 3-Way SLI works in dual PCI Express X8 and one X16 link.

    now the "problem" is the BIOS will most likely need updated before it can use an ivy bridge cpu.
  2. first: THX alot for your reply. . . finally some who can help ^^

    the thing is, this board you mention is "old" in comparison (Intel® P67) and the last thing i need is screwing around with the bios to get it to work. . . :/ (little xperience in this field) lol, but great suggestion, thx!

    so you say that 8x is plenty hm how can I find out if 8x is enough for a gtx 670 or similar card?

    I mean, if it only cuts, lets say, 10% off the cards peformance when using it in 8x then I dont give a damn ^^
    (dont get me wrong, 10% is SOME peformance and if you pay lotsa money, you want ALL the peformance you paid for, but if this 10% less saves me all the hoops I have to jump through, then so be it!)

    Another idea would be using the gtx 560 ti in the 8x lane and the 670 in the full 16x, would that work?

    as mentioned before I'll buy the 560 ti now and in 4 months add the 670. The 670 will be used solo, not in SLI. So could I then take out the 560 from the 16x lane and put it into the 2nd (8x lane) and use it there as "main GPU with monitor going to it) and have the 670 in the 16x lane all alone, crunshing the heavy calculations?

    or does the "master GPU" have to be in the first lane? . . :/

    EDIT: omg. . . major flaw in my logic considering the last part: found out that the moment I put a second GPU in, both become 8x. . . right? DAMN! . . . :(

    and I read about the NF200 and it turns out, the first 2 lanes only become 16x if a THIRD CARD is added. . . so with 2 cards, you only got lanes 8x lanes:

    so I'm back at two 8x. . . and you say this should be ok for only 2 cards? I know I will NEVER use 3 cards, because if that day comes, i'll update the board anyway (if my calculations are right. . .lol ^^)

    So should todays cards be still ok with "only" 8x is the question. . . if yes, what would you say about this motherboard:
    GA-Z77X-UP4 TH
    It got 6xusb 3 (and no usb2) 2x SATA 6gb (just enough... for me) but two thunderbolt (which should help later if i need more SSD's, then I could go external with similar speeds to the internal)
    and the three 16x pci-e slots are the same you find in all other bords, with the first two turning to 8x when 2 GPUs are used.
    did I understand all this right, or is there something I'm missing?
    or would you recommend another bord for such a workstation? Cuz I read this gigabyte bord is "aimed at mainstream". . .
    (what I also like about the gigabyte bord is the "specificly made of OCing" hardware, that is more durable etc and the easy "OC" options in the bios)
    What do you say? Go at it? Buy the gigabyte?
  3. My take on this is that you're over thinking this.

    PCIe 3.0 8x/8x = PCIe 2.0 16x/16x, so you're REALLY not losing anything there.

    PCIe 3.0 8x/8x is PLENTY for ANY card combination currently available.

    Just go with any PCIe 3.0 8x/8x board that you want that has all the features that you need and like. I like the Asus P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT myself, but it's not exactly cheap.

    ASUS P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $249.99
  4. thanks for the reply!!

    makes me feel "hopeful" now that I hear more and more about how 8x is plenty, though are you sure that:

    PCIe 3.0 8x/8x = PCIe 2.0 16x/16x


    Also the ASUS was on my list as well, first choice actually (asus fanboi here! ^^), but the gigabyte got 2 thunderbolt and more usb3

    what would let you go for ASUS (if we dont look at the 'quality' since thats often subjective') considering the specifications

    dont know why the asus is 50$ more even though gigabyte got more usb3 and thunderbolt but asus got one more 16x (could it be that the gigabites second PCI-E lane is no 16x?)
  5. found the asus got wireless lan (dont need really) and 2 more SATA6gb which is nice and also 4 usb3 which is enough (not 6 like gigabyte but no problem for me) and also 10usb2 (overkill ^^) but only one thunderbolt which says:

    Thunderbolt port shares bandwidth with SATA6G_E12, USB3_E12 and PCIeX1_2. The Thunderbolt port default runs at X2(Auto) mode, SATA6G_E12 and USB3_E12 are enabled for system resource optimization. Go to Advanced> Onboard Devices Configuration> Thunderbolt bandwidth in BIOS to configure the bandwidth to [X4] for full speed support.

    which is no problem for me, since turning off one sata6 and one usb3 is no biggy, but this wont affect the two PCI-E 16x 3.0 right?

    somehow I got the feeling that the gigabyte's PCI-E lanes differ from asus's in regard of NOT being 2x PCI-E 8x 3.0, or did I misunderstood something?

    also asus is 65$ more ^^ but if this 65$ gets me what I want/need I dont care much, I guess :/
  6. hydarnes said:
    somehow I got the feeling that the gigabyte's PCI-E lanes differ from asus's in regard of NOT being 2x PCI-E 8x 3.0, or did I misunderstood something?

    Both are 8x/8x when two cards are in use, as far as I can tell. But I'm an Asus guy myself, so that's really the only reason I like it more, lol.
  7. What about something built around the socket 2011 X79 chipset?

    ASUS Rampage IV Extreme LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard LINK- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131802

    Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73930K LINK- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116492&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-_-pla-_-NA-_-NA
  8. lol ^^

    fanboism aside though, I dont see why asus is 65$ more since its an "old board with a refresh" and the implementation of the thunderbolt is not "full/separat" as with the gigabyte. And gigabyte got 2 thunderbolt ports.

    Furthermore, gigabyte throws out usb2 and goes fully usb3 with 6 ports where as asus got 4xusb3 and 10xusb2

    only nice part is that asus got 4x SATA6gb (though need to turn one off for full thunderbolt) and gigabyte got "only" two SATA6gb (though fully dedicated) as I understand it right.

    Then there is NO wireless lan on gigabyte, but asus has it (dont need it, personally)

    So if the PCI-E on BOTH boards with2 GPU's is 2x PCI-E 3.0 8x (need confirmation on this yet,still trying to find out) then how would you justify asus' premium price? or "what would make me go asus if gigabyte got more for less" in my case (only need support for 2 gpus and 2xsata6gb and 1600 ddr3 ram) ?
  9. dude, I dont *** money ^^ thats overkill for my budget, though nice hardware :( man now you got me dreaming. . . thx! :P

    though seriously, board is 2x the price and cpu as well, cant go there unfortunatly
  10. hydarnes said:
    So if the PCI-E on BOTH boards with2 GPU's is 2x PCI-E 3.0 8x (need confirmation on this yet,still trying to find out) then how would you justify asus' premium price? or "what would make me go asus if gigabyte got more for less" in my case (only need support for 2 gpus and 2xsata6gb and 1600 ddr3 ram) ?

    Fanboyism aside, nothing really, if you don't need the wireless, honestly.
  11. so i guess if nobody's gonna come in here and go :" NOO MAN, I had hands on exp. with this board in a smiliar config and it's SHYT!" I will be buying the gigabyte :)
    Any info on the rest of the hardware? Fell confortable with everything else, just the mobo was screwing with my mind for a week. . .

    btw the gigabyte suppots 1600 ddr3 ram should I OC the ram, would that somehow affect it? Or should everything be cool? I'd only OC the CPU but if I remeber correctly this OC's most other hardware as well including the gpus and ram
  12. btw thx for help @everyone

    especially DJ :) (and looni for being the first to reply! :) )
  13. hydarnes said:
    btw thx for help @everyone

    especially DJ :) (and looni for being the first to reply! :) )

    you're welcome and glad you got some help; got busy but saw DJ helping (don't tell him i said he's a good egg).

    even though you may have found what your looking for and decided; do have the time to let me ask what/why you are looking at thunderbolt?

    i haven't seen anything about it yet that has me too excited and hope you can.
  14. hey loon :)

    well what speaks against having a board that is thunderbolt ready?
    All the other boards (meaning the NON-thunderbolt boards) have similar specifications in terms of:
    2-4 SATA6gb conncetors
    2-6 usb3
    and 2-3 PCI-E 3.0

    I dont exactly need thunderbolt and i dont have specific plans on using it in the future, just guess that sometime they'll release something thats worth it (external gpu and all the likes though i personally would be more interested in super fast external storage)

    so if you had the choice of paying 30-50$ more now and have a "thunderbolt-ready" board, why not? (if we keep in mind that "upgrading" a board that has no thunderbolt cost 100-150$ form what i found)

    What woudl keep me away from such a thunderbolt board would be if there are other better boards that "just" dont have thunderbolt. is there something in that pricerange? Something that would suit my workstation more (and also be future proof) but without thunderbolt?
    what would you say?
  15. So, did you purchase the Gigabyte board or go with something else? I'm also looking at the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH for a near future build. Although I think that socket 1155 may be reaching the end of it's lifespan I do like the possible small future proofing idea with thunderbolt support. But since thunderbolt is in it's infancy it could turn out to be a flash in the pan technology that never really takes off like a a few other technologies I've seen. What intrigues me is the Gigabyte ultra 5 durability technology which has to do mostly with motherboard power regulation. Since I'm no expert on mobo power regulation, I'm not sure if the ultra durable 5 is playing catch-up with other manufacturers or if it's a somewhat better solution than what the other manufacturers offer.
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