A motherboard that isn't crap, any suggestions?

DOS Boot

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Hello, I'm currently in the market for new PC parts due to my current PC kicking the bucket well before it's time. I suspect the problem is my crappy MSI motherboard, and that's the big issue, my current MSI motherboard is socket 939 so basically the entire core of my system is irreplaceably obsolete.

I'm thinking about either upgrading the motherboard (which means I'll have to do the same to several other components as well) or just building a new system entirely. That's where I could use your help, because I need to know who the absolute best motherboard manufacturer is. I've been out of the hardware loop for a few years so I'm pretty rusty on who's got their act together and whatnot. If there is a specific model that's supposed to be the best I'd be interested in knowing about that, as well.

Thank you





 
Gigabyte and Asus seem to be the two most popular motherboard manufacturers with do it yourselfers. However, it can still be a crapshoot. There is a bewildering variety of cpu's, northbridge chips, and southbridge chips to chose from.

What kind of computing do you do? Are you a hardcore gamer? Do you just want to surf the net and send family photos? Do you use your computer to work at home? Are you going to use the pc with a home theater (new niche)?
 

DOS Boot

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Thanks, I describe my computer use as "avid gaming". I just play a few games here and there and I like to try out new games every once in a while. I don't really use the computer in question for anything else but a gaming machine.

I suppose that means I'm looking for a motherboard that can stand up to gaming, if you've got any suggestions?

Also, I usually turn the computer completely off when I'm done using it. Does turning it off and on frequently cause the motherboard or any other components to degrade at higher rates than just letting it idle or go into standby?

 

Proximon

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See the list I linked.

As long as you have a quality PSU, there is no problem with turning off the computer when not in use.
 
Wether to turn off or leave a pc running is one of those questions from the good old days. It had more to do with starting and stopping a hard disk drive which has moving parts. There is nothing wrong with shutting down a pc. I've been doing it since 1984 with no ill effects.

Now, about the motherboard. As ohiou_grad_06 mentioned, Biostar is well regarded and known as a manufacturer of good quality, stable, middle of the road motherboards. I had very good luck with their T-Force series two or three years ago.

First thing to decide is which cpu. The choice is down to just two manufacturers - Intel and AMD. I haven't seen any cold hard statistics but it seems that the hardcore gamers like the Intel quad core cpu's. Those on a budget seem to go for the AMD cpu's. Which category are you in?
 

DOS Boot

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I suppose I'm slightly more interested in the Intel line since I've been hearing reports of a decline in the quality of AMD CPUs.

One other thing I've been noticing is that most of the newer motherboards are "Cerftified for Windows Vista". Can these boards still run Windows XP optimially? I'm still not certain about upgrading to Vista because I've heard that Vista does not support PCI sound cards fully. Is that still an issue?
 

Proximon

Illustrious
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Your question is better than would at first appear.

The main thing about a motherboard being compatible with XP is the drivers. Since MS is still supporting XP, and Intel is as well, then you should have MB drivers, of all sorts, for the next few years for XP.

My Vista 64 bit works great with my X-fi.I think that issue was fixed, at least by Creative.
 
DOS Boot - Are you still there? There are more decisions to make. So far you're leaning toward an Intel cpu which means a motherboard designed for an Intel chip. Next decision is which northbridge and southbridge chipsets.
 

DOS Boot

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Yup, still here. Ok, so which northbridge and southbridge chipsets would be best suited to a gaming rig which may still be running Windows XP?






 
I'm with Proximan on this one. A motherboard with an Intel P45 northbridge chipset and an Intel ICH10R southbridge chipset appears to be a good, reliable combination. Lots of favorable user comments. Asus, Gigabyte, and Biostar all make variations. Vendors like newegg.com and tigerdirect.com usually list them as Socket 775 Intel P45 motherboards.
 

DOS Boot

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Thanks guys, this is the motherboard you speak of, correct?

ASUS P5Q-E - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131296

That motherboard looks great. Now I've just got two questions:

1. With the CPU, would there be a noticeable performance jump from a 3.0GHz E8400, to a 3.16GHz E8500?

E8400 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115037
E8500 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115036

2. Which type of system RAM would be the best to go with in terms of durability and consistent performance?
 
I followed your link to the P5Q-E motherboard. Have you read the user comments? It's a mixed bag of results. There are comments about other Asus motherboards that are more stable but they are not identified. I'll see what I can find out this evening.

Generally speaking a difference of 0.16 GHZ will not make any appreciable difference that your eyes would notice. THG publishes CPU charts periodically and sometimes publishes cpu reviews. Have you checked them out?
 

Proximon

Illustrious
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The E8500 has a slightly higher multiplier, which would become more exaggerated if you were to overclock.

If you intended to push the front side bus to 400, then that speed increase grows from .16 to .20.

I don't feel the .16 is minor... you would just balance the $15.00 difference in price against what that would get you elsewhere... if it meant a better graphics card or not, for instance.
 
Proximan,

Did you run into any problems when you fired up your motherboard for the first time? I took a look at the user comments over at Newegg and Tiger Direct. The percentage of 5 star ratings is not as high as I expected. I normally look for 80% five star ratings.

There seems to be a trend with motherboards. It's never very clear but I am wondering if the manufactirers are rushing their products to market in an effort to get ahead of their competitors.
 

Proximon

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I bought the P5Q-E about one or two weeks after the P45 chipset came out. I had no serious issues with the board.

I installed a slipstreamed XP with SP3 to start. I had two or three crashes related to immature drivers that were quickly resolved. The MB had an incompatibility with the Crysis DRM software Securom. This was resolved with Securom over a few e-mails.

The dual ethernet ports are a bit strange in XP, because XP doesn't like that one is in use while the other is "disconnected". Very minor, doesn't happen in Vista, and I never bothered to get to the root of it.
 

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