Best Motherboards For The Money: October 2014 (Archive)

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amittiger12

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Mar 19, 2013
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I did not like this new type of comparing motherboards.. Please use same structure as used in "CPU and GPU Best graphic cards for.." so we can buy according to budget.
 

PaulBags

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Too many gigabyte boards, with their history of making major changes in board revisions, even including reducing the number of cpu power phases. Yeah nah, I'll avoid gigabyte thanks.
 

AndrewJacksonZA

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While I get that you guys have to sort first by either type or price, I'm with @amittiger12 about wanting the structure simliar to the Best CPU and GPU for the Money" articles.
 

Crashman

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Editor
It could get a lot longer with all the subtitles though? Like "Best Motherboard For Around $200...Best Z97 ATX...Best Z97 Micro ATX...Best Z97 Mini ITX...Best X99 ATX...Best 990FX ATX...Best 990FX Micro ATX..." then repeat the entire structure at $150, and at $100, etc right?

I'm trying to get these sorted by chipset, then format descending, then price descending, just so there is SOME structure without all that repetition.


 
It could get a lot longer with all the subtitles though? Like "Best Motherboard For Around $200...Best Z97 ATX...Best Z97 Micro ATX...Best Z97 Mini ITX...Best X99 ATX...Best 990FX ATX...Best 990FX Micro ATX..." then repeat the entire structure at $150, and at $100, etc right?

I'm trying to get these sorted by chipset, then format descending, then price descending, just so there is SOME structure without all that repetition.
Good, then the problem is not organization but missing data. For example, do you believe that a z97 MSI PC MATE MB ($91.50 at amazon) is a worse MB than the $100 Gigbyte B85 MB for socket 1150? Once you know you need a socket 1150 the choice is by function and price, not chipset (although chipset influences function). This guide is more an index to your reviews, your "System Builder Marathon" builders would NEVER use any of the MB that are listed as best. Instead they chose the PC mate http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/mainstream-enthusiast-pc-build,4056.html "...MSI's Z97 PC Mate comes with a reasonable $90 sticker price ($80 after rebate) and includes the overclocking-friendly Intel Z97 chipset, DDR3 3000 (OC) support, six power phases, multi-GPU support and a solid Newegg review rating. It checks all of the tick boxes, so we'll give it this one chance to impress us. ..."
 

Crashman

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But we can't recommend the Z97 PC Mate because it was never put through the same series of tests. The only boards that appear here are those that have already won an award.

Don's a graphics guy, he usually guessed at which motherboard to choose based on the cash he had remaining, and didn't always make the best motherboard choices. I frequently asked him about graphics cards though :)
 


So wouldn't it be nice if the 'BEST MOTHERBOARD' articel actually had data that would help Don the MB guy instead of him guessing. I think more people selecting MBs for 1150 socket systems are helped by Don's guess then are helped by the 'best motherboard' article.
 

Crashman

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How's that? How does it even make sense? If his board had problems it's one instance of a board with problems, and no solutions. If the board didn't have problems, you still don't know what makes it different from another board?

"Best Motherboards" is an awards index. Getting there means a board was good enough to be awarded. If you read the reviews from that index you'll find out more than you could ever learn from a single build article.

 


I'm not following you. If you tested the kind of MBs that people are going to buy and put the data in the "best motherboard" article then Don the Graphics Guy would have information he needs to choose a Motherboard. I don't see the relation to "..How's that? How does it even make sense? If his board had problems it's one instance of a board with problems, and no solutions. If the board didn't have problems, you still don't know what makes it different from another board?..." My point on Don's choice helping people like buy choose which MB is simple. "I'm not paying $250 for a z97 MB. Don isn't either. Don choose this one and it worked for him. Maybe it will work for me." is better than no information on MBs in my price range, which is what the current 'best motherboard' article has.

If you plan to keep the current format, changing the title to "The very best of our tested Motherboards" would reset people's expectations.

If it helps, I used the "Best CPU" and "Best Video Card" articles as my primary sources when I built my latest system. I did not use either the "Best SSD" or "Best MB" articles at all, their content had no relevance to my buying decision. I did however use SSD reviews from Tom's and other sites to help choose my SSD.
 

Crashman

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So this is a complaint that the articles on sub-$150 (not $250, love the exaggeration though) Z97s haven't been published. We're still working on those. The $100 H97 board is pretty solid though.

 

Anthony Schroeder

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Jul 16, 2015
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So this is a complaint that the articles on sub-$150 (not $250, love the exaggeration though) Z97s haven't been published. We're still working on those. The $100 H97 board is pretty solid though.
But completely unnecessary given that arguably most of the z97 boards today are below 150. This is similar to only mentioning x99 boards above 300 dollars. Example one of the most popular mobo's on the market (the msi gaming 5) is available at around 130-150 dollars, and this is MORE expensive than it was back in December because of how insanely popular it has been (arguably for similar reasons as the x99s sli plus, but it also was massively recommended as a value buy in the tech community.)

If I may be so bold, with FiVR on chip for haswell, I would argue that chipset is MORE important than basically any other feature at the moment considering overclocking (or undervolting) limitations on other chipsets. I mean really, 2 more USB ports vs overclocking?
 

Mike Bethany

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Dec 3, 2014
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You'd have to be fool to buy any of these motherboards now that USB 3.1 motherboards are out. I'd be like buying last year's car model for the same price as the new model that has more horsepower. If the USB 3.1 version of a motherboard you want isn't out yet (e.g. Asus Rampage V Extreme) wait a few weeks. You'll be kicking yourself if you order the USB 3.0 version and the day after you get it they release the USB 3.1 version. USB 3.1 isn't like Thunderbolt, it will actually be useful.
 

Crashman

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I thought you might have a good point started, but than you said this:
Color me confused, is that a vote for or against the Rampage V Extreme/U3.1?

 

Mike Bethany

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Dec 3, 2014
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When the Rampage V gets onboard USB 3.1 then buy it. Right now it has a USB 3.1 card you have to plug into a PCIe slot, that doesn't count, you want onboard ports.
 

Crashman

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Let me be a little more precise: We picked the Z97 Extreme4 over a year ago and it's still on the list:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/mainstream-gaming-z97-motherboard,3824-27.html
The new budget Z97 reviews are re-covering a segment that's already been covered. And the Extreme4 is now $116.

So maybe the biggest problem is that the price links don't always go to the cheapest seller.
 


It not price, I can use a price search engine. My MB ignorance level is more fundamental than price. My last two builds were a $99 Pentium anniversary + MSI z97 PC Mate bundle and and $50 Gigabyte B85 board. I don't really understand the differences (other than obvious chipset differences) between these boards and the $116 Asrock Extreme4 . Can I expect better life, more stable operation with the Extreme4 vs the PC Mate ... or is it just a difference in features (e.g. M.2 socket and optical out are on the Asrock MB and not the MSI or Gigabyte)?
 

Crashman

Polypheme
Editor
It's unfortunate that we don't have time to test each board with multiple CPUs, because I've seen some of those 3-phase-power-regulated boards power throttle a Core i7-4790k at stock settings and full load. They're not really designed for it.

But supposing you're running a cheap processor, they work. I've heard that Intel sets artificially lower DRAM data rates on the cheap chipsets (was it DDR3-1333?), and they also disable pathway splitting for x8/x8 CrossFire/SLI, and sometimes they even disable some of the SATA ports, but basically you look at the features the board offers and if those things don't matter to you, you buy the board. MSI H81M-E34 even made the list, probably for those reasons. If you want more info on the board, I'm sure the guy who tested it had something to say in the review :)

 

RedJaron

Splendid
Moderator
If someone has a question about my testing or my recommendations, I'm more than willing to back it up. I just ask that they actually read them first.

My $60 Roundup shows two things. First, it has a nifty table at the bottom of the from page that explains the key differences between the four main Intel chipsets. However, it also shows that some "limitations" on chipsets, notably overclocking, are simply software and can be bypassed.
 

Exactly. This is helpful information. The actual MB reviews are helpful. I just can't figure out how to use the 'best motherboard' article to match me up with the motherboards that would work best. I ended up with Pentium anniversary in the b85 based system @4ghz with a 1.2V max and stock cooler and a i5-4690K in the z97 msi pcmate at 4.2 also at 1.2v. But I don't really know if I made good choices (they weren't bad choices, but maybe there was a much better board for just a little more money, etc. $20 is not a lot of money.)

 

Crashman

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I'll ask Joe and Eric if they'd like to alter the text of the recommendations in the "Best" article, for the products they tested. But I'll only ask them here, so Joe might not see it :p
 
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