How to Choose a Motherboard for my New Build?

F1r3Fly

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Hello, this is my first post here at Tom's Hardware. I've picked out almost all the parts for my new build, but I am completely stuck on the motherboard. I am worried about compatibility issues, but have only found limited answers to my questions on the web so hopefully some of the experts here can help me out.

Case and Power Supply: $99.95
Antec Sonata III Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129024&Tpk=Antec%2bSonata%2bIII


RAM: $49.99
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 675 (PC2 5400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145015


Video Card: $79.99
EVGA 256-P2-N753-TR GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130297


Hard Drive: $84.99
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148140

I definitely want to try out Seagate this time as I’ve had some bad experiences with Western Digital in the past. I think 320GB will be enough for me. I have an external drive that I can use for extra space if needed.


Dvd Player – Free!
My current build has two of them, so I’ll probably just take one out and use it for my new system as well.


Processor - $159.99
My last build used an Athlon processor and I was so happy with it that I was going to stick with them for this next build. I’ve heard some people say that the new Intel Core Duo’s are better than what AMD has to offer, but I’m wondering if AMD’s processors are more cost-efficient.

The AMD processor I was considering is $159.99 and has a 3.0GHz operating frequency:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3.0GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM2 Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103773

The Intel alternative is $169.99 but has a 2.33GHz operating frequency:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115030

Is there something else about the Intel that makes it better or closer to the Athlon performance-wise or is the Athlon a better buy to get the most bang for my buck?


Motherboard:
This is where I am completely stumped. Assuming I go with the AMD processor, the following two motherboards are both in my price range ($100-150 ideally) and are rated high at newegg, but I am not sure of their quality or compatibility with my other components. It looks like both of these only have 4 USB ports, which is less than my current three year old mobo that has 6. I'm also not sure I have any devices that can take advantage of IEEE or eSATA ports (i'm one of the few non-ipod owners).

ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe AM2 NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail ($124.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131013

GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail ($74.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128034

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated! The computer will be used web development, some image and video editing (nothing too complex or intensive), and playing World of Warcraft in case it is important for any recommendations. Thanks in advance! :)
 

hughyhunter

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WElcome to Toms... I've been posting here for a short time too but I do think that I can possilbly help you out... I'll go down the list.

1. Case and power supply: I like Antec and think that their products are great... However you should be somewhat weary about buying a case that already comes with a PSU. Considering it's an Antec though I think you are alright. Just keep in mind that if you ever plan to upgrade to GPUs that suck up a lot of power then you'll be on a really fine line with 500Watts.

2. system memory: Stay with the DDR2 800 speed RAM. This here is a better buy because it's faster and after the rebate it's cheaper http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220144

3. Hard drive: I like seagate personally. However I would go with a drive that has 32mb of cache versus 16... Seagate has one here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148288 or you could get a larger and faster hitachi here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145166

4. Processor: I like AMD too. I would personnaly read through this article here http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/10/22/budget_overclocker/ then decide. It's about the 5000+ black box edition. It's better because it's not only cheaper than a 6000+ but is built on a 65nm proccess versus 90nm(65 is more overclockable) plus comes with an unlocked chip meaning you can overclock as high as you'd like.

5. Motherboard... this is by far the biggest most time consuming thing you will research. You should research the 790FX motherboard by MSI found here with others: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010200022+107191003+1071933047&Configurator=&Subcategory=22&description=&Ntk=&srchInDesc= This motherboard is brand spanking new to the world versus those older Nvidia chips and when paired with a newer HD 3800 series card and a Phenom processor you'll have the spyder platform. This is my highly recommended choice. If it's out of your budget than save up for one. The other mobo's are old and rusty and wont support the newer processors at their full potential.

6. GPU... get a better card than that... If you plan to play games you are in for a lot of regret. The one thing that I tell everyone when building is dont go small on a GPU and on a monitor. If you are on a budget the HD 3850 found here is the best bet http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010380048+106792462&Configurator=&Subcategory=48&description=&Ntk=&srchInDesc= and when paired with that 790fx mobo you can get up to four of these suckers and have quad crossfire... that's alot of game play... just think that when the prices continue to fall you just pick up another and then another and so on.

Well if you have any questions that's what forums are for... hope this helps
 

F1r3Fly

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Nov 25, 2007
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Wow! Thank you so much for the quick response and all the information! :)

1. Case and power supply ($99.99): My last case was an Antec and came with the power supply and I was happy with it, so I'll give it another try this time.

2. System Memory ($38.99): Thanks for letting me know about this one! Faster and cheaper; I definitely agree this is the way to go.

3. Hard drive ($124.99): That's good to hear you've had good experiences with Seagate. I was a little wary about spending $40 more to get the 32mb cache, but it's also an upgrade from 320gb to 500gb, so it's probably worth it as you recommend.

4. Processor ($159.99): Thanks for the article. It made me consider giving overclocking a try, but I'm not sure I'm ready (I've never tried it before :( ). The 5000+ black edition can be overclocked to around 3.0-3.2 and is $129.99 (without cooling device). With the cooling device it gets closer to the $159.99 cost of the 6000+ that I was considering before, so I might just stick with the non-overclockable one.

(Total Cost before Motherboard and GPU: $423.96)

5+6. Motherboard and GPU: Thanks for letting me know it's not just me who spends hours trying to decipher which motherboard is best :) Unfortunately, buying both the motherboard and gpu you recommended would be a bit high for my budget. I was trying to keep the whole build in the $600-650 area.

The only game I plan to play in the immediate future is World of Warcraft, which isn't as demanding on the GPU as some other games (e.g. Crysis) out there. That being said, do you still think I need to go for a better GPU? Or would I get solid performance (and save money) by getting a cheaper GPU and pick up the more expensive mobo that you recommended?

Thanks again for all your advice! :D
 

hughyhunter

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Wise choice about the CPU... however overclocking is very easy to learn and do right. I did not know that the 5000+ comes without a cooler... that will raise the price. So stick with the 6000+ and you will still be able to overclock just not as much... but in the end it will be faster.

If you are on a budget which I do realize... I would definitley stick with the newer 790FX mobo. The reason being is not only because it's a brand new top of the line mobo but because it's completely future proof... However if you go with the more expensive mobo then you should get RAM that will be fully compatible with the mob and not need to be adjusted... more expensive (found here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220161) but definitley worth it.

As for the GPU get yourself a HD 2600 series GPU if all you intend to do is play wow... they are cheap and if it ever gives you problems you can get another one on that 790FX board and go crossfire.

If you decide that the 790FX is to expensive and that the added cost of ram is also to much than you should look at the Nvidia side of the house for chipsets. In other words start looking at the 570/590 chipsets and the same cheaper ram that I had mentioned before. I would also if you are going to do Nvidia get an 8600GTS instead of the 8600GT... it's faster and almost as cheap.

Here are my recommendations:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131013 this is the mobo... Asus is a good company

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127284 has a mail in rebate.

These recommendations are only if you are absolutely trying to save money... The mobo is not "future proof" and the graphics card will have a hard time with higher end games like call of duty, company of heroes, and especially crysis
 

F1r3Fly

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Thanks for all your help hughyhunter!

It probably is time for me to finally give overclocking a try, and if I have some free time in the future, it's definitely on my list of things to do.

Since I'm only planning on playing WoW, I think I will go for the cheaper GPU, which only leaves choosing the motherboard. I'm still weighing the extra cost vs. the flexibility of being able to upgrade without buying a new mobo/ram. I guess I still have a few days to decide before the rebates expire :whistle:

Either way, I plan to purchase one of the boards that you recommended, and I really appreciate your help throughout the thread!

Thanks again. I can't wait til I put this build together :D