New Gaming System - Motherboard Selection


Mar 24, 2013
I'm asking primarily about a motherboard. I'm going to list my entire build, and ramble a bit about what I want, the kind of system I want to end up with, and how I use it, but mostly I'm asking about what motherboard to get. Keep in mind that I would like to to have a 3 monitor system later on. I'm not getting a video card that will handle that now, but I do expect to move that way a couple of months after I set up the basic system.

Though I'm mostly asking about a motherboard, I'll take any advice you wish to give.

My current computer is a Dell Optiplex, P4 2.8mhz, 1 gig memory. The CD/DVD is dead, and since it's IDE, it's hard to find a replacement. I suspect the one that is in it is also proprietary and that a normal CD won't fit the case very well.

It has no graphics card, so no games can be played. It has a small power supply. It's not really designed to be upgraded.

So I want a new computer. Fast, with lights and bells. A side-window into the case, with LED's. Water cooling, multiple monitor support, SSD as the primary boot drive, etc. If I can find a way to add a miniature roller coaster inside the case with tiny little shrunken people, then I want that, too. Maybe a bubble machine.

I don't game a lot, but I want a computer that at least gives me the option.

I have no real experience building systems. I've done various upgrades a time or two, but it's been many years. I think I can figure it out, and I have a friend or two who can help out. Plus advice online from folks like you. :)

So I've been trying to make a list of what I think I want, and what it will cost.

Cooler Master Storm Scout 2
SGC-2100-GWN1 (gunmetal gray)
I like the look of the case. I love the handles, and have often wondered why more cases don't have handles. It also has a button designed to turn off the LED fan lights which I like, and I'm hoping to find a way to make that button control any other lights I add to it.

Intel Core i3-3220 3.30 GHz 3MB Intel Smart Cache LGA1155
My plan is "Get an i3 for now, and in a few months, upgrade to i7". Costs a little more, but saves money up front and lets me put off some of the expense until later. It's possible I'll be happy enough with the i3 that I never bother to do the upgrade.

Cooler Master Seidon 120M Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator
I do want water cooling. Not particularly set on this one, could swap around.

[CrossFireX] GIGABYTE GA-Z77-HD3 Intel Z77 Chipset DDR3 ATX Mainboard w/ IRST, Ultra Durable 4 Classic, 7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, 2x Gen3 PCIe x16, 2x PCIe x1 & 2 PCI (Extreme OC Certified)
Not sure if this is ideal, and it's an area I want a good one up front, so I may want to upgrade this. Everything else is pretty much built around the motherboard and case, so be sure this is the one I want. Someone suggested that his motherboard may limit me to AMD graphics cards, and I dunno about that at all. This is probably the one area that I'm the least confident that this is the item I actually want.

8GB (4GBx2) DDR3/1600MHz Dual Channel Memory, Corsair Vengence
I want 16GB, or more, but 8 will get me off to a good start, can add more later. Board should take 4 modules. I'm not positive, but I think I can do 2 4GB modules now, and then add 2 8GB modules later for 24GB total if I want.
If not, I'll still go with 4GBx2 for 8GB to start and worry about the upgrade later if I decide I need more than 16.

Video Card
None to start out. Use on-board video to get going, buy a good graphics card later.

I'm leaning towards a card that can support 3 monitors, in the $300-$400 range. It's important to make sure I have a motherboard that will support something like that when I do this upgrade, probably a couple of months after buying the original system. I am mainly wanting multiple monitors for more "normal" use. Programming, web surfing, email, MSOffice stuff, etc. When gaming, it can all go onto the main screen. I'm fine with a system that actually uses all 3 screens for gaming, but it isn't necessary.

Corsair CMPSU-850TXV2 Enthusiast Series TX850 V2 Power Supply
850 Watts, ATX, 140mm Fan, 80 Plus Bronze, SLI Ready, Active PFC CP-9020043-NA
Check around, I think Corsair has some other 850 watt power supplies. This is certainly more power than I need right away, but I need to plan on a big heavy duty graphics card to be added later.

Hard drive - SSD
128GB Corsair Force GS Series
Will eventually add a real hard drive (see below) but wills start out with the SSD only.

24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive
Nothing special, just something to do the job.

Wireless card - my primary internet connection is via wireless. Plus, I want to be able to pick up the system and take it to a friends or whatever.
450Mbps (most are 300Mbps max), with 3 antennas, etc.
44.99. There are cheaper ones available, but this looks like a very good one. Should do more research.

Microsoft® Windows 8 Pro (64-bit Edition) would cost $135 from them.
134.99 from tigerdirect.

No keyboard or mouse or monitor. I have all of those, and can easily go shopping for new ones later if I want.

No speakers, I have basic speakers. No sound card, on board sound should be fine. No network card, I'm told all motherboards pretty much support networking.

= $901.90

That should be roughly my total for the base system.

I'll want to add at least one or two fans.

I'll need to get thermal compound. (I'm told that what comes with the chip isn't very good, to get good stuff.)

I'd like to add a few lights.

So figure another $100 "misc".

And I think I'll have someone else help put it together. Rick, most likely. He's a casual friend, has built systems as part of a no longer existing job, so he knows at least the basics. He's out of work and could use the money, and I'd appreciate having someone to help make sure I'm doing it right. Pay him $100 for the help ?

That puts me at very close to $1,100 up front.

Additional costs later for i7 CPU ($320) and video card ($100-$400 ?) and hard drive ($100-175). Possibly more memory.

I haven't included a real HD, getting a SSD instead, but I want an actual drive, also. I plan to add that later, to spread out the costs while letting me get going ASAP.

This one looks good.
Western Digital WD2500HHTZ VelociRaptor
250GB, SATA 6 Gb/s, 3.5 Inch, 10,000 RPM, 64 MB Cache
This sucker is faster than hell, and uses a polycarbonate window so you can see the stuff working inside. Very cool, though I don't know how visible that will be in a case. It would be worth comparing prices on their bigger versions (500GB, 1000GB) but I really don't think I need more storage.

The 500 GB version can be found here for $149.99.

So, as stated before, I feel reasonably comfortable with what I've listed, except for the motherboard. I'm open to any advice, but I'm specifically asking about what I should get for the motherboard.

Thanks for your help!


Sep 24, 2012
Hi there,

OK first off my recommended motherboard is the ASRock Extreme4. It supports SLI unlike the board you linked (not that you're likely to use it, but still), and is just generally a very strong board, esp. for the price.

There are a few recommendations I have about your proposed build though:

You want some good looking internal LEDs? Check out the Crucial Ballistix RAM or GeiL Black Dragons. Both have sweet looking LEDs. What sort of internal colour scheme do you want to go for?

Don't waste your money on a baby water-cooler like the Seidon 120mm. At that price a quality air cooler will always perform better. Normally you have to spend +$100 to start beating high quality air coolers like the Noctua NH-D14 (which is about $70). You aren't even going to be able to overclock until you get the i7, so you might as well wait.

850W is not necessary, even for the top end graphics cards like the 680 and the 7970. You have to be planning on buying 2-3 graphics card to make something like necessary, and since you say you don't really game, that would be a huge waste of money, even with 3 monitors. Spend your money on a quality 600W unit. This will last you through any single graphics solution, since everything is getting more and more power efficient. Good video cards (the 7970 for example) can game reasonably well across three monitors alone, as long as everything isn't on Ultra settings.

Don't waste your money on the VelociRaptor. You have an SSD. It makes them almost completely redundant. You're spending a $50-$100 premium on a hard-drive with 1/4 of the capacity of just a standard 7200 RPM 1 TB drive. You will not notice the speed difference at all. It will just be much noisier. A Seagate Barracuda 1 TB would be my suggestion, but if you don't need that much storage, go for something cheaper.

If you want stuff to look good, which seems to be the reason you've picked a lot of the stuff, get a modular power supply and either sleeve your own cables or buy some pre-sleeved extensions, it makes a big difference.



Mar 24, 2013
You've given me several things to look into, and I appreciate the advice. My job works me quite a bit Sunday - Wednesday, then I get Thursday through Saturday off. So right now, I'm in my "work" part of the week with little time.

I'll post again once I've had a chance to look into some of your suggestions.

And think about color schemes. I guess I hadn't thought about that much beyond "I'd really like blue and UV lights, but the case comes with a couple of red LED fans, so maybe I should just go red. I'll figure that out when I have the basic system running". If there is someplace with good basic advice on lighting and color schemes, a link would be very helpful.

Thank you very much for the feedback and suggestions.

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