[SOLVED] What to look for in a "good" motherboard

Sep 16, 2019
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Good day all,

I'm looking to build a new gaming PC. This will be my second build. The first one I built was fantastic with an excellent Asus Z-97 motherboard and six years later, everything works wonderfully but it is under powered with an I5 4460 and GTX 760.

I'm nearly set on a build now, but the motherboard is my biggest concern. If you're interested, here is my current preliminary build courtesy of LogaineofHades for actually producing it for me:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
CPU Cooler: Fractal Design Celsius S36 87.6 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($163.99 @ PC-Canada)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 GAMING X ATX AM4 Motherboard ($219.99 @ Memory Express)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3600 Memory ($109.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Storage: Intel 660p Series 1.02 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($119.99 @ Canada Computers)
Video Card: Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8 GB GAMING Video Card ($920.99 @ PC-Canada)
Case: Fractal Design Meshify C ATX Mid Tower Case ($129.99 @ Memory Express)
Power Supply: SeaSonic FOCUS Gold 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply ($129.50 @ Vuugo)
Monitor: Acer XG270HU 27.0" 2560x1440 144 Hz Monitor ($469.90 @ Mike's Computer Shop)
Total: $2
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-09-16 12:37 EDT-0400


I've settled on AMD for because x570 motherboards should be compatible with the next gen or two gens of Ryzen coming out whereas Intel's future processors probably won't be.

The parts are all flexible of course, but I can't seem to settle on a good motherboard since I don't even know what that really entails.

How can I identify a good one? One that has quality components that will hopefully last many years, one that has enough ports and an I/O shield (don't even really know what that means), one that will handle heat well and one that whose BIOS is already updated for Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 CPUs? I'm not saying the one suggested isn't good or is of poor quality, I'm just wanting to better understand what a good MOBO is and if perhaps there are other ones I should look at.

Ultimately, I'm trying to identify a good quality motherboard. My price limit is around $360 (CAD) but I'd like to avoid that if it's not necessary since I know I won't use any of the bells and whistles (don't even know what they are on a motherboard).

Thank you for your help.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Any of the boards listed here in the 250-350 range are good. You can't go wrong with any of them really. Differences between motherboards in the mid to upper tiers these days are generally down to gaming features and overclocking. If neither of those are requirements for you, then any of them is a good choice, and probably even if those ARE concerns, they still are.

https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/#c=138&m=7,8,18,27&f=2&sort=price&page=1

Personally, I think for you, the ASUS X570-Pro or the ASRock Pro4 would be good choices without trying to absolutely use your full budget. If you don't mind spending the full 360, then the Extreme4 or Gaming Pro Carbon are good choices.
 
Reactions: Mandark

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Any of the boards listed here in the 250-350 range are good. You can't go wrong with any of them really. Differences between motherboards in the mid to upper tiers these days are generally down to gaming features and overclocking. If neither of those are requirements for you, then any of them is a good choice, and probably even if those ARE concerns, they still are.

https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/#c=138&m=7,8,18,27&f=2&sort=price&page=1

Personally, I think for you, the ASUS X570-Pro or the ASRock Pro4 would be good choices without trying to absolutely use your full budget. If you don't mind spending the full 360, then the Extreme4 or Gaming Pro Carbon are good choices.
 
Reactions: Mandark
Hi, What I take into consideration when selecting a board:
-most important: available budget
-needed features, like available slots/connectivity, ports, number of phases, size
-compatibility with components/devices I might want connecting to the new board
-reviews, user opinions, youtube videos
-brands that I am familiar with.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
That's all true too, good things to look at. These days though, almost every full sized ATX board has more of these things than the average person will ever likely utilize. Most people don't run more than two internal drives, one graphics card, etc. Number of USB ports on the back and internal headers for front panel connections can definitely be a concern though.
 
Sep 16, 2019
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Number of power phases (VRMs).

Whether or not it has an LED Q-code display.

Onboard BIOS flashback.

Brand reputation.

Reviews.
What is an LED Q-code?

VRMs do sound really important... I'll look at the ones you suggested below. Actually, I guess, since they're all x570, I can expect them to be compatible with the next generation Ryzen and possibly even the one after that?
 
Sep 16, 2019
102
8
85
0
Any of the boards listed here in the 250-350 range are good. You can't go wrong with any of them really. Differences between motherboards in the mid to upper tiers these days are generally down to gaming features and overclocking. If neither of those are requirements for you, then any of them is a good choice, and probably even if those ARE concerns, they still are.

https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/#c=138&m=7,8,18,27&f=2&sort=price&page=1

Personally, I think for you, the ASUS X570-Pro or the ASRock Pro4 would be good choices without trying to absolutely use your full budget. If you don't mind spending the full 360, then the Extreme4 or Gaming Pro Carbon are good choices.
Those all look really great. I'll compare them in more detail. Thank you.

How do you tell which ones' BIOSs are up to date?
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
I wouldn't count on ANY currently available motherboard's BIOS being up to date. Especially in the first year after release of a new chipset, BIOS updates tend to come along fairly frequently these days unlike in the old days when they'd beta test a new chipset and board for a good while before releasing it. Now, they tend to fix things after the fact and that means often there are a lot of BIOS updates. Of course, that's not entirely their fault as hardware changes and comes along fairly rapidly now as well.

Any board you buy, ANY board, I'd plan on updating the BIOS regardless of model. Several times in fact over it's life.

Especially if you have memory issues.

The LED Q-code is a small LED screen right on the motherboard that when there are problems, rather than having to have a system speaker attached to the board that gives you beeps, just gives the code straight up for troubleshooting. Tells you almost exactly what's wrong or at least which subsystem to target. Memory, CPU, graphics, etc.

It is for debugging hardware problems or errors.
 
Sep 16, 2019
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I wouldn't count on ANY currently available motherboard's BIOS being up to date. Especially in the first year after release of a new chipset, BIOS updates tend to come along fairly frequently these days unlike in the old days when they'd beta test a new chipset and board for a good while before releasing it. Now, they tend to fix things after the fact and that means often there are a lot of BIOS updates. Of course, that's not entirely their fault as hardware changes and comes along fairly rapidly now as well.

Any board you buy, ANY board, I'd plan on updating the BIOS regardless of model. Several times in fact over it's life.

Especially if you have memory issues.

The LED Q-code is a small LED screen right on the motherboard that when there are problems, rather than having to have a system speaker attached to the board that gives you beeps, just gives the code straight up for troubleshooting. Tells you almost exactly what's wrong or at least which subsystem to target. Memory, CPU, graphics, etc.

It is for debugging hardware problems or errors.
That's a bummer, but only because I hear BIOSs are hard/complicated to update.

WOW! That sounds like an awesome feature!
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
On this, we won't see eye to eye I think, because I'm leaning the other way. While Zen2 is more efficient and generally has a lower TDP, and while overclocking is pretty limited, there are still issues hitting boost speeds due to thermal issues. In a LOT of cases, thermal issues can be somewhat mitigated through good power delivery and heavy duty VRM configurations. A very good overclocking board will always make it easier or effortless for a CPU to hit or maintain it's boost clocks compared to a lower end board.
 
Sep 16, 2019
102
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On this, we won't see eye to eye I think, because I'm leaning the other way. While Zen2 is more efficient and generally has a lower TDP, and while overclocking is pretty limited, there are still issues hitting boost speeds due to thermal issues. In a LOT of cases, thermal issues can be somewhat mitigated through good power delivery and heavy duty VRM configurations. A very good overclocking board will always make it easier or effortless for a CPU to hit or maintain it's boost clocks compared to a lower end board.
How do you identify a good VRM? I look at them on each board and have no idea what they mean or what makes a good VRM.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfPBRSGQMDE


Usually, the more power phases a board has, the more capable it is. You have to read reviews though because sometimes the VRM count is falsified so to speak by the manufacturer using doublers, which means some boards that say, for example, that they have a 12 phase VRM really only have a doubled 6 phase.

 
Reactions: DMAN999

TJ Hooker

Illustrious
Herald
On this, we won't see eye to eye I think, because I'm leaning the other way. While Zen2 is more efficient and generally has a lower TDP, and while overclocking is pretty limited, there are still issues hitting boost speeds due to thermal issues. In a LOT of cases, thermal issues can be somewhat mitigated through good power delivery and heavy duty VRM configurations. A very good overclocking board will always make it easier or effortless for a CPU to hit or maintain it's boost clocks compared to a lower end board.
I have yet to see any evidence that Ryzen 3K boost clocks are correlated with VRM capability to any meaningful degree.
 
Part of your decision to go Ryzen was for continued AM4 socket support using existing motherboards. If you look at what has been said “or what I have seen” AMD could change sockets on next gen. I believe all they said was they will continue to use AM4 up to 2020, well next gen will be during 2020 so technically they could change. It would upset a lot of people and I am definitely not saying they will change sockets but from what I have read the door is open to them to change.
 

DMAN999

Respectable
Herald
@ sizzling,
Do you have some source at AMD that we don't??
If not your post is pure speculation.
Could they change sockets for their next gen CPU, sure it's possible.
But it is just as possible that they won't from info that is currently available to the public.
Also the OP is looking at a 3700x based build, so in 2 or 3 or 5 years from now he could upgrade to a Ryzen 9 3950x on whichever X570 motherboard he chooses for this build as long as it is a higher end board.
 
@ sizzling,
Do you have some source at AMD that we don't??
If not your post is pure speculation.
Could they change sockets for their next gen CPU, sure it's possible.
But it is just as possible that they won't from info that is currently available to the public.
Also the OP is looking at a 3700x based build, so in 2 or 3 or 5 years from now he could upgrade to a Ryzen 9 3950x on whichever X570 motherboard he chooses for this build as long as it is a higher end board.
I’ve worked with marketing people for years and I know how cunning they can be with word play, the slightest detail can bring a different perspective and sometimes hidden meaning. My comment is people have interpreted what AMD have said as a commitment to using AM4 and current motherboards in next gen, as far as I can see AMD have made no such commitment. As I said that doesn’t mean they will change but I also believe it is false to say they are committed to AM4 for at least another generation unless someone can show a statement from AMD say exactly this. I will happily change my mind if provided with evidence of AMD’s position.
 
Reactions: DMAN999

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
AMD SPECIFICALLY said "AM4, UP TO, 2020". They didn't say anything about during 2020 or beyond, so I have to agree that aside from current designs there is no reason to believe that what comes next outside the HEDT platform for the consumer designs is going to be AM4. It might be, but it might just as well not be too.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
gigabyte is good , but asus and msi are better
That's your opinion and I can assure you that while some might agree with you, there are just as many if not more that would disagree with that assessment. Personally, I'd take a similarly tiered Gigabyte board over an MSI board all day long.

Much depends on the specific board model, AND the platform or architecture, because I am of the belief that most of MSI's budget boards and lower end chipset boards are not as good or as reliable as those from ASUS, ASRock or Gigabyte.
 

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