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PC motherboard

By Zen37 ·
Hi all

I am in the process of building a new PC for myself and i was wondering, not knowing anything about the subject, what do you look for in a motherboard?

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New build

by mjd420nova In reply to PC motherboard

Many things to consider. What hard drive interface will you use? IDE, SATA or SCSI?? What about video, AGP or the newer PCI-e?? Memory, is pretty dependant on what the motherboard will support, Frontside bus and all. Choice of motherboard dictates the rest of the plugin cards types and speeds. What are you planning for sound, integrated on board or plugin?? I usually look for a motherboard that has very little on board, then choose plugins that will enhance the system and not drag it down. Good Luck

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Thanks for the info.

by Zen37 In reply to New build

I'm what you could call "old school". I haven't built a PC in over 5 years, so I'm rusty in what technologies to look for.

What is the difference between SATA and SCSI? I'm familiar with SCSI but not SATA. Same thing with video, I'm familiar with AGP but not PCI-e. Which is best? What about the types of buses on the MB? Is there something better than PCI?

I'm not a fan of "On Board" stuff. Except maybe the network connection.

Any brands of Board to recommend?

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Let answer some of these

by JamesRL In reply to Thanks for the info.

SATA Versus SCSI. SATA is an attempt to build an array of disks with less expensive disks. A SATA disk is comparably priced with an IDE/ATA disk, while SCSI is a little more expensive. SCSI may still prove faster in disk intensive server type apps (SQL dbs), but on average desktops you wont see much difference. Most new MBs have both IDE and SATA interfaces.

I mentioend PCI express and AGP in my other reply. There are other versions of PCI express for non-video cards, but I don't think many cards are made for them, so I wouldn't look for them.

When building a PC today, heat is a big consideration. The faster the processor, the bigger the heat sink. Make sure that in your MB there is clearance between the heatsink and the cards and the PSU. I had to abandon one expensive heatsink because it was too wide and hit the PSU.


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James is right - heat and fans - and. . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Let answer some of these

.....I might add that this is a case for a "quiet case" (pun intended). You might have up to four (4) fans running in there, so I'd recomment splurging on the quite ones. Antec makes a quiet case (the Antec Sonata), and both the power supply fan and case fan are whisper-quiet. Processor fans can get loud, so spending an extra ~20 bucks for a quiet one is well worth it.

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This all depends on you are your needs.

by ed.adams In reply to New build

If $ are the major issue, ECS will probably be the cheapest. Their failure rate and stability might be a little higher than the others, but remember it is all really luck. With failures, its not which fails the most as much as whether YOUR particular board is going to fail, and there is actually little difference in most boards on that narrow front. ( I said little, not NONE, for all you purists) You may get a $700. board that fails, just because you hit the anti-jackpot, and you might buy a $69 combo board and processor and have it run flawlessly forever. That said, there is a simple rule of thumb: Do yor research and find the price range of boards available to you. Consider the prices of addon cards you may need for those "better" boards that do not have video, etc. built in. Then make an attempt to decide where in the pecking order of novice all through the spectrum to power user expert you fall in and spend your $$ proportionately to where you fall. Novice, do not spend a lot. Casual user, spend a little more. Photo and video editing a hobby? Make sure you get a better board along with excellent video card and lots of RAM and Hard drive space. And, since you did not mention processor or RAM, your board MUST be compatible with both of those.

Bottom line is this: Spend the most money you are comfortable spending on the best computer parts (generally means most expensive) you can afford with that pool of money. In my computer repair business, hardware failures are about 20% of the problems I see. 80% are some combination of bad software, malware and virus problems coupled with a heavy dose of PICNIC errors. (Problem in Chair, not in Computer). Good luck!

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Opinions vary

by JamesRL In reply to PC motherboard

I woudl definately recommend reading up on the subject:

The first thing to do is to determine which processor you want to run. This is a factor of budget and preference. But the processor determines which CPU form factor you need in your MB.

You might also determine what must haves you want. Some gamers want the ability to run two video cards at once (SLI for nVidia, Crossfire for ATI) - and that is something you have to buy in a motherboard, it can't be changed later.

Speaking of video cards, there are two card standards AGP and PCI Express. In theory the PCI Express bus is twice as fast but most cards don't take advanage of it. If I were building a PC today that I wanted to upgrade a few years from now though, I'd buy PCI Express as most manufacturers are paring down their AGP offerings.

Alot of people put faith in certain MB chipset manufacturers. My current box uses an ATI chipset, nVidia makes one too, VIA, Intel and others make them as well. Your chipset does not have to co-ordinate with your graphics card chipset unless you want to run multiple video cards.

In terms of features most manufacturers make a wide range of motherboards with varying levels of features and supporting various chipsets. Some people like some manufacturers more than others. I've always liked Asus as a stable fast MB, but they are at the top end. I currently use an MSI MB with an ATI chipset, and its fine.

Here is a good question - what kinds of applications do you want to run on your PC?


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Thanks for the link

by Zen37 In reply to Opinions vary

I'll be sure to read up on it

My new PC will be for games. The way i do things is when i build a new PC for games, i take my old PC and convert it to my work PC. It gives new life to it since office applications don't require as much resources as games.

I was thinking of going with 2 gigs of RAM, which ever is the best type as the time of purchase, about 100 Gb of Disk space, the best nVidia card i can afford and the best sound card Creative has right at time of purchase.

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I few thoughts

by JamesRL In reply to Thanks for the link

I'm a gamer too, but also cheap :).

2 Gigs of RAM is de reigeur for a good gaming rig.

The best nVidia card out there is the 8800 - but it is quite expensive. Its the first in the 8xxx series. You might want to look at an SLi capable board, which allows you to take two nVidia cards and "bind" them together. This way you can start with one and add another later. But be warned, if you do this you need the biggest coolest case you can get and a very high end Power Supply. SLI MBs are not that much more expensive.

Another useful link.

I've used both ATI and nVidia cards and I do see better image quality from ATI, but faster fram rates from nVidia though its hard to do as they are both neck and neck and one chipset often provides better value at a pricepoint for a certain time.

100 GB is not a lot of disk space these days - unless you are mirroring drives for performance. I think 300s are at a good price point now.

As for sound cards, don't overspend. The basic Creative SB audigy sounds great, and the high end ones pretty much just add more features that you may or may not use.


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by Zen37 In reply to I few thoughts

...for the tips!

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James is spot-on...

by EvilhomerGD In reply to Thanks...

in about all of his replies. I've spent a lot of time (and money) over the years building gaming rigs for myself and friends. Things to consider when purchasing a new motherboard:

1. What it will be used for? I noticed that you intend to use the system for gaming, so that determine where I want to go. I personally like AMD processors and ASUS motherboards for gaming. The new Core2 Duo is supposed to be beating the snot out of the socket AM2 AMD processors, but I don't have first-hand experience with the new Intel procs. Currently I run an Athlon 64 X2 4200 (65W) on an ASUS Crosshair motherboard. The combo is nice and COOL. Idle temps on the proc run about 89F with stock cooling.

2. What kind of add-in cards\hardware do you want to use? Are you planning on buying a new video card? Sound card? anything else (physics card maybe)? or are you going to use salvaged hardware. If you are planning to use salvaged hardware, you will obviously need to buy a motherboard that will support the hardware. If you are going new all around, I would suggest a motherboard that supports either SLI or Crossfire, has at least 2 PCI slots (PCI-e add-on cards are still less common) and PCI-e x4 support on at least one slot (for later expansion as PCI-e becomes more available). You'll want at least 4 SATA connectors (but more can't hurt) and possibly IDE.

3. How much are you willing to spend? This often becomes the deciding factor. Motherboards that are $200+ are not uncommon today. Depending on your budget, you may not want to shell out that kind of money for a motherboard when the money could be put into a better video card, processor(s), or more RAM.

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