seanc wrote:I'm also doing a new build with a quad core qx6700 in a couple weeks. It'll be used for professional video & audio editing...so no sli, and probably no OC. ASUS has been recommended to me in the past and I'm wondering if they have a mid-priced board that would work well?
I don't know enough about MB's to understand what $300 will bring versus $150. Can you guide me? Thanks!
I'm curious...if you have the scratch to afford a quad-core, why are you looking at a mid-priced mainboard?
I have minor beefs with current mainboard chipsets. If you know what you're doing, they're not major issues, but they're important to understand.
Intel i965 chipset-based boards: Intel did away with IDE in the i965 chipset, one generation too soon IMO, since SATA optical drives aren't available in quantity yet. Most boardmakers have picked up the slack by putting a JMicron IDE chip on their boards and a single IDE port, but there are reports of some issues with bootable CD's, or when using Ghost (if you have HDD's on this IDE port you need to ghost to, or have your image files on optical disc and your optical disc drive uses this port). If this isn't an issue, the i965 chipset is a pretty good choice.
nVidia 570SLI/590SLI: Both have a reputation for running quite hot. Also, if you're an overclocker by nature, expect little to no love. This is why nVidia is switching so quickly to the 680i chipset, you won't see a lot of 590SLI boards out there.
Intel i975 chipset: Arguably the best Core 2 chipset IMO, with the caveat that you can't do SLI (note, this is also true of i965 boards, but the solution in both cases is that if you want that kind of video power, get a single Geforce 8800GTX and be done with it, it beats everything out there right now). Generally found on more expensive boards.
nVidia 680i: nVidia reference design boards (read: eVGA, BFG, Foxconn, possibly some others) are having SATA data corruption issues. A beta BIOS currently out from nVidia, version P23, corrects the majority of these issues, but not all according to current reports, and there are some other issues being reported. Those who already have such a board and upgrade to the P23 BIOS are not likely to have their corruption issues go away until they have reloaded their machine from the ground up. Non-reference design boards aren't supposed to have these signal timing issues, however, they're pricey: the ASUS Striker Extreme runs about $400 for a system board.
After looking at all of these (I'm not doing Core 2 yet, though possibly in the next year), I'd look at the following boards:
Intel D975XBX2 "BadAxe 2"
ASUS P5W DH Deluxe (Intel 975X chipset-based)
ASUS P5B Deluxe or P5B Deluxe WiFi/AP (Intel i965 chipset-based)
If you absolutely gotta have a budget board, the ASUS P5B is also an option in the $150-165 range (Intel i965-based).
If the ASUS Striker Extreme were priced in the $175-250 range like the above three boards, I'd think about it, but it's simply too outrageous. Right now though, if I was buying a board, it'd be the Intel. It's one of the few Intel boards with overclocking options (not sure I'd use them) and it's also one of the most stable boards around, plus it's fast at stock speeds and has a well-supported three year warranty. It's around $260 retail-boxed.
As for features: Usually, better (read: more expensive boards) have better power distribution (= more stability), and add minor features that add up that cheaper boards don't have. My requirements (which may not be the same as others) are:
Onboard Firewire ports (have an old iPod, plus it's nice if I need to hook up a DV camcorder)
At least one NIC that uses the chipset's PHY, not an aftermarket like Marvell (less CPU usage on nVidia/Intel NICs, and they're guarranteed to go through PCIe rather than be hooked onto the PCI bus, which is slower)
At least two PCI slots that will not be obstructed when a single video card is in place (I have a sound card and a TV tuner card)
Six Serial ATA ports +1 IDE port with the capability of RAID 0/1/5 on the SATA ports (long-term thinking, I'd rather be able to have up to 4 SATA hard disks + 2 SATA optical drives). Support for Ghost and Acronis TrueImage software is important to me, which is why I'm picky about who does the IDE ports.
Legacy RS-232 serial port (so I can program the occasional switch/router that uses a console port)
6 USB 2.0 ports minimum, 8 preferred (two need to be able to be hooked up as front USB ports in my case).
Nice to have for some (but not for me):
Onboard sound that doesn't use a Realtek codec: Realtek codecs do not support EAX sound properly in games. Unfortunately, Realtek has the majority marketshare; Sigmatel and ADI vie for second place. If you don't want to buy a sound card, and you play games, this should be important (note: Intel generally uses Sigmatel or ADI, most other vendors use Realtek).
SLI/Crossfire support -Intel and ATI chipset boards support ATI Crossfire, but not nVidia SLI. nVidia is the opposite. For me, this is a moot point: I'd rather have a single powerful card.
Long post, I know. Hope this helps.