Building My First PC: Motherboard Question.

#1 Posted by Tearhead (2395 posts) -

Hey guys, I'm building my first PC, and using this guide our own Giant Bomber, Geno made. I am buying all the parts through Amazon, since I have Prime, and wondering that is the difference between these two motherboards:

AS Rock Z68 Extreme 3 Gen 3 & the AS Rock P67 Extreme 4 Gen 3

I'm trying to follow the guide as best I can, especially when it comes to the parts I know little about. So just wondering if I would be boned in any way by going with the P67, since it's cheaper, and more importantly, is eligible for Prime.

Thanks!

#2 Edited by Renahzor (1031 posts) -

Mainly chipset is the difference but also a few differences in connections. The Z68 lacks USB3.0 internal hookups, so you wont be able to run USB 3 to say, front panel connectors(USB2.0 only). It also looks like the Z68 has an rear panel built in HDMI output, and 2 less USB2.0 rear panel outs. The P67 board you linked also has more Sata 6.0GB/s connectors if that's something you need.

For chipset info on the differences check this out: http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/43205-intel-z68-review-sandy-bridge-platform-expands.html

#3 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

The P67 was the original performance chipset for Sandy Bridge (Intel iX-2xxx models) that did not allow you to use the graphics part of the CPU. The Z68 was the later chipset released which fixed this deficit (it is both a performance chipset and allows the iGPU on the CPU to output video); this is relevant to general use even in computers with a discrete graphics card because it allows use of the iGPU to encode video using the Intel Quick Sync technology. You may want to Google for articles to read more details about any of those things.

Doing a quick Amazon search I found this mobo. I'm not sure if it has prime but if you're just interested in gaming then it's a good Z68 choice and better value. There is also the successor chipset, the Z77 (the Z68 is to Sandy Bridge as the Z77 is kinda to Ivy Bridge, the newer Intel CPUs with model numbers iX-3xxx) but so far I can't see any great deals on that chip and you don't actually lose that much going with the older Z68 and pairing it with a new Ivy Bridge i5 for gaming (the use of a new Ivy Bridge with a certified Z68 mobo gives you access to the 3rd gen PCI-Express slot for gaming - you don't really need 3rd gen to be a good gaming machine but it's nice to have). The only things the Z77 added was a USB 3.0 controller as part of the chipset so you get four USB 3.0 ports as well as the many USB 2.0 ports. The $100 mobo I linked on Amazon that is a Z68 gets around this issue by having a dedicated USB 3.0 chip so you only get two ports rather than four but do you really need more than two really fast (for when you've got an external HDD and want to throw some files around fast) USB ports? I'd say it isn't really worth spending extra on a Z77 at this point and I haven't seen any good models reaching down to the Z68 prices yet. There are good Z68 motherboards around the $100 (maybe $120) price tag that support two graphics cards (SLI/CF) but the one I linked only supports one; if you're getting a gaming rig on a budget that shouldn't matter but it is something to consider if you're planning on throwing money at gaming hardware that might not be obvious from a glance.

#4 Posted by Eurobum (272 posts) -

Generally the P** chipsets don't support integrated APU graphics, and both Z68 and P67 are actually made for the previous line of processors (Sandy Bridge), while the Ivy Bridge support was patched in with firmware for Z68.

More importantily there are new Chipsets for Ivy Bridge called Z77. So I would select one of those.

Here is a detailed article, I usually skip to the parts that interest me.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5793/intel-z77-motherboard-review-with-ivy-bridge-asrock-asus-gigabyte-and-msi

#5 Posted by Tearhead (2395 posts) -

Thanks for all the great info!

@Shivoa: Thanks again, for taking the time to explain all that. The $100 mobo you linked does look very tempting and it does have Prime, but I think I would like the option of throwing another graphics card in there further down the line.

@Eurobum: While getting the Z77 would be better, I think that's a little out of my price range.

#6 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

@Tearhead: I couldn't see a SLI/CrossFire PCI-E 3.0 Z68 option on Amazon with free shipping (I assume that is liked to having Prime) that was at a good price. I haven't used Biostar personally before but this looks like a winner for $130. Z77 (as I say above, I don't see that as being massively better than a Z68 with a certified PCI-E 3.0 slot but as the limit of Amazon shopping meant I couldn't find a good nice $100-110 Z68 to fit the bill then this Z77 is good value) with two PCI-E 3.0 graphics slots (use as either 1x16 for single GPU or 2x8 for either SLI or CrossFire - PCI-E 3.0 means 8x is the same speed as PCI-E 2.0 16x so that drop for SLI isn't an issue for bandwidth as even PXI-E 2.0 8x is doable for SLI). Here is the official specs page.

As the Anand link says, the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 should be around for about $140 so this Biostar is only slightly cheaper (ASRock used to be the value brand for ASUS before getting spun off, they still make very solid stuff in my estimation) but unless someone links to some news that Biostar aren't doing well or that model has unusually low performance then I expect them to perform identically. I had a quick Google to make sure I wasn't recommending a dud and that exact model of mobo from Biostar doesn't appear to have been circulated to review sites but is getting some decent user reviews in the forums (for whatever that's worth).

#7 Posted by Tearhead (2395 posts) -

@Shivoa: That biostar motherboard is actually really tempting now, especially since it's a reasonably priced Z77. Can you see any noticeable difference between this mobo and the Z78 i linked in my original post? Again, dude, I appreciate all the help.

#8 Posted by Shivoa (689 posts) -

@Tearhead: The $160 Z68 you linked supports quad-SLI/CrossFire (four graphics cards - this is not in any way a sane way to run a PC unless you have obscene amounts of money and a love of stuff not working properly half the time due to doing something weird that almost no game really tests for) but they have the same onboard audio (ALC892 with THX TruStudio Pro) and LAN chip (RTL8111E).

The Z68 does have an e-SATA port (for externally hooking up a SATA HDD, not a lot of people use this as you're more likely to use USB (3.0) for external HDDs) and twelve USB 2.0 ports to go with the two USB 3.0 ports. The cheaper Z77 only has four USB 2.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.0 ones (there are headers to add an extra pair of USB 2.0 and pair of USB 3.0 ports) but if you ask me USB hubs are cheap and why anyone needs 14 base ports on their motherboard eludes me (more of a 'why not' than a useful addition and the cheap model save a few dollars by not going crazy). The Z77 can also run RAM a bit faster but I'm going to say you probably want to stick with 1.35V or 1.5V CL9 1600MHz stuff (or 1.5V CL9 1833MHz if you can find it for the same price of about $40 for two 4GB sticks - prices continue to fluctuate) because the Intel CPUs don't get a significant benefit from faster RAM and certainly not when you look at gaming.

No problem about the help, always good to help someone with buying advice.

#9 Posted by AndrewB (7782 posts) -

PSSST!

The Z77 Extreme4 is $115 on Newegg. I know it's not Amazon. but shipping is free and pretty damn fast for me.

#10 Posted by Eurobum (272 posts) -

Selecting a MoBo is simple, after selecting a processor you pick the latest chip set for your CPU.

Then make a list of features which you desire, and the ones you can go without (saving you money), then you look up the price determining features on Wikipedia.

Wanted Featues

UEFI

SATA III 6 Gbps

HDMI

USB 3

Superfluous Features

eSATA (e for external)

a second 16x PCIe lane for SLI nonsense (dual graphics is by far the most expensive and overrated feature, and generally not recommended by serious websites)

Then you pick a size. ATX, µATX, miniATX

Then you select a manufacturer with a good website (preferably not starting with AS..., because they "lead" the sales and tend to be least energy efficient).

Then you find the manufacturer page for this motherboard and find the lists of supported/tested RAM modules and proceeed to RAM purchasing.

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