The Motherboard run-around. Help?

#1 Posted by Rowr (5824 posts) -

Hey guys i've been browsing about here and there on and off over the last month planning a PC build. I'm no rookie to the world of PC hardware and gaming, though technically this will be my first build from the ground up and my last desktop PC was from a time where there were no multiple cores in a CPU.

I've been getting by pretty well the last couple of years with a very expensive ASUS gaming laptop, though it's starting to show a little age with recent titles and i'm not finding myself on the road as much now as the last few years. It spends most of it's time hdmi'ed to the television.

I'm planning to build something around a GTX 690 with at least the option to throw in another at some point down the line depending on how things go.

I've literally spent probably 12 hours total since i started putting the idea together scouring forums and brushing up on the current deal with CPU's and Motherboards, and frankly i'm still going in circles on making a decision. Either the forum go'ers immediately talk the OP out of the 690 on the basis of it's cost and that it's overkill at the moment. Or it turns into a seemingly endless debate on whether they go with sandy or ivy bridge. Not to mention most likely because of the cost, not a hell of a lot of people out there are putting these together yet.

I'm trying to keep the build under $3000 AUS (which is harder than it sounds given all components are marked up 30% ish)

At a glance the price breakdown is roughly as follows.

- GPU = GTX 690 - $1300

- Processor = Intel Processor pending on motherboard decision (3820 or 3770k) - $220 - $320

- Cooler = $80

- Case = Corsair Obsidian 800D full tower - $320

- Ram = Whatevs 16gb - $100 ish

- Storage = Whatevs 256 gb ssd - $200ish

- Storage 2 = 1tb WD - $75

- PSU - Whatevs 850w - 1000w = $250ish

- Optical Drive/ Windows etc = $150

And God the shipping will probably be another few 100

So with the motherboard excluded i'm floating somewhere around 2700 ish putting it at the tipping point. The only motherboard i can confirm as a seemingly sure fire hit is the Asus Rampage 4 Extreme (or the RIVE) which is about the 2nd most expensive there is at $510 dollars - with most of the seemingly serviceable motherboards floating around $200 - $350.

It's worth noticing i'm not enticed by the flashy presentation and colours, i'm not dragging this thing anywhere to show off with it. The case is also pricey, but it's the only one i can find that doesn't look like Optimus Prime threw up a Storm Trooper.

I'm happy to spend the extra on a motherboard that is somewhat future proof - i mean i'm already going all out on the card, the main thing is that it will support a second 690 both in a x16 slot, which seems to be a bit hit and miss. I can regurgitate some of what i've picked up in the forums as far as the advantage of x79 vs z77 but frankly if you read this far without clicking back you probably already have an idea. I'm leaning towards x79 so far off what i have read. Any ideas?

I recognise as well this probably isn't the best place on the web to post on this topic, but meh, these are the forums i like. Hopefully at least one or two of you out there might have something valuable to pass on to me? At this point i just want to get this stuff in the mail and start rocking the fuck out.

If i can't work it out soon i'm just going to end up choosing the RIVE and hoping the fact i paid a little more will give me peace of mind on future issues.You can understand with the investment in the graphics card alone i'm being kind of pedantic with the motherboard choice.

#2 Edited by Mirado (1014 posts) -

@Rowr: I saw "690" and immediately perked up. Now you're speaking my language. Let's see here...

I'm planning to build something around a GTX 690 with at least the option to throw in another at some point down the line depending on how things go.

Keep in mind that the 690 is a dual board (two GPUs in SLI mated together). It's also a bit loony; by the time you'll be able to take advatage of four GPUs like that, we'll have moved onto DX13 or whatever and the cards won't even be able to use it! Plus, you do start to run into diminishing returns if you aren't playing in a massive multi-monitor setup. Just hooking it up to your TV would be a huge waste of potential and you won't see much of any gain from two giant cards like that.

I've literally spent probably 12 hours total since i started putting the idea together scouring forums and brushing up on the current deal with CPU's and Motherboards, and frankly i'm still going in circles on making a decision. Either the forum go'ers immediately talk the OP out of the 690 on the basis of it's cost and that it's overkill at the moment. Or it turns into a seemingly endless debate on whether they go with sandy or ivy bridge. Not to mention most likely because of the cost, not a hell of a lot of people out there are putting these together yet.

I spent over 100 hours doing research for my last build. Granted, it was a very atypical thing, but still; I know about sinking time into making sure you get what you need. I've practically built a career around the consulting and research alone.

As stated, the 690 WILL be overkill if you're pushing it through a 1080p monitor/TV. Most of the power will be just sitting their idle, turning electricity into heat. If you do desire to slam something that large down, you should really consider a new monitor, and a good one at that; divert the "future 690" money into a good (and I mean good, not half assed cheap bullshit like I see some people try and peddle) IPS monitor that's 24" or more. Frankly, my suggestion is to step down to a 680, get a monitor (or stick with a TV since the 680 won't be as crazy), and if you need another in the future, grab another 680. I can go into more detail why I think this is proper if you'd like.

Now, assuming we've gotten that out of the way, the whole Sandy vs Ivy thing really doesn't matter. I'm probably going to get crucified for saying that, but when it all shakes out a CPU is going to last a hell of a lot longer then a GPU in this modern day games environment, so picking up any modern quad core CPU will more or less last until the whole build needs to be overhauled. The question is this: are you ever going to overclock? If so, the 3770k is going to perform roughly like the 3820 but it's fully unlocked.

I'm trying to keep the build under $3000 AUS (which is harder than it sounds given all components are marked up 30% ish)

At a glance the price breakdown is roughly as follows.

- GPU = GTX 690 - $1300

- Processor = Intel Processor pending on motherboard decision (3820 or 3770k) - $220 - $320

- Cooler = $80

- Case = Corsair Obsidian 800D full tower - $320

- Ram = Whatevs 16gb - $100 ish

- Storage = Whatevs 256 gb ssd - $200ish

- Storage 2 = 1tb WD - $75

- PSU - Whatevs 850w - 1000w = $250ish

- Optical Drive/ Windows etc = $150

As soon as I saw a 800D for $320, I did a double take. Then I realized we're talking Aussie dollars, so that makes more sense. Keep in mind that the vast majority of my dealings have been in USD, so I don't know if you're getting a good deal on anything (with the 30% markup, of course).

GPU: Honestly consider going to a 680. More money to throw elsewhere. If not, make sure you get one with a better cooler on it; do some specific research to find out what best fits the bill.

CPU: 3770k. Overclocking is dead simple anymore, you won't need to do it for a while, but when you want it it'll be there. It already beats the 3820 and it'll outperform it by an even wider margin once cranked up. It also runs cooler than the 3820.

Case: Cases are personal preference but I'm a Fractal kinda guy anymore. My normal PC is in a HAF X but I love my Node 304 for my NASbox so much that my next full tower case will 100% come from Fractal. Give them a look; very clean lines.

RAM: 16GB is a good number. Make sure the speed/voltage is supported by the board.

Storage 1/2: A 256GB SSD is probably the sweet-spot; I have a 128GB in mine but than I also have a 12TB purpose built media box, so perhaps that's how I get away with it. :D

PSU: Make sure it is at least 80 PLUS bronze. I've got a Corsair 850AW in mine which is 80 PLUS gold but you don't necessarily need to spend that much. Just make sure it is from a reliable brand and 80 PLUS bronze certified or better.

Windows: I do not advocate piracy but look for alternative deals that may help bring the cost down.

So, the $10M question: the motherboard.

So with the motherboard excluded i'm floating somewhere around 2700 ish putting it at the tipping point. The only motherboard i can confirm as a seemingly sure fire hit is the Asus Rampage 4 Extreme (or the RIVE) which is about the 2nd most expensive there is at $510 dollars - with most of the seemingly serviceable motherboards floating around $200 - $350.

Well, going with the 3770k both opens doors and closes them. The Z77 chipset is going to be strained to it's absolute limit to handle two 690s; I'm having a hard time finding more than about three boards which will give me a guarantee that they'll work. The X79 chipset has no such bandwidth issues. However, in your price bracket going X79 also means that you'll be getting a lesser CPU (the 3820 vs the 3770k) in your desire to get a 690.

My personal advice? Drop the 690. I know, that's exactly what most people tell you to do. But look; you're sacrificing a lot to gain GPU power that you aren't really going to use. The 680 will run circles around your laptop, you can get a Z77 board that won't bust the bank, a better (and overclock-able) CPU, and the option to throw another 680 on there later without worrying if your motherboard will catch fire doing it. By the time you can use two 690s effectively, the tech will have moved on.

Hell, get the damn 690. Just drop plans for a 2nd. That's all you really need to do; by that point it'll be 3+ years down the road and you'll be looking to upgrade again anyway. Unless you are telling me you plan to go dual monitor on this, I just cannot see a 2nd 690 ever worth any use to you.

#3 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

You know what the problem with buying $1000 graphics cards is? By the time games are able to take advantage of it, you can get similar performance for $500. Maybe less. I'd also suggest stepping down the video card a bit. If you do step down, don't discount the Radeon 7970. VERY similar performance to the 680 for a lot less.

With the thoroughness of I won't add much more. But I do want to be sure to strongly agree on the Power supply. Do NOT skimp there on "Whatevs" 850w. It's not the Watts, it's the quality and consistency of said watts. Corsair is an excellent brand, as is Seasonic. Mirado is also right that you want it to be at least 80 Plus Bronze.

Good luck with your build!

#4 Posted by Devildoll (899 posts) -

x79 is the kind of system you don't buy if you're asking questions about what to buy.

z77 and a 3770K is the way to go for you.

what are you looking for in a motherboard? a motherboard typically does not affect performance, only difference between two motherboards on the same platform are the number of/types of connectors and pretty much how well dimensioned the power-management is, which you'll only need to worry about if you are overclocking.

if you are just going to put everything together and play games, you don't need a $500 motherboard, you'll find what you need at about 200 bucks if this is the case.

Note that in just a few months, the 690 will be coming up on its one year mark, i'd probably get a 680 or 7970 if i were you, and then use the excess 700 bucks to buy a new graphics card in a generation or two, if you need an upgrade.

#5 Posted by Rowr (5824 posts) -

Thank for the amazing response guys. I very much appreciate the help.

I'm about 99 percent sold on the 690, when i originally started looking i was looking at sli 680's until realising the 690 is basically that except quieter and more efficient for the same price.

I realise it's overkill at the present, but i guess that's apart of what this build represents to me. Also i like to tweak and push to get the most out of my games. Also 3D, which is demanding.

Games do become more demanding over time, especially likely on the basis that the new consoles are dropping at the end of this year and the resurgence of pc gaming?

@Irishdoom said:

With the thoroughness of I won't add much more. But I do want to be sure to strongly agree on the Power supply. Do NOT skimp there on "Whatevs" 850w. It's not the Watts, it's the quality and consistency of said watts. Corsair is an excellent brand, as is Seasonic. Mirado is also right that you want it to be at least 80 Plus Bronze.

Good luck with your build!

@Mirado said:

As stated, the 690 WILL be overkill if you're pushing it through a 1080p monitor/TV. Most of the power will be just sitting their idle, turning electricity into heat. If you do desire to slam something that large down, you should really consider a new monitor, and a good one at that; divert the "future 690" money into a good (and I mean good, not half assed cheap bullshit like I see some people try and peddle) IPS monitor that's 24" or more. Frankly, my suggestion is to step down to a 680, get a monitor (or stick with a TV since the 680 won't be as crazy), and if you need another in the future, grab another 680. I can go into more detail why I think this is proper if you'd like.

Case: Cases are personal preference but I'm a Fractal kinda guy anymore. My normal PC is in a HAF X but I love my Node 304 for my NASbox so much that my next full tower case will 100% come from Fractal. Give them a look; very clean lines.

PSU: Make sure it is at least 80 PLUS bronze. I've got a Corsair 850AW in mine which is 80 PLUS gold but you don't necessarily need to spend that much. Just make sure it is from a reliable brand and 80 PLUS bronze certified or better.

So, the $10M question: the motherboard.

So with the motherboard excluded i'm floating somewhere around 2700 ish putting it at the tipping point. The only motherboard i can confirm as a seemingly sure fire hit is the Asus Rampage 4 Extreme (or the RIVE) which is about the 2nd most expensive there is at $510 dollars - with most of the seemingly serviceable motherboards floating around $200 - $350.

Well, going with the 3770k both opens doors and closes them. The Z77 chipset is going to be strained to it's absolute limit to handle two 690s; I'm having a hard time finding more than about three boards which will give me a guarantee that they'll work. The X79 chipset has no such bandwidth issues. However, in your price bracket going X79 also means that you'll be getting a lesser CPU (the 3820 vs the 3770k) in your desire to get a 690.

My personal advice? Drop the 690. I know, that's exactly what most people tell you to do. But look; you're sacrificing a lot to gain GPU power that you aren't really going to use. The 680 will run circles around your laptop, you can get a Z77 board that won't bust the bank, a better (and overclock-able) CPU, and the option to throw another 680 on there later without worrying if your motherboard will catch fire doing it. By the time you can use two 690s effectively, the tech will have moved on.

Hell, get the damn 690. Just drop plans for a 2nd. That's all you really need to do; by that point it'll be 3+ years down the road and you'll be looking to upgrade again anyway. Unless you are telling me you plan to go dual monitor on this, I just cannot see a 2nd 690 ever worth any use to you.

PSU - Yep sorry about that i was a little vague because i hadn't really picked a brand but it was looking at mainly the higher rated stuff from corsair and antec. What are the actual differences between like bronze to gold?

Case - The fractal case i perused is my second favourite after the 800D, i might give it a second look to see what i can come up with for prices.

As far as you're monitor suggestion i'm definitely going to look into it. The three monitor surround option looks amazing - especially in 3D - part of the reason i'm going towards the 690 and i want to leave the door open in case i need the extra grunt of the second. My current living situations doesn't really have the space to setup a deskspace. Also this would be at a later date when i've got some free money i won't feel too irresponsible about spending (3000 in one go is enough for a while) .

I was thinking half seriously about grabbing two more 50 inch tv's and blowing everyones fucking mind for 3D surround :D

I don't really know much about the practicalities and limitations of surround yet, but i'm curious to know if anyone knows if this is technically feasible? (I'm almost positive someone reasonable in my vicinity will talk me out of this if i ever got close...a man can dream)

Anyway as far as the motherboard goes, as you can probably tell i really don't want to drop the 690. So what do i do... I'm still leaning towards x79 and maybe see what else is available for CPU's aside from the 3820? Either that or i pick one of these three fabled z77 mobo's you found? Still unsure.

I guess realistically by the time i get around to picking up a second 690 the tech will have changed enough that there's probably a better upgrade option? I'd just love to have it as an option just in case as a little bit of future proofing depending on what the lay of the land is within the next few years.

Maybe i should just pick up a cheaper motherboard that does the job and if i decide to go the second i can find a newer motherboard up to the task? I know haswell is supposed to make an appearance this year anyway.

#6 Posted by Nictel (2429 posts) -

@Rowr: - Ram = Whatevs 16gb - $100 ish seems really cheap. Since you seem to not be particularly on budget, why not take something with CAS 7? Probably will go to $150. Oh and make sure its the max bandwith your motherboard supports.

#7 Posted by Rowr (5824 posts) -

Well I went with the Asus P8z77- V in the end and everything has worked out fairly nicely, I didn't realise the 800D had such poor airflow since it's predominantly designed for watercooling, but about 200 dollars worth of fans and some basic modification it's come up pretty nicely. Thanks again for all the help guys, here's some photos of the finished product.

#8 Posted by McTangle (157 posts) -
#9 Posted by mcain99 (23 posts) -

That is an awesome PC and a great first complete build.

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