Z77 motherboard recommendation?

#1 Edited by Sweetz (490 posts) -

I know Giant Bomb isn't exactly the site for PC hardware stuff, but I don't feel like registering at a tech site forum right now and I know there are some knowledgeable PC duders here :)

I'm thinking about upgrading to any Ivy Bridge CPU and holy crap I have never seen the market flooded with so many different models for the same chipset. I mean Asus alone has like 30 different Z77 motherboards, it's ridiculous. I'm kind of paralyzed by the variety of choice.

So here's some general info/criteria if this helps narrow down a recommendation:

  • For the CPU I'm probably going to get a 3570K.
  • My video card is a GTX 680 and I never plan to go multi-GPU
  • I have a Creative X-Fi Titanium PCIe that I will probably continue to use for sound so on-board sound doesn't really matter
  • I have no need of old school PCI slots (though I don't care if they're there)
  • I have a 160GB Intel SSD (sadly SATA 2 only) that I will continue to use as my main program drive
  • I have a 320GB Seagate HDD that I use for media storage only (in other words I don't really need the SRT stuff)
  • If I overclock, it will be mild - I'd probably just increase boost clocks 1 or 2 multipliers at most.
  • I want to spend less than $160

I like EVGA products (my last two mobos were EVGA), but even their Z75 mobo (which I'm fine with because I don't need SRT) is $180, which is too pricey and probably a lot higher end than I actually need.

Failing any specific model recommendation, I would still appreciate any general brand recommendations (other than EVGA as stated) since I don't really know what the various brand reputations are like these days.

#2 Posted by beeftothetaco (420 posts) -
#3 Posted by LethalKi11ler (1405 posts) -

I don't think the Sabertooth (while being an amazing Z77 board) is what you're looking for. If you're not really looking to overclock how about the mid-end Asus boards? The P8Z77 ones to be more precise. You can then look at the various ones and see which is better suited for you. The LK model is cheap and still works great, the LE is ok too. Or you could go for the P8Z77-V, which is great for everything except maybe overclocking.

But then again, the Sabertooth is really really good if you're an avid overclocker. Either way, it's hard to go wrong.

P.S. I've never tried the AsRock models but I hear great things about the AsRock Z77 Extreme4.

Either way good luck!

#4 Posted by Bollard (5279 posts) -

I have a Sabertooth. Love it. And it looks awesome too.

#5 Posted by DrSwank (442 posts) -

@beeftothetaco said:

Z77 Asus Sabertooth. Can't recommend it more. http://ca.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/SABERTOOTH_Z77/

YES YES AND YES. I have this board too!

5 year warranty included.

I've always bought cheap boards in the past, but never again. The board is the backbone of the system. This is amazing. UEFI Bios. Amazing OC'ing (even for a newb) in the BIOS. Amazing software that ties into BIOS settings in Windows. EZ update is amazing. Updating BIOS is simple. BIOS Flashback is an awesome feature. onboard cooling. 12 points of temperature reading on the board, to know exactly what needs to be cooled more.

I use it with the CPU cooler from Coolermaster, the Cooler Master Hyper 512, along with the Cooler Master HAF 912 case.

Here's what I'm currently running:

http://amzn.to/URLyb4

#6 Edited by Sweetz (490 posts) -

Thanks guys, but if I don't want to buy $180 EVGA motherboard, I'm really not in the market for a $240 one. Sabertooth appears way higher end than I would need or effectively use in practical reality. $150 or less is the range I'm shooting for. I generally upgrade CPU/mobo every 2 years or less, so long term warranties are a non-factor; also the reason I don't want to sink a ton of money into it.

: Yup that's more along the right lines, thanks. Seems pretty popular judging by number of reviews on Newegg; actually it's the most reviewed Z77 board.

I wish it was easier to tell the meaningful difference between boards, the variety of models out there is shocking. What's the general consensus on MSI, they make good stuff? What about Gigabyte; a PC building friend of mine poo-poo'd on them, but that could just be because of an isolated unlucky experience.

#7 Posted by Jrinswand (1696 posts) -

I've got a Biostar Intel LGA1155 Z77 Chipset ATX 2600MHz DDR3 Memory Motherboard (TZ77B). I don't know much about the differences between motherboards, but it was only like $110 and it has done pretty well so far. I mean, my computer runs excellently. What else do you need from a motherboard?

#8 Posted by Slaegar (694 posts) -
@Sweetz said:

I wish it was easier to tell the meaningful difference between boards, the variety of models out there is shocking. What's the general consensus on MSI, they make good stuff? What about Gigabyte; a PC building friend of mine poo-poo'd on them, but that could just be because of an isolated unlucky experience.

There are indeed a ton of motherboards out there. Similar to cases, though, a lot of it is personal preference. Look for what you want on a brand you can trust. I like UEFI BIOS, USB 3, Wifi, and USB BIOS updates. I don't care about 400 SATA ports, firewire, or a huge northbridge heatsink for heavy overclocking. You can spend $120 or $400 and end up at the same place if you don't need/want what the motherboard has to offer.
 
MSI, Asus, Gigabyte are all good motherboard manufacturers. I heard Gigabyte used to be a little meh but have since improved a lot and are recommended everywhere. EVGA also makes good motherboards but they are a big pricey compared to others.
#9 Edited by Branthog (7342 posts) -

For going with three or four video cards, I can't recommend the ASUS P8Z77-WS enough. Yes, it's a little bit spendy, but it's a big roomy board with plenty of expansion options and all the PCIe 3 lanes you could ever need. I'm currently running 3 4gb GTX 670s w/ 16gb RAM and an i7-3770K.

#10 Edited by Zelyre (1128 posts) -

Love my Sabertooth as well. Otherwise, just like the other folks here, the p8-77.

I'm a big fan of Asus, though. Every computer I've ever put together has been Abit or Asus. The computers have been passed on after I've used them, and have been passed on again, and the motherboards are still going strong.

My mom's still using one of my early builds, a T-bird overclocked to 1.4ghz on an Abit KT7a.

#11 Posted by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

Always go as cheap as possible, with only the spaces you need.

#12 Posted by Chrjz (321 posts) -

I just had a P8Z77-V Pro go tits up on me. I replaced it with a Gigabyte GAZ77X-UD3H. Great board for the price!

#13 Posted by Scrawnto (2434 posts) -

I went with a Biostar TZ77XE3 to go with my i5-3570K. I haven't had any complaints thus far.

@Branthog: He did specifically say "I never plan to go multi-GPU" so I don't think that's a priority for him.

#14 Edited by ExiledVip3r (80 posts) -

The correct answer to not get Z77, the 1155 is a dead socket. Next generation mainline CPU's will be on a new socket, next enthusiast CPU's (Ivy Bridge-E) will remain on 2011 with X79.

"But that's high end expensive stuff" you say.

Well..

X79:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3820 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor $229.99

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard $203.55

Total: $433.54

X77:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor $229.99

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H ATX LGA1155 Motherboard $144.99

Total: $374.98

A minor difference in the grand scheme, and you'll benefit from a better CPU, and better upgrade options in the future, quad channel ram, plus the 40 PCIe lanes you get with x79, which will make a HUGE difference if you ever do decide to go crazy and SLI.

But if all your really looking for is the cheapest bang for the buck, I'd highly suggest going with ASRock. They tend to be cheap and of high quality, though also an ugly brown color. The P8Z77-V Is otherwise very solid in the mid-range.

#15 Posted by Sweetz (490 posts) -

So I think I've narrowed it down to either the ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 or the MSI Z77A-GD55.

The ASRock, as mentioned previously, is the most popular Z77 board out there and after reviewing the manuals for both boards, I think ASRock's BIOS is a bit more intuitive - though of course ultimately they all pretty much have the same options. However, the ASRock also has extra SATA3 and USB3 controllers that I will never use, and to me more device controllers is just more stuff that can cause problems in Windows (which is kind of the reason I don't like Asus boards, too much extra stuff on them I don't need). I like the comparative simplicity of the MSI board. The ASRock has 12 phase power regulation vs 9 phase on the MSI, but as far as I can gather, the MSI's bits are somewhat higher quality and I don't expect to overclock to anywhere near the level where 9 vs 12 phase should make a difference. I also like that the MSI has only PCIe slots, I have no need of legacy PCI and the MSI board gives me more options on where I stick my X-Fi as a result.

So at this point I'm kind of leaning towards the MSI, despite it being a less feature rich board for the same money.

: Before I went with EVGA, Abit was my "go to" motherboard brand. I owned 4 boards from them over the years and was saddened when they went kaput. They actually didn't have the best reputation in the community from time to time, but I never had a problem with their mobos.

#16 Posted by Sweetz (490 posts) -

So just FYI I ended up getting the MSI board. Probably the lesser board to most people, but all things considered I kind of like the MSI board more.

I also ended up getting a 3770K instead of a 3570K - because Microcenter is running this crazy deal where 3770Ks are $229 - it's in-store only, but I live within 30 minutes of one.

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