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    The PC (Personal Computer) is a highly configurable and upgradable gaming platform that, among home systems, sports the widest variety of control methods, largest library of games, and cutting edge graphics and sound capabilities.

    Want to build a PC. Don't know anything about motherboards

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    User_Undefined

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    Hey duders! My laptop died while visiting my grandparents for Thanksgiving, so I've decided to build a replacement given how many deals there are this time of year. The thing is, while I generally understand what to look for for most of the parts, motherboards might as well be ancient magic for all I understand about them.

    The main questions I have are: is there a functional difference between micro, mini, and no prefix ATX boards other than how much space they take up? If so, what determines what type is best for the build?

    The other question is about wifi. Given the location of my router, the pc will have to connect wirelessly unless I want to run an ethernet cable up the wall and across the living room ceiling. So, would it be better to but a wireless adapter or a board with built in wifi?

    Here's the build I've made so far. If there's any place that I can save some money or put it to better use, I'd appreciate any advice.

    http://pcpartpicker.com/p/xvnNdC

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    mike

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    #2  Edited By mike

    The differences between the different form factors of motherboard are usually things like the number of PCI-E and memory slots and not much else. Sometimes larger motherboards can also have additional goodies like better on-board sound, additional SATA slots, USB ports, controllers, fan headers, stuff like that. You'll find that some of the smallest boards sometimes only have two DIMM slots and one PCI-E slot, while many ATX boards will usually have four DIMM slots and at least two PCI-E x16 slots. The main considerations when choosing a motherboard are: features, number of physical slots for stuff you may want to put in there now or in the future, and size. If you aren't concerned about having a small PC, then just go ATX. I typically prefer ATX and full size cases because I find them easier to build and work in since I have giant hands. A note about the motherboard you chose - it's a popular one, but it only has four SATA 6gb/s ports on it. That is probably enough for most people, and you can always add a PCI-E expansion board for more slots later, but it's something to keep in mind. My motherboard has 8 and they are already all used, it's easy to do when adding hard drives and SSDs over time. Just something to think about, but again probably not a concern for most people. Just remember to use the slow SATA port for your optical drive. Speaking of optical drives...you may not need one, depending on what you plan on doing with it. I haven't used an optical drive in years. The other consideration for motherboards is what kind of overclocking features they have. This is something you're going to have to look into, since you're buying a K-series chip and an aftermarket cooler it seems like you intend on overclocking at some point. Although you selected an H97 chipset which can't even overclock, so you'll need to choose a different motherboard if you intend on overclocking.

    Wireless dongles are very good these days. There won't be much difference between a USB dongle and an internal wireless expansion card. Just read reviews and go with whatever sounds good, but of course you're going to be better off with a wired connection.

    Looking over your build, I think going with a 960 is a mistake. You're going through so much effort and expense and then putting a medium grade GPU in there, which is the thing that is going to be doing all of the heavy lifting when playing games. You should be looking at a 970 as an absolute minimum, in my opinion. A 960 in that PC is like building a race car but opting to put a Hyundai Elantra engine in it. Everything else looks fine, save for the lack of an SSD which I consider a requirement for any new PC build.

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    User_Undefined

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    Thanks for the information. Seems motherboards are simpler than I thought. I guess since I'm starting completely from scratch, I might as well go all in for the graphics card. I'll look into a 980, though having one piece cost a third of the whole build including OS and peripherals is a little rough, but I guess that's how PCs work.

    As for the SSD, I'll just say ignorance is bliss. The only thing I've played games on have been the family computer and the laptops I've gone through, so I don't mind load times and having 3tb to hold games and music sounds good to me. I have now doubt that once I get an SSD, I won't be able to go back, so I'll hold off on that for a while. Maybe a birthday or something.

    Again, thanks for the help.

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    teaoverlord

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    I think you need a Z97 motherboard to overclock your CPU, and it would definitely be worth the extra ~$100 to upgrade to a GTX 970/R9 390.

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    mike

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    That's right, he needs Z97 not H97.

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    Cav829

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    @user_undefined: I wouldn't go overkill with a 980 right now for a couple of reasons. The first of which is Direct X 12 is almost upon us, and nobody is quite sure yet how current cards are going to be able to handle it. Second, a 970 or Radeon 390 can handle most anything you throw at it right now unless you're going resolution crazy. The main reason to go up to a 980 is for 4K gaming. Generally, unless you're married to NVidia (and I tend to lean more toward them btw), I'd go with a Radeon 390 8 GB right now for the best price for performance ratio. There were a bunch on sale last week for $225-$255 at Newegg.

    Now I know you're saying ignorance is bliss on the SSD, but you're basically spending $1000 on a gaming rig and yet not the even $75 for a 256 GB Evo or something that offers more performance gain than the $500 graphics card you were just considering.

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    tissot

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    #7  Edited By tissot

    I'll sound like a salesman here, but SSD is a must. You get the best performance ratio for the price in that single part. Get 120GB or ~240GB SSD to install your Windows, programs and AAA games. Idea is that you will have second 1tb or whatever hard drive to use as your storage for music, videos, games that don't demand max performance etc. You will be up for a extra hassle if you wanna save that 40-90 euros/dollars now, as you will need to install Windows on that SSD to really get the benefits all around.

    Keeping up with two hard drives is no problem or installing them to your motherboard, if that's what you fear. Just select into what hard drive you are installing Windows 10 on its initial installation and plugging SSD into your motherboard is the same as it is with your old fashioned hard drive.

    As you are playing, working on a 1080p monitor. There's no need to go for 980, that is more towards above 1080p gaming. 970 will be more than enough and give you some extra headroom for future AAA games on 1080p. Nvidia cards, like 970 will usually give better driver support than AMD. Like said above, AMD's 390 will give you the best bang for the buck on maxing 1080p. If you wanna go down from there I would recommend 380 over 960, and if you can find 280 or 290 for cheap.Go for those. I'm rocking my old 280 (that is extremely close to 380) as I'm waiting for Pascal cards for my current 6700k build and doing just fine. Though not able to max everything at 60fps, even with 6700k.

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    WalkerTR77

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    @user_undefined: I built my first gaming PC last week, what I can recommend is getting an SSD for the OS because it speeds things up considerably. A 250GB drive will give you enough space to comfortably fit some games on there too, the Samsung 850 EVO has been good for me.

    I went for a 970 card, which I feel is great as it runs modern games like Assassins Creed at high settings, 60 FPS without any bother. There are more expensive cards, but you should ask yourself if you actually need the functionality they're offering or if it would make no difference to you.

    Also, are you sure you need to purchase a new windows license if you already had a laptop? If you have a product code for the version of windows you were using you can download Windows 10 from the Microsoft store for free, put it directly on a USB drive to boot from and put that code in to activate it.

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    monkeyking1969

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    Tested.com has some sound advice a few years ago about mobo PCB size. I think the take away is that full size ATX boards are and should be a niche product form people who will actual fill all those slots. Smaller boards with parts closers together in a smaller case are actually easier to cool.

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    shozo

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    #10  Edited By shozo

    Too much power! The GTX960 need a min. of 400 watts. I would aim for 500-500 watts. It's too much power for your current build and not enough if you'd like to build a SLI down the road. You'll likely to save a few bucks, spent it towards an SSD. Seriously dude, if I'm playing HOTS I'm always waiting for those HDD users.

    Some great comments on Mobo sizes Mike is right on the money. May I also suggest tech quickie. They do a good job of explaining lots of the nitty gritty of PC's, they did a video on mobo sizes.

    I mirror the rest of the comments. Wi-Fi dongles are great, download Windows 10 as it's free ATM

    Happy building!

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    NeverGameOver

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    @tissot said:

    I'll sound like a salesman here, but SSD is a must. You get the best performance ratio for the price in that single part. Get 120GB or ~240GB SSD to install your Windows, programs and AAA games. Idea is that you will have second 1tb or whatever hard drive to use as your storage for music, videos, games that don't demand max performance etc. You will be up for a extra hassle if you wanna save that 40-90 euros/dollars now, as you will need to install Windows on that SSD to really get the benefits all around.

    I'll second this. If necessary, I would reduce the size of the HDD and get an SSD. Your load times will be soooo much better.

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    MarvinPontiac

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    #12  Edited By MarvinPontiac

    Your questions were answered awesomely so I'll just say I used Logical Increments for building my PC and it was super useful. Also I found Newegg or NCIX to have the best prices.

    Also I got an SSD and it's great. I just have to keep a smaller handful of games installed on Steam at once (which I thought would be a pain in the ass but isn't).

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    tissot

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    @shozo said:

    Too much power! The GTX960 need a min. of 400 watts. I would aim for 500-500 watts. It's too much power for your current build and not enough if you'd like to build a SLI down the road. You'll likely to save a few bucks, spent it towards an SSD. Seriously dude, if I'm playing HOTS I'm always waiting for those HDD users.

    That's a good point. Good quality 500-550 watts will be plenty for this kind of a system.

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    Sogeman

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    Get an SSD, worth it alone for the boot time.

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