Monster gaming rig

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Hello all, haven't been here in a while.. my question is simple. Which
motherboard is the best on the market as of right now (March2006)? I'm
an all AMD when it comes to processors and all ATI when it comes to
graphics. I've been MSI for quite some time now.. won't hurt to try
something different. So.. which and why? Budget... $200 tops?

Re: Monster gaming rig

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Heres Anandtechs MB guide they list several in the 160-200 range

From AT :

The DFI that we mentioned above is an excellent choice, but you also
have the option of going with the ASUS nForce4 SLI X16 (939) A8N32-SLI
Deluxe [RTPE: A8N32-SLI Deluxe], which is arguably one of the best
gaming and overclocking boards available today. This board is
currently being sold for $197 shipped.

Frankly Im not interested in SLI at all and if I ever need 10 USB
ports or 8 Channel audio ill buy a card later. Sure many of these
boards have limited PCI slots but now that they have a PCI express TV
tuner by Power Cooler based on the 550 ATI chip, i think I could
juggle adding all the cards I want in. I even bought an external modem
for faxing etc so I dont use any PCI slots if I ever wanted to use
that feature. Plus PCs are so cheap now it doesnt cost much to put
together a second one. I have 3 and my second one is a nforce3 which
has 5 PCI slots so Im not that worried about that aspect as much as I
was before.

So to me Id only spend 100-130 tops probably unless theres some
compelling reason someone has. Usually the same type of boards arent
that different performance wise. The Ultra nforce4s were very close
like the other types were --- KT333 and nforce2 and nforce3. Initially
theyll have compatibility and possibly reliability problems which can
be  a major reason to avoid some brands . The other is
overclockability. Thats the main feature that tends to attract a lot
of people into performance ---- more voltage adjustments and other
design features. But even that seems to be disputed somewhat. Like my
chaintech ultra was criticized by some reviewers when it first came as
well as other boards that didnt have active cooling of the MB chip
which they felt might reduce the max OC level. Also they felt the
memory slots were too close together to properly disippate heat and
other quibbles but others who bought claimed they OCed AMDs quite high
while others couldnt. I think a few boards have finer voltage
adjustments or something too.

I think unless someone can come up with a really compelling reason Id
buy the Asus Ultra nforce4 boards for 95 bucks or something comparable
and the 7800-7900 cards are really coming down along with the ATIs so
Id get one of those and save several hundred bucks avoiding SLI and
and two graphics cards unless someone posts a really compelling reason
to get those cards or you have money to burn. Then youll have several
hundred saved for the next gen INTEL or M2 platforms that should be
out byXmas hopefully and you can sell the system you buy now and add
the several hundred.

Re: Monster gaming rig

Well I did said it's a gaming rig, so the high end onboard sound cards
with 8channels would definately be a plus. Are the new >800mhz fsb
processors really worth it when stable memory is at what... 400mhz now?

Here's my current specs:

MSI K2N-Delta (nforce2)
AMD Athlon 3200+
Kingston pc3200
ATI Radeon x800 Pro
Creative Sound Blaster Live Experiance (Not fully functional)

- My CPU FSB is overclocked just a bit while my memory is downlocked
for stability, so they run at a 1:1 ratio, 175mhz. Overall CPU speed is

Re: Monster gaming rig


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If you want more than 2 channels (virtual surround in
gaming) definitely get a separate sound card (Creative Labs)
not onboard sound, or at least try the card you have.  If
you want high quality 2 channel sound for regular (Hi-Fi,
music) playback, again a separate sound card is warranted.
There is no high-quality onboard sound, they all have issues
inherant to budgetization or at least available board

Re: Monster gaming rig

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I had the nforce2 Asus deluxe with 3200 (actually a 2500 barton OCed
to 3200 no sweat) and went from a 9800 to 6800. I then switched to a
3200 939/Chaintech Ultra Nforce4 board with 800XL ATI.
Then I upgraded recently to a X2 dual core 3800 and 7800GT.

The 939 platform and processors defintely feel more powerful. In some
game benchmarks you dont see huge differences but then other tests
show like I posted a DOOM 3 test --- a 3000 vs 3000 939 and it was 10
frames or so higher but they were both high.

The 3800 AMD x2 is really popular now and the price has come down so
its a decent deal. They are said to OC to 2.5 easily so it pushes it
up to a far more expensive performance level at a reasonable price.
The opteron 165s are said to OC better if you want to for that and it
has 1 meg cache.

See heres a typical comment

The 3800 dual core vs a single core will be slightly slower in stock
form but it OCes well so the slight difference isnt that big of a deal
plus you get the benefits of dual core which defintely is a plus when
doing multitasking.

The 8.1 I havent heard it but theres a lot of comments all the time
about how onboard sound isnt that great and how more than 6.1 is
starting to get silly. But who knows. A lot of people rave about the
new Creative Xfi cards so that might be a better place to spend your
dough than buying a more expensive MB just for the sound but I havent
heard either of these personally. For me I used to have the Audigy
Value. I got rid of that and and getting the Audigy 2 right now cause
theres lots of super cheap sales on them now. I got mine for $23 after
rebate hopefully. I think $80 or so for Xfi is a bit high but everyone
seems to love them. I just want it for gaming causing Im using onboard
sound now.

For actual quality sound Im using a audiophile 2496 card and nearfield
monitors. I was trying to upgrade that to a 1212m EMU card but decide
to wait. Creative actually bought EMU and thats their serious music
recording card line NOT the Xfi etc.

You can get a pretty hot system for a reasonble price right now cheap
but itll still cost you a fair amount $600-700 depending on the card
you get. If you push to get a 200 board itll add another 100 or so to
the price which may better be spent on a separate sound card, better
graphics card or processor depending on your budget.

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