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What's Your Favorite Brand of Motherboard and Why?


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10 replies to this topic

#1
robertplant

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There are so many different brands out there that listing all of them seems hopeless, but my favorite is ASUS because the manual and install CD's that come with it are very helpful with troubleshooting.
My Intel motherboard came with an install CD and a sticker... not all that helpful.


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#2
Tripredacus

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This should be a poll ideally. I have limited experience with many different motherboard brands, and I would be hesitant to start listing Embedded board makers.

For me I get the best experience with Intel boards. Second place may be AOpen.
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#3
CoffeeFiend

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There is no universal answer to this. There's just too many criterias one can judge by.

My fav 2 manufacturers, when it comes to mid to high end desktop boards are Gigabyte and ASUS, with preference towards Gigabyte. But I do buy ASUS boards when there's a great deal on them.

ASUS is nice, and they have some stuff you don't typically find on Gigabyte boards (none that I remember at least), like being able to update the BIOS directly using a USB stick instead of using a 1980's era DOS boot disk.

But IMO Gigabyte has better boards. Their software mostly ties with ASUS (doesn't have the USB BIOS updater, but usually has its SMBIOS tables filled better, etc). But the real difference shows when you look at the actual hardware. Gigabyte tends to be nicer. They have a nicer voltage regulator -- they've been pioneering many significant changes there for a number of years such as using solid polymer caps and fancier multi-phase designs that can turn phases on or off, much like they were among the first to offer 2oz PCBs. I have yet to see a better quality board from anybody else. They often end up having the board that's closest to what I'm looking for too (feature-wise), although ASUS is usually a close second.

There's a LOT of factors to keep in mind when you pick a board (besides cost obviously), like stability, features like USB3, SATA 6Gbps, a nicer chipset, nicer set of ports, extra memory slots, extra PCI-e slots (...), good layout, good cooling, good warranty, good support (BIOS updates for one thing), ...

Beyond those two, there's plenty of others which I would group in 4 main categories:

1) still high quality (kind of like ASUS and Gigabyte) but very much aimed towards an enthusiast market. Those companies often offer very few models, they tend to be very expensive, and often not offer a whole lot more (over say, ASUS and Gigabyte boards) besides fancy colors and perhaps a couple extra BIOS options. Here you find companies like DFI (haven't looked at their offerings in ages mind you)

2) the pretty good quality ones. Not as nice as the previous, but aimed at a more "budget" oriented user. No major complaints, they just tend to deliver a bit less of those nice features, but for a bit less $. Read: MSI and the likes.

3) The OK manufacturers. Your PC turns on and you can do stuff. Loads of no-frills, cheap mATX boards. Foxconn and the like.

4) The not-so-great manufacturers. Some companies have historically been making less than stellar boards...

For me I get the best experience with Intel boards

Likely because they're the ones you've worked with the most. Honestly, I rate their hardware a solid "meh". Thoroughly unimpressive. "Just OK" hardware combined with a BIOS that is pretty bare bones, an anemic selection of boards and that is for Intel CPUs only (of course, but that's still a huge limitation CPU/chipset-wise), they often have onboard video -- the sucky kind (Intel HD) that's just barely adequate for the minimum you can do (in this day of Aero Glass, mainstream OpenGL-accelerated apps, etc -- yet now even requires paying extra for a CPU that includes it), they just don't have any boards with a great feature set (just find me a socket 1156 board with 2 PCI-e x16 slots? None? Ok then, find me one with USB3 ports. Still none? Ok. How about one with a 6Gbps SATA port for a SSD? ...) and they're kind of overpriced for what they are. Name any Intel desktop board and I'll easily come up with something nicer at the same price point (within $10) from other manufacturers. Even if I was looking for a "just OK" board, there's plenty of others I'd pick well before that.
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#4
vinifera

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Intel for me
got MoBos dying over the years, dropping down like flies
only Intel outlived them all
If you want true Windows user experience
try Longhorn builds: 3718, 4029, 4066

#5
Tripredacus

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they just don't have any boards with a great feature set (just find me a socket 1156 board with 2 PCI-e x16 slots? None?


It does appear that Intel does not have any current board that have USB 3.0 or SSD SATA ports. I have seen USB 3 on one board so far, I'm pretty sure it was an MSI board with the Intel P55 chipset. Interesting that some manufacturers can make better systems with Intel's technology than Intel does. I will admit that some of Intel's products have been a pain lately. As far as the above quote, you can't really compare Intel board to other boards made by other people even using Intel's chipsets because they appear to lack all those extra items.

Here is the DX58SO which is their "gaming" type board, or in the Extreme Series.

Their "super" version of that board is the WX58BP which has some additional features usually only found in their Server boards. However this is a Workstation board and there may not be support for the operating system that you use. Then again, most people do not really care too much about software support if building a system for yourself, when it comes to putting together systems for sale to companies that is another story.
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#6
gUiTaR_mIkE

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I'm not sure why some of you feel this is a difficult question, the OP asked for opinions basically. I don't view any forum response as gospel truth, I view it as an appreciated opinion only. Most of us have built a few computers for our own use as well helped others so we should have come in contact with at least three or four different brands. I have had to dink with every board listed in CoffeeFiend's post, less Intel... which I am surprised by the views, I guess I would have expected a unanimous "there greaaaat", the CPUs are (usually) :)

I agree with CoffeeFiend and say use that post as a guide, it is pretty accurate and mentions the important things to keep in mind. ASUS and Gigabyte have always been top notch for me. I have boards right now that have been running mostly around the clock for about 7 years (approaching 60,000 hrs) - the ASUS A7V8X for one. I will add though, this machine stays cool, dust free (as possible), is powered by a name brand stable power supply, and is protected by a quality UPS - this matters when it comes to longevity of a system.

It should be said the aforementioned brands do lay an egg once in a while - so do your research.

Again, this is my opinion from my experience - take it for what its worth - about $0.02 :)
Mike :)

#7
robertplant

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Jeez!! Whoa!!
Sounds like you guys are way ahead of me in terms of both knowledge and experience.
I've only built three PC's all for personal use.
Building one to satisfy a customer might be a totally different ball game.
CoffeeFiend's post has given me something to think about 'cuz it might explain why vids tend to play a bit choppy on the Intel motherboard.
Also sounds as if the Gigabyte motherboard might be worth looking into assuming I ever scrape enough money together to build another PC.
Do I have any real need for another PC?
No, but building them is fun and challenging, and once you start, there's no going back to buying a PC off the shelf.
Anyhow, as was said earlier my main reason for liking the ASUS is the manual is very helpful for those with limited experience.
Also the ASUS does seem to run cooler.

#8
CoffeeFiend

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Late reply, somehow I hadn't seen seen your reply (just stumbled across it somehow)

It does appear that Intel does not have any current board that have USB 3.0 or SSD SATA ports

In any way, shape or form yeah. And if you look at the mainstream offerings (socket 1156 right now), then you can forget about some more common stuff too (like having 2 PCI-e x16 slots)

I have seen USB 3 on one board so far, I'm pretty sure it was an MSI board with the Intel P55 chipset

There's dozens of them, even if you limit yourself to the Intel chipsets/sockets. MSI alone has at least three (P55A-GD65; P55A-GD85; P55A Fuzion), whereas Gigabyte and ASUS probably have over a dozen such models each

Interesting that some manufacturers can make better systems with Intel's technology than Intel does

In desktop class hardware, pretty much every single OEM beats Intel at this. Like I said, just name any Intel mobo and I'll come up with several better/nicer boards from different OEMs (won't even be hard)

As far as the above quote, you can't really compare Intel board to other boards made by other people even using Intel's chipsets because they appear to lack all those extra items.

And why is that? They often provide a far better feature set at the exact same price point (like dual PCI-e x16 slots, or having USB3 ports, etc), and if you go with an OEM like ASUS or Gigabyte, you also get a better quality motherboard (the PCB itself, components used, the voltage regulator, the BIOS options, the cooling, the layout, etc) and everything else. Intel isn't leading in any significant way.

Here is the DX58SO which is their "gaming" type board, or in the Extreme Series

...which totally isn't what I was asking for (a "mainstream" socket 1156 board with a good featureset -- something Intel doesn't actually offer).

Your answer is seemingly to buy a $230 motherboard which requires spending extra on the CPU too (and has far less offerings), yet which offers zero tangible benefits over a ~$100 board from competitors. Heck, let's even compare it to a $90 board from MSI: both have 2 PCI-e x16 slots, both have 4 slots for DDR3 with 16GB MAX (except the MSI board can actually run it faster), same amount of SATA ports, both 7.1 audio, both GigE, ... The only meaningful difference apart from the Intel board costing 3x as much is that it has 2 eSATA ports, whereas the MSI board lets you use the GPU from the newer i3's and i5's. The MSI board also has some other nice stuff over the much pricier Intel board: like better laid out slots (or the oddly placed power connector on the Intel board by the x4 slot), having a PATA port (just in case), the right-angle SATA connectors, using solid polymer caps throughout (unlike the Intel board with plenty of electrolytics) and nicer chokes too. And if you go with the Intel board, you can forget about getting something "alright" like a $125 i3 550 altogether. Or if you want a quad core decent performance without breaking the bank, with the MSI board you can get a $200 i5 760. With the Intel board, the absolute cheapest CPU you can buy is the i7 950 at $300... It adds up quickly.

At $230, I'd expect a LOT more out of a board. I mean, a pricey 1366 board, with only 4 memory slots, are they joking? Not only it limits how much max memory you can have (that's half the point of socket 1366 in the first place though) but using the 4th slot will actually decrease your memory bandwidth (so it's more like a 3 slot board, almost). And still no USB3 or SATA 6Gbps (at $230, it would be nice to have such features which are quite common on ~$100 boards). At that price point, even just sticking to 1366, there's no shortage of (far) better offerings:
-EVGA 131-GT-E767-TR with its 3 PCI-e x16 slots, 6 memory slots, USB3 and SATA 6Gbps and far nicer board overall (despite actually being $20 cheaper)
-Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R with its 4 PCI-e x16 slots, 6 memory slots, USB3 and SATA 6Gbps, better set of ports, far better quality and nicer overall -- it thoroughly PWNS the Intel board (and it's also $20 cheaper)
-SuperMicro MBD-C7X58-O: not impressive, but at least you're actually getting 6 memory slots (triple channel) and they don't skimp on things like capacitors (no electrolytics)...
-ASRock X58 Extreme 6 with its 3 PCI-e x16 slots, 6 memory slots, 6x USB3 ports and 6x SATA 6Gbps,etc.
-ASUS P6X58D-E with its 3 PCI-e x16 slots, 6 memory slots, USB3 and SATA 6Gbps and all that other nice stuff...
-ASUS Rampage III Gene: see the line directly above (3, 6, yes, yes...)
-ASUS P6TD Deluxe: 3 slots, 6 memory...
and if you don't actually need the 6 memory slots (so 1156 it is), then you can find TONS of much better offerings for far less. Only Intel forces you to get a 1366 socket based board in order to get 2 PCI-e x16 slots.

Their "super" version of that board is the WX58BP which has some additional features usually only found in their Server boards. However this is a Workstation board and there may not be support for the operating system that you use

Which like you said doesn't fit the bill either (workstation board, not a desktop board), and it seems to be discontinued too. Mind you, it's still thoroughly unimpressive (even for a workstation board, I'd much sooner buy a nice SuperMicro board or similar). It's not about getting support for the OS as a home user or such indeed, but here you'd have to buy a Xeon W3600/W3500 series CPU like a $650 Intel Xeon W3565 which is actually slower than a $275 i7 870 (a massive waste of money for most people), then ECC RAM and all that fun stuff. Still no USB3, no SATA 6Gbps, still only 4 memory slots, etc. For most people, the $90 MSI board still wins hands down.

What I was asking for is something more like a $150 ASUS P7P55D-E: 2 PCI-e x16 slots, 4 memory slots, USB3, SATA 6Gbps, ... great features, great quality, decent price -- for an Intel setup at least. Mind you, if I was buying something right now it would likely be a Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3. 2 PCI-e x16 slots (and plenty of others), 4 DDR3 slots, 6 x SATA 6Gbps (8 external total) + 2 eSATA, 2x USB3 and 8x USB2 at the back, toslink and spdif outs, etc. And a really high quality board overall -- all for $100.
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#9
Tripredacus

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As far as the above quote, you can't really compare Intel board to other boards made by other people even using Intel's chipsets because they appear to lack all those extra items.

And why is that? They often provide a far better feature set at the exact same price point (like dual PCI-e x16 slots, or having USB3 ports, etc), and if you go with an OEM like ASUS or Gigabyte, you also get a better quality motherboard (the PCB itself, components used, the voltage regulator, the BIOS options, the cooling, the layout, etc) and everything else. Intel isn't leading in any significant way.


Let's chalk that up to a mis-worded post. I meant to imply that Intel can't compare to others, one of those backwards grammar moments! :)

Since I've learned more and more about Intel baord (to say the TechProdSpec doesn't scare me anymore) I've run into some misgiving about their boards, however I have no knowledge on whether these things are corrected or done better on other company's boards.

Let me use the PCI Express slots for example. Most Intel boards that have at least 2 PCI-E slots seem to have been designed incorrectly. Not many Intel boards will actually run the x16 slot at x16 speed. The specs will say things like "x16 mechanically, x8 electrically." Then I think, perhaps I can not actually tell the difference between graphics of a PCI-E video card running at 2.5GT/s vs the 5.0GT/s that it should be at. There was one sales training I attended that talked about their "new" (probably old by now) workstation board, and asked about the slots, and the dude was just like "yes that's what they do" concerning why they would put an x16 slot but only run it at x8. I understood the reasoning behind it, because of how it was constructed and blah blah blah

But does that even matter? Is it a big deal that I would be basically underclocking any video card I'd put in those boards, even if I am not using any of the other slots?
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#10
CoffeeFiend

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Let's chalk that up to a mis-worded post. I meant to imply that Intel can't compare to others, one of those backwards grammar moments! :)

:lol: It makes a lot more sense now...

Let me use the PCI Express slots for example. Most Intel boards that have at least 2 PCI-E slots seem to have been designed incorrectly. Not many Intel boards will actually run the x16 slot at x16 speed. The specs will say things like "x16 mechanically, x8 electrically."

That isn't "fixed" on other OEM's boards. It's not so much the board design to blame, it's merely a limitation of the chipset (so yes, it is still Intel's fault). Intel is behind AMD when it comes to chipsets and PCI-e lanes/bandwidth -- that's actually my main gripe with them right now (well, besides offering less bang for your buck).

The aging X58 chipset is the only one they have which isn't too limited, and even then... It has 36 PCI-e lanes max usable by video cards (2x16, or 4x8), and up to 6 x1 lanes (non-2.0) off of the ICH10[R]. So that chipset could give you two real PCI-e 2.0 x16 (electrically) slots, and still have a few left for other stuff. In this case, it's not so much the video cards that are limited, it's the "how much you have left for everything else". The other 6 lanes aren't 2.0 so it's really like having all of 3 lanes of the 2.0 kind which isn't a lot. And this is what you have left to connect all of your hard drives (RAID, SSDs, etc), your super-fast USB3 ports, firewire, gigabit ethernet cards, various expansion cards (all of them besides the x16 vid cards), etc. So if you want to have enough bandwidth to all your "other stuff", you basically have to steal some away from the video card(s). Some companies even use fancy ICs (PLX 86xx series switch or nForce 200 bridge) to make this configurable (how many lanes of your video cards you're willing to sacrifice to make everything else not slow) on the most high-end X58 boards.

All their other chipsets have far less total PCI-e lanes:
P55 has 16 lanes total for video cards (1x16 or 2x8)... That's all you're getting. There's 8 more non-2.0 lanes for "other stuff" which isn't as bad, but still not a whole lot.
H55 also has 16 lanes for video cards (but only 1x16 possible, no 2x8 option). Then another 6 non-2.0 lanes...
That still wouldn't be too bad if it was just that. But it so happens that everything besides their video cards goes through the QPI bus, which is limited to 2GB/s. That means all of your USB 3 ports (about 400 MB/s each real-life speed, per port), all your SATA 3 ports for your RAID arrays and SSDs (600MB/s per port), your Gigabit ethernet (125MB/s per port), all your extension cards (500MB/s per x1 slot, etc) and several others all go through this...

AMD's 890FX has more lanes than X58. There's plenty of it for two full (electrically) 2.0 x16 slots (or 4 at x8) and still plenty of it left after that (about twice as much as the X58). And PCI-e switches are fairly common on such boards too (like the P13PCIE) which lets you configure how to attribute them. X68 will finally fix that sometime (in Q3 2011 last I heard) -- for a pretty penny (along with $$$ 6 and 8 core i9's) I'm sure, but you lose the "6 memory slots option" in the process... Once it's out and if you can actually afford it, it'll be a great option I'm sure.
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#11
DKasler

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I LOVE Gigabyte motherboards. They have out lasted anything else I have ever used, not 1 has ever failed me.





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