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New motherboard advice

By Sarmad
Aug 5, 2011
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  1. I'm looking for components to build myself new PC based on the Intel 2600K processor. Usage will be for games, video editing/encoding/conversion, software compilations and the common Microsoft Office + Internet. It's been many years since when I built myself a PC.

    Can anyone please advise, what should I be looking for when choosing a motherboard? Last time I bought one, one of the things I had to look at was the frontside bus speed for example, but I don't see that in today's mobos.

    I've been looking at this particular motherboard: Asus P8Z68 Deluxe (details are at: http://uk.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z68_DELUXE/ ). Is this a good one for me to go for, or is there anything missing on this board that I can find on others? Are there alternative mobos I should consider?

    Thanks.
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,837   +667

    The P8Z68 Deluxe is a good board. It also happens to be fairly expensive for the feature set it comes equipped with. A quick price check at Scan shows the board at £185, whereas the Pro version is £148. The difference is that the Deluxe carries a second GbLAN (only a bog-standard PCI based 8111E, to go with the standard PCI-E Intel 82579), a front-panel USB 3.0 module and some extra accessories. The Deluxe also lacks the onboard graphics connections of the Pro -which might come in handy if you need to either troubleshoot a potential graphics card problem, or as a stand-in if you're between selling an old graphics card and buying a new one.
    IF you can live with two less SATA 6Gb ports ( down to two, plus four standard SATA 3Gb ports) then the standard P8Z68-V at £128 makes even more sense.
    All three of these boards are essentially the same specification and performance. If you think the extra features warrant the extra expenditure then go with what you need within your budget.

    Regarding performance with P67 and Z68 chipset boards....they are all pretty similar. It really just comes down to feature set ( connectivity, expansion slot layout, UEFI or BIOS options, warranty).
  3. Sarmad

    Sarmad TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Thanks for your quick response, DivideByZero.

    Scan was exactly where I was thinking of buying the mobo. I don't mind the extra expenditure as it'll be a one-off and I do see myself making use of some of the extra connectivity and especially the extra SATA drives. The lack of on-board graphics card is a bit of a letdown, but I suppose I can always buy an additional cheap card specifically for troubleshooting occasions.

    I read about this particular limitation with the Pro board on Tom's Hardware: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/asroc...pro-gigabyte-z68x-ud3h-b3,review-32188-5.html

    "Lacking the PLX bridge found on the company's more expensive products, it’s impossible to populate all of the P8Z68-V Pro’s interfaces simultaneously. The second PCIe x1 slot is, for example, shared with the front-panel USB 3.0 controller and the four-lane x16-length bottom slot. When one of the two slots is filled, electronic switches disable the other two interfaces. The features get even sparser when the bottom slot's x4-mode is enabled; doing so disables the first x1 slot and the eSATA controller."

    I'm wondering if this limitation is also with the Deluxe board.

    Also, Asus's website mentions in the specs for the Pro board: http://uk.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z68V_PRO/#specifications

    "The PCIe x16_3 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe x1_1 slot, PCIe x1_2 slot, USB3_34 and eSATA. The PCIe x16_3 default setting is in x1 mode."

    This isn't mentioned in the specs for the Deluxe board, so if this is a limitation then I hope this isn't the case with the Deluxe.

    Also, are "PCIe 2.0 x1" slots backwards compatible with "PCIe x1" devices? The Deluxe has two "PCIe 2.0 x1" slots and no "PCIe x1" slots, whereas the Pro is vice versa (two "PCIe 2.0 x1" slots and no "PCIe 2.0 x1").

    Thanks.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,837   +667

    If you plan on populating a number of the slots, then the Deluxe would be the better option. It utilises a PEX 8608 bridge chip (lane extender) so you can use all slots simultaneously with the USB3.0 and SATA ports.

    PCIe 2.0 is backwards compatible with 1.x, although I suspect that there is no difference in the specification, just that the information on the lower tier boards has been truncated.
    Even if the slots were 1.1 specification, they would still offer sufficient bandwidth for virtually any device likely to using them (usually discrete sound cards, tv tuner cards, USB/SATA expansion cards etc.). High bandwidth devices (hardware RAID, PCI-E SSD's usually are designed for the PCI-E x4 slot (or PCI-E x16 @ 4 lanes electrical).
  5. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,548   +96

    A useful factor for your information since you will be doing video encoding and transcoding is that the Z68 boards allow both the overclocking of the K series processors and the use of the cpu onboard graphics capability. What this opens up is the use of intel's QuickSync transcoding feature which is pretty darn fast.
    P67 based boards only allow for the overclocking and not the use of the onboard video. Doing some H.264 video transcoding from my friends video files the 2600K at 4.6Ghz (no quicksync as on the P67 board) did some ~2 min file transcodes in about real time, I mean it took as long as it did to watch the videos (His old dual core took about 3-4 times longer). The quicksync function should make transcoding even faster! Only thing I'm not sure about is if you can have the 3000 HD on cpu video enabled for quicksync at the same time as using a discrete video card. If you don't want the capability to use the on cpu video or the quicksync capability then the P67 will offer pretty much the same performance for your listed needs. As DBZ pointed out though, it's handy to have that backup video option in case of any problems.

    I too deliberated over Pro or Deluxe (of the P67 board) for my own system and don't really use half the added ports and gubbins it comes with, but just had a few features I wanted over the standard board so went with the Pro. Really comes down to whether or not you need the extra stuff or not. Also I'm running crossfired ATI 5850 cards with no real perceivable performance loss from the lanes/bandwidth sharing.
  6. Sarmad

    Sarmad TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Thanks for all the advice so far. Before I make the decision to buy this board, I have a few more questions (sorry, some of my questions may sound silly because it's all new territory to me, because it's been several years when I last built a PC and things were different then) :

    1. The 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots drop to x8 speed when both are used. Is this normal behaviour even with all other motherboards, or something th=o be concerned about?

    2. This board has no onboard video. Does this compromise the system's performance in video encoding? A major thing I'll be using the computer for is video editing, conversions, re-encoding, etc.

    3. A colleague advised me that the motherboard I choose should have sufficient cooling/heat-sinks in the right places, especially when using it for gaming. How do I check this board has the correct cooling?

    4. What speed of RAM should I go for, for optimal performance? A vendor recommends 1600, but the specs say this board can take 2200 running at 2133 MHz default. Text from spec:
    4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 Hz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
    * Due to CPU behavior, DDR3 2200/2000/1800 MHz memory module will run at DDR3 2133/1866/1600 MHz frequency as default.

    Thanks.
  7. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,837   +667

    All P67 / Z68 chipset boards (along with P55, X48, X38, P45 ) default to splitting available bandwidth between the primary and secondary slots if both are populated. The difference between x16 and x8 is for the most part, barely measurable let alone noticeable.
    Depends what you mean by compromise. The on-die/Quick-Sync need the on-die GPU to be active (i.e. onboard video out), the other side of the coin is that Quick Sync compatibility is limited to ArcSoft Media Converter 7 and Cyberlink Media Espresso 6 at the present time. Use any other software and GPU transcode is available.
    Your colleague seems out of step with current motherboard/chipset implementation. Chassis cooling and its ability in exhausting hot air from two graphics cards should be the area of concern. BTW The Cougar Point chipset consumes 6.1 watts
    Mmmmm, that's a tough one....maybe read a few Z68/P67 reviews and see if chipset cooling is raised as an area of concern. Failing that, you could always ask your colleague- they sound like they have their finger on the pulse of current technology.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4503/sandy-bridge-memory-scaling-choosing-the-best-ddr3

    Now, you seem to be an observant person- after all, you can distinguish between very similar feature sets, AND interpret the information both included and missing from reviews- so you may have noticed a certain flippancy in my answers. This is by design, since ALL the questions you have asked can be answered very easily using a very simple search- indeed, the chipset cooling question you would already have the answer to simply reading the review you linked and used as your comparitive base early in the thread:
    (chipset max tempreture delta 9.3°C -above ambient for the Asus board).
    No problem
  8. Sarmad

    Sarmad TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Thanks.

    It's getting clearer now and I did some reading. Regarding Quick Sync for video transcoding, the motherboard comes with LUCID Virtu which allows the ASUS P8Z64 Deluxe to use a discrete video card, in combination with the iGPU, while still retaining the Intel Quick Sync capability.

    Arris, what video transcoding software are you using?
  9. Sarmad

    Sarmad TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Asus have emailed me to say that on the Deluxe model the PCI-E x16 Slot 3 (x4) shares the bandwidth with two USB, PCI-E x1, Marvell SATA 6 Gbm, JPM controller, 1394 controller and LAN2. I'm guessing they're the front panel interfaces. Is bandwidth sharing of the 3rd PCI-E x16 slot a normal thing with all motherboards?

    Thanks.


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