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What do I look for when comparing two motherboards?

By childofthetao · 9 replies
Apr 22, 2012
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  1. Hi, I am planning on buying a motherboard bundle but it gives me the choice to choose either Z68AP-D3 or a GA-Z68XP-UD4. Since the GA is about £50 more expensive I would assume it's better but just what exactly makes a better motherboard? How is the second mobo better than the first one?

    Any help appreciated,

    EDIT: I just found the exact same bundle on another site except the CPU isn't overclocked and it has a GA-Z77-D3H motherboard. All motherboards I have mentioned in this post are gigabyte boards. How does this board compare to the other two?
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,873

    Comparing features are not as important as getting the features you need or want.

    One of the biggest questions is what graphics are you going to run?
    1. On-board or single graphics card solution
    2. Multiple graphics cards (Crossfire or SLI)
    Will you need a Micro-ATX motherboard or will a standard ATX motherboard fit your case?
    I usually lookup motherboards (among other things) on newegg and compare features side by side.

  3. childofthetao

    childofthetao TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 159

    Well, I'm going to be gaming and doing 3d graphics work, so I'll be using my nvidia 460 in it. I won't be using SLI, one card is plenty.

    I'm glad you asked about the case as it made me realize there is another thing I don't know. I was trying to make up my mind on one of these two cases:



    But I don't know if the board will fit them. If the board will fit both of them, I'll research a little more and try to figure out which of them would be the cooler case.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    All Gigabyte boards are prefixed GA-, just that some (r)etailers do away with the prefix (Gigabyte also use GV- as a prefix for their graphics cards)

    Regarding the comparison:
    The -D3H is an entry level board. The 4-pin EPS12V denote that the board isn't aimed at the overclocking crowd, and functionally the board is artificially limited to one full speed PCI-E x16 with the second x16 slot capped at x4 ( certified for CrossfireX but not SLI if you were planning on running two graphics cards. No big deal if you're looking at a single card). The biggest differentiator is the bare bones USB3.0 support (2 ports rear I/O, 2 via onboard), and SATA ports (chipset supported 2 x SATA 6GB and 4 x SATA 3GB)- the crappy old school vertical SATA port placement is another signpost to Budgetland, as is the lack of DisplayPort video out connection.

    The (GA-) Z68AP-D3 can be regarded as the earlier Z68 chipset version of the Z77-D3H.
    The (GA-) Z68XP-UD4 is the mainstream board from Gigabyte for last years Z68 chipset. Note that the PCB is now a fashionable black (used with Gigabytes performance boards), the EPS12V is now 8-pin (overclocker orientated), a beefier 16+2 phase power delivery (the cheaper boards use 6+2. Also note that the voltage regulation is fully heatsinked)-also aimed at overclocking, and some extra connectivity via third party controllers -an extra 4 SATA 6GB ports including two eSATA, and the second PCI-E x16 slot is now rated at x8 (CrossfireX and SLI). If you're not overclocking and don't need the extra SATA ports and seven extra USB2.0 ports then the boards offer the same basic level of functionality.
    Gigabyte Z68 boards use a conventional BIOS, their Z77 boards use UEFI. Some Gigabyte Z68 boards exhibit reboot loop behaviour. This seems to have been allieviated (but not entirely cured) with BIOS updates and culling the suspect boards from stock. Some boards show the tendency, some/most do not. If you opt for the Z68 board and it does go through a cold boot reboot loop look to RMA it -chances are that no troubleshooting (settings change, BIOS update etc.) will likely cure the issue.
    childofthetao likes this.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,873

    You should be just fine with either of those cases as they are both standard cases. A standard case will fit both micro-ATX and standard ATX motherboards.
    childofthetao likes this.
  6. childofthetao

    childofthetao TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 159

    Well then, there is absolutely no question about it, I will be going for the Z68XP-UD4!

    Thanks dividebyzero!

    But if no one minds, could someone take a look at those two cases I linked to above and let me know if the board will fit in them?

  7. childofthetao

    childofthetao TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 159

    Ah thanks cliffordcooley.

    What's everyones opinion on which of those two might the coolest? One has two extra fans over the other, but the other has fan speed control.

    Are there any sites that have like temperature benchmarks for cases?
  8. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    Depending on what kind of fans are included (I'm picking fairly basic sleeve bearing) the Vantage chassis probably is the better bet (both cases seem based on the same chassis skeleton), since you would have to factor in the cost of fans in the second chassis. Buying a fan controller would likely be cheaper than buying fans. If the small slot between the front fan and the 5.25" bays isn't a 3.5" slot then you'd need to look at a 5.25" fan controller (preferably with USB3.0 if you want to make use of the motherboard ports).
  9. childofthetao

    childofthetao TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 159

    The vantage case it is then, I'll also buy that fan controller you linked to. Is it easy to connect? Do they plug into the motherboard or the case?

    EDIT: Do you know if the fans on the vantage case have 4-pin connectors? I need to choose a fan controller that will fit the connectors.
  10. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    Make sure the chassis has a 3.5" external bay first (phone OcUK's support, or contact Gibbo/one of the site admins at their forum). If the chassis doesn't natively support a 3.5" bay device then you'd need to either buy a bay adapter, or look at a 5.25" fan controller...this is assuming that a fan controller is high on your list of "must haves"
    The 3-pin fan connector(s) fit into plugs in the back of the fan controller. The fan controller draws it's power from a molex (4 pin peripheral) power connector which you connect to the appropriate female connector on the power supply.
    If you choose the Z68XP-UD4 you have the option of contolling the fan speed on one of the case fans via the 4-pin fan header (next to the SATA ports). There are also two 3-pin -fixed speed- fan connectors in addition to the 4-pin CPU fan header.
    No I don't. The brand isn't available in my country. For the price of the chassis I am pretty certain that the fans will be 3-pin (or possibly 4-pin molex- for which you would need a molex-to-3-pin pass through cable/adapter. Another thing to discuss with the guys at OcUK.

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