Buying a motherboard is a subtle balance between going overboard and buying something which simply doesn’t have everything you need it to. You can buy boards ranging from $50 to $500 but whether or not you will need everything that an expensive board has to offer is another question. In this article I aim to find the board which is the cheapest and fulfils all the needs of the majority of people.
First thing to look at is the processor – AMD or Intel? So far Intel has the better range although AMD processors are often cheaper. In terms of a price-performance ratio, Intel is still the way to go due to the raw power you get out of the CPU when compared to similar AMD processors. With new Intel Ivy Bridge processors on the horizon, you will probably want a motherboard which gives you the option of later upgrading to the new generation of processors in order to future proof your purchase.
As well as this, since most of the new Intel processors support integrated graphics (which are quite decent for normal use) a motherboard which uses the Z68 chipset to support these graphics will be advantageous as it can save you money in case you do not want to buy a dedicated graphics card immediately. This chipset also has integrated support for SATA3 so an extra chip is not needed (as it was on older motherboards).
Support for PCI-e x16 is necessary as this will give you the option of later upgrading to a dedicated graphics card. If the motherboard has support for two graphics cards, this is also useful but not essential as the majority of people will not buy a second video card ( a single one is good enough for most). Other extra PCI slots are good as they give the option of later expansion
RAM support isn’t too much of a concern. Many more expensive motherboards claim to support faster RAM however as I have mentioned in the previous part the stock 1333MHz DDR3 is fine for anyone. Faster RAM is useful for overclocking but the average user doesn’t do this and so faster RAM is essentially useless. Any motherboard which supports DDR3 is fine.
USB3 and SATA3 support as well as PCI-e 3.0 (needs Ivy Bridge to work) support is quite a handy feature to have even if it isn’t useful now. This should help to prolong the life of your computer, allowing it to keep up with the latest technology and allow the possibility of upgrading in the future. UEFI is a new technology which replaces the BIOS and on top of offering support for booting Windows from 3TB and greater hard drives, it also allows you to interact with it using the mouse instead of just a keyboard. This is an essential feature for future proofing as storage needs are ever increasing so upgrading the hard drive will be a lot easier with this feature
One motherboard which has all the features listed here plus a few more and has the added benefit of being a lot cheaper than comparable boards is the ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 Intel Z68 ATX DDR3 1066 Intel – LGA 1155 Motherboard. This board is perfect even for more advanced users and for the features it has, it is extremely cheap. At the moment it is the best value motherboard available.
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