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Thread: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

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    How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    I need a new system because my current one is old, noisy and starting to overheat. However, I've been looking at the high end graphics cards and they don't seem too stunning at the moment.

    How viable would it be to buy a good motherboard with integrated graphics and then upgrade to the next generation of cards when they come out in six months time? Likewise, if they turn out to be CPU limited would I be able to add a good CPU to it eighteen months from now?

    Basically I'm after a gaming system that'll have playable framrates and settings (low is definitely not playable in some games) on a 24" monitor for the next three to four years for a total budget of about £1000, (not including monitor, mouse, keyboard etc.) and I'm looking for the best way to do that.

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    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Well the graphics cards which are best for handling that sort of resolution range from the 8800GTS 512mb which can do it very nicely right now to the 9800GX2 which I imagine will last you a hell of a long time.

    I wouldn't compromise your new motherboard by getting one with an integrated solution. Just get the motherboard you want and spend £20 - £30 on a cheapy card which you can then sell or perhaps just keep as a spare (just in case).

    If that £1000 was mine then I would do this.

    Intel Q6600 - £140 + Scythe Ninja or alternative -£30
    4GB PC6400 DDR2 - £60
    Abit IP-35 dark raider - £60
    500GB Western Digital AAKS - £60
    Optical Drive - £20
    Antec Sonata Plus + 550w Modular PSU - £100

    Then graphics
    £350 on a 9800GX2 if you dont want to upgrade again

    or £165 on a 8800GTS followed by an upgrade in a couple of years if you feel the need.

    The GX2 route costs about £820, the GTS route costs about £635.

    There are also graphics cards which are capable in the middle. The 8800GTX, the new 9800GTX (but only at the right price) and the ATi HD3870X2.

    You can spend more if you want a really good overclocking board or a different case/psu but that is a great PC for the money and will last you a long time.

    It will also run next to silent if built as above, you will only really hear the graphics card if you keep the stock cooler.

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    Chillie in here j.o.s.h.1408's Avatar
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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    In regards to upgrading the cpu in 18months time. now is a bad time to build because the new intel nehalem prcoessors are coming out end of 2008/early 2009 which will require a whole new socket board.

    im in the same boat has u looking to build as well and what im gunna do is get a quad core and PCI e 2.0 mobo as a bare minimum because

    1. it will be a long time before a quad core q6600 becomes a bottleneck on a game(right now u can play games while encoding somthing!)

    2. i HIGHLY doubt that gpu's will require a whole new socket too ie AGP to PCI E phase.

    3. If in some form a of way either 1 or 2 mentioned below happens in less then 3 years from now, just purchase and buy a console such has teh PS4 or xbox 720 when those come out and that will do you fine till your ready again to build

    so in terms of gaming a quad core pci 2.0 machine wil last u 3 years at least. by that time nehalem will be much more affordable

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Four years is a long time to future proof for especially in this area (desktop computing).

    I really don't think you can. Just looking at the evolution of memmory modules as an example, the speed of them means some motherboards on sale even now cannot support the latest memmory modules.

    The best way to future proof is not to buy but to lease. Then you can always have the latest and greatest.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Just a thought - Presumably you'll want the possibility of SLI or Crossfire on that rig? The two are currently mutually exclusive so if you get the wrong board now, you're locked in.

    For onboard - I can't see anything being satisfactory unless you stick to low resolutions (say 640x480...) / settings and older games. Even the best current onboard chipset, AMD 780G, only pulls about 55FPS, Medium quality in Doom 3, which is getting on a bit now ( DOOM3 benchmark of Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H AMD 780G+SB700 mainboard )

    As always - the nearest you can get to future-proof on PC is just getting the best available now. Even if you get a low end CPU and graphics card now think along the lines of what could you upgrade to with your board that's available now.

    Having said that - if I was doing what you're proposing, I'd make sure the board has PCI-E 2.0, Crossfire or SLi support (if you want that kind of thing), passive cooling, onboard fan control (you said you didn't like noise) and several PCI-E slots. If you go AMD make sure you get a board with HT3.0. For Intel, a board supporting both DDR2 and DDR3 would be nice. DDR2 now and you can swap to DDR3 when the price drops.

    For graphics cards - I agree that the high end is a little underwhelming. SLi 8800GT on a decent motherboard would give almost as good performance as a 9800GX2. As a stop-gap I'd suggest a 2nd hand X1800 or X1900 series or maybe 7800 / 7900 series. Seen a few go on forums and ebay for around £30.

    Occasionally you get lucky with these things. My current ASROCK 939Dual-SATA2 board had both AGP 8x and PCI-E 16x, as well as FutureCPU upgrade slot that's let me go from 939 to AM2. It's seen me go from an A64 3000+ and AGP 6600GT, through a few upgrades to my current X2 5000+ Black Edition and 8800GT. At the moment it' looks like Phenom's not supported but a few modders are beavering away trying to fix that (anyone else with this board - don't get your hopes up too much - it looks difficult and most motherboard manufacturers are claiming it's not possible with a 2MBit BIOS). AFAIK, there's nothing on the market offering that kind of futere-proofing / upgradeability at the moment.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    yea i would suggest sticking in a 8800gt or 9600 card and wait for the true next gen gpu card to come out and spend £300+ on that because a 9800gx2 is realy not worth the money it is now.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Quote Originally Posted by kmac View Post
    Four years is a long time to future proof for especially in this area (desktop computing).

    I really don't think you can. Just looking at the evolution of memmory modules as an example, the speed of them means some motherboards on sale even now cannot support the latest memmory modules.
    I disagree actually. A motherboard can easily last 5 years. CPUs are so much more powerful than they need to be that the only thing you have to upgrade is graphics card. If you go for a PCI-E 2.0 board and a decent power supply then you will be sorted for a long time to come just replacing the graphics card when you need to.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Yep, just take a quad core for example. how many games use even 50% of its load during a game?

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    I disagree actually. A motherboard can easily last 5 years. CPUs are so much more powerful than they need to be that the only thing you have to upgrade is graphics card. If you go for a PCI-E 2.0 board and a decent power supply then you will be sorted for a long time to come just replacing the graphics card when you need to.
    I am not saying that he will NEED to upgrade. For example I am still running an Athlon 1400Mhz CPU on an old Asus board as I just don't need any more compute power.

    What I am saying is that if you want to have the latest and greatest in terms of CPU, memmory etc, you will typically have to upgrade the mobo as well. You cannot use a mobo from 4 years ago to run CPUs and memmory available today. Whether you need to upgrade or not is a separate issue.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    I agree with the future proofing for the next 4 yrs is going to be very tough. But thats if you want a high end system at the end of that time. A system that can still run some games with a gpu upgrade is very much possible though.

    A decent motherboard with pci-e 2.0 should be good for at least a yr I think, I haven't heard of a new standard thats going to come in soon. they might say introduce pci-e 3.0 or something like that, but it should still be backwardly compatible with pci-e 1.0 and 2.0. I built my system last summer and the things that have come in since that time are the new core 2 duo/quads which run at a higher fsb and pci-e 2.0. I got my fsb running at 1467 and before that it was on 1556, on that speed its enough to run the latest core 2 duos.

    the thing with motherboards is that with a bios update you can, sometimes, extend the life of it by making it compatible with newer hardware.

    I bought pretty much all the best components I could find for a budget of £1200, and apart from crysis i can run anything at high settings on a 24" monitor.

    A quad probably will be the best route in terms of processor. A motherboard with sli/cross-fire is your decision, I have sli on mine but haven't used it yet. It does give you the added safety that you can add in a same gpu sometime in the future if needs be. But judging by what you're saying a cheapish decent card now and then a upgrade when the real next gen gpus come out will probably be the best bet. Nvidia will probably release their's around the end of this yr or start of next, but bear in mind they'll prob be very expensive as they'll be the first gen cards of a new chipset. Also sli/crossfire don't scale well unless a game/driver supports, so sometimes a single card solution is the best bet.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    Quote Originally Posted by staffsMike View Post
    Well the graphics cards which are best for handling that sort of resolution range from the 8800GTS 512mb which can do it very nicely right now to the 9800GX2 which I imagine will last you a hell of a long time.

    I wouldn't compromise your new motherboard by getting one with an integrated solution. Just get the motherboard you want and spend £20 - £30 on a cheapy card which you can then sell or perhaps just keep as a spare (just in case).

    If that £1000 was mine then I would do this.

    Intel Q6600 - £140 + Scythe Ninja or alternative -£30
    4GB PC6400 DDR2 - £60
    Abit IP-35 dark raider - £60
    500GB Western Digital AAKS - £60
    Optical Drive - £20
    Antec Sonata Plus + 550w Modular PSU - £100

    Then graphics
    £350 on a 9800GX2 if you dont want to upgrade again

    or £165 on a 8800GTS followed by an upgrade in a couple of years if you feel the need.

    The GX2 route costs about £820, the GTS route costs about £635.

    There are also graphics cards which are capable in the middle. The 8800GTX, the new 9800GTX (but only at the right price) and the ATi HD3870X2.

    You can spend more if you want a really good overclocking board or a different case/psu but that is a great PC for the money and will last you a long time.

    It will also run next to silent if built as above, you will only really hear the graphics card if you keep the stock cooler.
    I doubt the psu in the sonata would be ok for a GX2!

    One thing that you can make sure is capable of upgrades is the Case and PSU so there is no way i wouold go the budget option and pick the sonata. Yes its an ok case and the PSU is competanat but within a budget of 1000 and the specs given i would say a P182 and HX620 are much more sensible options.

    as for PCI-E 2.0... we are not even using PCI-E 1 to its full capabilities, cards and boards are going to be backwards compatible for some time. Yes i agree its the best way of 'future proofing' however we all know that such a term cannot really apply to computing

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    finding nemo staffsMike's Avatar
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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    One thing that you can make sure is capable of upgrades is the Case and PSU so there is no way i wouold go the budget option and pick the sonata. Yes its an ok case and the PSU is competanat but within a budget of 1000 and the specs given i would say a P182 and HX620 are much more sensible options.

    I would probably go for the P182 corsair (albeit the 520w) route too in the end but that said, I wouldn't call the sonata plus a budget option by any means. It's quite a highly regard PSU from what I've read and the case is fantastic also.

    I think you are over estimating the power requirements if you think 550W isn't enough. The 520w corsair will quite happily SLi 2 of the older gen 8800GTS's so I don't see why it wouldn't run a GX2 unless it hasn't been updated with 8pin PCIe connectors which I assume the GX2 uses.
    Last edited by staffsMike; 07-04-2008 at 11:20 AM.

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    Chillie in here j.o.s.h.1408's Avatar
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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    if iw as you i would go for a full tower case so you wont have trouble adding anotehr gpu card for sli/crossfire and trouble adding more hdd's too. somthing like the lian li pc a-71 case will last u a very long time.

    anotehr great thing about full tower case is that they have better airflow then mid tower cases due to the sheer size of it and less messy cabling

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    yes but we are looking of future proofing as much as possible. Graphics cards seem to be going up and up on power requiremtns plus wattage has nothing to do with it. The Corsair is a much stronger power supply all round. If you have ever seen the the PSU in the sonata you would know that its not something worth trusting a £350-400 worth of graphics card on. I definately wouldnt!

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    I know the corsair is a great PSU, I have one and I recommend them all the time but I can't imagine what would be wrong with the antec PSU.

    Antec Neo HE 500 | PSUs | Reviews | Custom PC

    thats the 500 not 550w but thats a pretty damn good review imo.

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    Re: How upgradable are motherboards right now?

    CPUs are going to need a whole new socket within about 2 years... Intel are planning to release their first Nehalem based chips by the end of this year.
    ____
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