Motherboard (PING Paul)


M

Motor T

Just got a i5 Intel z97 CPU. Want a ASUS or Asrock motherboard.
Computer use is normal home/internet stuff. No gaming, overclocking,
video editing etc. I seem to recall seeing a post from Paul in where he
said he just bought a Asrock Z97 mobo. Which one? Any regrets? Would
like to hear opinions. Thank you.
 
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P

Paul

Motor said:
Just got a i5 Intel z97 CPU. Want a ASUS or Asrock motherboard.
Computer use is normal home/internet stuff. No gaming, overclocking,
video editing etc. I seem to recall seeing a post from Paul in where he
said he just bought a Asrock Z97 mobo. Which one? Any regrets? Would
like to hear opinions. Thank you.

Last board I bought was an Asus, and it wasn't socket LGA1150.

I just use Newegg or Amazon reviews, to get some idea if a board
is bad or not. And in the case of Asus, they have a vip.asus.com
forum. You can get some idea if a motherboard is bad, from
reading the comments there. For example, when an Asus board had
a NIC chip that consistently died after one month of usage, that
forum had the evidence needed to spot the problem.

Each motherboard has its own forum. You can substitute the
model number into the URL to get there, or use the pull-down
menu on the web page.

http://vip.asus.com/forum/topic.aspx?board_id=1&model=P5W+DH+Deluxe&SLanguage=en-us

*******

I sorted the Mewegg Z97 boards by ratings, and this Asus is reasonably
priced. Normally, there would be six SATA ports, but two of the
SATA ports are wasted to make SATA Express and M.2 connections.
You would need to read up on those two items, to see if they
had any value to you. The board has graphics connectors, for
processors that have their own internal GPU. This allows
cheap desktops to be constructed, without having to buy
a $50 (non-gamer) video card. You can drive at least a
couple monitors this way (dual head).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132118

Now, this is an example of an Asrock board. It has six SATA ports,
so they didn't screw around with those. But the weird part, is it
has a Killer NIC chip. This is a networking chip, with a copy
of Linux inside. It means the chip can do its own routing. It
means when you go to debug networking problems, the environment
while debugging would be quite different. (I haven't a clue what
a Wireshark trace would look like, for example.) One person
on the forums, who got one of these killer NIC based motherboards,
I haven't heard back as to whether it is working OK or not. I recommended
to him, he just buy a NIC card, but even finding a good one
of those is a problem. Make sure the NIC on the motherboard,
is bug free. (One Intel NIC, the "king" of NIC brands,
has a bug right now. So even Intel branding isn't golden
any more.)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157501

So just work your way through the list, and find the
"least obnoxious" motherboard.

In terms of power, the motherboards use the Haswell FIVR
powering scheme. The CPU is powered by ATX12V connector.
But the VCore on the motherboard, instead of making the
VCore directly, makes an intermediate voltage, like maybe
2.4V. So it doesn't actually power the CPU directly in
a sense. The VCore heatsink will still generate heat. The
CPU itself has the FIVR thin film hybrid power converter,
inside the CPU package. It converts the 2.4V to 1.0V,
at current flow levels like 100 amps. The advantage is
supposed to be slightly smoother power (less ripple or
overshoot). The disadvantage is the power converter
makes waste heat inside the CPU. So the CPU gets a bit
warmer. (Intel has promised to remove FIVR on the next
generation of CPUs. With no explanation of why. Just
as there was no solid justification for doing this
in the first place. So FIVR will last for this
generation.)

12V 2.4V 1.0V
AYX12V ---- Motherboard_regulator ----- CPU_regulator --- silicon_die
<--------- Intel CPU package ------>

(FIVR)
http://hothardware.com/News/Haswell-Takes-A-Major-Step-Forward-Integrates-Voltage-Regulator/

This doesn't really hurt anything. It just calls into question,
the physical appearance of the motherboard regulator, and
"how many phases are really needed". The motherboard should
not need a lot of phases, but some motherboards seem to
go overboard on making an exotic 2.4V regulator.

*******

Now, my motherboard has an entirely different problem.
It uses conventional power regulation, like this. This
is the old way of doing things.

12V 1.0V
AYX12V ---- Motherboard_regulator ----- silicon_die
<-- Intel CPU --->

So what mistake did they make on mine ? Not enough
heatsink on the VCore regulator and the MOSFETs.
When I ran Prime95 on the board, I burned myself
on the heatsink. The heatsink is too small. I had
to fit a fan. To position the fan, I had to make
a fan mounting that fits into a hard drive bay. That
blows cool air onto the VCore heatsink. When I measured the
power feeding the CPU, it measured 156W. And even with
a reasonably efficient VCore design, it's going to
get hot. They should have fitted one of their larger
heatpipe-ring type coolers. I don't know what they were
thinking when they did this. My current Asus has a
heatpipe-ring (three sides) and it never gets more
than luke warm. In fact, they could easily have
swapped these two, put the crappy heatsink on my
current board, put the big heatsink on my new
motherboard. Always keep an eye peeled for the
little things. I wasn't paying attention, and
missed this tiny detail :-( The board still works
fine, but how long will it last if it "cooks
like a toaster" ?

*******

So back for another look at LGA1150.

The marketing material for this Gigabyte board
is a bit easier to read. It tells you a few things
the other adverts didn't.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128714

The power on that one, is only four phase. About the
number of phases I would have expected for Haswell.
While they tout the design as "New Heat Sink Design",
the heat sink in fact is dreadful. It has practically
no surface area. The reason that is possible, is the
switching losses should be lower in the design, so
there should not be nearly as much heat as on my
new motherboard. You would be advised to check the
reviews for any signs of overheating there. My
estimate is, it's probably "good enough", but you
still need to check the reviews. Two phases are
under one heatsink, and two phases under the other
heatsink.

When you read the customer reviews on that board,
after looking at just a few, I see signs of a QC
problem. Not tested well enough.

Selecting these things is not easy. When I went
to buy my motherboard, the one I wanted was out
of stock, so I had to scramble to find another.
And seeing as it's so hard to find a "winner",
it's pretty difficult to find two winners and
buy the second one.

In my case, I didn't want to have to spend
$500 on some "motherboard with a remote control".
I want to pay $65 to $150, depending on what
ports it's got, and how many of the ports are
in the Southbridge. (If they come from the
Southbridge, the motherboard can be made cheaply,
and there is no excuse for a high price.) Like
with USB3 now, the USB3 comes from the Southbridge,
so $20 worth of USB3 chips is not needed.

*******

The motherboard companies think selecting these is "fun".
Are we having fun yet ? :)

Paul
 
B

B00ze/Empire

I sorted the Mewegg Z97 boards by ratings, and this Asus is reasonably
priced. Normally, there would be six SATA ports, but two of the
SATA ports are wasted to make SATA Express and M.2 connections.

If I understood SATA Express ports correctly, they're made up of 2
regular SATA ports next to each other /that you can still use as regular
ports/...

Best Regards,
 
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M

Mr. Man-wai Chang

Just got a i5 Intel z97 CPU. Want a ASUS or Asrock motherboard.
Computer use is normal home/internet stuff. No gaming, overclocking,

Cheaper to get an Intel H81 motherboard given your low expectations?

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