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Motherboard Selection Help


Rob
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My old, repurposed desktop will soon be enjoying a multi-generational upgrade, and I was hoping to gather some wisdom from the good folks at HSS before I lay the cash on the table.

 

I've done a fair amount of research recently on the available (Intel) MB/CPU combos out there, and after initially thinking I would put together an older, LGA775-based system, I soon realized that for about the same price I could just skip ahead and go with a new 1155 Motherboard and CPU. Since the 6-series chipset recall seems to be settling down, this looks like a good way to go.

 

I would like to run the Core i3-2100T, mostly for its low TDP and price, but also because despite it being a low-end 1155 CPU it'll still make my current setup look old and anemic (P4 @ 3.2GHz), all while using much less power.

 

For the motherboard, I've narrowed it down to 2:

I'm currently favouring the Gigabyte board as it will likely be cheaper (I'm waiting on a quote) and offers basically the same features as the SuperMicro board which goes for about $210.

 

I have a few reasons for selecting these two boards in particular:

  • I aim to reuse my current PSU (Antec NeoPower HE 380) as it's not that old, but I'm limited in that it only has a 4-pin ATX +12V plug. I love the modular cables and don't want to buy a new PSU if I don't have to, and since both of these boards don't require the 8-pin version, I'm good to go. It's also not going to be a system that draws a lot of power, so 380 watts should be more than enough.
  • I need at least one PCI slot. These Q67 boards have them in the mATX form factor, but for any similar H67 board to have one it looks like I would have to go full ATX as well as upgrade my PSU since the larger boards all seem to require the 8-pin ATX +12V plug. I don't mind giving up firewire/USB3 for this as I doubt I will use them on the server anyway.
  • I want RAID support as the server will be used for network backups (among other things), and it will initially house 2x 2TB SATA HDs in a RAID 1 setup for this purpose.

Overall, am I on the right track for CPU/MB selection, or is there a better way? Will the Gigabyte board do well for my purpose? Any other bits of wisdom come to mind?

 

I have to admit, I haven't given AMD any serious thought as I'm not familiar with them and I can't think of any reason not to go with Intel, but again I welcome your thoughts.

 

Sorry for the long post (my first one by the way), but hopefully based on the information I gather here I can put this box together in the near future and share my experiences with the community.

 

Thanks in advance!

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My old, repurposed desktop will soon be enjoying a multi-generational upgrade, and I was hoping to gather some wisdom from the good folks at HSS before I lay the cash on the table.

 

I've done a fair amount of research recently on the available (Intel) MB/CPU combos out there, and after initially thinking I would put together an older, LGA775-based system, I soon realized that for about the same price I could just skip ahead and go with a new 1155 Motherboard and CPU. Since the 6-series chipset recall seems to be settling down, this looks like a good way to go.

 

I would like to run the Core i3-2100T, mostly for its low TDP and price, but also because despite it being a low-end 1155 CPU it'll still make my current setup look old and anemic (P4 @ 3.2GHz), all while using much less power.

 

For the motherboard, I've narrowed it down to 2:

I'm currently favouring the Gigabyte board as it will likely be cheaper (I'm waiting on a quote) and offers basically the same features as the SuperMicro board which goes for about $210.

 

I have a few reasons for selecting these two boards in particular:

  • I aim to reuse my current PSU (Antec NeoPower HE 380) as it's not that old, but I'm limited in that it only has a 4-pin ATX +12V plug. I love the modular cables and don't want to buy a new PSU if I don't have to, and since both of these boards don't require the 8-pin version, I'm good to go. It's also not going to be a system that draws a lot of power, so 380 watts should be more than enough.
  • I need at least one PCI slot. These Q67 boards have them in the mATX form factor, but for any similar H67 board to have one it looks like I would have to go full ATX as well as upgrade my PSU since the larger boards all seem to require the 8-pin ATX +12V plug. I don't mind giving up firewire/USB3 for this as I doubt I will use them on the server anyway.
  • I want RAID support as the server will be used for network backups (among other things), and it will initially house 2x 2TB SATA HDs in a RAID 1 setup for this purpose.

Overall, am I on the right track for CPU/MB selection, or is there a better way? Will the Gigabyte board do well for my purpose? Any other bits of wisdom come to mind?

 

I have to admit, I haven't given AMD any serious thought as I'm not familiar with them and I can't think of any reason not to go with Intel, but again I welcome your thoughts.

 

Sorry for the long post (my first one by the way), but hopefully based on the information I gather here I can put this box together in the near future and share my experiences with the community.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

Based on the limited experience of 4 sandy bridge boards, I would go with the Gigabyte. I have not tried the Q67 series but the H67 series has turned out to be a very stable board. I have been a long time fan of Gigabyte and recently went to an Asus but I think that going forward I will go back to Gigabyte as their stuff is just solid and stable. A quick look at the supermicro board tells me the heatsink and power sections "seems" to not be as robust as the Gigabyte. This is obviously based on appearance but if I where making the choice I would go with that one. As for the processor, if you are using this for a server it will be a great choice.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Based on the limited experience of 4 sandy bridge boards, I would go with the Gigabyte. I have not tried the Q67 series but the H67 series has turned out to be a very stable board. I have been a long time fan of Gigabyte and recently went to an Asus but I think that going forward I will go back to Gigabyte as their stuff is just solid and stable. A quick look at the supermicro board tells me the heatsink and power sections "seems" to not be as robust as the Gigabyte. This is obviously based on appearance but if I where making the choice I would go with that one. As for the processor, if you are using this for a server it will be a great choice.

 

I decided to go with the Gigabyte Q67 board - the Supermicro was just too hard to get a hold of and more expensive, plus everything I've read about Gigabyte is that their products are quite durable. So far I don't use the server heavily, so this hardware should last quite a while. Outside of perhaps adding more storage/RAM, I doubt I'll be making any changes for 5 years or more... unless something fails of course.

 

Thanks for the input, despite the fact that I'm reviving a bit of an old post, I did appreciate it. If anyone else has anything to add, I'd like to hear it as well. My order was placed Friday, so I hope to have the goods in time for next weekend, but we'll see. Shipping isn't exactly fast up my way...

Edited by Rob
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I decided to go with the Gigabyte Q67 board - the Supermicro was just too hard to get a hold of and more expensive, plus everything I've read about Gigabyte is that their products are quite durable. So far I don't use the server heavily, so this hardware should last quite a while. Outside of perhaps adding more storage/RAM, I doubt I'll be making any changes for 5 years or more... unless something fails of course.

 

Thanks for the input, despite the fact that I'm reviving a bit of an old post, I did appreciate it. If anyone else has anything to add, I'd like to hear it as well. My order was placed Friday, so I hope to have the goods in time for next weekend, but we'll see. Shipping isn't exactly fast up my way...

 

I'll be interested in hearing how the Q67 stacks up. I'm leaning that way myself.

 

Anywhere near Whitehorse? I spent Christmas of 1998 in the Best Western there when it was about -50. Was driving my Durango up the Alaskan Highway to Anchorage...beautiful. Only mistake I made was forgetting that the 26th is a holiday for Canada so not a lot of gas stations between Whitehorse and Tok (Alaska). I have some great video of stopping for a couple hours because of the hundreds of caribou crossing the highway.

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My old, repurposed desktop will soon be enjoying a multi-generational upgrade, and I was hoping to gather some wisdom from the good folks at HSS before I lay the cash on the table.

 

I've done a fair amount of research recently on the available (Intel) MB/CPU combos out there, and after initially thinking I would put together an older, LGA775-based system, I soon realized that for about the same price I could just skip ahead and go with a new 1155 Motherboard and CPU. Since the 6-series chipset recall seems to be settling down, this looks like a good way to go.

 

I would like to run the Core i3-2100T, mostly for its low TDP and price, but also because despite it being a low-end 1155 CPU it'll still make my current setup look old and anemic (P4 @ 3.2GHz), all while using much less power.

 

For the motherboard, I've narrowed it down to 2:

I'm currently favouring the Gigabyte board as it will likely be cheaper (I'm waiting on a quote) and offers basically the same features as the SuperMicro board which goes for about $210.

 

I have a few reasons for selecting these two boards in particular:

  • I aim to reuse my current PSU (Antec NeoPower HE 380) as it's not that old, but I'm limited in that it only has a 4-pin ATX +12V plug. I love the modular cables and don't want to buy a new PSU if I don't have to, and since both of these boards don't require the 8-pin version, I'm good to go. It's also not going to be a system that draws a lot of power, so 380 watts should be more than enough.
  • I need at least one PCI slot. These Q67 boards have them in the mATX form factor, but for any similar H67 board to have one it looks like I would have to go full ATX as well as upgrade my PSU since the larger boards all seem to require the 8-pin ATX +12V plug. I don't mind giving up firewire/USB3 for this as I doubt I will use them on the server anyway.
  • I want RAID support as the server will be used for network backups (among other things), and it will initially house 2x 2TB SATA HDs in a RAID 1 setup for this purpose.

Overall, am I on the right track for CPU/MB selection, or is there a better way? Will the Gigabyte board do well for my purpose? Any other bits of wisdom come to mind?

 

I have to admit, I haven't given AMD any serious thought as I'm not familiar with them and I can't think of any reason not to go with Intel, but again I welcome your thoughts.

 

Sorry for the long post (my first one by the way), but hopefully based on the information I gather here I can put this box together in the near future and share my experiences with the community.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

Just an update. Just put a 2100T and Gigabyte H67A in my primary server and it works great. Actually a bit snappier than the Core I3 it replaced. I sure you will like you choice.

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I'll be interested in hearing how the Q67 stacks up. I'm leaning that way myself.

 

Anywhere near Whitehorse? I spent Christmas of 1998 in the Best Western there when it was about -50. Was driving my Durango up the Alaskan Highway to Anchorage...beautiful. Only mistake I made was forgetting that the 26th is a holiday for Canada so not a lot of gas stations between Whitehorse and Tok (Alaska). I have some great video of stopping for a couple hours because of the hundreds of caribou crossing the highway.

 

Quite near Whitehorse actually... it's great up here. The remoteness (a la your experience driving to Tok) can be a bit of an inconvenience sometimes, but as long as you plan for it the fact that it's not 24/7 shopping everywhere is actually really nice. Those foreign holidays though... they can really sneak up on you.

 

I'll be sure to post an update once I put this thing together. The server will be running Linux and not WHS so I won't be able to add to that discussion, but at the very least I can comment on the hardware. The part I'm looking forward to the most is the significant decrease in power draw over my antiquated P4 with its Radeon graphics card... drawing ~140 watts at idle it's not exactly an electrical black hole, but still, the difference should be significant.

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Hardware arrived yesterday - I'm itching to throw it all together. Will probably have an update this weekend sometime provided all goes well.

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Well, I've put everything together and it's running. It's definitely faster than the old hardware (not hard), quite noticably even though it's only running Debian linux without a desktop environment - command line only. I'm quite impressed with the power draw too (~70 Watts at idle), which is roughly half of what the old system sucked back. I'm having a bit of an issue with ACPI support, but that's likely due to the MB's newness relative to the version of kernel I'm running. My first real 'performance test' then will be to see how quickly it can compile a newer kernel from source.

 

As far as the board goes, being a business targeted model it had a lot of extraneous features that I disabled, notably features related to secure computing and remote management tools that would (I think) talk directly to the BIOS. It also features Intel's current virtualization technology (VT-d), so if running VM's is your thing that would probably be a perk. Anyway, here's what my final configuration ended up looking like:

 

MB: Gigabyte GA-Q67M-D2H-B3

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100T (35W TDP)

CPU Cooler: Scythe Kozuti SCKZT-1000 - very low profile and quiet. CPU runs at about 25 degrees Celsius @ idle

RAM: 4GB (2x2GB) Corsair DDR3-1333 (CMV4GX3M2A1333C9)

HDD1: Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 250GB SATAI (an older one I had lying around - likely a future upgrade)

HDD2&3: Seagate Barracuda Green (ST2000DL003) 2TB SATAIII

 

Probably extreme overkill for a headless home server, but I'm ok with that. Thoughts / Comments?

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