Help me find a good AM3 mainboard
March 20, 2010 4:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the best AM3 motherboard out there quality wise under 200 USD. Any suggestions?

I'm due to build a brand new PC in a few weeks and I've started looking into CPU/motherboard options. I've decided to go with an AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz cpu and I'm looking for a board to match.

The board must have a SB710 or SB750 chipset and room for upgrades a year or two from now.

I've got my eyes on the Asus Crosshair III Formula but wanted to see if there were better options out there.

My budget is $200 US, any suggestions?
posted by Mr_Thirdworld to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Are you looking to overclock or for certain features? If not, I'm not sure why spending 200 USD on a <>
I think this is a much better deal - Phenom II X4 925 + Mobo for $129 after rebate.
posted by wongcorgi at 5:41 AM on March 20, 2010

<> = *spending 200 USD on a 9 month old CPU that costs less than 100 USD isn't really a good value.
posted by wongcorgi at 5:43 AM on March 20, 2010

You might want to consider upgrading the chip and lowering the specs on the motherboard. I mean Looking at this comparison the only difference I see between that Asus board and another one for $119 is S/PDIF audio out. And a second PCIe x16 slot for SLI. this one gets you two PCIe x16 slots with 8x links for dual cards, for $139. And this one gives you for x16 slots -- dual 16x links or four 8x links, so that means tons of expandability for graphics cards if you really want it, and only costs $178. (Some of these cards have SB850s, I don't know if that's OK, sounds better)

Also if you save some money on the board you could get a 3.4ghz quad core CPU.

As far as upgrades go, remember AMD is going to release AMD3 rev 2 next year, and new CPUs might not work with your old motherboard (I'm not sure). My previous PC was a socket 939 board, and I got a single-core chip to save money. I figured I'd upgrade to dual core later on (like when they got cheap) but as time went on, there were fewer and fewer 939 chips available, until you couldn't get any.


Also, I tend to think motherboard expandability is kind of overrated. I've building my own PCs for over a decade and I've never really ended up upgrading anything except the memory and hard drives, but I suppose it would depend on how often you upgrade, too.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 AM on March 20, 2010

+1 on delmoi's upgrade/expandability thought. I always build with upgrading in mind, but by the time a year or two go by there have been enough technology leaps that I'm considering an all-new box. You'd probably be better served by spending the money on maximizing your back-for-buck on today's offerings. (I'm a cheap bastard, so it's always hard for me to swallow the fact that I'd have to chuck a working CPU to upgrade to a new one)

That being said, are you deciding on the 550 with the possibility in mind of unlocking the other two cores? You could probably save enough on the motherboard to get an x4 CPU anyway and not take the chance on it.
posted by Oops at 7:19 AM on March 20, 2010

Yes, the idea was buying a dual core then unlocking the other two cores if I felt like. I'm not big on overclocking but my feeling may change as the machine gets older. So right now, features are more important.

I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on this combo, it's a good mix of features, price and potential:

- Mobo

Thoughts? I think this might be it.
posted by Mr_Thirdworld at 1:05 PM on March 20, 2010

Yes, the idea was buying a dual core then unlocking the other two cores if I felt like

Ah, I see. Yeah, according to this article you need the SB750 for that. That makes sense. I assume you've done your research and are sure that it will work properly with that specific chip. If so, that combo will probably be fine (I don't know anything about core unlocking)
posted by delmoi at 3:55 PM on March 20, 2010

(hmm, after reading the whole article, it doesn't sound like unlocking is that reliable. One one of the chips they got lots of blue screens after unlocking the core, and some didn't work at all)
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on March 21, 2010

That's fine because I may not unlock them at all, but the new chip that I'm eying should save me a ton of money plus I'll be able to overclock if needed. I just wanted the unlock cores as a nice to have option.
posted by Mr_Thirdworld at 9:38 AM on March 21, 2010

I'm a fan of Gigabyte. This is my third gigabyte motherboard and hasn't disappointed. It is unfortunately "currently unavailable."

Take a look at the Tom's Hardware system build articles for a good recommendation.
posted by ijoyner at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2010

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