Need recommendations for a replacement motherboard (and case?)
October 23, 2015 8:00 PM   Subscribe

In summary: I want a recommendation for a good, high-performance motherboard (and a solid case for it), with allowances made for size (my current case could just barely fit a GTX970) and budget (I have a bit of leeway but I don't need to drop a ridiculous amount of cash if I don't need to). Elaboration under the cut:

My current computer is having a bunch of problems and it seems to very likely be my motherboard, so I'm looking into picking up a new one but I'm completely lost as to what to pick up. I'd want to use as many of my current parts as possible, though I'd like to also replace the computer case as my current one is a little cramped -- I bought a 970 earlier this year and had a bit of a panic moment where I thought it might not even fit into the case! Something roomy enough for that and my 3 harddrives to fit would be ideal.

Note that I'm a gamer and something that supports high performance would be ideal (though I understand that a lot of "gamer" branded motherboards are a lot more expensive than they need to be), but I also don't have a blank check or anything like that -- basically, I want something reasonably priced but not underperforming.

Feel free to ask me if there's any additional details you want me to provide!
posted by flatluigi to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you planning to use a specific CPU and RAM for it, or were you planning to purchase that as well? If you're planning to replace only the motherboard, then that's some pretty crucial knowledge to have to make any specific recommendations. Though, as a general rule, I tend to favor ASUS boards; I'd probably just look at whatever ASUS board has the features you want and is compatible with the rest of your hardware.

As for case, it also depends. You can get gigantic full-tower cases that will fit nearly anything you throw at it, but maybe you're looking for something that's still a bit more reasonably sized? Or something that fits in a certain budget? There are a lot of variables here. Knowing what your existing case is (or even seeing pics of it if you don't know make & model) would help. For example, I've used this Corsair Carbide Series 200R case for a recent build and found it nice to work with, and it has the advantage of being inexpensive while still being relatively good quality. It's also fairly low-key, which may or may not be what you want.
posted by Aleyn at 10:34 PM on October 23, 2015

Response by poster: I'd prefer to use my current cpu and ram. CPU is an i5 3570K and ram is two sticks of this

I understand that my CPU is a bit outdated, but this is already a big purchase for me and buying a newer CPU basically doubles how much I'm going to spend.
posted by flatluigi at 12:45 AM on October 24, 2015

Your motherboard options are limited because your CPU's socket (LGA1155) is deprecated, two generations behind. I'd go to Newegg or whatever vendor you choose and buy the highest rated mobo that fits your budget. ASRock and Asus are good stuff, but really any well reviewed unit will do. I see on Newegg a few in the $90 - $125 range. Now if you are a big OC kind of guy, maybe you want something with some extra features, but your choices are limited due to the age of your platform.

Regarding a case, I agree with Aleyn on the Corsair 200R, it's a great case, and my wife has one. You can futz with the drive bays IIRC to fit a long video card in. She is running a ~290mm long GTX 970 in that case and they don't get much longer than that.

You definitely don't need a new CPU, yours has plenty of oomph left in it. Hell, my main gaming PC is a generation behind yours (i5 2500K) and it punches well above its weight.

Regarding performance, the motherboard is an insignificant contributor. Don't fall into the trap of thinking a mATX mobo won't do the job; it will do, and handily. So-called gaming motherboards might offer some tiny advantage but the real benefits are undetectable when you are swinging your silver sword into an alghoul or whatever floats your boat.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:58 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: "The highest rated motherboard that fits my budget" is fairly undirected and an easy thing I can do myself, which was why I was asking for better direction. Good to know that my CPU limits my options, though, which means that a newer motherboard and a newer cpu might be what I'm looking for.

Turns out that the Corsair 200R seems to be the exact case I'm currently using that I'm feeling is a bit cramped, too - you can mess with the drive bays but the thing holding the bays in doesn't have much clearance at all.
posted by flatluigi at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2015

Wow, my setup is pretty similar to yours. LGA1155 motherboard (I have an Asrock Z77 Extreme4, no complaints) and a GTX 970. LGA1155 is pretty obsolete by now, so yeah you'd need to upgrade the CPU too to replace the motherboard.

For a case I have a Corsair Vengeance C70, which is ~$100 and pretty awesome. Solid, easy to work with, convenient carrying handles / side latches, etc.

(If you're having performance problems, check your CPU cooler. Mine came loose recently and I was super mad at my PC for a couple months until I figured it out.)
posted by neckro23 at 12:15 PM on October 24, 2015

I came in to say almost exactly what Sternmeyer said about motherboards. The thing that should help nail it down is that there are a couple of different chipsets that support that processor/socket and that might make a difference as the slower/cheaper chipset might bottleneck that high-end graphics card. I "think" the Z77 chipset is the top-end one and will allow you to get the most out of both your graphics card and processor. Assuming I'm right about all of that, your choices, at least at newegg, are narrowed down to this specific motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155. Asus certainly made a comparable motherboard and I would be inclined to pair the asus with such a high-end graphics card and over-clockable CPU but it might not be available anywhere anymore and it's probably splitting hairs anyway. is my go-to resource for cases, among other things. In particular, I have my eye on the Antec P183 or Fractal Design R5 for the next time I need to build a system.

Lastly, at the risk of introducing missing creep, you might consider upgrading the cooling setup on your graphics card to a closed loop water cooler. While air coolers often work better for less then a water cooler, you can't mount that much thermal mass on a graphics card. So water coolers end up working really well on graphics cards being both much cooler than any air cooler and much quieter running at full-bore. An article on silentpcreviews turned me on to the idea. There are both purpose built coolers and brackets that let you use any of the many closed loop CPU coolers on the market for this purpose.
posted by VTX at 3:24 PM on October 24, 2015

« Older Linguists: what makes the 1920s voice so...   |   Protocol for interviewing for a new job when... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.