Best Motherboard for Intel Core 2 Duo E6300
August 16, 2006 11:54 AM   Subscribe

What motherboard do you recommend for the new Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Processor?

I want to build a new computer based on the Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Processor. Can anyone reccomend a good quality motherboard that they are confident is compatible with this processor? How does one tell anyway?

It's my first home made computer so I really want to be sure the motherboard and processor are compatible.
posted by GregX3 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd start here, where you can get some decent benchmark numbers from the various dimensions of hardware components they're testing out. From there, you have some more questions to ask before you can find the answer you seek. Are you planning to overclock the chip? Half the draw to the Core2's is the fact that an E6300, rated at 1.86 gHz, can reasonably be expected to hit 2.5 gHz, and some have been seen as high as 3.5 (!), albeit with superior hardware running around it. If you're looking to run the chip at stock speeds, you can probably get away with a cheaper board (something like the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA). If you're hoping to overclock, you'll need a board that can handle higher front-side bus speeds, and you'll want to buy an OEM chip and buy an aftermarket heatsink and fan to cool the beast. (A separate topic unto itself)

What other features are you looking for? Do you know what kind of video card is going into the machine, and is there a possibility you might want to go SLI (dual cards working in tandem) either now or down the road? If so, make sure you're buying a board with support for it.

Do you need more than 1 IDE slot for older drives, or are you mostly going to be using SATA drives?

What kind of RAM are you looking to buy? Some of the boards that support Core2 chips won't POST (power-on self-test) with the better RAM that's available, since the boards only put out 1.8 volts by default, and some RAM kits require 1.9 or 2.

Do you mind installing a BIOS chip yourself? Some boards that purport to support Core2 chips do, but not until a later revision of the BIOS... motherboard companies will sometimes ship you a BIOS chip for free, but replacing it can be something ofa feat.

So, in short, there are a lot of issues that drive this decision. I'd recommend perusing the forums over at Anandtech, since there are a whole lot of guys over there who know a whole lot more about it than I do, and I've seen questions similar to yours asked and answered very adeptly.

FWIW, I bought a Gigabyte DS3... hopefully, it'll arrive today, and I'll let you know how the installation goes.
posted by Mayor West at 12:52 PM on August 16, 2006

motherboard companies will sometimes ship you a BIOS chip for free, but replacing it can be something ofa feat.

I don't recall seeing a socketed BIOS chip since the mid '90s.

My Tyan AMD64 board has a flashable chip, but was capable of booting the CPU in single-core mode until the new dual core BIOS had been loaded.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:01 PM on August 16, 2006

Mayor West, thanks for the excellent advice! The board you are buying looks good. Will it support this dual cards thing?

Here are my exact priorites: Works with minimul fuss (so the bios thing is out), good quality, Leaves the overclocking option open down the road, supports reasonably fast, good RAM.
posted by GregX3 at 1:03 PM on August 16, 2006

Two notes.

When Mayor West talks about "later revisions of the BIOS," he's referring to the inability of many current Socket 775 motherboards to recognize Core 2 Duo chips. b1tr0t is right in that you wouldn't be physically replacing a BIOS chip; more likely you'd flash the BIOS with new firmware using software made available on the motherboard website. While there's still plenty of opportunity to mess things up, software flashing is much easier and doesn't involve you opening up your computer at all. Incidentally, a lot of notebook owners are waiting for similar firmware updates so they can replace their CPUs with the new Core 2 Duo notebook chips, codenamed Merom.

Two, by "dual cards" do you mean dual core, dual processors or dual graphics cards? I assume you mean "dual core," in which case the DS3 will suit your needs just fine (note that all Core 2 chips are dual core, so anything that says it supports Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme chips will work). If in doubt, ask the retailer if the motherboard you're purchasing supports the Core 2 Duo chips; it'll generally be pretty obvious.
posted by chrominance at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2006

b1tr0t : I'm not sure if it's a socketed chip, or what it is, but I've been reading horror stories on some of these boards about having to pry the bastard off with a screwdriver and replace it with a chip sent to them by the manufacturer... an alternative is to boot the machine up with an older chip (probably a $50 Celeron purchased for the occasion) and then flash the BIOS, but that requires a $50 Celeron that you're probably never going to use again.

GregX3: The Gigabyte doesn't support SLI, but that didn't particularly bother me... it tends to be an issue for high-end gamers, who are willing to drop two $300+ cards into a single system to squeeze another 15% performance premium out of a top-of-the-line machine.

Pricing on these boards essentially comes down to a few pricing categories, since there are only a few boards available this early in the Core 2 lifecycle: $250+, ~$150, and <$150. I wound up looking in the middle category, where the decision came down to the Gigabyte DS3 and the Asus P5B. It looked to me like there were marginally fewer complaints about random hardware failure from the DS3, so that was my choice. If you want to spend $250 on the board, however, it looks like the Asus P5W can't be beat in all-around performance (though you do need to be careful to get one of the later revisions to avoid the BIOS problem)
posted by Mayor West at 1:26 PM on August 16, 2006

but I've been reading horror stories on some of these boards about having to pry the bastard off with a screwdriver and replace it with a chip sent to them by the manufacturer

Prying chips off is easy, particularly if you cut the pins first. Its getting a new sufrace-mount chip back on thats tough.

A socketed DIP chip is easy to replace - you just slide a flat screwdriver under each end and twist gently, slowly lifting the chip out. Then you press the new chip in, applying pressure evenly. Unfortunately, DIP chips don't have enough pins to address modern high capacity BIOSES.

I suspect the stories of replacing chips are trolls.


After checking a few motherboard photos at NewEgg, it looks like some motherboards do have socketed chips, but they aren't DIP chips. Instead, they are little squares that fit in a socket. Those should be vastly easier to replace - just pry the corners, then push the new chip in. The "pins" are on the outside and should be very difficult to bend.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2006

I see two ASUS P5B boards - is there anything wrong with the $166 version?

Also, there don't appear to be any socketed chips on the Asus board, other than the CPU.

[I may be in the market for a core duo box soon]
posted by b1tr0t at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2006

Nope, nothing wrong with the $166 version--that was the one of which I spoke when I mentioned deciding between the ~$150 boards. The $260 one continues to puzzle me because it's the same price as the P5W Deluxe, but appears to be an inferior design, based on the performance reviews I've seen. If you're looking to drop that much money, go with the P5W.

As for the socketed chips part, I'm willing to admit to the possibility that I'm vaguely gullible when reading horror stories on tech boards.
posted by Mayor West at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2006

data point: those sockets that the BIOS chips use now are the same ones they used to use for 286 processors and stuff, just smaller. back in the day they were easy to break with a screwdriver. best to use a chip puller. (or find a computer store that'll do it for you.)
posted by mrg at 3:41 PM on August 16, 2006

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