How do I choose a motherboard?

Discussion in 'Motherboards' started by Pankh, Feb 11, 2019 at 12:46 AM.

  1. Pankh

    Pankh n00b

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Monday
    I know I want a Z370, I don’t understand why some of these mobos are more expensive than the others. Some seem perfectly fine and are under 100 dollars, while some are more than double this and don’t seem to have anything better about them.

    What makes the ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-E GAMING more desirable/better than something like MSI Z370-A PRO,

    One costs half as much. On my first build I got an MSI Z97 PC MATE, and I never had any issue, what is the real difference I am not seeing?
     
  2. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

    Messages:
    52,807
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    This is a huge can of worms. The short answer is generally features, but VRM quality, VRM design, MOSFET cooling vary quite a bit from board to board. This is especially true when you start looking at different price points. There are certainly fluff features on some models. RGB LED lighting and things like ASUS' LCD LiveDash feature come to mind. However, a $100 motherboard isn't generally going to be as good as a $300 motherboard when it comes to overclocking. The cheaper motherboards won't have the same hardware onboard for things like voltage adjustments or base clock adjustments. There may even be voltage modes and voltage options missing on the less expensive motherboards.

    When you get into the higher end motherboards, the VRM cooling is considerably better, PCB thickness may be better, you end up with anti-plate bending features, steel reinforcement, additional hardware monitoring, water flow sensors, LN2 modes, multiple BIOS ROMs, additional PCIe switches (in some cases), higher end audio and a number of other possibilities.
     
    horrorshow, ryan_975 and Kyle_Bennett like this.
  3. primetime

    primetime [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    5,390
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    Money invested in higher quality motherboards is money very well spent...Its the most pain in the ass part of our builds to replace. My last asus $300+ board lasted me 10 years last go round
     
  4. pavel

    pavel Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    178
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2014
    OP, why not get a Z390? If going with Intel/CL right now, I would go with the Z390 chipset to stay most recent and even if you have to pay a few extra bucks. That's just me, though. I was even considering building a 2nd system and was looking for a used 8700k and if I found one, I would have got a Z390 mobo for it.
     
  5. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

    Messages:
    23,618
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    What CPU are you using? Honestly, that Z370-A Pro is probably good enough unless you want the fancy bling for a windowed case or the Realtek 1220 vs the 892.

    As for Z390 it really depends on how many bucks extra it is. The main "features" that Z390 brings to the table are onboard wifi and USB 3.1 and both of these are on certain Z370 boards via 3rd party controllers. Personally, I wouldn't spend more than $20 extra.
     
  6. RazorWind

    RazorWind 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,087
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Aren't the Z390 boards also supposed to have a little better VRM design, to support the more power hungry 9 series CPUs?

    I seem to remember that being a thing a few months ago when they came out, and lots of folks were asking if you actually need a Z390 board for the 9900K. I don't think I'd replace a working Z370 board if I were upgrading, but if I were buying new, I'd go Z390 all the way.
     
  7. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

    Messages:
    23,618
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    I think it depends on the board. A cheap Z390 vs. a higher end Z370 would probably lean heavily in the Z370's favor. I don't know of anything specific to the 9 series that would require a different VRM, and obviously they run on Z370 boards with a bios update.
     
  8. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

    Messages:
    52,807
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    ASUS totally changed how its VRM's were designed between Z370 and most of its Z390 motherboards. It went from an 8 phase configuration which used phase doublers to one that was a native four phase with double the inductors and PowerIRstages. You can think of it as a "fat" phase approach that improves transient response, at the cost of ripple. Of course ripple can be corrected or smoothed out with capacitors and its not necessarily a problem with CPUs in this case. ASUS believes that the transient response of its new design is worth the trade off. Of course the benefit we all noticed right away was cost savings and ASUS has been deceptive in its marketing of this design.

    So take that with a grain of salt. That said, so far its worked very well on the bench after having tested this design on Z390 and X299 motherboards that use it.

    As for the other brands, they may have made some design changes here and there. More boards are starting to go for a dual 8-pin CPU power configuration rather than a single 8 pin or an 8+4 pin setup. We've also seen that primarily on X399 and X299 but its happening with other boards as well. Some boards may use beter voltage controllers and other components compared to the previous generation for higher power output, but I haven't looked at them all yet so I can only talk about it in general terms. I can say that the designs of GIGABYTE and MSI are similar to what was on their respective Z370 motherboards in that they are typically four phase designs with phase doublers. One thing that's potentially interesting is seeing how MSI, ASRock, GIGABYTE etc. handle their next generation motherboards and whether or not they copy ASUS' approach. ASUS is often the innovator in the industry and its designs often end up being the template other motherboard makers end up using for some things.

    The audio implementation we see with isolated PCB layers, de-pop circuits, dedicated audio capacitors and so on were all features first found on ROG motherboards. Those features trickled down to the standard ASUS offerings and nearly identical or functionally identical implementations started appearing on MSI and GIGABYTE motherboards. Now a days, everyone uses that same implementation. GIGABYTE tends to really over build its VRM's so it will be interesting to see if their next generation motherboards eventually end up following ASUS' lead.
     
    Furious_Styles and horrorshow like this.
  9. horrorshow

    horrorshow [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    5,888
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Dan, If I ever make a "Recommend me a motherboard" thread, please post! heh
     
    primetime likes this.
  10. Furious_Styles

    Furious_Styles Gawd

    Messages:
    989
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    Well said Dan & others. I bought a Gigabyte for the overbuilt VRMs since I like to OC and I like their warranty support. There's lots of things you can put into consideration when choosing which one to buy.
     
  11. Pankh

    Pankh n00b

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    Monday

    Thanks everyone
     
  12. coynatha

    coynatha Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    166
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    I've been shopping for a new board as well, and while all great answers here, I think you guys spend far too much time talking about VRM and such. The Asus board costs more vs the MSI because:

    +1 PCIe slot
    +1 M.2 slot
    +SLI support (only Crossfire mentioned by the MSI specs page)
    +Intel LAN (vs realtek)
    +WiFi
    +Bluetooth
    +USB-C port
    +S1220A audio w/ optical out (vs realtek ALC892)

    You have to ask yourself if any of that is useful to you? For me, I'd rather not have to pay for the WiFi as I'll hardwire (so i like the Intel LAN), but the bluetooth would be nice built-in. Any boards with the ALC892 I cross off my list, I've experienced ROG SupremeFX sound and can't go backwards there, and I like to drag my rig up to the living room sometimes and hook it up to the home theater system. Optical out makes that easier. Just gotta pick your poison, what do you want to spend the $$ on?