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Z68 Gen 3 Motherboards?

Maria Caliban

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Do you think it's worth it to get a gen 3 motherboard at this time?


I'm going for a i5-2500k and Z68 motherboard, and wonder if the ASUS and Asrock gen 3s are a good investment for the future. I likely will keep my motherboard for 5-7 years assume that the PCI-e 3.0 will become standard for graphics cards in 4 years. Would this be a correct assumption? I also plan to upgrade to whatever Intel Ivy Bridge chip they replace the i5-2500k with and I think all the gen 3 compatible motherboards support this.


Specifically, I'm looking at Asrock Extreme 3.

"When is this out. I can't wait to play it so I can talk at length about how bad it is." - Gorgon.

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PCI-E standards are backwards and forwards compatible, the only real impact is that each revision has twice the theoretical bandwidth of the last - i.e. PCI-E 2.0 8x mode will be equivalent speed to PCI-E 3.0 4x. Now given current cards basically run 2.0 8x with no loss from 2.0 16x, I don't think PCI-E slot specs are going to be a real limitation when you do upgrade your video card, yes.


As for CPU compatibility - Intel in the near-term will have two tiers of CPU platforms, Socket 1155 for mainstream, and socket 2011 for 'enthusiasts' - the former will be restricted to quad-cores. Z68 will be compatible with Ivy Bridge which is launching next year, but no guarantees beyond that. However given that Ivy Bridge is mostly just a die shrink of Sandy Bridge, it's unlikely that you'd ever feel the need to shift up to it, 20% faster projections at best can be easily matched by just overclocking your 2500k. At any rate, the best advice for buying a motherboard now is just to get what you need now, and expect to be disappointed if you expect future drop-in upgrade possibilities. Personally I'd say the most important criteria in choosing a board right now is having enough SATA3 ports to accommodate any future SSDs you might add, and number of USB3 ports.


In over a decade of building my own systems I've never had the opportunity to keep my motherboard between builds. Don't expect this to change.


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I would certainly get a Z68 board if I was getting one today (and since I built my computer just three months ago with such a board, I already did). In regards to gen 3, I'm not so sure. I guess it depends on the price difference. If it's marginal, then I would go for a gen 3.


The main selling point for me with the Z68 boards is the ability to use a SSD as a disk cache. It's not as fast as using the SSD for just programs, but it is very nice and removes concerns about space.


So thumbs up for the z68 boards. I have an Asus board and can definitely recommend them.


And yes, the 2500k is definitely the best value you can get right now. The price difference down to the 2500 is so low that even if you're just theoretically interested in overclocking, it's still worth it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm going to be building a new rig over the next few weeks, and I just pounced on an in-store-only deal at Microcenter (which is funny, in that until recently I hadn't even been aware of the fact that they had a store less than 10 miles from my house) offering $60 off if you buy both an i5-2500K and a Z68 mobo. Combined with the discount they were offering on the CPU (it was $180, compared to $214 at newegg), I couldn't pass that up. I went with the ASUS P8Z68-V.


Now, it's wait and see if there are some Black Friday deals on GPUs, SSDs, Memory, Cases, and/or Monitors...

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