mATX board for system upgrade

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mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:19 pm

I'm working on upgrading my current work rig's CPU and MB. The rest of the system will be re-used. This a work rig (used to be for gaming): MS Office, Server Management, Virtualization, some Powershell development. I have 1 Win7 VM that is always on where I use IE, a Java app and RDP sessions. Periodically I spin up 1-4 more Windows server VMs for testing purposes. I have not owned an Intel processor since the PIII (been all AMD) so I'm very rusty in choosing Intel parts. I need low heat and power consumption and 4 real cores so, after much research I'm looking at the i5 4570s processor. This offers me the best balance between performance, power consumption, heat and price. For a motherboard I want mATX, an Intel NIC, 4 DIM slots and quality components. Pretty much set it and forget it, low probability of failure and if it does go south actual support. I've narrowed my search down to these boards:

GIGABYTE GA-Z87MX-D3H
ASUS GRYPHON Z87 uATX
ASUS MAXIMUS VI GENE

I like the what gryphon offers on paper but I cannot get a read on if ASUS is that good or it's quality is overblown. Is the extra price marketing hype or is it that much better quality? I think the Maximus is overkill but again, I could be getting my $ worth. Thoughts.

Current System
  • Phenom II X2 550BE. 3rd core unlocked, 3.3ghz @ 1.31v Replace
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  • DIAMOND 6450PE31GSS video card
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:31 pm

MetalGeek464 wrote:After much research I'm looking at the i5 4570s processor. This offers me the best balance between performance, power consumption, heat and price. For a motherboard I want mATX, an Intel NIC, 4 DIM slots and quality components.

GIGABYTE GA-Z87MX-D3H
ASUS GRYPHON Z87 uATX
ASUS MAXIMUS VI GENE


Some criticisms:

1) Z87 is only worth it if you're getting an unlocked CPU (ie: for overclocking). The 4570S doesn't OC. Maybe you could look for an H87 or any H8x board instead.
2) This is me being picky but most modern boards let you set the desired TDP of your CPU. For example, I got a 65W Sandy Bridge Celeron (nerfed core i3) and a mITX H61 board, and set the TDP to 25W from the BIOS. The thing runs cold and still can spin up for short bursts when it needs to. As such, you might consider a lesser processor with a higher TDP rating, and manually nerf it as desired. When you get an "S"-suffix CPU you are paying for a factory-limited chip (and maybe an imperceptibly better binning). It's not worth it imo when you can just do this yourself.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:52 pm

Unless you're on a REALLY tight power budget (low-profile Mini-ITX build with a tiny PSU), I don't see any reason to sacrifice performance (and sometimes pay more) for a low-power "S" chip. You're talking about 19 watts. Looking at the rest of the system, I think you could remove the 6450 card and not have any meaningful performance loss going to integrated graphics. That would save more than 19 watts.

If you live near a Microcenter, definitely check them out. They have amazing prices on CPUs, and even offer motherboard combos which save even more.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:03 am

I didn't realize I could nerf the chips myself. That does provide options for sure. I live where they have a tiered cost for power. Draw too much and you hit the third tier and it can run you an extra hundred $ per month. So for my household, it's not 1 big item but overall usage that matters. Heat is also a huge deal as my office can hit 88+ degrees with my current rig from May until September. Lowering that as much as I can and still meeting my compute needs is my challenge.

I chose the Z chipset mainly for a larger choice if boards with Intel NICS. The H87 boards all seem to have a realtek NIC.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:20 am

Duct Tape Dude wrote:1) Z87 is only worth it if you're getting an unlocked CPU (ie: for overclocking). The 4570S doesn't OC. Maybe you could look for an H87 or any H8x board instead.


MetalGeek464 wrote:I chose the Z chipset mainly for a larger choice if boards with Intel NICS. The H87 boards all seem to have a realtek NIC.


Even if you don't need to overclock, in my experience, the enthusiast chipsets usually offer higher quality components and better features and are worth it for this reason.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:45 am

I did a bit of googling, and it looks like the Intel HD Graphics 4600 built into the 4570 chips is faster than a Radeon HD 6450. You could lose the video card and go with the integrated graphics for even bigger power savings without losing performance.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:27 am

The Gryphon Z87 almost seduced me into a Haswell upgrade, that one would be my recommendation. All the fancy features at a price not much higher than a mainstream board. A decent machine bought now is likely to last a really long time so if you have the ability to do it there's no good reason to not buy the best.

I would avoid the "S" CPUs unless you want to go fanless. They cost more, are slower, and the power savings isn't all that great--Haswell is extremely efficient in general.

Definitely check out Microcenter if that's an option. They usually sell i5s for around 50 bucks below street value, plus another discount on the board.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:24 am

MetalGeek464 wrote:Current System
Phenom II X2 550BE. 3rd core unlocked, 3.3ghz @ 1.31v Replace

That's an 80W CPU that you've seemingly overclocked. In coarse TDP figures (which is used for cooling, not necessarily a representation of power draw*), it likely exceeds the i5-4570 at 84W TDP. However, the actual power that the i5-4570 system would draw on average is likely much lower than your current setup due to chipset efficiency and much lower idle power. All this is without considering the 6450 in your current rig (27W TDP) that isn't needed for an i5 system. "S" series CPUs aren't worth the extra cost IMO, as Duct Tape Dude pointed out, you can always lower the TDP of an i5-4570 through either voltage and/or multiplier reductions in the UEFI (underclocking) or TDP adjustments in Windows software utilities. I know Asus has a handy Utility for this (see Video 3 here @ 7:10).
Also, this article might help debunk any misconceptions of "low-power" CPUs. Basically "S-series" parts aren't really any better than regular(?) ones. "T-series" gives you lower power draw and temps at a given moment, which is good for enclosures with severely limited cooling capacity, but they require more total power to complete a given task than a regular i5.

I second the vote for the Z87 Gryphon.

* Intel's TDP figures seem to roughly match system power draw (i4-4770 also has an 84W TDP) while AMD seems to use some other math to figure it's TDP.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 8:48 pm

Thanks for all the replies. It's helping me weed through the chaff for sure :P

My X2 550BE is actually slightly undervolted with a 3rd core unlocked but your point about it's TDP and AMD's "math" is duly noted and I agree. Bottom line it has extremely poor transactional efficiency. I had completely spaced on the the overall efficiency of the newest Intels and got hung up on TDP only. Thanks for the edumacation. After a few threads on various boards, I'm looking at the E3-1225V3 using a GA-H87-D3H which as an Intel NIC and 3 monitor support. The Gryphon only has 2 monitor outputs, I need 3. ASUS doesn't want to give up that Intel NIC unless your into the Z87 chipset and now I'm paying for features I don't need. I haven't looked thrrough their Q87s yet so maybe some love there. I may spring for the E3-1245V3 not sure if I can swing that. The HD P4600 iGPU will run all three of my monitors saving more power and heat.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:15 pm

MetalGeek464 wrote:The Gryphon only has 2 monitor outputs, I need 3. ASUS doesn't want to give up that Intel NIC unless your into the Z87 chipset and now I'm paying for features I don't need.

Well, needing 3 monitor outputs changes things a little. I did a Newegg search, and found these motherboards with dual-HDMI, most of them also having either DVI or Displayport, getting you your 3 monitor outputs. Interestingly, most of them are either full-size boards, or Mini-ITX. I don't know what your feelings are about Mini-ITX, but I kindof like this Gigabyte board. It's probably also worth mentioning that using 4-DIMMS will result in higher power usage than 2-DIMMS. You're probably only talking about 10 watts though.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:55 pm

MetalGeek464 wrote:ASUS doesn't want to give up that Intel NIC unless your into the Z87 chipset and now I'm paying for features I don't need.


If it costs more than an extra $35 to get a mobo with an intel NIC you might as well just get a board with all the other features you need and add an intel NIC yourself.


Edit: FYI, the ASRock boards in The Egg's link all seem to have 1 HDMI in and 1 HDMI out, not 2 HDMI outs.
Last edited by Melvar on Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:10 pm

Melvar wrote:
MetalGeek464 wrote:ASUS doesn't want to give up that Intel NIC unless your into the Z87 chipset and now I'm paying for features I don't need.

If it costs more than an extra $35 to get a mobo with an intel NIC you might as well just get a board with all the other features you need and add an intel NIC yourself.

Realtek NICs aren't the nightmare they used to be either. They did have a well-deserved bad rep in the past, but these days unless you are running a mission-critical server I wouldn't worry about it.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:03 am

Melvar wrote:Edit: FYI, the ASRock boards in The Egg's link all seem to have 1 HDMI in and 1 HDMI out, not 2 HDMI outs.

Well that's a little bizarre. Nice catch.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:12 pm

CPU will be either the Xeon E3-1225V3 or the Xeon E3-1245V3, depending on budget as they best match my use case. I've narrowed the search to the ASUS H87M-PRO or the GA-Z87MX-D3H . These offer me 3 monitor support (DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort) without resorting to D-Sub which has been problematic with all my monitors, 3 year warranty, 4 DIMM support and AFAIK, a quality product. The ASUS uses Realtek for the NIC, the GB an Intel. As I pick boards that have the features I want/need I'm in the 100-150 range so I'm good with that. Thoughts on Support, build quality, BIOS, etc?
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:41 pm

MetalGeek464 wrote:CPU will be either the Xeon E3-1225V3 or the Xeon E3-1245V3, depending on budget as they best match my use case. I've narrowed the search to the ASUS H87M-PRO or the GA-Z87MX-D3H . These offer me 3 monitor support (DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort) without resorting to D-Sub which has been problematic with all my monitors, 3 year warranty, 4 DIMM support and AFAIK, a quality product. The ASUS uses Realtek for the NIC, the GB an Intel. As I pick boards that have the features I want/need I'm in the 100-150 range so I'm good with that. Thoughts on Support, build quality, BIOS, etc?

In my Z68 days ASUS had a slightly more polished UEFI experience, but Gigabyte's newest UEFI looks pretty nice and finally has controls for system fans like ASUS.
From those two boards you list the Gigabyte uses higher quality components, close to being on par with the Gryphon.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:54 pm

MetalGeek464 wrote:CPU will be either the Xeon E3-1225V3 or the Xeon E3-1245V3

Why the Xeon? Unless you go with the workstation C22x chipsets you won't get ECC RAM support. And even that, the lower end i3's and Pentiums are starting to get ECC support with the right board too.
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:38 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
MetalGeek464 wrote:CPU will be either the Xeon E3-1225V3 or the Xeon E3-1245V3

Why the Xeon? Unless you go with the workstation C22x chipsets you won't get ECC RAM support. And even that, the lower end i3's and Pentiums are starting to get ECC support with the right board too.


Don't need ECC support. If I cannot swing the E3-1245V3, then i5-4650 or 4670 would technically offer more Mhz but less Cache which may or may not matter when I load up a bunch of VMs. In the end is it going to matter much either way. We are talking $25.00 difference in cost and less than a 3% difference in compute power. Same goes for the E3-1245V3, it's the best HT option: 4 Cores, 8 threads 3.4/3.8Ghz frequencies and $25.00 cheaper than the i7-4770. I still need a quality MB to put any of them into, that need doesn't change.

edited for clarity
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Re: mATX board for system upgrade

Postposted on Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:58 pm

The Egg wrote:
Melvar wrote:Edit: FYI, the ASRock boards in The Egg's link all seem to have 1 HDMI in and 1 HDMI out, not 2 HDMI outs.

Well that's a little bizarre. Nice catch.


It seems strange but the reason for it makes sense for the specific intended use: the HDMI input is a passthrough for hooking up a console for a user who only has one display used for both the PC and console.
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