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I am in the very preliminary stages of planning a new general purpose linux desktop. In looking at Tiger direct I see AM3 motherboards from $53 to $245. I am ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    What is the difference between MB's?


    I am in the very preliminary stages of planning a new general purpose linux desktop. In looking at Tiger direct I see AM3 motherboards from $53 to $245. I am on a tight budget, and wondering what should I be looking for in mother board descriptions? Different sites I have tried to find an answer at seem to recommend different MB's itn the $100 to $120 range, but don' explain why those boards are worth the extra money. Is it just the onboard video, or number of PCI or PCI express slots, or is there a real performance advantage to the more expensive boards? By the way, I don't game or overclock.

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    Linux Guru coopstah13's Avatar
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    usually you get what you pay for, cheap motherboards are made with cheap parts, and they are more prone to breaking earlier in their lifetime and being DOA in my experience

    also more expensive boards tend to have more features, IE more PCI slots, usb ports, onboard video, better chipsets for audio, etc.

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    oz
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    Don't know if it's still an issue, but for some time there was a problem with motherboards and other components that were made using cheap Chinese capacitors that would start oozing and I've heard in some case eventually explode. Those boards that are assembled with the better made Japanese capacitors are of much better quality, but they'll usually cost more.

    You can google for more info and some photos on the subject.
    oz

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    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    What should I look for in a budget board then? I haven't noticed any "Made in China" disclaimers on the blurbs at Newegg and TigerDirect.

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    MB's vary by:

    - Quality (brand, materials, number of PCB layers, etc.)
    - Chipsets (BIG part of MB cost - chipsets = performance level and feature availability)
    - Features (Number of USB ports, SATA/PATA ports, 1 NIC or 2?, SAS controller onboard?, CPU overclock options?)
    - Size (Bigger boards are going to be more expensive - MicroATX vs. ATX, etc.)

    Find a few boards that have the combination of items you're looking for and then *read* the reviews of those boards. All of the items above are quantifiable - except for "quality." That only comes from going through hundreds+ of MB's (which is something I *used* to do.) For my own .02, I stick with Asus MB's if at all possible.

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    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by MASONTX View Post
    I haven't noticed any "Made in China" disclaimers on the blurbs at Newegg and TigerDirect.
    Just in case it might help, here's an article from a couple of years ago that talks a bit about the capacitor problem and how to identify the better capacitors:

    How to Identify Japanese Electrolytic Capacitors | Hardware Secrets
    oz

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    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. To someone doing their first build, it would seem that the short answer is stick with an Asus board at what ever price point you can afford. Is that about right? In looking at various MB's I ran across negative comments on MSI, Gigabyte, ECS, and Foxconn. Biostar had some good and some bad comments. Seems like Asus wins by default.

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    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by MASONTX View Post
    Thanks for the replies. To someone doing their first build, it would seem that the short answer is stick with an Asus board at what ever price point you can afford.
    I generally read over the user reviews at places like NewEgg for any board that I'm considering purchasing, and I check for reviews on it from computer hardware review websites. Otherwise, ASUS is probably about as good as any when it comes to manufacturers. I say that even though one of the back panel USB ports has quit after just a few months on the last really high dollar ASUS board that I purchased. If anything else breaks on such a new board, I'll have to reconsider my opinion of ASUS.
    oz

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