Buying a motherboard

So I think I need to buy a new mobo for my computer (see my other thread for details).

I’ve built one computer from the ground up, buying everything from the local CompUSA, which was nice because the guy there knew what he was talking about and gave me good info, and I could return most stuff if I had a problem (subject to restocking fees).

But my local CompUSA is liquidating - therefore it has a diminishing inventory and a no returns policy. I’m pretty sure BestBuy and Circuit City do not carry mobos (correct me if I’m wrong). We have no Fry’s here (St. Louis).

Are there likely to be any other local options?

If not, what on-line retailer is likely to combine reasonable prices, fast delivery, and perhaps, the safety of a return policy if needed?

And if returns are totally out of the question for on-line bought mobos, perhaps I’m better off taking my chances with CompUSA…

Are you going to overclock at all? Even a little?

NewEgg should let you do returns. I don’t know if they’re the best prices but I haven’t found them to be higher than average.

TigerDirect is another option, but I got burned by them and Soyo with a bullshit rebate offer so f them in the a.

There has to be at least one small/non chain computer store in the St. Louis area. Probably not the best prices, but you’ll get a return policy and probably staff that know enough to help you. I live in a much smaller town and there are at least 2 places like this.

newegg is definitely the way to go for this kind of thing. In my experience they are fairly reasonable about returns and don’t gouge on prices. I’d rather pay them a few bucks more for a mobo and know it’s going to be shipped promptly, be treated well, be returnable, and not secretly be a repacked return or refurb.

Newegg is the gold standard for PC components. They may not be the absolute cheapest these days, but they’re usually competitive within a buck or two once you take shipping into account. Their user reviews are fairly trustworthy as well.

Personally, I stick to Asus, Abit, MSI, Gigabyte, and Epox. I avoid bargain brands like the plague because you’re always going to lose features and quality and it just isn’t worth that headache to save the $15 to $20.

Things to keep in mind when picking a motherboard:

Board slot layout: What is adjacent to the PCIe x16 slots? Will you be upset if a 2-slot video card blocks off a PCI or PCI x1 slot next to it?

Ports: Are 4 USBs on the rear I/O shield + 4 headers on the motherboard enough? A lot of people like myself need 6 + 4 or more these days. Do you have an old-school printer you’re going to be hooking up over parallel, or an old Palm that needs serial? A lot of machines (not enough in my book, though) lack these ports these days.

If you want a couple of candidates, lemme know what platform (Athlon 64/Core 2 Duo/Quad) you are planning on building off of and what form factor (ATX or microATX) you plan on using, and I can post a couple highlights.

  1. Figure out what you need
  2. Figure out what you think would be nice
  3. Read a bunch of reviews on hardware sites (Anandtech, Hard OCP, Ars Technica, whatever)
  4. Buy on Newegg.

NewEgg will let you RMA a return, and it is a very fast process as compared to any other retailer I’ve ever dealt with. Their restocking fee can be a bit high, however, so you should know what you want before you buy it.

At the same time, it seems like a lot of stuff that comes out of NewEgg is DOA. Every comment section I read has scores of people talking about X item arriving non-functional and how great NewEgg was with the replacement. I get a suspicion that a lot of questionable components go through there, but I have nothing to back that up with. I HAVE sent back stuff for replacement and return before due to products arriving dead, which only added to that concern. But a lot of things have arrived perfectly fine.


Your odds are probably still better than going to Fry’s, from all the stories I hear about there.

Hmm - NewEgg has the same model mobo I have (Asus A8N-E), BUT, they only have it in open box.

It’s cheap : $49.99, with free 3 day shipping.

There’s something nice about an exact model replacement - I know my CPU will fit, and I know it will have the RAID 1 that my drives are set up for. But open box scares me a bit. Anybody ordered these from NewEgg before?

And when they say 3 day shipping (to St. Louis), does it really mean 3 day, or more likely 1-2?

PS - there’s a store in Amazon Marketplace (RitzCamera), that has it new for $108.

Doh! I mangled my CPU in removing my mobo.

Two questions:

  1. If I order an AMD retail-packaged CPU, will the box contain a fan and also the appropriate thermal grease?

  2. I have a Zalman CPU fan that had been on my other CPU. Quiet, but huge and hard to get into the case right. If I go with whatever (presumably smaller) fan comes in the box, is there likely to be a large noise difference?

Yes and yes.

1 - Yes it will contain a fan… no I don’t believe you need to use thermal grease, as it has it’s on thermal stuff on the heatsink by default. If you were to remove the heatsink later and replace it, then you would need your own grease.

2 - No idea, I haven’t heard what a Zalman fan sounds like vs. the stock fan. But it depends, of course, on how open your case is (oh many other fans you have running on it) I doubt you would notice much difference if any unless your cpu fan is pretty much the only fan you’re running.
I’d think that any external fans would cover up the noise produced by the cpu fan.

Back-tracking a bit… I’ve used in addition to NewEgg for purchasing cpu/mobo’s in the past.

The last AMD processor I used had a fan with a fairly audible whirr, but they’ve probably improved since then. This one was before variable speed control and was always running at 3000+ RPM.

Unless you get a 5600+ or 6000+ retail. Those fans are noisy…

I suppose I should specify. I thought the CPU was being held to the mobo by a couple of screws, and thus pulled on the CPU fan for leverage to lift the old mobo out. Big mistake - the CPU popped out of it’s slot, and bent about 20 pins in varying directions as it did so.

I could try to straighten the pins and re-use the CPU, but I think my confidence in doing that successfully is about 10%, and unfortunately, it would take me about 90 minutes to get the mobo set up after I put the ‘fixed’ CPU in. I don’t want to waste that much time for a 10% chance of saving my CPU, UNLESS you experts out there think that unbending the pins is a relatively forgiving process. My eyeball inspection is that it would be hard, and because of the huge CPU fan, I cannot insert/remove the CPU without inserting/removing the mobo (with all it’s many connectors - a long process).

So I think I’m just going to write off the old CPU, unless anyone advises me to the contrary…

Time to move to your new Intel Core 2 Duo system, i’m afraid.

Convenient, this CPU breaking isn’t it… almost too convenient. I think someone needs to call your wife.

Can I get in on this? My current Mobo is driving me batty with it’s total inability to suspend/sleep/hibernate. I’m running an Opteron 165, and would prefer mATX (for future compatibility) but am okay with regular ATX. Both PCI-E and FSB-based overclocking are important to me. (I’m currently running the FSB @ 250 rather than the standard 200, and while the BIOS seems hopelessly broken when it comes to power management, it’s rock solid at the 25% overclock. Starts getting wonky much past that, though apparently the processor is good past that, so wouldn’t mind upgrading that capability as well if possible.)

If you had a couple of connectors I’d restraighten them gently. If there’s so many connectors I’d fear that some of them are loose, marginal and will fail along the line.

Software’s bad enough, don’t want iffy hardware.

Retail CPUs will come with a thermal pad - if you’re gonna use big fat huge heatsinks get the OEM so you don’t have to spend an hour scrapping off that thermal goop.

Thanks wisefool.

You’re not going to get much “future compatibility” sticking with socket 939, mate. I’m using an ASRock VSTA-939Dual, with a 4400+ X2 939, and I can’t say I’d advocate anyone buying a new motherboard unless they’re moving to AM2+/AM3 (same socket as AM2 but with HyperTransport 3 and DDR3 support) or LGA775 on Intel’s upcoming DDR3 chipset.