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Problems choosing a good budget mobo for e8400 OC'ing

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Sep 1, 2008
Warning: Huge wall of text incoming. Skip down to "Short Version" if you want to avoid all the details.

Hi, I'm having trouble finding a good motherboard in the $100-$150 price range for building a new system; looking to get an e8400 and OC to ~4Ghz. Have been searching on newegg for the past few days and can't really find one with good enough reviews. There are no 5-rated (with many reviews, not just 1 or 2) motherboards, and the 4-rated ones have some pretty bad reviews with 1 or 2 eggs, where the user either had multiple DOA boards, lots of BSOD's, RAM incompatibilities, video corruption, and the list goes on. Many of the bad reviews are labeled as 'not helpful' by a majority, on the bottom of each review where it says 'X out of XX people found this review helpful'; I am not sure if those reviews are false/skewed into the negative by a lack of knowledge on the user's part, or if the people labeling them as 'not helpful' are just biased toward the particular board/brand. I'm also not sure about some of the good reviews coming from people who never overclocked.

Can't really afford an Asus Rampage or anything like that, but I'm considering the following:

ASUS P5Q Pro http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131299

Gigabyte EP35-DS3L http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128337

possibly EVGA 750i FTW http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813188026 (depending on how much the RAM costs me)

Haven't chosen which RAM to buy yet but considering this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227191 for WinXP. or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227267 if I upgrade to WinXP 64-bit, and if that RAM can handle the 4ghz OC? Edit: Actually the price seems to have just gone down on this 4GB DDR2 800, so I would prefer that IF it can handle the OC. (not sure, because many people say I need 1066 ram for the e8400 @4ghz+)

I am not biased toward any particular brand and this is not my first build. Well, maybe biased toward just one thing; No Vista. Just looking for the best price/performance ratio on a well-overclockable set of motherboard+ram that doesn't cause a ton of problems. I've built several systems over the past ~8 years, which were mostly AMD chips because of their good price/performance/overclockability at the time I was buying (Intel was too expensive for me back then). Going for the e8400 next since it currently falls under that category at this time. Don't really need a quad-core because this is primarily for gaming (I don't use multithread apps much, and I've seen many comparisons of this CPU vs overclocked Q6600/6700 and the highest end QX at 4+ Ghz, in different benchmarks/apps/games) but I'm open to other suggestions on a processor, if there is any better for $170.

Currently I haven't bought any of the above, but here is what I have and what I'm replacing:

Opteron 180 @ 2.8 Ghz
ASUS A8N-E mobo
2GB(2x 1GB) Corsair XMS PC3200C2 @400Mhz
ATI Radeon X1900XT 512MB - Crysis @ 20 fps >.<

These will be replaced with the new intel processor/mobo/ram when I decide on the right combo, and the new 55nm Geforce GTX 260 whenever it comes out (last I heard it's supposed to be mid-Sept, but some sources say end of the year... so I don't know). The below components (which I have) will be used in the new system:

Xion II Gaming PC Case (1x 120mm Silent Fan in rear, 1x 80mm LED Fan on side panel, 1x 120mm LED Fan in Front)
Corsair 550VX PSU (+12v@41A)
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 120mm CPU Cooler
Some old Pioneer DVD-ROM 16x
old 2x ATA 60GB hard drives (OS/movies/music)
1 SATA Seagate 750GB drive (games + page file)
old SB Live! 24-bit PCI sound card (onboard sound will be disabled)

IMO the case and cpu cooler are good enough for a decent OC and the PSU should be enough, unless I use SLI (which I won't). Again, open to suggestions if any of those parts look bad... well, the old hard drives/sound card suck I know, but don't really have budget for a full PC rebuild right now; just focusing on CPU/ram/mobo.

Short Version:

I cannot find reliable reviews for a $100-$150 motherboard that will not cause problems when OC'ing an e8400 to ~4Ghz. There are too many bad, or questionable reviews on every board which I can't ignore. Usually it's not a problem, but for this particular part it's important I don't get something of crap quality. Can't really afford a $200+ board. Any suggestions?
I picked up a TPower back in July and it is my first experience with Biostar. I like it (no problems) and found that it is pretty easy to overclock E8400/E8600 cpus to moderate levels 4.0-e8400 and 4.3-e8600 on air. When you really push your overclock it does require some more work with the mb chipset and memory configurations. Biostar also has a lower priced board with a thread here in the forums. http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=573409 Asus has a few motherboards in the $150 and less range that are quite popular here the P5Q-Pro being one of them. Here is a link to my TPower new build thread. http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=571685 Zip Zoom Fly's price on the Tpower is currently lower then NewEgg... http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=10008785
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Do not trust newegg reviews, most of the people there are uneducated and numb about computers,

The Biostar is a nice board, others to look at are any asus/gigabyte P45 board all excellent.
DFI also makes some good overclocking boards! Look around at peoples sigs to see what works... Unless SLI is required I would stay away from Nvidia chipsets...
Any of them should work just fine. At this point most p45 chipsets can push out more then enough fsb for ddr2 to handle 24/7. Just grab whichever p45 Biostar, DFI, Gigabyte, or Asus board catches your eye.
Looks like the biostar board just went up to $170 so I'm more likely going for the P5Q Pro. Maybe better off that way because most of my boards have been ASUS and never had a problem with them that I couldn't fix (without calling customer support)... and I don't like the sideways-connecting SATA ports on the biostar.

A few questions:

This will sound dumb as I've never used a CrossfireX board, but there won't be any problems if I run a single Nvidia card on it, right? I know it obviously can't run SLI and I don't want to run crossfire at only 8x anyway, but would there be any compatibility problems or adjustments I'd need to make... or any performance difference from running a non-ATI card? Being overly paranoid, but I want to make sure.

And this review:

"I put in 2X2GB of High Performance OCZ Revision 2 RAM and all other stuff and start and I don't get the POST or bios (obviously) .. I tried many things and finally I started reading reviews of people that gave this board 1 egg and many seemed to have received a DOA item .. Now this is what I started to assume.

And then I happened to read reviews about the same board but Deluxe model and someone posted in a review that Only 1 DIMM of the dual channel would work with a particular type of crosair ram ..

I immediately pulled out one 2GB stick of RAM and viola !!!!! The computer boots up and I get to POST and bios ...

I'm absolutely disappointed with this board ..." - Some user from Newegg

I plan to use OCZ Reaper HPC Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel, maybe I should buy a different kind of RAM? Or does this guy not know what he's doing?
no issues running an nVidia card on the board

I dont know about specific memory compatablitly but you should be fine and if you arent then just use one stick for a few mins to flash the bios to one that will work will all the sticks.