For motherboards, you have to know which features you want first and then find a comparable motherboard with your "wants." Also see if that would help you in the future for upgrading.
For example, we'll take the ASUS P5Q Pro that Troy suggested and compare it with Gigabyte EP45-DS3L.
- Both have the new chipset, Intel P45.
- The Asus can only take up to 8GB of RAM while the Gigabyte will take up to 16GB (for future upgrade perhaps?).
- The Asus has 2 PCI-E slots while the Gigabyte only has 1. The Asus can do crossfire, that is 2 ATI video cards, however the speed is only 16x for the first one and 8x for the second one. There's another board that can do 16x speed for both PCI-E slots, I believe its the one with the X38 or X48 chipset but will run you around $200-$300, this is why you need to find what you need first and see if those features are what you'll be using because you could just be wasting money paying for extra features you do not need. If you can use Nvidia video cards on any P45 boards however you won't be able to do SLI (2 Nvidia video cards for better performance, it is the same thing as crossfire). The Gigabyte EP45-DS3R has 2 PCI-E slot as well and same features as the DS3L.
- Asus has 8 SATA ports (2 of these are for RAID if you're going that route) while Gigabyte only has 6.
- Asus has 6 USB ports in the back while Gigabyte has 8 ports.
- Asus has firewire support while Gigabyte doesn't.
These are I think the deciding factors including the price. Both Asus and Gigabyte are great manufacturers but if you're a heavy overclocker then a different brand would be better.
For the processor, Intel's processors performs better than AMD so hence why most people would suggest Intel.
How to decide? Well there's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad, so you have to once again figure out what you'll be using the computer for. If you're just going to play games then Core 2 Duo would be sufficient and will save you some money however if you want it to last long then Core 2 Quad would be the better choice (if you have the money for it) and if you're multitasking then Quad would be the way to go. Also, you should go with the latest technology like the 45 nm (manufacturing tech) as it generates less heat so that you can overclock it further than the other models.
Another thing when comparing Intel processors, you have to look at the L2 Cache (the higher the better) and speed. If you're comparing, you should compare the same models, for example, you can't compare an E5200 with the E8400 because they're not the same model (comparing L2 Cache and speed). The E5200 could
have the higher L2 cache and speed but it is an older technology compared to the E8400. Same models would have the same letter and then the first number for example, Q9550 and Q9300 are the same models but would have different specifications like L2 cache, speed, etc. The Intel Core 2 Extreme line up are the most expensive ones and will have an unlocked multiplier (not sure what other features it has) so its mostly for those heavy overclockers.
Hope that helps,
Edited by kamille316, 22 October 2008 - 09:59 AM.