The Best Money Can Buy: Motherboards (Part 1) - ASRock X79 Extreme 11, Asus Intel Z97 ROG Bundle, Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING G1

9/5/2014 11:12:25 AM
What kind of PC could you build if budget was of little concern? Let’s take a look in the first of a high-end PC series...

It's no secret that we like a good, money-saving deal. We pride ourselves on informing you, the reader, on how to get the very best value when shopping for PCs and components. The recent economic climate has made this all the more important and desirable, but what if we could ignore this thrifty spending? What if money wasn't a concern, and instead of limiting the power and performance you could go for, what kind of powerful hardware could you expect to find?

We're going to focus on this very question and have a look at the kinds of hardware you can find if you're not all that concerned about limiting your budget. We'll look at some of the cutting-edge hardware available and components that demand higher prices for better performance and more features.

What kind of PC could you build if budget was of little concern?

What kind of PC could you build if budget was of little concern?

Of course, the most expensive isn't always the best, and we're not simply going to look at hardware that costs the most for the sake of it. We're going to look at higher-end deals that warrant your attention, and we’ll cover various aspects of the home PC, from CPU to keyboard, and motherboard to monitor, beginning with the foundation of the PC, the motherboard.

This is a component that can greatly affect your PC, from which hardware you buy for it, to how well it performs. It also affects your future expansions and upgrades, as well as how much storage and memory you can have. This makes your motherboard choice very important, and being able to spend more money will usually allow for a greater level of performance, as well as an array of more powerful functions. Let's have a look at some of your options.

ASRock X79 Extreme 11 Price: $784

A lot of people may not consider ASRock motherboards as being all that desirable, especially when it comes to high end, but the Extreme 11 could change that opinion. Although arguably more well known for budget boards, ASRock has produced quite a mammoth board here, packed with features that make it a viable high-end board.

ASRock has produced quite a mammoth board here, packed with features that make it a viable high-end board

ASRock has produced quite a mammoth board here, packed with features that make it a viable high-end board

It's an Intel X79 chipset model with an LGA2011 socket and supports the Core i7 range of CPUs, with up to 64GB of DDR3 RAM. It also supports four-way SLI and CrossFireX, with PCIe 3.0 x16. Add to this eight SAS2 (RAID), two SATA-600 (RAID) and two eSATA-600 ports, as well as Creative EAX HD audio, two gigabit Ethernet ports and a mass of USB ports, and you've got a flexible, and fast system foundation. The build quality is also good, with gold, solid capacitors and a dual-stack MOSFET, which can help with power conservation.

This is a high-quality board in terms of features and construction, but it does have a rather packed surface area, which could make it a little tricky when it comes to maintenance and upgrading. With the right chassis, however, this issue could be addressed.

Asus Intel Z97 ROG Bundle Price: $667

Asus Intel Z97 ROG Bundle

Asus Intel Z97 ROG Bundle

This is a deal we found and it's quite a good one at that. It consists of an Asus Intel Z97 ROG motherboard, Intel Core i7 CPU (477QK) and 8GB of Vengeance Pro RAM. It's a good deal for a gaming bundle, and the price nets you a great initial setup, complete with a very good motherboard that's well suited for gamers, thanks to support for the whole Intel Core CPU range and SLI/CrossFireX.

Of course, as this is a bundle, the board itself isn't exactly cutting-edge and is more of an entry-level option, but for £400, if you have the cash to spare, this is a superb deal.

Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING G1 Price: $584

This gaming-focused board from Gigabyte is a bit of a powerhouse, and it supports Intel's Core range of CPUs and 'extreme gaming', four-way GPU setups. Of particular interest is the inclusion of a quad-core Creative 3D audio processor and a specialised gaming network focus, offering lag-free gaming sessions.

Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING G1

Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING G1

The build is complemented by gold-plated audio and display ports, and the whole board has undergone a stressful 168-hour, sever-level durability test, which should ensure the unit is more than capable of handling prolonged gaming sessions.

Other specifications include support for up to 32GB DDR RAM, ten SATA-600, one SATA Express port and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as dual-band wi-fi.

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