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Are there any essential features for a new motherboard?

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Assuming basic home use, such as Youtube streaming, gaming, etc, and an LGA 1700 board (so new, not looking at older tech )

I can see:

2.5GbE - I'm not sure what I would be connecting to.
S/PDIF - if you have a DAC, sure?
4 RAM slots - yes this makes sense for the future, even if you are installing 16GB today.
Thunderbolt connector - I'm not sure if there is anything I could use this for.
Fan headers - the worst motherboards have only 1, so I guess this is limiting in a lot of cases
USB - every motherboard has at least 1 5 gigabit USB port, but not all of them have USB-C. OTOH you could just buy a USB-A to USB-C cable if you really need one. Faster USB3.2 2x2 etc. seems nice on paper but in reality a lot of people are connecting a USB 2.0 camera or something, so the 10 gigabit and 20 gigabit stuff seems a bit.... superfluous?
PCIE - every LGA 1700 motherboard has PCI 4.0 x16, or PCI 5.0 x16, which seems fine, right?
SATA - most boards have 4 connectors, some have 6 or 8. 4 is enough for nearly everyone, obviously if you have a lot of hard drives then ... yeah
M.2 slots - this one looks like a relevant consideration in that if you have 1 M.2 drive then you are likely to want to add a second at one point, so one M.2 slot is very limiting at this point.
Multiple video outputs - a few have only 1, so I guess you'd need to double check if you need DisplayPort, but otoh you might well be using a discrete GPU anyway.


(Obviously there is heatsinks, VRM quality, chipless BIOS flashing, etc., to consider)
 
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<$300 top tier boards. $400 to $600+ is nuts
 
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More m2 slots ftw, also you want more sata headers for hdd ssd optical drives. Full atx for size usually gives you more m2 slots.
 
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How about a CPU socket? ;)
 
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USB-C internal header? most newer cases have USB-C on the font panel I/O
 
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USB-C internal header? most newer cases have USB-C on the font panel I/O
buy an adaptor

for basic home use id just buy the cheapest one you can find on newegg, and honestly you dont even need the newest like ADL for that either (tbf ADL pricing is really nice so), paired w/ like 12100 or 12400 (or 10100/10400)
 
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S/PDIF is rather useless, it wouldn't make a difference from using USB
Personally I would look at the heatsinks and M.2 slots. Heatsinks mainly for lower end mobos to ensure they do not throttle due to the VRM overheating while M.2 slots are just more convenient than SATA since M.2 doesn't require any cables and the more the better.
 

Toshikobo

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I would say:
1. DURABILITY:
1.1 - VRM quality.
1.2 - Decent power consumption and temperatures in CPU/GPU/Memory Idle, Normal and Stress tests.
1.3 - Number of CPU generations compatible with the socket (allows you to upgrade).
1.4 - A strict minimum of 5 fan connectors (1 Rear exhaust, 2x Front, 1x CPU cooler, 1x Top).

2. FUNCTIONALITY:
2.1 - Variety of ports (notably the number of USB 3.x gen2 / and Type-C ports).
2.2 - A strict minimum of 2x SATA connectors, and at least 2x M2 connectors (more M2 and SATA if dealing with massive data like pro multimedia, 3D, etc.).
2.3 - HDMI and/or Display Port (precious aid if your discrete GPU doesn't respond or dies when you have to deliver work for school/office).

2.4 (Optional) - Wifi capability (for scenarios like inexistent internet subscription, router far from pc or preference for cable limitation).

3. POWER SUPPLY:
A super motherboard can be hindered with a lame PSU. I would suggest something from Seasonic Prime series or Corsair RM (without RM-x suffix !), AX or SF series.

I've got a Z390 Aorus Pro (non-wifi) from 2019, with 16 Go RAM, a humble Core i5-8400, a brave GTX 1050 Ti, breathing with Noctua fans and powered by a Seasonic Focus Plus 850W . Quickly after I built this thing, several chipsets popped out : Z4xx, Z5xx, and now Z6xx.

All of a sudden my config seemed weak and pale :nutkick:
But I'm more than happy, especially for the number of ports (more than lot of current boards can offer !) and VRM quality (considering year 2019, 12 phases of 50A !) . Everything works, I cannot do huge gaming stuff nor overclocking, but still very decent machine :clap:.
 
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SATA ports - extremely important, need 8 on any board I buy. Not just for spindles but that SATA ssd's are cheaper than m.2 and run cooler for same practical performance.
DIMM ports - 4 x DDR4 is a requirement.
PCIE gen 3 maximum, gen 4/5 costs too much money and I have no use case for 4 or 5. (gen 4 ok providing the board is still sub £250).
Onboard reset/power.
Onboard diagnostics display.
At least 3 extra usable PCIE slots on top of primary.
Non crippled bios, even though I dont o/c hard, I still want to tune my ram, and tune my cpu undervolt.
IO-MMU support.

VRM quality - now days underclocking is the thing not o/c with extreme voltages. So dont care as much, but will still check to make sure I am not buying a complete dud of a board, just doesnt need to be top of the range.
 
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Z690-A pro from MSI does just about everything anyone needs on LGA1700.

I would push back on 4 RAM slots though, running 4 sticks of RAM is a disaster most of the time, especially when you are upgrading from 2 sticks. Particularly if you are already on a dual rank setup. Especially with DDR5 I would say the default should be 2 slots, since you lose an absurd amount of speed going to 4 DIMMs, nobody in their right mind should be using 4 DIMMs.

If you need 128GB+ of RAM you should just be going with a HEDT/workstation system.

If you are upgrading, sell your current kit and get a new 2 stick kit for the capacity you want.
 
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B660-A pro I would say is your best bet for a cheaper one that can deal with the higher end CPUs and mainly just drops storage options. If all goes well, those will drop to around $110-120 in a few months, just as happened with many B550 boards.
 
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