Hello world, I recently posted a message on: "Choosing a CPU: AMD Phenom 9950" "Choosing a GPU: NVIDIA 9800 GTX, NVIDIA GTX 260, or switching to ATI" "Choosing RAM: For 64-bit Quad Core (AMD Phenom 9950)" The focus of this message is motherboard specific. Here is a summarized introduction on what lead to this discussion and will eventually consist of purchasing my motherboard: I have needed a new computer for some time now, specifically for producing music (for my profession), though with the invitation to join an early testing phase of an unnamed online game that is not due for release until next year, I picked up the motivation to finally build a computer rather than buy a pre-built. I think it's pretty funny when you are motivated to build a computer for "work" when you know it will be used for "fun" too. Though, my work is also fun, I love my career. In any case, you will find some of the information on the "whole project" in another thread, including revisions to my big list of components/parts. Here is a direct link to "version 1.5" of my list. Purpose of this computer: 1/2 music production, 1/2 gaming; and a little extra multimedia mixed in, for use with movies/tv shows. Price range for this computer: $1,000 to $1,500 (if possible), though I might go a little higher. Side note: some subjects require some special attention and the purpose in the "System Builder's Advice" forum is "...for your whole project." So, I'll leave that there and this one specific piece of my computer puzzle open to discussion here. This is the perfect place for motherboard talk, after all! Now... back to the topic... I am 100% positive that I want the "AMD Phenom 9950" CPU and around 95-99% positive that I want the "NVIDIA 9800 GTX" GPU. (The 95-99% on the GPU involves the motherboard, which will be explained below.) Motherboard: Now that I know which socket (AM2+) and "general" chipset (NVIDIA/SLI) I'll be using, I understand that I can now select a motherboard. As far as motherboard brands go, I have had positive experiences with ASUS. However, I have heard that other quality motherboard brands include Gigabyte and Abit. Perhaps DFI and MSI too. The 790FX and 790GX boards look really nice, only they are ATI/CrossFire (not NVIDIA/SLI). Here are two that I found: "ASUS M3A78-T AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131331 ($149.99) ("Unleash 140W Phenom Performance, DDR3 1333 Sideport Memory") or "ASUS M3A79-T Deluxe AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131339&Tpk=M3A79-T Deluxe ($188.99) ("AMD 790FX/SB750, Quad PCIe x16, Ideal OC platform") Is there an NVIDIA/SLI (chipset?) version of these motherboards? If those are the best deals available for the "AM2+ socket" ASUS boards, I might be willing to switch from NVIDIA to ATI. (That is why I am 95-99% positive I want NVIDIA. If there is not an equivalent to the 790FX/790GX for NVIDIA/SLI, then that approximate 1-5% chance of switching GPUs might happen.) I did some digging and found some AM2+ socket and NVIDIA/SLI chipset motherboards, though am unsure of their value due to some negative reviews I found on each. Here are two that I found: ASUS M3N-HT DELUXE/MEMPIPE AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131290 ($239.99) ("3-way SLI with Revolutionary Memory Heat Pipe") or "MSI K9N2 Diamond AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI ATX AMD Motherboard" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130160 ($239.99) ($199.99 after $40.00 Mail-In Rebate) ("3 way SLI, PCI-e 2.0 x16, X-Fi Xtreme audio, dual LAN") I'll assume the role of "devil's advocate" and look at only the negative remarks people have left on these two motherboards: Spacing or lack of space for installing multiple nearby components; needing an older CPU to flash the BIOS; unable to use mempipe (on the M3N-HT) without sacrificing either the CPU fan plug, "case fan plug #2" (and mempipe only goes to one module, not both if using 8GB RAM); can only use 1066 in 2 of the 4 RAM slots; incorrect power for Phenom after updating BIOS (requiring power manually set to "1.2500V"; have to fill the 2 "blue" slots first; using double-width card covers the only PCIXx1 slot; using 3 GPUs will pretty much cover all the other slots; RAID is only on or off, 4 SATA slots, RAID on gets 6 slots with all 6 using RAID, RAID off only 4; have to shut down ExpressGate function; using 2 monitors disables SLI; manually set RAM settings, "auto" settings didn't work; requires retrieving latest drivers from nvidia and asus, as well as creating a bios flash disk; 1066 (supposedly) only supported by Kingston RAM; manual requests using 1000W PSU; "hdmi only switches to single link dvi, 1900x1200 resolution". "SATA plugs positioned terribly"; no spdif plugs; heatsink/fan doesn't fit; one network "drive" doesn't work; sound problems; difficulties getting tri-sli working; need to flash bios; no onboard audio requires use of 1 available audio exp.slot; sli problems; onboard audio chipset but no audio i/o; hybrid mode doesn't always work; SATA controller not Linux/Unix compatible. That's just the "cons" from the "pros and cons" in newegg's reviews. In all fairness, here are the "cons" for the 790GX and 790FX: CPU lock lever; running RAID, CrossFire, or overclocking will cause overheating; hdmi/dvi does not work or does not work at same time; weak integrated video; VGA port not working; DVI works only when clearing cmos at boot; only supports 125W CPU, not 140W as advertised; requires updating/flashing BIOS; only one ps/2 port (two needed (keyboard/mouse)); doesn't have serial port; only "partially" supports crossfire x (only with hd2k series); only 6 expansion slots; 1066 RAM issue; only reads 2 sticks at 1066, otherwise all 4 at only 800; minor bios issue on motherboard/cpu temp reading; requires manually setting bios memory setting from 800 to 1066 (if using 1066). GPU takes up the space of a PCI slot; if 1066 RAM, can only use 1 DIMM per channel; requires "single slot" GPU to run quad crossfire; issues with audio drivers; SATA connectors face out not up; if going RAID, cannot hook up SATA optical; too small for 4 GPUs; poor placement of fan connectors; RAID doesn't simultaneously support IDE/SATA; bad placement of PCIe slots; power/reset buttons hard to reach if using 2 PCIe GPUs; not enough space for 4 PCIe x16 slots when using 4 double-wide GPUs. I'm sure any motherboard will have negative remarks, though I am unsure how to properly interpret the remarks considering several of the individuals who left them are very likely almost as "amateur" as I am with computer hardware. Thank you!