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Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#1
Hi everybody,

TL;DR; Which LGA 1151 socket, Z390 chipset, non-CrossFire-ready, non-Gigabyte Motherboard would you buy today?

-fox :wave:


I CAN READ; BRING IT ON; I want to upgrade my old PC.
my eyes are set on an Intel Core i7-9700K CPU, which wants socket LGA 1151. And my current MoBo cannot mount anything modern.

Thinking that some day I may want to upgrade CPU again (without changing MoBo yet again), I would like the MoBo to have the chipset Intel Z390.
My only experience so far is with Gigabyte. I can tell their boards are built to last. When they write "ultra durable" they sure mean it.
Zero problems in 11 years (and none in sight as we speak) is a solid testament to their build-quality, I think.

However, while Gigabyte's can mount both AMD and Intel CPUs, they tend to lean towards CrossFire and not SLI.
If it has to be multi-GPU ready, I want it to be SLI, for once, because I am an undying fan of nVidia.
(besides, my place in Summer becomes very hot and I need hardware that dissipates the least heat possible)

So I was thinking to try a brand other than Gigabyte.
That is where you come in. Please share your opinion and personal experience on the brands you are using. ASUS, MSI, other?

And if you want to help a man find his product, here are the specs I aim for...
The motherboard must:
- be ATX (ok, easy)
- have Socket LGA 1151
- have chipset Intel Z390
- support UEFI BIOS
- accomodate 4 RAM banks (not just 2, but not 8 either!)

Welcome features:
- Integrated audio *if* of quality. Otherwise there must be an expansion slot for an Audio card.

Unwanted or unnecessary stuff:
- no RGB lights (my PC is no disco)
- no integrated graphics
- no use for RAID (but if there is... I suppose it would not hurt).
- no need for Wi-Fi (my modem/router is plenty good at that)

SLI or CrossFire?
- I would not care, but most MoBos today are multi-GPU ready... and if it has to be one: better be SLI.

Air or Water cooling?
- I used Air cooling all my life. Water cooling kinda scares me.

Price range?
- any

Can you help me?

-fox :wave:
Post

Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#5
fox wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:47 am

1: Thinking that some day I may want to upgrade CPU again (without changing MoBo yet again), I would like the MoBo to have the chipset Intel Z390.
2: While Gigabyte's can mount both AMD and Intel CPUs, they tend to lean towards CrossFire and not SLI.
3: If multi-GPU ready, I want it to be SLI, because i want nVidia.
4: My place in Summer becomes very hot and I need hardware that dissipates the least heat possible
5: ATX
6: LGA 1151
7: Z390
8: UEFI
9: 4 RAM banks (not just 2, but not 8 either!)
10: Integrated audio *if* of quality. Otherwise there must be an expansion slot for an Audio card.
10a: otherwise there must be an expansion slot for an Audio card.
11: no RGB lights
12: no integrated graphics
13: no use for RAID (but if there is... I suppose it would not hurt).
14: no need for Wi-Fi (my modem/router is plenty good at that)
15: I would not care, but most MoBos today are multi-GPU ready..prefer it to be SLI.
16: Air/Water Cooling, I used Air cooling all my life. Water cooling kinda scares me.
17: Price range? any
18: What you actually use your machine for
Hello Fox.

As can be seen above, i have cut down drastically on the text so that we can talk about the meat of the matter.

Please do note the following: I personally dont care one bit what company the hardware you buy is from. I only care about the logic behind what you have listed. My goal is to make certain that you have a solid build that makes sense for what you want to actually do with the machine.

Below is a mix of comments and questions to your post.


1: IF you are very lucky, you might have support for the next generation of cpu from Intel on a board with the z390 chipset, however, seeing as the chipset in question is a "middle of the road chipset update", it is not a bet i would take. If you are willing to take that chance. That is your choice. Do note, i would not advise you to do so. (sidenote: currently, the only cpu you can realistically upgrade to is the 9900k, which is out right now)

2: i strongly believe you mean GPU here (and not CPU). With that in mind, it doesnt matter, all vendors (on the mainboard side) work with something as simple as 2-way sli/xfire

3: see point 2

4: Get proper cooling and a proper case. It is fairly trivial to cool anything in the consumer space

5: Is there a specific need for the extra ports, that normally comes with the ATX format?

6: See point 1.

7: see point 1

8: Anything modern is UEFI. I am however curious why you think you need to list it?

9: in the non-itx form factors, 4 slots/banks is the norm for consumer grade boards.

10: What is your requirement for this? What is the bar that means it is "of quality"? We need more information from you here.

10a: any board that is non-itx has that

11: There is a switch for it. And there is no cost associated with it. But i have to ask, because you are not the first to take this stance (and i have seen it pop up more and more recently). Do you think there is a cost to it?

12: the 9700k has integrated graphics. I have to ask, why do you list it? There is no cost to it, nor is there a performance difference.

13: Software raid solutions are routinely bundled with the mainboards, because the chipsets have the capability for it. Again, no cost.

14: Can you expand on this? Because i hope you are aware that the wifi on a mainboard is a potential option for connection TO your modem/router, instead of using a cable. It is not a replacement for your modem/router.

15: see point 2

16: Why do you list this? Unless you also want a recommendation for a cooler?

17: What country/region are you located in. It is fairly important for figuring out if the retailers in your region are taking the piss on price or not. Example of that was for the machine Silverware bulit a couple of years ago, Seasonic powersupplies was stupid expensive, simply because of his location

18: Please tell us what the usecase for your machine is. Also, if you could list your current hardware that would be a help in getting an understanding of your expectations and what kind of "balance" you are used to.


All of the above might seem like silly questions. But please, do have a bit of faith in my experience with this. There is logic and reason behind the seeming madness. The better we, the people you are asking for help, understand your requirements, the easier it is to make certain we actually give you the advice you need :)
Post

Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#6
Hello,
and thank you for the assistance. Coming from a build of 10 years ago my knowledge on current gen hardware is lacking at best.
I do not need help with a complete build, though. Other than the CPU I am only changing Motherboard (and RAM) for now.

To answer your questions...

2: i strongly believe you mean GPU here (and not CPU). With that in mind, it doesnt matter, all vendors (on the mainboard side) work with something as simple as 2-way sli/xfire
My MoBo only supports CrossFire for 2 cards and no SLI. I guess things have changed much since then.

4: Get proper cooling and a proper case. It is fairly trivial to cool anything in the consumer space
AMD CPUs and Graphics Cards consistently draw more Watts than their Intel/nVidia counterparts, which translates into more heat dissipated (it also means a heavier bill in the long run).
I will be happy with Intel and nVidia, get proper cooling, and keep the whole even cooler than it would be with AMD.

5: Is there a specific need for the extra ports, that normally comes with the ATX format?
I make use of many devices. With this MoBo the only ports I have not used are those for the optical/digital audio output and the 2nd Ethernet.
A few times I managed to use all 8 USB ports on the back (also because 4 are permanently in use).

8: Anything modern is UEFI. I am however curious why you think you need to list it?
I did it just in case there are modern MoBos produced without.

10: What is your requirement for this? What is the bar that means it is "of quality"? We need more information from you here.
I made use of Creative Audio cards up to 2008. Then I switched to integrated audio with my current Gigabyte motherboard, which has -here is what it says- "Realtek ALC889A 8-channel audio codec".
I have been (mostly) satisfied with it, but I expect to exist better audio by now. Problem is, the only integrated audio I know of is what Gigabyte mounts on her boards. When looking at other brands (ASUS, MSI, ASRock...) I read unknown names and know not how they compare with the audio I am used to.

11: There is a switch for it. And there is no cost associated with it. But i have to ask, because you are not the first to take this stance (and i have seen it pop up more and more recently). Do you think there is a cost to it?
I do not stare at the pretty case or its contents. I need it to work efficiently, not be pretty.
Besides, any light coming from the case is going to be very noticeable whenever I want to sit in complete darkness (watch a movie, play an atmospheric game...)

12: the 9700k has integrated graphics. I have to ask, why do you list it? There is no cost to it, nor is there a performance difference.
I know about the CPU. I was referring to the motherboard. Do they still make MoBos with integrated graphics today?

14: Can you expand on this? Because i hope you are aware that the wifi on a mainboard is a potential option for connection TO your modem/router, instead of using a cable. It is not a replacement for your modem/router.
I connect my PC to the modem via cable. I do not need extra Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sources.
Also, logistics dictates that the two entities stay close to each other. I do not use yet another radio source to cover a distance of less than 3 feet.

16: Why do you list this? Unless you also want a recommendation for a cooler?
Predisposition for Water (sic) Liquid Cooling is an extra, and like all extras it raises the final price of the whole. I like to keep the amount of unused extras to a minimum.
For my Air Cooling I have always looked at the aftermarket solutions. No need for help there :)

Answers to 17, 18, and my current hardware list are in a PM.
Thank you again,

-fox :wave:
Post

Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#7
fox wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:55 pm
Hello,
and thank you for the assistance. Coming from a build of 10 years ago my knowledge on current gen hardware is lacking at best.
I do not need help with a complete build, though. Other than the CPU I am only changing Motherboard (and RAM) for now.

To answer your questions...

2: i strongly believe you mean GPU here (and not CPU). With that in mind, it doesnt matter, all vendors (on the mainboard side) work with something as simple as 2-way sli/xfire
My MoBo only supports CrossFire for 2 cards and no SLI. I guess things have changed much since then.

4: Get proper cooling and a proper case. It is fairly trivial to cool anything in the consumer space
AMD CPUs and Graphics Cards consistently draw more Watts than their Intel/nVidia counterparts, which translates into more heat dissipated (it also means a heavier bill in the long run).
I will be happy with Intel and nVidia, get proper cooling, and keep the whole even cooler than it would be with AMD.

5: Is there a specific need for the extra ports, that normally comes with the ATX format?
I make use of many devices. With this MoBo the only ports I have not used are those for the optical/digital audio output and the 2nd Ethernet.
A few times I managed to use all 8 USB ports on the back (also because 4 are permanently in use).

8: Anything modern is UEFI. I am however curious why you think you need to list it?
I did it just in case there are modern MoBos produced without.

10: What is your requirement for this? What is the bar that means it is "of quality"? We need more information from you here.
I made use of Creative Audio cards up to 2008. Then I switched to integrated audio with my current Gigabyte motherboard, which has -here is what it says- "Realtek ALC889A 8-channel audio codec".
I have been (mostly) satisfied with it, but I expect to exist better audio by now. Problem is, the only integrated audio I know of is what Gigabyte mounts on her boards. When looking at other brands (ASUS, MSI, ASRock...) I read unknown names and know not how they compare with the audio I am used to.

11: There is a switch for it. And there is no cost associated with it. But i have to ask, because you are not the first to take this stance (and i have seen it pop up more and more recently). Do you think there is a cost to it?
I do not stare at the pretty case or its contents. I need it to work efficiently, not be pretty.
Besides, any light coming from the case is going to be very noticeable whenever I want to sit in complete darkness (watch a movie, play an atmospheric game...)

12: the 9700k has integrated graphics. I have to ask, why do you list it? There is no cost to it, nor is there a performance difference.
I know about the CPU. I was referring to the motherboard. Do they still make MoBos with integrated graphics today?

14: Can you expand on this? Because i hope you are aware that the wifi on a mainboard is a potential option for connection TO your modem/router, instead of using a cable. It is not a replacement for your modem/router.
I connect my PC to the modem via cable. I do not need extra Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sources.
Also, logistics dictates that the two entities stay close to each other. I do not use yet another radio source to cover a distance of less than 3 feet.

16: Why do you list this? Unless you also want a recommendation for a cooler?
Predisposition for Water (sic) Liquid Cooling is an extra, and like all extras it raises the final price of the whole. I like to keep the amount of unused extras to a minimum.
For my Air Cooling I have always looked at the aftermarket solutions. No need for help there :)

Answers to 17, 18, and my current hardware list are in a PM.
Thank you again,

-fox :wave:
2: Fair

4: Fair

5: Let me rephrase, do you have specific add-in cards that you need slots for, beyond the slots for potentially SLI? This matters because of spacing between cards.

8: Fair

10: If you have been okay with the old acl889a series, then anything 1220-ish series will be a decent upgrade for you. So that means we can stick to integrated and not go the route of USB dacs etc. That makes things simpler.

11: By switch, what i mean is. There is toggle that you "flip" in the bios. And that is the end of that. Reason i keep bringing it up is this: I personally think it would be a shame to discard a potential board just because of something that has no cost and which can be disabled.

12: No. The only difference between a system with (a normal intel (aside from the fringe KF series)) cpu that can do video out from the mainboard and one that cannot, is the mainboard itself. Because the integrated GPU is "in" the cpu. so you as the consumer dont really have a choice (the aformentioned KF series aside (and before you ask or someone recommends that. There is no cost difference between the two and no performance difference either. (by most in the industry, the integrated GPU is considered a "if your gpu blows up, you at least have basic access to your machine while you wait for a new one" freebie/luxury)

14: Fair.

16: Fair, however, specifically because you are going for the CPU that you are. I am going to strongly recommend that you get a fairly beefy cooler. Because the watt number listed on the box of your CPU is NOT the number it will output (it is a fair deal higher) (if you want to talk about this in a it more detail, we can talk about it after the mainboard is settled on, it is entirely up to you)

Note: Based on your starting statement of age. One of the single biggest leaps in responsiveness that the computing world has seen in the connecting years, is the introduction of SSDs. So, keeping in mind that you are starting with a new system. I would strongly recommend that you grab something along those lines. IF you want to know more, we can talk about that after the mainboard. But that is entirely up to you :)

Also, with your gaming/content creation workload, the ssd especially for the content creation side, will be a massive boon.


Sidenote for any potential lurkers: Notice that there are things in the answers that Fox gives that i dont personally agree with, however, he is the customer and he is not wrong. He merely has specific requirements that dictates a specific set of parts.
Post

Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#8
Hello Naed,
your help is very much appreciated :)

5: Let me rephrase, do you have specific add-in cards that you need slots for, beyond the slots for potentially SLI? This matters because of spacing between cards.
My bad -- did not understand.
I do have another GTX 970 graphics card, from Zotac.
It has been sitting unused, with SLI being impossible atm.

I ignore whether I can safely power both cards with my PSU, though.
The PSU comes with 2 cables with 2 "6+2 pins" connectors each, but its manual warns against using a single cable to power a card that draws a lot of power.
No numbers are given to quantify what "a lot of power" is... :roll:

According to nVidia the GTX 970 draws 145 Watts (under full load, I assume).
Can a single PSU cable hold that much without melting?


11: By switch, what i mean is. There is toggle that you "flip" in the bios. And that is the end of that. Reason i keep bringing it up is this: I personally think it would be a shame to discard a potential board just because of something that has no cost and which can be disabled.
I see. Then I guess that the presence of RGB lighting is irrelevant.


16: Fair, however, specifically because you are going for the CPU that you are. I am going to strongly recommend that you get a fairly beefy cooler. Because the watt number listed on the box of your CPU is NOT the number it will output (it is a fair deal higher) (if you want to talk about this in a it more detail, we can talk about it after the mainboard is settled on, it is entirely up to you)
Dutifully noted, thanks for the warning :thumbup:

Naed wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:33 pm
Note: Based on your starting statement of age. One of the single biggest leaps in responsiveness that the computing world has seen in the connecting years, is the introduction of SSDs. So, keeping in mind that you are starting with a new system. I would strongly recommend that you grab something along those lines. IF you want to know more, we can talk about that after the mainboard. But that is entirely up to you :)

Also, with your gaming/content creation workload, the ssd especially for the content creation side, will be a massive boon.
Yeah, I will have to think of getting an SSD. Right now I want to contain the expenses a little.
My PSU is 9 days old with today.
The CPU will cost me a fair bit, and the motherboard probably too.
I plan to grab 2x 8GB DDR4 decent banks as well (and 2 more in the future).
Then a quality cooler for the CPU.
I also need a new case.

-fox :wave:
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Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#9
fox wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:28 am
Hello Naed,
your help is very much appreciated :)

5: Let me rephrase, do you have specific add-in cards that you need slots for, beyond the slots for potentially SLI? This matters because of spacing between cards.
My bad -- did not understand.
I do have another GTX 970 graphics card, from Zotac.
It has been sitting unused, with SLI being impossible atm.

6: I ignore whether I can safely power both cards with my PSU, though.
The PSU comes with 2 cables with 2 "6+2 pins" connectors each, but its manual warns against using a single cable to power a card that draws a lot of power.
No numbers are given to quantify what "a lot of power" is... :roll:

According to nVidia the GTX 970 draws 145 Watts (under full load, I assume).
Can a single PSU cable hold that much without melting?

11: By switch, what i mean is. There is toggle that you "flip" in the bios. And that is the end of that. Reason i keep bringing it up is this: I personally think it would be a shame to discard a potential board just because of something that has no cost and which can be disabled.
I see. Then I guess that the presence of RGB lighting is irrelevant.

16: Fair, however, specifically because you are going for the CPU that you are. I am going to strongly recommend that you get a fairly beefy cooler. Because the watt number listed on the box of your CPU is NOT the number it will output (it is a fair deal higher) (if you want to talk about this in a it more detail, we can talk about it after the mainboard is settled on, it is entirely up to you)
Dutifully noted, thanks for the warning :thumbup:
Naed wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:33 pm
Note: Based on your starting statement of age. One of the single biggest leaps in responsiveness that the computing world has seen in the connecting years, is the introduction of SSDs. So, keeping in mind that you are starting with a new system. I would strongly recommend that you grab something along those lines. IF you want to know more, we can talk about that after the mainboard. But that is entirely up to you :)

Also, with your gaming/content creation workload, the ssd especially for the content creation side, will be a massive boon.
Yeah, I will have to think of getting an SSD. Right now I want to contain the expenses a little.
My PSU is 9 days old with today.
The CPU will cost me a fair bit, and the motherboard probably too.
I plan to grab 2x 8GB DDR4 decent banks as well (and 2 more in the future).
Then a quality cooler for the CPU.
I also need a new case.

-fox :wave:
As always, you are very welcome, sorry for the "late" answer today.

5: So no, no need for access beyond the potential SLI use in the future.

6: a 8 pin (6+2) pcie power connector can indeed supply 150 watts, do remember, the pcie slot itself (on the mainboard) supplies 75watts, so in reality if a card draws 150, it is only pulling 75 from the psu power cable. Put another way, dont worry about it, your specific psu is PLENTY :)

11: Good. Makes things much simpler.

16: My pleasure.

Note: I hear you.

Motherboard: i think i might be able to surprise you on that front :)

Ram: If possible, i would recommend that you grab 2*16 now instead. Simply for the futureproofing and simplicity of it. Also remember, DDR4-2666 is the minimum type you want.

Cooler: as mentioned, we can talk about that later, if you want.

Case: same as cooler.


With all of the above in mind, meet your new mainboard (maybe, because i have a curve ball for you at the end)

ASRock Z390 Extreme4 LGA 1151
https://www.asrock.com/MB/Intel/Z390%20Extreme4/

It has all the things you want (listed by "difficulty" in getting on a board)

Proper sound (6 generations of upgrades on the realtek chips have gone a long way)

SLI support (came with the territory of the above soundchip, so technically, it was free)

USB C (yes, this is a convenience thing, however, for future proofing it is not a bad thing and you are not paying extra for this)

Everything else that is on the board vs your current is normal/standard for a modern board. So technically it does not have any extra value

And yes, it has LEDS and yes, they can be disabled in the bios (i have verified)
This is about as good as it gets (on the intel side) for future proofing. It is also a very resonable price and it is available in your region as well.

Price: 190€ (amazon price for your region)



However, there is another option, it does come with a massive downside. It has more of everything you want and it is a gigabyte and it costs a bit less. (and the very minor downside of not having a usb-c port, it has the same port in a different format, so the I/O is not lost)

Gigabyte Z390 GAMING SLI
https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/Z3 ... -rev-10#kf

Price: 165€ (amazon price for your region)

So yes, i am dreadfully sorry to recommend what you didnt want, however, the best board that does all the things you want, is the one from the brand you didnt want. And to rub it in, it is cheaper too.
Post

Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#10
Do not be sorry!
You have named 2 valid options and I will give both serious consideration -- I promise :thumbup:

Right now I am trying to see how diffuse (and useful for me) is the USB Type C on a PC.
So far I have seen it only on a few smartphones (my own among them) and notebooks.
The Type A is still omnipresent and the vast majority of peripherals out there does not require power/data_transfer beyond what Type A provides.
How can this situation change enough, in the coming years, that you may wish you had a Type C on the PC?

-fox :wave:
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Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#11
fox wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:54 am
Do not be sorry!
You have named 2 valid options and I will give both serious consideration -- I promise :thumbup:

Right now I am trying to see how diffuse (and useful for me) is the USB Type C on a PC.
So far I have seen it only on a few smartphones (my own among them) and notebooks.
The Type A is still omnipresent and the vast majority of peripherals out there does not require power/data_transfer beyond what Type A provides.
How can this situation change enough, in the coming years, that you may wish you had a Type C on the PC?

-fox :wave:
Well, the simple answer is that there will always be dongles (converters from one type to another).

Not so simple answer is more a question of how much you want to "want" a specific port and how much you want to avoid dongles. And the only one that can answer that is you.

Personally, i have my machine off to one side, and then i have a usb connected hub on my desk, close to my monitors and keyboard setup. So that the action of plugging things in is a low effort one.

How can things change: Good question, it is very much a case "do you see your own use pattern changing?, if yes, towards what?, and if that change has a bunch of things that are usb c connected. i would still get a dock. Because it frankly does not matter all that much (this is based entirely on my understanding of your current use pattern and where i project you "might" go/evolve/change)

Perhaps the core question should be changed instead:
How about this: IF all things are equal (and there are no tradeoffs) but one board has 1 extra usb port, that happens to be a C port. Is it worth having that port there? Yes, because it is a free port (in this specific example)

However, we both know that the above is not the case for your situation, so in that regards, the non-usb-c board wins. Because of both extra ports and price.
And in cases i didnt make it clear, the gigabyte ports are not slower, they are "just" not usb-c, shaped :)

I hope this helps clarify things a bit more for you :)
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Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#12
Hello Naed :),
please, forgive the huge delay in my answering. I have been, and continue to be, very busy these days.
Spoiler:      SHOW
Half the workers are on holidays and I am called to cover extra shifts -- which is good for my wallet, at least.
However, being also an EMT in am asked to cover extra shifts on the ambulance, lest we [often] cannot reach the minimum manpower to form a squad for the nights.
As a result: I am constantly out of home :crazy: Things are slowly getting out of hand.

I have not chosen the motherboard yet. Tough choice.
I am leaning towards the Gigabyte; it possesses what I need and is a brand I trust, as a bonus. But the ASRock looks definitely good too...
A new problem has surfaced, though. I am stuck with the choice of Air Cooler and Chassis.

To not hijack my own thread I will start another when I have more time to sit and type -- I promise.
That is all, for the moment.

-fox :wave:
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Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#13
fox wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:55 pm
I made use of Creative Audio cards up to 2008. Then I switched to integrated audio with my current Gigabyte motherboard, which has -here is what it says- "Realtek ALC889A 8-channel audio codec".
I have been (mostly) satisfied with it, but I expect to exist better audio by now. Problem is, the only integrated audio I know of is what Gigabyte mounts on her boards. When looking at other brands (ASUS, MSI, ASRock...) I read unknown names and know not how they compare with the audio I am used to.
As someone who is currently working in electronics at a company producing speakers:
The chips driving the analog outs have been beyond discernible for normal users for a long while now.
From the on-paper stats i could find (the engineering documentation) its not significantly different from the best stuff i could find myself without having to directly ask manufacturers for quotes. ('ve been building a toy for my audiophile colleague).

Your speakers are far far far more important than the DAC driving them.
As long as the DAC isnt complete garbage.
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Re: Share your MoBo knowledge and experience!

#15
Cody wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 12:46 pm
If you're pushing the sound through a decent amp and quality speakers, I'd always recommend a discrete sound card.
when you already go discrete, get an external one because theres way more variation of RF environment inside the computer than inside a closed device where all the coupled RF is defined and tested by the manufacturer.

Any other influences are so completely irrelevant with the same setup that its not even funny anymore.
(unless, again, the source in question really is garbage)

i've even spent far too much time using the measurement equipment at work comparing stuff
(because i myself wasnt sure how tiny the effect was, its really below the measurement variation of the 25k€ measurement setup i've got here)

if you manage to tell which curves were generated with the output of our measurement equipment (APx 526 (Signal generator + Analyzer) + APx 1705 Amplifier/Transducer) and which with the same headphones just plugged into my phone (Nokia 8 with Play music and some test file generated by our measurement software) you can continue arguing that the signal generator is critical :D

Devices under Test were a Beyerdynamic DT 990Pro headphone and some trashy headset I've had rolling around here to provide contrast for what the signal source does vs the hardware used to produce the sound :D
Spoiler:      SHOW
SPL Absolute values are garbage because i did a dumb during measurement, but the curve shapes are fine.
Image
Spoiler:      SHOW
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