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Best Sandy and Ivy Bridge PC Gaming Motherboard 2015

Updated on January 13, 2015

2015 Motherboard CPU Combos for Sandy and Ivy Bridge

Although Haswell has been released its still good to go back and take a look at technology that is still more than viable. In the case of Intel's 2nd and third generation "i" series of processors they still do a fantastic job in your computer of playing today's latest games.

In this post I'll review some of the compatible motherboards that are still available for these options as well as my thoughts on each.

PCIe 3.0 Image Source: Gigabyte
PCIe 3.0 Image Source: Gigabyte

What Chipset do You Need for Your i3, i5, i7 Processor?

In the past it seemed like every time that Intel released a new CPU there was another socket to go along with it. The great thing about Ivy Bridge is that the 1155 pin socket used for standard Sandy Bridge processors as well as the 2011 pin socket used for Sandy Bridge-e or enthusiast processors is the same socket that's used for both Ivy Bridge and Ivy Bridge enthusiast processors.

While all X79 chipset LGA socket 2011 motherboards are forwards compatible with Ivy Bridge enthusiast CPU, only the GEN3 Z68 1155 motherboards are forwards compatible with Ivy Bridge processors. These GEN3 motherboards are PCIe 3.0 compatible, but can only take advantage of it once an Ivy Bridge processor is used.

Now that Intel's 7 series Z77, Z75, and H77 chipsets have been released for Ivy bridge a GEN3 Z68 motherboard only makes sense if it's cheaper than other options and you plan on just using Sandy Bridge in it. However, if that's your situation, then you should also consider a cheap GEN1 or GEN2 Z68, p67, or H67 chipset motherboard based upon your needs.

Z77 vs. Z75 vs. H77 Chipset

There are several differences in Intel's chipset designs. One of them is that all of these processors support Intel's Smart Response technology which is used for SSD caching. Only the chipsets with a "7" as the last number support this. On the other hand, processor overclocking is only available to the chipsets that begin with a "Z".

All Ivy Bridge motherboards natively support 14 USB ports, 4 of which are USB 3.0. In addition memory overclocking on Ivy Bridge goes up to 2800MHz vs. the 2133MHz previously supported.

Best i7, i5 Ivy Bridge Gaming Motherboard 2014

Asus P8Z77-V DELUXE Motherboard Review

The top rated new Z77 motherboard for 2012 thus far is the Asus P8Z77-V DELUXE which I consider a mid-range high-end motherboard. This motherboard is for those of you who like to push the performance of your hardware to the limits and want a lot of flexibility. It's also great for those of you who just want to do some basic overclocks. For those of you not planning on overclocking I'd recommend something more like the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H.

Key features for this board include one click overclocking with their TPU button, OC Performance boost, AI Suite 2, Fan Expert 2, Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with SMART DIGI+ Power Control, New controls for VRM for dynamic adjustment of your CPU as well as a new VRM design, USB Bios flashback, Faster USB 3.0 Transmission with UASP, Wi-Fi GO!, 6 fan headers and Fan Xpert 2, thunderbolt header (the add in piece is purchased separately, and of course he PCIe 3.0 switching chip.

Other technical details include; up to 32 GB dual channel memory support at up to 2800, PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16/0 or x8/x8), 4 x SATA 6Gb/s, 4 x SATA 3Gb/s, Realtek ALC898 audio chipset, Bluetooth v4.0 / v3.0 + HS, WiFi IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, rear panel ports including; 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 4 x USB 2.0, 6 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s, 1 x Optical, and 6 audio ports. Like all Asus motherboards the Asus P8Z77-V DELUXE also comes with a 3 year parts and labor warranty.

Overall this is a great consumer motherboard for those of you who want mainstream features and overclocking. You might be able to reach higher clock speeds with something like the Sabertooth which has TUF components, but for me personally I'd still rather have all the features and ease-of-use that the Asus P8Z77-V DELUXE comes with.

Asus P8Z68-V PRO GEN3 Motherboard
Asus P8Z68-V PRO GEN3 Motherboard

Best i7-2700k and 2600k Sandy Bridge Motherboard 2014

Asus P8Z68-V PRO GEN3 Motherboard Review

If you plan on overclocking your CPU, then you might be just as well off with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors which tend to run a bit cooler. You can check out some of the benchmarks that Tom's Hardware did when they ran their comparison of the i7-2700k vs. the new i7-3770k.

Despite the release of Ivy Bridge the the Asus P8Z68-V PRO GEN3 is still in the top 5 for most popular motherboard of 2013 - 2014. This motherboard is often on rebate so you should be able to get it at net below $200. It's easy to overclock and a super intuitive BIOS as well as PCIe 3.0 support continue to make it attractive.

Key technical details include; up to 32GB Dual channel memory support at DDR3 2200, PCI Express 3.0 x16 2 (single at x16 or dual at x8), 4 x SATA 3Gb/s, 4 x SATA 6Gb/s, Realtek ALC892 audio chipset, and Bluetooth V2.1+EDR. Rear ports include; D-Sub + DVI, 1 x HDMI, 6 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s, 1 optical, and 6 audio ports. Asus and Intel supported features include; UEFI BIOS (EZ Mode), LucidLogix Virtu, Intel Smart Response Technology, Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM Digital Power Design, BT GO! (Bluetooth), GPU Boost, as well as Quad-GPU SLI and Quad-GPU CrossFireX Support. Includes a 3 year parts and labor warranty from Asus.

ASUS RAMPAGE IV EXTREME Socket 2011 X79 Motherboard
ASUS RAMPAGE IV EXTREME Socket 2011 X79 Motherboard

Best i7-3820 and i7-3930k Motherboard for Gaming 2014

ASUS RAMPAGE IV EXTREME Socket 2011 X79 Motherboard Review

Before I begin my review of the ASUS RAMPAGE IV EXTREME X79 motherboard I wanted to mention that I don't really understand the reasoning behind using an i7-3820 for standard or non-standard speeds. Benchmarks show that the i7-2700k consistently beats it out in just about every test thrown at it. The only reason I could think of is if you wanted to have a less expensive CPU and an X79 board in preparation for Ivy Bridge-e. I do, however, completely understand the reasoning behind using an i7-3930k, which has very similar performance to the much more expensive i7-3960x.

Is it worth the money? Yes, for the i7-3930k or the i7-3960x.

Obviously your reasons in purchasing an i7-3930k go beyond gaming and if you you're willing to dish out that kind of money in pursuit of that kind of speed, then you should go with a top-of-the line motherboard like the ASUS RAMPAGE IV EXTREME as well. If you want the maximum amount of performance out of your system, then this board will help you push it to the limits. In my opinion it's the best board out there at the date of this article.

Technical Details and Features; LGA 2011, up to quad channel memory at 2400(O.C.), PCI Express 3.0 x16 5 (x16, x16, x16, x16, x8), 4 x SATA 6Gb/s, 4 x SATA 3Gb/s, Realtek ALC898 audio chipset, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, rear ports include; 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 8 x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s, and 1 optical. Asus features include; OC Key, Subzero Sense, VGA hotwire, X-Socket, PCIE 3.0 READY, EXTREME ENGINE DIGI+ II, and it comes with a 3 year parts and labor warranty.

Gigabyte Z77 GA-Z77X-UD3H Motherboard
Gigabyte Z77 GA-Z77X-UD3H Motherboard

Best i5-3570k Gaming Motherboard 2013 - 2014

Gigabyte Z77 GA-Z77X-UD3H Motherboard Review

For around $400 the motherboard CPU combo of the new Ivy Bridge i5-3570k and Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H motherboard is solid. Still, you'll have to determine whether it's really worth the small performance increase you'll see over the combo below which features the i5-2500k and a motherboard at around $350. Overclockers may find they get very similar performance between the two.

Technical details include; Up to 32 GB of Dual Channel 2666 memory support, 2 x SATA 6Gb/s, 4 x SATA 3Gb/s, PCI Express 3.0 x16 2 (x16, x8), VIA VT2021 audio chipset, rear panel ports include; 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, D-Sub + DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort, 6 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s, and 1 optical. Key features include; GIGABYTE All Digital Power Engine, GIGABYTE 3D Power Utility, Gigabyte 3D bios, PCI Express Gen.3 Support, Intel Rapid Start Technology, Intel Smart Connect Technology, on-board overclocking, GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4, Lucid Universal MVP Support, Switchable Graphics, and EZ Smart Response. Includes a 3 year parts and labor warranty.

Gigabyte Z68 GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 Motherboard
Gigabyte Z68 GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 Motherboard

Best i5-2500k Gaming Motherboard CPU Combo 2013 - 2014

Gigabyte Z68 GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 Motherboard Review

If I only had $1,000 and I was trying to build the best possible gaming rig with that amount of money, then I'd still probably stick with the i5-2500k and the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 and spend any extra money I saved on the GPU. The typical price of this combo can range from as little as $320-$350 and in my opinion is the best overall bang for your buck right now.

Gigabyte Z68 GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 Motherboard
Gigabyte Z68 GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 Motherboard

Best i3-2120 or 2100 Motherboard CPU Combo for Gaming 2013 - 2014

Gigabyte Z68 GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 Motherboard Review

While the i3-2100 certainly isn't the perfect gaming processor it does offer you a lot of performance for the money you spend. Put it together with an inexpensive Z68 motherboard like the Z68 GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 and you get a lot for just over $200.

Budget Sandy Bridge Gaming Motherboards for 2013 - 2014 - Best Bang for Your Buck...

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