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Best Motherboard CPU Combo 2014 - i7, i5, i3 Processors

Updated on September 19, 2014
New motherboards like Asus' Z97-A come with a few features that can't be found on other boards. We like it along with the i5-4690k for a power motherboard CPU combo in the $400 price range.
New motherboards like Asus' Z97-A come with a few features that can't be found on other boards. We like it along with the i5-4690k for a power motherboard CPU combo in the $400 price range.

The motherboard is one of the most important components when building a computer. While it's easy to look it over there's a lot of good reasons not to. In this post i'll take a look at a few good Intel compatible motherboards and give you my thoughts on each.

Reasons to buy a good motherboard:

1. A motherboard can affect the longevity of your components.

2. More reliability.

3. Better built-in technology. More expensive motherboards can allow you to monitor programs and overclock.

4. More ports, compatibility, and options.

Despite all of these advantages it's not always a good idea for everyone to go with a super expensive motherboard. For many common PCs something in the $50 range works well. Just be sure to get one from a reliable manufacturer. I'd include Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock in your search and ignore just about anyone else.

Other than that you'll just want to fit the motherboard with your needs. Gamers will probably want a higher-end board that allows them to overclock, monitor, and tune their hardware. A business user may want something with basic features that's reliable and that fits into their budget.

Must-Have Specifications for Your Motherboard

No matter your budget, I would recommend you choose a motherboard with the following specifications:

USB 3.0 - While this may not be crucial, it's always good to go with the next generation of models. Hopefully you are already backing your system up with an external hard drive. USB 3.0 makes this process quick and painless.

Sata III - It's best to stay up-to-date with the latest technology. Getting a motherboard that is SATA III compatibile will ensure that any new SATA III hard drive or solid state drive you get can operate at full speed.

Is PCIe 3.0 Important?

At this point in time PCIe 3.0 only gives you marginal gains in GPU performance. While it may not be that important yet, I always recommend you go with newer technology in order to future proof your system.

Generation of I Series Intel Processors

There have been 4 generations of "I" series Intel processors to date which were released in the following order:

  • Nehalem
  • Sandy Bridge
  • Ivy Bridge
  • Haswell
  • Broadwell (set to release late 2014)

If you're building a PC in 2014, then more than likely you'll want to go with Intel's Haswell processors which give you the advantage of using less power while having much better integrated graphics than previous generations.

These types of processors use compatible LGA 1150 motherboards. For 1150 motherboards there are 7 chipsets with different features you'll choose based upon your overall budget. The Z87 and Z97 chipset motherboards are generally for higher-end users like Photo Editors, graphic designers, or gamers that need to have the flexibility of overclocking their CPU, graphics card, and ram.

On the other side of the coin the H81 and B85 motherboards are typically more for business users who want compatibility with the newer processors, but don't need as much flexibility.

The Gigabyte GA-HD1M-HD2 gives budget users just about everything they need for around $50. Use it with the i3-4150 for a great motherboard CPU combo under or around $150 to $170.
The Gigabyte GA-HD1M-HD2 gives budget users just about everything they need for around $50. Use it with the i3-4150 for a great motherboard CPU combo under or around $150 to $170.
5 stars for the i3 4150 and Gigabyte H81 GA-H81M-HD2 Combo

3 Good Intel Motherboard CPU Combos for the Money 2014

A Great i3 Motherboard CPU Combo Under $150

i3 4150 and Gigabyte H81 GA-H81M-HD2

Most households and businesses do not need more than an i3 processor. This is especially true with the upgrades we've seen in the last couple of years. If you want speed, you're better off upgrading to a solid state drive and going that route.

One great combo that fits the bill for around a $500 budget PC is the i3 4150 and H81 GA-H81M-HD2.

On rebate this motherboard costs only $45 and gives you support for up to 16GB ram, 1 PCIe 1.0 x 16 slot, 2 SATA II devices, and 2 SATA III devices. Rear panel ports include a PS/2, DVI-D, HDMI, 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, and 3 audio ports. You're also getting Gigabyte's quality, reliability, and interface.

Overall it's a great buy in the $150 to $170 category.

i5 Motherboard CPU Combo Under $400

Theres a couple good options with your processor here. If you plan on overclocking, go with the i5-4690k. Those who don't should go with the $40 cheaper i5-4590.

These processors are good enough for most gaming setups and really only lack a little bit for rendering vs. i7 or FX 8 series CPU.

Throw this processor together with the Asus Z97-A motherboard, a highly rated option with many features that set it apart. The main one of these is Asus' 5-Way optimization which, at a click of a button, automatically optimizes your CPU performance, energy savings, power, fans, networking, and audio settings.

Specifications for this motherboard include up to 32GB DDR3 3200 (OC) memory, 2 PCIe 3.0 x 16, 4 SATA 6Gb/s, 1 PS/2, 1 DVI-D, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 4 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, and 1 optical port.

Other features include M.2 & SATA Express for faster transfer speed, Crystal Sound 2, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3 year parts and labor warranty.

i7 Motherboard CPU Combo Under $500 2014

Much like the i5 pick, I'd recommend you go with the i7-4790k which is one of the better overclockers we've seen in quite a while. Those who don't plan on overclocking should go with the i7-4790. If you need even higher-end performance, then you could also consider the i7-5930k Haswell-E 6 core processor. This socket 2011 processor is meant for the extreme performance builds and is one of the best performers on the market.

For motherboard you could go with the Asus Z97-A listed above or, if you need additional performance tuning, the Asus Maximus Hero VII. This board should give you as much tweaking options as just about anyone, save world record holders, will need.

This combo altogether should cost between $500 and $550.

Which Processor do you plan on purchasing?

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Final Thoughts:

These combos offer what I feel are the best bang for your buck right now in 2014. If you come up with what you think is a better option, please let me know in the open discussion area below.

© 2011 brandonhart100

CPU Motherboard Open Discussion Area for Readers

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    • MemoryMegaMall profile image

      MemoryMegaMall 6 years ago

      Excellent article brandon

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago

      Thanks a lot! This was extremely helpful.