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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey guys, is there any major differences between these 2 options? I will be using it primarily for HTPC with some regular computing. But nothing crazy. No real gaming or anything.

I think I am leaning towards the H97 as it is cheaper and will most likely do the job fine. Unless you guys recommend differently.

I would be looking at the Asus line of motherboards.

Any input is appreciated.

Thanks.
 

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I own both the Asus H87 and Z87 (slightly older version of more or less the same thing).

Unless you need the extra slots or want to overclock, I'd say go with the H97.

I have a Z87 in my main rig (which is overclocked), and a H87 in each of my HTPCs. All of them perform flawlessly. I just added a GTX 970 in one of the H87 HTPCs since I now have it connected to a 4K TV and wanted to run MadVR, but it was working just fine before using the built-in Intel graphics.
 

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plcausen is correct, take a look at the ARK for any clarification:

http://ark.intel.com/compare/82010,82012

Basically Z97 gets overclocking and supports splitting its main pci-express slot into other slots, while you get the "small business advantage" with the h97. I'm honestly unsure of what that would include, their description indicates things that a business would be interested in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Perfect. That's what I was hoping to hear. I am not going to overclock or do any crazy gaming. I will be using the built in graphics.

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What about i3 vs i5? Is there a massive difference? I want an i5 to have the extra performance just in case but I also don't want to spend too much.

Decisions decisions.
 

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For regular computing, you won't see any difference between an i3 and i5. I would take the $100 difference and put it into a bigger SSD.

FWIW, I just helped a customer make the same decision -- she's very, very happy with her i3-4130, ASUS H81T/CSM with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD in the Wesena ITX-4 case. Her needs were streaming video, MS Office stuff, surfing, stuff like that. She could have probably gotten away with much less, even say a J2900 system but she felt better about the i3 for the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So where would I see the difference between the 2?
 

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H = non overclocking.
Z = overclocking possible, and marketed for gaming.

I do like that Z boards tend to have heatsinks over the VRs (Voltage Regulators - the little squares around the CPU). But one can always add the heatsink to boards that don't have it.

I3 is good enough to HTPC use. I built with a 4-cores I5 and the CPU needles barely move for the most part.
 

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For regular computing, you won't see any difference between an i3 and i5. I would take the $100 difference and put it into a bigger SSD.
I find the price difference between i3 and i5 (4400 or 4500) is generally just $50 or so. Personally, nowadays I either go for Core-based Celeron/Pentium or i5 quad-core. I just don't find multithreading on the i3 all that useful and in cases where the extra threads might help a little, I find the $50 extra spent on actual cores with the i5 to be well worth the cost.
 

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An i3 is plenty of CPU for HTPC use unless you're doing any sort of transcoding. Then I'd opt for the i5. All of my HTPCs run i3's and they work flawlessly for playing any type of video file.
Thing is both Celeron and Pentium are equally capable for HTPC tasks as an i3 barring support for 3D. Hence for me, it's Celeron/Pentium and in cases when those aren't fast enough (normally for transcoding or other highly threaded tasks), I go straight for the i5. :)
 

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Thing is both Celeron and Pentium are equally capable for HTPC tasks as an i3 barring support for 3D. Hence for me, it's Celeron/Pentium and in cases when those aren't fast enough (normally for transcoding or other highly threaded tasks), I go straight for the i5. :)
A Pentium would be as low as I'd go for HTPC use. I've tried numerous low end setups that always tended to fall short of the mark, and they were all configurations that others said would work just fine. I'd rather spend a few extra bucks for the peace of mind it gives me rather than regret a purchase that ends up not doing the job I expected it to. In the end, you get what you pay for.
 

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A Pentium would be as low as I'd go for HTPC use. I've tried numerous low end setups that always tended to fall short of the mark, and they were all configurations that others said would work just fine. I'd rather spend a few extra bucks for the peace of mind it gives me rather than regret a purchase that ends up not doing the job I expected it to. In the end, you get what you pay for.
Starting with Wolfdale, Celerons and Pentiums are actually pretty darned capable. If not for motherboard failures, I'd still be happily running Celeron E3300s and Pentium E5200s on the HTPCs. Granted, for the extra $5-10, I usually opt for the Pentium.

However, for me Atom-based stuff are too little or just skating right on the edge of acceptable performance so I tend to steer clear of those.

Mind, peace of mind is exactly why I would go for i5 instead of i3. For a build that's gonna cost me $500 or so, I'd rather spend the extra $50 on a true quad than regret skimping on an i3. Intel's got pretty good power gating now anyway that at idle, both i3 and i5 should have similar power consumption. :)
 

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H = non overclocking.
Z = overclocking possible, and marketed for gaming.
Just a quick note that many manufacturers enabled overclocking on H87 and H97 boards as well, Intel's specifications notwithstanding. Therefore the only practical difference for a lot of boards out there, is the PCIe configuration.

Starting with Wolfdale, Celerons and Pentiums are actually pretty darned capable. If not for motherboard failures, I'd still be happily running Celeron E3300s and Pentium E5200s on the HTPCs. Granted, for the extra $5-10, I usually opt for the Pentium.
I'd actually say any C2 processor, Conroe included, is fine in terms of compute-power. However using one of these is mainly only considered if the CPU (and RAM) is on-hand already. Building one by acquiring used parts is going a little too far back, IMO. In the C2 days compared to now, there's many board features missing (USB3, SATA 6Gbps, etc.) as well as the lack of usable built-in video/iGPUs, and the use of DDR2 memory.


Lynnfield & Clarkdale are probably as far back as anyone would want to go, building a machine from scratch, even using used parts. Of course those are pretty old too, so most people will probably instead opt for new components like Haswell-based Pentiums and i3s, with H81 or H87 boards.


The main advantage of using newer Core iX, etc. parts like Haswells are the fact that power consumption is a lot less; accordingly, there's less heat generated (and lesser cooling requirements).

However, for me Atom-based stuff are too little or just skating right on the edge of acceptable performance so I tend to steer clear of those.
I agree, and that goes for Celeron Js and Pentium Js as well, which Intel has managed to go and rename from Atom :rolleyes: However my needs are a lot more than Atom can deliver as well. For someone just doing video playback, BayTrail processors can certainly be capable.

Mind, peace of mind is exactly why I would go for i5 instead of i3. For a build that's gonna cost me $500 or so, I'd rather spend the extra $50 on a true quad than regret skimping on an i3. Intel's got pretty good power gating now anyway that at idle, both i3 and i5 should have similar power consumption. :)
Again, it depends on what you're using it for though. While I have an Lynnfield i7 HTPC myself, I currently have it dismantled, and my Clarkdale i3 machine is filling in and not really missing a beat. It can't game as well because it has a 7770 in it (opposed to the 7950 in the other one) but other than that I see no differences in "general computing". I'm quite sure a Haswell i3 will have more than enough performance for a good lot of HTPC users.
 

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I'd actually say any C2 processor, Conroe included, is fine in terms of compute-power. However using one of these is mainly only considered if the CPU (and RAM) is on-hand already. Building one by acquiring used parts is going a little too far back, IMO. In the C2 days compared to now, there's many board features missing (USB3, SATA 6Gbps, etc.) as well as the lack of usable built-in video/iGPUs, and the use of DDR2 memory.

Lynnfield & Clarkdale are probably as far back as anyone would want to go, building a machine from scratch, even using used parts. Of course those are pretty old too, so most people will probably instead opt for new components like Haswell-based Pentiums and i3s, with H81 or H87 boards.
My only issue with Kentsfield/Conroe/Allendale is heat and power consumption. Not quite as easy to fit into SFF builds. I'm definitely not suggesting building one based on used parts. Just saying that starting with the Core 2 microarchitecture, even Celerons and Pentiums are nothing to scoff at and for an HTPC that doesn't need 3D, most folks will probably be fine with a mere Celeron or Pentium Haswell. :)


Again, it depends on what you're using it for though. While I have an Lynnfield i7 HTPC myself, I currently have it dismantled, and my Clarkdale i3 machine is filling in and not really missing a beat. It can't game as well because it has a 7770 in it (opposed to the 7950 in the other one) but other than that I see no differences in "general computing". I'm quite sure a Haswell i3 will have more than enough performance for a good lot of HTPC users.
I actually still do have Clarkdale-based i3 HTPCs built in 2010. Back then, Lynnfield didn't have iGPU and Celeron/Pentium Clarkdale haven't been released yet so it was either the i3 or i5 Clarkdale if I wanted really low power Mini-ITX with decent performance using just integrated GPU. Starting with Sandy Bridge, there's no such distinction with i3/i5/i7 so I've opted for i5 whenever I need to have headroom. I've never really found Hyper Threading to be all that helpful. Sure, Haswell i3 will have more than enough performance for a good lot of HTPC users. Then again, so will a Haswell Celeron/Pentium. It's really Bay Trail, etc that are still somewhat borderline. ;)

I guess my suggestion is really to choose the CPU based on your total build price. If your total build only costs less than $400, then sure you might be better off saving the funds and going for i3 instead of i5. If you're already spending $500-600 or more, might as well pony up the extra $50 for a quad-core even if it's just an i5-4430.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey guys, 1 more question. With the H97 board, when it comes to memory, if I want 8 GBs, do I need to get 2x4GB or can I get 1x8GB? I know back in the day you needed 2 banks to be filled so you couldn't just get 1.

Thanks again
 

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Hey guys, 1 more question. With the H97 board, when it comes to memory, if I want 8 GBs, do I need to get 2x4GB or can I get 1x8GB? I know back in the day you needed 2 banks to be filled so you couldn't just get 1.
Either configuration will work. 2x4GB will give you better graphics performance, though, not that it'll matter much for HTPC use.
 

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Either configuration will work. 2x4GB will give you better graphics performance, though, not that it'll matter much for HTPC use.

My Z-board says use 2 sticks to enable dual-channel, I didn't really know what that buys me, but sounded good to this lazy guy at the time, I had no plan to bump it any further, so that's what I did.
 

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My Z-board says use 2 sticks to enable dual-channel, I didn't really know what that buys me, but sounded good to this lazy guy at the time, I had no plan to bump it any further, so that's what I did.
Theoretically it buys you twice the memory bandwidth as both DIMMs can be accessed at the same time, each on an individual channel of the memory controller. In real-world use though, for most applications, you won't see much difference--probably 5-10% increase over the same amount of RAM on one channel. The only places you'll see big improvements are memory benchmarks or for integrated graphics use where fast RAM speeds/high bandwidth are desirable. However given only Iris Pro and the higher end AMD APUs are fast enough to really need the additional memory bandwidth, it's a moot point for most people.


Definitely run RAM in dual-channel whenever/wherever possible, but don't fret if you have only one DIMM or have to run in single channel for some reason.
 
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