The title pretty much says it all. I'm assembling a budget gaming PC and decided for an AMD Athlon X4 860K processor and now I need to chose a motherboard for it.

My total budget for the PC is €500-600 ($550-660).

I'll be using my PC to play games such as the Fallout series, the Elder scrolls series, League of Legends, Crusader Kings 2 and such. I'm using Fallout 4 as a benchmark for performance. Ideally I'd like the computer to also be able to eventually run Elder Scrolls 6, but it'll probably take some 3-6 years before they make that one, which makes system requirements difficult to predict.

In case it's somehow relevant, I'm thinking about using the opportunity to switch to Linux and Wine instead of spending money on another edition of Windows.

I'd like to start out with 8 or 16GB RAM and have the option to upgrade to 32GB in the future.

Integrated graphics card would be nice to have as backup if my GPU fails. This is mainly a concern because I might reuse the 7 year old GeForce 9600 GT from my previous computer to save costs now and get a new graphics card as the first major upgrade.

I'm aware the old GPU will be unable to run Fallout 4, but I'm not planning to play the game at release. I intend to get it during a Steam sale by which time I'll have also upgraded to a modern GPU.

I'll probably get all the components from here. It's a Slovenian website so there might be a bit of a language barrier for most of you. I tried running it through Google translate, but that broke the configurator tool. Essentially the tool works by selecting components from the dropdown menu, starting with a processor, then motherboard, then everything else. "Matična plošča" is motherboard. The components themselves have standard international names.

The website lists the following motherboards as available (from least to most expensive):

  1. ASRock FM2A88X Extreme4+, AMD A88 Mainboard - FM2+
  2. ASRock FM2A78M-HD+, DDR3, SATA3, HDMI, USB3, FM2/FM2+ mATX
  4. Gigabyte F2A88XM-D3H, AMD A88X Mainboard - FM2+
  6. GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XM-D3H 3.0 FM2+ mATX
  7. Gigabyte F2A88X-D3H, AMD A88X Mainboard - FM2+
  8. ASRock FM2A88X Extreme4+, AMD A88 Mainboard - FM2+
  9. ASRock FM2A78M-ITX+, AMD A78 Mainboard - FM2+

The description of numbers 1 and 6 says that the motherboard is intended for AMD processors that have an integrated GPU, which the Athlon X4 860K has not. I'm guessing that means I should probably pick one of the other eight, but I'm pretty clueless when it comes to hardware and have no idea which one.

So finally, my question is which of the listed motherboards would be best for my needs? Or would you suggest a model not on the list?

  • playing fallout 4 on that is gonna be tough, i'm not sure if it'll even start on it. I'd recommend going for a build like this one : pcpartpicker.com/b/W73Ff7 it's budget friendly and will run fallout 4 on high (if you can manage to get that gpu at that price) – Rudra Matroja Nov 6 '15 at 6:17
  • if you can't find that gpu at that price go for a 960 ou a r9 290 if you can. There is also this one : pcpartpicker.com/b/Rz8dnQ not sure of how much the port will cost you in total but well it's within your budget and you can add stuff as you go on ;) – Rudra Matroja Nov 6 '15 at 6:20
  • @Rudra Matroja When you say playing FO4 on "that", what exactly do you mean by "that"? The old GPU? If so, that's not a problem because I don't plan to play the game on release but instead wait for a Steam sale and by the time they'll put it on sale I'll have also upgraded my GPU. – Neophyte Nov 6 '15 at 6:34
  • I reckon a GTX 950 would do for 30 FPS at medium, though OP's plan of waiting to get the GPU later would give us more information to go on when the time comes. – timuzhti Nov 6 '15 at 7:04
  • Oh if you plan on getting a new gpu then there's no issue i guess, but for Fallout 4 on that cpu you'll have to do with low/medium settings as it'll most likely be a bottleneck. – Rudra Matroja Nov 6 '15 at 7:29

I recommend the Gigabyte F2A88XM-D3H, which is an A88X motherboard, which should offer most of the modern features, with 4 RAM slots, which means an upgrade path to 32 GB of DDR3, and 4+2 phases which makes for decent overclocking headroom. The more expensive Gigabyte G1.SNIPER or Asrock Extreme6 bring only limited benefit, except more bells and whistles.

I must admit the budget isn't nearly as restrictive as I initially thought, since you intend to reuse your GPU, which is the most expensive part of a gaming system, and you would likely have money to spare for extras like a Windows licence or a SSD. You don't quite have enough for an i5 though, which is the next step up on the intel side, and I hesitate to recommend the AM3+ platform, so if you have any leftover budget, I suggest you save it up for your GPU, or get a better cooler.

The motherboard supports the Athlon 860K, though if it ships with a old revision of the BIOS , you may have to send it back to get it flashed with a F6 or later. Be sure to communicate with the store to see if they'll do it for you.

Motherboards these days don't generally come with integrated graphics. If you want one, you'll have to spend €20-40 pounds extra for an APU. Those will perform worse because of the shared TDP, but with DX12, they may be able to help out a bit.

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  • TDP = thermal design power or something else? I'm unfamiliar with the acronym and just Googled it now. If I decide not to reuse my old GPU and get a new one, would an APU have any tangible benefits? – Neophyte Nov 6 '15 at 7:03
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    @Neophyte Yes, it is thermal design power. Basically, how much electricity the thing is allowed to use. – timuzhti Nov 6 '15 at 7:05

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