I've recently acquired a GA-M68MT-S2 motherboard, which was lying unused with a friend. Just as a project, I want try and build the most powerful system possible using this as a base. This is only a hobby project, so suggestions to upgrade the board and overall system isn't what I'm looking for. I'll probably just experiment to see what games I can run at max or high settings. I'll be using Windows.

What I'd like to know is: What's the highest CPU and GPU this can take? I believe the Phenom II x6 (Socket AM3) is supported. What GPU will not be bottle necked by this relatively old base config? Since the on-board GPU is an NVIDIA® GeForce 7025/nForce 630a chipset, can I go for an 8- or 9- series? Is a Radeon a better choice?

I haven't been a PC gamer for over a decade, but I'm keen on getting back into it.

  • Is is the rev 1.3 or 3.1? You can find it written on the motherboard.
    – timuzhti
    Nov 30 '15 at 10:33
  • 2
    It's not worth it. The parts that you can buy for this motherboard are limited - it's very old. Also, the CPUs that you CAN buy are ridiculously expensive for what they're worth. You'd be better of purchasing an AM3+ motherboard or going Intel than reusing your old one. You'd probably be spending the same amount anyway.
    – Rubydesic
    Nov 30 '15 at 12:36
  • I'll consider this, but I was probably looking at used parts, which might make this endeavor worthwhile.
    – aalaap
    Nov 30 '15 at 12:43

The best answer here is to put into this what it is worth - which is basically a low-end gaming system by today's standards. Dropping one of the hexacore CPUs into this will likely represent an investment simply not worth the returns, since those CPUs are highly sought after now that they are out of production and command a high price on a resale circuit - so much so that newer, cheaper chips from AMD and Intel beat them out.

However, given that the above is not actually the ANSWER to your question, the ANSWER lies on the CPU support page for your mobo's revision level: the most powerful processor available to you is the Phenom II X6 1090T. The AMD Phenom II X6 1100T May also work, but it is not officially supported by the BIOS, so I can't say definitively that it will work. It will probably work. Be careful, because there are Phenoms made which exceed the TDP rating for your board and could easily damage it.

What GPU will be bottlenecked/not bottlenecked by this CPU? All of them; that's not how bottlenecking works. Different programs place different strains on different parts of a computer, so even a high end CPU can be the bottleneck of a low-end GPU if it is trying to do something like downscale an h.265 video transcode, which is highly CPU-intensive, or play a game like Civilization 5, which is notorious for its high CPU usage in the late game but places relatively low demands on GPUs.

Because the CPUs available to this board are somewhat weak compared to modern offerings in a similar price bracket, it makes sense to get an Nvidia GeForce GPU instead of an AMD Radeon GPU, because historically Nvidia driver overhead (the load placed on the CPU when the GPU is running) has been higher for AMD products. This is not a major consideration, however, so price is a major determinant.

The onboard GPU is of no consequence for your purposes unless you want to attach a second screen to it; then it would make a little more sense to go with Nvidia for your primary GPU just so you could have a driver environment all from one supplier, which should be a little more stable (not necessarily though, since you will need to run two separate drivers and that old motherboard GPU may not have Windows 10 compliant drivers).

With a 1090T CPU and a decent overclock to something like 4ghz on all six cores, given a Titan X GPU (not a recommendation, just a removal of most GPU bottlenecks for hypothetical purposes); this system should be able to handle most modern games at maximum settings; a notable exception would be any title which is heavily single-threaded and demanding on the CPU (most bad console ports, for example, of which Assassin's Creed: Black Flag and Unity are shining examples). In general, the CPU is less a limiting factor in gaming PCs than the GPU. Tests have been done showing the lowly Athlon 5350 performing admirably when paired with a midrange modern GPU. Where you are comfortable in that gradient of performance is largely up to personal taste.

  • This was amazing. Thank you for this. I ended up getting an old GeForce GT730 from the same friend, but I never really tried to play any games on it. It's doing just fine as an HTPC for now!
    – aalaap
    Jul 28 '16 at 5:09
  • ...but what CPU did you put in it? That is the question which matters.
    – Adam Wykes
    Jul 28 '16 at 5:13
  • Don't laugh. It already had a Sempron when I got it from him, so I didn't change it. That will explain why I haven't tried to play any games!
    – aalaap
    Jul 28 '16 at 5:28
  • Not laughing, that's fine for your purposes. For the record, K10 semprons like yours are notoriously good overclockers and core unlockers. If your mobo BIOS has a core unlocking option on it try to run it and see if you can unlock the sempron to a better CPU for free! It's a one-click operation, so if it doesn't work right away just reset the CMOS battery and stick with just over clocking it via bsel. Look up those terms for more info.
    – Adam Wykes
    Jul 28 '16 at 5:45
  • That was one thing we both tried, but it didn't seem to work. And then I thought: I'm overclocking a Sempron. And then I gave up.
    – aalaap
    Jul 28 '16 at 6:35

After seeing @Alpha3031's comment, I checked the Gigabyte site. v3.1 of the board is AM3+, v1.3 is AM3 with this additional note:

If you install AMD AM3 CPU on this motherboard, the system bus speed will downgrade from HT3.0 (5200MT/s) to HT1.0 (2000 MT/s) spec.

Gigabyte's product pages for the two versions:

I tried plugging the model number into pcpartpicker.com and got some interesting results...

The listing for both - up to a 980 GPU and up to an 8-core, 3.1ghz CPU (AMD FX-8120) .

It seems both will accept your hexacore as well.

Considering the average game still hasnt figured out how to use 4 cores, I'd stick to the hexacore, and just find the baddest GPU/16+GB RAM/250+GB SSD you can afford.

As far as bottleneck, with the AM3 version, that will definitely be your bottleneck, AM3+ maybe not as much?

  • I'd agree with going for the Phenom rather than a Zambezi 8 core. The shared FPU is annoying, IMO.
    – timuzhti
    Dec 5 '15 at 0:32
  • My board is a 1.3, so it probably doesn't make sense to max it out as it won't really be a devent gaming machine, but a simple Athlon II with the on-board 7025 should make it a capable HTPC—probably better than the Celeron NUC that I have right now.
    – aalaap
    Dec 5 '15 at 22:13
  • 1
    The SSD will suffer from SATA II connection limitations, and the board can only support up to 8gb RAM per Gigabyte spec.
    – Adam Wykes
    Jul 27 '16 at 21:59
  • Point there, but it's still going to beat the pants off a mechanical drive...Cheap SSD would work then.
    – s1ns3nt
    Jul 28 '16 at 18:54

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