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I am working on building a midgrade computer. (Looking to net around 1K including OS Win7Pro.)

My questions is this: Should I invest in a more expensive MoBo that has USB 3 and SATA III support natively? Or, would I be better off waiting until prices come down and plan on dropping a SATA III expansion card into one of my available PCI-E slots if I ever decided to upgrade to a HDD or SSD that would be able to utilize the extra bandwidth.

I know that there are a lot of other variables to be considered on the rest of the build, but my main questions is that seeing that both SATA III and USB3 are fairly new technologies, there isn't much real hardware support for them yet, should I invest in the future or wait for a real live use for them?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

If a motherboard has USB3 that would be nice already as there are coming more and more USB3 external hard drives and gadgets that are readily available.

I expect your SATA connection more to be limited by your hard drive then your connection, so if you want to anticipate for that you can use an expansion card.

However there are several things you have to consider:

  • What are the components are you going to use now? If you want to use multiple GPUs, you might not have space left for an expansion card.
  • By the time these devices will have become mainstream, your computer might already be due for a new upgrade.
  • Unless you plan to invest a lot of money and always need your computer to be top notch, it's often easier not go for the fastest and most expensive parts. Instead upgrade more regularly and keep your allround performance up.

Your computer will be as fast as it's slowest part, so I'd advice against investing in these 'futuristic' features and invest more in other parts that would else suffer budget-wise.

So buy a more affordable motherboard and anticipate upgrading it within two years.

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+1 for a cogent explanation. I'd just add that motherboards supporting these natively are NOT really all that expensive any more...there are plenty sub-US$100. It may be worth investing now. – Shinrai Nov 2 '10 at 13:15
If they are there for sub-100$, go for it! Just remember that the parts you are now compatible with might not be so affordable ;-) – Ivo Flipse Nov 2 '10 at 13:18
+1 for "as fast as it's slowest part" – Richard Nov 2 '10 at 13:23

That mostly depends on how long you plan to use your computer. It's going to take few years for third generation devices to become mainstream, so you should make your decision based on that. I remember back in 2002 that I was considering buying motherboard with SATA port. In the end I decided to get one with SATA and I have no problems using that computer now with new HDDs.

As for SATA revision 3.0, you won't get big speed improvements unless you plan to use expensive SSDs.

For USB3.0, I'd say it will be important in future because of different load unit. USB3.0 ports can provide more power to devices, so in a couple years it could be useful as a charger for mobile phones and similar devices.

I'd also recommend that you take a look how long it took for devices of previous generation to become mainstream. If we take a look at PCI-E for example, motherboards with it became available in 2003-2004 and it didn't suppress AGP until 2005-2006.

Also, take a look at this question. Here's another related question.

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Good point about that other SU-question! Sadly out of votes for now, so you'll have to wait for an upvote (or remind me ;-) – Ivo Flipse Nov 2 '10 at 12:04

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