Help me select a good motherboard

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Wright, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    I want to upgrade my PC without spending a fortune. I've decided on an Athlon XP from 1500-2000 because they're inexpensive. However, I'm going through hell trying to find a motherboard.

    - Which brands (or even specific boards) do you recommend?
    - Are there any great motherboard searching tools out there?

    I require PCI slots. Lots of PCI slots. Or, perhaps a compromise, but here's my problem: I have 5 PCI devices: SCSI card, Network, Sound, and two video cards (dual monitor setup). I also want to use ATA133 IDE, and there don't seem to be a lot of boards that support higher than ATA100. I can use a Promise controller but then I need 6 PCI slots.

    What are my options? Here's what I see:

    1. Lose the network card, and go integrated. Not a huge problem, but I'm concerned about quality (I use nothing but 3COM as others just don't stack up) and upgradability (what happens when I want to go GigE?).

    2. Lose the sound card, and go integrated. Presents the same problems as above.

    3. Lose the SCSI card and go integrated. This was my first choice, but motherboards with onboard SCSI are $$$$.

    4. Replace the two video cards with a single AGP card capable of supporting multiple monitors. Now this is an idea I can go for. Any recommendations in this area?

    Foregoing that, are there any great 6 or 7 PCI slot motherboards with onboard ATA133 (Socket A)?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.
     
  2. Shaun Lynde

    Shaun Lynde Auditioning

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    Well most hardware sites, and Maximum PC regard the Nforce 2 based motherboards as the best available for AMD chips. For an indepth round up of some motherboards follow
    this link.
     
  3. Aaron Schmitt

    Aaron Schmitt Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm looking at the Asus A7N8X Deluxe (NForce2) for my next board, and it may help you out. It has onboard ATA133, and Serial ATA for future upgrades, 2 network ports (one 3com, one another company), 6 channel audio (including Dolby Digital), 5 PCI slots, 2 1394 ports, up to 6 USB 2.0 ports, basically everything you listed except SCSI built in. The deluxe runs about $145 online. There is a regular version for about $120 that drops the 2nd network adapter, Serial ATA, and some other things, but I think the extra $25 for all those extras is well worth it.

    Aaron
     
  4. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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  5. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    I am a current owner of a a7n8x and it's a great mobo, the onboard sound is superb and it runs beautifully. the loss of a few pci panels doesn't bother me, with the onboard sound and raid I have just freed up two slots, noone should be using the pci slot below the agp slot in the first place (shared resources). in all honesty if you don't use the second serial port or the firewire then you don't lose much of anything since that 2 of the three panels right there, the third is the extra USB and the gameport which shoud go right below the vid card. the coax s/pdif is on the backplate as well as 1 serial and 2ps2. since I own a AIW9700 I haven't found any need for any other cards since everything else is onboard for me (sound, lan, raid)

    gigabit ethernet is overrated, current personal computers can't even come close to sustained saturation of a 100mbit ethernet much less a gigabit ethernet, the typical HDD just can't sustain that much throughput. On top of all of that unless you have some fascination with transfering excessive sized files from one computer to the next, there just isn't any reason to worry about getting an onboard gigabit nic.

    anyway, my two cents on that mobo, a good alternative is epox's nforce 2 mobo, you might try looking into that one if the a7n8x just doesn't appeal to you.
     
  6. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    You mean the A7N8X Deluxe Rob? It has the Soundstorm on it. I don't think the regular A7N8X does (just a simple realtek 6 channel audio or something cheap like that).

    Anyways, the nForce1 or nForce2 based motherboards are very nice. I don't even have any PCI cards in mine, since it has everything I need!

    Firewire is great...I have my Sony DRU500A in a usb2/firewire enclosure, and it works great! And it's fun connecting the laptop using firewire too...transfers are damn fast.

    Have fun!
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    also check out motherboards.org and tomshardware.com
     
  8. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  9. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    yes I should have clarified on that I do own the a7n8x-deluxe. with what is removed on the castrated version I hardly think of it at all.

    as far as hardrives I do need to bring up the fact that your SCSI drives won't sustain a 160MBps transfer and there isn't an ATA drive capable of sustaining a 133MBps transfer. What your reading on those gimmicks is the theoretical maximum transfer on the cable. to bring into perspective, I own a pair of WD800JB drives in raid0 and they can barely maintain over 100MBps sustained tranfser, that's nowhere near the theoretical max of 2x100MBps that the HDDs are rated for. The only time that the hardrive actually uses that much bandwidth is during a quick burst.

    Now I know a server application can make use of a gigabit network, but we are talking about a gigabit network in your average home and your average joe doesn't have a file server sitting in there closet. Few people ever need use of major bandwidth as they hardly have any reason to transfer major sized or number of files around a home network frequently enough to dictate it. And your pci will still limit you even if you upgrade to a gigabit network, the introduction of a gigabit network won't get rid of that bottleneck in your system and it's still a few years out for the new pci standards to be introduced into mainstream.

    Now lets look at the biggest use of a home network and that's internet sharing, the fastest internet that I have seen that your average family gets is at most 7mbit and even that is stretching it. now that connection could easily be setup over a 10MBps network and noone in the family would be the wiser. That is also the reason why wireless has prospered, it is only 11MBps but it does quite well for itself.

    Am I against gigabit networking? by all means no, in the next couple of years if HDD manufacturers keep up with the new SATA standard then it will be needed for those that have use for large file transfers, but as is, most people just don't make use of it r even the current maxes and should keep that in mind before slowing a lot of money into upgrading their network.

    anyway, I should quit writing now [​IMG]
     
  10. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  11. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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    Ryan you may want to take a look at the Asus A7V8X motherboard it has some pretty impressive specs.

    SOCKET A
    KT400 Chipset
    DDR400 Memory Compatible
    8XAGP Compatible
    SATA Serial ATA Capable
    1394 Firewire
    133RAID
    6 channel Audio onboard Though it can be disabled and.....)
    Gigabit Lan onboard
    5PCI slots with a possible 6th

    The board will run you a little more then a standard board ($130-145 or so) but you will have the option of upgrade-ability with the Gigabit lan and Serial ATA connections. As far as memory goes I have always had great luck with Crucial but if you would like to save a little money you can also buy Samsung which I also have good luck with.

    KyleS
     
  12. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    The A7N8X Deluxe also supports serial ATA, although very very few people have been able to test it.

    Good RAM to get would be Crucial or Micron (they're the same company). Try to get the CAS2 (CL2 or cas latency 2) DDR-SDRAM. You definitely do not want to get the cheapest no-name brand RAM, they will definitely not work on the faster chipsets like the nforce (and KT400)...crashes galore.

    I can't remember if the A7N8X Deluxe supports RAID. Probably only with serial ATA. Kinda a moot point with SCSI.

    Not sure if it was mentioned, but the soundstorm audio quality on the nforce is as good as the Audigy cards, although you'd be better off using the coax digital output to your receiver than using the analog outputs. Integrated audio through the analog outputs on a motherboard tend to be hissy and crackly.

    I must add that quite a few people (including myself) have not been able to get their integrated 3Com LAN to work at 100mbit, although the nvidia NIC works fine.
     
  13. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    i would stay away from the KT400 chipset via isn't well known for their compatability. On top of that the nForce2 chipset has been pulling better numebrs on benches.

    the a7n8x does support serial ATA raid and it's current bandwitdh limit is 150MBps which isn't too shabby for ata, I use it as stated before and it does work great. I don't seem to have any problems with either of my nics, one runs to my router for internet and the other is a lonk to another pc for gaming (doesn't seem to care about the cable only being straight through [​IMG])
     
  14. MikeyWeitz

    MikeyWeitz Supporting Actor

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    Nforce 2 is defintely the way to go. either the asus deluxe version if you need all the goodies or the Epox 8rda+ which has a HUGE enthusiast following (and may very well be my next board).
    As far as Ram goes, go with at least quality Pc2700.
    I myself will be coughing up the dough and going with matched 256mb sticks of the corsair XMS platinum low latecny series. MIghty pricey at $200+ for the pair, but it is the HIGHEST qulaity ram out there and since I am an overclocker, I will need it.

    Whatever you get, get 2 sticks (preferably matching, so u can take advantage of the dual channel setup in the nforce2 boards. I wouldnt be concerned with serial ATA just yet, wait until the 2nd or 3rd revisions of it when the performance increase is actually there.
     

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