Motherboards for dummies...or what to look for?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ted Lee, Aug 12, 2002.

  1. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hi all -
    i posted earlier about buying a white-box pc, but some suggested i should just build my own.
    welp, i think i'm gonna bite the bullet and try building my own. partly because i would like to learn how...plus i suppose i'll save some money.
    so, i figure the first topic to tackle is the mb. after searching this forum, i got an okay idea of what brands people seem to like (asus, gigabye, soyo, etc.). everyone also recommends a specific model because of this or that -- it's those particulars i feel i don't know much about. i've also read some articles on tomshardware and anandtech, but i still feel i'm missing the very basics of mb's.
    so, does anyone know of any good articles or websites that have a generic "mb's for dummies" type of read?
    if you feel like making recommendations (again):
    afaik, these are the things i shold be considering:
    • 533 mhz fsb
    • usb 2.0
    • ddr memory
    i'm sure i'm missing other factors. i don't plan on using any "onboard" stuff (well, maybe at first). i'd like to use a separate audio and video card down the line.
    also, i'm leaning towards intel because i'm thinking that'll reduce compatibility issues - is that an accurate statement?
    oh yeah...and i know this is gonna sound stupid, but if i buy a particular mb, how will i know what type of processor to get? does it matter, do they come as a set, or do i have to do the whole research thing again (which i don't mind...) i'm thinking somewhere close to a 2g processor should be more then adequate.
    anyway, enough questions for now...any comments or ideas you have will be appreciated.
    thanks in advance,
    ted
     
  2. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    Check out the Asus P4S533... I just got one this past weekend. It uses the SiS 645 chipset. It supports a 533 MHz FSB, and PC2700 DDR. It doesn't have USB 2.0 support (only 1.1) but you dont really want USB 2.0, you really want IEEE 1394 (Firewire). It also has support for UDMA 133 (relatively new- mobo comes with an 80 pin IDE ribbon)
     
  3. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    If you go to mwave.com, they actually sell motherboard bundles, with CPU and RAM. They'll even put them together and test them for $9. Anyway, that's a good place to get some idea on what's available.

    Each board can only take certain CPUs. To be more specific, each board is built with a certain chipset (support chips between the CPU and everything else), and that chipset is for a specific CPU. At the moment, I'd say Intel definitely has the advantage. It's not so much compatibility per se, but stability, software support for enhanced instructions, and thermal characteristics.

    You usually want the latest greatest chipset for the most current CPU family within your price range. For example, with P4, you want the 533 front-side bus. There are probably just a few chipsets that support it, Intel's and someone else's, like SiS. Then you find boards that use that chipset; at newegg.com, you can do exactly that.

    If you like to overclock, you need to consider how easy it is to fiddle with the various speeds and multipliers in the BIOS setup. Some boards specialize in that, while others don't. You look at what's included on the board, and whether you want it or not. Ironically, it's usually the more expensive boards that don't have all the built-in junk.

    A few dozen opinions will probably only be a randomly biased survey, but I like Asus, MSI, and Soyo.

    //Ken
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    not so much motherboards for dummies, but www.tomshardware.com as well as www.anandtech.com do extensive mobo reviews where they test their performance, stability, features, etc. the articles are in depth and they go over the feature sets that may be important to some users i.e. firewire, # usb ports, etc. the advice is on the money.
     
  5. Chad Ellinger

    Chad Ellinger Second Unit

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    I would highly recommend going with a first-party chipset manufacturer (like Intel). I know that many people have luck with VIA and SiS chipsets, but Intel chipsets are always rock-solid and rarely have the driver/stability issues that come up in other brands. Well worth the slight increase in price.
     
  6. Mike_G

    Mike_G Screenwriter

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    I have an Intel mbo at work, but at home I use Asus and they've been flawless. I don't shop for mobos until I'm ready to upgrade, so I can't help you with a particular model.

    In general, look for the features you want. As for USB 2.0, you might NOT want it on-board. There are plenty of add-on PCI cards. I'd look at the peripherals you want to hook up first and then decide if you want USB 2 or Firewire. I prefer Firewire.

    Look at CPU upgradability. Sometimes newer chips can't be placed in the same CPU socket so see what's coming down the pike in terms of pin nubmers.

    If you're into games or HTPC, make sure you get the best AGP speed you can.

    Mike
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hmm...thanks for the info guys.

    i don't plan on overclocking...that pretty much has no interest for me (at least not for now).

    so, it looks like firewire is preferred over usb2.0? do most peripherals (printers, etc.) have firewire capability already?

    so ken, if i understand you correctly: first i think about the chipset, then the cpu, then the board? if that's the case, how do i shop for a chipset? i believe i'm going to stick with intel and i keep hearing that the 845 whatever is pretty good. i like that mwave website...but i still don't know which board to get.

    so to summarize what i'm looking for:

    firewire
    533fsb
    ddr memory
    lots of pins for the processor (not sure what is meant by that one)

    anyway, thanks again all..i appreciate it!
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Ted, you don;t have to worry about processor pin count
    I personally don't like putting in MB (always feel like I'm going to fry it, at least at home). Most places I've dealt with, if you buy CPU/RAM/MB/Case from them, they'll assemble it for free [​IMG]
     
  9. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    yo jeff! good point. i did notice a lot of the mom & pop shops here have "bare bones" systems...

    maybe i'll review that avenue further...i kinda wanna build my own "from the ground up" just for the heck of it, but definitely a good suggestion!
     
  10. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    FireWire is a high-speed interface for external drives and such. USB 1.x is a low-speed interface for stuff like keyboards and printers. USB 2.0 has a slightly higher theoretical speed than 1st-gen FireWire, but suffers from the same fundamental flaw that USB 1.x had: you need a computer to control the show. FireWire is a peer-to-peer interface. Guess which one is supported by Intel.
    FireWire is also the undisputed standard for DV (the current consumer digital video format). So if you have any inkling you might want to get into that, FireWire is a must.
    Any board you get will have USB 1.x. You don't necessarily need to get FireWire or USB 2.0 on the board, you can also get an add-on card. In fact, there aren't many boards that do have them built in at the moment. But USB 2.0 is already beginning to replace 1.x, because of the Intel connection; however, FireWire on boards may remain a high-end item.
    It's actually CPU then chipset. As I said before, Intel now has the advantage; for one reason, they're the only ones doing the 533MHz FSB. There are several 845 chipsets, and only the latest, the 845E and 845G, support the 533FSB. The Motherboard/Mainboard Guide at Tom's Hardware discusses the difference and has some comparos for motherboards for each chipset. Happy reading [​IMG]
    //Ken
     
  11. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    okay all -
    i think i found my mb. i'm gonna go for the Asus P4B533-E.
    seems to be pretty highly regarded. motherboards.org gave it a really good review and all sorts of other people also seem to dig it.
    tbh, i think it may be slight overkill for me, but i'd like to do it right the first time. i think it has all the recommended stuff.
    i can get a 2g/512mb bundle for about 600 from jncs.com. that seems a little high (?), but it does include board, cpu, memory, testing, etc...
    so, i appreciate everyone's advice. i'll post a new thread when i'm ready to get my next component...i suppose that'll be the case & ps???
    thx!
     
  12. Mike_G

    Mike_G Screenwriter

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  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
    Suh-Weet!!!
     
  14. Gabriel_Lam

    Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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