Thanks to all those people who either answered my questions directly on this board, or indirectly by posting their problems and having other users answer them. I've spent two days working on setting up my system, and I just spent the last hour playing Unreal Tournament and Sacrafice at 1024x768 in 32 bit color with no serious slowdowns and not a single crash or lockup. I consider this a setup a success, barring any further problems that I haven't encountered.
Two sticking points prior to my success:
1. Windows Media Player 7.0 is CRAP. Crashed constantly when tryin to full screen videos. 6.4 works beautifully.
2. Diamond Monster Sound MX300 did simply NOT work in ANY 3D game. Fine in 2D and windows applications, pure instant system death in Soldier of Fortune, Sacrafice, and Unreal Tournament tests. Trying 3 different drivers from www.vortexofsound.com did not resolve problem. Changing IRQ's in BIOs did not resolve problem. Forced to replace with Sound Blaster Live! X-Gamer, games worked perfectly on first try.
Asus A7V Motherboard, 1.02 Revision, 1.005B Bios
* Shipped as 1.004D Bios, updated to 1.005B in failed attempt to get MX300 Sound to work. Only Bios Change is IRQ 5 reserved for legacy devices and RAM set to 133 Mhz. System Performance is stuck at optimal, Bios does not properly track change when changed to normal. (Not a big problem tho)
1 Gighz Athalon Thunderbird.
* Huge Tai Sol heatsink+fan sitting snuggly on top. Tempted to get a 1.5 now
2 x 128MB PC133 CL2 SDRAM from Crucial Technologies
*No complaints, No crashes running at 133 Mhz in Bios.
Elan Vital T10-AB (Asustech) Case
* Case is great, easy to play with components. Pulled out default power supply and replaced with AMD approved Antec PP303X 300W power supply. Added 2 case mounted fans, one below power supply, one at front of case.
45 GB IBM Desxstar 7200 RPM, 100ATA Hard Drive
* Installed on the 100ATA IDE Channel straight out of the box, no problems so far. Updated Promise Driver to V33 in failed attempt to isolate MX300 crashes. Promise V33 drivers are named incorrectly on Asus's FTP site, but they are there. (called v160b33)
Asus V7700 Deluxe 32MB DDR, GeForce 2 GTS chipset, IRQ 11
* Bios version 2.15.01.13. Shipped with driver version 5.33, updated to 6.31 drivers in failed attempt to resolve MX300 crash. No conflicts since replacing MX300 with SB Live. Games have rare 'jitters', but overall frame rate at 1024x768 in Sacrafice and UT was very pleasing. (I'm not a graphics nut, but I am a hardcore gamer. It looked good enough for me) Have not tested Video In/Out Capture yet.
Pioneer DVD-114F, Firmware 2.03
* Year old DVD drive, but still fast. Running at DMA 33. Forced to update Firmware months ago when Diablo 2's copy protection scheme conflitced with drive. Firmware update fixed problem. I like PowerDVD as a player, very stable and no frame jitters.
Generic Teac 3.5 Floppy Drive
*I still need one
3Com HomeConnet 10/100 Network Card, PCI Slot 4, IRQ 9
* Replaced the aging Linksys Etherfast in my old computer which has a fatal conflict with Red Alert 2's Westwood Online. Connection seems reliabe so far, have downloaded several patches with success and good speed.
Sound Blaster Live! X-Gamer, PCI Slot 3, IRQ 9
* Replaced Diamond Monster Sound MX300 after several failed attempts (see above entries) to get card to work properly. Sound Blaster card worked perfectly out of box. Have not tested bundled sofware, just installed drivers.
Logitech Marbleman Trackball
* Its comfortable, takes up little desk space, and after some practices, kicks ass in games. Requires cleaning on pivot ball bearings (takes 10 seconds), but after several years of harsh gaming, it's still good.
Bouston Acquostic BA635 Speakers
* Working good after a year of constant use. 2 satellite speakers and a subwoofer.
KDS Avitron 17 inch AV-7TF
* Two slight lines across screen caused by flatscreen tube, hardly noticeable, totally forgot about them in games. Clean and crisp picture, very pleasing.
Microsoft Internet Keyboard
* Comfy, retail box comes with nice wrist wrest. One year old and going strong.
Windows 98 SE, Via 4 in 1 V4.25 drivers, DirectX 7.0
* Not going anywhere near Win Me, Win 2K, or DirectX 8.0 till the quirks are worked out. Motherboard shipped with 4.24 Via Drivers, installed 4.25 in failed attempt to get MX 300 card to work.
Thanks again to all who helped me out. I hope the bio of my setup will be of use to someone else trying to config a similiar system.
Yep - the MX300 is crap. Had the same crashes when I put my A7V in. Would lockup 7 seconds into any sound playback. Since the chipset maker (Aureal) is out of business, I went with a SB Live Value card No lockups.
One comment, though... you mentioned the HomeConnect PCI card. That won't work in Win2K or Whistler - no drivers for it. But other than that, great choice of components!