Current State of the Motherboard Address

Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

It is time once again. I must revamp the main system I use for a
development workstation.

I need good speed, but I don't want to speed $1000 for that last 1Hz.
I try to buy on the 'knee' of the cost-performance curve.

Reliability and compatibility is very important. Top of the list maybe.

As many bus slots as possible. I've got a lot of aux hardware.

I would like to save slots by getting as much built-in I/O as possible.
Builit-in Gigabit and a bunch of USB 2 ports would be nice.

I need about 1.5g of Ram. (Is DDR2 worth it?)

I'd ideally like to keep the option open to throw in a second CPU (I'm
testing some multithreaded software) but I'm open to opinions on the
subject.

The jury seems to be out on whether the newest Intel chipset is worth it.
I've heard that it can be slower than the older one (!?)

Any recommendations or comments on any of the subjects above?
Thanks much!
6 answers Last reply
More about current state motherboard address
  1. Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

    In article <7tnip0l83rdfr14vpjjeprtaotaa4m9q20@4ax.com>, _AGC
    <_AGC@nospam.com> wrote:

    > It is time once again. I must revamp the main system I use for a
    > development workstation.
    >
    > I need good speed, but I don't want to speed $1000 for that last 1Hz.
    > I try to buy on the 'knee' of the cost-performance curve.
    >
    > Reliability and compatibility is very important. Top of the list maybe.
    >
    > As many bus slots as possible. I've got a lot of aux hardware.
    >
    > I would like to save slots by getting as much built-in I/O as possible.
    > Builit-in Gigabit and a bunch of USB 2 ports would be nice.
    >
    > I need about 1.5g of Ram. (Is DDR2 worth it?)
    >
    > I'd ideally like to keep the option open to throw in a second CPU (I'm
    > testing some multithreaded software) but I'm open to opinions on the
    > subject.
    >
    > The jury seems to be out on whether the newest Intel chipset is worth it.
    > I've heard that it can be slower than the older one (!?)
    >
    > Any recommendations or comments on any of the subjects above?
    > Thanks much!

    It would have helped to list some of the current components in your
    computer, so we could better align the solution to what you've got.

    As Tim points out, the motherboards that have PCI Express have
    a mixture of slots, so if you own a lot of PCI cards, they may not
    be the best choice.

    1) Old way. 5 PCI, 1 AGP
    2) New way. 3 PCI, 1 PCI-E x16, 2 PCI-E x1
    3) SLI soon. ? 2 PCI-E x8, ? (means 2 slots of video
    so lose one other slot)

    On the Intel side, I don't see a good reason to go with the LGA775
    socket motherboards (the newest ones). You could buy a P4C800-E Deluxe
    and reuse DDR RAM, AGP card, PCI cards etc.

    Asus P5 series of boards are configured for various mixtures of
    new technology, so you can get whatever mix of old and new you
    need. For example, the P5P800 is like a P4P800, only has an
    LGA775 socket for the processor, instead of a S478 socket. That is
    the model with the least new technology introduced, compared to the
    rest of the P5 family.

    You didn't say whether high performance 3D was something you needed,
    as having access to a PCI Express video card slot may help. Since
    both Nvidia and ATI will be delivering SLI in the future, even
    shopping for motherboards that have two x8 PCI Express slots,
    would allow chaining two video cards together, for the absolute
    fastest frame rates. If that is not a concern, there is no
    appreciable difference between PCI Express and AGP when it comes
    to existing applications, so unless you have big plans for the
    future, the video card slot choice may not matter to you.

    The Athlon64 boards seem to run a bit cooler, and socket 939 has
    dual channel memory like the Intel boards. Revision 2 of the A8V
    has a working AGP/PCI lock, which makes overclocking easier if you
    want to try it. Cool N' Quiet allows the processor to run cool
    when idling in the desktop (simultaneous reduction of Fcore and
    Vcore, when the OS detects that there is no significant load
    on the processor).

    You can go to a web site like newegg.com, use the shop by catagory
    feature, and look at all the processors for a given socket. Plot
    the prices versus the clock speed. That way, you'll be able to
    determine where your "knee" is, for the two competing solutions.

    http://www.newegg.com/app/manufact.asp?catalog=343&DEPA=0

    3800+ S939 2.4GHz 512KB retail $630
    3500+ S939 2.2GHz 512KB retail $295
    3200+ S939 2.0GHz 512KB retail $205

    P4EE LGA775 3.4GHz 512KB+2MB retail $1019
    P4 LGA775 3.6GHz 1MB retail $465
    P4 LGA775 3.4GHz 1MB retail $282
    P4 LGA775 3.2GHz 1MB retail $222

    P4EE S478 3.4GHz 512KB+2MB retail $999
    P4 S478 3.4Ghz 1MB OEM $309 (need HSF)
    P4 S478 3.2Ghz 1MB OEM $216 (need HSF)

    If I was doing an incremental upgrade right now, I would try the
    A8V. If you are into overclocking, you may want to read the
    articles in the motherboard section of anandtech.com, to get
    some ideas of what the limiting factors are for overclocking.
    For example, a DFI board has managed to run memory at DDR600,
    so some motherboards are better suited to overclocking than
    others.

    As for DDR2, if you buy DDR2-400, it is slower than DDR400.
    You need a speed grade higher than that, to break even or
    be a little ahead. And who knows how long DDR2 will last ?
    Intel FB could be right around the corner... (FB means
    fully buffered, so the memory chip type no longer matters.
    FB is a hub architecture, so no more shared busses either.)

    If you really have a lot of PCI cards, you may want to
    shop for an expansion chassis. At one time, there were a
    couple of companies making PCI extenders, that allowed you
    to add more PCI slots, at the expense of incurring an
    extra cycle of prop delay to get to the expansion chassis.
    You basically end up with two computer cases, and the second
    one has a motherboard with just PCI slots on it. The expansion
    chassis becomes a good home for lower bandwidth PCI cards.
    I don't know if the companies who made those products are
    still in business or not.

    HTH,
    Paul
  2. Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

    Tentative dual CPU = either Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron, or wait.

    Intel Xeon chips are not too badly priced at the moment and are competitive
    on that front with AMD. (IE once upon a time Xeon's were always grossly
    overpriced).

    If you want lots of slots (ignoring dual CPU) then this rules out some of
    the latest Intel Prescott motherboards as they sacrifice PCI slot space for
    PCI Express slots. It is the Prescott's that run hot. However if you take a
    look at the asus web site and the Intel 915 / 925 boards you will see lots
    of goodies included: GB Lan, USB 2 x plenty, Firewire, very good audio as
    standard. This may alleviate the need for PCI slots.

    In terms of Price / Performance / Future - this belongs firmly in AMD's
    court. Reports indicate that very few people (other than name brand
    assemblers) are consuming the new Intel 915 / 925 chipset boards as the sum
    benefit of these chips currently is not a lot at a cost IE new expensive
    memory, new graphics, new, new, new, but no performance gain.

    The AMD 64 bit CPU's (single and multi-processor) are hot stuff and very
    competitive with the best of Intel chips (including Xeon) but at a better
    price. They run cooler than the Prescott's, have solved the thermal runaway
    issue, have future (IE new versions are coming - dual core CPU's have
    already been sent to mobo manufacturers for testing), performance, and will
    allow you to use existing PCI stuff gaining (likely - depends on the baord
    you choose) GB Lan, USB 2, quality sound etc. The only place where the Intel
    chips beat the AMD chips is usually in tasks such as video encoding. AMD 64
    bit chips will have SSE3 in January apparently. Give it a month or two and
    you will start to see the move to PCI Express on the AMD motherboard
    front...

    So, the big question really is, do you want single or dual? The issue with
    dual is you can always add a second CPU later, but will you strike a CPU
    stepping incompatability problem? You could wait for a dual core AMD 64 bit
    CPU to come out (in a single socket / otherwise single CPU motherboard), or
    in the interim buy a low cost 64 bit CPU and upgrade later. The dual core
    CPU's are supposed to be socket compatible with one of the existing socket
    types - but I don't know which socket (940, 939, or 754) you should make
    sure you get...

    All the systems covered will easily run 2GB RAM. However if you want to run
    4GB RAM you will have issues on older current P4 chips as they chipsets tend
    to make large reservations in the 4GB address space that means you will only
    ever see typically 3.4GB of the 4GB you have installed. There is no such
    issue with 64bit CPU's or Xeons (you may have to use /3GB or /PAE in
    boot.ini to sort it out).

    Personally, I would have a good look around, read some reviews, contemplate
    waiting and look at those PCI cards and decide which get recycled. Consider
    getting a second hand dual for software testing and save the rest for a
    swish new possibly dual core AMD 64 bit system.

    - Tim


    "_AGC" <_AGC@nospam.com> wrote in message
    news:7tnip0l83rdfr14vpjjeprtaotaa4m9q20@4ax.com...
    > It is time once again. I must revamp the main system I use for a
    > development workstation.
    >
    > I need good speed, but I don't want to speed $1000 for that last 1Hz.
    > I try to buy on the 'knee' of the cost-performance curve.
    >
    > Reliability and compatibility is very important. Top of the list maybe.
    >
    > As many bus slots as possible. I've got a lot of aux hardware.
    >
    > I would like to save slots by getting as much built-in I/O as possible.
    > Builit-in Gigabit and a bunch of USB 2 ports would be nice.
    >
    > I need about 1.5g of Ram. (Is DDR2 worth it?)
    >
    > I'd ideally like to keep the option open to throw in a second CPU (I'm
    > testing some multithreaded software) but I'm open to opinions on the
    > subject.
    >
    > The jury seems to be out on whether the newest Intel chipset is worth it.
    > I've heard that it can be slower than the older one (!?)
    >
    > Any recommendations or comments on any of the subjects above?
    > Thanks much!
  3. Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

    First, thanks for both of the replies, and I might have been a bit more
    clear in my wish list. I haven't kept up on CPU models, but I'll try to
    elaborate (follows):

    On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 14:57:18 -0400, nospam@needed.com (Paul) wrote:

    >In article <7tnip0l83rdfr14vpjjeprtaotaa4m9q20@4ax.com>, _AGC

    >> I need good speed, but I don't want to speed $1000 for that last 1Hz.
    >> I try to buy on the 'knee' of the cost-performance curve.
    [snip]

    >It would have helped to list some of the current components in your
    >computer, so we could better align the solution to what you've got.

    The current system is an older RAMBUS motherboard, so I doubt that much
    of the current hardware will be kept.

    The major hardware that I'll be keeping: I have a lot of drive space on
    line - straight ATA and ATA Raid 0 via PCI boards. And an expensive
    PCI-based audio recording system.

    I have Firewire and USB2 boards that could be dumpsterized <g> if I have
    enough ports on the motherboard.

    >As Tim points out, the motherboards that have PCI Express have
    >a mixture of slots, so if you own a lot of PCI cards, they may not
    >be the best choice.

    Not sure what PCI Express gets me, especially if there's no backward
    compatibility.

    >Asus P5 series of boards are configured for various mixtures of
    >new technology, so you can get whatever mix of old and new you
    >need. For example, the P5P800 is like a P4P800, only has an
    >LGA775 socket for the processor, instead of a S478 socket. That is

    Noted.

    >You didn't say whether high performance 3D was something you needed,

    No games or 3d whatsoever. I do need to make sure that I can find video
    board that support DVI out at 1600x1200, but that's for driving a large
    flat panel for software development. That may mean that I need to stay a
    step back from the leading edge so my options are more open.

    I also want to keep options open for SATA, perhaps SATA RAID.

    >The Athlon64 boards seem to run a bit cooler, and socket 939 has
    >dual channel memory like the Intel boards. Revision 2 of the A8V
    >has a working AGP/PCI lock, which makes overclocking easier if you
    >want to try it. Cool N' Quiet allows the processor to run cool

    I don't worry about overclocking these days. I've never got much more
    throughput, so I'll probably just go for the most cost-effective Pentium
    and a decent amount of RAM (1 or 2 gigs, dual channel).

    >http://www.newegg.com/app/manufact.asp?catalog=343&DEPA=0

    Good link. To be honest, I've never considered an Athlon due to subtle
    compatibility problems back in the day. I'll give them another look.

    Thanks to both of you for a lot of insight and info. I stopped at the
    local limited-scope computer depot the other day, and they actually had
    Intel boards that looked OK (I had also avoided Intel in the past).

    It seems that CPUs change every time you blink, and I just noticed that
    I've got to get up to speed on 'Prescott' and Pentium-T now as well.
  4. Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

    In article <vb9np0taib4vpmihuog14ao62kglk4j3p7@4ax.com>, _AGC
    <_AGC@nospam.com> wrote:

    > First, thanks for both of the replies, and I might have been a bit more
    > clear in my wish list. I haven't kept up on CPU models, but I'll try to
    > elaborate (follows):
    >
    > On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 14:57:18 -0400, nospam@needed.com (Paul) wrote:
    >
    > >In article <7tnip0l83rdfr14vpjjeprtaotaa4m9q20@4ax.com>, _AGC
    >
    > >> I need good speed, but I don't want to speed $1000 for that last 1Hz.
    > >> I try to buy on the 'knee' of the cost-performance curve.
    > [snip]
    >
    > >It would have helped to list some of the current components in your
    > >computer, so we could better align the solution to what you've got.
    >
    > The current system is an older RAMBUS motherboard, so I doubt that much
    > of the current hardware will be kept.
    >
    > The major hardware that I'll be keeping: I have a lot of drive space on
    > line - straight ATA and ATA Raid 0 via PCI boards. And an expensive
    > PCI-based audio recording system.
    >
    > I have Firewire and USB2 boards that could be dumpsterized <g> if I have
    > enough ports on the motherboard.

    The P5P800 doesn't have Firewire, so you may want to keep that card.
    Also, with Firewire, sometimes there are issues with the kinds of
    Firewire chips that are used on motherboards. If the board you are
    currently using, does everything you need, then keep it. The
    P5AD2 deluxe and premium boards, for example, have Firewire. The
    premium has 1394B (Firewire at 800Mb/sec), but it is currently poorly
    supported by Windows. The deluxe uses 1394A, and that could be more
    trouble free. The 8212 RAID could take the place of one of your ATA
    RAID0 boards. So, maybe if you use the 8212, the three PCI slots on
    the P5AD2 deluxe would be enough for your PCI audio.

    As the P5AD2 uses DDR2, for 2 x 1GB DDR2-5300 would cost:

    1GB DDR2 PC2-5300 CL=5 UNBUFFERED NON-ECC DDR2-667 1.8V $329.99 * 2

    For the P5P800 and DDR, for 4 x 512MB would cost:

    512MB DDR PC3200 CL=3 UNBUFFERED NON-ECC DDR400 2.6V $93.99 * 4

    You can save a couple hundred dollars on DRAM by using DDR.
    The prices quoted above are from Crucial.com's search engine.

    >
    > >As Tim points out, the motherboards that have PCI Express have
    > >a mixture of slots, so if you own a lot of PCI cards, they may not
    > >be the best choice.
    >
    > Not sure what PCI Express gets me, especially if there's no backward
    > compatibility.

    PCI Express is a serial interface, and a hub architecture. At some
    point, all busses in the computer will be hub architectures. The
    advantage of this, is there is no loading effect from one hardware
    device on another. But, as you say, with no backward compatibility,
    and a shortage of boards to choose from, there is currently no advantage
    to the user. But, unless these technologies are introduced, there is
    no incentive for companies to spend development dollars on respinning
    functionality in PCI Express form factor. This will be particularly
    hard on the smaller companies making niche products, and maybe they
    will go with some kind of bridge chip, to quickly get a PCI
    Express product to market.

    <<snip>>

    > >You didn't say whether high performance 3D was something you needed,
    >
    > No games or 3d whatsoever. I do need to make sure that I can find video
    > board that support DVI out at 1600x1200, but that's for driving a large
    > flat panel for software development. That may mean that I need to stay a
    > step back from the leading edge so my options are more open.

    A PCI Express or an AGP video card will both be viable options.
    For the time being, it is possible a low end AGP card can meet your
    requirements, without kicking out a lot of excess heat. On my current
    system, when idling in the desktop, the video card generates more
    waste heat than the processor. From that perspective, an AGP card
    might be a better fit, but the AGP slot will cut you off from future
    nifty developments on the video card, such as using the GPU for
    special computing functions (video encoding, decoding).

    >
    > I also want to keep options open for SATA, perhaps SATA RAID.

    The 925/915 chipsets on the P5 series boards, have four SATA and
    only one IDE cable (two drives) on the Southbridge. The 865
    chipset on the P5P800 has two SATA and two IDE cables (four drives)
    on the Southbridge. The former choice means you had better be sure
    the other storage interface chips on the board meet your needs.
    Some people find the one IDE cable on the Southbridge, is limiting
    when it comes to CD/DVD burners/readers, on the 925/915 based boards.
    Read the prospective motherboard manual carefully, for restrictions
    on ATAPI devices and interfaces on the board. From that perspective,
    the P5P800 would be better.

    >
    > >The Athlon64 boards seem to run a bit cooler, and socket 939 has
    > >dual channel memory like the Intel boards. Revision 2 of the A8V
    > >has a working AGP/PCI lock, which makes overclocking easier if you
    > >want to try it. Cool N' Quiet allows the processor to run cool
    >
    > I don't worry about overclocking these days. I've never got much more
    > throughput, so I'll probably just go for the most cost-effective Pentium
    > and a decent amount of RAM (1 or 2 gigs, dual channel).
    >
    > >http://www.newegg.com/app/manufact.asp?catalog=343&DEPA=0
    >
    > Good link. To be honest, I've never considered an Athlon due to subtle
    > compatibility problems back in the day. I'll give them another look.
    >
    > Thanks to both of you for a lot of insight and info. I stopped at the
    > local limited-scope computer depot the other day, and they actually had
    > Intel boards that looked OK (I had also avoided Intel in the past).
    >
    > It seems that CPUs change every time you blink, and I just noticed that
    > I've got to get up to speed on 'Prescott' and Pentium-T now as well.

    One thing to note about the very high end Prescott processors, is
    they are getting close to being limited by their air cooling. The
    Prescott will go into automatic thermal throttling if the die temp
    gets to around 70C or so. While I don't have the latest and greatest
    gear here, I have noticed that my AthlonXP system gives a slightly
    better 3DMark, with nowhere near the heat I'm getting from my
    P4C800-E and a lowly 2.8C processor. I particularly hate systems
    that kick out a lot of heat, except of course in winter :-)

    The Athlon 939 chips have a TDP of 89 watts. The LGA775 Pentium
    chips are 84 watts, for 3.2GHz or lower, and 115 watts for 3.4GHz
    plus. You can look up specific info on processorfinder.intel.com ,
    as to exactly what a given processor uses (for example, there is
    one processor speed, where both a high and a low power chip are
    available - ask your vendor what SSPEC the processor has, before
    buying it). The AMD site doesn't have a similar facility, but
    thermal info is contained in this doc:

    http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/30430.pdf

    HTH,
    Paul
  5. Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

    Still checking into this, Paul. A few replies follow:

    On Wed, 17 Nov 2004 22:37:39 -0400, nospam@needed.com (Paul) wrote:

    >> >In article <7tnip0l83rdfr14vpjjeprtaotaa4m9q20@4ax.com>, _AGC
    >>
    >> >> I need good speed, but I don't want to speed $1000 for that last 1Hz.
    >> >> I try to buy on the 'knee' of the cost-performance curve.
    >> [snip]

    >(Paul wrote)
    >The P5P800 doesn't have Firewire, so you may want to keep that card.
    >Also, with Firewire, sometimes there are issues with the kinds of
    >Firewire chips that are used on motherboards.

    I'm not a big fan of Firewire, but sometimes you just need it. I'll keep
    the Firewire cards, as you recommend. Especially as XP SP2 is
    reputed to have trouble with some chipsets (my cards are all Adaptec
    so they should be OK).

    >currently using, does everything you need, then keep it. The
    >P5AD2 deluxe and premium boards, for example, have Firewire. The
    >premium has 1394B (Firewire at 800Mb/sec), but it is currently poorly
    >supported by Windows.

    >> >As Tim points out, the motherboards that have PCI Express have
    >> >a mixture of slots, so if you own a lot of PCI cards, they may not
    >> >be the best choice.

    A year from now I may regret not getting PCI Express, but right now, I'm
    out of PCI slots. Express seems like a great thing, but I'll probably
    stay straight PCI for now. Especially if the onlboard RAID is not
    reliable, I'll have to make space for PCI RAID boards as well as my
    audio stuff.

    DDR2 and the 925 chipset also sound great on paper, but I've been
    hearing about runtime problems. When they run well, they're supposed to
    be great though! <g>

    >... my AthlonXP system gives a slightly
    >better 3DMark, with nowhere near the heat I'm getting from my
    >P4C800-E and a lowly 2.8C processor.

    You know, after looking at overall specs, the P4C800-E seems like the
    main contender for my system. Anything to beware of?
  6. Archived from groups: alt.comp.periphs.mainboard.asus (More info?)

    On Wed, 17 Nov 2004 22:37:39 -0400, nospam@needed.com (Paul) wrote:

    >A PCI Express or an AGP video card will both be viable options.
    >For the time being, it is possible a low end AGP card can meet your
    >requirements, without kicking out a lot of excess heat. On my current
    >system, when idling in the desktop, the video card generates more
    >waste heat than the processor. From that perspective, an AGP card
    >might be a better fit, but the AGP slot will cut you off from future
    >nifty developments on the video card, such as using the GPU for
    >special computing functions (video encoding, decoding).

    PS: I was just thinking about this while lookiing for video cards. It
    looks like there ARE quite a few PCIX boards coming out. I have to
    get new video anyway. Not good to hear about excess heat though...
    and probably fan noise. Bad for recording studio applications.
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