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Question for quality builders with +5 years experience

Last response: in Motherboards
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June 28, 2006 3:18:46 AM

What brand of motherboards have you had the worst luck with? I'm talking about boards that are sold in a cardboard box, not ones that come in comodity Dells or HPs etc.

Personally I have worked with:
Tyan, Asus, Shuttle, Abit, DFI, Jetway, Biostar, Epox, and PCChips (and a few others on rare occasions).

The ones I absolutely have come to despise and will no longer buy are:
PCChips, Epox, Biostar, and MSI. Each of these seems to have a high number of DOA boards, and also have too many quirks that require "emergency" fixes and downloads. MSI and EPOX have done on numerous times what I consider the number one hardware sin, which is work well for a few months and mysteriously die dornail dead. That is a system builders nightmare, because in most cases I buy boards in batches, and there is a good chance that 90% of the boards in that batch are going to do the same thing.

The ones that are close to being on my $#!+ list are:
DFI and Jetway. I have had a couple of DOAs with DFI. Jetway boards, oddly enough, have not given me many problems except for one that literally sprked and caught on fire when I powered it up. Jetway boards just "feel cheap" to me if you know what I mean. I don't really like them, but I have not had a major problem with them. Epox boards "feel cheap" to me as well, but they have turned out to be crappy in my experience so my feeling is justified.

I have had a problem or two with Abit, but it was limited to their socket 7 boards back in the day.

I dont build as many systems now as I used to, but when I do I prefer to work with my favorite three:
Tyan, Asus, Shuttle (and Abit is ok too)

How about you? I'm posting this because I am interested to see if other peoples experiences are similar to mine or if mine are unique. I've been building systems for about a decade.
June 28, 2006 4:11:04 AM

Good question.

I have personally built and/or supervised the building of over 1000 machines over the past 8 years. From about 1998-2001 I used almost exclusively Asus boards, but have since migrated to MSI from about 2002 to present.

I have found both manufacturers to be of excellent quality. We will usually build anywhere from 20-50 machines at once with all the same components after extensive research is done on all components in question.

I can't imagine why you've personally had trouble with MSI boards. I currently have at least 300 machines based on MSI boards running no problems. I've maybe had 2 or 3 doa's and maybe 4 more that have just died over their years of use and a couple of those were due to chipset fans going out (i never buy boards with chipset fans anymore). Maybe 7 total out of 300+. To me at least, that's not bad at all. That's about a 2% failure rate and of course the doa's were returned for replacements so . . .

The machines built are typically not high end nor low end machines but designed as upper midrange machines for office style/internet use and specifically designed to be usable for approx. 5-7 years from their build date, anticipating software and OS upgrades, based on roadmaps estimates and industry tendencies etc.

A handful of machines have been built for high end performance use, and 2 high end dual processor servers with 5 hard drive RAID 5 Arrays. These, also, we've used MSI server boards for.

I've maybe done about 10-15 more builds on my own, either for my own personal use and/or for friends/aquintances. For these, I've also used Asus and MSI respectively with plenty of success. Not too much into gaming, and have actually only built 1 rig specifically for gaming for a friend of mine (used Asus for that one), but knowing other system builders personally, they seem to prefer DFI and Abit for their gaming boards.

Hope this helps in this sharing of information
June 28, 2006 5:29:12 AM

I currently have a DFI board and an Asus board. Since the early to mid 90's, I've had Abit, Tyan, and MSI as well. I"ve never had a problem with any of them.

I've never even heard of Jetway.
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June 28, 2006 6:37:42 AM

I've had my problems with Jetway, PC Chips and a couple Asus. Yet never an Abit.
June 28, 2006 7:22:02 AM

Quote:
I've had my problems with Jetway, PC Chips and a couple Asus. Yet never an Abit.


I also have had problems with Jetway, PCchips, and Asus. Abit, to me, is the best motherboard manufactorer.
June 28, 2006 7:28:31 AM

For me it is Asus. I had 3 DOAs over the years out of 3 attempts. I must be jinxed with them. I have had 100% success with Gigabyte (2 boards) and Intel (3).
June 28, 2006 7:45:56 AM

Over the years of building pc's, I've mostly used Asus and Epox. Ok I've now got a DFI in my own pc but I think on the next build it will be back to good old trusty Asus. (Too many strange things with DFI and even their support forum advise you not to use some of their drivers that are supplied on the instruction cd :(  )

Funnily enough the only motherboard that I have ever had probs with was an Asus with a faulty memory bank but Asus still give that quality feeling imo.

I've had a few friends that have experienced probs with MSI but like the others, I've never heard of Jetway (are they known internationally, or primarily North America?)
June 28, 2006 8:38:15 AM

I had a Shuttle - Socket 7. It survived a short circuiting memory module: rock solid. My bro' had one: same thing.

Then an Abit BH6. Enough said. Please bow before its awesomeness (performance and reliability). My bro' had one too. Kickass.

Next, an MSI K7Tpro2-A. I mistreated it badly. Yet, it still works fine.

Then, a Gigabyte K8N51GMF. Small, laden with options. Fried after 3 months use. Got another one running, still fine - but not stressed as much, so I reserve judgement.

Now, an Asus A8N-VM CSM. Lacks options, but still running fine.
June 28, 2006 10:57:26 AM

We've had good luck with Intel boards, and although they are a bit on the expensive side, we still try to use them as much as we can when we're building with their chips. We've also had good luck with Gigabyte. For about the last two years we've done well with Foxconn. We haven't used Shuttle for some time, but the few we did worked out well. We don't use ECS anymore as we had problems after the K7S5A, which was a great board for us. We have done limited work with Epox, DFI, and Tyan. The few Biostar boards we have sold all worked out with no problems. Never any DOAs. We avoid PCCHips, Jetway, MSI (used to be good, then they became total garbage), and ECS. Abit and Asus have been OK, but enough problems that we mostly avoid them now. We had a lot of problems with components on Asus boards failing, like sound, or ethernet, or USB. Their customer service didn't leave me with a good taste, either. So, we mostly use Intel, Gigabyte, and Foxconn now.
June 28, 2006 11:54:53 AM

I too build exclusively around ASUS, I have had many problems with Tyan and ECS. The problems I have had (and my friends) have been numerous on Tyan boards. This has been over a period of 9 years thinking that Tyan might get it right because their board had the features I wanted at the time. All of my friends and myself will NEVER buy a Tyan board again. I cannot say that ASUS i perfect but they compaired to other companys, I have had the best experience with them.
June 28, 2006 12:25:00 PM

Every once in a while I'll get a bad one from all of them, no one more than another, but I've never gotten a bad Asus board, never, not one, it's the only one I'll use at home.
June 28, 2006 12:56:55 PM

Personally I only use Asus boards and have never had an issue with one. MSI has let me down though both from DOA boards and ones that don't seem to work quite right but still function.

The only other manufacturers I'd consider is Abit and DFI really. However it seems Epox is trying to become a more midrange board than in the past and Shuttle has come a long way from the POS's they used to be back in the mid to late 90s.
June 28, 2006 1:09:44 PM

Personally, I agree with what wusy said a while ago in another thread. Asus and AMD don't go together. I've had 3 Asus boards FAIL on me in one year (no oc).

The first one died completely after about 6 months, returned it to have the new one's sata give up on me after a month. Returned that one for another (all they had in stock since all the good boards, in my opinion, were sold). The USB went after a couple of months on that one.

The boards that worked the best was definately the Abit ones (my fabourite, the AN7 for my old Barton setup). My Epox also ran strong till my dad left the window open in the rainy season. MSI was great to overclock on. Just a shame I didn't have a perspex side/case to see the northbridge fan standing still with it still oc'ed.
June 28, 2006 1:09:57 PM

I used to build pc's for a living back in the day (late 90's till 2002).
Ive used shuttle, octek, msi, dfi, epox, ecs, tyan, asus, etc.
Personally I will only buy MSI boards for my personal computer. Have never had a problem with any, except one that I build for a friend and that fried cause he removed the memory with the power supply still plugged in.
ECS makes decent boards too, and cheap.
Asus, forget it, will not buy. Ive had many, many problems with Asus boards.
June 28, 2006 1:39:18 PM

MSI and Asus boards *shiver*... i'll never buy from them again. Sure, they work great for a couple months...and then they die. I guess i just got bad luck, but don't understand how anyone can even think about buying from those manufacturers...

On the other hand, i've had good experiances with ECS, i have 2 boards from them, working fine for the past couple months.

And gigabyte rules, never had a problem with their boards...

Just my 2 cents 8)
June 28, 2006 2:02:08 PM

I have used 1 gigabyte board in an athlon 1.2. Still going good.
5 msi boards running 2 barton 2500, athlon 1.4, a64 3200+ and a a64 x2 3800+
Not one single problem with them.

Luck of the draw I guess.

I have heard to stay away from ecs and pc chips. DFI used to be shyed from but have done well lately. Asus is too overpriced for what you get.
June 28, 2006 3:15:46 PM

This is somewhat off-topic, but one comment I must make is that many motherboard failures are the result of cheap, low-grade power supplies - especially with gaming systems that draw a lot of current.

I don't know how many systems I've seen die after a short amount of time because a person put in a cheap power supply. Even Tom's Hardware here has reviewed power supplies and many of the cheap ones that say that they can put out x number of watts rarely ever do for very long before suffering from power fluxuations or even dying outright.

I've used ASUS for virtually all of my system builds for the last several years, and I've had very few problems. I also make sure, however, to put in the extra money to get a good power supply, and good memory (I favor corsair personally). My most recent build, an AMD Dual-Core has been so stable and problem-free it's almost been spooky :) 
June 28, 2006 3:48:27 PM

I have used many brands, Shuttle, ECS, PCchips, ASUS, Intel, MSI and Chaintech just to name a few. I have had the best luck with the ASUS boards and really never had any REAL issues with the cheap boards. The only Board that I used that I really did not care for was the MSI board. I tend to use the cheaper boards for people that do not care for much upgrading and want to just have a newer box.
June 28, 2006 3:50:04 PM

Also I have a chaintech around now for about 3 years. It is not the greatest thing but it is also not that bad. I have only OC'ed one board in my lifetime and that was a ASUS board.
June 28, 2006 4:18:55 PM

I've only built probably 15 computers in the last 5 years but I've got to say that I've used mostly Asus and never had one fail on me. I've had MSI and Abit both go out and like a previous poster said I only use good quality PSU's mostly Antec or Enermax, although I have a Silverstone coming for my current gaming machine.

While I've personally never had an issue with Asus I know that each company, regardless of quality control, will have lemons now and then... even Toyota will make a lemon now and then. Plus, your motherboard is only as good as the components it's made out of and since I bet a lot of the motherboard manufacturers use a lot of the same components you will see issues with all motherboards. If you get one batch of bad capacitors you will see the same batch of bad motherboards...
June 28, 2006 4:36:14 PM

I don't build machines for a living, but as hobby going back early 90s and built more machine than I can keep track of by now, I worked with multiple brands never more than ones and twos at a time. The one thing that stands out, is that ECS has been the worst by far. The P3 Slot 1 matx was never stable forgot the model name, the Socket A KM400A-M2 is now a wall ornament a work with burnt parts that it inflicted on itself, and that is the second of two in period of 18 months, the only ECS board that seemed to violate this rule is the K7S5A, but that even one loses its CMOS settings once a year.
June 28, 2006 10:36:04 PM

I sold my A78NX2 Deluxe 2 years ago, I had it for 2 1/2 with an XP 3200 @ 2.5 GHz, it's still going strong and loses nothing. This board I use now is almost 2 years old, running cranked up since new, still running, as are all of the Asus board systems I've built in the last 3 years. I don't buy from E Bay that's for sure.
Epox, cheap blowing caps, same for some GigaByte boards , and the dreaded MSI's. You can add Dell into that mix too, add some gas and light it up.
June 28, 2006 11:11:30 PM

I use mainly ASUS and Intel never had a proble with any of them.

If you have a Frys Electronic store near you. Watch the return line to see whats being returned, Most are ECS and Tyan. I ask one of the service techs, why the high return. His comment was that ECS is only a 3-4 layer board made paper thin. You can crack a trace in the board buy just installing the ram. Any flexing damages them, even installing a pci card. He had no comment on Tyan.
June 29, 2006 12:16:18 AM

Over the years I've used just about every motherboard brand out there... Primary ones would be Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, Abit, DFI, and Intel.

My major problem-boards were made by PC-Chips and ECS (same company from what I have heard), the later being owned by Fry's Electronics so you know it's garbage.

I too have used Jetway, and had moderate success with them. I got one on the cheap and put it in a computer I was building for my girlfriend. The BIOS was very limited in its options, but the thing ran nice and stably for about 3 - 4 months... Then the PSU went out and took the motherboard with it.

I have had a few MSI boards that were DOA (out of 100+ I've used in builds), but not really that many. I've got an MSI board in my computer that I have abused terribly, and it still runs as fast and stable as the day I bought it. Some of the more recent MSI boards that I've used, however, seem a bit less stable than mine. I'm not saying they're bad, but it seems like their quality department has been taking a few too many cigarette breaks.

I've used a total of 4 DFI motherboards, and only ever had one returned to us - and that was because the customer was a complete noob and screwed up the pins (an LGA775 board) when he seated the CPU. We'd have put it together for him, but he insists on assembling all the computers he buys from us himself.

The basic motherboard my shop uses in builds (for customers who just want to surf the internet, do homework, download porn, etc.) is a Gigabyte GA-K8VM800M. We've had a couple of boards come DOA, one that had a bad DIMM slot, but considering we go through 20+ of these a month I would say it's not too bad a track record.

Overall, again, ECS and PC-Chips are both horrible. Avoid them at all costs. Most other boards, all the big brands (even Epox) are all pretty good, in my experience.
June 29, 2006 4:07:37 PM

Dell should be added to the list of bad boards. I don't do IT at work, but as of now one by one over the last nine month there are more than 10% of the Dell boards have exhibited the exploded or popped capacitors syndrome, and they are all roughly in the 2.5 to 3rd year of use when it happens. The company is getting them replaced by Dell because they paid for the service contract, but the bottom line is that is not a question of if you board will go and it is matter of when. And Dells attitude toward the whole thing is Dell will send a guy out to replace a board when the board goes, mean while the "next up" software and hardware engineers lose 2 days waiting for that guy. And this is after paying for the service contract. Dell's deals and low come on price don't look all that great in this light.
June 29, 2006 4:33:04 PM

Quote:
5 msi boards running 2 barton 2500, athlon 1.4, a64 3200+ and a a64 x2 3800+
Not one single problem with them.


Same here Ive had at least 6 msi boards, never had one die yet.

Quote:
MSI and Asus boards *shiver*... i'll never buy from them again. Sure, they work great for a couple months...and then they die. I guess i just got bad luck, but don't understand how anyone can even think about buying from those manufacturers...


I wouldnt think of buying anything else, msi that is
June 29, 2006 4:45:52 PM

I have had good luck with DFI and Biostar and horrible luck with Epox and ECS. I have had mixed problems with Asus. Generally, I'd say 95% of my boards work just fine on installation, though I have noticed that some come with odd configurations (jumper settings and such) that need to be corrected before the board is installed.
June 29, 2006 5:25:58 PM

In my 10 or so years of building and my 2 years of professional tech work I haven't found anyhting to be the perfect solution. I normally prefer ASUS, but I've had those fail on me too. Vertain models are of course better then others within a brand.

Gigabye (lots of nice features for a low price. You get what you pay for).
ECS, PCchips, and the "ones you've never heard of" have always been rather unreliable too.

My point is brand is very important, so pick a good one, but byond that make sure the specific version of the model you want is good. ASUS might be great and my favourite blah blah blah, but the P5GDC was a nightmare. I had several of those fail on me at work.

I always look at ASUS first. They can be a little more expensive, but bang for the buck balances with them quite well. Of course there's DFI for those with deeper pockets than mine, but nevertheless a good choice. Tyan makes good dual socket boards, but I don't mess witht hem for anything else. MSI and Abit I kind of hold about equally. MSI is known for DOA, but if you get a working one they tend to be pretty reliable, and they have good feature sets. (And they look friggin sweet!). Abit is another decent choice, but they tend to be on the cheaper side of things and take a few shortcuts.

Bottom line, research by model more than by brand. I bought an A8N5X; why? Because it was a brand I'm most comfortable with, that had the features I wanted, within my price range, and it got good reviews from most sources. It always a bit of a risk, but we do what we can to minimize that.

Constant Vigilance,
June 29, 2006 6:00:29 PM

Without doubt MSI.

I've seen so many of thier boards fail due to bad capacitors its not funny.

[first build 386 16mhz :)  ]
June 29, 2006 7:27:41 PM

Quote:
I'm talking about boards that are sold in a cardboard box, not ones that come in comodity Dells or HPs etc.


I realize Dell's are crap, but this thread is about boards from the companies that aren't White-Box Machines.
June 29, 2006 7:42:02 PM

I believe Dell buys cheap Foxconn boards and uses those in their systems.
June 29, 2006 7:57:39 PM

I think it's always going to be all over the map- just like the old engineer's addage: price, performance, reliability, you can choose any 2 you want...

Personally, I'm not a system builder per se, but I've done more than 300 builds in the last decade. I've had great luck with ECS, I've had an Epox board go bad, and they replaced it immediately, I'm still using a great gigabyte GA-8KNXP, and well, I agree, I'm not too keen on PCChips. But for all mission critical machines (most of my builds are custom machines needed in a hurry for work- things you can't buy off the shelf easily) I build on Asus motherboards - usually not the most full featured but always good quality in my experience.
June 29, 2006 8:00:47 PM

Quote:
I believe Dell buys cheap Foxconn boards and uses those in their systems.


Dell actually contracts with Intel to build their motherboards to their spec.

Foxconn is one of several suppliers of PSUs to Dell. If they are also building motherboards under license from Intel (and/or Dell) that's possible too.
a c 148 V Motherboard
June 29, 2006 8:04:03 PM

I haven't done a lot of regular building for some 10-12 years; one reason I'm here is to catch up. I want to say back in the early '90s we gave up on MSI because of DOA problems, but I couldn't swear that was the brand, and boards today aren't the ones from '91 anyway.
After some research, I used Abit for my two recent builds, but that's not a sufficient sample, nor is 4-5 months enough time to generalize; still, until given good reason, I'll probably stick with Abit.
June 29, 2006 8:27:12 PM

Quote:
Tyan, Asus, Shuttle, Abit, DFI, Jetway, Biostar, Epox, and PCChips


I have absolutely no idea why you'd waste your time with the boards I bolded above. Were you building servers or something?

I've been building PCs since 1977, and in that time I have "switched brands" many, many times. I generally recommend only one brand for each CPU manufacturer. Currently I'm well impressed with Gigabyte boards, and video cards. Their passive cooling policies are excellentm, and their quality is second to none.

Asus I no longer touch, after a lot of problems with south bridges - and poor audio support, as well as numerous problems with "incompatible" (!!) RAM. I wouldn't touch an Asus video card if you paid me. They always seem very noisy.

I used Epox for some time - but the name puts me off! :p  They were good boards for a while, but I haven't touched one in 3 years. At one point I remember overclocking an Athlon T-Bird by 70% on an Epox board! My client was very happy indeed.

You can never go wrong with an Intel board - that's one thing I've learned. I have never, never, ever had an Intel Mobo problem (except not being able to overclock!) and I guess I have specified intel motherboards in around 200+ PCs over the years.
June 29, 2006 8:44:32 PM

Intel boards are way overpriced and they can't be overclocked? No wonder I never ever buy Intel boards.
June 29, 2006 8:45:59 PM

iv'e built with biostar, ecs, asus, and gigabyte my only problem was with lack of bios support for biostar. my last 2 personel boxes have been gigabyte both work great without issues. my next build is the foxcon am2 board, hopfully my luck holds out :D 

holy crusader has it right though the powersupply is the heart of any system never skimp there and you'll be ahead of the game
June 29, 2006 9:07:04 PM

Quote:
Tyan, Asus, Shuttle, Abit, DFI, Jetway, Biostar, Epox, and PCChips


I have absolutely no idea why you'd waste your time with the boards I bolded above. Were you building servers or something?

With Tyan boards, yes, building servers. They are my favorite server board maker. Absolutely zero failures or problems in about 50 server builds. I'm using a 'recycled' (client wanted an upgrade) dual PIII 800 (slot) Tyan server as my work machine. Solid and flawless, and remarkably quick for its age.

The rest you bolded, and including Epox, I picked up in bulk when I bought someone else's "going out of business" inventory (and shortly discovered why they went out of business). It's pretty interesting to me that you picked almost all of them out of that list.

Quote:
I've been building PCs since 1977

No you haven't. Check your dates. The first IBM PC wasn't even available for sale until 1981, the first clone wasn't available unitl 1982, and the first generic individual PC motherboard with bios wasn't available for some years after that.
June 29, 2006 9:46:06 PM

I have had no end of trouble with DFI motherboards. I think they make some of the nicest looking boards, but they can be too finicky and are prone to break. My brother and I took about a week each working on a DFI LAN Party board for my dad's computer. Tried every single setting until finally got it to work after 2 weeks. I hoped it was a fluke and I bought a DFI for my acrylic case. That MB crashed and is now sitting pretty but not working.
I've also had trouble getting some cheap ECS boards to recognize the full speed of certain CPUs and will stay away from these as well.
June 29, 2006 10:11:58 PM

I checked my records and found that indeed I have had Asus failures, but only with the VIA Chipset, never with an Nvidia Chipset. As a matter of fact I've only had problems with the VIA Chipset boards and that's from different manufacturers, is that what you have found ?
June 29, 2006 10:32:28 PM

I've used just three boards in the years I've been building computers: Abit, MSI and ASUS. Of the 3, I've had the most issues with ASUS as, it seems, their neverending quest to put out the first boards of any given chipset has put their quality control into question - case in point, the terrible job of quality controlt hat they did with their recent 975x board with the Marvell controllers - something that they should have known when the board was issued.

Of the 3, I favor Abit the most, not only because of the quality of their boards but they have, in my experience, very good technical support, very helpful forums and excellent customer service. I've never had any problems with MSI's products but I don't purchase them in any frequency.
a b V Motherboard
June 29, 2006 10:52:12 PM

Quote:
Dell should be added to the list of bad boards. I don't do IT at work, but as of now one by one over the last nine month there are more than 10% of the Dell boards have exhibited the exploded or popped capacitors syndrome, and they are all roughly in the 2.5 to 3rd year of use when it happens. The company is getting them replaced by Dell because they paid for the service contract, but the bottom line is that is not a question of if you board will go and it is matter of when. And Dells attitude toward the whole thing is Dell will send a guy out to replace a board when the board goes, mean while the "next up" software and hardware engineers lose 2 days waiting for that guy. And this is after paying for the service contract. Dell's deals and low come on price don't look all that great in this light.


LOFL. Dell doesn't make anything. The motherboards are Intel. The only thing dell does is put it together, and stick their name on everything... nothing more.
a b V Motherboard
June 29, 2006 10:54:13 PM

I've put together a few dozen machines over the years and have had the best experiences/results with Tyan, Asus, and Abit. For stability and longevity, Tyan is #1 followed by Asus. For balls to the wall performance and features, I'd say Abit and Asus are about tied. I've had the least success with MSI, Epox, and PCChips. I think Gigabyte mobos are over rated. Put together a few low-end Skt 754 machines with ECS mobos and they are still humming along. Never tried any DFI products but am interested in an X2 or AM2 OC'ing gaming machine based on a DFI, maybe the LANParty series. Currently, I am running a Tyan mobo in my home workstation/file server and an Abit in my HTPC.
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