Again this is slated for PC3200 not PC2700. Does this mean digging into the bios to set memory timings manually? If so I would most certainly like to know that as I don't want to throw parts at her that will cause more trouble than its worth vs simply buying cheap 3200 memory.
bal, all modern memory modules (whether DDR or DDR2) have a small non-volatile memory (called an SPD) into which the manufacturer programs profiles of default timing info for different memory bus speeds. When set to "auto" mode for memory speed/timing, the motherboard reads this info at boot time and uses it to choose the memory speed/timing. A faster memory (e.g. PC3200) will also have slower profiles so it can be run automatically at slower speeds, on less capable MBs or when mixed with slower memory. Bottom line: no problem.
However, perhaps you could give us a better idea of the component budget/quality target for this build. You'll find that ECS doesn't have many fans, for good reason. Also, what specific CPU are you using? (533 MHz bus or 800MHz? 512K cache? 1MB cache?) The CPU's sSpec code would help (e.g. SL6WK is a "Northwood" 3GHz/512K/800MHz CPU w/HT technology.).
Another note: you are probably better off choosing a MB first, based on whether you want AGP or PCIexpress graphics, SATA or only PATA/IDE, builtin audio quality (e.g. basic vs Dolby Digital), firewire ports, number of USB ports, etc, and only then look for a CPU and memory compatible with that MB. The socket 478 MBs available now tend to be either off-brand (e.g. PC Chips, ECS), limited to older choices (e.g. AGP, PATA), or expensive.
LGA 775, OTOH, has CPUs from $47 on up, should be better for Vista (get a MB that can take at least 4GB of RAM), and has a number of good-quality, good-feature MBs available for lower prices just because they won't run Core2Duo CPUs.
Another note: you are probably better off choosing a MB first, based on whether you want AGP or PCIexpress graphics, SATA or only PATA/IDE, builtin audio quality (e.g. basic vs Dolby Digital), firewire ports, number of USB ports, etc, and only then look for a CPU and memory compatible with that MB.
The budget is the big issue here that is why I am giving her the parts. The CPU, memory, and video card together will save her a few hundred and without them the project stops. I would have given her my old P4S8X mobo but that has a faulty IDE channel and further isn't a MicroATX. This puts me in the position of needing a mobo capable of using the 478 chip, having an AGP slot, and able to take 184 pin DDR memory.
If I was starting from scratch I wouldn't use 478 as its an older technology and I am a fan of AMD on the desktop rather than Intel (use a 4400+ in my PC at home). I am also giving her a 160 gig IDE Seagate HD so IDE is needed as well. This means she needs a case and possibly a cheap sound card to get started. She already has a PSU, DVD burner, and the other perphirals needed. Sooo given my constraints what is the best 478 mobo out there in your humble opinion? I'd like to keep it under $100 (under $60 would be ideal) as we are obviously not taking about a super machine here. As it is the ECS mobo I mentioned costs $40, throw in a new MicroATX case for $100, and a SB Audigy for $49 and the new system is up for just around $200.
I don't see this PC running Vista as it will not be the main desktop but only coordinating the action between the TV, stereo, etc.