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Help with motherboard choice

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January 7, 2007 2:04:09 AM

Posting here to get the most feedback possible. What motherboard would be easy for a first-builder like myself, and give good life with many abilities (DVD authoring, video editing, tiny bit of gaming, etc.)? Here's what I already have or am getting (only RAM, mobo, and CPU left to get!):

Xion Onyx mid-tower;
Antec Truepower Trio 550W power supply;
Maxtor Diamondmax 21 hard drive 300gb (SATA);
ATI Radeon x1600pro 512mb PCI-E graphics;
Samsung 18x DVD "super-writemaster" w/ligthscribe;
LG 18x "super multi dvd rewriter" (yes, 2 dvd multi drives);
Soundblaster Audigy2 Platinum (from current rig - maybe upgrading this soon, but ok for now);
Rosewill RCX-Z3 Ball CPU Cooler;
Intel core2duo e6400 Conroe lga 775 - still need to buy;
2gb Corsair xms2pro (TWIN2X2048-6400PRO) - still need to buy;
Will run XP pro to begin with, and possibly Vista Business later
(WILL I NEED 2 IDE/PATA at any point??) Thanks!

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a b V Motherboard
January 7, 2007 4:20:07 PM

Quote:
...(WILL I NEED 2 IDE/PATA at any point??)...
Need? no. You may want to buy a PCI -->IDE card for the extra optical drive. Try it out without one and see if you really need the extra speed.
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January 7, 2007 6:30:52 PM

Quote:
(WILL I NEED 2 IDE/PATA at any point??) Thanks!

Not sure I really understand the question. Isn't that something you are much more likely to know than we? :?

If the only PATA devices you will ever install are the two you've already mentioned, then perhaps not. As Newf mentioned, it's a matter of how you intend to use the optical drives. There can be performance problems when you attempt to simultaneously use two optical drives sharing the same PATA cable/controller. The scenario you are most likely to run into problems with is if you attempt to burn a DVD or CD in both drives simultaneously. If you are pretty sure you will want to do that, then getting a PCI bus IDE controller might be what you want to do. That way both optical drives would have their own PATA controller and so would not "interfer" with each other when used simultaneously.

You can either buy an inexpensive controller new from someplace like newegg.com or you could get a used "name brand" PATA controller card from ebay for around the same price. It's your comfort zone and your call.

Another option are the PATA-SATA converter boards like this Serial ATA (SATA) to IDE Converter. The converter dongle is supposed to allow you to connect a single PATA IDE or ATAPI device to one of the SATA ports on your motherboard. When they work these adapter dongles are great! (IMO) But the emphasis here is on the "when they work" clause. I've had good luck with the one I linked to with PATA hard drives. Not so much with optical drives (... but that could also just be a consequence of my antiquated and convoluted system).

Ya pays ya's money and ya takes ya's chance. (Or better yet, borrow one from a friend to see if it works. :wink:) 

At any rate, I'd suggest actually getting your system up and running before worrying about this matter. Always better to make sure you actually have a problem that needs to be solved before rushing to spend money to solve it, no?

-john, the redundant legacy dinosaur
January 7, 2007 6:46:09 PM

Quote:
2gb Corsair xms2pro (TWIN2X2048-6400PRO)

Are you planning on overclocking your new system? PC6400 and the S3 or DS3 Gigabyte boards Newf recommended are good choices if you want to overclock (or even if you just want to leave open the option to overclock).

However, if you're not going to overclock, then the PC6400 is not going to buy you enough of a performance gain to justify the money you will spend on it (IMO).

-john
January 7, 2007 8:30:40 PM

Thanks newf and zjohnr!! I'm getting good feedback on the DS3, so I'm leaning that way. I will probably overclock only a tad, to begin with, it being my first time trying to OC (probably 2.8, maybe 3). As you proposed, I want such options available as my hardware knowledge grows -- although hardware will always outgrow such knowledge, hehe.
Sorry zjohnr for the vague question! You were spot on when you figured I was talking about the optical drives. There will be occasions on which they will both be running, and I don't have experience with running more than one optical, which led to my (poorly worded) question. I think I'll take your advice on purchasing a PATA controller. I'll do some research into the PATA-SATA converters, but I need to get started with something that is likely to work -- although, I understand that any piece of hardware may be faulty, regardless of the circumstance.
I wish I could borrow parts from my buddies, but they are of the 'buy it from Fry's because it is on sale for 10 cents' crowd -- hence, my poor knowledge regarding hardware --, and I'm trying to take it to the next level. I'd prefer to just do the research and go the purchase-it-and-risk-it route, hehe.
Thanks for the feedback/input!!
January 7, 2007 8:32:52 PM

I like MSI because generally the book that come with it is pretty good re installation and BIOS. Also, if you have or are planning on getting a camcorder, it would be a good idea to get a mobo with onboard firewire
January 7, 2007 9:34:13 PM

Quote:
I'll do some research into the PATA-SATA converters, but I need to get started with something that is likely to work

If you find out anything useful, please post a link. I'd be interested. The converters seem to be a hold-over from when SATA first came onto the market. At that time most of the SATA hard drives were actually just PATA logic drives with a SATA converter bridge chip glued on. The dongles never seem to have really taken off. Probably because of the off-putting comments from the people who tried them and had no joy for whatever reason.

As I said, the best approach is probably to get your system up and then check to see if you actually have any problems in this area. Just try doing two simultaneous 16x burns ... in test mode, naturally :wink: ... and see what happens. If you experience data dropouts during either burn then you should be able to correct this by connecting one drive via a PCI PATA controller card.

Using a PCI controller is probably the most reliable way to go, especially for optical drives. I mentioned the converter dongle option mostly as a "FWIW". One of the reasons I'm less fond of the PCI controller card approach is a personal pet peeve of mine. With Windows XP (or earlier) a PCI IDE controller will show up under the "SCSI and RAID controllers" section of the Device Manager. The consequence of this for hard drives is that you cannot access the S.M.A.R.T. features of the drive. In particular, you can't get a temperature reading off of the hard drive.

Not really a problem, as far as I know, for ATAPI optical drives. S.M.A.R.T. is for hard drives, not optical drives.

One possible thing to consider when looking at PCI controllers is whether or not the controller has a BIOS. I think if you want to be able to boot from a device attached to a PCI controller card it needs to have its own BIOS code so that it can detect and use a device attached to it at boot time. Not positive about this, but I think it may be true. But it's only an issue if this is anything you might care about ... which it probably isn't.

-john, the redundant legacy dinosaur
January 8, 2007 7:54:50 AM

I do care. I'm always interested in learning about various ways to create an effective set-up. If I find anything new, I'll post up. Thanks a million for your input!!!
I'm now looking at the S3 due to price/performance. It looks like the S3 will do everything I need it to do, and I have not found any good reason to not take advantage of the low cost.
Anyone have overclocking BIOS specs for going 2.8mhz on a S3 with a E6400 CPU and 2GB Corsair XMS2pro PC2-6400 (TWIN2X2048-6400PRO)? :lol:  (Overclocking is the only thing I'm still nervous about)
a b V Motherboard
January 8, 2007 6:37:27 PM

For you booting off the controller card will not be an issue. You only need 1 optical drive for this. I'd just run the top DVD through the motherboard IDE and use it for all OS and program loading as well as any boot issues. Don't worry about having to boot off the 2nd drive. You never will have to.
If you really want 2 native IDE channels, then look at the Asus P5N-E motherboard which has them. It uses the brand new 650i nVidia chipset. I see no reason to abort plans for the Gigabyte though, even if you have to get an extra controller card for a 2nd IDE channel...

Here's a reference to the P5N-E:
Asus P5N-E SLI 775/nF650i $145+6 1/6/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Asus P5N-E Review 12/22/06
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2894

Need more IDE channels?
Sabrent PCI-->IDE controller $16+? 11/05/06
http://www.directron.com/sbtrdit.html
Addonics ADIDEPXRJ PCI-E-->IDE controller $30+10 11/05/06
http://www.shopaddonics.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=ADIDEPXRJ
January 8, 2007 10:52:25 PM

Thanks newf!! I'll definitely look into the controllers you posted up. I'll get the system on its feet, and then do the burn test that was suggested earlier in the thread. If need be, I'll go the PCI IDE controller route. I've looked at that ASUS, and it looks like a good board. Do you think it overclocks as well as the S3 seems to?
Yeah, the 2nd IDE on the board itself was an option I was interested in; but, if having the PCI controller will do close to the same thing, I'd rather stick one of those on a board that seems to be working well for others who have done what I wish to do -- overclocking an e6400 to 2.8 with the Corsair, with stability. I'm reading good things about the S3, on Newegg, Tom's, and a couple of smaller forums. I know it sounds cheap, but its price makes it very attractive -- coupled with the reviews I'm reading of it. I'm trying very hard not to be naive about such an important purchase, so that is why I am greatful for the options that you are all elucidating! My pockets are way too skinny to support a fried mobo or RAM, so I'm trying hard to lower the risk of hardware failure. The feedback I'm getting here is awesome, and has probably been the biggest help so far!
!