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Seeking help in finding a8n32-sli (939) alternative

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March 2, 2007 3:08:26 AM

Hi all,

I have been fighting the 2 machines in my studio trying to get them to be noise free. The problem manifests itself no matter what soundcard I use (internal realtek850, internal PCI prosumer cards, i.e. Delta 1010LT, or even external Firewire soundcards).

What I get is noises when moving mouse, dragging windows, as well as there is a constant soft crackle.

We've tried the following to fix the noise (based on the feedback from various websites):

*different soundcards (internal, PCI, firewire)
*muting various channels (even if all channels are muted, the noise is still there)
*exchanging power supply
*removing entire motherboard from the case to see if there was some ground loop inherent to the computer case
*changed motherboard from a8n-sli to a8n32-sli
*disconnecting case speaker is not an option since these cases don't have one

All this, and no change.

So, the only remaining conclusion we have at this point is that a8n-sli series motherboards are worthless. Since the system is still under warranty, our seller is considering allowing exchanging motherboard for a different comparable one.

Since the cpu is socket 939 (as well as RAM etc.), we need to stick to socket 939 boards (AM2 may be a possibility but we won't know for sure until we exhaust all 939 options).

So, here are the questions for the AMD community:

1) is anyone else experiencing these problems?

Here's how to test this out:
i)These noises may or may not be apparent via regular headset hooked-up into the machine, but they are definitely very audible and prominent when computer output is amplified through a mixer or an external speaker set.
ii)Please make sure to mute audio before moving on with the test that you don't damage your hearing and/or equipment--the noise should be there even if the sound is muted.
iii)Once you hook-up external speaker set, try cranking up sound relatively loud and see if there is still some buzzing/crackling noise.
iv)If you hear a soft hiss, this is ok, but there should be no other buzzing, crackling, and/or popping noises (either rhythmic, or associated with various operations, such as dragging windows across the screen and/or moving mouse)

2) what alternative 939 motherboard would you recommend which for sure does not have these problems (please use aforesaid test to see if they do or do not)

3) is there a good alternative chipset to nforce4 for 939 socket chips and if so which one would you recommend (again please do the aforesaid test)

4) there is ABIT AT8 32x crossfire motherboard which apparently has newer nforce chipset and is compatible with 939 chips. But, given that we have Geforce 7600GT video cards in our computers, will they be compatible with this motherboard given that it has ATI's chipset?

Last but not least, a small suggestion. Most of the current motherboard reviews skim across some of the fundamental audio features. Thus, please allow me to suggest providing a more in-depth review of motherboards (i.e. using aforesaid test with internal as well as external soundcard) in order to ascertain their audio capability and/or build quality.

I would greatly appreciate any help I can get in this matter!

Thank you very much!

Sincerely,

Ico
March 2, 2007 9:17:42 PM

Quote:


4) there is ABIT AT8 32x crossfire motherboard which apparently has newer nforce chipset and is compatible with 939 chips. But, given that we have Geforce 7600GT video cards in our computers, will they be compatible with this motherboard given that it has ATI's chipset?

abit's equivalent of the A8N32 is the AN8 32X.
The AT8 32X doesn't use an nForce chipset but the ATi RD580.
It will happily run a 7600GT but can't do SLI (no driver support).
March 2, 2007 11:38:10 PM

Quote:

abit's equivalent of the A8N32 is the AN8 32X.
The AT8 32X doesn't use an nForce chipset but the ATi RD580.
It will happily run a 7600GT but can't do SLI (no driver support).


You are absolutely right. I made a typo in my original post suggesting that AT8 was nforce-based. While I was aware that it was ATI-based, I wasn't sure if Geforce cards played well with it. So, thank you for your clarification. BTW, I am not interested in SLI, so as long as this motherboard does not have issues a8n series do (namely noises), this could be the winner.

So, does anyone have AT8 32X and if so, could you please do the aforesaid noise test?

Many thanks!

Best wishes,

Ico
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a b V Motherboard
March 3, 2007 12:33:20 AM

I also had sound problems with the ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe, I'm presently running a DFI NF4 SLI-DR Lanparty which has not the first time had sound issues, I just did your test with the speakers at maximum volume and got no sound distortion, feedback, or really even a loud hiss.
March 3, 2007 12:59:05 AM

Quote:
I also had sound problems with the ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe, I'm presently running a DFI NF4 SLI-DR Lanparty which has not the first time had sound issues, I just did your test with the speakers at maximum volume and got no sound distortion, feedback, or really even a loud hiss.


Thank you for your feedback!

There is another part of the test which usually needs to be performed to assess the S/N ratio for soundcards but is more volatile. Namely, it consists of pretty much the same test except this time *without* muting the soundcard (and thus also keeping volume lower just in case if you receive some aural event during the testing time, such as "you got mail!" kind of stuff or other OS sounds; but the volume still has to be louder than usual so that you can hear the noise floor). This is because some boards are good at blocking noise when all outputs are muted but as soon as they are unmuted they cause all kinds of problems. Such boards are still a lot more manageable than what I've encountered with a8n series because you can at least disable the built-in soundcard (which usually is worthless anyhow), and put another prosumer or external pro audio card to do audio right without any interferences which only affect internal board.

This kind of a test would give you a better understanding how good the internal soundcard really is.

Naturally all these tests are also limited by the quality of speakers and/or wiring. Still, in most if not all cases, noises inherent to built-in audio are so discernible that they should not require a top-notch equipment to pinpoint.

So, if you feel like you could do this kind of a test, it would be interesting to hear what you've learned by listening. A recording of the audio would be even better. These kinds of tests is really what every review of a motherboard with a built-in soundcard should have. Another test that comes to mind is testing how good is the soundcard driver (which in many cases despite a decent hardware is so atrocious it renders the audiocard useless), especially in multichannel setting.

Best wishes,

Ico
March 3, 2007 3:02:50 AM

Quote:
BTW, I am not interested in SLI, so as long as this motherboard does not have issues a8n series do (namely noises), this could be the winner.

So, does anyone have AT8 32X and if so, could you please do the aforesaid noise test?

I had both AN8 32X & AT8 32X & never noticed that.
Of the 2 I marginally preferred the AN8 32X but that could well be due to several years of familiarity with nForce chipsets - the RD580/ULi southbridge combination was a novelty to me.

I am led to believe that the A8N32 was notorious for noise but afaik mostly for buzzing/whistling inductors/caps.
March 3, 2007 3:09:13 AM

Interesting problem you have. As 4Ryan6 might remember, I've had a number of problems with the ASUS A8n32-SLI deluxe, going through four of them in a year. One problem I never had with any of them was sound quality. It could be an individual circumstance. My mouse has not caused noise when moving, nothing when dragging windows about, just silence when there is supposed to be silence (except for various fans) and no hissing or whatever when using the speakers.

I use a X-FI Platinum sound card and have Klipsch 5.1 THX speakers with the highest quality wires that I could find. Perhaps that makes some difference, but I couldn't swear to it in any way. As I've rebuilt my computer a number of times over, I might also have a particular grounding or setting of the sound system that has helped. Could even be the case design itself, just don't know. I do not, nor have ever used the built in sound card with this motherboard. The one thing I did do was to get updated drivers for the sound card, which Creative admitted were an initial problem and they fixed it quickly.
a b V Motherboard
March 3, 2007 3:33:03 AM

I was using an X-FI Extreme Music and my sound problems occured in SLI mode, terrible popping and crackling and nothing seemed to resolve it but pulling the second video card.

I'd always wondered if it was because the only useable PCI slot on the M/B was the slot between the 2 PCI-E slots, and somehow conflict or corruption occured?

My present DFI and also an EPoX 9NPA3 SLI I've used have never had any sound issues, with the Creative X-FI, but as you, I haven't used the onboard sound at all on any of the M/Bs.
March 3, 2007 3:59:27 AM

Things to think about!
Having replaced all of the components some additional questions are in order.
Could there possibly be outside interference? something is leaking frequency
What kind of mouse is it? this may sound dumb but,
You might try replacing it. might be motherboard/mouse combo problem.


________________
Knowledge has never been known to enter the head through an open mouth
March 3, 2007 5:13:22 AM

Quote:
Things to think about!
Having replaced all of the components some additional questions are in order.
Could there possibly be outside interference? something is leaking frequency
What kind of mouse is it? this may sound dumb but,
You might try replacing it. might be motherboard/mouse combo problem.


Thanks for your post. Regarding your suggested option, I deem this unlikely as the two machines in question are in different buildings, and are using different keyboard and a mouse (one is wireless combo, while other is conventional wired USB stuff). More so, one of them was at one point tested with KVM+Apple keyboard/mouse. No change whatsoever.

Like some of the other posts have suggested, USB buses on these are separate from the PCI bus which drives internal soundcard, internal PCI soundcards, as well as FW for external soundcards. As a matter of fact, it has been suggested to look into an USB soundcard to see if that one has any noise pollution. I however, do not wish to resort to that option for two reasons:

1) most of the USB soundcards are prosumer at best, and we need pro

2) this looks like a way to fix the issue with scotch tape which for an expensive professionally customized machine under warranty seems unnecessary. If anything this gives us opportunity to exercise our right to use the warranty we paid big bucks for.

Best wishes,

Ico
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