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motherboard problems and recommendations

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May 21, 2008 8:47:27 AM

hello all.

During my latest system build ive run into a few problems - im 70% its a motherboard issue so im looking to sell it on and then buy a new board.

Perhaps the best way to approach this is to give you my system spec, then a list of my issues and things ive tried and then you can tell me both what you think and give me some advice on which board to go for....

Core 2 quad Q6600
Arctic Freezer Pro 7 heatsink & fan
4 Gb Geil Ultra DDR2 6400 ram (4x1gb)
ECS NF650iSLIT-A Motherboard
Samsung Spinpoint 500gb Sata hard disk
Coolermaster Cav' 2 case
600w OCZ Psu
Point of view 8800GT 512mb
2x NEC optiarc dvd writers (IDE)
Windows Vista 64bit Ultimate

Riiiight, started off by chucking everything together (as you do) and went to install OS. After several attempts and blue screens (IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL).

After reading around the net i found that vista can be a funny bugger when installing on machines with 3gb of ram or more - so i removed 2 of the ram sticks and vista installed (took FAR longer than it should - but it did install).

Issues were there with vista when installed - wouldnt update... kept downloading updates and then giving me errors when trying to install the updates (a service stopped responding). But the key is it was working - to a fashion.

Tried installing the other 2 sticks of ram after the install and now my system is in a loop... vista attempts a boot and then hangs... then the system tries to reboot and so on. Ive also experienced 2 BSOD's sine installing the extra 2 sticks (another irql_not_less_or_equal and a memory_management on - i have the full codes if anyone wants them).

Now - after some digging ive found that with PC6400 this seems to be a common problem with ceratin motherboards when using all four dimm slots.

I know the motherboard works, as ive been using it in a previous build for some time. I know the ram is fine as ive tried it in a freinds system - yet im still having issues.

The thing is - even when i managed to get the OS installed when using 2gb it was FAR from stable.

Im come around to thinking that my motherboard and ram dont get along - for a start the geil ram is rated at 2.1volts yet the ecs board only goes upto 1.95v - when left on auto it sets the ram at 1.9... increasing the voltage doesnt help at all. I appreciate that this may well be clutching at straws..... but im stuffed if i know what else it could be.

So, with the above in mind ive decided to sell my ECS board and go out and buy an alternative. Im looking for a board thats gonna be decent for gaming (doesnt have to have SLI as i dont see the sense in running it - id rather buy a better GPU when the time comes that i need more power), has to have overclocking features - and has to support the geil ram.

The issue here is one of budget though - im broke so i need a board that satifies my needs without breaking the bank.

I know saying 'cheap' in the same breath as 'gaming' and 'overclocking' will raise a few eyebrows, but unfortunatley i dont have much of an option.

Whats the best alternative to an Nvidia chipset out there?

max spend = £50 - £60 is possible..... may be able to go Slightly higher if need be (obviously lower is a bonus - or if anyone knows of a fix for the ecs board that would be great).

thanks for the advice folks.




May 21, 2008 12:28:56 PM

bloomin 'eck - i need to proof read before i post!! sorry about that..... its the keyboard...honest ;) 
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May 21, 2008 12:29:58 PM

hiya mate - the timings are wrong in the bios actually - its got my geil running at cas 5 as where the timmings are actually 4-4-4-12.

I assumed that this was set by the board because of the lower than rated voltage for the dimms. I did try to switch them to the correct timings and i couldnt get the machine it post. I ended up having to clear the cmos to get the system back.

Those asus boards look ok - apart from the fact that the firat comment says they couldnt overclock the q6600!! lol.
May 21, 2008 12:55:02 PM

I have an MSI P35 Neo2-Fr running my q6600 @ 3.6Ghz

Running Patriot Ram Pc6400llc @ 4.4.4.12 @2.2c

Board is also slic modded :D 
a b V Motherboard
May 21, 2008 1:08:43 PM

Test the memory with memtest86+.

If you want a new motherboard, go with GA-P35-DS3L.
ECS is not a Tier 1 manufacturer, as you know.
a b V Motherboard
May 21, 2008 1:22:54 PM

Got to agree with you, for the system you have assembled, I would have started with just about anything other than ECS. It wasn't one of those Fry's CPU/Motherboard bundle's was it? They always run specials with a decent processor on a cheap/low end ECS board.
May 21, 2008 2:39:17 PM

No the board was left over from a previous system. Its been a good board but now ive upgraded and im gutted that im having problems.

I knew i shouldnt have tempted fate by buying crysis before putting the system together!!!!

anyway - so it that gigabyte board about the best of the 'cheapies' then? Ive seen an Asus P5K SE for £49.99 with free delivery (recon board).

like i say - im not fussed with SLI or the ability to use 45nm cpu's - as quite frankly, when i want to upgrade ill more than liklet sell this system on and buy a new set of components.

Im gutted im having to buy a new board at all - i was secretly hopig someone would be able to tell me a guaranteed work around!!
May 21, 2008 3:38:26 PM

an can i ask if the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L is a better or wose board than the XFX Nvida 680i Lt ??

there of a comparable price so itd be nice to get the better one of the two - especially when it comes to overclocking etc
May 22, 2008 7:19:36 AM

Ok - some progress.....

Ive manually adjusted the timming's of the ram in the bios - as well as set the voltage at the board maximum of 1.95v.... and ive dropped it from 800Mhz to 667Mhz.

I can now boot into windows and use the system. It's not the best situation, and im still having issues with Windows - but at least its a working system.

Still going to look at changing the motherboard though.... so id still be interested to hear your views on the gigabyte board mentioned above vs Asus p5k SE vs XFX 680i LT

cheers for your input so far everyone....
a b V Motherboard
May 22, 2008 12:29:10 PM

Go with the 680i OR 780i if you want to do SLI, otherwise go for GA-P35-DS3L.
!