Looking for advice on a new socket A MB

Given the delays of Hammer and Barton, I am not postponing my upgrade anymore. Instead of a Hammer, I'll get a Tbred 2200+ (or 2400+ if it becomes available soon enough) to replace my trusty old 1400 tbird. But I could use some advice for a new motherboard, since I'll be giving my current ECS SiS735+1400 Tbird to a friend. I have the following requirements (or lack of requirements) :

*) 4 IDE channels to support my 4 harddisks, DVD and CDRW. No real need for RAID though. In fact, I'd prefer 4 real IDE channels so I could connect a harddisk to each of them, and a CD/DVD as slave (something I couldnt do with an old MSI board + onboard Promise RAID I used to have). I have had some bad experience with IDE raid..
*) I already have 2x256 MB of PC2100 CAS 2. I'd rather keep them, so 400 Mhz memory interface is not an issue for me. 3 or 4 DIMM slots would be nice though..
*) I have a Creative Audigy with Firewire. So onboard sound and/or firewire are not important. Could care less about USB 2.0 either
*) I have a GF4 Ti4200 so no need for onboard VGA
*) Good quality onboard LAN would be welcome
*) The motherboard should have mounting holes and sufficiently space around the cpu for my big MF Swiftech MC462 (the old one, not the smaller new MCX)
*) overclocking possibilities arent that important for me
*) stability *is*. I really want a "zero issue" board, that even with all PCI slots and 4 DIMMs occupied, still is stable.
*) thermal protection would be a big plus. At the very least a BIOS that shuts down above a certain temp to protect from fan failures
*) price is also an issue, though not the most important one.

If someone could point me to some reviews and/or give me motivated advice, I'd be most gratefull.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
5 answers Last reply
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  1. Abit Nv7-133r, nice Nforce 415d board, 3 dimm slots, onboard Lan, sound, minus the Geforce2 build in

    Epox 8k5a3+, kt333ce board, 4 dimm slots, 4 dimm slots, onboard Lan, some sound, good overclocker

    Soyo Sy-kt333 or kt400 ultra, kt333ce or kt400 board, 3 dimm slots, onboard Lan, good sound, lots of other crap built in (raid, USB 2.0).

    Soon enough, Intel will make the i845s...imagine dual channel Sdram...*shudder*
  2. I second the epoxy motherboard, either the 8k5a2 or 8k5a3.

    i dont think ANY motherboards come with 4 plain IDE channels, so u will need a raid equipped board.
    an interesting thing is the 8k5a3, it had not 2 but 4 raid channels, so you could well have a drive on each. very nice.

    and yes, the 8k5a fits bigass heatsinks like its older brother the 8k3a+. (im running with a mcx-462 on the 8k3a+ with lots of room to spare.

    epoxy boards are very stable too, they have excellent power regulation.

    while it doesnt have 'active' thermal shutoff, it does read the temp from the internal XP sensor, so responds quickly to fan failures. all that you have to do is set the shutoff temp in the bios.

    <b><font color=blue>I prefer to blend into the background, because it's much easier to sneak up on people and disembowel them that way. Arr!</b></font color=blue>
  3. ASUS A7V8X....good for future...serial ATA.......Gigabit Ethernet onboard.....good overall board so far.....

    <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=13597" target="_new">-MeTaL RoCkEr</A>
  4. MSI KT3 Ultra2 seems to meet your demand. However, it doesn't have onboard Lan. This board has great stability. But I don't know what would happen with all loaded PCI and DIMM slots. It should remain stable, but I can't give you exact information. Price is $79 at newegg, one of the cheapest full featured stable KT333 mobo.

    If you want rock solid stability, consider buying MSI K7N415 Pro or ASUS A7N266-C (nForce 415-D, w/o integrated grapgics). You have to sacrifice ATA-133, upgrade to future 166 FSB AXP's. Plus you will get onboard 10/100 Lan. Both boards are priced $100 at newegg.

    If you want a nForce board and don't need to use more than 3 PCI and 2 DIMMS, buy ASUS A7N266-VM (nForce 220-D). As you would not use integrated graphics, this board will give equal performance compared to nForce 415-D and 420-D boards. Has 10/100 onboard lan, no ATA-133, no way to upgrade to future 166 FSB AXP's. Micro-ATX form factor. Priced $84 at Newegg

    <b><font color=red> Long live piracy! </font color=red></b>
  5. Good suggestions on boards so far, so no need for me to comment there. :)

    I would like to comment on your stability issue though:
    *) stability *is*. I really want a "zero issue" board, that even with all PCI slots and 4 DIMMs occupied, still is stable.

    With all PCI slots full, the likelyhood of a "zero issue" board depends as much upon the PCI cards as it does upon the board itself. If you disable as much as humanly possible to free up resources such as IRQs, then theoretically all should be well there. Simply the more devices you have sharing these resources though, the higher the chance that at some point one of those devices will make the system unstable. Stability is only achieved through simplicity firsr, quality second, and luck third.

    Also from what I've read, four usable DIMM slots that don't cause instability are unlikely, which is why so many motherboards don't have four DIMM slots on them. To achieve it you generally have to populate those DIMM slots with just the right RAM (Registered and PC2100 at the least, I believe, as the higher memory timings just cause problems with that many DIMMs and the RAM needs to be registered in order to increase the latency and buffer the signals in order to negate as much of the noise as possible), because signal noise becomes more and more of a problem with the more devices installed. This means you can get a lot of RAM yes, but the RAM won't exactly be running at performance speeds. You'd probably be best running ECC while you're at it, just to help ensure stability with 4 populated DIMMs.

    <pre><A HREF="http://www.nuklearpower.com/comic/186.htm" target="_new"><font color=red>It's all relative...</font color=red></A></pre><p>
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