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A7N8X Serial ATA

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December 26, 2002 1:23:01 PM

Happy holidays everyone !

Up until yesterday, I was thinking about replacing my expired KT133A + raid m/b with another board that also supported SDRAM. However, a little thinking plus a response to a previous post has led me to bite the bullet and go DDR.

The board I am now interested in is the A7N8X. I could purchase a single strip of DDR first and keep my 1200 Athlon before moving onto dual ddr later when I can also upgrade my processor.

However, I have a few questions - specifically regarding the RAID abilities of this board that are now putting me off.

(1) Does the BIOS allow me to boot directly from a Serial ATA RAID array?

If the answer to (1) is yes, then

(2) Presumably there is a BIOS option to boot from an alternative device (Serial ATA/SCSI device)?

(3) Will other IDE drives attached to the normal IDE channels be recognized and be bootable if I changed the boot device in the BIOS?

(4) Are there any complications with doing a completely fresh install of XP PRO?

Finally - does the board come with serial cables and serial to IDE convertors. I dont want to have to lay out more money to use the facilities on the board.

At first, I was convinced that this board was the way to go - now I have nagging doubts. Someone please put my mind at ease.

Kind regards,

Skirmash

More about : a7n8x serial ata

December 26, 2002 2:12:45 PM

yes you can boot to a raid sata, and yes you could still put other drives into the ata slots, but as a general rule you dont want 2 bootable devices connected to the same pc. but yeah you can. the board gives you more options, not less. my raid boot was a western digital bug, nothing to do with mobo.

<A HREF="http://www.trsclan.com" target="_new"> Clan TRS is Back </A>
December 26, 2002 3:07:56 PM

Thanks Dreadnought.

Is there anything I need to be aware of in terms of installing XP with this board?

Presumably, I just install as normal and press F6 to install a 3rd party driver and it's plain sailing from there on in.

Incidently - do you get SATA to IDE convertors with the board or do you have to go out and by them separately?

regards,

Skirm
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December 26, 2002 3:39:38 PM

Happy holidays
I also hava a similar actual configuration and am also planing to do much of the same that you are doing (buy mainboard and memory now, wait a bit for the proc and the rest of the system) but my doubts are others:
Does the A7N8X DLx support 48-bit LBA addressing?
Can I use a 400MHz FSB cpu with this board?
Is the onboard sound better than a SB Live! 5.1?
I heard that one of the problems with this board booting was related to WD drives, does that apply to all WD drives or a faulty drive?
Thanks
December 26, 2002 4:45:08 PM

the wd issue is just that putting it as master doesnt let it boot, but that easy fix, just put to cable select. the WD hard drive issue isnt related to the motherboard, its just related to the drives themselves.

no, it comes with sata cables but not converters. i myself went with an adaptec 1200a raid controller and my ata hds and disabled sata.
400mhz fsb cpu? think your wording that one wrong. you can do 400mhz memory. but the 200fsb amd processors not gonna be out for a bit yet. you can set mb to 200fsb and run 400ram. intel hasnt hit 166yet.
i think the onboard sound is equal to or better than the sblive. i actualy enjoy it equal or more to the audigy. so if you have an audigy and dont have another pc to use it in then sure throw it in, but i wouldnt go out buying one for the board.

by the way this is all already listed in the forum

<A HREF="http://www.trsclan.com" target="_new"> Clan TRS is Back </A>
December 26, 2002 6:04:00 PM

Thanks
About the 400mhz, I was thinking of the 200mhz cpu's yet to come, (EV6 bus double-pumps the data no?) but I'm yet to find any info about them
abut the audio, I was thinking on the board, as a stopgap to put a real soundcard in my brother's pc, and keep the nvidia sound in that board for my pc, as later maybe i can buy an audigy2 or somewhat
Thanks again
December 26, 2002 6:52:06 PM

Serial to ATA converters are not included with the mobo. You get two serial cables that you may use. They are not very long though.

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
December 26, 2002 7:14:34 PM

Hey,

thx for your replies. it seems to me like the parallel to serial adapters are the biggest rip off there can be. The cheapest I have found are the SIIG ones for approx 30 bucks each.

Why would ASUS bundle 2 cables knowing that people would have to go out and spend significantly more on the adapters before the onboard RAID can be used?

I have considered going for a Highpoint RAID card, but from what I have read, the real benefit of the onboard SIIG Serial Controller is that its CPU usage is stunningly low compared to other RAID cards.

I just get very annoyed when this is nothing more than cynical plot. Asus must know that people are going to have to buy adapters. I understand that other motherboards with the Highpoint solution come with adapters. I wonder whether ASUS used this as a negotiating ploy with SIIG to reduce the purchasing cost of the SIIG controllers. The 'sell it to us at a reduced cost, cos people are going to have to go out and buy your adapters anyway'.

regards,

Skirm
December 26, 2002 7:52:46 PM

Yes, the adapters are expensive. My question is, "If you use the adapters what is your maximum transfer rate?" It seems an odd move for Asus to put the RAID on the serial ports. I think they are looking too far down the road (to SATA hard drives) rather than plotting against their customers. It is annoying though because most people are not using hard drives w/ SATA.

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
a b V Motherboard
December 26, 2002 8:12:17 PM

Serial ATA is the "Next big thing". Asus put it on their flagship board because it's a flagship feature. Never mind that current drives can't even fill current limits. People are always asking for products they won't use or won't get a benifit from, simply for bragging rights. They can claim things like "AGP8x is better than AGP4x, therefore my Ti4200-8x is better than your Ti4600" even though we know it isn't true.

<font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
December 26, 2002 8:40:20 PM

I have seen some links that say you will have conflicts if you put a RAID card on this mobo. Something about the onboard RAID conflicting even if you disable the SATA. You may have to drop $60 for the two converters. Anyway search for that thread before you make a purchase.

It is sounding more cynical the more I speak to you. haha

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
December 26, 2002 9:00:22 PM

Alrighty. I've got the Christmas money in and I've had my eye on this board. It'll be my first new board in a couple of years, so I'm a little rusty on my knowledge of all of this great new stuff. I have a few questions if I may:

1. Right now I've just got PC133 RAM, so I know I'm going to have to buy some DDR. Which is the best value at the moment? 2100, 2700, or 3200?

2. I've picked up that there is some way to use an adapter to connect an IDE hard drive to the Serial/ATA port. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If that's so, how much of a performance increase would I notice? I've got a WD ATA/100 drive at the moment.

3. My video card is a a GeForce 3 Ti 200. Will I notice any difference if it's plugged into an 8x AGP slot vs. a 4x?

4. I'm really dreading the answer to this one...and I kind of know it already, but I'll ask anyway. Will I have to reinstall Windows? I'm running the XP Home upgrade to 98.

Well, I know some of these questions may seem a little boneheaded, but I know this is the best place to find the answers. I'd appreciate any input you have.

Thanks.
December 26, 2002 9:16:38 PM

<A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?nam..." target="_new">Read this thread</A>. It will explain some things.

You want quality DDR RAM 2700 or greater. Get CAS2 no matter what. You can even find 3500 DDR RAM but that is not what you would call value.

You can get a SIIG Serial to ATA adapter that plugs into the back of your hardrive and allows you to use the serial cables and onboard raid if you so desire. The adapter is about $30. I can't tell you if you would have any increase in performance using the serial connections, but it would definitely give you access to the RAID functions.

Your video card is not capable of AGP 8x so I don't think it will do you any good. You might check to make sure that video card will work ok on this board. Someone else may be able to help you there.

I would do nothing less than a new install of Windows. Get the DSP/OEM version of XP home for $89 with hardware.

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
December 27, 2002 12:24:32 PM

the cables are about 60 dollars, and a lot of people have complained over their performance,including places reviewing this mobo. the speed would still be the maximum of the hard drive. however, no hard drive ever comes to even half that speed so you can just ingnore those speeds anyway. for about the same price as those cables you can purchase a high speed raid card. i went with the adaptec 1200a. THG gave a great review on raid controllers, i found the highpoint rocketraids hard to find vs the adaptec i was able to get at comp usa which was a bonus cuz i wanted it the day i went looking.

please read that official a7n8x thread. and make sure you set memory settings to aggressive in the bios.

<A HREF="http://www.trsclan.com" target="_new"> Clan TRS is Back </A>
December 27, 2002 2:31:41 PM

The serial cables come with the mobo. The are somewhat short but they are included. The adapter is what I was talking about. I have found it for $30.

So you still wouldn't see any increase in transfer speeds? The serial cables would just be eye candy.

I read a thread that said the onboard RAID could interfere with a RAID card. That is one of the reasons that people are looking to use the serial cables and adapters to take advantage of the onboard RAID.

Have you been able to use a RAID card with the A7N8X?

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
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