Few questions about building a system ...

Hi, a friend of mine gave me an abit KT7 motherboard (no RAID) as a gift and I'm trying to put together a system for the first time but I have no idea what I'm doing here ...

The motherboard chipset is VIA Apollo KT133 (VT8363 and VT82C686A), and the manual says it supports Ultra DMA/66 IDE protocol. I'm wondering if I can use a ATA-100 hard drive if I buy a separate RAID card that supports ATA-100? The reason I'm thinking about buying a RAID card instead of a ATA-100 controller is because I'll buy another harddrive in the future (when I can afford it) and run RAID (if it's even possible with this motherboard?). Or is it not possible to run a single harddrive with a RAID card? Actually come to think of it, is it even possible to run a ATA-100 harddrive at all on this motherboard (eg. either using an ATA-100 controller card or RAID card)?

Also, I'm wondering what the difference is in RAM? I checked pricewatch.com and I see some really cheap 256 MB RAM ($29 or so? don't know the price off hand ...) My question is, are there any drawbacks for using cheap RAM instead of using, for example, Kingston value RAM (or is that bad too?). I heard that using cheap RAM might cause you to crash a lot so I thought I should check with you guys to make sure before I go and buy it.

Thanks for your help!
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Your ATA-100 drive will work fine, but only at ATA-66. No problem and I doubt that you will even see any difference. Just use the onboard controller until you know exactly what you want to do with the system.

I would alway recommend buying quality name brand memory, especially with the very low prices now available. I have used generic, but now buy only Crucial. I have yet to be shipped a bad stick, and their prices are very competitive. Lifetime warranty from a company that will probably be around if you ever need to exercise it.

I'm agree with jlauster's comment your can plug a ATA-100 hard disk to your the motherboard but only runs at ATA-66. For your information, ATA and DMA is the same. ATA-100 means that the transfer rate of your data from your hard disk to your RAM and other primary storage at 100MB per second. Some of the exmaples in the market are Seagate U5 Series and Seagate Baracudda ATA III, Quantum Fireball LD and AS Series; and etc. Baracudda ATA III and Fireball AS series is much more expensive because they're running at 7200rpm (revolution/rotation per minute). You can say that these series of hard disk is faster than the other two series physically.

For the RAM case, it's depends on someone's taste. For me, Kingston and Apacer RAM is better although they're quite expensive but they offers life time warranty, man! Instead like Hyundai, Samsung and other brand that you haven't hear before, they didn't offer life time warranty and can be considered as 'cheap' RAMs. If you but these type of RAMs, you just have to pray that it's just work when you slot them into your motherboard. If not, you have to go back to the shop and claim for exchange. Beside that, make sure you buy the correct type of RAMs for your motherboard and CPU such PC100 SDRAM, PC133 SDRAM, PC800 RDRAM, DDR RAM (266MHz) and etc.
The KT7 can't use new single bank 128Mb DIMMs that have the chips in a 4x16 configuration, get 8x or 16x DIMMs and you'll be fine.
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Oh, that comment applies to 256Mb too, which may be two banks of 128Mb 4x16. 256Mb in a 4 bank config may only work on it's own, when another DIMM is present it's socket may lose control of 2 banks. Buy carefully.
As far as the RAID card goes, I am currently running a single 20 GB drive through a a Promise FastTrak 66.  Every RAID card should do this or what would be the point of mirroring?  I'm only running one drive because the other one failed.  I have an Iwill card that does the same thing.

For RAM compatibilty, the best advice I can give is to check teh mother board manufacturer's web site, download the manual for your board and read it.  The second best advice is to stick with good memory.  Crucial Technologies (Micron) is an excellent choice.


Good luck and have fun!
ooops, sorry, confused the KT7 for K7V, please ignore my comments.
- You can put a ATA-100 HDD on the onboard ATA-66 controller. It will run fine at ATA-66. In real life, there is not much difference in performance between ATA-100 and ATA-66.

- You can put 1 HDD in RAID, although there is not much use in doing so. Beware that if you add another HDD in the RAID array, you may have to rebuild the whole RAID array. I don't know for RAID 1 (mirroring), but I am sure you have to do this if you want to use RAID 0 (striping). This means: backup up the complete HDD content, adding the new HDD in the array, restoring all data from the backup.

- RAID arrays run best with identical HDDs. If you want to use RAID, yuo should consider spending your money now on 2 identical HDDs. If you want speed, buy a 7200 RPM HDD. All major brands (IBM, Seagate, Maxtor) have affordable drives with 7200 RPM speed. IMHO, ATA-100 is wasted on a 5400 RPM drive.

- RAM: if you can afford it, buy brand. I use RAM from Infineon. I have to join the others in the comment about RAM configuration of the 256MB modules. Use double sided modules with 4x16 layout. Don't be scared to put in lots of RAM. Now it is cheap. Nobody knows how long this will remain, because SDRAM technology is phased out and it will be replaced by DDR-SDRAM and RAMBUS RDRAM on the long run.

- CPU: do you already have a CPU? If not: buy one with 133 MHz Front Side Bus. It makes the system faster and 133 MHz RAM is not more expensive than 100 MHz RAM (in fact, sometimes it's cheaper!)

- How about other components (graphics card, soundcard, CD-ROM or CD-RW etc.). Do you have that already?

- One last thing: This is a system with an AMD CPU. Take a 250W, or better, 300W power supply in your PC. AMD CPUs eat more power than intel CPUs. You want to use RAID in the future: more HDDs means more power usage. Nothing is more fustrating than a PC that does not run 100% stable because of power supply problems.



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Thanks maa621 for "promoting" my comment to answer! If you should need any advice on other components, let me know.
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