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motherboard suggestions

Posted on 2003-11-14
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I'll be helping some people build PCs soon, as well as repairing my PC.  If you haven't yet followed along, my PSU killed my motherboard.  Nice, right?

First board - mine:
MSI K7N-2 Delta; nForce 400 chipset, dual channel DDR; no SATA, no expansion card sound output options, nor built-in IDE RAID.  I will need a board to replace my current one (colored ram slots, no fan on chipset heatsink) or another nForce 400-based board.

Second board - something for a friend's PC:
Shuttle AN35N; nForce 400 chipset, dual channel DDR to start off.

What's the difference between a A7N8x-X and a A7N8x-Delux?  The X came out after the Delux, but AlbertaBeef told me in another forum that the D's faster.  Why?

K7N-2 Delta - Athlon XP 2000 (soon to be upgraded to something... I"m not sure what), 512MBs DDR400 CL2 ram (soon to be 2×512MBs OCZ DDR433 LL ram)
AN35N - Athlon XP 2500, 2×256MBs DDR333 CL2.5 ram
A7N8x - Athlon XP 1800-2800, 512MBs DDR400 CL2 ram (after I upgrade my ram to DDR433)

Could I have links and suggestions for these boards?  I've allocated 75 points per board so that we may have wholesome discussions about each one.

I really need any information at all.  Have any people had hardware conflicts with these?  I need links, hardware conflicts, and any topics of interest that concern these boards.  

Thank you very much,
Radomir Jordanovic
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Question by:radomirthegreat
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by:kiranghag
ID: 9752414
>>A7N8x - Athlon XP 1800-2800, 512MBs DDR400 CL2 ram

just by comparing the specs given here...i can suggest X would be better choice.
it has faster processer and faster memory (ddr333>ddr400)
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by:kiranghag
ID: 9752418
ooops, please read that as (ddr333<ddr400)
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752450
I was told that the X is not as good as the Delux.  Why is that?
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752466
http://www.essencompu.com/nupplysingar.asp?ID=4579

What's Realtek audio?  Is there an AN35N board with something else?  Is there something better that I can expect to find?

I have just realized that I will have lots of questions, so I have taken the question's total value to 300.

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752528
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9752536
As mentioned in another TA:  The 'Deluxe' (in the new PCB revisions) fully supports 400MHz FSB, not just 333MHz.  Asus has certified it for the 400MHz system bus CPU's as well as the X.

The other things that make the Deluxe better than the X are:

SerialATA
Firewire
nForce 'SoundStorm' audio (the X has a 6 channel realtek which isn't as good)

among other things.

So basically, these boards all run the same cpu's (in the new PCB versions) and perform almost identical to each other,  but the Deluxe is a more feature-rich board.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752647
Something has crossed my mind...  I'm being horribly bothered by Atlas Precision memory.  I can't stop wondering about it.  www.portatech.com sells memory sticks that are called Atlas Precision.  I was just looking through them, and I've found out that they aren't Atlas ram.  I'm confused.  Please go look for yourselves.  It seems the ram is either Samsung, Micron, or Infenion.  That seems to be a horrible thing to use for dual channel DDR.  Could you recommend different ram?  I need PC-2700 CL2.5 ram that will allow my friend to have dual channel ram.  Any suggestions?  Kingston or Corsair is not necessary - this is a budget system.

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752651
Don't worry about the onboard audio for the AN35N.  My friend's going to get an Audigy Platinum 6.1.  
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by:kiranghag
ID: 9752659
do you get hyundai for ram there..
here we get either hyundai or samsung. those are pretty common and have been reliable enough
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9752676
I can pretty much order anything once I find it.  Samsung?  That's what Portatech sells...  Could I keep sending back ram if it's not Samsung and end up with two S. sticks?  Would it be worth it?  Can I have some links?

Update:
A7N8x boards - 1 more question: Why is the X even sold if the Deluxe is better?  Is it to let consumers save money?  After that, the A7N board question is done.

AN35N - I'd like some Samsung ram for this.  What's the cheapest XP 2600 333 CPU that's available in the US?  Can I have a link for a Volcano 7, please?

K7N-2 Delta - I'd love to get my board working again, but if I don't, should I order another one like it?  I enjoyed using that board.  Can WinXP handle a board change without a driver update if it's the same platform and from the same manufacturer?

Thank you so much for the help.  I'm sorry if this isn't too challenging.  I try to work out my own stuff and back it up with you guys.
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9752924
remember with RAM modules that there are actually very few companies that even make their own chips and modules.  Most only assemble RAM modules with other peoples chips.

Because of this you don't always know what you're getting.  For instance, when you order Kingston RAM, do you know for sure what kind of chips will be on it?  No, you don't.  they don't make chips, they just assemble the module itself and market it.  

So I'm hard pressed to say 'buy samsung' or 'buy hyundai' or 'buy infineon' because you never know the overall quality of the board and the chips on it.

That's why I'm picky about the memory I sell.  Meaning I'm picky about what I buy.  I don't buy generic RAM ever.  I've used Kingston Hyper-X modules, but only because I'm sure that they'll use the best / most stable chips they can when they assemble that board.  I'd never buy Kingston 'valueram' however.

So it pays to pick from a major RAM vendor with performance-oriented modules.  OCZ, Corsair, Kingston Hyper-X are all currently using very good product in their top-line modules, and I'm very happy with them because of this.
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9752938
As for the Asus 'X' vs. Deluxe:  Why do they make the 'X'?  There's a market for it.  It's a less-expensive board than the A7N8X Deluxe (much less expensive) for those who want an nForce2 Ultra400 board without the frills, but still want the Asus name.

There's lots of people out there who don't need (or care about) serial ATA, Firewire, the difference between audio, dual LAN, etc. that's offered in the more expensive Deluxe board.
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9752951
On the boards:  Are you looking for recommendations on motherboards??  Is that what you want?  Or do you want our opinions of the boards you mentioned?
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by:kiranghag
ID: 9752966
>>So I'm hard pressed to say 'buy samsung' or 'buy hyundai' or
i support this comment of yours.

but i guess hyundai and samsung are both into chip making, so we can safely recommend them

correct me if i am wrong...
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9753045
>>hyundai and samsung are both into chip making..

But do they make modules as well?  It's important if purchasing RAM to specify the assembler of the board to really know what you want.  Anybody can take Samsung or Hyundai chips and put them on a crap PCB.

It's not always easy to tell what you have, either.

If you remove the copper heat-spreader from the OCZ modules, for instance, you'll see chips labelled "ocz" which is fascinating considering they don't make chips. . .   I'm guessing they're purchasing blanks, and their chips behave somewhat like hynix rev. b chips, and other reviewers have suggested that, but only OCZ knows for sure who made their chips.

BTW, Corsair and Mushkin are also currently using the rev. b Hynix chips in their high-end product.
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by:kiranghag
ID: 9753083
http://www.hynix.com/eng/

http://www.samsung.com/Products/Semiconductor/DRAM/index.htm

they both seem to be in module making..
hyundai seems to be taken up by hynix
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9754129
I'd like recommendations for boards and opinions of them.  I'm malevolently disturbed by my AK32E, since it's caused my such pain and agony.

Put yourself in my shoes:  You've been planning and saving up, and finally the day has come - you're ready to boot up the first computer you ever built with the parts you earned through hard work.  You press the power button and - - - -...  Oh?  You check the wires, you understand the standoffs are there, everything's plugged in; you press the power button and...  Uh-oh.  So you go to the local PC store to buy a $115 other motherboard, pay $90 for estimates, motherboard installation (you're sick of it), and hardware diagnostics.  You take the computer home and order new ram for it, since it doesn't have both ram slots.  You have to wait.  Finally, you get your PC up and running, and then you buy another power supply.  There goes the motherboard!  It seems the manual for the first motherboard was misprinted, so it's actually been fine the whole time.  Oopsies.

Please help me avoid more garbage.  Any recommendations would be great.

Can I get dual channel DDR with 1 Samsung 512MB PC-3200 stick and one Micron 512MB PC-3200 stick?  Both are pretty much the same thing...  Could you explain to me anything about this Atlas Precision ram deal?  I'm interested in how that would work out.

Would 5-2-2-2 DDR400 running at DDR266MHz still be slower than 5-2-2-2 DDR266 running at DDR266MHz?

If, at any time, you think that my dogpile of questions needs to be split up into two groups or so, please tell me.

Thank you very much,
Radomir Jordanovic
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AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9754558
OK, personally I like the MSI board -  In fact, there's a system with a brand new K7N2 Delta-L sitting on my bench right now doing it's burn-in.  So I think that's a good choice, as is the Asus A7N8X series of boards.  The Shuttle boards, while inexepensive, aren't quite of the same quality -  They have some good boards but are generally known as a budget manufacturer, not a premium quality manufacturer.

Just an fyi, you can pick up an Asus A7N8X-X right now for under $70u.s. (including shipping) depending on where you live.  That's less than the K7N2 Delta-L my friend will be using.  As such, they're not as pricy as some people think, and although they're a 'no-frills' board (for Asus) they're usually rock solid and still an nForce2 Ultra-400 board which, with an Athlon XP, is really what you want right now.  So my recommendation: you want nForce2 on a budget?  Get the Asus A7N8X-X.

>>Can I get dual channel DDR with 1 Samsung 512MB PC-3200 stick and one Micron 512MB PC-3200 stick?

Most likely not.  DualDDR works best with matched pairs, period.  You'd be much better off purchasing a matched pair from one of the biggies:  OCZ, Mushkin, Kingston HyperX, Corsair TwinX, etc.  If you don't use the matched pair your results will be unpredictable, but will likely result in instability.

>>Would 5-2-2-2 DDR400 running at DDR266MHz still be slower than 5-2-2-2 DDR266 running at DDR266MHz?

No.

However . . .   If you do end up running faster than 266MHz, your PC2100RAM will not be up to the task.   As such, if you can afford it, get the low-latency PC3200 if that's what you're thinking of.  I'm assuming by asking this particular question your looking for the best performance possible from a 266MHz FSB CPU, and either PC2100 or PC3200 will run fine, but you've a better upgrade path with the PC3200.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9754850
Thank you.

Yes, I have reason to believe that Shuttle is a strange manufacturer.  Should I fear it as I do PC Chips and ECS?
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9755024
They're not quite that bad, they're a budget manufacturer though.  Much like Chaintech.  PCChips/ECS should be avoided like the plague though :-)
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9757457
Doesn't Chaintech sell $400 boards for AMD CPUs?  They can support something like 4GBs of ram (although 32-bit CPUs can only work with 2GBs and they don't know what to do with the rest).

To close this question, I'll need a definitive argument that either substantially stands against the Shuttle or lets me know I could at least understand not everything will work on the first try.  Also, what can I do about the K7N-2 Delta?  Can you give me a link to that board?  I want to be able to trust the seller.

The AK35GT2R pretty much got me thinking about Shuttle.  I thought it was an excellent company.  I read somewhere that it even beat an MSI KT266a chipset.  It is a very strong board, supposedly.  That's why I think Shuttle is a good manufacturer.  I was pretty disappointed upon reading that it's not up to par with MSI and Asus.  Please don't worry about this paragraph.  It's just an explanation.

Thank you,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9757497
Chaintech makes a couple of models in the $200u.s. range, but the vast majority are under $100 u.s.     If you go to pricewatch.com and check the motherboards section, and do a search in motherboards for 'chaintech', you'll find 9 pages of chaintech boards, of which only some boards on page 8 and the boards on page 9 are over $100.   so for the most part, they're a budget manufacturer, yeah.  same with their video cards.

as far as shuttle goes, I don't have anything horrendously horrible to say about them -  Ive sold a few systems with shuttles, and have had some RMA with them.  Most of the problems I had with their boards was with the more economical models.  However, one distributor I deal with that has been using shuttle for their budget boards has recently dropped them in favour of Albatron and ASRock because they're finding more reliability with those boards than with shuttle.

>>what can I do about the K7N-2 Delta?

What do you mean, what can I do about it?  I'm not understanding your problem with it, I guess. . .

The AK35GT2R was a great board.  The entire AK35 line was great boards.  But one really good, well-reviewed board doesn't make a company.  
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9757517
Oh, sorry.  Should I keep messing with the MSI board?  Should I try to see if my warranty covers electrical damage?
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9757553
If it's under warranty and there's no obvious physical damage that you can see was caused by an individual, then yes, it should go back for warranty.  Contact MSI for an RMA #.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9757606
I can actually have the transaction go through MSI?
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9757696
sure.

If your local supplier won't help, or if it's not convenient you can.  I even did it for a board that was off warranty once, lol.  they new it was off warranty and said they'd fix it for $25u.s.   I jumped at it.
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9757699
MSI's warranty policy is here: http://www.msicomputer.com/support/sup_genwar.asp

and their RMa request form is here: http://www.msicomputer.com/msi_user/msi_rma/
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9887272
Oh, my.  This question has been inactive for quite some time.

In order to save money, the friend has decided to go with the Shuttle AN35N.  He is also going to get an XP 2600 333FSB with DDR333 LC2.5 ram (2×256 or 2×512).  Do you see any potential problems?  Are there cases of bad XP 2600s?  Anything about the core voltage not working?  The board will probably start up with a CAS latency of 2.5 or 3, so the ram's fine, I think.  It'll either be 2×256MB CL2 Corsairs or 2×512MB CL2.5 Kingston above-value-ram quality ram.  Would 512 CL2 be better than 1024MB CL2.5?  He's not necessarily a power user...  Games, video editing, sound editing, and net surfing will be the main things he will do.

AGP-PCI slots:  The AN35N's AGP slot is in the top expansion card slot space.  Then, there's an empty space and the PCI slots go all the way down.  Would it be all right to put a "system blower" in that empty space?  My friend will either get a GeForceFX 5700 Ultra or an All In Wonder card.  Because the cards have fans, the "system blower" will have to cover up a PCI slot.  I guess that's better than my AGP + PCI + PCI setup for cooling...

My MSI board is electorstatically protected from problems while I gather enough money to play with it.

Thanks to all who have helped out with the Asus board.  The information has helped a lot.

Thanks again,
Radomir Jordanovic
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9887410
1. Do you see any potential problems?  

No.

2. Are there cases of bad XP 2600s?  

There's cases of bad anything.  But I've seen no more 'bad' 2600's than any other cpu.

3.  Anything about the core voltage not working?

Not that I've heard.

4. Would 512 CL2 be better than 1024MB CL2.5?  

For apps that don't require LARGE amounts of memory, yes.  For apps that require or can use LARGE amounts of memory, perhaps not.  It's a trade off.  Do you need the full Gb of RAM?  Most likely not.  Most people don't.  Is slight improvement in some things (most likely so slight it's not noticable to humans, just benchmarks) worth the extra $$$?

5.  Would it be all right to put a "system blower" in that empty space?  

You could, but the cards you mention do come with good fans on them.  You might do as well to make sure the components are going in a well-designed case with case fans front and rear though.
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9888777
There's only one space for a rear fan, so the expansion slot fan was just an idea to get more air going through.  There are fan spaces in the front, I believe.

One more thing:  Where can I buy a fan that goes on the chipset heatsink of the K7N-2 Delta and the AN35N?  The Delta's heatsink gets quite hot... but the board isn't working now...  well...  I'd still like a fan.

Anyway, do you think we have gone through everything that could be said?
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 300 total points
ID: 9889287
thermaltake and zalman both make decent chipset fans that can be had for $10 or under u.s. including shipping.  Visit www.pricewatch.com and put "chipset fan" into the search at the top of the screen.  You should get a few responses there.

I think that we've gone through all that can be said at this point, yeah.  
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by:radomirthegreat
ID: 9890412
Thanks.  I'll award points by answers and not by names.  Basically, you may have your answer accepted and also have a comment be accepted as an assist, or just have about 4 assists or something...  I do this to make it easier for the people who search for answers to their questions.

Thanks again,
Radomir Jordanovic
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