A7N8X, A7N8X-X, A7N8X-E, etc

Discussion in 'Asus' started by KWW, May 5, 2004.

  1. KWW

    KWW Guest

    I am looking to upgrade my son's PC before he goes off to college, so I
    figure I had better make sure his system is solid and reliable (no refurb
    parts this time). I have fairly well settled on the A7N8X line (vs the
    A7V8X) based upon things I have heard in general. What is the difference in
    the various boards (other than the obvious features listed) --- in other
    words, is one board much better than another stability - wise, etc.

    Not planning a screamer-system. He never gets into much in the way of
    games, basically an AMD 2600XP+ 512k, 512M DDR 333, Not sure but maybe
    Chaintech A-FX20 (GeForce FX5200 with 128MB DDR, 64 bit)

    Already paying for 1 in college (1/2 way through), this will be the 2nd
    child in college. Obviously economy, stability (but
    upgradability/flexibility) are considerations.
    TIA
     
    KWW, May 5, 2004
    #1
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  2. You don't mention storage devices, but assuming you don't need RAID and
    other extras, the economy model will do fine. That would be the A7N8X-X.
    You don't get dual channel, but the performance improvement is negligible
    anyway, and would require two memory modules.
    I have both an A7N8X-X and an A7N8X Deluxe here and cannot tell the
    difference in daily use. I use the SATA RAID on the Deluxe. For college
    *work*, the FX5200 should be fine.
     
    Peter van der Goes, May 5, 2004
    #2
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  3. KWW

    KWW Guest

    Thanks. They have so many variations, and, while I could delve into the
    details of the chipsets, etc... I have been way too busy of late to sift
    through the nuances and pick the best one...

    One other thing, I was looking at the A7N8X-VM/400 and comparing it with the
    A7N8X-X. Granted, I was tired, but, aside from the video on the "VM", they
    appeared to be comparable. I was wondering if it would be a bad idea to be
    cheap until late in the summer and (maybe) trying the VM, then updating the
    video card before school in the fall.... unless there are other aspects of
    the Nvida chipset in the "VM" boards that is inferior...
    Thoughts?
     
    KWW, May 6, 2004
    #3
  4. I hope somebody else jumps in, 'cause I don't know a thing about the
    integrated video models. Sorry.
     
    Peter van der Goes, May 6, 2004
    #4
  5. KWW

    Paul Guest

    The -VM boards don't have a lot of adjustments, so if there is
    a problem with something, you cannot adjust anything to try to
    fix it. Now, one problem right now with the -VM/400, is built-in
    video corruption when a user puts PC3200 memory in it. The BIOS
    on the -VM only understands how to set the memory according to
    the SPD chip on the DIMM, so you cannot convince the BIOS to
    use a DDR333 setting rather than DDR400. There are two solutions
    to this - one is to buy PC2700 memory, where the SPD is programmed
    with a top speed of DDR333, and the second is to buy an AGP
    video card, to take the place of the built-in video. To me,
    this negates the built-in video on this board, if it cannot
    be trusted under all conditions you are likely to encounter.
    I like to buy a board, where there is a reasonable chance that
    the components can be reused, and PC3200 memory is worth more
    to me than PC2700 would be.

    (You could buy the -VM, do your build, if video is a problem,
    buy the FX5200. Only if the price difference is important, and
    you have time to experiment.)

    Here are some links to various things you should investigate:

    ******
    This link will list the CPU types supported by a given model.

    http://www.asus.it/support/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx

    There are many processor listings on the web, but I like
    this one for the colorful table. This will give you some
    ideas as to what you can buy. It lists FSB speed, and for
    best performance in this case, FSB and memory should be
    run at the same speed (FSB333 and DDR333, FSB400 and DDR400).

    http://www.qdi.nl/support/CPUQDISocketA.htm

    Always download the manual from the download page. Read
    through the section with the BIOS screens depicted. This
    will show you what parts of the computer can be adjusted,
    like AGP speed, Vcore, Vagp, Vdimm voltages, and so on.
    Compare the virtually unadjustable -VM to the other boards.
    (I like to look at "Advanced Chipset Features", used to
    adjust CPU clock and memory timings.)

    http://www.asus.it/support/download/download.aspx
    http://www.asus.it/support/download/item.aspx?ModelName=A7N8X-X&Type=All
    http://www.asuscom.de/pub/ASUS/mb/socka/nforce2/a7n8x-x/e1461_a7n8x-x.pdf

    You should also inspect all the product web pages, for any hints
    at limitations of the product. The DDR400 memory table in the
    last link is sadly out of date, because Winbond BH-5 memory is
    no longer being manufactured. Better to check Google or a
    private forum, with your prospective memory choice, to see
    if there will be problems.

    http://usa.asus.com/products/mb/mbindex.htm (main listing)
    http://usa.asus.com/products/mb/socketa/a7n8x-x/overview.htm
    http://usa.asus.com/prog/spec.asp?m=A7N8X-X&langs=09
    ******

    The motherboard has built-in sound, and you may want to test
    it, to see if it is noise free enough for listening to music.
    If you get noise, try disconnecting the analog CDROM cable,
    and select digital audio extraction to get sound from the CD.
    A cheap sound card sometimes has more options than a low
    end AC-97 motherboard solution (like bass and treble controls).

    For video cards, an Nvidia FX5200 or an ATI 9000 can give
    good non-game performance, and in some cases, are fanless
    for less noise. You can enter a price range on this
    page, and see what "pops up"

    http://www.newegg.com/app/manufactory.asp?catalog=48&DEPA=0

    or go to this page:

    http://www.pricewatch.com/menus/m37.htm

    To help keep the model numbers straight, look at this
    article, and pick one of the many color charts, to see
    how the model numbering scheme is a poor indicator of
    performance. To further complicate matters, video cards
    can have the memory arranged as a 64 bit wide array or
    a 128 bit wide array, and it can be hard to tell whether
    you are getting a "bargain" or not. (I.e. Two cards
    can have the same base model number, but they may not
    have the same arrangement for the memory.) Judging by
    the Newegg page, there is a tremendous price spread
    for cards with the same "model number".

    http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20031229/index.html

    On the Newegg web pages, there is generally a "Review" link
    on the page of a product, and sometimes these reviews warn
    of video cards that fail early in their lives. If the card
    you find on Pricewatch happens to be sold on a Newegg page,
    have a look through the reviews, to see if any users have
    had problems.

    Have fun,
    Paul
     
    Paul, May 6, 2004
    #5
  6. KWW

    KWW Guest

    Wow... very impressive response... thanks! I do often use pricewatch .. and
    Newegg is my preferred place of purchase - but the specific links cited are
    quite helpful! I had forgotten about the video data path width issue - it
    has been quite a while since I read about that - thanks!

    Much food for thought, that is for certain. The word on the VM/400 board
    convinced me... I can do without that! I will "simply" have to compare the
    other various boards to see what foots the bill.
    Thanks!
     
    KWW, May 6, 2004
    #6
  7. KWW

    Ben Pope Guest

    Should all be pretty similar. The only ones to avoid were the 1.04revisions
    of the original A7N8X and Deluxe, you won't find one now, they'll all be
    Rev2.0.

    The Deluxe has all the bells and whistles, which, you are unlikely to need.
    I'm not sure, but I would recomend the normal A7N8X. The -X has a different
    BIOS as far as I know, so can't comment on it's stability, but I do prefer
    the Award BIOS on the normal X and Deluxe.
    Well that will do it. I'd go for a Barton rather than a T'Bred, although
    there isn;t that much in it.
    In terms of upgradability you're standing up against a wall... Socket A is a
    dying breed, but support should be around for some time. I very much doubt
    there will be any chips much faster than the 3200+. I wouldn't expect
    prices to shift that much now, either.

    If you want upgradability then the new socket 939 is going to be the way
    forward, but that probably contradicts the budget aspect.

    I personally have an A7N8X Deluxe with a Barton 2500+ and am very happy with
    it.

    Ben
     
    Ben Pope, May 8, 2004
    #7
  8. [snip]

    Paul has already mentioned some issues specific to that board/chipset, but in
    more general terms... I dislike on-board video on general principles, and
    your scenario is one good example of why:

    I think this would be a penny-wise/pound-foolish move. You'd be paying extra
    for the A7N8X-VM/400, as compared to the "base" A7N8X; then in a very few
    months, you'd go ahead and buy a separate video card anyway, obviating your
    "savings" and then some. Unless you're counting on the cost of the video card
    to drop markedly in that time period, it would be a net loss; and given the
    fact that (due to the low priority of whiz-bang games) you presumably wouldn't
    be using a "bleeding edge" video card in any case, that's not a realistic
    expectation.

    --

    Jay T. Blocksom
    --------------------------------
    Appropriate Technology, Inc.
    usenet01[at]appropriate-tech.net


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

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    Jay T. Blocksom, May 8, 2004
    #8
  9. KWW

    KWW Guest

    Thanks folks! I bit the bullet and went for the A7N8X-E. I figured that in
    the next few years my son may end up wanting to upgrade to SATA. It wasn't
    that much more, and, coupled with the video card I got and the other
    components, should result in a respectable and stable system.

    Now to convince him to let me upgrade from Win98 SE..... he doesn't like
    change and feels that the new OSs are buggy and stuff. (Wish I could find
    reasonable W2000 Pro like I have. I belive it is better than XP simply
    because it tries to do less, but that is another story.)

    --
    KWW

    -
     
    KWW, May 9, 2004
    #9
  10. KWW

    Ben Pope Guest

    Yep, thats probably the Socket A board I'd choose.
    Win2K or XP are both considerably better than Win9x.

    If you've ever had a crash on Win98 you know it takes the whole system with
    it, with Win2K/XP, not usually so - all the other applications remain
    working (along with the OS).

    I did a fresh install of Win98 when I was having some problems with it. I
    then proceeded to open several Word docs, several Excel docs, a few PDFs, a
    few web pages so that I could continue to do my project... Windows fell
    over. So I rebooted and tried again.... fell over again. After 3 tries,
    each with the same result, I installed Win2K and have been relatively happy
    ever since. The memory management and multi tasking abilities of Windows 98
    is not very good and support is waning.

    Ben
     
    Ben Pope, May 9, 2004
    #10
  11. KWW

    Doug Ramage Guest

    I have most flavours of Windows (going back to Win 3.1), and XP is my main
    preference - especially with a TFT monitor (ClearType font support).
     
    Doug Ramage, May 9, 2004
    #11
  12. [Posted & Mailed, due to the time-lag; f'up to NG]

    [snip]

    Not *necessarily* the choice I would have made; but a good choice, based on
    good reasoning, nonetheless. Congrats on dumping the onboard-video idea.
    [snip]

    He's at least partially right. Much depends on *exactly* which applications
    you (or he) intend run, and what you/he will ultimately do with the system.
    But with that caveat in place, note that far more important than which
    "flavor" of Windows (i.e., DOS-based vs. NT-based) you use is that the
    specific release be chosen carefully and that whatever you choose is properly
    set up. Note that in this context, taking all the defaults and letting
    Windows Setup make all the decisions is *far* from "properly set up".
    [snip]

    Win2K can still be found in some retail channels, as well as on the grey
    market.
    Indeed, you are correct -- and not only for that reason. Put simply, WinXP is
    *evil*; but as you pointed out, that issue is sort'a OT here, so I'll leave it
    at referring you to:

    <http://www.hevanet.com/peace/microsoft.htm>
    or <http://www.futurepower.net/microsoft.htm>

    and (read all three):
    <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/14/11winman_1.html>
    <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/21/12winman_1.html>
    <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/28/13winman_1.html>

    and finally:
    <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html>

    If you want to go with an NT-based (as opposed to DOS-based) version of
    Windows, then stick with Win2K/SP4; but be *SURE* to install it using
    "2000lite", available here: <http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html>, so you can
    tame some of its more egregious excesses (like MSIE, for example).

    --

    Jay T. Blocksom
    --------------------------------
    Appropriate Technology, Inc.
    usenet01[at]appropriate-tech.net


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

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    Unsolicited advertising sent to this E-Mail address is expressly prohibited
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    Jay T. Blocksom, May 28, 2004
    #12
  13. [snip]

    You are painting with *way* too wide a brush.
    [snip]

    This simply isn't true, at least in the overly broad way you've stated it.
    First, much depends on which application is crashing -- and more importantly,
    *why* it is crashing. Even then, if the system is properly set up, there is
    no reason for it to "take the whole system with it".
    [snip]

    Sometimes. Sometimes not. And even when you do "get lucky", prudence still
    demands that you immediately shut down the system and re-boot.
    [snip]

    Unless there's something else you're not telling us, there simply *must* have
    been something very wrong with that system (beyond the choice of OS), as it
    was set up (or possibly with the documents you were attempting to use).
    Thousands upon millions of people open MS-Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, PDF
    files, etc., every day, day in, day out, using Win98 (or other forms of Win9x)
    *without* the symptoms you describe. Hence, those symptoms *cannot* be
    reasonably attributed to Win98.

    --

    Jay T. Blocksom
    --------------------------------
    Appropriate Technology, Inc.
    usenet01[at]appropriate-tech.net


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Unsolicited advertising sent to this E-Mail address is expressly prohibited
    under USC Title 47, Section 227. Violators are subject to charge of up to
    $1,500 per incident or treble actual costs, whichever is greater.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     
    Jay T. Blocksom, May 28, 2004
    #13
  14. [REPOST: Apparently, the original copy of this article did not propagate.
    Apologies if duplicate.]

    [Posted & Mailed, due to the time-lag; f'up to NG]

    [snip]

    Not *necessarily* the choice I would have made; but a good choice, based on
    good reasoning, nonetheless. Congrats on dumping the onboard-video idea.
    [snip]

    He's at least partially right. Much depends on *exactly* which applications
    you (or he) intend run, and what you/he will ultimately do with the system.
    But with that caveat in place, note that far more important than which
    "flavor" of Windows (i.e., DOS-based vs. NT-based) you use is that the
    specific release be chosen carefully and that whatever you choose is properly
    set up. Note that in this context, taking all the defaults and letting
    Windows Setup make all the decisions is *far* from "properly set up".
    [snip]

    Win2K can still be found in some retail channels, as well as on the grey
    market.
    Indeed, you are correct -- and not only for that reason. Put simply, WinXP is
    *evil*; but as you pointed out, that issue is sort'a OT here, so I'll leave it
    at referring you to:

    <http://www.hevanet.com/peace/microsoft.htm>
    or <http://www.futurepower.net/microsoft.htm>

    and (read all three):
    <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/14/11winman_1.html>
    <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/21/12winman_1.html>
    <http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/28/13winman_1.html>

    and finally:
    <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html>

    If you want to go with an NT-based (as opposed to DOS-based) version of
    Windows, then stick with Win2K/SP4; but be *SURE* to install it using
    "2000lite", available here: <http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html>, so you can
    tame some of its more egregious excesses (like MSIE, for example).

    --

    Jay T. Blocksom
    --------------------------------
    Appropriate Technology, Inc.
    usenet01[at]appropriate-tech.net


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Unsolicited advertising sent to this E-Mail address is expressly prohibited
    under USC Title 47, Section 227. Violators are subject to charge of up to
    $1,500 per incident or treble actual costs, whichever is greater.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     
    Jay T. Blocksom, May 30, 2004
    #14
  15. [REPOST: Apparently, the original copy of this article did not propagate.
    Apologies if duplicate.]

    [snip]

    You are painting with *way* too wide a brush.
    [snip]

    This simply isn't true, at least in the overly broad way you've stated it.
    First, much depends on which application is crashing -- and more importantly,
    *why* it is crashing. Even then, if the system is properly set up, there is
    no reason for it to "take the whole system with it".
    [snip]

    Sometimes. Sometimes not. And even when you do "get lucky", prudence still
    demands that you immediately shut down the system and re-boot.
    [snip]

    Unless there's something else you're not telling us, there simply *must* have
    been something very wrong with that system (beyond the choice of OS), as it
    was set up (or possibly with the documents you were attempting to use).
    Thousands upon millions of people open MS-Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, PDF
    files, etc., every day, day in, day out, using Win98 (or other forms of Win9x)
    *without* the symptoms you describe. Hence, those symptoms *cannot* be
    reasonably attributed to Win98.

    --

    Jay T. Blocksom
    --------------------------------
    Appropriate Technology, Inc.
    usenet01[at]appropriate-tech.net


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    -- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Unsolicited advertising sent to this E-Mail address is expressly prohibited
    under USC Title 47, Section 227. Violators are subject to charge of up to
    $1,500 per incident or treble actual costs, whichever is greater.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
     
    Jay T. Blocksom, May 30, 2004
    #15
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