Help me choose S775 board please

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Jim, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. Jim

    Jim Guest

    I'm looking for an upgrade to my ageing P4 system I know S775 is old as well
    but for me it's an upgrade, mind you pen and paper would be an upgrade as

    All I need from board is half decent on board sound ( I have a 5.1 sound
    system and want to use that) 6 x SATA sockets, 2 PCI slots, PATA socket,
    floppy socket (some of us still like this option), as many usb ports on the
    back as poss, I am not a gamer so just a simple single x16 pcie slot is
    needed and will not need the crossfire option (over kill for space invaders
    and angry birds), I would like 2 x PCI slots but other then that i don't
    know what is best to look for.

    I know this is laughable given I'm buying old tech but I'd like it to be as
    future proof as poss and buy that i mean have a spare PCIe slots so i can
    add stuff like USB3 card later in life, things like that.
    I understand the vast majority of asus (and other motherboards and there
    tech) but the PCIe slot have always been double Dutch to me, for example
    some will say "2x16 when in crossfire (which I think means 2 vid cards) goes
    down to x8 for each socket (which seems stupid to me is that not the same as
    x16 on one lane?) anyway if i buy one with crossfire support can i just
    ignore that and use one x16 slot for vid cards and the other slot for say my
    USB 3 card, and given you know a bit about my situation what board would
    you suggest?

    As a rule I use machine for video conversion and heavy CPU work, if you
    need any more info from me please feel free to ask looking at Asus
    comparison site I have shortlisted the following:
    Maximus II Formula
    P5Q Deluxe
    P5Q Premium - 14 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 10 ports at back
    P5Q PRO
    P5Q3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP @n

    I think the P5Q3 line is just DDR3 memory

    I welcome any feedback the group has and as i say if you need more info from
    just ask.

    Jim, Jan 11, 2011
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  2. Jim

    Paul Guest

    I think your main problem, is going to be, finding one for sale.

    If I look at Newegg, there are lots of "basic" LGA775 boards, suited
    to building office machines. It's pretty hard to find a board with
    two good PCI Express slots (i.e. something P45 based).

    You may have to pick the first board you can find, that even comes
    remotely close to what you want, as opposed to having "choices".

    When I bought my last LGA775, I bought it from a supplier I don't
    normally use, and paid more for it than I'd planned on. And that
    was because, even then, pickings were thin. I got more or less what
    I wanted (two video card slots), for the same purpose as you, some
    future upgrade options.

    At least this one has two video card slots, so there is some
    expansion capability. There is no particular reason not to
    buy DDR3 memory, as it is reasonably priced now. This has
    USB3 (via one of those NEC chips). What I can never tell with
    ZZF, is whether it's actually in stock or not. I find it hard to
    believe, that any P45's are left.

    GIGABYTE GA-EP45T-USB3P Intel P45 Core 2 ... Socket 775 PC3-17600 (DDR3-2200) ATX $143

    If you use the Newegg page for that same board model, you can get
    some specs for it. And the Gigabyte site will have a user manual.
    You can also get customer reviews here.


    I really think you should be looking at something a little more
    modern. If price is an issue, AMD is an option for that. They
    have quad and hex cores, as worthy low to mid range competitors.
    If you go with LGA775, either you're going to pay too much
    (for a good board), or pay a moderate price for something
    not worth having (bad BIOS or production quality issues etc).

    "AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz $230"

    The 1090T does the benchmark here in 71 seconds, while a 980X is 53 seconds.
    If your video software is multithreaded, then you'll get your
    money's worth out of this processor.,2424.html

    The 1090T has Turbo, and runs six cores at 3.2Ghz, or three cores
    at 3.6GHz. On a single threaded benchmark, that helps get it a
    bit closer to an E8400.

    Paul, Jan 11, 2011
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  3. Jim

    Jim Guest

    Hi Paul and thanks for the quick reply, I'm in the UK and we have a few that
    still stock some of the line but to be honest I reckon eBay will be my
    choice right now, I'm happy to buy from them just so long as I can get the
    right board but this seems to be a situation of spoilt for choice there are
    just so many variations around and this is where I get confused with all the
    slots, given I will only ever need one x16 slot, should I just look for a
    board with a single x 16 or is 2 or 3 x16 slots as these will just default
    to lower speed and take my USB3 card (for example) without and issues, sorry
    if I've not made myself 100%.

    Jim, Jan 11, 2011
  4. Jim

    Paul Guest

    Look for a P45 based board, with at least two PCI Express (x16 sized)
    video card slots. You can use one slot for a video card, the other
    slot for some kind of high performance add-in card at a later date.

    If the motherboard already has a USB3 chip (two USB3 ports stated
    as being on the board), that will save you having to buy a card.
    A two port USB3 PCI Express card can be purchased for around $25,
    or effectively for less money, if it is included on the motherboard.

    Let's work through one from your list, and see what it's got.

    P5Q3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP

    Expansion Slots

    PCI Express 2.0 x16 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots,
    (black at max. x8 link)

    PCI Express x4 1 x PCI Express x16 slot at max. x4 link (black)

    PCI Express x1 (2)

    PCI Slots (2)

    PCI Express slots come in various sizes. The part in front of the key slot,
    is for power, and that part is a constant size. The part after the
    key, has room for more contacts, that allow wiring up more "lanes".
    The lane count can be 1,4,8,16. So there are at least four
    sizes of PCI Express connectors they can use when designing

    The connector can be "sub-wired". To make it possible to plug in
    just about anything, they may provide a x16 sized connector. But
    the engineer designing the motherboard, may only connect up 8 of
    the lanes. That means the slot can only function at an x8 rate,
    even though it is x16 in size. With the original PCI Express
    standard, each lane was 250MB/sec, so 8 lanes of wiring can
    provide 2GB/sec of bandwidth (in the form of packets).

    Now, the add-in card, and it's wiring, also matter.
    Again, using our x16 slot, with x8 wiring, I'll plug in
    an x1 card (such as the USB3 add-in card). The motherboard
    will notice, that there is only a signal on one lane, and
    both ends will work a negotiation so they both agree they're
    running at x1.

    Such a flexible scheme is good, but in the case of the
    motherboard designer, there is some room for dishonesty.
    When you see a x16 slot on the motherboard, you assume
    it's all wired up, but it may not be. In the case of
    P45 chipset, the Northbridge has a total of 16 lanes.
    If you see a P45 motherboard then, with two x16 sized
    slots, you know they both can't be fully wired. And when
    both video card slots are used, they run at x8. So they've
    split the lanes into two.

    x8 is enough bandwidth to run just about anything. With a video
    card, you only notice a slowdown in benchmarks, with x4 wiring.
    The x8 wiring may be good enough, not to be too concerned.

    The P5Q3 Deluxe has a third x16 sized slot, but it is wired x4.
    That slot might be good for a PCI Express audio card, perhaps
    a mid-range RAID card, or the like.

    In terms of the P45 chipset diagram, it looks like this.
    (This is just from memory, I didn't look it up to verify.)

    | Front Side Bus
    Video_Card_Slot_x8 --- P45 ----- Dual channel memory
    Video_Card_Slot_x8 |
    | DMI bus
    ICH10R ----- PCI bus
    PCI Express x1 * 6

    The slot with the x4 wiring, gets the lanes from the bottom
    group of 6. The two remaining lanes, might be connected
    to an onboard LAN chip or a storage controller (like a
    Jmicron for the IDE connector).

    So that's how a board could be wired up, and that's an example
    of the kinds of checks I go through when checking an architecture.

    Gigabyte brand boards, include a block diagram of the architecture
    in the user manual, which makes it a bit easier to check what
    they're doing. But even so, they still have a tendency to
    dishonesty, and sometimes the diagram leaves a bit to be
    desired. There is no honest intent when drawing it, and
    the marketing people likely ask the artist to make the odd
    change, to make the board "look better".

    Asus doesn't bother with those shenanigans, as they know
    they don't want to tell the truth, and they'll withhold
    any detail they don't want you to know. (We rely on
    pictures, with part numbers, or web site reviews, to
    get the real details.) More guesswork is required, to decode
    exactly how the slots might be wired (and then you can decide
    what the consequences might be).

    There may be a text section of the manual, that attempts
    to explain the slot wiring, but there are always cases
    where the tech writer didn't do a good job of
    transcribing the details. And just a hint of dishonesty
    at the root of it.

    One detail about PCI Express and USB3, is the NEC USB3 chip
    uses a revision 2 lane running at 500MB/sec. This is
    double the speed of a revision 1 lane running at 250MB/sec.
    Why is this important ? If your motherboard comes with
    a USB3 chip, it may only be running "half speed". It
    depends, on whether the NEC brand chip, is connected to
    a Revision 1 or a Revision 2 lane. Even at 250MB/sec,
    this is plenty for the average application. But later, if
    you're having "benchmarks" with friends, you may discover
    you "bought a loser", and that's about the only time you
    might care. Back in the LGA775 generation, it was hard to
    make x1 slots with Revision 2 performance. Your video card
    slot will have it, so if you plug the USB3 PCI Express x1 card
    into a video card slot, it'll run full speed. And that's why
    I'm suggesting you want a board with two video card slots,
    because those slots should be Revision 2, and use 500MB/sec
    lanes. Many other slots, such as the dodgy x4 wired one near
    the bottom edge of the motherboard, would end up running the
    card at half speed (250MB/sec).

    The recently released Sandy Bridge LGA1155 boards, are the
    first motherboards to be "consistently Revision 2", so that
    relieves me of one of my checks :) On older boards, I
    still have to do my checks.

    One other neat thing about the PCI Express bus, is it is
    Full Duplex. Say you buy a 2 port USB3 add-in card for
    $25. You connect an external disk to each port. You
    copy a file from one external disk, to the other
    external disk. Those operations use separate sets of
    wires on the PCI Express slot, so the reads and
    writes don't "bottleneck" on the bus. On the old
    PCI bus, traffic was half-duplex, there'd be a burst
    of read data, then a burst of write data. And the disks
    would run slower, due to the bottleneck at the bus.

    The full duplex of the PCI Express lanes, is the reason
    they can support two USB3 ports, using a single
    Revision 2 PCI Express lane, without anyone complaining.
    (You're less likely to attempt to read from two
    external disks, at the same time. Read from one, and
    write to the other, is a more likely scenario. If the
    chip was used on a "server" setup, then there could be
    some bottlenecking if both disks "pump" in the same
    direction at the same time. Since USB3 is so high
    performance, the only way you'll get close to
    breaking it, is using the most expensive SSD type
    disk you can find. No current generation rotating
    hard drive, is close to breaking it. Even with
    inferior Revision 1 wiring, you're still in
    reasonably good shape. It should work as well as
    ESATA would.)

    I look at slot layout, rear connector types, and
    architecture, to decide what I like. In terms of
    slot layout, my current PCI Express board, only
    allows me to use about half the slots. Unlike
    the more homogeneous motherboards of previous
    generations, where I tended to be able to use
    more of the slots. On some of my older systems,
    I had six PCI expansions slots, and I filled them all.
    Those days are over, because of things like
    "fat" video cards, that cover several slots, and
    need room for cooling.

    On some motherboards, you'll even find a conflict
    between the Northbridge heatsink, and the first
    one or two slots. If you were to put a long
    card in there, it might bump into something.

    Paul, Jan 11, 2011
  5. Jim

    Jim Guest

    Paul I have not forgotten about this thread just having a few problems will
    post back asap.
    Jim, Jan 14, 2011
  6. Jim

    Jim Guest

    Hi Paul, so sorry for taking what seems like and age getting back to you
    been very busy, however that being said I have been able to do some reading
    and where as before I spoke to you I was going for older board but what I
    would call mainstream chipset I started looking at x38 and x48 boards, still
    being S775 of course but given this system will be a stop gap I didn't want
    to spend too much cash, in the end I went and got hold of an Asus P5E3
    Premium/WiFi-AP @n it seems to offer everything (and more to be honest) that
    I will need for a while, so thanks for your help.

    While I have you can I pick your brain again regarding the board and new
    cpu, I'm trying to find a E8600 somewhere but was wondering what will happen
    if the previous owner had a lower spec cpu and the E8600 needed a bios
    update so in effect my cpu would not be supported until I did a bios update,
    do you have any idea what would happen, I do still use a floppy so can boot
    from that and update bios ASAP but don't know if I'll be even be able to get
    that far or do you reckon I'll be in the silly position that I will have to
    buy lowest spec cpu just to be able to update the bios?

    Once again Paul sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

    Jim, Feb 18, 2011
  7. Jim

    Paul Guest Premium/[email protected]

    Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.00GHz,1333FSB,L2:6MB,65W,rev.E0) ALL 0505
    Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.00GHz,1333FSB,L2:6MB,rev.C0) ALL 0204
    Core 2 Duo E8500 (3.16GHz,1333FSB,L2:6MB,65W,rev.E0) ALL 0505
    Core 2 Duo E8500 (3.16GHz,1333FSB,L2:6MB,rev.C0) ALL 0204
    Core 2 Duo E8600 (3.33GHz,1333FSB,L2:6MB,65W,rev.E0) ALL 0505

    It looks like the stepping of the processor (E0), caused a newer BIOS
    to be required.

    On the download page, 0505 is dated 2008/07/11.
    The 0204 is from before 2008/04/21.
    The 0803 current BIOS is 2009/06/22.

    If the previous owner bought a board from the first batch, then it could
    be running 0204.

    1) You get a chance to check the paper sticker on the BIOS chip, when
    the board comes in. If the value on there is 0505 or higher, your
    problem is solved. My board uses a serial EEPROM and they stuck
    a sticker on one of the I/O stacks, of all places. I have a different
    board than yours, and my sticker says "0304". So I take it that is
    the initial release programmed into it. The serial EEPROM can be too
    small to take a sticker. The older boards with PLCC chip type, left
    room for a sticker.

    2) If the version remains unknown, plug in your E8600 and try it.
    The initial VID should be set by the pins on the processor. Worst
    case, you get a black screen and no beeps (some BIOS code designs
    get confused during CPUID stage and freeze up).

    3) Or, the thing runs, and you can get into the BIOS. Test with your
    MSDOS boot disk, and see if it'll boot. Sometimes, the MSDOS boot disk
    itself is the problem. On my previous board, I had to resolve a
    resource conflict, before MSDOS would boot.

    I don't see a PLCC (square) EEPROM chip on that board, so it's
    probably an 8 pin serial EEPROM like mine.

    Your options there are to have Asus flash it (talk to tech support - at
    one time, they would accept boards for reflashing, but only in
    certain countries with the ability to do the flashing). Or, like you
    were planning, you buy a used Celeron and install that long enough to
    do the flash.

    If it was my board, I'd just deal with it, based on symptoms. If you're
    in a great rush, or have a fixed delivery date, then buy a used LGA775
    Celeron that is on the list and you'll be all set.

    I'd just assemble it on the bench first, and not waste the time putting
    it in the case. If the BIOS release issue appears to be solved, then
    you can power down and start final assembly.

    Paul, Feb 18, 2011
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