Which MBO for Mom?

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Bill Anderson, Sep 17, 2004.

  1. This group gave me some excellent help a couple of weeks ago, so here I
    am again. See what you get for being nice?

    In my previous message I talked about replacing my 1.9 GHz P4 on an Asus
    P4T-E with a 2.8 GHz P4. Well, it's working great, just as advertised.

    Now I'm left with a spare P4 processor, though, and I've just learned
    that I really need to replace Mom's computer. So I'm thinking -- since
    I really want to replace my current mid-tower with a desktop case
    configuration -- I'm looking at an Enlight 7200.
    http://us.enlightcorp.com/products/pc/detel.php?kind=pccase&serial=70
    Why? Because it will fit better in my computer cabinet. I can put it
    on a sliding shelf and push it back into a well-ventilated area below
    the desktop surface. Right now the mid-tower is sitting beside my
    monitor and it's loud and I'd rather have my printer in that space
    instead of down on the sliding shelf.

    OK, but that's not my question. I want to put a new motherboard in my
    old case, using my 1.9 GHz P4. I'll also have to buy some memory.

    I figure if I get a mbo that includes video, sound, LAN, and USB, all
    I'll have to add is a hard drive (I have a nice-sized spare sitting in a
    drawer) and a CD-ROM (I have a spare sitting in a drawer -- actually a
    2x Pioneer DVD-R), and maybe a floppy drive ($9 or thereabouts) and a
    decent 56K modem which she'll use until we get her a cable modem.

    I've read through the list of Asus socket 478 mbo's here:

    http://usa.asus.com/products/mb/mbindex.htm

    But I'm going crosseyed. When Asus brags like this for example:

    "Leveraging the Intel 848P chipset to support 3.6GHz+ P4 CPUs on 800MHz
    FSB, DDR400 memory, Intel Hyper-Threading technology, and a full-range
    of advanced features, the P4P800S delivers a full-value,
    high-performance solution for today's most demanding tasks."

    Does that mean the board would also support my 1.9 GHz CPU? I chose
    that description just as an example. The point is that the Asus site
    seems to talk about only the fastest CPUs its boards will support, but
    doesn't talk about backwards compatibility.

    Here's the bottom line question: Does Asus make a board that would suit
    my needs for Mom? She won't be playing games, won't be overclocking,
    won't need RAID, won't need lots of bells and whistles. I just want a
    dependable board with sound, video, LAN, support for an EIDE hard drive.
    Which Asus board would best suit my needs?

    Thanks.
     
    Bill Anderson, Sep 17, 2004
    #1
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  2. Bill Anderson

    Paul Guest

    Start here:
    http://www.asus.com.tw/support/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx

    Select CPU Name, then P4, and then find the right entry for your
    processor.

    I think you'll find the P4P800-VM is listed there. That board
    uses the 865G and has built-in graphics, so no video card is
    needed. It is microATX and has three PCI slots. It is one of
    the few Asus microATX that posters don't seem to have issues
    with. It is also one of the few microATX with a BIOS that has
    settings for memory, something the other microATX boards are
    sadly lacking. You can even set Vdimm if you want, although
    in this case it won't be necessary.

    The graphics use main memory for the frame buffer and for
    any 3D operations. If you want to give the system some
    "snap", use a pair of memory sticks, like 2x256MB, and put
    one stick on each memory channel (for dual channel mode). If
    you download the manual for the board, a FSB400 processor runs
    memory at DDR266, so PC2100, PC2700, or PC3200 memory will work
    fine. If you bought some commodity PC3200 CAS3 memory, that
    should run at CAS2 when running at DDR266 (and the PC3200 will
    be more useful later, if you want to swap it into another
    system).

    For ventilation on the computer case, you'll need the fan on
    the PSU, plus one more case fan minimum. After all, your 1.9GHz
    processor is in the 72 watt power range. The 865G has one of
    the hotter running Northbridges (10-12W), especially when running
    3D graphics. It'll run a bit cooler doing just 2D. It is good if
    the CPU HSF you select happens to blow a little sidestream air
    onto the fins of the Northbridge.

    HTH,
    Paul
     
    Paul, Sep 17, 2004
    #2
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  3. If you select the specifications page it will show the FSB speeds that
    the board supports. This board for example will work with 400, 533, and
    800 MHz front side bus speeds. If your 1.9 GHz CPU uses the 400 MHz FSB
    (which I think it does) it will work with this board. The other speeds
    allow you to upgrade the computer at a later time to newer chips.
     
    Michael W. Ryder, Sep 17, 2004
    #3
  4. <snip>

    Thanks, Paul. I did as you suggested and ordered the P4P800-VM from
    newegg.com along with a bunch of other stuff, including two 256MB
    sticks of Mushkin PC2100 DDRAM (which isn't what I got). It all
    arrived a couple of days ago, and I've built a very nice computer for
    Mom. That Asus mbo works just great -- sound, video, LAN, USB 2.0 --
    all first class. Many thanks for the suggestion -- the board really
    meets my needs.

    But...

    The folks at newegg.com got things a little confused. For one thing,
    they sent me two 80mm case fans when I ordered and paid for only one.
    It's nice, I guess, when a small mistake is made in your favor. On
    the other hand, there's apparently a problem with the sticks of memory
    too -- they sent me one 256MB stick of Mushkin PC2700 DDRAM, and one
    stick of Mushkin PC3200 DDRAM, even though I paid only for two sticks
    of PC2100. I didn't discover this until this morning when I installed
    that Everest Home Edition system monitor software you pointed me to,
    and reviewed my system. I mean, I wondered why the package that
    contained one of the sticks had a clear backing and the other had
    black backing -- I even tried to determine whether they were actually
    the same. But I couldn't find anywhere on the packaging ANYTHING to
    indicate what sort of memory stick was inside -- not on either one of
    them. And they certainly LOOKED identical. So maybe that's a tiny
    excuse for the folks at Newegg to be confused about what they were
    sending me. Anyway, I opened the packaging and once I got inside I
    found the memory sticks themselves both sport nice paper stickers that
    say "2100." But according to the Everest Home Edition system monitor
    software, that's not at all what they are.

    So what do you think? Should I just go ahead and give the system to
    Mom as it is? Both Windows and Everest report that I have a total of
    502MB of memory, which doesn't really seem right. Everest also
    reports under Motherboard/SPD that I have two 256MB modules of DDR
    SDRAM. One is PC2700 and the other is PC3200. And it reports my
    memory speed as PC2700 (166 MHz).

    Do you think things will continue to work as well as they're working
    now -- which is very good? Should I send the memory back to Newegg --
    which I don't want to take the time to do? I've heard that mixing
    different types of memory is a bad thing. What do you think? Thanks
    for the help.
     
    Bill Anderson, Oct 1, 2004
    #4
  5. How about an IRON-ing Board?
     
    notritenoteri, Oct 1, 2004
    #5
  6. Bill Anderson

    Don Coon Guest

    Why does it have to be an ASUS board?

    Go to www.newegg.com and use their search for board that meets your needs.
    Then scan the results for the # of stars and user feedback.

    The cheapest 4-star or better ASUS MB is the P44P800-MX for $70 shipped.
    It's 4-Star, BTW.
    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=13-131-504&depa=0

    If you don't have to have an ASUS, the MSI P4MAM-V for $44 shipped, also
    4-Star, gets better user reviews.
    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=13-130-456&depa=0

    Good Luck!


     
    Don Coon, Oct 1, 2004
    #6
  7. Thanks for the note, Don. I must not have been clear in all my
    verbiage. The board is bought, delivered, installed, and working fine.
    I like the board. It's the two memory sticks I was asking about.

    Bill Anderson

     
    Bill Anderson, Oct 1, 2004
    #7
  8. Bill Anderson

    Don Coon Guest

    Oops! Missed that. Kind of nice that you can buy a new MB with on-board
    video, sound and LAN for less than the price of a mid-class video card : )
     
    Don Coon, Oct 1, 2004
    #8
  9. Bill Anderson

    Paul Guest

    No reason to panic. The board is flexible enough, that if the memory
    sticks don't match one another, the board will run in virtual single
    channel mode. You lose some memory bandwidth that way, but unless
    mom is a gamer, she will never notice the loss.

    DIMMs have a number of visible or invisible differences:

    1) Single or double banked. Most of the time, a bank is placed on
    each side of the DIMM, and people casually call that "double
    sided" memory. It is possible to place two banks of memory
    on the same side of the DIMM, so the number of sides may not
    always equal the number of banks. A Windows utility can take
    the guess work out of identifying how many banks there are.
    2) Speed and timings. PC2700, PC3200 speed. 3-3-3-8 timings.
    When sticks don't match in terms of speed or timings, the
    BIOS will try its best to select the slower of the two
    characteristics, so the two memories in a dual channel situation
    can still be made to work, if these factors differ between
    sticks.
    3) Chip (logical) dimensions. To make a 256MB DIMM, you can use
    two banks of 8x(16Mx8) chips or two banks of 4x(16Mx16) chips.
    For dual channel, the number of chips in the bank, and the
    dimensions of each chip, should match. So should the number of
    banks on each DIMM. If you had one of each of the two examples
    I just mentioned, then they wouldn't run in dual channel mode,
    and you would lose about 30% memory bandwidth. (I know, because
    a local vendor did exactly the same thing to me, as happened with
    you and Newegg.)

    The only chipset where the rules in (3) don't apply, is the Nforce2
    chipset for AMD boards. Since there is a memory controller per DIMM
    on that chipset, the DIMMs don't have to match in order to work.
    Intel uses a single memory controller for the two channels, so
    the way the DIMMs are run, has to match, and that is where some of
    the rules above come from.

    So, find a Windows utility that can tell you the number of banks on
    the DIMM, the number of chips per bank, and the chip dimensions (16Mx8).
    If both DIMMs match in those characteristics, then keep the RAM, as
    you are ahead of the game. If the DIMMs are different, as in
    one is 8x(16Mx8) and the other is 4x(16Mx16), I would return them
    and get something back that at least matches in terms of the rule (3)
    above.

    Again, as I mentioned above, mom won't notice the difference, but
    I did waste the extra time (right around Christmas, too!) in getting
    matching DIMMs. My vendor screwed up twice, so I was pretty peeved
    by the time the process was finished. The reason it took two tries,
    is the computer in question is an "all in one" LCD display +
    processing board, and they have to open it up to change the DIMMs.
    It is like a laptop, only the keyboard can be any old PS/2
    keyboard if you like. I swore I wouldn't touch it, but eventually
    I had to have a look inside, to see what I was getting. And,
    I was not happy...

    The nice thing about the P4P800-VM, is it is one of the few
    Asus microATX boards with a half decent BIOS. It is still missing
    a few features for an overclocker, but for someone just interested
    in OEMing them, the BIOS is the best feature of the board.

    HTH,
    Paul
     
    Paul, Oct 2, 2004
    #9
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