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'[EE] Motherboard recommendations'
2007\10\29@222504 by Dr Skip

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I may be purchasing/spec'ing a dozen or so new PC motherboards in the near
future. It's mostly for upgrading older, slower systems, so cost is important,
but there should be significant improvements for the dollar... Since everyone
here uses a better than average PC I'd guess, and it is an extremely
knowledgeable group, I need your advice.

If you were using 1.5GHz class Celeron machines with PC2700 memory (+/-), what
would you hand pick for a replacement? I know bus speed can be just as
important as processor speed in the final implementation, and various IO
chipsets are better than others. I also know leading edge performance isn't
cheap... I'd like to find the "3db point" in price/performance for this, if you
know what I mean. ;)

What processor, clock speed, bus speed, memory combination (and video) would
you go to for the best performance bump for the price? That point at which
incremental speed gains per dollar start to fall off, yet the price is still
reasonable? What would $100 buy? $150? $200?

Video isn't as important to me as maybe it is to others. I do some video
capture, so direct draw and the usual enhancements that probably come with most
boards is fine. I don't do games or intensive apps like that. The video, except
for speed, had been fine on these older machines. Linux compatibility is
somewhat important, but seeing as this isn't going to be leading edge, any
suggestion will probably be OK. SATA or PATA is OK, but I would be interested
in hearing if there really is a difference in end user perceived speed.

I look forward to the suggestions (and whether I'll be able to afford them ;).

Thanks in advance.

-Skip

2007\10\30@023338 by John La Rooy

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face
Gigabyte GA-M61SME-S2 motherboard is dirt cheap and has good onboard
graphics for a workstation.

AMD X2 CPU - 3800 is at the slower/cheaper/quieter end, 6000 is
faster/still pretty cheap/noiser. In 5 years time the 3800 is probably
going to feel quite slow though :)

Generic 667 ram is fine - better to spend the extra $ on a better power supply

Probably SATA is more future proof if case the motherboard dies.
I haven't tried SATA optical drives yet.

If you want faster than AMD's 6000 you need to go Intel at this stage,
but then you can't have the onboard NVIDIA 6100 graphics.

John

2007\10\30@040913 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 10/30/07, Dr Skip <spam_OUTdrskipTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
> What processor, clock speed, bus speed, memory combination (and video) would
> you go to for the best performance bump for the price? That point at which
> incremental speed gains per dollar start to fall off, yet the price is still
> reasonable? What would $100 buy? $150? $200?

> I look forward to the suggestions (and whether I'll be able to afford them ;).

Maybe a US$200-300 PC is better than upgrading the old systems. I went
to the local Singapore Electronics market and found it amazing that
you can get so cheap computers if you assemble the things by
yourself (actually you just pick the components and they will assemble
it for you for free if you buy the system).

Full PC systems are relative cheap in US than in Singapore especially
with coupons. You can go to websites like Fatwallet or some similar
sites. Last time you could also get free with rebate routers, memory
modules from websites like Newegg, Outpost (Fry's) and Amazon.
I am no longer living in US but I find there are still good deals in
various websites I used to frequent.


Regards,
Xiaofan

2007\10\30@082334 by Carl Denk

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face
I have used Intel motherboards for some years with good results. They
are made in Ireland in many flavors of options. Just like the CPU's,
they come as bulk without a warranty and possibly setup cd and "boxed"
with 3 year (I think) warranty and the cd. Have bought them both ways.
Here in the USA, I see them in MCM (a division of Newark) catalog, but
probably can find them lower $$ somewhere else. Usually I buy them with
memory and CPU burnt in to eliminate a dispute and the hassle of trying
to figure what's defective.

Xiaofan Chen wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\10\30@121717 by Dr Skip

picon face
Thanks for the recommendations. Buying a new system looks economical, but there
should be some way to reap the economy of having power supplies, drives, and
cases/keyboards already. Besides brands, is it time to buy a 64 bit or dual
core systems yet? Are they far enough down the price curve?

Are the extra core or 64 bits even useful in a vanilla Win2k or XP or Linux
system? Is AMD's HyperTransport a very good thing, or just a marketing hook?

I'm seeing prices from $500 down to this $39 ($54 minus $15 rebate) one that
looks really good on paper, unless I'm not seeing something... Comments?

http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0253751

Here is an Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor 4200+ for $75 and 2.2 GHz...
http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0266345

Although just an AMD 64 bit single core is under $45.

That's under a hundred for the whole upgrade! But is either the right thing at
this time? After looking at these, I might even make a laptop from one and an
easily manipulated LCD display... Any ideas for a power supply for a project
like that? I'd probably want to standardize on 12v automotive (13.5v) power
without an AC 110v inverter.

So, is this too low end these days?

Thanks,
Skip

2007\10\30@143926 by Herbert Graf

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face
On Tue, 2007-10-30 at 12:17 -0500, Dr Skip wrote:
> Thanks for the recommendations. Buying a new system looks economical, but there
> should be some way to reap the economy of having power supplies, drives, and
> cases/keyboards already.

You'd think so. But experience shows me that on the absolute low end it
rarely makes sense to consider those items as having any value. You can
buy brand new PCs for <$300, for that price it just isn't worth it
usually to try and find an upgrade solution.

> Besides brands, is it time to buy a 64 bit or dual
> core systems yet? Are they far enough down the price curve?

I think so, Dell recently had a dual core Athlon64 for $329.

> Are the extra core or 64 bits even useful in a vanilla Win2k or XP or Linux
> system?

Without question. Once you go multicore you'll NEVER want to go make.

> Is AMD's HyperTransport a very good thing, or just a marketing hook?

At the low end it doesn't matter.

TTYL

2007\10\30@145147 by Funny NYPD

picon face
If you are in the US, I would recommend TigerDirect.
Funny



----- Original Message ----
From: Dr Skip <drskipspamKILLspamgmail.com>
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public. <.....piclistKILLspamspam.....mit.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 1:17:12 PM
Subject: Re: [EE] Motherboard recommendations

Thanks for the recommendations. Buying a new system looks economical, but there
should be some way to reap the economy of having power supplies, drives, and
cases/keyboards already. Besides brands, is it time to buy a 64 bit or dual
core systems yet? Are they far enough down the price curve?

Are the extra core or 64 bits even useful in a vanilla Win2k or XP or Linux
system? Is AMD's HyperTransport a very good thing, or just a marketing hook?

I'm seeing prices from $500 down to this $39 ($54 minus $15 rebate) one that
looks really good on paper, unless I'm not seeing something... Comments?

http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0253751

Here is an Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor 4200+ for $75 and 2.2 GHz...
http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0266345

Although just an AMD 64 bit single core is under $45.

That's under a hundred for the whole upgrade! But is either the right thing at
this time? After looking at these, I might even make a laptop from one and an
easily manipulated LCD display... Any ideas for a power supply for a project
like that? I'd probably want to standardize on 12v automotive (13.5v) power
without an AC 110v inverter.

So, is this too low end these days?

Thanks,
Skip

2007\10\30@181343 by Jake Anderson

flavicon
face
If you can go with the intel cpu's
At the moment they "own" AMD in terms of performance and they use little
power.
I think my quad core CPU uses ~25W when idle.
Try to size your power supplies so you are at their peak efficiency
point again so you save $ on power (and save the planet)

At the moment your probably best off staying away from 64bit software it
still seems buggy and getting drivers can be a bitch.

Dr Skip wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\10\31@045423 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>You'd think so. But experience shows me that on the absolute
>low end it rarely makes sense to consider those items as
>having any value.

Exactly. Donate the unit to a local charity that will use it in a school in
an underprivileged area, or something similar that couldn't afford the
hardware.

>You can buy brand new PCs for <$300, for that price it just
>isn't worth it usually to try and find an upgrade solution.

Agreed - you get a whole power supply and (enormously larger capacity) disk
drive, and don't have to worry about MTBF or hardware compatibility or ...

You also can get it as a complete system with monitors, so the old monitors
can go with the old machines.

Replacing the whole unit just makes so much sense as the labour involved in
sourcing and fitting would soon double the price of a new unit. By
purchasing a quantity you may even get a discount.

2007\10\31@125956 by Dr Skip

picon face
Thanks all for the ideas. I will reconsider whole systems. One of my
complaints about whole systems is that I can't find many places that
will sell without an OS, or if they do, there's no price break, meaning
they just wipe it but don't pull it out of their accounting to MS as a
no-OS machine... There was one place that sold a commercial Linux
variant installed "for free" but it was one of those made-to-look-like
windows ones and wasn't an up to date kernel. It was a good price, not
great, and would still involve a lot of upgrading. I was also told by
one of the lead techs in discussion that some of the components didn't
have Windows drivers available anywhere, so one couldn't just put on an
old windows copy. It was how they kept MS happy about selling it, being
a big outlet. No, there's no coercion or monopoly  here... They don't
sell it any more. My guess is, someone found or wrote what was needed to
give it windows and it became common knowledge...

Several of my machines are HP or such. Despite their being higher end,
they are NOT performance machines and after digging into them, they each
have some design compromises, either in mb layout, architecture,
components, or such. They tend to be limited in upgrading, and the mfgr
and often retail will NOT tell you the specs on internals. I have a few
from the USB 1.1 to 2.0 period where I was assured the ports were
'probably' 2.0, but never were.

Cooling has been inadequate in every system, and I've had to do ugly
rework on each. They look like I'm under attack from the Mutant Ninja
PCs... I may end up throwing new cases away anyway. Great cooling design
and cheap don't go together off the shelf (but it isn't tough to make one).

Cheap also doesn't get you great drive size. I'll be adding drives and
$$. Ditto for memory.

Then there's the unknown about whether win2k will support some custom
piece of a pre-made system... HP, Compaq, Dell, etc are famous for
having or needing custom drivers made nowhere else. Leading edge
hardware may not have older drivers either...

I'm still interested in 12v PC supplies though. If I'm going to rework
everything anyway, I might like to standardize on 12v car power standard
and dispense with UPSes, be able to take it in the car, etc. Ideas? Links?

And then there's Vista... ugh. Yes, one can buy a Linux box form a few
places specializing in Linux and not beholden to MS, but you pay much
more for what hardware you get... and while some places offered to
retrofit Vista systems to XP for customers in press releases, the sales
staff usually is conveniently unaware of it or even how to make it happen...

Thanks for listening... ;)

-Skip

2007\10\31@141108 by Funny NYPD

picon face
My HP works fine (using ASUS monther board), though the USB ports on the rear side was damaged after a lighting. The USB ports in the front is fine. Don't understand why only half of the USB ports were damaged, the rest half USB ports are still working.
Another limit is :HP using 2x256M memory stick to get a 512M, makes it harder to upgrade on Memory. you have to junk one or both if you want to put more memory to the machine.
Other than those, the machine seems to be ok for me.

I got a AMD barebone deal (about $300) from Tigerdirect, the only maintainess required is to clean the dirt on the cpu and montherboard every half a year. The AMD system using a larger Fan than the Intel systems I got. Somehow the heat sink seems easier to be jammed than the rest of machines.

Funny



{Original Message removed}

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