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  1. #1
    Silver Lounger
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    Recommend a mainboard

    Looking for suggestions...

    Going to buy new: mainboard, memory, 500w power supply and processor. Pretty much decided on an Intel 3.0 CPU.

    Current parts that I will continue to use: AGP 8x Video Card, 4 IDE hard drives, PCI soundcard, floppy drive, a USB 5in1 memory card reader, a PCI IDE add-in card and 2 IDE optical drives.

    Things I must have on the mainboard: USB2, on-board LAN

    Something I'd like to have: SATA for later. A board where updating the BIOS is simple! What a joke this task is for most boards. IS there a way to insure the board your buying already has the latest BIOS?

    And finally, the stuff I have no interest in: RAID, on-board audio.

    I happened upon this one from Chaintech. Looks pretty good with two exceptions: it has on-board audio that I do not need and it has ATA100 instead of the faster ATA133. And I must admit, I've never heard of Chaintech before...
    - Ricky

  2. #2
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    I favour the ASUS line of motherboards. Here's the site to go cherry picking.

    You didn't say anything about a new case. My youngest son got me the Antec Sonata for Christmas. It is an excellent case, has internal room for your four hard drives as well as 5 external slots (3 x 5.25 and 2 x 3.5). The power supply is a nice quiet 380w and has two special leads for SATA drives. May want to take a look at the Antec Sonata case.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

  3. #3
    Uranium Lounger viking33's Avatar
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    Ricky,
    Gigabyte has been my MB of choice for some time now. High quality, many features and excellent support. BIOS updates kept current and easy with their own BIOS wizard.

    Check them out at GIGABYTE
    BOB
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    Today it is called golf!

  4. #4
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    I've also had very good luck with Asus motherboards. I've been buying them for the year-end CAD station upgrades at my office for three years running. Probably 45 machines. Not a single problem so far.

    I alos have an Antec Sonata case at home. Very nice case for the money. It only has a 380 W power supply though. It's a very nice Antec Truepower PS, but if your absolutely sure that you need 500W, then it may not do.

  5. #5
    4 Star Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    I too like Gigabyte boards - and updating the BIOS has never been a problem - even though they have dual BIOS capability, I have never had to use it. I also like ASUS and ABit boards.

    Note that all manufacturers make econoclass budget boards, most also make good boards, and some of those make high-end, cutting edge boards.

    I suggest you go out to MWave and use their Motherboard Bundle building page. Since you already know what processor you want, you can use their site to determine what motherboards will run it. I like MWave because they include RAM in their bundles - most bundle offerings are CPU and motherboard only. They give you several options in a wide price and quality range for motherboards and RAM, and quantity for RAM. Their item descriptions are good so you can look up the specs for each board you consider.

    Another thing I like about MWave is for just $9 more, they will mount the CPU and RAM on your new motherboard and test them. For those who don't rip apart PCs on a regular basis, an extra $9 for a good warm fuzzy ain't bad. Its nice to know, outside of your package falling off the truck, that not only do these 3 critical components work, but they work together - not always a sure thing! Internet returns, even with the best of companies, is still a pain.

    Since MWave offers those boards in various CPU bundles, and offers to mount the CPUs and RAM, and test the bundle, then you know what works together and you can use that information elsewhere in your shopping.

    I have used MWave many times with no problems - their bundle offerings can't be beat - and their prices are competitive. I also order a lot from NewEgg and ZipZoomFly, again with no problems.

    I built a PC for my wife using the Antec Sonata case - fantastic case in all aspects except heat exhaust. It is built to be quiet, and it is quite - and it uses up to two 120mm fans, one in front behind a filter (and the filter works great!) and another out back. 120s are great - they move a lot of air but turn at a lower RPM and so are pretty quiet. But I wish it had more fan options. My wife runs Folding@Home - her AMD XP3000+ runs between 59-61C, (not horrible but I don't like it) and that is with a good Thermaltake cooler and Artic Silver. There are several PCs in that room so the ambient sits between 73-74F.

    I mention this because the P4 can generate some heat too. If you are not going to be running your CPU at 100% 24/7 while "Folding" or crunching work units for "SETI", then I highly recommend the Sonata with an Antec 420W or higher Power Supply.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

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  6. #6
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    While we're piling on... I too am pleased with ASUS and plan to stay with ASUS for my next purchase. I'm currently using a P4B533 board and will probably get the best Intel-based board they offer when upgrade time comes again (probably within the year).

    I've used my current motherboard for almost 2 1/2 years and it's been top-notch. I built the system myself and have had no problems whatsoever - not to mention pretty fantastic performance for gaming...

    Just my 2 cents <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>

  7. #7
    3 Star Lounger
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    Mmm ... Love that Sonata

    OK, I know this is a thread about motherboards, but I have to chime in about the Sonata. It's a beautiful case with a beautiful finish, but it's also quiet. I have had to turn on an old computer now and then and am astounded at how noisy it is (and to think I used to think they were fairly quiet machines). In addition to this, it support a slew of USB ports (four in the back and two in the front) and two Firewire ports (terrific for external hard drives).

    Oh, back to motherboards for a moment. Seriously consider getting a board with built in sound. Mine has 5.1 and it sounds terrific for music, games and movies.

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    <hr>
    Another thing I like about MWave is for just $9 more, they will mount the CPU and RAM on your new motherboard and test them. For those who don't rip apart PCs on a regular basis, an extra $9 for a good warm fuzzy ain't bad. Its nice to know, outside of your package falling off the truck, that not only do these 3 critical components work, but they work together - not always a sure thing! Internet returns, even with the best of companies, is still a pain. <hr>

    Seconded. This is definetely money well spent. I've been putting together computers for a long time and when I bought a new MObo/CPU/Ram [1] I didn't have them put it together. I had hassles assembling the parts, and it was difficult figuring out what the issue was, since it wouldn't boot correctly [2].

    Also, although the possibility of damaging a computer component while installing is pretty low if you'r careful, it's problably highest with this operation. I like the idea of someone putting it together and saying "Yep, these components are good" before I have to pay for it.

    I just ordered 14 CAD workstations from mwave.com. They did pretty good. They made a few mistakes, I made a few, but any questions were promptly dealt with and solved. Better than a lot of "Internet Only" companies. You can even call them on the phone!



    [1] An Asus board from mwave.com, btw

    [2] Turned out to be a problem with the BIOS, and once I cleared it by resetting the jumper on the board, it was OK. Not hard, but takes a certain amount of knowledge to know that this is a possibility

  9. #9
    4 Star Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    Tricky - you did not state the most important factor - what is the intended use for this machine? Is it to be a game machine? A home office machine?

    As far as built in sound, the better motherboards have better sound - better as in higher fidelity - and for all but the most audiophile types like me, on board audio is quite good - but then again, you must have good speakers too.

    On board video is another story. Even the best on board video does not compete with even the run-of-the-mill half way decent video cards. Note too that on-board graphics will commandeer a chunk of RAM for its use. This takes away from the RAM available to the CPU, which impacts performance. Add on cards have their own dedicated video memory and the high end boards have much faster graphics processor units (GPUs). Note that besides sufficient RAM, a better video card is a great way to improve overall system performance.

    I recommend no less than 512Mb of RAM - 1Gb would be better.

    HOWEVER, you need to decide the purpose of this machine. If your goal is to write letters, surf the Internet, play solitaire, and answer email, then an on-board video will work just fine and save you a few bucks. Of course, in the future (tax refund time??) you can always shell out $500 - $600 for a new, bleeding edge, monster graphics card.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

  10. #10
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    I found this site in my favourites. HTH.
    Granville

  11. #11
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Recommend a mainboard

    Power supply, one word: NeoPower.

    As for mainboards, I had a bad experience with an ASUS board and their tech support honked me off. I was particularly fond of my Epox board before a power surge took it out of commission. Right now, I'm using a Gigabyte board in my main system, and I tend towards ECS for no-frills, stable boards that don't drain the bank account. If you don't plan to overclock, they're great. Pretty much every board these days has USB2 and integrated LAN, most likely you'll find integrated audio as well - but you need not use it.

    My best suggestion is to check out reviews at places like Tom's Hardware and other hardware enthusiast sites.
    -Mark

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