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Part 2 - Mobos/CPUs (The BIG Build an Entertainment PC Project)

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by ColdKilla, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. ColdKilla

    ColdKilla
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    OK Guys and Gals we are underway with the discussions on building your home entertainement PC.

    The idea of this project is for myself and others in a similar position to discuss each aspect of a PC over a few days / threads so we can pull together all our findings and products on each of the chosen subjects and all assist one another on what's out there and what things to look for....

    We have one thread going on cases which is ticking along very nicely indeed but I thought I would start the second stage today.

    If we can hear the pro's cons of each mobo and cpu / products to look out for / what performs better for the purposes of a HTPC or what additions we would want on the mobo (on board sound / slots / ram etc) you can recommend then the topic can run from there.

    Obviously buyers feel free to put forward your budget and see what some of the experts can recommend for the money you have available.

    My reason for this concept is two fold one to assist myself in building a new entertainment pc but also secondly to pull together many bit part threads on small aspects of each item to save people struggling to find exactly what they are looking for when they are carrying out a similar project.....

    Personally I will be looking at a mATX mobo but I dont want the discussion limited to that - if people have recently bought a mobo / cpu please post your thoughts on it now its running - would you recommend it has it got any faults etc
     
  2. OneEleven

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    I really like my EQS M45P8 MLF uATX motherboard, silmply because it has so much on board that it HTPC friendly like firewire, decent Radeon graphics, SPDIF and TV-OUT. :D

    Being socket478/AGP it's getting old now, but they do Socket 939, 754 and 775 versions with all of the above plus PCI-Express X300 graphics built in. There's an MSI board too available for s939 (MS RS480 MIIL or somethign like that) which is very similar. I think if specing amachine now I'd go the socket 939 route and use AMD cool'n'quiet, probably going with the EQS board as I'm so impressed with mine :smashin:

    Then there's the Aopen Socket 479 boards for those wanting a quiet mobile solution. One of these has component video out IIRC (something 915)
     
  3. bigdic

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    I'm thinking of getting a GigaByte GA-K8NF-9 and an AMD64 3200+ venice with it.

    Anyone have any experiance of this combo? it pretty much maxes my budget (£200) so I'm hoping it'll do the job, it's got everything I need (digital sound out, 3 PCI slots, PCIE for GIGABYTE 6600GT SLI SILENTPIPE, SATA controller).
     
  4. meansizzler

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    Well if your looking for the Ultimate Micro ATX Board then you have to go with this board Intel D945GTP, it pretty much has all the High End features of an ATX board but in a Micro ATX Design...

    CPU:pentium D/4 Support
    CHIPSET:INTEL 945G
    FSB:1066/800/533 MHz
    Graphics:Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950
    Memory:Dual Channel DDR2 667/533/400 MHz (4 Dimms)
    Audio:Intel® High Definition Audio; SigmaTel STAC9223
    I/O:SATA 300 and ATA-100
    LAN:10/100 LAN
    Plug and Play:8 USB 2.0, 3 Firewire
    RAID:INTEL MATRIX RAID
    Expantion:pCI-E 16X, PCI-E 1X, 2 X PCI

    I done alot of reserach on Intel Boards and this is the best one to get, it comes in 5 Variations and I recommend getting the D945GTPLR

    The built it graphics is pretty high end able to handle Hi-Def content with ease, so you do not need a seperate graphics card, also the sound is amazing to and has a built in Dolby Digital Encoder, so you do not need a seperate sound card either, this is pretty much the best Intel based Micro ATX Board Out there..

    You can Put any LGA775 Based P4 CPU on it, and also any Pentium D "Dual Core" CPU, well except the Pentium 840 EE which is only supported by the 955X chipset..I'd go with the "Intel Pentium D 830", which is reasonably priced and runs at 3GHZ
     
  5. FruitBat

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    Thinking socket 479 myself.
    Of the 2 Aopen boards, (855 or 915) it'll probably have to be the 855. Thinking as follows:
    - I have 2 PCI DVB cards already and I may get another. Are there any PCI-E TV cards?
    - Older mb gives more chance of linux compatibility (MythTV).
    Is this flawed logic?
     
  6. Skunkpipe

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    Fruitbat - depends on what case you're after.
    If you are thinking of something slimline (Silverstone LC11 type case) that uses risers, then the 855 would be the better board as the risers for this come with the case and there are no PCI riser alignment issues. If going for a full size or cube (Enlight/Sugo) then the 915

    Re: linux compatability it should be no different - essentially it's using an intel915 chipset not unlike those found on intel 915 based desktops.

    I'm not aware of any PCI Express TV cards yet. The fact you only get 1 1xPCIExpress would mean you could only fit one
     
  7. Triggaaar

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    I've just picked up an Asus SLi PCI-E Delux for AMD 64.

    Firstly you should probably choose your chip before motherboard (AMD or Intel).

    Motherboard considerations:
    Obviously it must fit your case, match your chosen chip, HDD style (SATA or IDE), GC (PCI-E or AGP).
    Will the board you get have all the cables you need? Mine came with everything for IDE or SATA HDD, floppy, CD/DVD.
    Does it have all the USB sockets you need?
    Do you need on board sound (SPDIF out) or will you be needing an additional card for SPDIF in anyway?
    Check number of PCI slots, no. of HDD it can take (you may want to add more for an HTPC) amount and type of memmory.
    And... if you want a quiet PC, will it have a fan over the Northbridge chip, and if so, will there be room (once the GC is in) to replace it with a cheap Zalman heatsink (£5)?
     
  8. Pootle

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    well I had an abit NF7 with AMD Athlon 2500, but it just couldn't cope with the HDNET high definition TV shuttle launch recording - not just jerky, but completely unable to handle parts of the recording, with freezes lasting several seconds.

    I upgraded to an ASUS K8V mobo with Athlon 64 3500 and that copes, although CPU does run at 80% for some seconds in places, but if you want HD programme material I wouldn't go for much less.

    Right now I would go for an ASUS A8N SLI as the cool pipe technology does away with the CPU fan as well, and it will take dual core CPU's which I suspect will be needed quite soon.
     
  9. Dr_Mike

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    I went for an AMD Sempron 3000+ Socket 754 (Palermo ?) sitting on an EQS M62K8-MLF mATX motherboard.

    Decided on the processer first, the S754 semprons have had some good write ups and are said to run cool (Mine is barely above 30 C after watching a DVD movie). It should have enough welly to deal with anything I'd want to do, at least untill hi-def comes along.

    I chose the mobo because of the onboard ATI graphics (supposedly equivalent to an X300) which I'm hoping to be able to use with a VGA-RGB SCART cable (cable on order) It also comes with a TV-OUT bracket which I'm using until I can get the other cable set up. The onboard sound is good enough with 5.1 channel analogue out and SPDIF out. It's got 4 USB ports on the back plate and another 4 headers on the board.
     
  10. Xelon

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    Just completed my HTPC chose a full size ATX, went for the MSI K8N SLI Diamond Dualnet, this is a feature laden Motherboard, which includes on board 7.1 SB Live 24 bit sound processor, integrated Bluetrooth and Wi-Fi Card + Antena, SATA2 (6) Raid etc. I chose the board as everything is integrated and I have a Bluetooth Mouse and KB. For the processor I went for the AMD 64 3700+, which was reduced by 20% on the day I received it DOH! Would thoroughly recommend if going for a high end powerful HTPC, the Mainboard is not silent, but certainly not as loud as the New Asus chipset screamers.
     
  11. Skunkpipe

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    Good choice. However Socket 754 doesn't support cool'n'quiet. I'd recommend the socket 939 version the M56K9-MLF or the ATX version the A58K9-MLF; and yes the ATX version does come with onboard graphics too
     
  12. MikeyUC

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    I have just got my MSI RS480 M2 board working, main benefits are :-

    Socket 939, cool and quiet functionality
    Radeon x300 PCI Express on board graphics, with component out.
    5.1 sound
    No chipset fan.
    About £60

    With my Athlon 64 3000 the board is completely passively cooled using a Ninja Scythe heat sink and a 120mm case fan running at 7V.
    Once I replace my ancient noisy power supply the computer should be more or less silent. ( at the moment its just very quiet )

    I did have a problem running this board with Windows 2000 but with XP installed it seems extremely quick. Haven’t tried any games on it yet.
     
  13. FruitBat

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    Fair point. I'm probably being over-cautious about compatibility. For either mb, I'd use the 2 PCI slots for 2 DVB cards. I'd get a new graphics card for the AGP or PCIe (x16) slot. That leaves me with a PCI slot (855) or PCIe (x1). Which is more useful? What can the PCIe slot be used for?
     
  14. OneEleven

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    I think you just answered you're own question there. :rotfl:
    There just aren't many (any? :confused: ) 1xPCI Express cards out there at the moment. I'm sure this will increase with time as the number of PCI slots on motherboards decrease though.
     
  15. rmask

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  16. ColdKilla

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    Is the onboard graphics card on some of these mobos really good enough especially with all the hi def etc?
     
  17. Xelon

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    Definately stay away from onboard Video solutions, most share the systems RAM and hog the CPU, most have lower memory clocks, less pipelines and vertex shaders than there PCIe/AGP counterparts. Most also only have a 64bit memory bus, unlike say an old add in card like a Radeon 9800pro which has a 256bit bus.
     
  18. Triggaaar

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    No, it's not. On board sound (SPDIF) will often be ok, but definitely not the on board graphics, for a HT.
     
  19. Skunkpipe

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    That may have been the case with PCI/AGP architecture, but it's not the case with PCIExpress. The bottleneck before was the interface between the onboard memory and the gfx controller. PCIExpress removes this bottleneck.
    Onboard X300 is reputedly as good performance wise as an AGP Radeon 9600 - which is more than sufficient for HTPC applications - even the older onboard 9100/9200 solution is more than a match for HTPC
     
  20. Xelon

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    Disagree, X300SE is still 64bit and will struggle with HD material, particularly 1080p clips, as for 9100/9200 DirectX 8! the bare minumum for a HTPC currently would have to be DirectX9 compliant.
     
  21. Skunkpipe

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    So it's directX8 *shrugs* - it still works admirably - one of my current systems uses it with no issues whatsoever.

    Onboard X300 is the only MCE certified onboard graphics controller - is playing 1080p part of the certification process?
     
  22. MikeyUC

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    Haven’t really tested my on board X300 with HD material yet.

    However, normal DVD viewing using PowerDVD 6 (I think) uses about 40 – 50 % cpu.
     
  23. OneEleven

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    I have onboard 9100/9200 on my mobo.
    I was looking at CPU usage the other week when trying to debug a TV card problem - CPU usage when playing a DVD was about 20%.
    I wouldn't think the graphics card is the bottle neck here. My old P3 500 Voodoo3 used to play DVD's OK
     
  24. Xelon

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    Well Skunkpipe, if you're happy to run with the minimum spec and don't want to be too ambitious with youre HTPC ie. FFDSHOW, Theatretek, purevideo etc. Then so be it, personally I use my HTPC for viewing Hi-Def and upscaling SD sources, also play games in Hi-Def and enjoy experimenting with various MCE plugins and add ons. So its horses for courses I guess.
     
  25. Dr_Mike

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    When you say onboard X300, is this the same as Radeon XPress 200 ? This is what I've got on my EQS. The manufacturer advertises it as onboard X300, but the ATI catalyst control center always refers to it as Xpress 200, and never X300.

    Other limitations of onboard gfx are the lack of DVI ports (does anyone make a mobo with onboard DVI ?) and the question of Powerstrip support if you want to do customer resolutions. Their website says they don't specifiacally support onboard VGAs although it should work with some if they are similar to dedicated gfx cards ('m hoping the Xpress 200 falls into that category !)
     
  26. OneEleven

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    I use powerstrip with my 9100/9200. Thinking about it why shoulding it work, I think it uses the same catalyst drivers.
    Re naming I think it's the same with mine - advertised as a 9200Pro, but chipset is a IGP9100Pro - I think they use the same graphics engine, but the different number is used to denote it's onboard V's external. :confused:
     
  27. Skunkpipe

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    LOL thanks for that - so how do you find upscaling to 1080p?
     
  28. Spy

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    I don't understand the problem here.

    Go with the onboard graphics for a month and if you find it does not do everything you want, buy an external card and plug it in !
     
  29. ColdKilla

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    Sounds like a plan - probably cudnt afford to do the gfx same time as case / mobo / cpu anyway so....

    CK
     

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