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Need help finding a new motherboard.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Total Oblivion, Nov 10, 2007.

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  1. Total Oblivion

    Total Oblivion Thread Starter

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    I'm not sure where to start. I have done research on getting a new motherboard but it has turned out inconclusive. My budget is 200 dollars or less. Though, maybe I could go up slightly if it's worth it. I'm looking for a board that's comparable to my current board, but a few bonuses would be good, too. It needs to be able to run 4x 1GB sticks of Patriot 800MHZ DDR2 ram - 4 4 4 12 T2 (though, T1 would be really nice if possible).

    Current setup:
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6700.
    8800 GTS 640mb.
    2 GB generic ram 800 MHZ (with 4 GB patriot RAM that's I intend to install later).
    SATA 250GB HDD.
    Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer sound card.

    I currently have an ASUS P5N32 SLI SE Deluxe, which is misbehaving. It's not supporting all 4 sticks of my ram. I've heard of other users getting the same problem with it too. Apparently they had to set "memory remapping" in the BIOS. Well, that won't help me now... I'm getting CMOS errors every time I boot, even with the default settings loaded before next boot. I can't even get into the CMOS settings, it just goes to the dual-boot screen when press F1 to go to the setup screen anyway. I have an old set of ram, too. The old set of ram works in any of the slots, but there's a slot that keeps the computer from booting when I use the new ram (and yes, I've tested the ram in memtest, no errors). Well, I'm fed up with this board. I need help finding a new one, and I don't want to make the mistake of getting an unreliable board. I need a board that's easy set up and use without much hassle (or wrestling with, I don't want to break anything, that might be why that one slot isn't working, I had to push a little to get the ram to click in place).
     
  2. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    If you are running 32 bit, there is no board that will utilize 4 gb of ram and every one has different parameters for how high they will go and in what slot. Why do you feel you need 4 gb anyway as I cannot think of much of anything that would matter on anyway.
     
  3. Total Oblivion

    Total Oblivion Thread Starter

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    I have Xp Pro 32 bit and Vista ultimate 64 bit.

    It's a way of future-proofing my computer. It's already slowing down big time with Company of Heroes. It even crashes. But, this is with 2GB of ram. With 3GB, it ran with NO slowdown, EVER... Though, that was before my motherboard started acting weird. Now 3GB makes my system run like a P3. Crysis is coming out, and it will have a 64-bit version.

    Edit: Also, in my research, people say 4GB is the sweet spot for vista. I've taken quite a liking to vista, too. Though, I still use XP from time to time.
     
  4. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    There is no board that will run a full 4 gb in Vista either at 32 bit.
     
  5. Total Oblivion

    Total Oblivion Thread Starter

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    I dual boot, my HD has 2 partitions.

    XP Professional (32-bit) is on one, Vista Ultimate (64-bit) is on the other.

    I do not use Vista 32 bit.

    I am fully aware that XP can only handle 2 GB of data, and 3 - 3.5 GB with a special tweak. I am also fully aware that 32-bit applications, even under a 64-bit operating system, can only run 2 GB of data. That is why I mentioned Crysis, which has a 64-bit version. I will be running the 64-bit version of Crysis under Vista 64-bit.

    So, therefore, I would benefit from having 4 GB of RAM over 2.

    However, my current motherboard does not permit me any higher than 2 GB of ram. This is a problem, because I spent 200 dollars (before rebates were sent), on two brand new sets of Patriot Memory 2 x 1 GB kits.

    So, please, someone. Help me choose the right motherboard this time. I don't want to make another dumb mistake. I've researched some newer motherboards with PCI E 2.0 and DDR2 / DDR3 capability. However, they have the X38 intel northbridge, which has a bandwidth of only 2 GB / s. The 680i northbridge has a bandwidth of 8 GB / s. I have no idea how this will impact the performance of the motherboard, or what it really means. I have considered older motherboards with the 680i northbridge, but I don't know if that's the right choice. I'm quite confused, and am looking for guidance on choosing a new motherboard.
     
  6. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    Now I am really confused as that board has Nvidia chipset and states it will support 8 gb of ram. The 4 gb limitation is XP and Vista though putting in 4 gb you should see about 3.5 only, but not 2gb.
     
  7. Total Oblivion

    Total Oblivion Thread Starter

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    Yes, I was very confused too. This is a very confusing scenario best told in a narrative, so, here's my story:

    I noticed that my RAM was consistently getting very close to being maxed out or being maxed out in some games. I thought now would be a good time to upgrade to 4GB of ram, so I bought 4 sticks of the aforementioned RAM. I noticed problems in Vista with the RAM, but not XP. In Vista 64-bit, where all 4 sticks were used, everything ran much slower. I might as well have been running on a P3. However, everthing was running good in XP. So, I took one of the sticks out. Viola, system is running smoothly again! I had enough RAM to run my games no problemo. HOWEVER, with 3GB I might as well have DDR ram instead of DDR2, because from what I understand, you have to have an even number of RAM sticks installed for Dual Channel to work.

    I looked online and found that several owners of my board were experiencing the same problem as I. The solution: enable memory remapping in the BIOS. The kicker (for me, that is): My BIOS was custom-made by the OEM that made my computer. I had to flash my BIOS. I ran into several complications with that. My floppy disks were too small to hold both the DOS OS and the BIOS file. I couldn't flash that way. So I tried making a bootable CD. Again, no luck. The BIOS file could not be found by the DOS. I was sure I did everything correctly... I tried the Asus in-windows update utility in windows, but instead I get "installation abooted" errors because the software is buggy. No doubts there... So, essentially I was unable to flash my BIOS... Period.

    I called tech support, which was surprisingly helpful for me modifying my PC. They told me to run memtest86. After some memtest86 test runs, I isolated the problem to a single RAM stick... Sent back the pair for a new pair of sticks. The new pair checked out just fine. I try installing it in my motherboard, but then my BIOS disappeared! The computer asked for a floppy or CD. I installed the motherboard's CD and the BIOS successfully flashed. Booted up again, same error. I flashed the BIOS again. I realized that the RAM was somehow causing the error. But all the RAM was good! No errors in memtest86. Then, I took one of the 3 sticks and moved it to a separate slot. Problem solved. The slot seemed to be bad, somehow. Though, I could spot no visual damage to the slot or the surrounding area of the motherboard.

    I started getting CMOS errors on boots thereafter! I'm forced to load default settings, because I can't access the CMOS. I have two options: F1 - enter setup; F2 - load default settings. Every time I try to enter setup, it just dumps me to the dual boot screen. Even after I load default settings for the CMOS, I get the same CMOS error on the next boot. I boot up Vista on the 3 gigs of patriot mem, and it runs like its on a P3 again... XP works just fine, though. Funny thing is, that when I put the old 2 GB of non-brand RAM sticks back in, WITH one of the sticks in the slot that caused the BIOS to disappear, everything runs normally again.

    Well, I had the bright idea of flashing my BIOS again. So, I put 3 GB of patriot mem, with one being in the bad slot like before. My computer refuses to boot! After moving the stick to the adjacent free slot, the computer boots to the BIOS screen with the same CMOS error (Press F1 or F2, yada, yada, yada). I'm stuck with the first version of the motherboard's BIOS! I can't flash to an updated version (which might fix the CMOS errors), so I can't overclock my CPU to 3.2 GHz like it was before. I'm stuck at 2.6! I can't get my 4GB of ram to work because the computer won't even boot with 4 GB in there now. If it's a voltage issue with the RAM, I can't very well change the voltage if I can't access the CMOS, right? The RAM is running at 1.72 volts with 4 4 4 12 timings 266 MHz / channel. It should be running at 2.2 volts with the same timings, but at 400 MHz / channel.. The old ram is supposed to run at 2.1 MHz, so maybe that's why my computer boots with it in that troublesome slot. Everthing is at default / automatic settings, which seem to be causing the CMOS errors. This might also be causing the nonbootnessr with the new RAM in that particlar slot, too. Though, even with just 1 stick of new RAM in that slot, and the computer does not boot.
     
  8. Rich-M

    Rich-M

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    You know something, you need to junk that board and get away from Asus though your overclocking could have started all this, somehow it just sounds like flakiness I have seen with Asus for the last 2 years, and is a reason I avoid them like the plague, that and the fact their repair service is quick to ship but useless at repair. Rma it and sell the replacement on eBay is what I always do when silliness like that happens.
    Frankly for reliability i would buy Intel boards and if you have to oc which I have never done I would go with Gigabyte or Msi both of whom seem quite healthy again.
     
  9. Total Oblivion

    Total Oblivion Thread Starter

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    Thanks a million! I'll probably be be back later with some specifics. I am a newbish overclocker, though. I'm just overclocking to my OEM's standard. I've not overclocked anything but the CPU. I'll probably be back in a lil bit with some specifics. I'm still torn between choosing a current-gen board or a more expensive one with all the bells and whistles like PCI E 2.0 and SATA2 (both which I don't plan to have any use for probably another year).

    Edit: I hope I can keep the OS's without having to pay for a new copy. After all, the mobo is how the OS validates itself.

    Edit: Back. I narrowed it down to 3 mobo's. Intel isn't on here because I couldn't find one that met all my minimum expectations.

    GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Rev. 2.0 LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Newegg: $177.99

    The cheapest one I found where I won't actually be downgrading. Same price as my Asus, just better. I like it being "ultra durable", because most other things I get apparently aren't. Lots of positive reviews. Not a lot of DoA's, if any. That's definitely a plus because the law of natrual selection deems me as the release valve for DoA's :p. I'd say this board prepares me for the "here and now". I could use this board until I needed to upgrade to a 45 nm processor or a new GPU.

    MSI P6N Diamond LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard Newegg: $224.99 (194.99 after rebate)

    This one's a few dollars more expensive. People have commented using 4 GB of ram no problemo. It may be more expensive, but I don't know if I'll really gain anything over the GA-P35-DS4. It has a different chipset, which I hear is "fast". I hope that if I buy the GA-P35-DS4 that won't mean that i'm bottlenecking my components. Unfortunately, I've seen some pretty unnerving reviews on this mobo. It is afterall 4 eggs, while the other 2 I have here are 5 eggs. I might actually need to stay away from this board after further consideration... Again, with this board I'm set for the "here and now".

    GIGABYTE GA-X38-DQ6 LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Ultra Durable 2, Ultra Cooling Intel Motherboard Newegg: $270

    My favorite board. Boy have the pennies added up... Better go get that metal detector. This board sets me for the "here, now and the future". 45 nm processor support (may not get it too soon, though). PCI E 2.0 (again, probably not for another year, but I don't want to have to replace mobo's every year...). This well exceeds my budget of 200 dollars, but it's still easily buyable (it just won't look nice next to that PS3 bill ). I havent seen any weakensses with this board. It doesn't support DDR3, but I don't support DDR3 either. DDR3 is too pricey for the performance anyway.


    But again. I HAVE to get one of these motherboards, or else something similar that meets my needs. I'm not sure which one I should get, though. I need a mobo that'll be good for gaming. Maybe some light OC'ing.
     
  10. Total Oblivion

    Total Oblivion Thread Starter

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    I went ahead and decided on the GA-X38-DQ6. I liked the idea of being future resistant for next year's holiday season.
     
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