Motherboard chipset discussion

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by indyjones, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. indyjones

    indyjones OSNN.net Adventurer

    Messages:
    1,567
    Location:
    England
    Hi all I kinda brought this up in the asus thread ongoing at the moment but I think now that top of the range nforce2 motherboards may not be ideal heres the reasons for why

    Upon the original upgrade I will be keeping:-

    XP2100+ plat
    1 gig (2x256 & 1x512) of crucial 2100 DDR.

    Also I have a creative labs audigy 2 platinum which I will be using over ANY onboard sound.

    So I have noticed a number of chipset variations including Nforce2, KT600 and KT400a what are the pros and cons of these?

    Which should I go for and what make of motherboard I have used asus and abit in the past and always been pleased.
    Features I am really after is good SATA and usb support also I would prefer a passive northbridge heat sink

    Many thanks
    :)
     
  2. Taurus

    Taurus hardware monkey

    Messages:
    3,206
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    i don't really see any reasons there to not get an nforce2 board. your cpu and memory will function fine and you can get a cheaper board without high-end audio on it.

    kt400a = supports 333mhz processors and 400mhz memory
    kt600 = supports 400mhz processors and 400mhz memory and a little faster in general than kt400a

    both nforce2 is still faster than both. ;)
     
  3. Jz1397-5

    Jz1397-5 XP Bad Ass

    Messages:
    1,278
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    nforce2 is a beast. i would suggest the A7N8X (asus's nforce2 chipset) run memory in dual channel mode, and wow thats speed.
     
  4. ming

    ming OSNN Advanced

    Messages:
    4,252
    Location:
    UK
    The only downfall for a new mobo is if you keep your existing sticks of DDR Ram. You won't get the full benefit from the new system unless you get new ones. i.e. PC3200
     
  5. Goatman

    Goatman Ska Daddy

    Messages:
    676
    yes he will, the nForce 2 chipset beforms best when the RAM is in sync with the FSB so a 2100+ runs at a FSB of 266, so will the ram, which equals PC2100.
     
  6. Cosmin

    Cosmin Graphic Designer

    Messages:
    1,633
    Location:
    Romania
    even DELUXE :cool:
     
  7. LeeJend

    LeeJend Moderator

    Messages:
    5,291
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    Yes on the nforce2 (ultra, deluxe, etc if its in the price range).

    Bad news is he won't be able to run dual DDR with 3 sticks of memory. It only works with 2 sticks the same size and will automatically switch to single ddr if you put a third in.

    Try some combinations.
    Run just the 2 sticks of 256meg in sockets 1 and 2. See if the speed is noticably better. You might want to just shelve the 512 until you can get a second one. Or swap the 2 256megs for a 512. Also see you can run the pair of 256meg sticks stably at CL2.0 to get the most speed out of them. (These settings in the BIOS).

    Don't sweat 333/400 ram it has to have everything just right (fast CL, 333 FSB, sticks from the same lot of parts) to be faster than 266mhz.
     
  8. Taurus

    Taurus hardware monkey

    Messages:
    3,206
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    i've been trying to find out the exact skinny on different dual-ddr configurations. everyone seems to have different answers. do you have any semi-hard evidence so support your claim?

    :) thanks.
     
  9. Goatman

    Goatman Ska Daddy

    Messages:
    676
    They don't have to be exactly the same sticks, but I dunno about with 3 sticks. IO know you could have 1 512, and 1 256 and still have dual channel running
     
  10. Daviepants

    Daviepants Guest

    Dual channel, huh? I could probably do it with my 512 and 256.
     
  11. indyjones

    indyjones OSNN.net Adventurer

    Messages:
    1,567
    Location:
    England
    Ok then so your still pushing the Nforce2 chipset..... so I have noticed there are several variations in that particular chipset. What are the differences?
     
  12. Sazar

    Sazar F@H - Is it in you? Staff Member Political User Folding Team

    Messages:
    14,905
    Location:
    Between Austin and Tampa
    rev 2.0 fixes most incompatability problems and fully supports 200mhz front side bus...

    fixes other minor annoyances...

    best to buy a revision 2.0 if possible...
     
  13. indyjones

    indyjones OSNN.net Adventurer

    Messages:
    1,567
    Location:
    England
    What is the Abit board like i know its not the current revision but its cheap i found it at www.overclockers.co.uk

    **Clearance** Abit NF7-S v1.0 nForce2 (Socket A) Motherboard (MB-036-AB)
    Price: £55.00 (£64.63 Including VAT at 17.5%)
    My preference is the asus board but how much difference is this board to the more modern 2.0 abit revision ??
    the price difference is just over £30
     
  14. Taurus

    Taurus hardware monkey

    Messages:
    3,206
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    the Asus A7N8X Deluxe 2.0 has a passive heatsink (quieter, more reliable) on the northbridge and Qfan which controls the cpu fan speed based on cpu temp.

    the Abit NF7-S 2.0 has an active northbridge heatsink/fan and lets you update it's bios easily through windows.

    those are the more significant differences between the two. both have soundstorm audio.

    i also second the idea of sticking to getting a revision 2.0 board. a little more compatible and future-proof.
     
  15. indyjones

    indyjones OSNN.net Adventurer

    Messages:
    1,567
    Location:
    England
    hmmm ok

    The qfan is not needed as i have a digidoc 5 and my fans already are silent :)

    as for the board revision details you say more compatible but what was change between them (apart from mounting holes)
     
  16. indyjones

    indyjones OSNN.net Adventurer

    Messages:
    1,567
    Location:
    England
    I kinda found that answer myself using a quick goolge search apparently the bios is really unstable on the 1xx boards if you can flash that or not to the 2.0 bios is unknown....
     
  17. Taurus

    Taurus hardware monkey

    Messages:
    3,206
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    the revisions are more than bios-deep. 2.0 boards use the nForce2 Ultra 400 northbridge which is good up to a 200mhz fsb and has improved memory compatibility. all manufacturers have seperate bioses for their 1.x and 2.0 boards and they cannot be mixed. also, i haven't heard about any unstable bios problems on 1.x boards. i have a 1.0 and the bios works flawlessly.
     
  18. Temperal

    Temperal Guest

    Here is a link to a pretty good review of some Nforce 2 boards
    NForce 2 Roundup

    And another here
    Nforce 2 Roundup 2

    Here is a small roundup with info on the KT600 board
    KT600

    And then the KT400a review
    KT400A

    Hope this helps, and is not too much.
    Temperal
     
  19. indyjones

    indyjones OSNN.net Adventurer

    Messages:
    1,567
    Location:
    England
    Hey Nice i see the asus board that everybody here raves does well.

    It would have to be the deluxe version for me as I really want the sata (main reason for changing)


    Has anybody here safly diabed the sound (as mentioned before using my audigy2) also when you disable the sound can you get the post report to use your sound card instead ??

    CHeers:)
     
  20. LeeJend

    LeeJend Moderator

    Messages:
    5,291
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    Taurus - interesting, I went to cut the directions for dual ddr out of the asus manual and got an interesting surprise.

    The wording is ambiguous. There are 2 seperate sentences. One says "to enhance system performance use the dual channel feature". The other says that the DIMMS "must be installed in socket 1&3 or 2&3 or in 1,2&3". It's the same in the older a7n8x or the deluxe version. They don't explicitly mention that dual ddr only works in pairs.

    So then I went to the ABIT nforce2 manual and it was even less
    informative. It just said when using 2 3200 dimms use DIMM 2 and 3 slots.

    I'm digging further to see if any manufacturer actually tells you that you are restricted when using the dual channel feature.

    My sources have been tech reviews and the experience of friends with the asus boards who could not even boot in dual channel mode if a pair of dimms weren't in the right socket.

    Note they make 2 sockets one color and the other socket a different color for identification (usually black and blue) and 2 sockets are right up against each other to limit timing delays in the MB interconnect.

    Dual DDR uses the same type of trick that RAID striping uses. While one stick (or HD) is being read the other is in it's "wait state". You need 2 physically seperate devices of the same size to make this work. RAID allows you to use 2 different sized drives but the partitions have to be the EXACT same size. There is no equivalent to a partition in windows memory access so you have to have 2 same sized sticks.

    Actually thats how DDR works too. They have 2 "rows" of chips on one DIMM and interleave access to get the double data rate. Dual channel DDR is actually quad data rate achieved by using 2 seperate memory controllers each one accessing one DIMM. There are not enough pins on a DIMM to do the dual channel trick on one DIMM. It requires 2 seperate databuses.

    Now I'm on a crusade to find a manufacturer who admits this in writing. I'll post the link when (if?) I find it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    EDIT: Manuals for Giga, asus, abit were useless on this quest.

    From the FIC site: http://www.fica.com/site/html/services/faq_detail.asp?c_id=240000645

    Q4 How do I enable the Dual-channel memory mode for the AU13?

    A To enable the Dual-channel mode you must have the a minimum of 2 memory modules. These must be identical modules which means they must have the same IC chips, same specs, same size and same brand. The Dual-channel mode is automatic once you install the one module in each of the Mainboard's 2 memory channels.

    For example of Dual-channel mode:

    Channel 1 - DIMM 1 and Channel 2 - DIMM 2
    Channel 1 - DIMM 1 and Channel 2 - DIMM 3
    Channel 1 - DIMM 1 and Channel 2 - DIMM 2 & DIMM 3
    For example of Single Channel mode:

    Channel 1 - DIMM 1
    Channel 2 - DIMM 2
    Channel 2 - DIMM 3
    Channel 2 - DIMM 2 & DIMM 3

    Still does not address what happens with a third stick since it says memory must be the same size and type???

    Biostar M7NCG Has best description so far implies 3 sticks can be used and still get dual channel. Does not say if third stick has higher bandwidth tho?
    • Memory:
    3 x 184-pin DDR memory modules
    Maximum 3GB total system memory
    Dual Channel DDR 200/266/333/400
    (For dual channel 128-bit performance, at least 2 modules must be installed.)