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Component compatibility concerns...PLEASE HELP!!

By ahnadahodo · 19 replies
Aug 19, 2004
  1. Hello,

    I'm new here but I was hoping someone here could help me.

    First, a little background. I've been "tinkering" with my current PC (IBM Aptiva E56) trying to tweak as much power out of it as I can. I think I've done as much as I can with it.

    I'm now considering building my own PC and have a few questions about some of the components.

    Here is a list of the components I’m considering-

    Motherboard: MSI 865G Neo2-PLS (MSI Part No. MS-6728-090)
    CPU: Intel Pentium 4, 2.80C GHz (Intel Part No. BX80532PG2800D)
    RAM: Kingston ValueRam, PC2700 512MB x 2 sticks (Kingston Part No. KVR333/512)
    Hard Drive: Western Digital, 160GB 7200RPM, IDE (Western Digital Model No. WD1600JD)
    ATX Case w/400 Watt power supply

    Here are some of my concerns:

    1. The CPU specs for the MSI motherboard mentions the FSB as follows:

    “FSB 400 (for Northwood only), 533, 800MHz”

    What does the disclaimer about the Northwood CPU refer to?

    Does that mean it will only support the Northwood CPU if it has a 400 FSB?

    Or does that mean the Northwood is the only CPU that comes with 400 FSB, that the Prescott CPU doesn’t offer a 400 FSB?

    This concerns me because the CPU I’m considering is a Northwood 800MHz CPU, will the CPU I’ve chosen work on this motherboard?

    2. The Main Memory specs for the MSI motherboard reads as follows:

    “Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 2.5 Volt DDR SDRAM”
    “Supports up to 4GB memory size without ECC”

    What does “unbuffered” and “without ECC” mean and are my memory modules compatable with this motherboard?

    Also, Main Memory reads:

    “Supports Dual Channel DDR266/333/400/433/466/500/533 MHz and up”

    Do the memory modules have to be used as Dual Channel? Or can they be used as Single Channel? Also, I’ve been unable to verify whether or not my memory modules are Dual Channel compatable, I’ve read some specs that say “not Dual Channel compatable” but I’m not sure.

    3. The hard drive interface is IDE ULTRA ATA 100, the motherboard is IDE ATA 100. Will “ULTRA ATA” interface work on just plain old “ATA” interface?

    Any help you could give me on these questions, as well as any other suggestions you may have, would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks a bunch!!
  2. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    It means that if you happen to put a P4 CPU with a 400mhz FSB, it will only work if that CPU is a Northwood. The old Willamette for example, will not work on that board (at least according to what the MSI page says).
    You do not need to consider a 800mhz Northwood, even less buy it since that's what you have right now.
    Northwood have been available in 3 different models since they came out.
    • P4A : 400mhz FSB (it's actually running at 100mhz but internally, it's running a quad-pumped logic so in theory it's as fast as an FSB running at 400mhz), no HyperThreading.
    • P4B : 533mhz FSB (it's actually running at 133mhz but internally, it's running a quad-pumped logic so in theory it's as fast as an FSB running at 533mhz), no HyperThreading (except for the 3.06GHZ P4B).
    • P4C : 800mhz FSB (it's actually running at 200mhz but internally, it's running a quad-pumped logic so in theory it's as fast as an FSB running at 800mhz), HyperThreading capable.
    The Prescott on Socket-478 comes in two flavours : 2.4GHz + 533mhz FSB/no HyperThreading or 2.8GHz & above + 800mhz FSB/HyperThreading capable. The Prescott is not yet worth buying over the Northwood. So far, it runs hotter & isn't that much faster then the Northwood (if not slower in some cases). Stick to the Northwood.
    Unbuffered (as opposed to buffered memory ) & non-ECC ram are the most common Ram found in desktop machines for home users. The memory you have chosen will work on that motherboard but it will not allow for your system to work at its optimum as the P4C needs PC3200 ram in a DualChannel setting to really supply all the bandwidth it needs. The P4C is able to adress 6.4GB/s through its FSB & PC2700 in DualChannel can only offer 5.4GB/s (2.7GB/s x2). DualChannel kits are pairs of memory modules that have been tested & validated to run in a DualChannel setting so it should work out-of-the-box, whereas using two modules that you have bought separatly has a lot to do with luck. Buy a DualChannel kit as it will lower the risks or headaches.;)
    That hard drive will work fine on that motherboard.
    Welcome to TechSpot. Hope you enjoy your stay.:wave:
  3. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,978   +15

    Theres the grand master.

    As he said, you need PC3200, not PC2700 for a 800MHz FSB (which is what a P4 "C" runs at"). PC2700 would be what you'd use for the slower, "B", 533MHz FSB.

    FSB is the Front Side Bus, which I like to think as, how fast everything moves across the motherboard.
  4. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    Well posted Didou. That is a great board. I am currently running two of them and really like them. You should be able to run the PC2700, but as stated above, it will not run to the full potential of the processor. The board itself will determine if the memory is Dual Channel. You will have to put the sticks in the appropriate slots as stated in the manual, and the sticks typically have to be the same size and have the same number of IC chips. For example: 2 sticks of 256 MB both with 16 ICs (8 on each side of the ram stick)...
  5. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    That's because Willamettes require 1.75 volts to operate and the mainboard doesn't go that high.

    However, 2.0 GHz and faster Celerons could work (they need 1.525 volts).
  6. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Thanks for your help.

    However, I may have mis-led you slightly...of the components that I listed, (motherboard, CPU, Ram, hard drive, case & PSU) I already own the RAM modules, so those are a constant. The other items are items I've been considering purchasing from Newegg.

    As for Didou's statement: "You do not need to consider a 800mhz Northwood, even less buy it since that's what you have right now."

    I'm not sure I understand that statement but I don't have any CPU for this new system at the moment. Would it be better to consider a different CPU based on the RAM that I have?

    Thanks again, this is GREAT!!!

  7. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    the Northwood 2.4c or the 2.8c is perfect. He is stating that you should not buy the Prescott CPUs with the 1MB L2 cache. Stick to the Northwood with the 512k cache. The prescott typically is denoted with an "e" such as 2.8e and the Northwood with a "c"

  8. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    For some reason, I thought you already had all the components listed, my fault.;)

    If you can't change the Ram, I do believe the i865 chipset on the board you have chosen allows you to run the CPU's FSB & the Ram speed asynchronously. It will not be as fast as a CPU/memory combination both running at 800/800 but it should be faster then getting a P4B & running it at 533/533.
  9. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Thanks again,

    I appreciate all of your help. Now I need to allow my own "internal CPU" to process your responses, and I will undoubtedly have to return to this post several times for reference. As I understand what you all have said, it sounds like my chosen components would work together, just not as well as they could if it were better planned out.

    As always, any suggestions are welcomed.

  10. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    O.K. Didou, you lost me on the term "asynchronously", what does that mean?
  11. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    This means you should be able to run the processor at 800 MHz and the memory at the lower 533 MHz speed. There may be a setting in your bios for a memory frequendy ratio. This will take the 800 FSB and run the memory at 533. The ration should be 3:2 (CPU:RAM)
  12. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Hi guys & gals,

    I'm back! Since my last post, I've been researching the possibility of buying PC3200 RAM for my set-up instead of using the PC2700 RAM that I have.

    WOW!!! There are more brands out there than I realized, does anyone have any suggestions about which are better than which others?

    I was looking at some Corsair Value Select Dual-Channel Kit and noticed that there are 2 that are the same except for the CAS Latency, one is "3" and the other is "2.5". They are the same price, but which would be better?

  13. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    There is only a couple of percent difference in speed between CAS3 and CAS2.5, but if they're the same price, I'd go for 2.5 model.

    As for brands, I'd say it depends more on your mainboard. Do some research to see if there are some particular brands / models that have problems with your board.
  14. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    Everyone has their preference. Mine is OCZ, but crucial, kingston, corsair, etc are all good brands. I agree with Mictlantecuhtli, that some boards and memory modules are incompatible. It is best to research the forums, contact the manufacturer of the board, etc. to verify that the module is not a known incompatible match. Sometimes the only way to tell is to buy it, put it in and test it...

    The 2.5 CAS is better than the 3 CAS. If they are the same price, buy the 2.5...

    What is the price range for the memory you are looking for? Perhaps I can find comparable or better OCZ memory for your needs.

  15. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Thanks Bug,

    I didn't really have a price range when I started looking, I was just looking for "Dual-Channel" kits. I did a search at Newegg and the least expensive they had, for 1GB of PC3200 DDR, was a Corsair Value Select Dual-Channel Kit for $155 (USD) (same price for CAS 3 or CAS 2.5).

    I'd entertain any suggestions anyone has at this point.

    Yours in training,
  16. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    Perform a search at for:
    OCZ Premier Value Series, Dual Channel Kit 1GB DDR PC-3200
    also found at newegg for $186. CAS 3-4-4-8
    This would be the comparable to the Corsair.

    The step up would be about the same price, but is not sold at Newegg.
    OCZ DDR PC-3200 Premier Dual Channel CAS 2.5-3-3-7
    This has the copper heat spreaders that I find to be very nice.

    Again, go with the 2.5 and make sure you go to the manufacturer's website to see if they recommend a specific brand. That means that they have physically tested that RAM to verify compatibility. It doesn't mean that if the RAM is not listed that it will not work, it just means that they have not tested it and cannot verify compatibility.

  17. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Memory ?'s


    Everyone, thanks for all of your input. I do have a few more questions concerning memory.

    1. Bug, I did a search at Newegg and found the OCZ memory that you suggested. The specs. for the OCZ memory state the following:

    Manufacturer: OCZ Technology
    Speed: DDR400(PC3200)
    Type: 184-Pin DDR SDRAM
    Error Checking: Non-ECC
    Registered/Unbuffered: Unbuffered
    Cas Latency: 3-4-4
    Support Voltage: 2.6V
    Bandwidth: 3.2GB/s
    Organization: two 64M x 64 -Bit
    Warranty: Lifetime

    Everything looks good except for one thing, the support voltage is 2.6V, and the specs. for my motherboard state the following:

    Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 2.5 Volt DDR SDRAM

    Do you think the difference in voltage will be a problem?

    2. I was looking at the review at Newegg for this memory and the only review was this:

    "Bought this memory (not at Newegg). Came with Elixir chips. Multiple memtest errors at rated speed/timings or any other timings or voltages for that matter. Purchase with caution."

    What exactly does this mean and should I not buy this memory based on this review?

    3. Also, I've seen CAS Latency listed in the following manners:

    CAS Latency: X-X-X


    CAS Latency: X-X-X-X

    Why do some lists show 3 numbers and others show 4 numbers?

    I think the first number is the CAS Latency but what are the other numbers for?

  18. Bug

    Bug TS Rookie Posts: 79

    Those are some excelent questions.

    3. This is a great article that will tell you more about CAS latency.,1558,1637763,00.asp

    The first three numbers are the most important, the last is the least used and sometimes not mentioned...

    2. The RAM is rated for a higher voltage than most memory which is typically good since then you can clock it higher. The board should support increasing the RAM by one volt. If not, the RAM should run fine at 2.5.

    1. As far as the review, that is pretty interesting. All I know is that memory manufacturers will typically buy the IC chips from other manufacturers to put on their PCB boards. That is very common. If the manufacturer is good, like OCZ, they will then test the memory for the best latency and tell the customer what they found. So even if the original manufacturer says one thing, OCZ may say, "well, we found this ram could actually do xxx." If they say it will do it, they will guarantee it or replace your ram. OCZ is very good about their customer service.

    Hope that helps
  19. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    Thank you!!

    Yes, Bug, very helpful.

    I think I'm just about ready to place an order to actually buy the parts I need. I've just been trying to get as many questions as I can think of answered first.

    There's just one more area (ya I have questions about, and that involves the PSU.

    I think to avoid any conficts with the moderators, I'd better put that question into another thread.

    Maybe I'll "see" you there.

    Thanks again everyone for your help.

  20. ahnadahodo

    ahnadahodo TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 19

    It's up and running!!!

    Hello everyone,

    Well, I want to thank everyone who helped make my research a success, namely, Didou, agissi, Bug, and Mictlantecuhtli. You guys are awesome! :grinthumb

    I've purchased and assembled my new system and it seems to be up and running well. I didn't have too many problems along the way, just a few, but nothing major.

    I ended up using most of the components that I listed in my original post. Here's what I eventually ended up doing:

    As this was my first build and I'm on a monetary budget, I stripped an ATX case that I came across (I figure I can buy a nicer case later) and installed the following:

    Motherboard: MSI 865G Neo2-PLS
    CPU: Intel P4, 3.0C GHz w/800MHz FSB
    RAM: Kingston ValueRam, 1GB (2 x 512MB) PC2700
    Hard Drive: Western Digital, 160GB, 7200RPM IDE w/8MB Buffer
    Power Supply: P4-ready Enlight 420 Watt
    Other drives: Mad Dog 52X CD-RW, Iomega 256MB Zip Drive
    Operating System: Windows XP Pro w/SP1

    I ended up going with the Intel P4 3.0C because Newegg had it on sale just as I was getting ready to order, so I fiigured "What the heck!".

    For now I'm using the PC2700 RAM that I already had, I figure I can upgrade sometime down the road.

    Also, the Enlight power supply has no shortage of power connectors, it's awesome!!

    All these components seem to work really well together, I just need to learn more about them in order to make them work together better.

    I just wanted to let everyone know how it's going.

    Thanks again to all who helped me. :giddy:

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