Help with choosing a motherboard

By Paintball_Star7 · 16 replies
Dec 10, 2005
  1. I am building a computer for a friend of mine for a Christmas present from his parents. I’ve picked out the parts I want to use but I’m not sure what kind of motherboard I should get. I would also like to set up the case to allow front USB connectors. How would I go about doing that? Could you take a look through my setup and offer suggestions and make sure it is all compatible and will work together?

    Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Here is what I’m planning on getting:


    AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 1GHz FSB Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model ADA3800BVBOX - Retail


    CORSAIR XMS 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered System Memory Model CMX1024-3200 - Retail

    MOBO ?

    ABIT KN8 Ultra Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

    Video Card

    matrox Millennium G450 32MB DDR PCI Video Card - OEM – He wants a dual monitor setup

    Hard Drive

    Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6L200M0 200GB 7200 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM


    POWMAX Bio II CP601-2 Blue All Metal Construction (SGCC) ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450W Single Fan Power Supply - Retail

    PSU – I’m going to replace the psu that comes with the case with one I have here at my house

    CoolMax 400w.


    NEC Black IDE/ATAPI DVD Burner Model ND-3550A - OEM

    What kind of extra cables and connectors am I going to need to get?


  2. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    Welcome to Techspot.

    Just get a case that has front usb ports built in and a motherboard with a usb header and connect the two according to the motherboard/case manuals.
    If the case has no front usb, you can add them anyway via a front panel add in bay with usb ports on it. These can go in floppy bays or cd drive bays.

    Is your ram a 1gb stick or a 1gb kit(2 512mb sticks)? It'd be better to get a kit with two matched sticks so you can run them in dual channel mode.

    The video should be fine for basic 2d tasks, but if it will ever be used for any games/3d modeling, etc, then I'd get a better video card. Some nforce 4 boards have issues using pci cards, so I've heard as well.
    I think for the same price you can get a much faster card with more memory that's pci-express based.
    For example, this.
    The matrox may have better 2d rendering though.

    I wouldn't trust a powmax or a coolmax brand psu.
    Both are listed as "uncrupulous" makes at the famous "psu thread" at hardforum.
    For not much more money you could get this psu.
    It's very well reviewed.

    You shouldn't need much else for the pc, the hd cable should be with the motherboard, the cd drive cable comes with the motherboard. I think you might need to only buy some cooling fans.
    It looks like the case can support one 80mm, 92mm, or 120mm fan in the back(120mm would be best), and it appears like it supports two 80mm fans in the front of the case for intake. I'd suggest getting a quiet 80mm for intake and a quiet 120mm fan for exhaust. It comes with a side panel fan(80mm) for intake as well(it could be a really junky fan though).
  3. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    After hearing suggestions from several people I've decided to change the power source to

    Antec TRUEPOWERII TPII-380 ATX12V 380W Power Supply 115/230 V UL, TUV, CB, FCC CLASS B, CUL – Retail

    and the video card to

    SAPPHIRE 100119-HS Radeon X550 256MB 128-bit DDR PCI Express x16 Video Card – OEM

    Will the video card will work fine with a dual monitor setup as long as I have one crt monitor on the vga port and one lcd monitor on the dvi port? I can also buy adapters if I want two crt or two lcd monitors right?

    I have also decided to change from one stick of 1 G Ram to two paired sticks adding up to 1 G Ram.

    I noticed in a Frys electronics add that I can buy the same processor I currently have with a motherboard with it for about 100 dollars less than I am going to currently spend. I’m guessing the combo motherboard is going to be cheaper and I shouldn’t go there but do you have any suggestions? Here is a link:

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 Processor 3800+ & ECS KV2 Lite Motherboard

    Thank you for all of your help. I think I’m getting pretty close to being ready to order. Do you have any additional suggestions?

    Thanks again.

  4. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    An oem video card might not include drivers(just download instead), dvi to vga adapter(worth a few bucks), or any cables/manuals, a retail product would probably be preferable.
    Go for this instead, it's retail.

    The antec should be fine, as would the fortron I listed.

    With a vga+dvi card you can run a dvi lcd and a vga crt(or analog lcd), or two vga monitors(or two analog lcds).

    I wouldn't get the combo deal, it's an ecs board, which are generally cheap, and I think it is an agp board IIRC, not a newer pci express model.
  5. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I think I'll go with the fortron PSU you suggested. Its 20 bucks cheaper.

    I've got to find somewhere to drop around 30 dollars and that would do it right there. Should I go value select ram or would that be a bad idea? I've just got to find somehow to drop the price a little bit.

    Thanks again for all the help.
  6. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373

    Bad Idea on the ECS motherboard

    Granted they do make a decent buget board but that is all you can expect...buget performance.

    Go with the Abit its well worth the extra money....With the ECS it may work fine, but crank up the potential of the X2 3800 and you may run into performance problems with a cheap motherboard......Thats a bad *** CPU get the bad *** motherboard to boot :D
  7. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

    I don't know of any real memory issues with the new AMD cores, I think most any value ram will work fine...but CL2 memory is best for AMDs.
  8. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It was brought to my attention on another board that the SATA hard drive I have chosen might not work with the motherboard I have becuase the motherboard is SATA II.

    I could find almost nothing about this except that here :
    someone suggested using a SATA hard drive with the same mother board I have chosen.

    Any help would be great.

  9. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    I think sata II is backwards compatible with regular sata. So a regular sata drive should work. That said, I do remember reading that some maxtor sata drives had a flaw that made some motherboards inable to properly recognize them.

    I guess it wouldn't hurt to get a sataII drive like this.
  10. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I read elsewhere on the internet that windows xp home edition is compatable with dual core processors. I have windows xp home and would like to put on the computer but I need to make absolute sure that it supports dual core processors.

    Could anyone confirm this for me?

  11. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

  12. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I called AMD and they told me that the home edition will not use both of the cores in the dual core processor.

    I've decided to instead purchase the athlon 64 3800+.

    Is there another processor you would recommend or is this one a pretty good deal?

    Thanks again for all of the help.

  13. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    With the money I save from buying a cheaper processor I'm going to upgrade the video card to

    SAPPHIRE 100121 Radeon X700 128MB DDR PCI Express x16 Video Card - OEM

  14. Paintball_Star7

    Paintball_Star7 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I would like to thank everyone helping me refine my setup and for all of the great suggestions. I put it all together and its working great. The only problem I'm having is that it takes a long time for windows xp x64 to load. Once it boots up if, before doing anything, I reboot it again it boots real fast. Once I run programs and use the computer for a while and try to reboot it boots real slow. Once the computer is booted it works like a charm

    I'm currently searching the web for a solution. If anyone has any ideas I'm open to trying anything.

    Thanks again for all the help
  15. helmcj

    helmcj TS Rookie

    Here is what I recently bought ...

    I am in the process of building my first PC from components; all previous PCs have been purchased from Dell;

    I decided to get the Intel D955XBK motherboard.

    Why? Its only around $220 at Newegg and it has just about everything you could want in a motherboard including: 4 x SATAII + 4 x SATA150; RAID 0,1,5,10; support for Pentium 4, D, and Extreme processors; up to 8GB memory (though you will likely never exceed 4GB due to high prices of 2GB memory modules); built in 5.1 audio; built in LAN/ethernet; 4 USB in rear; 2 additonal USB that can either be rear in an empty PCI opening or more usefully used for front USB on the chassis (case); comes with a front panel module designed to fit where the floppy drive used to go which contains front panel audio, USB, 1394A, 1394B; what did I forget? Lots of bundled software that I will never use.

    I did a bit of reading and went with a Pentium D processor 820 2.8 GHz 800MHz FSB 2MB L2 cache.

    I liked the idea of having pretty much an "all Intel solution".

    I would have even gone with an Intel chassis except that they only make server chassis which are too expensive.

    The fewer vendors the better ... 'caus when you have a problem they like to point fingers at each other.

    The AMD highend processors seem to do better than Intel in "benchmark" tests but I have not seen anything showing that shows that this hold up with more "real world" applications.

    The Intel Board and Processor have 3 year warranties which is nice and if there is a problem I suspect I will get much better treatment from Intel given that both the motherboard and processor are theirs.

    I have learned that its best to load up the system with memory from the beginning and to me you should either go with 2 x 1GB DDR2 modules if you don't have lots of cash or 4 x 1GB DDR2 modules if you can afford it.

    Don't think that memory will necessarily get cheaper in the future ... learned that lesson with the RAMBUS memory in my first Dell XPS.

    Don't know much about the various memory brands. I have not read anything to indicate that "premium" memory modules have a significant effect on performance ... or at least not enough of an effect to justify the added cost.

    I went round and round on video cards. I was amazed that many are way more expensive than the motherboard, processor or in my case the chassis (I bought a Supermicro SC743T-650 server chassis because I have 8 hard drive that I want to use in RAID). I wanted to be able to drive 2 monitors with DVI inputs. I have found that having two monitors is very useful when writing work routines or documentation.

    I found all the different "brands" of Nvidia based video cards confusing. I liked ATI because my understanding is that they make both the chipsets and the video cards.

    If there was a local store that would allow you to compare the actual cards with otherwise identical hardware and monitory I would buy from them even if they were more expensive ... but have not found any.

    The concensus seemed to be that the Nvidia 7800GT was pretty good, the 7800GTX was better but probably not worth the extra cost.

    I read some good things about the ATI FireGL V3200, V5000, V5100 and also about the ATI X1800XL. The X1800XL was a bit more but had more memory and HDTV out so I went with that in the end.

    I did read some reviews that thought that the ATI X1800XL was a better value than then Nvidia 7800GT.

    Note that one of my criteria was 2 DVI outputs to drive two monitors. If you don't have that criteria there are other cards that offer equal or better performance for less money.

    I bought a Supermicro server chassis because I will be using 8 hard drive in RAID. I am really impressed with their SC743 series chassis.

    For more normal chassis the have the SC733 line which is significantly cheaper.

    Based on what I have seen on the SC743 (feature, fit, finish, design) I would definitely recommed Supermicro chassis.

    They also make motherboards but I did not look at them as they appeared to be mostly server boards.

    They do have a 955 based motherboard that appears to be designed as a workstation board which is new and given what I have seen of their chassis I would consider them next time around (which will hopefully be more than 5 years from now).

    Hope this information is helpful to someone.
  16. iluvnug

    iluvnug TS Rookie Posts: 20

    I have the Abit KN8 Ultra mobo and it is nice. The only gripe is the positioning of the IDE and FDD connectors is a bit odd. The case you selected seems like it would work out better than my lian li case because of the positioning of the hard drive bay in my lian li. It's a tight squeeze to get the ide cables in. You can't really go wrong with Abit though from my experience. The board comes with all the connectors you need. And it will work with your X2 processor out of box np. :)

    Also you might consider a different hard drive. Maxtor is not all that imo. You should probably go with seagate.

    One final thing. You might consider a different video card. You should try and take advantage of the PCI express x16 slot. You can achieve dual monitors with many other cards.
  17. hewybo

    hewybo TS Maniac Posts: 435

    Seagate just bought Maxtor!
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