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Upgrading my computer, need serious help on mobo decision...

By cornellian ยท 35 replies
May 19, 2006
  1. Hi everyone, first post here..

    After an incruciating academic year, I've decided to cheer myself up by self-upgrading my aging computer, an HP Media Center Edition 876x, basic specs as follows:
    P4 2.4 HT w/800 FSB, Socket mPGA478
    ASUS P4SD-LA Motherboard (for uATX(micro) cases)
    Phoenix - Award Bios
    On-board RealTek 8101L 10/100 Ethernet
    On-board audio w/Dolby 5.1 in 2-channels
    512 mb RAM
    A DVD+RW and a DVD-ROM
    120 GB 5400rpm HDD
    GeForce 5200FX, 128 mb w/AGP8x
    200w PSU
    Windows Media Center Edition 2004
    and a bunch of irrelevant hardware & software..

    Over the last few months I've been slowly buying parts that I'd need to upgrade, but I need a master's advice to finalize everything by the mobo decision and build up the computer. These are the parts I've got:
    For my puny PSU's replacement: a Cooler Master 600W PSU.
    For the RAM: 2x1 GB Corsair Twinx 184-pin DDR400 (PC 3200)
    For graphics card I've just got eVGA GeForce 7600GT PCI-Ex16 w/256ram..

    I bought all these with the biggest rebates I could find because I'm on a budget.. As you can see I've not bought a sound card nor an ethernet adapter, hoping to get them with the mobo. Now, like everyone else, I would like to spend as little as possible to have everything I need for the task, and thus I've decided to keep my harddisk and CPU if I can, to upgrade them later on if needed. So, what I'm looking for should be a quality board, small enough to fit in a microATX, should support PCI-E video cards, and shouldn't have any compatibility issues with any of the parts that I've bought or I plan to go on using, and preferrably should have on board audio&ethernet to save up costs.

    I would greatly appreciate any recommendations on this mobo or advice on other parts, what I should be doing etc. If you need more info I'd be more than happy to come up with whatever I could find. Thanks a lot..
  2. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    if you are in the US then go to newegg and look at the socket 478 Asus Boards they have. they are the best quality socket 478 board still available. you should not have a problem finding the board you need there.
  3. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yes iss, I am in America, in New York.. Thank you for your reply, but will a 478 socket ASUS motherboard fit in my microATX case and support my new RAMs and videocard? I am in Computer Science, in theory I should be knowing these things, but, oh well :eek:..

    I believe I will have to format my disk, right? I have read in couple places that people using OEM versions of windows cannot reinstall their copy but have to pay for another activation number, is that true? Thanks again, I appreciate your help...
  4. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    when you check at newegg look at the form factor for the board and choose one that will acomodate a micro ATX form factor.

    Technically yes microsoft says you should buy a new copy of XP. but as far as I have seen they are not sticklers about it as long as the OEm is a legite copy. you may or may not be able to activate on line after installing on the new setup. if you have to call them they will simply ask if you have the OS installed on more than one machine when you tell them no, they give you a new license code for activation.

    OR if you stay with an asus and a similar intel chipset as what you have you may not have to reformat at all. or do a repair install instead of a complete reformat and reinstall.
  5. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I made a power search in newegg, and here were my meager criteria:
    1) microatx form factor
    2) 4x USB 2.0
    3) 1x or 2x PCI-e x16
    4) DDR Standard of DDR400
    5) 3x or 4x 184 pin DDR slots

    ..and the rest were set on 'any' to get as many hits as I could; yet there were only four matches: 2 asus, an intel and a gigabyte boards, all being socket Ts (LGA 775). They are:
    ASUS P5GD1-VM (seems out to be the better asus according to reviews)
    Intel BOXD915GAGL (good reviews like the second asus)
    Gigabyte GA-8I915G-MF (two out of four reviewers had problems)

    I shudder when I ask this but, as my cpu is Socket mPGA478, would that mean that my cpu won't work in those motherboards? And if there is no reason for me to get a heart attack and it will work, what would your recommendations be among these four mobos? Thank you for your interest..
  6. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    yes your 478 socket CPU will not work in a socket LGA 775 mobo. what you might want to consider is buying a cheap mini tower ATX case and go with a standard form factor ATX board. the simple fact is socket 478 mobo's are getting harder and harder to find. they will be around for a while yet but there isnt going to be a wide selection of boards. one of the better Asus socket 478 boards is the P4P 800SE.
  7. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    This thing just keeps getting worse, I guess I should have checked the compatibility of CPU and motherboard first as they are the most expensive parts. I checked the board you mentioned iss, but it seems it only has AGP8x slots, no PCI-e ones, and therefore it wouldn't do any good for me. In fact I could only find a single mobo that is socket 478 and pci-e ready and that is an AsRock board most people reviewed as 'broken and useless'...

    I must admit that I am disillusioned; I hoped to get an upgrade under 300$, but now it will cost twice as that and I don't know if I can afford it.. But suppose that I can:), what would your mobo& cpu advice, are the socketT mobos the way to go with a dual core CPU? I made a power search in newegg for a newer mobo with ddr ram support (as I don't want to have bought my 2x1gb rams for naught) and hit 8 motherboards. Would you happen to know and recommend any one of them? They are:
    Intel BLKD101GGCL
    Intel BOXD101GGCL
    Intel BOXD915GAGL
    Gigabyte GA-8I915G-MF.
    Thanks a lot for your big help...
  8. benken2202001

    benken2202001 TS Booster Posts: 114   +17

    i highly recommend moving from micro-ATX to full ATX (mini-tower). You might need to spend money on the case, but you'll save it in the end because you won't need to upgrade to socket T to get the mobo you can use.

    Go with a socket 478 mobo (which are getting cheaper since intel and AMD are bringing out newer models) and a new ATX case. After that, you'll be all set with your parts.

    Personnally i recommend Gigabyte boards. But that's just from my own history. They usually come with onboard Ethernet and Audio (with software to convert to 6 channel audio with only 3 standard audio ports)

    case = $50 + mobo = 200$ ==== $250 and you said you're keeping the P4 2.4ghz. (careful getting the heatsink off)

    If you are an avid gamer, you can find cool cases real cheap on newegg.com or if you like weird ones with crazy lights, go to www.xoxide.com. Since you have a power supply, make sure you find ones that don't come with power. And shipping shouldn't be much at all.

    As with windows XP. The authentication will probably not work automatically, however just give them a call like "iss" says. They will validate it for you. Just don't call on weekends =(
  9. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks a lot for your advice benken, and I think you are right with the mini to full ATX switch; but you see, the foremost reason I am upgrading is to use my new pci-express video card, and so far I've found only one socket 478 motherboard that supports pci-e, and most people were complaining about its quality, or rather lack of it. Do you know any 478 mobos, other than that Asrock, that support pci-e technology? There is only one hit in Newegg for such a mobo, and that is an MSI board that got terrible reviews.

    Thanks a lot for your interest...
  10. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    What you might consider is selling your current Mobo, CPU, ram, and video card. and use that money to finance upgrading to a PCI-E capable mobo and a prescott CPU.
  11. benken2202001

    benken2202001 TS Booster Posts: 114   +17

  12. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,306   +577

    Benken, you might be confusing PCI-X with PCI-Express (PCI-E). None of those boards at your second link had PCI-E. Most had AGP 8X or integrated graphics only.
  13. benken2202001

    benken2202001 TS Booster Posts: 114   +17

    you're right. my fault.
  14. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, now that my only choice seems to be to get a new mobo and a cpu, what would be your recommendations? I have seen many people, here and out, claiming that AMD is much better than Intel for single-task users; and for the Intel side of things, a single core is still better than a dual core. Are those really the cases?

    I have never used an AMD before, and honestly don't know the first thing about them, well, though they are business partners with my department:eek:.. Finding over 60 mobos from newegg that would suit me, I would appreciate your recommendations and advice for a CPU (and a mobo if you'd care to) that would complement a system with a pci-e card and 184 pin rams. As I will no doubt go over my budget, I would rather not spend more than 300-350 $ for both..

    Thanks a lot for your help..
  15. whtddusy516

    whtddusy516 TS Enthusiast Posts: 107

    Well your in luck, look two threads below this one and youll find mine about which would be more helpful AMD or Intel, unfortuntely fanboys will tell you there side of the story so it really wont help a whole lot, but from what ive seen from many ppl is that AMD has better performance on most things, I think you said your budget was another $300 or something right? on Mwave.com you can get a Amd64 3700+ and lower with an ok mobo for rougly $300 since you already have the ram and such, and most of them are PCI-e, i havnt run into an AGP mobo yet on that site.

    Only downside i heard was that there shipping is a little iffy, but it gets to you. As for the case theres plenty of cases on Newegg, but there not all the greatest....im only buying cases in the $50-$75 with the best ratings

    hope this helps a little lol

    also u can get a P4 3.2 Presscot for the same price as a AMD 3700+...if you want to go that way
  16. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I've actually read that thread before posting whtddusy and as you've mentioned, AMD seems to be the better choice. However, I also wonder if waiting for a Conroe would make sense for me and my budget.. We all know that prices usually skyrocket for new techs, but if Conroe will be the great CPU Intel claims it to be, then a mediocre Conroe & mobo might perhaps be found around 300 $..

    Would that, waiting for a Conroe, even a mediocre one, make sense?
  17. CrossFire851

    CrossFire851 TS Rookie Posts: 714

    Newegg has the best reputation for shipping electronics in america.
    What you said is bs.

    Get the amd as it has support for 64 bit.
  18. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    I am waiting for conroe myself to upgrade. but here is the rub, conroe isnt for budget minded upgraders. the 975 chipset board that does support conroe chips is about 229.00 just for the board. there is supposed to be a new chipset debut with conroe. ( 965 ) but I have not seen any pricing on it yet.
  19. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Then what would you suggest iss; buying a new cpu&mobo knowing that it would be outdated in a month just doesn't seem a wise investment to me. Yet, then again if the motherboard is priced at 229$, then CPU cannot be less than 300.. What should I do? Thanks a lot..
  20. whtddusy516

    whtddusy516 TS Enthusiast Posts: 107

    sorry to anyone who was offended...i wasnt bombing newegg i have heard nothing but good news about them..i was refering to mwave..i heard there shipping was a little wired (email based or something)
  21. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    there is only one constant in buying computer parts. that is that regardless of what you buy it is going to be outdated within 6 months....LOL

    another thing to keep in mind about conroe is that the boards supporting it are DDR2 so you would have to spring for new ram if you go conroe. Your best option is to look at either an AMD solution or go with a Pentium D chip and a suitable intel mobo.
  22. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Buying new RAMs would prove to be too costly for me, so I guess I'll have to concede my appreciation of Intel and go AMD this time.. But, what would be the AMD solution iss mentioned? Normally I would be able to spot couple good candidates from Newegg, and ask about them directly but as I've mentioned before, I don't know the first thing about AMDs.

    I understand that a socket 939 motherboard is the obvious best choice but what about the brands? I've always gone ASUS in my Intel setups and never had any problems but for AMD is Asus still a viable option? I'm asking this because in another thread it was recommended but it has mixed reviews in Newegg.. Motherboard aside, what would be a good CPU that wouldn't make me cry when paying for it? KingCody recommended a socket 939/Athlon64 combo in another thread, would anyone disagree?

    I seem to have three choices in CPU, Venice3200+ for 136$, Venice3500+ for 186$, and San Diego 3700+ for 236$; all having 50$ difference between them. Is it worth the extra 50s (or 100 for 3200->3700); or though I plan to use stock cooling(all have sink and fan), should or can I just get 3200+ and overclock it to 2500+Mhz to catch a San Diego in performance and spend a little more on a good mobo that you guys would recommend?

    Thanks a lot for your great help so far..
  23. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    ASUS is still one fo the better brands even in AMD chipsets. the Asus Nforce boards are highly rated. on the CPU I would probably take the miiddle one as being the best bang for the buck. (venice 3500)
  24. cornellian

    cornellian TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It is good to hear Asus does the job for both processors, however I think a new player is in town now.. I was searching products in newegg, reading reviews, when I noticed that there was a new option, AM2 in AMD processor power search. I don't recall seeing it before and as the 2 hits, an Athlon 3800+ for 310$ and a Sempron 3400+ for 120$ do not have any reviews for them, I assume this is the launch of AM2 that was expected sometime along these weeks.

    Now, if this is indeed the new launch, then it is ver nice timing from AMD, when I was just about to buy the processor:). Also, then there is a good looking alternative, Sempron 3400 for the price of Venice3000+. Though it operates at 1.8 Ghz, I would like to see the overclocking abilities of it. In light of these two processors, do your recommendations still hold? Should I start looking for an AM2 compatible board or wait for 939&Venice prices go down? Thanks a lot..
  25. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    if AM2 is the new chipset for AMD be aware it is going to be DDR2. that is one of the big things about AMD's new chipset, it will support DDR2 finally. so you would be right back in the same boat as with intel on the memory issue. as far as sempron, that is amd's counterpart to the celeron and I dont have any use for sempron or celeron. and if you are building that rig for gaming you dont want either a sempron or a celeron.
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