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AuthorTopic: Windoze boxes  (Read 2019 times)

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Offline motrucker

Windoze boxes
« on: April 02, 2009, 06:33:56 PM »
If you have put together your own Windows machine - what motherboard did ya use (& CPU), & how is it treating you?
A2000 GVP 40MHz \'030, 21Mb RAM SD/FF, 2 floppies, internal CD-ROM drive, micromys v3 w/laser mouse
A1000 Microbotics Starboard II w/2Mb 1080, & external floppy (AIRdrive)
C-128 w/1571, 1750, & Final Cartridge III+
 

Offline kd7ota

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2009, 07:14:48 PM »
I have always been using Asus motherboard with AMD cpus.

Lately I think Intel is stepping up quite well.  For now I have a 5000+ Socket AM2 AMD cpu with a Asus M2N-SLi Deluxe.  Not the best out there, but I picked the cpu/motherboard/and 2gb of ddr2 ballistix crucial ram for $120.  Does fine for anything I do.

As of now, I have Windows 7 beta installed, and I must say, VERY impressed.  :-D
-=-=-=-=-=-
Mine!  :-D
 

Offline Ilwrath

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2009, 07:15:49 PM »
Yeah, I put together x86 boxes now and then.  All the ones I've built recently, both for friends and myself have been perfect.  Flawless workhorses that are rock solid (except when you load Vista and start running into driver issues...)

When spec'ing a system, I typically go through the following steps:

1) Choose CPU.  Honestly, both AMD and Intel make great CPUs.  Pick one in your price/performance range.  When making a determination, I always avoid the low-end models that have reduced cache.  The performance hit is greater than the price reduction.  If you need to go cheap, skimp on clock rate, not the cache.

2) Choose motherboard chipset.  I like to stick with Intel and AMD chipsets (depending which CPU you want, of course...) I'll occasionally stray to an nVidia chipset, and have had luck with those, as well.  I'm always wary of SiS and VIA.  Driver support is critical and sometimes lacking for those two, causing performance and stability issues.

3) Choose motherboard brand.  More expensive isn't always better.  I typically stick with a manufacturer that basically just implements the reference designs without doing too much "innovation".  (Innovation is great and all, except it plays hell on support and stability.)  Gigabyte has been a favorite of mine the past few years.  I haven't had a single issue with one, yet.

4) Don't skimp on the RAM or power supply.  Both of these are kind of invisible and generic parts.  But buying crap ones of either can really kill system stability.  Check Tom's hardware or whatever, and pick yourself a model out of whatever the current top brands are.  I like Antec for power supplies and OCZ for RAM, but I'm sure any of the top brands there should give good performance.

And that's pretty much it.  Following these guidelines you'll probably end up paying about as much as purchasing a complete system somewhere, but you'll sure have a lot nicer rig that won't die when you need it.
 

Offline motrucker

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 04:45:41 AM »
Have either of you ever used BioStar Motherboards? I have one in the computer I am about to replace. It is the first one I ever tried, and it has been great (has the nVedia chipset) AMD CPU. Rock solid/stable using XP. It has scads of options for overclocking, and no driver problems - BUT when ever I mention this board, people look like they want too puke. Have I just been lucky.
I used to use Asus, with good luck too.
Believe me, I udnerstand the points about not skimping on RAM, the PSU or CPU model. I bought Crucial matched sticks for 4Gb - almost twice what "cheep" RAM was, but well worth the outlay. I like OCZ too.
I may use an intel CPU this time round - they have really come up in the past year or so.
I have had excellent results with Antec PSU units.
I am still amazed at what it costs to assemble a machine like this - compared to buying an "over the counter" brand (and all the headaches).
I am truly interested in your take(s) on the BioStar boards though...
A2000 GVP 40MHz \'030, 21Mb RAM SD/FF, 2 floppies, internal CD-ROM drive, micromys v3 w/laser mouse
A1000 Microbotics Starboard II w/2Mb 1080, & external floppy (AIRdrive)
C-128 w/1571, 1750, & Final Cartridge III+
 

Offline murple

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2009, 04:54:35 AM »
I run Linux, and even a cheap motherboard running Linux is going to outperform a somewhat more expensive motherboard running Windohs. Still good to get the best CPU (paying attention to cache and also speed) you can afford, but when it comes to stuff like chipsets, most motherboard chipsets out there are supported pretty well in Linux.
 

Offline Argo

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2009, 04:55:22 AM »
Asus M2N32-SLI Wireless and AMD Athlon 64 2x 5600+

Best Windows box I've ever had. runs Vista like a champ. Windows 7 flys...
 

Offline adz

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Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2009, 04:56:19 AM »
Quote

kd7ota wrote:

Lately I think Intel is stepping up quite well.


Exactly what do you mean by that? Up until recently, Intel's Core 2 architecture trumped anything AMD, and now with the i7, they have the fastest desktop CPU availiable. I think your stepping up comment is the wrong way round. AMD still reign when it comes to value, but the performance crown has been sitting atop Intel's head for quite some time now.


To the OP, I find your "Windoze" title misplaced, if you have a problem with Windows, look to Mac or Linux. As for an x86 machine, it really depends on what you're using it for and how much you want to spend.
 

Offline terminator4

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2009, 05:23:55 AM »
@motrucker

Biostar??? Biostar???  well i'd get a car and ran that thing back & forth.  The pain and crashes it caused me on my old 500mhz AMD system.  Both WinXP & Win98.  I did manage on it Mandrake 8.0 way back, and that was much better.  Looks like the drivers lagged behind, and open source was much better.
But never again i'm going for Biostar motherboard. :-P
surprised to see you have different results.
 

Offline LoadWB

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2009, 05:42:50 AM »
I have to agree with the statement about Intel stepping up.  AMD long outperformed Intel CPUs.  With the Core2Duo, Intel pulled ahead of AMD for desktop performance, though I still see better server performance from AMD CPUs.

Intel was beating a dead architecture to death with its x86 CPUs.  Even EM64T was originally grafted on top of the 25 year-old x86 architecture.  Something has changed recently with the newer CPUs, and I suspect that they have revamped their x86 emulation core as part of the adoption of 64-bit computing.

Frankly, your question should have been about x64 machines, not x86 machines.  I have been running XP x64 for quite a while now.  It runs very smoothly, and I have been able to find drivers for every device I have, even some more obscure ones.  It does take a little more work, mind you.  In many cases Windows 2003 x64 drivers work, in others the standard XP x86 drivers have x64 compatibility, and in rare situations I have used Vista 64 drivers (in particular for the later case, the modem in my Dell D430 runs the Vista 64 driver.)  I have only had one program not work in XP x64, and I just run it in a VirtualPC instance with XP.

I have toyed with Vista 64 and Windows 7 beta 64-bit on a machine.  The 64-bit operating systems flow much better than their 32-bit counterparts.

Back to the point, the biggest thing Intel has going for it is its vertical integration.  They make the CPUs, motherboards, and even the chassis for servers.  Even though I have preferred AMD for a long time, I just can't beat that for self-built systems.  Sure, I can get an AMD-based server system from Sun or HP, but in most cases off-the-shelf hardware will not integrate.  So Intel takes the cake every time.

For a short while there I was happy building systems with an nForce 4-based motherboard, both workstations and servers.  The price came out right, and the performance and compatibility was awesome.  Then that particular board was discontinued (within months, actually) and replaced with an nForce 5 chipset, which was horrible.  That left me out in the cold.  So, as much as I did not like to do so, I went back to Intel.

I have had some good experiences with ASUS, MSI, and Shuttle motherboards for AMD workstations.  Low cost, top performers, and usually with the exact peripherals I want and need.  I am running an Intel Core2Duo system with 8GB RAM right now since I won the motherboard at a vendor's raffle, and it has been very nice.

I still would like to stay with AMD.  Even though the Intel will be more pricey, as I plan a replacement for my main server running Solaris 8 on an AMD Athlon 1900+ on a DFI motherboard, a quad-core Intel CPU system under Solaris 10 will most likely be my choice for a personally-built server.

But back even more to the point, unless you are a gamer, a workstation is pretty much a workstation regardless of what you pop under the hood.  AMD, Intel, it really does not matter so long as the system meets your specifications and budget.  Either system can be hampered by poor motherboard capabilities, particularly Intel integrated graphic chipsets -- Intel does NOT know how to do graphics and should stay the hell away from graphic chipsets.

Another short-coming on Intel motherboards is the Intel Matrix RAID.  It handles RAID 0 and RAID 1 very well.  Some boards handle RAID 5 at a cost: you cannot manage a RAID 5 array in BIOS, you MUST have a working operating system and use the Matrix management software.  RAID 1 works well for desktop systems, anyway, so that is pretty much a moot point.  For servers I prefer 3Ware RAID controllers.
 

Offline Trev

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2009, 05:47:28 AM »
I'm running an Intel Core i7 920 in an Asus P6T Deluxe. Nothing's overclocked, so I'm not really taking advantage of what the Core i7 920 and my RAM are capable of doing. I disabled hyper-threading to get rid of stalls/pauses in both Vista x64 and Windows 7 x64, but I didn't really put any effort into figuring out why they were happening.

Overall, the combo is fine. I'm quite disappointed with the RAID5 performance on the ICH10R, but that will be a problem with all motherboards using that chipset. Need to switch a dedicated controller with cache and battery back-up.

I'm still using a GeForce 8800 GTS 512 for gaming. No complaints.

@LoadWB

A friend of my wife used to work in graphics driver development at Intel here near Sacramento (Intel has a campus in Folsom, just outside the city--worked there myself about 13 years ago). So, I'd disagree with you a bit on the software side. Intel's target market (general purpose graphics) is quite a bit different than AMD's and NVIDIA's, though.
 

Offline LoadWB

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2009, 08:30:31 AM »
Quote
Trev wrote:

@LoadWB

A friend of my wife used to work in graphics driver development at Intel here near Sacramento (Intel has a campus in Folsom, just outside the city--worked there myself about 13 years ago). So, I'd disagree with you a bit on the software side. Intel's target market (general purpose graphics) is quite a bit different than AMD's and NVIDIA's, though.


The integrated Intel graphics chipset performance has been historically abysmal at best, from practical exposure as well as numerous.  Some of the newer stuff, read as "more expensive," is not so bad, but running full-screen video on the newer 945-based desktop boards still produces an extraordinary amount of heat, as well as pauses and what seems like the drive and video subsystems fighting for bus bandwidth.

I never understood why the 815 and 915 chipsets were so horrible at full-screen video, even under 1024x768, when a PCI or AGP card from ATI could handle it just fine.  The 915 chipset was so horrible that an otherwise capable AGP video card was so starved for bandwidth that it could not handle full-screen video, either.  Which could have been the general problem, not so much the video portion of the chipset.

Heck, even integrated video driven by ATI performed better than Intel's integrated video.

I would be very interested in what insights your driver developer friend could offer on Intel graphics *ahem* accelerators.

Something interesting I discovered on my D430 is the integrated chipset, the Mobile 945 Express, shares memory with system RAM, but it seems to be dynamic.  That is an interesting concept.  Full-screen performance on this system is adequate although the system fan spins up like a hurricane.

I suppose, then that the target video audience for Intel could be compared to that of Matrox.  Matrox was absolute pants for 2D or productivity video.  I keep several Matrox PCI and AGP cards around for building cheap systems, especially for Solaris 8 stuff.  (Never really got into Solaris 9, and 10 has been a pain for compatibility on older equipment.)
 

Offline Trev

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2009, 09:37:47 AM »
When I first switched from a Matrox Millennium II AGP to a GeForce 256 DDR, I thought my monitor had gone bad. It's taken NVIDIA years to catch up to the quality of output on Matrox cards. I don't think I saw an actual improvement until I switched to a digital LCD, in which case the hardware behind the LCD is doing all the hard work.
 

Offline Ilwrath

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2009, 02:30:59 PM »
@motrucker - re:BioStar motherboards....

I haven't tried one, myself.  BioStar isn't renowned for its quality.  But again, it seems that the chipset matters a LOT more than the manufacturer's brand.  BioStar sells a lot of motherboards with shoddy chipsets.  A BioStar with a SiS, SIL, VIA, or other crap chipset is going to be nothing but trouble.  But, that crap chipset in an Asus, Gigabyte, or ABit board would probably still be trouble.  (I had an Asus with a VIA chipset that caused no end of headaches...)

My guess is that a BioStar with a decent chipset (AMD, Intel, or nVidia) should work fine.  I think BioStar's image suffers because of shoddy chipset choices.  But, really, though, it's only a few bucks more to step up to one of the more respected motherboard manufacturers, so why not?
 

Offline mdv2000

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2009, 02:54:20 PM »
I have built 3 PCs w/Biostar NVida Chipset Mobo (6100 I think) with AMD Processors and they have worked flawlessly.  I think its the Chipset more that the mobo maker when it comes to Biostar.

Also, ASRock at one time made the best AMD 939 Mobo (ULI Chipset) as long as you ran linux or XP.  Vista did not like it - especially 64 bit.  But XP 64 ran great on it! :-?

Mike Valverde
---------------------------------
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Offline motrucker

Re: Windoze boxes
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2009, 07:17:02 PM »
I most likely shouldn't have started this with the Windoze header. These days I have found Window XP, and 7 to be very stable, fast machines - if you watch what chipset is on the motherboard. - It was just an off the wall comment.
Apparently I have been VERY lucky with this BioStar motherboard (even if it does have the nVidia chipset). Looks like I will go back to Asus. I am a bit surprised at the number of ASUS boards with the VIA chip set however.
I really appreciate every ones input on this.

A2000 GVP 40MHz \'030, 21Mb RAM SD/FF, 2 floppies, internal CD-ROM drive, micromys v3 w/laser mouse
A1000 Microbotics Starboard II w/2Mb 1080, & external floppy (AIRdrive)
C-128 w/1571, 1750, & Final Cartridge III+