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 Post subject: Motherboards: Socket 939, PCIe Compatible, etc.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:03 pm 
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I have done as much research as I can possibly do, but I still can't narrow down which motherboard I want. I'm wondering, which motherboard would be best for these requirements.

1. Socket 939
2. PCIe Compatible
3 24 Pin
4. Passive Cooling on the Northbridge OR a way to add it.
5. Firewire & USB 2.0.

As well as compatibility with AMD64 3000+, Leadtek 6600GT, S12 380 or Super Tornado 400 (which is better?), XP-120, Antec 3000B, Samsung SP1614C and some way to add passive cooling to the VGA.

My interests are in a very stable, quiet computer, and although I may play around with a bit of overclocking, I do not usually play the latest and greatest games. I do some graphic design, but not too heavy. I am interested in futureproofing to some degree, but SLI is not worth the cost to me right now, as dual core chips are around the corner.

These are some of the boards I've looked at.

Soltek SL-K890Pro-939
DFI nF4 Ultra-D
MSI K8N Neo4
GIGABYTE K8NXP
Chaintech VNF4
Asus A8V deluxe

Is it possible?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 11:59 pm 
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I would go with Abit AX8 (3rd-eye or not) for the motherboard - I am not a huge fan of NF4.
Also, if you are looking for silent computing, you should replace the stock cooler of the Leadtek 6600GT with a fanless one (Thermaltake, Zalman, Aerocool and so on).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:48 am 
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I'd agree with the above... if you're building from scratch and quietness and stability are your *main* concerns, you might be better off avoiding the nforce4 mobos, at least for now. I'm not saying you *can't* get great results from an nf4 board, but you'll be making more work for yourself from the start...you'll likely need to put in a fair bit of thought when it comes to passively cooling the chipset in particular. Also, as someone said in another thread, they're a different sort of beast from what's gone before, and judging by some reviews and feedback from various forums there are still a few glitches to be ironed out. Better to let other people pay to do the early field trials IMO... :lol:

If you're not bothered about SLI, SATA300 and NCQ (which probably won't matter anyway for a workstation, at least for the next year or two) or nVidia's hardware firewall the Via K8T890 boards seem to offer a nice PCIe socket 939 alternative... the Soltek you mentioned has some very good reviews, and it's passively cooled of course, as the chipset doesn't run anywhere near as hot as the nforce4 mobos. It comes loaded with goodies and given your stated requirements, it's the one I'd pick from your selection without any doubt. The Abit AX8 looks very similar and should (finally) be making an appearance in the stores any time now, although I don't think it has Firewire on board.

The Asus A8V isn't a PCIe board incidentally, so if that's a requirement, you'll have to cross it off your shortlist. Asus also do a K8T890 board, but it has one of their horrid little screaming fans on the chipset, and it looks a bit too close to the CPU socket to replace with a chunky passive cooler without interfering with a big CPU heatsink (unless someone knows otherwise?)...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:14 am 
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Taking your requirements in mind, I add a vote for the Soltek SL-K890Pro-939


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:55 am 
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I like the sibling Soltek SL-K8TPro-939, modulo what appear to be some CPU temperature-monitoring issues.

Be sure to examine the motherboard layout closely. On some (e.g., Abit AV8), the 20-pin PSU connector is located on the motherboard right between the CPU area and the rear I/O panel, which will cause those thick PSU cables to block your case's exhaust fan.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:01 am 
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Aren't the K8T890 boards just as new and prone to teething problems as the early nForce4 boards?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:57 am 
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Two more interesting NF4 boards:

Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-9 http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDe ... 283&depa=1 - already passive, but not well located for a bigger HS

EpoX EP-9NPA+ Ultra http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductde ... 236&DEPA=1 - small fan on the HS, but located better for conversion to passive

No reviews on either of these that I've seen.

I'm reading mixed messages about the stability of MSI NF4 boards. There's an entire forum devoted to discussion about this issue, and others filled with ringing praise.

PS. Could somebody give me a hint how to create text hot links to url's? I've figured it out on other forums, but not here

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Sonata w/ Mk II front panel, fans: Nexus exh @8-12V & YL in @5V, Seasonic S12-430, passive 9600 Pro w/ modified VM-101, LG CD/DVD burner
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:05 am 
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ilh wrote:
Aren't the K8T890 boards just as new and prone to teething problems as the early nForce4 boards?

Yes they're also new, but I'm really just going by what I've seen and read elsewhere. There don't seem to be anything like as many issues cropping up as there are with the nf4 boards - flaky BIOSes, stability problems, peculiar and unpredictable fussiness over PSUs amongst other things, as well as the aforementioned chipset cooling conundrum.

I've got nothing against the nforce4 boards per se, and if you have the time and patience to deal with any potential problems I'm sure they're a fabulous platform. If you just want out-of-the-box performance and reliability though, I think you'd be stacking the odds against you a bit more than with other designs. The early indications are that these first nf4 mobos were rushed onto the market a bit prematurely as each manufacturer competed to be the first, which was inevitable I suppose. The VIA designs are maybe a bit less adventurous, and therefore less eagerly awaited, so possibly they can afford to take a bit more time and care over them.

I suppose as with all these things though it's a very much a case of YMMV...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:00 am 
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Hello:

I have a Gigabyte "GA-K8N Ultra-9" coming early next week, so I hoping to be able to tell you folks about it. And here's hoping the BIOS is not "flakey", but rather very stable! :?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:01 pm 
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I'm fine with some tweaking and adjustments to silence the computer, including passifying the Northbridge and Video Card, so if that is all that is stopping me from a great board, then I might go for it.

I really wanted to go for the Soltek, and it fits every requirement, except that I heard that it is a 20 pin motherboard. Apparantly it might have stability problems when using PCIe and a 24 pin power supply like the S12.

Neither EpoX nor the Gigabyte boards linked in dfrost's post have Firewire, it seems. Although that is not a necessity, because Firewire 800 will become mainstream soon enough, it is a preference. How solid are these boards? The EpoX looks like it has active cooling that may be difficult to passify because of its proximity to the VGA. the Gigabyte looks passive.

The Abit AX8 looks quite good. I'll do some research on these boards to see how good they are. I haven't heard much about them because they were either a low key release or are not from the big companies.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:02 pm 
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The Abit AX8 also has a 20-pin connector, but if you're worried by that you might also consider the Nexus NX-4090 PSU. It's version 2.0 compliant although it has a 20-pin connector, and it's very well thought of round these parts... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:36 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Kheoinn,

There are two Firewire 400 (1394) cabled ports on the Epox board, but none on the I/O panel. The Gigabyte board has two Firewire 800 (1394b, twice as fast) cabled ports, also none on the I/O panel.

I did find this Epox NF4 board review from Xbitlabs. To be blunt, it sounds ho-hum after reading the enthusiastic DFI reviews.

OTOH, the Epox slot/HS arrangement looks better then most other NF4 Ultra boards because the HS is entirely on the upper side of the VGA, which typically doesn't have protruding caps, etc. A passive HS in that location would also benefit from air washing out from the CPU HSF, which seems to work well on my sig system. This location would also accommodate a better active HS like a Thermaltake or Swiftech. (Is there such a thing?)

_________________
P4 3.0C, XP-120 w/ Papst 4412F/2GL fan @6-11V, Abit AI7, NB47J HS, 4x512Mb Corsair TwinX RAM, soft mt'd Samsung SP2004C & HD321KJ SATA HDDs
Sonata w/ Mk II front panel, fans: Nexus exh @8-12V & YL in @5V, Seasonic S12-430, passive 9600 Pro w/ modified VM-101, LG CD/DVD burner
Old ears, electronically assisted


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:55 pm 
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Location: Bay Area Ca.
I'm buying the gigabyte ultra-9 too, so thats my recomendation.
All the reviews of the non fanless model got good reviews, just search for the GA-K8NXP-9 reviews its almost the same thing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 3:55 am 
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Location: Suomi Finland Perkele
YEAAARGH!! Whats the point in 20-pin connectors on the AX8 and the Soltek board? I mean probably all new good PSUs are 24-pin, and there are 20-->24 adapters for those that have a slightly older PSU..

So the big question is, does a 24pin PSU with 20-pin adapter to fit these boards in any way work worse than if the mobos would be 24-pin? I would guess not, but i want to be shure before spending 800€ on new components.. :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:57 pm 
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nici wrote:
YEAAARGH!! Whats the point in 20-pin connectors on the AX8 and the Soltek board? I mean probably all new good PSUs are 24-pin, and there are 20-->24 adapters for those that have a slightly older PSU..

So the big question is, does a 24pin PSU with 20-pin adapter to fit these boards in any way work worse than if the mobos would be 24-pin? I would guess not, but i want to be shure before spending 800€ on new components.. :lol:


That is exactly what I am thinking. Are there any stability issues with a 24-pin PSU and a 20-pin motherboard?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:14 pm 
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*bump*

Any answers? I've looked at all of the boards over at Newegg (21 in all), and I can't find any that work perfectly to my needs. If I know the answer to whether 20 pin motherboards are a problem, it will greatly help me select a board. As it is, the Neo4 looks like the best choice. Is that difficult to passify? It looks like it might be close to the PCIe slot, and I'm a little worried if I passify the VGA if they will overlap.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 8:46 am 
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Keoinn,
The MSI Neo4 has a 24-pin connector, I think all nForce4 mobos have it.
In principle when using a 20-to-24 pin adapter your voltages may drop a bit, and the same with a 24-to-20 pin adapter. My Neopower480 came with the latter adapter. IMO the Neo4 has the chipset HSF too close to the PCI-E slot.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:22 pm 
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Actually, not all nForce4 motherboards have it. The AX8 is a prime example of this. This is very disappointing for me, because some of these boards would be otherwise very close to ideal.

So the Neo4 can not accomodate an XP-120? That is what I was planning on doing, but I could also settle for an XP-90.

Is a slight voltage drop going to be a problem? About how much voltage is lost in the conversion? And most importantly, are there any stability problems when using the converter?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:03 pm 
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Actually, the Abit AX8 is a VIA K8T890 based board, as is the Soltek i mentioned. These chips run much cooler than the nF4 and really dont need active cooling, and on most boards ive seen the NB is away from the PCI-X slots but may interfere with Large CPU heatsinks, but thats more easily managed than the PCI-X issue on most NF5 boards..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:53 pm 
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Woops. By the way, I wasn't talking about having active cooling, but rather having a 20-pin power connector. My last point was pretty bad ;).

Is it really true that the NF4 boards have 24-pin connectors and mostly active cooling, and the K8T890 boards have mostly passive cooling, but 20-pin connectors? How annoying!

So, is the 20-pin dilemma a real problem or not?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:13 pm 
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Kheoinn wrote:
Is it really true that the NF4 boards have 24-pin connectors and mostly active cooling, and the K8T890 boards have mostly passive cooling, but 20-pin connectors? How annoying! So, is the 20-pin dilemma a real problem or not?

The NVIDIA nForce4 chipsets do seem to run hotter than the VIA K8T890 chipsets, so most have active cooling.

But it "appears" to me (as previously mentioned in this thread) that the GIGABYTE GA-K8N Ultra-9 with NF4 chipset is passively cooled (just by looking at the pics). But I am not 100% certain. This board does have a 20 pin connector based on the picture.

But the question I have is: what exactly is the advantage of the NVIDIA nForce4 chipsets over the VIA K8T890 chipset? I assume there is some performance benefit, what exactly is it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 12:31 am 
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I'm in a similar quandary, and here are what I read to be the NForce4 "benefits." Not sure if any of them show a distinct performance advantage at this time, but maybe in the future?

SATA2 - 300Gbps vs 150Gbps. I know that there are no SATA2 drives yet, and SATA1 doesn't yet hit it's maximum bandwidth.

Up to 8 SATA drives can be supported.

SATA and PATA drives can be mixed in RAID. This one seems usable to me now, as I have one of each.

More RAID variations available - RAID 0+1 (this may be available with other chipsets), RAID 5 (on some boards). Don't know what either of those are.

10 USB ports supported (versus 8 on with VIA and ATI chipsets)

ActiveArmor - NForce's hardware-based firewall with lower CPU utilization then software firewalls. I'd sure like to see an evaluation of this one.

At least one Gigabit Ethernet port. Many boards have two.

Nforce4 boards seem to be more likely to be high overclockers.

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P4 3.0C, XP-120 w/ Papst 4412F/2GL fan @6-11V, Abit AI7, NB47J HS, 4x512Mb Corsair TwinX RAM, soft mt'd Samsung SP2004C & HD321KJ SATA HDDs
Sonata w/ Mk II front panel, fans: Nexus exh @8-12V & YL in @5V, Seasonic S12-430, passive 9600 Pro w/ modified VM-101, LG CD/DVD burner
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:45 am 
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Thanks for posting the differences. Here is an assessment based on my own needs:

SATA2 - 300Gbps vs 150Gbps. I know that there are no SATA2 drives yet, and SATA1 doesn't yet hit it's maximum bandwidth.

As you say, no such SATA drives yet. I have not heard anything about future availability dates of SATA2 drives.

Up to 8 SATA drives can be supported.

SOLTEK SL-K890Pro-939 supports 4 SATA drives using two different SATA controllers (2 each). That is plenty for someone building a quiet system.

SATA and PATA drives can be mixed in RAID. This one seems usable to me now, as I have one of each.

I am building new, so not an issue for me.

More RAID variations available - RAID 0+1 (this may be available with other chipsets), RAID 5 (on some boards). Don't know what either of those are.

It appears that SOLTEK SL-K890Pro-939 supports RAID 0, 1, 0 + 1 in only one its two SATA controllers (supports 0, 1 in the other). Hmmm, I thought that RAID 0 + 1 needs a minimum of 4 drives (http://www.sohoconsult.ch/raid/raid0+1.html).

10 USB ports supported (versus 8 on with VIA and ATI chipsets)

SOLTEK SL-K890Pro-939 supports 8, which is enough for me.

ActiveArmor - NForce's hardware-based firewall with lower CPU utilization then software firewalls. I'd sure like to see an evaluation of this one.

I would too.

At least one Gigabit Ethernet port. Many boards have two.

SOLTEK SL-K890Pro-939 has one Gigabit Ethernet port.

Nforce4 boards seem to be more likely to be high overclockers.

Since I am building a quiet PC, and heat is the enemy of quiet, not an issue for me.

Right now I am looking at the SOLTEK SL-K890Pro-939 with VIA chipset and the GIGABYTE GA-K8N Ultra-9 with NVIDIA nForce4 chipset, because both have passive chipset cooling (I believe). But it appears that the VIA chipset will run a bit cooler.

But I am still waiting on availability of the PCI Express GV-NX66T128VP (NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT) with passive heatpipe, and also the new Antec cases (probably Sonata II).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 4:28 am 
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To be honest, I'm a bit puzzled as to why the type of PSU connector on a particular mobo should be such a deal-breaker if the board fits the bill in every other way. It seems a little odd to be basing a motherboard purchase around a choice of power supply rather than the other way around.

As far as the 20-pin connector on the VIA K8T890 boards is concerned, I haven't (yet) found any evidence that using a 24-pin PSU with an adaptor is in any way a problem, although I hasten to add absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence. I've seen people expressing concerns that in the future we may see top-end power-hungry video cards which draw all their juice from the PCIe socket instead of having a seperate power connector (they're worried in case a 20-pin mobo connector may not be adequate in this situation), but I'd guess that by the time (if) this becomes a real issue we'll all be wanting to upgrade again anyway... :roll:

If stepping down from a 24-pin PSU to a 20-pin mobo via an adaptor bothers you, why not go for the 20-pin Nexus NX-4090 PSU I mentioned earlier? It has two solid 12v rails and meets the ATX 2.0 specs, has plenty of reserve oomph unless you're running a truly excessive system, and it's probably the quietest PSU you can buy off the shelf in any case.

The advantages of the nforce4 mobos over the VIA ones are more to do with features than speed or overclockability I believe. Active Armour is interesting, but you might not need it if you already have a hardware firewall in your router, SATA2 and NCQ don't really make much difference on the desktop, and SLI is completely irrelevant unless you're a hardcore gamer... so if you won't need what's on offer the easier cooling potential of the VIA boards might be more enticing.

I haven't yet found anyone with a bad thing to say about the Soltek mobo... on every forum I've looked at, everyone who has one seems delighted with it and it also seems to have rock-solid reliability... (*touches wood*). The only (slight) downside I can see is that the gigabit Ethernet controller is attached to the PCI bus rather than PCIe or integrated into the chipset (like on the nforce4 boards), but if that ever becomes a bottleneck you could always buy a PCIe GbE controller card in the future...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 7:13 am 
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Ok, I am heavily leaning towards the Soltek board now. I just have one last question. What are the differences in terms of stability, efficiency, power, and quietness between the Nexus NX-4090 and the Seasonic S12 and/or the Super Tornado 400? Thanks a lot for those in depth answers guys!

Edit: so of these three, which do you think would make the cleanest motherboard setup. Which one is all around 'the best' in your opinion?

SOLTEK "SL-K890Pro-939"
ABIT "AX8"
GIGABYTE "GA-K8N Ultra-9"

Thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 9:32 am 
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If you want to use the Thermalright XP-120 on Abit AX8 motherboard, you cannot use Dimm #1 according to Motherboard Compatibility Information on Thermalright website.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 9:46 am 
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Kheoinn wrote:
What are the differences in terms of stability, efficiency, power, and quietness between the Nexus NX-4090 and (...) the Super Tornado 400?
There are reviews of both these PSU's on the main site.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 5:15 pm 
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I'm not too worried about not being able to use DIMM 1 on the AX8, as I am going to be using 2 512MB PC3200 Corsair Value Modules in Dimms 2 and 4. Does anyone know the compatibility issues (if they exist) with the XP-120 and the Soltek?

I have read reviews for the NX-4090 and for the S12 seperately, but I haven't found a comparison between the two. It looks like the S12 is quieter and more efficient, so unless there is a serious problem using a 24-pin to 20-pin converter, I'll probably go with that.

So, between the Soltek, Gigabyte, and Abit, are there any other opinions on which one is the best? Thanks.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:29 am 
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You seem to be looking for the comfort of a definitive answer...it's not really possible, as what constitutes "best" is subjective in so many ways...

The Gigabyte board is a bit of an unknown quantity in its passive heatsink form, so you might want to wait and see what the people who posted above have to say about it when they take delivery. The heatsink is interesting...it looks to be about twice the size (in area) of a standard chipset heatsink but it will have to be quite shallow to allow the graphics card to sit above it, so the total radiating area of the fins might still not be that great. I'm not convinced that a *totally* passive solution is a good idea for an nforce4 board...even if it works OK, I can't see that constantly running the chipset up to very high temperatures will do anything for its long-term longevity prospects. Presumably people don't buy nforce4 systems just to surf the web and play solitaire, so the chipset *will* get very hot even running at stock speeds. OTOH, I'm really just speculating and maybe it will be just fine...that's always the trouble when you adopt the latest and greatest technology, you just won't know for a while how it's all going to pan out.

The two VIA boards almost look like clones in terms of their basic layout and features, so I guess it's just a case of looking at the minor details and deciding which suits you best. The Soltek for instance doesn't have a parallel port, but the AX8 comes with less accessories (although it's probably a bit cheaper). I'm not sure about the XP-120 compatibility question, but Winchester chips don't run that hot anyway, so if you wanted to play it safe and get an XP-90 instead I don't think you'd be losing out (although note what Thermalright's website has to say about Gigabyte socket 939 boards and the XP series).

I suppose the Soltek would be the "safe" choice based on all the glowing reviews, but I'd personally go for the AX8 as the PCB comes in the rather spiffy reddish-orange colour of all Abit's new mobos...it will look fabulous in a black or silver case (yes I'm superficial). The Soltek's mauve plastic bits don't do it for me at all...

Seriously, I doubt you'll be disappointed whichever one of these boards you go for in the end...best just to get on with it and not agonise too much... :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 6:03 am 
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I just ordered the DFI Ultra-D, i had ordered the AX8 almost a week ago as it was expected to arrive in 5-7 days. Now the ETA is 2-4weeks.. argh. And i have not seen the Soltek board anywhere in Finland. The shops that do carry soltek, only have some 50€ el-cheapo models.. So i guess i will have to think of something to cool the chipset on the DFI...


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