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 Post subject: A64 + K8S760M + Antec Aria == Good Choice?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 7:39 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2002 5:46 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Maryland
I've been holding off on upgrading to see what the next round of chipsets will bring, but my Windows installation is starting to go sourth and I don't want to re-install it on my old HW (P2 450 MHz!) when an upgrade is so close. So I'm seriously looking at options now.

Here's what I am currently thinking:

*) "Low-end" Athlon 64, probably 2800+ or 3000+ model
*) Gigabyte K8S760M (on the "approved" list for Cool 'n Quiet)
*) 1 GB of whatever brand(s) PC3200 RAM Gigabyte recommends
*) Antec Aria case

For the time being, these would be paired with other existing components:
*) Two drives: WD Raptor 74GB (system drive) and Samsung SP080N (data drive)
*) old Radeon video card (7000?); to be replaced some day
*) 1 or more optical drives (DVD and CD-RW)

My purchase criteria in order of preference are:

1) Good Linux support of motherboard features (this will be a dual-boot system with W2k)
2) Reasonably quiet
3) Reasonable cost

The other options I am mulling are more likely regular ATX format: the new nForce 3 chipsets boards (I still need to research these more), or perhaps go Intel (865+ICH5 chipset with a low 2.x GHz Northwood P4). To date I've found Intel hardware to be the most trouble-free, but the appeal of the A64 is strong. The K8S760M appears to have components that are generally well supported under Linux (although the SATA driver is considered "beta"), and I have had good experiences with SiS chipsets before (unlike VIA!).

I figure a decent ATX system (mobo and case) will cost a similar amount to the Aria system above, but I like the small size (while still having some PCI expandability). The main drawback I see off hand is having only one optical drive bay, so I might have to spring for a new combo drive or get an external Firewire case. I figure I will probably get the retail (w/ HSF) A64 and then examine cooling options after I determine how loud the system is. Obviously, the P/S interference with many HSF options in the Aria is something I'll have to look at. (Some day I might take leave of my senses and try for water cooling with a Zalman Reserator!) I would like this computer to be "quiet", but it doesn't have to be SPCR quiet.

Does this seem reasonable? Have I missed any major issues?

Any comments would be appreciated!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 5:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2004 3:26 pm
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Sis chipset? Courageous :shock:

In my experience, the Aria is not well ventilated and it's time-consuming to make any changes to the hardware. Sure it's beautiful and it looks fine in a HiFi rack, but unless you are sold on the design I'd go for the Sonata case, which will be quieter.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:03 pm 
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Location: Maryland
Skelshy wrote:
Sis chipset? Courageous :shock:


Why do you say that? I know the old SiS chipsets (from years ago) were not that great, but the newer ones are pretty good. My wife's previous system was running an Athlon XP 1700+ on a SiS 735 chipset board with no problems. The 755 and 760 chipsets have gotten some good reviews (e.g., www.ocworkbench.com). I'll admit, though, that the new nForce3 250 chipsets look pretty nice, but I have some doubts about relying on nVidia for Linux drivers. I've had bad experiences with Via chipsets in the past (Pentium 3 days), but I support I could consider them if I had to.

Skelshy wrote:
In my experience, the Aria is not well ventilated and it's time-consuming to make any changes to the hardware. Sure it's beautiful and it looks fine in a HiFi rack, but unless you are sold on the design I'd go for the Sonata case, which will be quieter.


Well, I don't need to make many changes once the machine's assembled, but the ventilation issue may be a problem. I also noticed some posts near the end of the discussion after Mike's review and some folks with similar configurations as the one I am looking at had some issues with heat and PSU noise. My backup option is to keep my current Enlight case (perhaps with some mods for better ventiliation).

BTW, I looked at your Aria HTPC page. It looks like just some system configurations you were entertaining. Have you tried any of them yet? (Your post makes it sound like you have.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:22 pm 
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No, there is nothing wrong with SiS. It's just that every compant has their hits and misses, and with the major players like Intel or Via more people buy their stuff, and if a product is flawed you're more likely to hear about it and avoid it. Of course all of this goes out the window if the nieche product is better, faster, or substantially cheaper :lol:

I have built a htpc with the Aria case and an Abit VA-10 mainboard mainly because I had an Athlon XP 1800 and matching RAM at hand. Unfortunately it runs a lot hotter than in its previous home, a minitower case. Current idle temp is 68 deg. (The idea was to have a case that integrates in a hifi rack)

I also have a P4/2.53 running in the same room at the moment. It's another 30 degree day in my sourth facing apartment, and the P4 idles at 51 degrees. I have reason to believe it would be reaching 60-65 in the confines of the Aria case as well.

As to why, I can only speculate. Hot air rises, and in the midi tower it gets blown out by the case fan or the ps fan, or warms up the top of the metal case (acting as a heat sink) With the Aria, the top is plastic, and there is no direct path for the air to stream out. I figure the engineers forgot to have holes cut in the back of the power supply where the single fan resides.

I think the Aria is unsuitable for anything that puts out more than 50W. Shuttle has a much better design with a heat pipe transporting heat to an exhaust fan, but of course no way to fit in two TV tuner cards, which is what I was looking for here.

I have not had a chance to play with Cool&Quiet, in theory with 22w idle it should be fine. Looking forward to your report :D


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 Post subject: Re: A64 + K8S760M + Antec Aria == Good Choice?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 5:44 am 
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Belgarion wrote:
The K8S760M appears to have components that are generally well supported under Linux (although the SATA driver is considered "beta"), ...
I've had Linux (2.4 & 2.6 kernels) running fine on Via 8237 controllers - 2 different mobos both with Samsung SP0812C.

On the rest of your queries I have little input, except ventilation/cooling in SFF is a challenge. A Biostar iDeq I set up was really impressive except uses 60mm (CPU & case) and 70mm (PSU) fans which was a compromise. The A64 version has a pretty dated chipset though (nForce 150 or wotever).

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 Post subject: Re: A64 + K8S760M + Antec Aria == Good Choice?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2004 8:55 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2002 5:46 pm
Posts: 36
Location: Maryland
Skelshy:

Thank you for the commentary on the Aria. It sounds like it would work better with a water cooling system (pull the CPU and/or GPU heat straight out of the case), or need to be significantly modded. I like the idea of water cooling, but I think my next system with start with air cooling. I'd rather not introduce too many points of failure by changing everything all at once.


dukla2000:

Sorry, what I meant is that the Linux SATA driver for the SiS 964 chipset is still considered beta. My work machine has a P4 with i865 chipset running under Linux with a SATA drive as the only HD, and the ICH5 SATA driver in the 2.6.x kernel has been running it just fine.

It sounds like the only SFF boxes that handle "hot" processors well are ones like the Shuttles with the heat pipe CPU coolers.


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