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Last post Author Topic: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...  (Read 24818 times)

Carol Haynes

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Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« on: November 01, 2006, 05:25:19 PM »
When I switch my computer on it takes a while to get to the BIOS screen - there are LEDs to diagnose probs and it looks like my IDE controller is on the way out.

I haven't built a new system for some time and it would be useful to get some advice.

I haven't got much money to go out and buy loads of gear so ideally I would like to recycle as much as possible whist retaining the possibility of upgrading to faster and better components as and when I can afford to.

Anyone any suggestions on mobos that are available now that will take all of (or most of) my components (listed below). So far I have used MSI boards but I am happy to consider using an alternative manufacturers - ideally I need to have an AGP slot and preferably 5 or 6 PCI slots and preferably lots of USB2 ports.

CPU - an original Athlon XP 1600+
DDR memory - 2 sticks of 1Gb 164 pin unbuffered PC2700

AGP ATI Radeon All-in-Wonder (ancient but still works and I like the TV facility built into it)
Creative Audigy 2ZS Pro sound card and breakout box
etc.

2 x WD Caviar IDE ATA-133 drives in a RAID 0 array (using an onboard Promise interface)
2 x WD Caviar IDE ATA-133 drives as standard IDE ATA drives
2 x  DVD-RW/CD-RW type drives

I don't have any SATA drives - can you plug ATA type devices into SATA interfaces, ie. are SATA interfaces backwards compatible?


Alternatively am I wasting time and money so that it would be more cost effective in the long run to buy a package of mobo, faster CPU and faster memory? Ideally I don't want to have to replace all my disc drives.

Edit ...

Another thought - if I upgrade to a 64bit CPU can I still install a 32 bit version of Windows or do I have to use a 64 bit version of Windows?
« Last Edit: November 01, 2006, 05:35:41 PM by Carol Haynes »

jgpaiva

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2006, 05:50:16 PM »
Can't help you with the rest, but i can tell you the answer for the last question:
Yes, you can use windows for 32bit systems on a 64bit system. It runs just as well. (not sure if it takes as much advantage of the processor, though... probably not)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2006, 06:05:26 PM »
Thanks

Actually I am looking at websites now and getting really confused over all the new things that have appeared since my last build ...

PCIe
SATA
Dual Core CPUs
etc.

it all makes me wonder if I can use any of my existing kit!

I have been looking at www.overclockers.co.uk and I can't find any mobos that explicitly have AGP interfaces ? Am I missing something as new AGP cards seem to be appearing ?

If I have to do a major upgrade is it worth going for a mobo that combines graphic adapter and onboard sound (there seem to be some MSI and ASUS models that have Audigy 7.1 surround onboard - not sure about built in graphics). I haven't considered these boards in the past as they look like they are aimed at OEM builders but some look as though they have come on a long way and would be a cheap way to get reasonable graphics and sound ?
« Last Edit: November 01, 2006, 06:13:19 PM by Carol Haynes »

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2006, 06:35:23 PM »
I belive AGP is near its end, it's becoming harder and harder to find hardware that uses it.
Maybe this recent thread can help you, since it's about buying a new computer.

mouser

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2006, 06:41:18 PM »
if you have an expensive AGP card, then that will narrow down your search to agp motherboards which are few are far between now.

the ide drives are something you need to think about.
sata interface is NOT compatible with ide drives.  if you have 4 ide drives that you want to mount inside your pc you need to look for a motherboard with 4 ide interfaces, which is not common these days, but you may be able to find one with sata and 4 ides, which would be ideal.  alternatively you could get new sata drives and use your ides in an external drive racks for backup purposes.

onboard sound is reasonable these days.

onboard video is less so; if you want to run graphics heavy stuff like games, youll want a graphics card.

im guessing you will need to buy new memory.

question: do you already have a secondary pc? if not, my advice might be to build a new machine, and just do the minor stuff to make this current one a frankenstein secondary machine.

NeilS

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2006, 07:21:02 PM »
Hi Carol,

There's quite a lot of stuff to consider there, but one thing jumped out at me: you have a RAID-0 setup using the onboard controller. It's pretty likely that, if you plug those drives into another RAID controller, you won't be able to access your files. Even with the same RAID controller chip, I don't think there's any guarantee that it will work.

If your mobo is dying and you don't already have a backup of the files on your RAID array, it's probably a very good idea to sort that out first. Once the mobo dies, your chances of getting at your files is pretty slim.

As far as the rest of the machine goes, I would say it's probably of an age where upgrading one or two core components isn't really worth it. You kinda need to use bits from the same era (if era is a valid way to describe something which happens every 6 months) or you risk wasting money on components which are starved by the older components. For example, it's probably not worth going dual core unless you plan on getting faster memory, since you'd now effectively have two CPUs trying to use the same memory bandwidth as before.

I guess the simplest, cheapest solution would be to just get a replacement mobo that will take all your hardware as-is (not including the RAID array). Although they are becoming fairly rare now, you can still get Socket A / AGP mobos, and they should be fairly cheap (around £30). Not a very exciting option, but there you have it. Oh, and Overclockers probably isn't the best place for less cutting-edge hardware. I can point you at a few other places that might have what you want if you decide to take this option.

Other than that, I'd be inclined to relegate the machine to PC#2 and build a new one. There are quite a few new mobos that will take your 4 IDE drives, although you need to be careful when choosing one. You're also unlikely to get an onboard IDE RAID facility on new mobos, but I'm not a fan of onboard RAID, so I'm not going to list that as a downside. ;) That said, if you're building a new machine, you'll probably want to keep one or two of your current drives for PC#2 anyway, so you might end up wanting to get a shiny new SATA drive, which will reduce your need for lots of IDE ports.

If it was me though, I'd be worrying about that RAID array before anything else. :o

dk70

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2006, 09:20:23 PM »
A suggestion, stayed at the site you linked to:

http://www.overclock...___Foxconn__174.html at bottom there is a strange motherboard which supports both AGP and PCI-E video card.

Does not seem to require newer power supply with 24 pin connector - see specs at Asrock site, 20+4. New motherboard could mean new psu as well. Not what you want. Memory modules can be recycled providing they are "compatible" or works ;) They should if identical sticks and may be will anyway. 164pins would be 184pins right? Hope so or there is a problem. PC2700 vs std. PC3200 dont mean that much, minor loss of performance. 2x1gb is too much to throw out for a few percentages extra speed. If they are overclocking friendly they can always be overclocked to PC3200 :D Depends on what chip they use and how well they work with motherboard.

Cpu could be 3000+ at 38.99 http://www.overclock...alog/Socket_939.html Only 1800mhz but with a little overclocking, even with Asrock software, you can probably get way past 2000. 2400+ if lucky. So no reason to pay more than needed. Cpu runs very cool, stock cooler which you get in retail package is more than enough - also for overclocking. For a bit of extra speed on desktop and in some games a X2 3800 would be ideal. They dont have that, cost more for sure, Im guessing 100+.

Alternative could be older socket A motherboard but probably cost the same as newer and you wont get new cpu  8)

Ive used ATA->SATA converter before, worked ok - even with cd drive. http://www.google.co...a%20sata%20converter Solution if you want cheap motherboard and more than 4 IDE disks. Not many expensive ones have more than 4 either. External PCI-IDE card is other option. I got free converter with my old Abit NF2 motherboard http://www.abit-usa....ogy/serillel_new.php Cant cost that much or they would not have included it.

http://www.asrock.co...ct/939Dual-SATA2.htm click on some of their AWARDS icons and see what reviewers think. Not sure they mention Anandtech http://www.anandtech....aspx?i=2524&p=1 Asrock is made by Asus I think, budget brand. There are disadvantages like not being able to overclock very high because of voltage limits. Enough for you and if it works out it is as good as any.

Even if you got PCI-E video card this Asrock should still be in top 5 choices considering price. May be budget models of MSI, Asus can manage to compete. Boards with VIA chipset could be a little cheaper. I would go Nvidia/ULI any day, anything but VIA but they are cheap. Less than 30£ is unlikely. The longer you wait for new video card the better, soon DX10 cards available.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2006, 09:26:18 PM by dk70 »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2006, 03:25:29 AM »
There's quite a lot of stuff to consider there, but one thing jumped out at me: you have a RAID-0 setup using the onboard controller. It's pretty likely that, if you plug those drives into another RAID controller, you won't be able to access your files. Even with the same RAID controller chip, I don't think there's any guarantee that it will work.

Thanks for reminding me but I am aware of that - consequently my array is mainly used for temporary storage of one form or another - my pagefile is on there and I do a lot of graphics/video type stuff so it is used heavily as a fast scratch disc for editing and storing temporary CD/DVD images prior to burning etc. so there is little of value that would be lost precisely for the reasons you described. Having said that I can run the 'RAID' drives from the 'RAID' interface as two separate IDE drives so it might be worth me considering that route now ;)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2006, 03:39:59 AM »
if you have an expensive AGP card, then that will narrow down your search to agp motherboards which are few are far between now.

the ide drives are something you need to think about.
sata interface is NOT compatible with ide drives.  if you have 4 ide drives that you want to mount inside your pc you need to look for a motherboard with 4 ide interfaces, which is not common these days, but you may be able to find one with sata and 4 ides, which would be ideal.  alternatively you could get new sata drives and use your ides in an external drive racks for backup purposes.

onboard sound is reasonable these days.

onboard video is less so; if you want to run graphics heavy stuff like games, youll want a graphics card.

im guessing you will need to buy new memory.

question: do you already have a secondary pc? if not, my advice might be to build a new machine, and just do the minor stuff to make this current one a frankenstein secondary machine.

I have seen these boards which look like they would go some way to doing what I want:

DABS at £30

MSI

but both need a new CPU (not too much of a prob) and presumably both will need a new PSU.

The main problem I have with these is that the one on DABS doesn't seem to be on the MSI site and I can't find the one on the MSI site for sale anywhere!

OK these are not exciting options but building a whole system from scratch is really not an option as I simply can't afford it and I am not a game player so it doesn't have to be totally 'state of the art' - just reasonably quick and it works!

A suggestion, stayed at the site you linked to:

http://www.overclock...___Foxconn__174.html at bottom there is a strange motherboard which supports both AGP and PCI-E video card.

Does not seem to require newer power supply with 24 pin connector - see specs at Asrock site, 20+4.

Link for this is http://www.asrock.co...ct/939Dual-SATA2.htm and actually looks like it could be a good interim compromise. Problem is I would probably have to ditch my memory because it only supports DDR400 (I think mine are DDR333).

Thanks - I'll read you comment properly later but I have to go out now.

nudone

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2006, 03:58:17 AM »
i don't think you mentioned which msi board it is, Carol, but you could take the ebay cheap fix approach.

http://search.ebay.c...erboard_W0QQfromZR40

for the price they are, i'm sure it will be the cheapest solution - you could even get a second replacement board just in case the first one dies.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2006, 06:00:20 AM »
i don't think you mentioned which msi board it is, Carol, but you could take the ebay cheap fix approach.

http://search.ebay.c...erboard_W0QQfromZR40

for the price they are, i'm sure it will be the cheapest solution - you could even get a second replacement board just in case the first one dies.

Good idea - it is the MSI K7T266 Pro 2-RU

There are non listed on eBay at the moment but there are a few basic models without the RU part - which means no RAID or USB 2 interface.

I'm wondering how easy it would be to buy one of these cheap and move the VIA chips (Northbridge and Southbridge) to my existing board? They both appear to be socketed so I would probably need to source a proper extraction and insertion tool.

I could always buy two to experiment - then if the extraction and replacement goes badly I still have a basic board to fall back on and adding a USB 2 card is not exactly going to break the bank!

nudone

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2006, 06:02:07 AM »
sounds risky, but that's only because i've never tried such a thing.

aren't there any similar boards listed that would do what you need - something maybe a step up from what you have already.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2006, 06:26:46 AM »
Probably - I was just thinking if I can replace the dying chip it will be cheap, cheerful and won't entail reinstalling everything!

NeilS

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2006, 06:57:23 AM »
Unfortunately, you can't be sure that it's the IDE controller chip that's dying. It's probably more likely to be one of the big capacitors you see dotted around the board affecting the IDE chip (or its interface to the system) in some way. The lifespan of these capacitors is pretty poor, which is why some of the latest boards have a new type of capacitor that apparently lives a lot longer.

Mind you, although I say "can't be sure", there is one way to find out... ;)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2006, 07:10:30 AM »
Probably true - actually the capacitors on this board probably date back to when there were massive problems with duff capacitors with many manufacturers. I guess I have been lucky so far.

Now then I wonder if I can replace the capacitors (I know which ones were susceptible!)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2006, 07:12:35 AM »
Quick question re. PSUs ...

The PSU I have has a 20 pin connector but also has a 4 pin connector which I never found a use for. Does that mean that this PSU is compatible with modern boards?

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2006, 09:36:48 AM »
mouser: each IDE interface can handle 2 drives - and most motherboards still come with two IDE interfaces. Mine has 2 IDE and 8 SATA, I think :)

Onboard networking is quite fine for just about all purposes.

Onboard sound is okay quality, but there can be problems with noise because of all the EMI inside a computer box :( - if you hook up digital out to an external amp, that won't be a problem though :)

I'd stay away from a dual AGP/PCI-e motherboard; don't have any experiences with them, but the idea of two different and power-hungry buses (that are quite different) on one board feels a bit icky.

Btw. as for RAID on on-board controllers - this is a big can of worms, even if you move to a new board with the same controller. Some of them will not accept that you already have an array if it doesn't know about it (ie., hasn't been configed in that machine), and thus won't "rebuild" the array but will insist on wiping your disks and creating a new array.

----------

As already mentioned, it's probably not worth "upgrading" your old box, so turning it into a "frankenbox" could be smarter. I understand budget is a problem, but if you don't go for the latest & greatest (oh sweet core2duo goodness!), you should still be able to get a decent box without selling your kidneys.

The square 4 pin connector was introduced with pentium4 machines, iirc. Dunno if it's extra juice for the AGP/PCI-e slot or if it's for the CPU - but it's one of those I think. Additionally, modern motherboards have moved from 20- to 24-pin main connectors. I've seen some convertors, which might work, but I wouldn't do that unless the graphics card is a relatively low-end ones. Also note that even some 24-pin PSUs aren't much better than the 20->24 convertor scheme.

As for 32- vs 64-bit XP, I haven't yet seen any reason to install 64bit even though I have an AMD64x2 4400+. It's very little software that can take advantage of the additional address space, and the extra & wider registers don't help that much for much software. So unless you have some software you know can take advantage of 64bit, it isn't worth it yet imho.
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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2006, 09:45:19 AM »
As for 32- vs 64-bit XP, I haven't yet seen any reason to install 64bit even though I have an AMD64x2 4400+. It's very little software that can take advantage of the additional address space, and the extra & wider registers don't help that much for much software. So unless you have some software you know can take advantage of 64bit, it isn't worth it yet imho.

I was very disappointed to note that on my box which dual boots 32bit and 64bit XP that the 7zip internal benchmark ran faster under 32bit XP than under 64bit. In hindsight I should also have tested a 32bit exe running under 64bit XP, might do so later.

I never looked into this further, though it would be interesting to check out some other programs.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2006, 11:13:11 AM »
mouser: each IDE interface can handle 2 drives - and most motherboards still come with two IDE interfaces. Mine has 2 IDE and 8 SATA, I think :)

Onboard networking is quite fine for just about all purposes.

Onboard sound is okay quality, but there can be problems with noise because of all the EMI inside a computer box :( - if you hook up digital out to an external amp, that won't be a problem though :)

A lot of modern boards I have been looking at only seem to come with one PATA/IDE connector - presumably aimed at optical drives.

The tip from dk10 about PATA -> SATA converters looks good though and could make a stop gap solution.

Having said that though I may simply buy a network storage device (Netgear do a nice looking one and its cheaper than multiple converters) that accepts 2 PATA drives and plug it into my new fast Wireless router and use that for data. Then use a single internal SATA drive for speed critical jobs. The other PATA drives could be either used in a second system/frankenbox or put into USB2 bays which are getting cheap now as external storage for backups etc..

Quote
I'd stay away from a dual AGP/PCI-e motherboard; don't have any experiences with them, but the idea of two different and power-hungry buses (that are quite different) on one board feels a bit icky.

I thought AGP was basically part of the PCI bus (which is going to be there anyway) but presumably you can BIOS disable what you aren't using. I take your point though - but if I don't have an AGP interface I have to buy a PCIe graphics card (and/or TV card if I want to retain functionality) which is going to be even more expense.

Quote
Btw. as for RAID on on-board controllers - this is a big can of worms, even if you move to a new board with the same controller. Some of them will not accept that you already have an array if it doesn't know about it (ie., hasn't been configed in that machine), and thus won't "rebuild" the array but will insist on wiping your disks and creating a new array.

Yes I know this a big drawback of onboard RAID - but as I described above I only really use mine for scratch discs and temporary storage. Most of the stuff can be wiped without any tears - and the stuff that can't be wiped can be quickly backed up.

Quote
As already mentioned, it's probably not worth "upgrading" your old box, so turning it into a "frankenbox" could be smarter. I understand budget is a problem, but if you don't go for the latest & greatest (oh sweet core2duo goodness!), you should still be able to get a decent box without selling your kidneys.

The square 4 pin connector was introduced with pentium4 machines, iirc. Dunno if it's extra juice for the AGP/PCI-e slot or if it's for the CPU - but it's one of those I think. Additionally, modern motherboards have moved from 20- to 24-pin main connectors. I've seen some convertors, which might work, but I wouldn't do that unless the graphics card is a relatively low-end ones. Also note that even some 24-pin PSUs aren't much better than the 20->24 convertor scheme.

As for 32- vs 64-bit XP, I haven't yet seen any reason to install 64bit even though I have an AMD64x2 4400+. It's very little software that can take advantage of the additional address space, and the extra & wider registers don't help that much for much software. So unless you have some software you know can take advantage of 64bit, it isn't worth it yet imho.

No I guessed 64-bit Windows was probably a waste of time and money - but it looks like a new PSU ...

So I seem to have two options ...

(1) Buy a second hand 5 year old compatible mobo and survive until that packs up too

(2) Dig out the credit card and add some grief ... minimum purchase ... mobo, cpu, graphics card and probably memory too + whatever is necessary to keep my current WD Caviars running!

All probably because a capacitor is dying!! 50 cents worth of kit and five minutes with a soldering iron!

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2006, 11:14:24 AM »
As for 32- vs 64-bit XP, I haven't yet seen any reason to install 64bit even though I have an AMD64x2 4400+. It's very little software that can take advantage of the additional address space, and the extra & wider registers don't help that much for much software. So unless you have some software you know can take advantage of 64bit, it isn't worth it yet imho.

I was very disappointed to note that on my box which dual boots 32bit and 64bit XP that the 7zip internal benchmark ran faster under 32bit XP than under 64bit. In hindsight I should also have tested a 32bit exe running under 64bit XP, might do so later.

I never looked into this further, though it would be interesting to check out some other programs.

Maybe you need an extra 5Gb of memory to make XP64 do something interesting ;)

dk70

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2006, 12:15:22 PM »
No, Asrock is not more powerhungry because it supports AGP. One or the other. Also it use 20pin + 4pin not 24 pin. Since you will recycle video card and new cpu has good mileage I would guess you can get away with old power supply. Motherboard only use passive cooler for chipset - might indicate it does not consume that much. Cpu, videocard is what matters the most anyway so you should be safe. No gurantee just because pure specs says load is about the same. Depends on how psu is designed. If psu cant handle this setup new will be needed no matter hardware = nothing lost in trying.

Remember DX10 so resist getting expensive DX9 card today. Another reason you should take advantage of being happy with what you got - on new motherboard. There might be equally cheap or better alternatives for this if you buy pci-e card but for budget upgrading you are stuck with Asrock :)

Speed increases speak very much against replacing what is broken with old stuff - you will notice.

New AM2 or better Intel duo beast definitely require new power supply plus new memory - and new video card. So a different budget. 939 socket like this is best option to keep some money left.  Seems they just dumped Asrock motherboard on that shop but total price must be around 100£. Can get it in other shop, very popular model I think. Compare.

If you consider this option state what video card you have. I would not be surprised if there are some compatibility issues with either AGP or PCI-E - or both! This can be found out before purchase. Real life users know more than a page full of review links.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2006, 02:09:30 PM »
DX10 doesn't really interest me as you will need VISTA and I have no intention of upgrading to VISTA (even if they give me a free copy).

Unfortunately Overclockers have sold out of that ASRock mobo and looking at other sites it appears to be discontinued !

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2006, 02:32:50 PM »
Just browsing around anyone seen this:

http://www.matrox.co...ducts/th2go/home.php

looks kind of neat

(not relevant for my needs but you know the way it is easy to get distracted)

dk70

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2006, 02:42:23 PM »
When not thinking about money it sure is. Well yes, looks like the "old" popular 939Dual-SATA is on its way out but replaced by 939Dual-VSTA where VSTA stands for you know what. http://forums.ocwork...12633433&t=54129 also links to the most active Asrock forum. A few improvements perhaps, basically same product. That forum is where you look up "issues". I doubt VSTA is discontinued though those UK sites I checked seems to focus on new AM2/DDR2 motherboards.

Asus have this with AGP support http://uk.asus.com/p...=743&modelmenu=2 I would much prefer Asrock. Got to be available somewhere. 

Even without DX10 requirement new All-in-Wonder will kill budget. Also have to be careful about power supply - some motherboards more or less require 24 pin, a few dont suppport anything else. 20->24pin converter might work. I would put some money on Asrock being happy with current psu providing you keep AGP video card.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2006, 02:50:32 PM by dk70 »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Mobo dying .... suggestions please on upgrading my system ...
« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2006, 02:48:46 PM »
Found one on eBay - not too sure about risking eBay for this sort of thing though!

The ASUS board is a bit limiting - only 2 PCI cards ...