Buying new computer parts

Well I have about had it with my ECS K7S5A, and am ready to pull it in favor of one of the new Nforce2 boards.

Every so often the ECS loses all its settings and needs to be reset. Worse, it occasionally won’t post, requiring me to cycle the power, even with the beefy new 400w Enermax. None of this happend until I upgraded to the latest bios to support my new 2400+. It may be a bios problem, or I may have a short in the case and just can’t find it. I dunno. I feel like I am being led around by the nose.

Here is what I am thinking:

ASUS A7N8X (non-deluxe part)
MULTIWAVE 512MB PC2100 (x2)

/w shipping: $284.24


Motherboard: It has to be the Asus. I have always had good luck and reliability with the Asus brand. I know there was some discussion about the Nforce2 boards not too long ago. For those that have them, how are they holding up? If I do go Nforce2, is there any compelling reason to go with the deluxe part? I already have an extra NIC and an Audigy sound card, so I am not really finding the on-board parts that compelling. If the serial ATA were an IDE raid, I would snap it up just to have the ability to add RAID or more IDE parts (I have a zip, 3 disks, DVD and CDRW). Oh, does anyone know if there are AGP 8x cards on the market? Would my Ti4200 be one of them or is that the next generation cards?

Memory: I struggled with whether to get the good memory, fast memory, or just get a lot of the cheap stuff. If I upgrade my 2400+, to 333 MHz chip I will have to get new memory. I am generally opposed to paying a permium for faster memory unless I actually can use it and at least I have a lot.


I’ve been meaning to ask this. Is the Nforce2 board just a motherboard with an integrated Geforce graphics chip or have I missed something?

Yes and no :)

The nForce2 chipset consists of two chips: A north bridge and a south bridge. Each of these comes in two versions.

North bridges: IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) and SPP (System Platform Processor). The IGP contains a Geforce4 MX, while the SPP has no integrated graphics controller.

South bridges: MCP and MCP-T (Media & Communications Processor). The MCP-T adds Firewire support, a second Ethernet controller and the Audio Processing Unit (APU) compared with the plain MCP.

Most nForce2 motherboards so far have the SPP and the MCP-T.
I own the Asus A7N8X deluxe myself, and I am very pleased with it so far. My old NIC and Audigy have been sold off - no more crappy Creative drivers! :wink:

And the APU is a built-in soundcard then?

Yes. Read for a comparison between the APU and Audigy2.

Thanks for the help.

Hi, NI (any relation to Bill Ni, the science guy? ;))

Does the plain MCP not have a sound card, then? I am confused. I have read the reviews at tomshardware and anadtech, and I came away thinking there was no difference between sound features between MCP and MCP-T.

I thought that the deluxe features for MCP-T were extra NIC, Serial ATA Raid, & firewire? The $112 part I am looking at is SPP & MCP, by the way.

no more crappy Creative drivers!

Heh, that’s compelling.

No, I’m probably closer related to Monty Python :D

Just standard AC’97-stuff AFAIK.

Serial ATA is not a feature of MCP-T, but an added feature of the deluxe version of the ASUS board. It has nothing to do with nForce2 as such.

Well the folks at firingsquad think the MCP-T sound is better than my OEM Audigy (not Audigy2), so maybe I should be considering the deluxe model.

Oh, importnat consideration, given I mostly play sims: Do you get a gameport with the A7N8X?

Thanks, I didn’t realize that about the Serial ATA, probably because I’ve been so focused on the Asus board.

Sure. The board ships with a bracket containing two extra USB ports (in addition to the four standard ports) and a game port.

The only thing I miss is optical S/PDIF - the board has only coaxial S/PDIF output (in addition to the standard analog outputs, of course).
But, at least it’s available as an addon.

Dammit, don’t tempt me! :)

One other thing I’d mention (and this is just based on my experience and that of others at about the NForce and NForce2 boards: the microphone input for the sound is terrible. The solution? Use a USB microphone.

Unfortunately, I bought two regular mics before discovering it was the motherboard, not the mic. Anyone in the market for a cheap mic? :)


The regular MCP has the APU sound as well, it just doesn’t have the dolby digital realtime encoder.

Just upgraded to the A7N8X deluxe recently. No issues when upgrading, and I’ve been pretty pleased with it so far. Kind of nice only having one card in my system right now. :D

Heh, yeah. I would just have a video card and a controller card. :) I am sure I could come close to getting back the extra $50 the deluxe would cost by e-baying the Audigy and NIC.

What type of memory did you go with, Kool Moe Dee?

Brad, I guess I did see somethign about this in the reviews, but didn’t undertand it. So with deluxe I can decode dolby digital sound? This would just be for watching DVDs, right?

Actually it would allow you to encode, not decode, dolby digital surround sound. It’s like the Xbox where game audio ican be output as a 5.1 channel digital signal. You plug it into a surround sound setup that supports DD 5.1 and you’ve got instant 3D surround sound. It’s not to big a deal as very few multimedia speaker setups actually support AC3 decoding. Most soundcards output 3D audio via multiple analog channels. Like I have a quad setup, which is common now. Some also support 5.1 channel analog output. Those which do have digital output usually can only pass through surround sound bitstreams from DVD software, or 2 channel mixing. What the nForce 2’s MCP-T (and indeed the nF 1’s MCP-D and the Xbox) does which is new is generate a dolby digital surround signal automatically from 3D audio (like that created in a game). Pretty much any four channel sound card can decode digital surround sound from a DVD with the right player software or directshow filter and mix it to whatever is appropriate for your speaker setup.

Just some PC3000+ memory. Probably get something better later, though.

Here is a quote from Anandtech. I knew I had read it somewhere…

The basic MCP does not have NVIDIA’s Audio Processing Unit (APU) and just basic AC’97 audio support without an integrated DSP.

If I’m wrong, I’m at least not alone :-)

In addition to missing DD encoder, the MCP only supports 2 speakers and has no S/PDIF output.

Hmm, after some further research it looks like you may be right, though I cant believe nVidia took out the APU from the MCP. And to make it that much more confusing even MCP-T equipped motherboards still need a 6 channel codecs to do basic digital to analog conversions. I still haven’t figured out whether the SoundStorm solution changes that.