Asus A7N8X Motherboard

  Phil930 03:36 13 Apr 2004

I have just ordered the Asus A7N8X and have some questions on it.

First let me post my current system spec.

Win XP Pro
AMD XP 2400+
1024 PC2100 DDR
Chaintech 7JKD Mobo.
Master 120GB, Slave 60 Gb (both Maxtor)
GF4 Ti4600
Soundblaster Live 5.1 Digital Soundcard.

My new motherboard lets me operate at an FSB of 400 max. My processor is limited to 266FSB, is this correct? I do plan do upgrade to XP Barton 3200 at 400FSb when it drops in price.

Secondly, can i run faster RAM now? I would like to run DDR400 (PC3200) as my new mobo will support this. can i run this speed ram with my current processor or will it be restricted to 266FSB? If i upgrade processor to 333 or 400 FSB will it then support faster rams. is ram speed limited by motherboard or processor or both?

Will i notice a performance increase from this new motherboard. I feel the NForce 2 400 chipset may help. I plan to run my Harddrives at their optimised ATA133. Currently they run on ATA100. Will i need to install raid drivers or will the motherboard support ATA133 as standard plug and play.

Last comes the sound. The A7N8X uses an onboard Realtek® ALC650 audio CODEC that lets you enjoy high-quality 6-channel audio without having to buy advanced sound cards. Will i need my old soundcard still? Does the motherboard sound quality surpass this old soundcard?

I know there are faster boards out there but money is tight right now and i got this board for £42 which i feel is a bargain. My current motherboard does not always boot and has an old chipset.

My future plan (within 3 months) is to equip it with either a fast 333 XP processor or the XP3200 400 FSB. then i want to upgrade RAM to 1Gb of DDR400 and buy a new graphics card once they drop in price from the new range of cards coming out. this temporary upgrade should serve me for another year and then i will be out of uni and be able to afford a new top of the line machine.

Beggers can;t be choosers!!

  temp003 05:39 13 Apr 2004

Just to be sure, your mobo model is just A7N8X, without any suffix (such as A7N8X-X or A7N8X deluxe)?

Yes, Athlon 2400+ native FSB is 266MHz.

Yes, your new mobo can run faster memory, even with your current CPU. Some chipsets (I can think of a VIA chipset) have restrictions on certain combinations of CPU FSB and memory speed (even though supported), but I don't think the nForce2 chipset on your mobo is restricted that way.

But with your current CPU, you won't get much increase in performance using faster memory because the FSB is restricted to 266MHz. Your PC2100 memory (DDR266) provides just the right bandwidth. A faster memory (and a larger bandwidth) will theoretically benefit devices using direct memory access, assuming the system is under full load. But most of the time you won't see any significant difference. Running memory at a frequency different from the FSB also means potentially higher latency.

If your 1GB memory at the moment is in 2 modules, you can leave the memory as it is for the time being, as the nForce2 chipset on the new mobo supports dual channel memory, so that you get increased bandwidth but memory still running at same frequency as FSB. So there's no need to rush off and buy new memory yet.

When you upgrade your CPU, you can buy faster memory (again 2 modules) with the same frequency as the FSB.

Will you notice performance increase with new motherboard? Hope so. The nForce2 chipset is supposed to be the best platform for AMD Athlons (at least up to the Bartons). And Asus is usually a good performer (and uses good quality materials).

Not much difference in ATA-100 and ATA-133, but it's there anyway. XP will have the drivers for ATA-133 disk controller. After installing XP and loading it, insert mobo CD and install mobo drivers.

Not aware your model supports RAID, unless it's the deluxe version which gives RAID support through the SATA controller - but I may be wrong. If you're not using RAID, don't install the Raid drivers if you can help it.

Sound - the onboard sound uses 18-bit sound, Soundblaster Live 5.1 uses 16-bit. How it really translates into a difference in quality I don't know. At this sort of level (compared to say Audigy2 which uses 24-bit), you're probably not very demanding on sound quality, so you may not notice much difference.

The other consideration is performance. Look at the specifications of the mobo and see if it has the SoundStorm APU (audio processing unit). Only the deluxe versions have Soundstorm.

If it does not have the APU, then I would probably use the Soundblaster sound card. This is because without the APU, your computer will use the CPU to process sound, further taxing your CPU.

If it has SoundStorm, then maybe you want to use the onboard sound. But since you have the sound card anyway, try both and see which setup you like.

  Phil930 18:52 13 Apr 2004

thank you for your help, it has been very useful and i am expecting delivery later this week. ia m certain i ordered the A7N8X but i will definately check this once i is delivered to insure no mistakes were made on the suppliers side.

I thought RAID was needed to use ATA133 but i see i am wrong. How will i check if the harddrives are working at ATA 133? Will it say on Boot?

As for the sound. How can i identify if it has a SoundStorm APU (audio processing unit)? The detailed description i have so far is;

'The A7N8X uses an onboard Realtek® ALC650 audio CODEC that lets you enjoy high-quality 6-channel audio without having to buy advanced sound cards.'

I am very interested in optimised sound. I assume 18bit is better than 16bit processing of sound?

Thanks again

  Rayuk 19:01 13 Apr 2004

Can you post a link for where you bought the board.
If its new and you got it for £42 doubt whether it will be the delux version.

  ICF 20:15 13 Apr 2004

Have a look at this review I have this board and have found it to be a superb motherboard

click here

  ade.h 21:42 13 Apr 2004

...probably very little in it; not worth worrying about. You would need some VERY good quality PC speakers, such as Accoustic Energy Aego2, to appreciate any difference.

Your ATA speed will be mentioned in the Advanced Chipset Features section of BIOS (hit delete right after the beep at boot-up).

  Phil930 00:01 14 Apr 2004

i currently live in America and bought from Ebuyer in the US. The board was $80 and i took into account the current exchange rate. Thats why the price was so good.

I will be returning to england soon though which is good as AMD processors tend to be cheaper in the UK. i guess thats as they are made in Europe.

  temp003 00:39 14 Apr 2004

If it's the A7N8X you ordered, then it has no Soundstorm APU (and no RAID). It's your mention of RAID which led me to think you may have ordered a deluxe version. Use your Soundblaster sound card.

click here for full specs.

Compare to specs for deluxe version: click here (look at audio section where it mentions Soundstorm).

Hdd transfer speed, you don't really need to worry about that. The mobo supports ATA133, and if your hdd itself is ATA133, then it will use ATA133 (set to Auto in BIOS); and double check in Windows Device Manager - IDE controller - primary channel (or secondary) - for both devices, that "Use DMA if available" is selected.

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