Choosing a stable AMD platform

11 replies [Last post]
Elite
Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2002

I'm looking for recommendations for am AMD supporting motherboard, preferably for an Athlon XP with DDR RAM.

The crucial point is that I want it as stable as possible for potential video editing and DVD writing. Performance isn't a priority - as any Athlon XP should be more than up to the task, and squeezing a few more percent performance isn't necessary - however stability is.

This is a concern for me as I've built two AMD machines in the past:

1) Athlon 1.2 Ghz on an Abit with VIA KT133 Chipset + Win2k Pro

2) Athlon 1.33 Ghx on an AOpen again with a VIA KT133 Chipset + Win2k Pro

Although I'm happy with the price/performance of these machines - the stability of them is no where near my Dell P3 and Dell P4 machines.

I've already decided against an Intel solution due to the price/performance difference in comparison to AMD, and I've also decided against any VIA chipset motherboard for an AMD solution because of past experience.

Has anyone tried an nForce motherboard with an Athlon XP? Is this a rock solid solution? Or are there better alternatives?

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks,

Tim.

John Disdle
Offline
Joined: Dec 28 2000

I have been using an Asus A7M266, 512 meg ram and Win2K sp2 for the last eight months. I updated from a 1Gig early this year to a 1.3 Athlon. It is stable. Blue screens are a rarity with Win2K. Prem. can close on you sometimes. I am using a DV500.
You don`t say what card you will be using, and it would be wise to check if this board will run the XP proc.

Regards
John

------------------

Elite
Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2002

Thanks for your reply, and apologies for not giving further details in my original post.

I'm currently using a Creative Personal Cinema Geforce2 MX 400 to capture directly from its inbuilt TV Tuner and/or it's analogue input. I also have a OCHI 1394 capture card for bringing DV in from my Panasonic camcorder.

This all works really well and I'm able to capture without any loss of frames etc etc on my 1.33 Ghz Athlon. Even got the whole 4 hour Party In The Palace off the tele the other night at full frame MPEG2 PAL resolution without one lost frame 8-)

The trouble is there are infrequent lockups (everything absolutely frozen requiring a hard reset) experienced here and there for no reason I can find on both this machine and my other Athlon PC - both with VIA chipset motherboards, which is a bloody nuisance when writing a DVD (Pioneer A04 writer) for example. Result = 1 knackered disc. Although rebooting and trying again works!

I have tried different versions of drivers (chipset, IDE, graphics, sound) extensively on different OS's and frankly I've now just got both machines as stable as I can and giving them less taxing duties.

In an attempt to upgrade my video machine to something faster (to allow for greater quality MPEG2 capture on the fly) I'm intending to build an Athlon XP - I just need this to be as stable as possible after the above.

Even with Win2K installed, this doesn't stop the infrequent lock-ups on the current machine, something I don't experience at all on my Dell (Intel) PCs.

Have you experienced lockups of any nature with your Asus board?

I can only find details for an A7M266-D which is a dual cpu board and a bit pricey!

However it does have an AMD chipset which is a plus point...no more VIA.

Has anyone got experience of the nForce chipset boards? I like nVidia and it's commitment to frequent driver updates be it graphics cards or motherboards for all OS's, so an nForce board would perhaps be ideal if there are no reported problems with 'em ...

John Disdle
Offline
Joined: Dec 28 2000

The only lockup I get is with Cooledit Pro. I have set up a duel boot with Win2K & Win98, using Cooledit on the Win98 system. This is also used for the internet, keeping Win2K only for video editing, graphics and a cut down install of Word.
I use Norton speed disk to defrag, but there are no virus checkers etc. installed with it.

Four hours continuous recording sounds pretty good to me. Your system can`t be that bad! Have you tried another graphics card. You may not be able to capture with it, but could this be the cause. Try changing the pci slot for the DV card. Could it be an overheating problem? Hope some of this helps.

Regards.
John

------------------

Elite
Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2002

Thanks again for your reply.

The one thing it does seem good at for the timebeing is capturing (after settling down with bare bones drivers for the chipset and graphics and stuff). I think there are lots of PCI problems (latency) with the KT133 chipset which seem to kick in when the IDE port is dealing with more than one device (eg. writing a DVD), and I think this is causing the hangs. After checking every version of the chipset drivers (and I'm now using the default Win2K ones which seem most stable) I've just given up.

I've got a firewire drive kit arriving imminently from our man Ian at LynxDV, which might provide an alternative solution to the problem.

However I'm really looking at a new processor/motherboard anyway, as the capturing I'm doing is straight from the TV Tuner into MPEG2, and I'm only able to capture at quality 8 on a scale of 1 to 15 (in Ulead DVD Workshop) without dropping frames.

Fortunately(!) my current Athlon m/board doesn't support Athlon XPs so I'm not tempted to try and upgrade a currently dodgy system - a new (stable) setup is the aim of the game now...

Other than the hangs though (which again I think is due to the chipset) the PC is fine - well cooled, graphics & sound work fine (capturing for hours as mentioned above).

I'd love to set my P4 system up for video capture/editing but a) There's too much stuff in the box already, and b) I can't use the thing if it's capturing - and videoing is really hobbyist stuff, so my main PC is used for other tasks (software development etc)

Was I right about your board being a dual-cpu rig?

John Disdle
Offline
Joined: Dec 28 2000

My A7M266 is a single cpu. The manual states.
266MHz FSB DDR ram AGP Pro socket A.
and uses the AMD 761 chipset.
The front of the manual has E776 in the top RH corner.
You could look at the A7Vxxx boards to see if they offer anything. I was running a 500MHz P3 with a Gigabyte m/b. So my present setup is a lot better.

Regards
John

------------------

DV Ed
Offline
Joined: Jun 10 2002

Seems like you know your 'stuff' already. I built an AMD XP-1900 in december (cant belive its already 6 months old )
Basic spec is Asus A7V266, 256 Meg PC 2600 Cas 2 DDR Memory, Win XP Pro, Pinnacle firewire card, Pinnacle Studio 7 & HFX+ 4.5, Adobe premiere 6, Creative SP LIVE plat, Creative CDR etc.. 120 gig 7500 RPM and 37.5 gig 5400 RPM drives loaded with other stuff and on a home network and also internet and etc etc..
My point is that this system has allot attached to it. Its runs PERFECTLY and the OS has NEVER crashed once over the last 6 months. Sometimes I get a program freeze on me but thats my fault from trying to do to many things at once. Infact I was so pleased with it that I have now put a similar config on my laptop and its also faultless. I highly recommend the ASUS A7V266A (I belive its been revised now) with an AMD XP chip, it works perfectly and is ideal for video. Its also very fast! I almost get realtime VCD encoding in Studio 7, and with a little over clocking its even closer

Ed

Elite
Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2002

Excellent, thanks for your reply.

With John's system above also based on an Asus (non-VIA chipset) m/board I'm beginning to see a positive pattern here.

Is Asus the same as Asustek? Dabs.com seem to have plenty of Asustek stuff...

I've only purchased PC133 memory to date for my current systems - are there different types/speeds of DDR memory to worry about for these Asus moards?

Thanks again,

Tim.

DV Ed
Offline
Joined: Jun 10 2002

Atchually, my M board is VIA based the KT266 chipset is VIA.

I have just had a look at motherboards... I cannot believe how much things have changed sine I brought mine.
Have a look at http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_AMD_Motherboards_68.html#aMB_2D016_2DAB
I see Abit's AT7 even comes with firewire! But I would find no serial a bit annoying...

Im stuck with what to choose... I like the look of the Asus A7V333 however

Memory is also different, its so annoying :O ! Basically go for the best you can afford. The Asus A7V333 and 512 megs of Corsair 256MB DDR XMS3000 CAS2 memory and AMD Athlon XP 2100+ would be amazing, mmmmmmm makes me want to upgrade all over again hehehe. You may want to go for the raid board for even more speed.. Be cautious however.. This combination would produce alot of heat, and thus fans to cool it would probably be noisy, but it wold be worth it!!

Ed

Elite
Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2002

Thanks for the further info.

The upgrade bug is a hard one to shake 8)

Is it just the VIA KT133(a) chipset that is iffy then? There are heaps of problems reported on the web (at AMD user sites etc) so I just thought blowing VIA out of the equation for future upgrades was sensible.

I know what you mean about all the options available these days - bewildering just figuring out the products a single m/b manufacturer is putting out let alone a dozen of them.

The big problem is that there hardly seems time enough for a platform to settle and establish itself as a good solution before it's completely replaced by something else offering twice as many features for half the price. Just when do you dip your toe in the pond?

Ah well - off to the web again for more info ...

Tim.

DV Ed
Offline
Joined: Jun 10 2002

Ususally I go by what http://www.hardocp.com/ and / or http://www.tomshardware.com/ say. They are both very good. Its very easy to get brain drain and numb from reading too much info. But from my experienve if these two say its good then it will be

You have got me looking again, Its sad to see that Intel have a clear lead again, oh well by the time im ready to upgrade again I hope AMD will be back at the front. Its possible that the early 64 bit processors will coming in somtime, although that may be a bit far off for now. I think that may be the next big step..

Ed

Elite
Offline
Joined: Jun 8 2002

Just as a follow-up to close this topic - I haven't upgraded the system yet, however I did purchase some firewire drive kits (from LynxDV) and stuffed a hard disc in one, and my Pioneer DVD writer in the other.

These I connected up to the Athlon system I've been having trouble with and all capturing is now straight to the firewire HD, whilst DVD burning is also done from the firewire HD straight to the (now firewire) Pioneer drive.

This works like a dream, as all the firewire connectivity circumvents the PCI latency problems caused by the VIA KT133A chipset on the Athlon m/board.

If there's anyone else suffering similar problems to mine, I can recommend this solution although it comes at a price (the drive kits + firewire card). However you do get to share the drive(s) with other firewire enabled PCs.

I would just like to say thanks again for everyone's input in this topic.

Regards,

Tim.