wanted: choice for stability?

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wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:11 pm

Hi! I'd like a couple good suggestions for nice stable boards IF there's pretty good consensus (obviously I'm hoping to take advantage of someone who's researched this exact thing recently). Cpu maker is not particularly relevant, I only need midrange stuff and will be dual booting Win7 and linux. I'm hoping to spend in the lower ranges for the mobo meaning < $100, but don't know that it's necessarily realistic for what I have described. The tech's been improving I know, but people are always trading off stability because that is often not a selling point.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:28 pm

If you're not going to OC or fill every storage port on the board, pretty much any name brand will get you there today in both Intel & AMD flavors. If you plan on an OC, that's a completely different question.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:56 am

Since it sounds like you don't mind using an AMD processor, the Asus M5A97 series has worked very well for me. My home and work desktops are both based on boards from this family, and they have both been rock solid. Has proper support for ECC RAM too, if you're thinking of going that route. The M5A97 R2.0 (the one in my home desktop) is under $100.

Regarding use of Linux on these boards, compatibility is excellent but you may need to install a few extra drivers depending on how old of a distro you plan to run:

1) Older (2+ years) distros may ID the audio codec as a generic 2-channel AC97 instead of 8-channel HD, and may have performance/stability issues with the NIC. In both cases, the solution is to download the source tarball for the corresponding Realtek driver and compile it. Newer distros have native support.

2) The temperature and fan monitoring chip seems to be poorly supported by the mainline kernel. If you want to read the sensors you may need to compile a 3rd party driver. This *might* be fixed in very recent distros (it was still busted as of Ubuntu 12.04).

If you need help getting any of the 3rd party drivers compiled/installed I can assist with that (not sure what your level of Linux expertise is).
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:57 am

Thanks just-brew-it. I'm used to running with a Biostar, so the extra ports and stuff are a change-up. ECC to me means... resale value, lol. But the raid options are intriguing. Does anyone have other recommends from the other brands? I heard Epox made good stuff... about 10 years ago, whether it's true still idk. The M5A97 does look pretty nice and I'm really close to sold on it. :)

A second question I've had is: ic-based sound does or does not make the audiophile puke? What I'm saying is should I spring to replace that Awesometek-56628 or whatever "sound" with a dedicated soundcard on usb? (anyway I also have an old SB Live here, that might find a new lease on life)
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:38 pm

raginghobo wrote:A second question I've had is: ic-based sound does or does not make the audiophile puke? What I'm saying is should I spring to replace that Awesometek-56628 or whatever "sound" with a dedicated soundcard on usb? (anyway I also have an old SB Live here, that might find a new lease on life)

Asus generally does a reasonable job with their onboard audio solutions, even on their mid-range and budget boards.

It is impossible to say for sure without knowing a little more about your needs audio-wise, but in general, unless you've already got pretty good speakers/headphones the onboard audio won't be the limiting factor for playback fidelity. Your money would probably be better spent upgrading the speakers/headphones instead.

If you plan to do any high-quality recording from Line or Mic level sources you'll definitely want to upgrade to a discrete soundcard.

The old SB Live probably isn't much of a step up from the onboard (and might even be a step backward in some areas).
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:19 am

Ah great, thanks for all the tips! Low quality recording of my fancy studio mic would be a bummer but I was just worried about playback for the most part. I am in fact looking to pick up something fancy for speakers also (creature comforts, ftw). So now that I've got that Asus M5A97 lined up, is there an e-z pick for the graphics card, like something $200-ish that's a killer buy right now? Bundle me guys! Otherwise I'll pick something out on my own. Just asking in case there's a sweet spot that I could be made aware of, some product that's gotten all the kudos within the past 2-4 months?
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:05 am

Generally, server equipment is going to have better stability, that's it's main purpose, and better Linux support. I would probably spend a little bit more on a consumer motherboard and get one with an Intel NIC. I recently did a build with an ASRock 990FX Extreme (http://www.asrock.com/mb/AMD/990FX%20Ex ... dex.us.asp) for a Linux test box at work, and I've been happy with it so far. It's more expensive then $100 dollars, but I think it was worth it.

I haven't check the temperature or fan monitoring yet.

For video cards, Intel graphics have the best open source drivers, and Nvidia has the best proprietary drivers. If you don't need absolute performance, I would go with Intel graphics, it's a nicer overall experience then with proprietary drivers. Otherwise, the new 750ti might be a good bet. I would have to check on the status of the nouveau driver to really make a recommendation.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:08 am

personally, if you want stability, I'd opt for intel + intel. Some current intel (alternative: asus) motherboard with an i3 would do nicely. Add kingston ram (in my opinion the ram with the least compatibility problems) and an intel SSD (or plextor). Nothing fancy about that, but everything will work nicely. And it will be only slightly more expensive than other choises.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:14 am

ozymandias wrote:personally, if you want stability, I'd opt for intel + intel. Some current intel (alternative: asus) motherboard with an i3 would do nicely. Add kingston ram (in my opinion the ram with the least compatibility problems) and an intel SSD (or plextor). Nothing fancy about that, but everything will work nicely. And it will be only slightly more expensive than other choises.

Unless you want ECC RAM.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:30 am

I should mention, check the hardware compatibility list on the manufacturer's website. It's a list of hardware they've tested to make sure it actually works. This is a trick from the server world.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:18 pm

just brew it! wrote:
ozymandias wrote:personally, if you want stability, I'd opt for intel + intel. Some current intel (alternative: asus) motherboard with an i3 would do nicely. Add kingston ram (in my opinion the ram with the least compatibility problems) and an intel SSD (or plextor). Nothing fancy about that, but everything will work nicely. And it will be only slightly more expensive than other choises.

Unless you want ECC RAM.

Asus/Supermicro/AsRock workstation boards with C2xx chipset, you can get ECC support with low end Xeon's, i3's and Pentium G's. It is not too much more expensive.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:07 pm

Flying Fox wrote:Asus/Supermicro/AsRock workstation boards with C2xx chipset, you can get ECC support with low end Xeon's, i3's and Pentium G's. It is not too much more expensive.

Understood. But it's a slippery slope; before you know it, you've tacked a few hundred bucks onto the price of the system. He said he wants a stable mid-range board for under $100. The M5A97 R2.0 fits the bill nicely. Is it "workstation class"? No, and the price reflects that.

But as someone who uses an M5A97 Evo at work and an M5A97 R2.0 at home on a daily basis, I can say from first-hand experience that they have been rock solid. The only time either one of them ever gets rebooted is when Ubuntu pushes out a kernel update.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:32 pm

just brew it! wrote:... as someone who uses an M5A97 Evo at work and an M5A97 R2.0 at home on a daily basis, I can say from first-hand experience that they have been rock solid. The only time either one of them ever gets rebooted is when Ubuntu pushes out a kernel update.

That's what I'm talking about!

Actually, I wouldn't object so much to a Xeon if it meant even another $100-150 extra on the cpu+mobo together, but having 0 experience with that group of hardware I'm at a loss to say exactly why I or anyone would go that specific route. Is the Xeon bringing anything to the table that a discerning but not overly specific user might gain from? I've been working under the assumption that these "server boards" necessarily come with > 4 ram slots, or tricked out controllers; and some type of super-RAIDing capacity, basically a huge supply of something which I don't demand.

It seems the level of Linux support I require is already present in the distro's I'm familiar with, though I've only been in the linux game for a yr or so, and if it's a matter of waiting 6-8 months for support to be added that's just fine, as well. It sounds like someone thinks the Intel LAN is a better bet than realtek but I'd take either one over nvidia, that much I can tell you. Well thx all!

edit- Just learned that workstation class is "pretty serious"! I'm not sure how serious I'm ready to get although I suppose I've been implying all along that it's pretty serious. Let me adjust that by saying I prefer to err on the side of greater seriousness. ;)
Last edited by raginghobo on Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:37 pm

I'm saying it is NOT marketed as a workstation class board, and is priced accordingly. But IMO it is an affordable, stable, reliable workhorse of a board, with at least a couple of workstation-class features (ECC and I/O virtualization to be specific).
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:15 pm

The only thing I am not crazy about with the M5A97 R2.0 board is the PCI-E and PCI slot layout.

All boards that support 2 graphics cards should have a PCI-E 1x slot above the 1st 16x slot like this MSI board I am using as a example since it was linked on the same page.

MSI Computer Corp. Motherboard North Bridge AMD 970 & South Bridge AMD SB950 Chipset ATX DDR3 800 AMD AM3+ MB (970A-G46)

http://www.amazon.com/MSI-Computer-Moth ... B0073JYZ48

Look and you will see what I mean if you compare the 2 boards.

Luckily my old P67-UD4-B3 MB had a PCI-E 1x slot above the 1st 16x slot allowing me to put my Sblaster X above my graphics card and not in between 2 Gihugic GTX 770 Classified cards.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:27 pm

raginghobo wrote:
Actually, I wouldn't object so much to a Xeon if it meant even another $100-150 extra on the cpu+mobo together, but having 0 experience with that group of hardware I'm at a loss to say exactly why I or anyone would go that specific route. Is the Xeon bringing anything to the table that a discerning but not overly specific user might gain from? I've been working under the assumption that these "server boards" necessarily come with > 4 ram slots, or tricked out controllers; and some type of super-RAIDing capacity, basically a huge supply of something which I don't demand.


x86 workstation stuff isn't that much different from regular desktop x86 stuff. There is less variability and they are supported longer. With Intel, you're getting all the bells and whistles they cut out for segmentation and binning. With AMD, you're getting guarantees about support and availability of the chip since their desktop procs already have the features enabled.

Workstation/server boards generally come with less. They don't have alot of fancy stuff, but they will have stuff like quad NICs, COM ports, and IPMI with KVM over IP. They are the epitome of stable since the people buying them are expecting them to run 24x7 for many years, and they also expect to have parts available to fix them over those years. Consumer stuff is disposable by contrast. This, of course, means the workstation/server stuff can get a little stale, but it's for other people to beta test the new hottness.

More then four DIMM slots is dependent on the board. Most workstation ATX boards only have four slots.

RAID is dependent on the board as well. Some boards have RAID chips, and others make do with the SATA lanes on the chipset.
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Re: wanted: choice for stability?

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:18 pm

Ah, uh certainly informative. But if anybody else wants to pop in with an alternative board choice along the lines of the original non-server lines, something which so utterly excites them they *ahem* can no longer keep quiet about it... no time like now! ;-)

Point taken about the slot locating; not a consideration for me however.
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