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The Swamp
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SATA Card Blues

Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:27 pm

I have a pretty old Asus P5N-D motherboard with a Q8300. It's getting extremely long in the tooth, but I haven't been up to building a new system. This one seems to work well enough for what I use it for, so I'm trying to get as much life out of it as possible.

It's supposed to have SATA 2.0, but it's got a weird Nvidia chipset (750?). I have never been able to get anything other than SATA 1.0 speeds from it, about 105MB/sec. That's even with a new SATA 3.0 Crucial SSD. I've tried all sorts of drivers, but nothing has changed anything. The latest Nvidia drivers are from 2010.

So, I got a Syba SD-PEX50055 card to see if that might improve the situation. It uses a PCI-e x4 slot. I only have a pair of x1 slots and a pair of x16 slots (2.0) on the board. I wanted to use the card on the second x16 slot since I have heard that x16 is backward compatible. I've read posts from other people who have successfully used the x16 slot this way. From what I have been able to tell, this *should* have worked without issue.

Best laid plans. When I installed the card, I got nothing. Literally nothing. Windows did not see the card at all. The BIOS on the motherboard is pretty basic, and I saw no settings for the x16 slot, other than to designate that it's the primary video slot. Nothing else. I moved the card to the known-good primary x16 slot and still... nothing. I don't think the BIOS is seeing the card at all, which would explain why Windows 7(64) is not seeing it, either. So, I cannot install drivers or anything like that. It's like the card simply does not exist when it's plugged into an x16 slot. There is an LED on the card, so I know it's getting power.

I took the card out and I'm pausing a bit to ask you guys about it. Is there something non-standard about Asus' x16 implementation that allows only video cards? I guess I can return it and just get an x1 card, but I'd rather that be a last resort if I can help it. Anything you would try if you were trying to get this thing to work? If I can get the BIOS to see the card, then I think I'm going to be in business. But I don't know how to do that.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:49 pm

I've definitely put SATA cards in the x16 slot on Asus motherboards. In fact, I currently have an LSI-9211-8i SAS/SATA card (which has a 4x interface) in the secondary x16 slot of an Asus M5A97 R2.0, and it works fine. I also have some other card (I forget make/model, might even be a Syba, but not the same model as yours) in the x16 slot of an Asus M3A78-CM (using the IGP for video on that system as it's a server, and that board only has a single x16 slot).

Are you on the latest BIOS for that motherboard?

I've seen older SATA cards fail to POST on newer UEFI motherboards, but your motherboard is old enough (no UEFI) that this can't be what's going on here. I suppose there could be the reverse sort of situation, where the card is expecting UEFI... but that would be weird, since it's pretty clearly aimed at people like you who are upgrading older systems.

I've seen add-in SATA cards that don't initialize if there isn't a drive connected to them during POST. Did you have something connected to it?

I see that the card is a bit of an oddball (SATA + USB3), with an auxiliary power connector. Did you connect the 4-pin power to the card?
My initial assumption would be that the power connector is just for the USB3 ports, but maybe they've done something strange and are powering the SATA chipset from that connector as well.

The card may simply be defective; Syba isn't exactly known for being of the highest quality. Do you have another system you can test the card in?
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bthylafh
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:49 pm

In my experience Nvidia's chipsets could be pretty dodgy about peripherals - I've specifically had trouble with USB* and SATA** on computers with such chipsets, but nothing quite like what you're seeing... but I never had cause to check SATA port speed on the ones I've worked on, let alone install an expansion card.

Long story short, I expect your problem is ultimately Nvidia's fault. There are undoubtedly good reasons they got out of the chipset business.

* We had a decent-sized fleet of Dell Optiplex 740s, which had an nForce 6-series chipset. Lots of dead or intermittently-working USB ports on those.
** mostly on older chipsets. IIRC nForce 3 and earlier never got SATA drivers for Vista and newer and I had a few WinXP machines with driver trouble.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Mon Jan 15, 2018 7:56 pm

Asus mobo manuals are pretty good, as these things go. They usually have a decent pictorial followed by a decent table explaining the PCIe routing on each board (or board series). Definitely check this out, so we can rule in or out any weird routing.

Windows can see your card even if the system BIOS does not initiate the card's onboard ROM. Maybe the card is (electrically) not working properly in the board/slot, so neither BIOS nor Windows is seeing it. The card itself may not be so backward-compatible (as in, down to PCIe 1.0 x4).

About 7 years, I was trying to prop up an old Dell PowerEdge with SCSI and SATA-1 with a SATA-II Syba/Sabrent card so I could get some then-modern drives in it, and it was a dismal failure. That server was a bad host for that card - too many onboard ROMs and constant boot order failures.

It is very difficult to keep an old working motherboard up to date with new surrounding hardware. Not so hard going the other way - I have 2010-era SSDs (Corsair F90s and F120) working fine in Ryzen and Kaby Lake systems today.
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The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:03 pm

Brew! How's it going?

I researched this card pretty well before buying it to make sure it was going to be compatible. From what I've seen, this card *should* work.

I'm using the 1001 BIOS. I can't find a revision list anywhere, so I don't know what the various BIOS updates fixed, or if any of them addressed this kind of issue.

I did attach the boot drive to the card, and I plugged-in a floppy power connector. The board was getting power. You're right, the power is for the USB ports. I don't think they power the SATA chip. I don't have another system with PCI-e slots.

Maybe a 1x card is the only way this board will accept a SATA card? I've used mostly Rocket Raid cards in the past, but those were PCI cards back in the day. I don't have any experience with drive cards in the PCI-e era.

The board is supposed to be PCI-e 2.0, so it's not the original spec. But, I agree that maybe the Nvidia chipset is doing something weird. I've Googled the problem, but most report issues trying to use two video cards. I don't know why my board is not initializing the card.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:10 am

The Swamp wrote:
Brew! How's it going?

Not bad! Trying to stay warm in this ridiculously cold weather, and trying to stay sane at the day job!

At this point I'm thinking it comes down to either Nvidia chipset stupidity or a defective card. Unfortunately, without another PCIe system to test with, it is going to be difficult to figure out which.
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The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:11 am

It seems like the 750i chipset is one hot mess. From what I have been able to gather, the culprit in my situation might be the south bridge. People who have been able to successfully do what I'm trying to do have reported that speeds are not much better even with a SATA card. For some reason, the 750 doesn't like SSDs. I don't think there is a workaround. The fact that Nvidia got out of the chipset business tells me they just wanted to wash their hands of the entire thing.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:06 am

The Swamp wrote:
It seems like the 750i chipset is one hot mess. From what I have been able to gather, the culprit in my situation might be the south bridge. People who have been able to successfully do what I'm trying to do have reported that speeds are not much better even with a SATA card. For some reason, the 750 doesn't like SSDs. I don't think there is a workaround. The fact that Nvidia got out of the chipset business tells me they just wanted to wash their hands of the entire thing.


Here is something to check -- from personal experience. Check that the card is well seated in the slot. Because the card edge is physically shorter than the slot, it isn't as mechanically stable. I have a USB3 card, that is a x1, installed in a x16 slot. Because of the slight variation in tolerances between the motherboard and case, if I am not careful how I tighten the bracket retaining screw, it can be angled slightly and in such a way as to prevent the system from recognize it. It isn't readily visible in a cursory visual inspection and took me the better part of an hour to figure out. You might try removing the bracket retaining screw and ensuring the card is exactly vertical and completely seated.

If the mechanical stuff doesn't pan out, I don't know if you have any experience with Linux, but if you do, it would certainly be worth booting off a Live CD. Linux has a few utilities that will give you a very detailed look at what the system sees on the PCIe bus. Plus, the boot log provides very detailed information on PCIe initialization. Further, it will, on occasion, handle cards that the system BIOS can't. I would expect Windows to rescan the PCIe bus and not rely on BIOS initialization as well, but sometimes Windows does silly things.

Even if you don't have Linux experience, if you want to put in the time, I'm happy to help you through the process.

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The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:37 am

I swapped the card back and forth between the two x16 slots, so I didn't secure it down. The card, as far as I can tell, was seated. The board simply acts as though the card is not there. I've never seen that in a modern board.

Something I have noted, though. In the boot menu in the BIOS, there is no option for a card boot. It just mentions the CD-ROM, hard disk, and floppy disk. Not even a USB boot option is available. On older boards, I remember there was an option to boot from a controller card in a PCI slot. However, I realize this option may exist in an later BIOS version. The latest BIOS addresses only a CPU cooling issue. I have not had any luck finding a list of all of the BIOS releases for the board, so I don't know if Asus added the feature at some point. Any idea of where such a BIOS chronology might exist?

I know, really, I need to update my hardware. Working with a 10 year old motherboard is about 95% of the problem here. Or at least a board that doesn't have an Nvidia chipset.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 1:42 pm

1) LSI are the only good option for adding sata ports beyond the chipset/pch, to be honest everything else really sucks especially the chinacheap sil or jmicron or realjunk or whatever 27-cent-chip cards. There are some very cheap lsi cards on fleabay (2008 chipset, not the year) and you get 4 or 8 sas2 ports (sata3 will tunnel) which might be useful on a future storage computer too. You can firmware flash just about any lsi-based card (regardless of oem) to be dumb controllers ideal for software raid (IT) or have basic hardware raid 0/1/5* on 2008 cards (IR). Either way can have a option rom with boot modes, I usually leave it off to stay out of the way of ZFS.

2) You can cut out the tabs on the motherboard slots and use longer cards in short slots as long as nothing on the pcb sticks up too far. Most good boards now come with all the short slots open-ended as Lord Peripheralus Bussimus the Third intended, no more swordplay...I mean exacto-knife surgery required.

3) Boosting your sata speeds is not going to speed up your core2 very much if you are already using a ssd. Even with ~105MBs cap on sequential, a lot of what feels "slow" is actually random access which is far less bandwidth, 100MBs 4k would be good for even a recent pcie nvme drive. You already did the best thing to breathe life into an older system with a ssd, if that was not enough its just plain too old for what you want to do.

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The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:17 pm

The LSI cards look nice. I think I need to just upgrade the entire system, though. I was hoping to get a cheap upgrade that would give me a nice boost, but I don't think the P5N-D is going to be able to handle it. It would probably be better economically to just go to a new platform since Core is ancient and even a lower-end upgrade is going to be massively faster. Maybe something in the i3 family?
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:28 pm

All I can add to the discussion is that BIOS 1001 for the P5N-D is 4 revisions old (click "show all"), so maybe give the latest one a shot and see what happens. There are often additional changes made which aren't mentioned in the notes.
 
The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:20 pm

Thanks for the link. None of the revisions discuss adding boot options. I did a Google search, and it seems a lot of people have had trouble through the years getting SATA cards to work properly with the 750i chipset. Even when someone gets one to work, it's flaky. My guess is when the board came out back in 2008, SSD cards were in their infancy. For some reason, Nvidia simply didn't design the chipset in such a way that it would work well with SSD drives. I think my only two options at this point are to find a replacement LGA 775 motherboard that doesn't have an Nvidoa chipset, or (more sensible) to make the jump to a more modern architecture. All I would need would be a new motherboard, new memory sticks, new CPU, and cooler. I have everything else. As long as it has at least one PCI slot (audio card), I'm golden.

If you were in my shoes, how would you proceed?
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:41 pm

The Swamp wrote:
I think my only two options at this point are to find a replacement LGA 775 motherboard that doesn't have an Nvidoa chipset,

Was the "doa" intentional? Either way I LOLed. :D

The Swamp wrote:
or (more sensible) to make the jump to a more modern architecture. All I would need would be a new motherboard, new memory sticks, new CPU, and cooler. I have everything else. As long as it has at least one PCI slot (audio card), I'm golden.

If you were in my shoes, how would you proceed?

I'd upgrade to something more modern, if it is within your budget.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:51 pm

If you can afford it, I'd definitely go with a modern build. Core 2 isn't fit for much more than web and Microsoft Office-type stuff nowadays.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:07 pm

So out with the old hardware, and in it's place how about this?

Core i3-8100 3.6GHz Quad-Core
Gigabyte - Z370 HD3P (has a PCI slot plus LPT/COM headers below the slot)
Crucial - 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2400

Total: $354.97
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/x8xNJV
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The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:35 pm

Lol, that doa was a typo. I didn't catch it when I was typing. But, it checks out, I have to admit.

Not that I want to disparage the board too much. It's lasted a really long time. But, as you guys pointed out, Core2 is obsolete for most anything but the very basics. I don't do much gaming, although I love Homeworld Remastered and Complex. Both get bogged down pretty fast, even with a new AMD Polaris GPU.

I like the parts list. I trust the i3 is a lot faster than the Q8300?

ETA: That board is perfect. That's exactly what I would be looking for. We must have done a Vulcan mind meld.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:55 pm

The Swamp wrote:
Lol, that doa was a typo. I didn't catch it when I was typing. But, it checks out, I have to admit.

Not that I want to disparage the board too much. It's lasted a really long time. But, as you guys pointed out, Core2 is obsolete for most anything but the very basics. I don't do much gaming, although I love Homeworld Remastered and Complex. Both get bogged down pretty fast, even with a new AMD Polaris GPU.

I like the parts list. I trust the i3 is a lot faster than the Q8300?

ETA: That board is perfect. That's exactly what I would be looking for. We must have done a Vulcan mind meld.

Could always hold off until Intel releases the B/H370 PCH chipset later in the year if you don't overclock for lower cost on mobo. Second option you could swap out the i3-8100 for a 8600/8700K at a later time since the mobo has the Z370.

Apparently the Core i3-8100 is 156% faster than a Core 2 Quad 8300.
http://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/In ... 1930vs3942

Edit: There is a Core i3 8350K but the $190 dollar price tag to me makes it a unappealing purchase option.
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The Swamp
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:14 pm

I didn't realize DDR4 comes in so many flavors. It goes all the way to 4600. Why is there such a huge difference from top to bottom?
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:36 pm

The Swamp wrote:
I didn't realize DDR4 comes in so many flavors. It goes all the way to 4600. Why is there such a huge difference from top to bottom?

Catering to the overclocking crowd.

I believe the highest official JEDEC standard speed is 3200.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:47 pm

Max speed for i3-8100 is DDR4-2400. Unless -K i3s go higher, then that goes for all i3s except where the ceiling is 2133. I have an i3-7300 and a Supermicro B250 and the board allows nothing but 2133. Same with mobile - almost always limited to 2133, even in Kaby Lake NUCs.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Thu Jan 18, 2018 7:54 pm

For motherboards and processors that can handle it, DDR4-3000 (PC4-24000) is probably the sweet spot today. Prices go up quickly when you look at faster RAM.
$175 2x8 GiB PC4-24000 G.Skill F4-3000C15D-16GRK
$202 2x8 GiB PC4-25600 G.Skill F4-3200C16D-16GVKB
$250 2x8 GiB PC4-29900 Corsair CMK16GX4M2B3733C17R

The Core i3-8100 can handle up to only DDR4-2400 (PC4-19200), so you don't need faster memory for this processor.
https://ark.intel.com/products/126688/I ... e-3_60-GHz
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$ 99 2x4 GiB PC4-19200 G.Skill F4-2400C15D-8GIS
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:11 am

Does anyone have an opinion on the AMD stuff? I have a nephew who recently built a Ryzen six-core system and he really likes it. I've built many AMD systems back in the day, but my last big build (2009) was the Core2 system that's giving me fits today.

I've read generally good things about AMD's new architecture. It also appears to be a bit cheaper. Any caveats about AMD?
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:16 am

Ryzen has been out for about a year now, and it seems like they've ironed the kinks out of the CPUs and overall ecosystem (yes, there were some teething pains). It's good value for the money, and even pretty competitive on pure performance (something they haven't managed to do for years). If I was buying parts for a new build today I'd be going with Ryzen.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:37 am

I know AMD had allowed their tech to get pretty stale. They were still using DDR-3 long after Intel had moved on to DDR-4. I checked prices on NewEgg on the AM3 hardware, but it's not exactly priced to move. Not that I would want to buy into AM3 given it's age, unless it was a complete steal. I read a review of an MSI board for Ryzen that got mixed reviews. Seems the platform has/had some pretty big bugs, especially with BIOS issues.
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Re: SATA Card Blues

Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:28 pm

The Swamp wrote:
Any caveats about AMD?
Until Raven Ridge APUs (Ryzen 5 2500G and Ryzen 3 2200G) show up in stores next month, the currently-available AMD Ryzen CPUs have no integrated video. You'll need a graphics card.
https://techreport.com/review/33046/amd ... ond-at-ces

Unfortunately, the blockchain mining craze has hunted graphics cards nearly to extinction. It's difficult to catch one in the wild.
$154 is a bit steep for a Radeon RX 560 4GiB card.
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