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Are specifications of Motherboard important?

Discussion in 'Motherboards & Memory' started by Wai_Wai, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Wai_Wai New Member

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    Are specifications of Motherboard important?

    1. FSB / RAM speed limits
    In motherboard specifications, it will specify the max FSB and RAM speed support (eg 1333 FSB and DDR2 667). Nevertheless, as long as the motherboard supports overclocking, it appears I can overclock FSB more than 1333 and RAM more than 800.

    So what do all those figures really mean? What are they really for if I can simply ignore the figures and pass the limits?

    If I buy a DDR2 800 RAM, am I able to use in a motherboard which says to support DDR2 667 only? If so, how will the RAM run (being underclocked to 667??) ?

    What if I overclock the RAM, am I able to let my RAM run at a speed higher than 667?


    2. 3 or more monitors
    If I want to use 3+ monitors, I believe I need 2 graphic cards, isn't it? If so, do I need a motherboard with two PCIe x16 slots to install 2 graphic cards? What about other PCIe slots like PCIe x1 slots?

    3. PCIe x1
    What's the use of PCIe x1 slots? Are PCIe x1 cards common? Are they cheaper or dearer than the older PCI cards?
    I would like to get a modem card (to fax with my computer) and Ethernet card. Should I go for old PCI or the new PCIe?

    4. RAM compatibility
    I'm a bit worried that the RAM I purchase can't work nicely with my motherboard. I wonder if I should strictly limit my choices to those which are in my motherboard "RAM compatibility list".

    Question about RAM model number: Take A-Data DDR2 800 for example, there are several models available even for the same RAM speed. Will there be cases where a model from brand A can cause compatibility problems while another model from brand B won't? I just wonder if I should take the model number into account when I try to pick a compatible RAM for my motherboard.


    My PC Info which may be helpful:
    CPU: Intel E2180
    RAM: 2GB or 2GBx2; DDR2 667 or 800
    Motherboard: not decided yet. Socket LGA 775
    HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS (640GB, SATA2)
    Display card: not decided yet. Perhaps HD2600Pro
    Monitor: not decided yet. Two cheap 1680x1050 monitors
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2008
  2. dark2099

    dark2099

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    I believe the RAM will be underclocked to 667, PCI-E 1x isn't used much, some sound cards use it, some tv-tuners and similar type cards use it so having lots of them isn't necessary, if you do want to run 3 monitors, you will need 2 PCI-E 16x slots and 2 cards, and I believe with crossfire enabled I do not think the 2nd card can send a monitor signal, but when you disable it, you can. This is all based off my experience so don't go solely by what I say, wait for others.
  3. DanTheBanjoman Señor Moderator

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    Well constructed and clear questions, nice :)

    FSB/RAM limits are official supported speeds. Actual maximums are usually linked to the chipset. And of course options in the BIOS as well. It all depends on how badly you want a few extra megahertz :)

    Multi monitor setups often require two videocards. However, there are some cards that support more than 2 monitors. Often dual GPU cards, Quadros/FireGL's and Matrox cards, however they're either expensive or not suited for gaming and the likes. As for x16 slots, Matrox and the likes have cards that don't require x16 slots. If you want to void warranty, you could also saw away the back of any other slot, they'll work (at the slots speed) Do make sure you're using lanes on the northbridge in this case though. (I wouldn't recommend doing it in the first place)
    The best solution would be a primary card that suits your needs and some slow addition card that controls the thrid monitor, assuming it won't require high performance.

    PCIe x1, they're for all kinds of things, basically replacing common PCI slots for NIC's, sound cards, etc. Cards are still relatively uncommon though, considering nearly all boards have 1 or 2 standard PCI slots I'd just get a PCI modem.

    Faster RAM usually doesn't have problems running at lower speeds. It's mainly useful for overclocking though. If you're not doing that DDR800 is a good choice.


    Long story short, get a board with 2 PCIe x16 slots to be on the safe side and be sure to get one with a recent chipset. You should be fine then.
  4. DanTheBanjoman Señor Moderator

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    Ah yes, as dark says, CF/SLI won't allow the second card to control monitors. Which is one of the reasons I recommend a slow secondary card.
  5. Jizzler

    Jizzler

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    Is it still that way? Was hoping that when they started supporting two displays while in CF it extended to the second card.

    [​IMG]

    Oh well, maybe instead of two 4850, I'll just do a 4870 and 3450 :)
  6. dark2099

    dark2099

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    You may also be able to run 2 monitors from one port using dual link DVI, not sure how that works exactly, or how to set it up.
  7. imperialreign

    imperialreign New Member

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    as dan pointed out, the specs are the highest supported speeds. This doesn't mean that a motherboard rated for a 1333FSB can't run one at 1600, as support can change during the course of the products life, based upon what the manufacturer is capable of doing with BIOS updates.

    true, yes you can also OC components above what the motherboards rated speeds are, but once you're running components outside of what the motherboard officially supports, you run the risk of also not being able to have the item repaired or warrantied should something fail.

    there are some dual-slot cards that can run 4 monitors by themself, but if you intend to do any gaming or watchingn a movie across 4 monitors, they're not meant for that kind of work.

    Otherwise, you'd need 2 cards. As for ATI setups, as long as crossfire is disabled, you can support upt to 4 displays; but if crossfire is enabled, you will only have use of the primary display. I'm not sure about SLI setups, though.

    for the longest time, PCIEx1 slots were everywhere, but hardware to fill the slots were non-existant, while some motherboards were coming with support for upto 5 PCIEx1 slots :)wtf:). Only recently have we seen more products designed for this interface - modem cards, ethernet, LAN, sound cards, tuners, wifi adapters, etc . . . For the most part, a lot of these components could run just fine on a standard PCI if they were designed that way, but PCIEx1 offers more bandwidth, and allows for faster system communication.

    But, PCIEx1 cards are not cheaper than the same card using a PCI interface. Typically, the price is about the same. As to recommending one architecture over the other, they both have their pros and cons. It really boils down to how you intend to configure your system, your motherboard, and what other hardware you'll be using. For example, if you have a motherboard that supports dual video cards, but installation of 2 dual-slot VGA apapters would block all your PCI slots, then you'd definitely want to consider PCIEx1 hardware for future upgrades.

    for best support, you can stick with the list provided by the manufacturer (a more up to date list can almost always be found on the manufacturer's website); but typically, any brand of MEM will work fine. There are the occasional issues, though, where brandX doesn't play nice with motherboardZ, and you can usually research this on the manufacturer's support forums, as this kind of incompatibility information isn't always well known.

    As to your other question, though - although you can mix different brands, and different speeds of RAM, it's possible the two brand aren't compatible with each other, even though the motherboard supports them; same with different speed RAM as well. The best practice is to try your best to purchase the same brand and speed of RAM as what you currently own when doing upgrades. If that's not possible to do for some reason, at least keep the speed ratings the same.
  8. WarEagleAU

    WarEagleAU Bird of Prey

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    Matrox has a triplehead2go (around $300 to $350 USD) that allows 3560 x 1280 or something like that. We use them in my government contract job all the time. I Dell M90 Laptop (bad ass $4k Laptop with Nvidia Quadro FX GPU) and 3 monitors.
  9. Wai_Wai New Member

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    So far I have the following options:
    * 1 Matrox card <-- but this card is very expensive (at least US$200+), not feasible!
    * 2 PCIe x16 cards + one motherboard with 2 PCIe x16 <-- It seems I can find such a motherboard at a cheap price. The cards are cheap too and I'm sure each is capable of supporting 2 monitors with 1680x1050 each.
    * PCI graphic card (if available at reasonable cost)
    * PCIe x1 graphic card (if available at reasonable cost)

    PCI / PCIe x1 options are good and more flexible. I will have more motherboards to choose too.
    BUT they are much slower than PCIe x16. Are they capable of supporting 2 monitors with 1680x1050 each? Do you know?
    If so, do I simply buy a HD2600Pro PCI card, or HD2600Pro PCIe x1 card?


    Of course the two 1680x1050 screens are not for gaming purposes.
  10. Jizzler

    Jizzler

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    If it came to it, PCI or PCIe x1 is fine. I've worked on boxes with 3 dual-output cards on the PCI bus pushing 6 1280x1024 displays. Others have done 10, 12, and even 16 displays with a mix of PCI, and AGP or PCIe.

    With only a few PCI or PCIe x1 options, I'd lean towards a dual slot P35 or P45 board. Then just grab a couple cheap x16 cards.

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