Upgrade considerations.

Mace

Vice Admiral
If you're gaming, most games natively have 5.1+ output modes, and all you really want is to output those 5.1 channels straight to the receiver. HDMI is easy, but S/PDIF or TOSlink require a DTS Connect/DDLive soundcard (those formats only output bitstream or 2ch audio), in which case your Xonar is the best bet because it is one of the few that support it.

Just dug through some mainboard specs(The ASUS 1366 boards(P6x series) feature a chip(ADI 2000B) that does not Feature DTSConnect or DDLive, Gigabyte GA-EX58 series feature a Realtek ALC889A Chip that does have these features(as does MSI but I have had some bad experience with their lifetime expectancy). All boards in the range feature SP/dif(TOSlink) and AC-3 out.

The money you save on a soundcard you can pump back into amongst other things a higher spec CPU. It would be a shame if you purchase an expensive High end seperate soundcard with features you'll never use.

It's just a though but something word thinking about. I used to oppose onboard sound too for a long time, but only one machine that I sometimes use for music editing features a "real" soundcard with a DSP, and that card is about 11 years old now(Terratec DMX 6fire), and still does everything it needs to do, Actually I would still be using the Maxi Studio ISIS setup I had before that, but it is incompatible with windows 2000 or XP.
 
Worf: No, not a HTPC - I spit at the concept, really; there are so many better ways to do that sort of thing without a PC in the middle - just a normal computer with a really really REALLY fancy speaker-setup. And since I don't play the latest games (Dragon Age being a notable exception, and I just might pick up Mass Effect 2 or 3 some day) and don't feel much compulsion to play at the highest settings at all times, I feel I can cut back a little on CPU/GPU. Actually, a GeForce 9600 is just about beefy enough for me. Dragon Age brings it to its knees, of course, and NWN2 is also a lot to chew on, but I see no reason to complain. (Just to give you an idea of my needs in that field.)

Mace: Ouch! Pricey buggers! I seem to have the UD5 and 7 available to me, and the UD7 is just far too expensive - I'd be saving money by going AMD AND getting an Essence STX!
Well, seeing as my X-Fi Extreme Music is only barely Linux-compatible - it DOES work, but that's about as fun as it gets... I just feel naked without a proper sound card. I'll have to consider it, though. Onboard sound does have a mostly excellent track record in Linux.
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
Well, then an ATI 5xxx series would be a good choice. I picked up my 5570 (a nice budget midrange card) for under $100. Sure it won't push frames, but it's faster than the 9600 and still quite cheap. I prefer nVidia myself, but I also realize that nVidia cards a) don't quite work with the Xonar, and b) ATI cards support HDMI protected audio path.

But if Linux compatibility is norm, there's no HDMI support, and no 5.1 bitstreaming over digital. Your best bet at this point is to buy a soundcard with 5.1 discrete outputs (extremely common), then use the multi-channel analog input to your receiver.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Mace: Ouch! Pricey buggers! I seem to have the UD5 and 7 available to me, and the UD7 is just far too expensive - I'd be saving money by going AMD AND getting an Essence STX!

The UD5 you mean this board: GA-790FXTA-UD5 ? That has the very same realtek chip and TOSlink onboard. You'd be okay with that one.

The asus counterpart has a soundchip referred to as the ALC1200, from realtek, but that onboard has a bad reputation with static noises and there is no exact spec what chip the ALC1200 really is since it is relabeled by ASUS.
 
Worf: Hm... That would mean the D2/X - the Essence has "only" stereo-output on the analog side. Or so I've come to understand. Then I could hook up the D2X using both connections, and just not have to bother poking around with different cables. Meets my approval.
[Edit] Uh, wait... I don't need 5.1 in Linux... So - digital monkey business in Windows for games (or analog if that doesn't work), stereo-output regardless in Linux... Essence would still work, AND sound better. Well, perhaps not perceptibly so, but still. Possibly.

Mace: Ah, that was a markedly cheaper variant. What I actually referred to, though, was the X58-equipped version. Costs about twice as much as a comparatively high-end AM3-motherboard I have my eyes on, and that's the CHEAP one... But it certainly looks like they'd serve me well, no argument there.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Mace: Ah, that was a markedly cheaper variant. What I actually referred to, though, was the X58-equipped version. Costs about twice as much as a comparatively high-end AM3-motherboard I have my eyes on, and that's the CHEAP one... But it certainly looks like they'd serve me well, no argument there.

Well, the x58 is an intel chipset, so no use in expecting to plug an AMD chip inthere(and that was what your last comment hinted at).

Ofcourse there are other mainboards in the gigabyte line-up that cost about half of the one I listed(but lack a few expansion slots and Dram banks), and other brands as well. I'd advice you to go for a quality brand instead of ending up with a cheap one with a higher risk of breaking down(there is warranty, but going back to the store and taking your setup apart is not ideal), plus the shielding of circuitry on those boards is minimal, cousing things like background noises, and BIOS support is dropped a lot earlier.

The price difference between an s1366 and an AM3 is about 1/3 over here too, but since Worf already listed a soundchip requirement(meeting certain standards), and if you consider an onboard, you can find out wich specific soundchip the board is using and find out if it meets these standards(the ASUS AM3's do not, but the full range of Gigabyte AM3's do.
 
Hey-ey, I do know the difference between Intel- and AMD-chipsets. :p And I was hinting at the difference in price, nothing else.
But you raise a good point: Quality motherboard-manufacturers. I know absolutely nothing about that. Which are the good ones? From your posts so far, I take it Gigabyte is one, and ASUS is... lesser quality?

Hm... Now I see The Witcher 2 is announced, also. I'll have to think some more about the GPU/RAM, then... **** progress...
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Generic A-brands are Asus and Gigabyte.. Both provide more then descent hardware and were also very expensive, better warranty(especially in the more durable series, can't miss that, it's written all over the packaging)

EVGA appears to be very good, with excellent support, but I have no experience with them, the brand is not available in most stores. Other A-brands, but less expensive and less durable are MSI and Biostar.

And then there are your sub-brands, who you'll rarely find on the computer stores but make a lot motherboards that you find in an "off-the-shelf" PC system in the supermarket, these include ECS, FIC, PC-Chips, Albatron, Octec, Jetway, Foxconn.. Most of their boards are not even brandeded when you open up the system and look up the FCC ID code on the motherboard it leads back to these companies. You CAN have however a very good and stable board from them, I have had some of these running for years without ever having a problem, but these boards are generally plagued by stuff like poor component shielding(interference in your display/audio), less durable electric compononents(break down easier), poor support, and less warranty. Really poor quality manufactors leave the market(A-bit, A-trend, Aopen, Chaintech), because no one will buy their products anymore.

If you have to take out, bring it in for warranty, get a new one, and a few months later you are back in the store, and then get opted that your board is no longer in supply, but you could have that superior A-branded board if you pay the price difference extra, you'll wish you had just saved yourself the trouble and bought the more expensive one in the first place. I assume you expect at least three years of life expectancy out of the system.

And I do not know how much you would be saving, but it might be an ID to give the onboard a chance and if it does not suffice, get a soundcard afterwards anyway? There are few boards without sound on it available.
 
... I should've thought of that last bit... :eek: I'll do precisely that.
And I see ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Shuttle, Zotac, VIA, Asrock, Sapphire, blablabla, but no EVGA. Only ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte are available for AM3, though. (Maybe Asrock too, but I filtered those out.) I should be safe, then, for motherboards. Gravy.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
You can get good, even great deals out of cheap brands/unnamed motherboards, if you have the time and effort available to invest in it. But you want a computer that works, not a "personal project" to experiment on in the garage, right?
 
As long as it works, I'm agnostic. But since I'd quite like durability and power-efficiency and such, it seems I have to aim for a fair degree of design-quality no-namers might not provide.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
I make my paycheck out of getting everything to work properly, and advising better so my job ends up easier.

One final question, are you putting the system together yourself or is it done for you?
 
Myself! This'll be my... hm... fourth build already? Double-check... First home-built was a P4 etc., overheated the GPU and replaced it, then came the Athlon X2(?) 4400 or so (complete upgrade), then as a net result I upgraded that with a new GPU and sticking an Athlon X2 6400 BE in it, and now this project. Hm, say third full build, then, and fifth/sixth hardware-change of significance. (Drives don't count. HDDs and optical, that is.)
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Kid, you can't do damage to a P3 or P4, even if you tried.

For videocards I recommend Daimond(yes that brand still exists and has thesame quality)
 

NinjaLA

Alex Von T.
HP was pretty damn good at damaging slot PIIIs with it's own airflow guides.. bloody things used to blast dust directly down on the processor and its mainboard contacts.


nope.. that doesn't cause a static electricity danger.. not at all...

stupid HP :p
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
Dell uses thesame cooling setup. But when you overheat the last batch of P3(who's heatsinks looked remarkable similar to the first socket 423 P4's), they simply start running slower. I never seen anyone shortcircuiting a CPU though.
 
Kid, you can't do damage to a P3 or P4, even if you tried.

For videocards I recommend Daimond(yes that brand still exists and has thesame quality)
Good to know my P4 will last for a while longer, but it makes me feel like a bigger ass just throwing it away... I'll have to see if I can sell it on. (I kept the old gear.)
Diamond isn't in stock in my town. They have good advice on their site, though.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
You can purchase online and save some money(It's a bugger when you have to go back to the store though)
 
I dunno, I rather like this physical shop. Narrower inventory, true, but I won't have to worry about anything being designed for 115V AC instead of our 230V.

And now it got difficult again... There is a very much affordable S-1156 MB by Gigabyte on offer - P55 US3 something-something, with a Realtek ALC888 (not 889) soundchip - and an i5-660 (or 661, but since the only difference is a higher-clocked graphics-component...) if you know where to look for it. These I can get for about the price of the Phenom 2 945 and a mid-priced AM3 MB.
(The i5s and other 1156-CPUs aren't listed very apparently by this shop - I guess they focus on the 1366-lineup. If I search for the specific CPU, the webshop reports they have 131 to spare at the moment.)

Grr! Ah well, I think I'll bother the crew at Eagle Dynamics' fora about the CPUs - they like their CPUs there quite a bit.
 
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