2006/09/07

Tech Minutiae: nForce 430 vs nForce 500 Series

If you were building an Athlon 64 X2 AM2 computer, would you use a motherboard with an nForce 430 south bridge chipset/MPC (media and communications processor) or would you go with the nForce 5oo series MPC?

That's the question myDigitechnician faced this week regarding the Vista/Gaming box currently being spec'd out. As reported in previous posts, the basic Vista/Gaming computer design evolved in late July 2006, the first component for the new machine arrived in late August 2006, and the first sticker shock for this computer happened earlier this week. That sticker shock prompted some moves which may have been an over-reaction, but which will be helpful to ensure all the Vista/Gaming box parts are available for BarCampMilwaukee. The Athlon 64 X2 AM2-socket processor and GeForce 7600 GT video card were ordered this week after getting sticker-shocked.

The next design decision for the Vista/Gaming box was whether to buy a motherboard with the older nForce 430 south bridge chipset or the newer nForce 500 series. The 430 works with 754, 939 and AM2 socket CPUs, while the 500 series is designed only for the AM2 socket. The main concern was to ensure that the motherboard would both work well with the Athlon 64 X2 AM2 CPU and DDR2 RAM and that it would be gaining full benefit from that CPU and RAM. After some diligent search on the nVIDIA site and the ASUS site, along with a few other webpages, Luke W determined that a motherboard with the nForce 430/4 Ultra south bridge will work well with the CPU and RAM.

Because myDigitechnician has not yet built a micro-ATX computer, and because a small computer will be most convenient for demoing Vista to clients or taking to LAN parties, it was desirable to go with a micro-ATX board and case. The above south bridge research and conclusion was needed, however, to move ahead with the micro-ATX decision because micro-ATX boards with nForce 500 series are not yet commonly available.

Next step: Order the micro-ATX case, then the mobo, whilst keeping a close eye on what the 2 GB of DDR2 RAM prices do...

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