Mainboard suggestions?

Peter Wemm peter at
Fri Sep 17 09:20:39 PDT 2004

On Wednesday 15 September 2004 02:07 am, Adriaan de Groot wrote:
> On Wednesday 15 September 2004 07:39, John Wilson wrote:
> > I am currently in the process of spec'ing a new machine for myself
> > and wish to go the AMD64 way.  Unfortunately, trying to find good
> > information on the myriad of mainboards that are available is
> > giving me a serious headache. :)
> There are really only two types: nvidia nforce 3 and via kt800 based
> boards. There are a few sub-variations in those chipsets, but in
> general if you look at the benchmarks on all them the differences
> within one family are marginal at best (like 3%).

There are also AMD-manufactured chipsets, but you're not likely to find 
them on taiwan motherboards.  You'll have to look to the US 
manufacturers for those.  (eg: tyan has them)

> > platform come from either Asus or MSI.  My original goal was to
> > find a board with the minimum of additional features onboard, save
> > for sound and a NIC. Firewire is useless to me.
> It's hard to get away from all the builtins; most boards that I'd
> trust (ie. not stuff from elitegroup) end up with all the bells and
> whistles. My firewire ports lie idle as well.
> > - Which is the better chipset for FreeBSD, the Via offering or the
> > NVidia one?
> nforce3 _had_ issues, that's for sure (oh, and I can't speak for any
> of the RAID support).

The nforce3-pro 150 had a particularly poor set of reference bios builds 
supplied with it.  We've had lots of trouble with the reliability of 
all of the boards with this for some reason or another.  Be it 
mindblowing stupidity or outright errors in the acpi or mpspec tables 
(how the heck can you mix up irqs??), through to the vendor forgetting 
to include option roms every few builds and so on.  And not to mention 
that we've had recurring trouble with the apic on some of the earlier 
rev nforce3-150 boards.

I have not heard of anybody using nforce3-250.  I guess that is a good 
sign.  I've had lots of success with the via k8t800 boards under 
freebsd.  The bioses are all pretty good and the boards mostly Just 
Work.  The same goes for the AMD 8xxx chipset based boards - they Just 
Work too.

> > - It appears that Asus has problems with their onboard NIC as well;
> > there were a few messages posted to the list in regard to this.  Is
> > this still a problem? Should I avoid Asus because of this?
> The asus k8v SE has an sk0 onboard that had been reported to be
> wonky. I had stability problems with it about a month ago, haven't
> recreated the problem recently (mostly for lack of trying).

I remember reading something about the serial eeprom on that board being 
misprogrammed during manufacturing.  Some folks have no trouble, others 
have no end of trouble.  I personally use asus k8v (not SE), and asus 
sk8v boards.

Oh, there is one bios problem with the asus via based boards.  If you 
use a usb keyboard, it works up to the point that you boot from the 
mbr.  It seems that it has a list of mbr partition types encoded in the 
bios to decide whether to leave the usb keyboard enabled.  And 
freebsd's mbr type isn't included.  So what happens is the usb keyboard 
stops working the very second you get to the boot prompt. :-(

The exact same bootblocks work with the usb keyboard from floppy, so it 
is the bios being braindead stupid.

Peter Wemm - peter at; peter at; peter at
"All of this is for nothing if we don't go to the stars" - JMS/B5

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