New parts for new PC (need help - little knowledge of hardware)

Mark Terribile materribile at
Wed Nov 19 23:33:11 PST 2003

[This reply is tardy, I know; please accept my apologies]

>>> Next is ... a mother board. I am wanting a ASUS just because I hear
>>> alot of people talking about it on the forums, ...
>> ...
>> Take a look a ABIT's motherboard, some of them are really good.

I had a very bad experience with an ABIT motherboard.  When FreeBSD
started, it saw three NICs instead of one; when it tried to initialize
one, it wiped the field-upgradeable BIOS.  The machine wouldn't even POST.
I destroyed two boards this way; fortunately the vendor (who doesn't have
a FreeBSD support person) gave me a break on the Gigabit that I replaced
it with.  There's a FreeBSD trouble ticket on this; I can hunt the number
down if you like.  But I would recommend avoiding putting ABIT and FreeBSD
together unless you have support for the combo, or a report that that exact
motherboard works with FreeBSD.  The Gigabit, BTW, has run like a champ.

> Finnally if you can afford it scsi is diffenetly better than ide, but
> I'm sure most people will think that is over kill.

IDE drives can be flakey on their DMA support.  I'm using an IBM Deskstar
as a rotating backup and it hung the FreeBSD device probe on discovery.
I have it set to use PIO, which sucks the CPU up through a firehose.  I'm
running on a set of three 10,000 RPM IBM SCSI Ultrastars that I bought right
after Hitachi bought IBM's drive business and before the disk price rose
again.  They run hot; I have them in a mounting cage salvaged from an old
machine, with space between them and between them and the side of the cage,
set right in front of the 120 mm inlet-side case fan.  In this configuration,
they have run like champs, lightning fast and no noisier than the fans.

Which brings me to the last point: decide how much fan noise you can stand
without fatigue and put as much cooling circulation in as you can within your
noise ceiling.  Make sure your cables don't block circulation, get power
supplies with good fans, put in the extra case fans, make sure your CPU has
plenty of cooling, and keep the inlets and outlets clear.

Some suumers ago I went in to the office one summer weekend to find both
the A/C and the ventilating fans off.  I was able to get the building people
to turn the fans on, but not the A/C.  Our HP servers had gone into thermal
safety shutdown; our Sun servers were still up.  I got a sysadmin on the
phone.  He told me where to find the key to the machine room; when I got in
there the thermometer in the back read 120F.  I shut everything down.

Five months later we had NICs and SCSI interfaces failing weekly on the Sun
boxes; it was almost certainly due to the cooking they suffered.  My cubi
was near the system room and I cringed when I heard a blameless sysadmin
endure a boot-camp dressing down from a manager three levels up.

Cooling matters; it will happen to you.  I have a room circulating fan on the
same UPS as my machine.

    Mark Terribile

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