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burninbush

compatibility questions

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Here's the story: an old-timer loved desktop that was a quarter of my local network recently died of a motherboard problem, easily visible from the burn marks and the stink. I believe it is/was at least 8 years old. It was inside what I know as an ATX desktop case, with a fresh 500w powersupply and some new disks and fans -- and is in most respects a perfectly good case that will keep the hottest parts cool enough. So ... I favor AMD stuff, want to move up nearer the leading edge. I'm looking at a quad-core Ath II 640, which I decode to be an 'am3' class of chip. And I see a Biostar mobo that will take it, and it still has 4 pci ports, one conventional pata disk port, and even a serial port. But ... here's the start of my worries: the new ATX mobo has a 24-pin main power connector, while I'm certain my current ps has only a 20-pin main connector. (I do have the separate 4-pin P4 connector.) Is there some way to adapt to the newer mobo connector, or is my only choice a new power supply? The cpu will be coming in a 'box' -- does that mean it includes a fan and heatsink? I can't quite be sure from the ads at newegg, but reviews speak about a 'factory cooling solution'. The new motherboard is called 'ATX' -- and it looks like it will fit my generic ATX full-size case, but will it? My case takes the rectangular cutout panel where the mobo connectors are located. I've had several other ATX mobos in it, all fit OK. I'll have to move up to a pci-e video card, no agp socket -- is that going to align with the backpanel holes in my case? How much difference is there between the faster/slower memory that the board will accept? Is that choice dependent [i.e., forced?] by the cpu choice?I run about 90% current linux OS's, and 10% win2k -- are there issues there, particularly with win2k? All advice appreciated, I'm years out of the loop on hardware. If I also have to buy a new case, ps, and cooler that'll raise the cost by a third. And I might still just buy a used replacement mobo on ebay -- that's the really cheap route, at $12 plus shipping.

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But ... here's the start of my worries: the new ATX mobo has a 24-pin main power connector, while I'm certain my current ps has only a 20-pin main connector. (I do have the separate 4-pin P4 connector.) Is there some way to adapt to the newer mobo connector, or is my only choice a new power supply?
What is the make & model of your old computer?There are some older Dell desktop models that were manufactured with proprietary components (PSU) so it would behoove you to research the specs on your old PC that died to make sure it's compatible. If the current PSU only has a 20-pin power connector, then chances are it will NOT be compatible with any current/new motherboard. Plus the fact that most (if not all) standard ATX motherboards today require a 4-pin or 6-pin auxiliary power connector that fit into it's own power connector which is located near the CPU socket.Short answer is that based on your description of your power supply, it will not be compatible with a new motherboard.And yes, a retail "boxed" cpu will contain the CPU & heatsink. The fan is a given and should already be attached to the heatsink.
The new motherboard is called 'ATX' -- and it looks like it will fit my generic ATX full-size case, but will it?
Do you have reasons to believe it will not fit? Many cases (even those manufactured by OEMs like Dell) should be able to accommodate a standard ATX motherboard.
I'll have to move up to a pci-e video card, no agp socket -- is that going to align with the backpanel holes in my case?
If you're going to install a PCI-express video card, you should be looking at the PCI slots which are located just below the I/O metal shield on the back of your computer. I cannot imagine a reason why you would run into problems unless your case is extremely esoteric in design. I doubt you'll run into any problems with this.
How much difference is there between the faster/slower memory that the board will accept? Is that choice dependent [i.e., forced?] by the cpu choice?
No it's not determined by the CPU. The type of memory you should buy can be determined simply by visiting the motherboard's website and looking up the list of compatible RAM specified by the manufacturer. In many cases, you may be able to use other brand names not included on the list without any problems. Main thing to check is whether it takes DDR2 or DDR3 and registered vs. unregistered RAM. Again - look at the specs listed on the motherboard's website.
I run about 90% current linux OS's, and 10% win2k -- are there issues there, particularly with win2k?
Uh... I think you're going to find it extremely difficult to find a newly manufactured motgherboard (or even a recent model for that matter) to have drivers for such an old operating system.

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What is the make & model of your old computer? >Tushman+++++++++++++??? As I wrote in the first post, it's a generic desktop case, has had several different motherboards and power supplies during the time I've had it. It's not any 'brand' -- just made from random parts bought here and there as needed. The thing is, just saying "ATX" had a fixed meaning until recently, and you could depend on an ATX motherboard to fit and an ATX power supply to have matching connectors. ATX is what succeeded the previous AT standard design. But the new Biostar mobo I'm looking at is also called ATX in its adverts -- but clearly the power connector is different, and the vid card is different -- so I'm looking for info on what else might be different.

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Hello,Where were the burn marks on the old motherboard? While they could be due to something like failed components, I wonder if the new 500 Watt power supply might be a culprit.I have not had too much luck with Biostar motherboards; but if you are happy with them that's what's important.You can purchase 20 to 24-pin ATX power connector adapter cables as well as adapters to convert Molex power connectors to SATA and PCIe power connectors, however, it may be a better idea to get a more modern power supply which already has these.A boxed, retail CPU typically comes with a fan, heatsink, thermal pad and other mounting hardware.ATX motherboards come in a standard size, so it should fit in your standard ATX case.The PCIe slots on a modern ATX motherboard are designed so they line up with the backpanel slots in standard ATX cases.I did not see the model of your motherboard listed, but if you download the manual for it from the manufacturer's web site, you can find out what speed(s) it supports. Usually the motherboard is more of a deciding factor in determining memory speed than the CPU.Microsoft Windows 2000 is now eleven years old, and it is unlikely you will be able to find device drivers for currently shipping hardware. Windows XP device drivers might work. Given that you are builind a much faster system, though, it may be easier to run Windows 2000 inside of a virtual machine that supports Windows 2000.Regards,Aryeh Goretsky

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Hello,Where were the burn marks on the old motherboard? While they could be due to something like failed components, I wonder if the new 500 Watt power supply might be a culprit.I have not had too much luck with Biostar motherboards; but if you are happy with them that's what's important.You can purchase 20 to 24-pin ATX power connector adapter cables as well as adapters to convert Molex power connectors to SATA and PCIe power connectors, however, it may be a better idea to get a more modern power supply which already has these.Aryeh Goretsky
Ah, thanks, that's more hopeful info. I really wanted to be able to keep the power supply. The chip on the mobo that failed was [probably] a voltage regulator, near the cpu socket. I as able to test the voltages coming from the supply, looked OK, so I installed an even older mobo from my mobo museum into the case, and it works fine, so I'm pretty sure it was just the mobo chip that failed.

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??? As I wrote in the first post, it's a generic desktop case, has had several different motherboards and power supplies during the time I've had it. It's not any 'brand' -- just made from random parts bought here and there as needed. The thing is, just saying "ATX" had a fixed meaning until recently, and you could depend on an ATX motherboard to fit and an ATX power supply to have matching connectors. ATX is what succeeded the previous AT standard design. But the new Biostar mobo I'm looking at is also called ATX in its adverts -- but clearly the power connector is different, and the vid card is different -- so I'm looking for info on what else might be different.
burninbush, ATX is still ATX. The issue you might have with a used Ebay MB would be getting the correct rear panel I/O shield for the MB. They are not universal. A new retail-boxed MB will have the new I/O shield included that matches the MB config.If one of the capacitors on the current MB leaked, causing the burning/scorching, then it's possible that it caused problems to occur in the PSU. Chicken superstition would lead me to replace the PSU. YMMVLike Aryeh, I've had problems with Biostar MBs, and also with MSI MBs. Since then I've stayed with ASUS, Gigabyte and Intel for motherboards, primarily with the latter two. However, I primarily build Intel CPU based systems. As far as getting a new video card. If you're not a gamer you might be satisfied with getting a MB with an on-board video GPU built in. Here's a list of some at NewEgg using the AM3 CPU with an ATI4290 onboard video: AM3 motherboards with ATI onboard video at NewEgg. Edited by mac

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I totally agree. I would not trust that power supply till it was checked out (caps etc.) inside the PSU.Why not take a peak at TigerDirect.com or Geeks.com ... they may have something (PSU, motherboard, CPU) there you could use rather than a used one and maybe even closer to the cost of the used one on eBay, but certainly not as expensive as new ones today.Just a thought.

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I totally agree. I would not trust that power supply till it was checked out (caps etc.) inside the PSU.
Thanks to all for the replies. When I spoke of buying a used mobo on ebay, I didn't make it clear I was talking about one identical to the one that burned. That is, I know it would fit, I have the case plate and the bios upgrades -- and the risk is only $12. As for the power supply -- I wrote that I was able to verify the voltages here, and it is currently powering a replacement ATX p4 mobo I had on hand. How would you check one out other than testing it with another motherboard? Any reasonably modern power supply will have crowbar circuits that self-protects it against external shorts, overheating, etc. Retired EE here, I'm confident enough in my ability to judge the parts, just need to know what fits together. I'll take another search for a mobo with onboard video, though for me it will have to be nvidia video, not ATI -- I know I can get linux and win2k drivers for nvidia.

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That's great! Sounds like you have most, if not all you need.Here's a great article called Power Supply Repair.He copyrighted the work in 1994 under his own name (Randy Fromm). Hope it stays up there as it is a good overall article on power supplies, what goes wrong, how to repair, and how to get replacement parts (although some of that part may be outdated).

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The thing is, just saying "ATX" had a fixed meaning until recently, and you could depend on an ATX motherboard to fit and an ATX power supply to have matching connectors. ATX is what succeeded the previous AT standard design.
I wasn't aware that the standard form factor for ATX has changed. As far as I know it's still the same as it was nearly 20 years ago when it was first designed. There are some newer proprietary designes released by specific vendors like EVGA that do not conform to the standard ATX design, but they have a different nomenclature and should be easily identifiable, for example XL-ATX. These are rare and I doubt that Biostar motherboard is larger or any different from a standard ATX design.You might want to reconsider your choice for the motherboard. Biostar motherboards are on the low end for value motherboards and is not a good performer.

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That's great! Sounds like you have most, if not all you need.
Well, I just ordered cpu + memory + mobo from newegg. With the clues from here I was able to answer my hard questions. Got a mobo with nvidia 8200 vid onboard, has a dvi connector, so that's a savings too. It turns out, to my delight, that a 20-pin ATX ps connector will plug right into a 24-pin ATX mobo -- the extra 4 pins at one end are somewhat redundant. Got the mobo manual, and it also confirms that. So my existing ps will work with the new board, same for the case. I love reusing old parts. In case someone else has the same question: http://www.smps.us/20-to-24pin-atx.htmlOnward! I'll add a note when it's running.

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If you are buying new go with a name brand new powersupply. Call it insurance on your purchase and retire the other one.Go with MSI, ASUS or Gigabyte boards with your new Athlon II ideas.I just built a pretty inexpensive Intel based PC for under $200. MSI G35 motherboard $45, Dual core Pentium $50 and 2 GB of DDR2 $80. Pretty easy to build a decent low-buck PC if you don't need to get a case and optical drives. Throw in a $75 powersupply and a $70 1TB hard drive to the above example and it will work great for most things except gamng. My example runs Windows Home Server great. I want to spend more on the storage than the guts and this is the solution I came up with.

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Hello,The Form Factors trade association web site has all the official specifications for cases and power supplies. I'm not sure if EATX and XL-ATX are represented. They may just be de facto specifications.Regards,Aryeh Goretsky

I wasn't aware that the standard form factor for ATX has changed. As far as I know it's still the same as it was nearly 20 years ago when it was first designed. There are some newer proprietary designes released by specific vendors like EVGA that do not conform to the standard ATX design, but they have a different nomenclature and should be easily identifiable, for example XL-ATX. These are rare and I doubt that Biostar motherboard is larger or any different from a standard ATX design.You might want to reconsider your choice for the motherboard. Biostar motherboards are on the low end for value motherboards and is not a good performer.

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It's ALIVE! Actually, this was the least dramatic mobo swap I've ever done. It would've been up last week, but I somehow ordered the wrong memory -- bought DDR3, but the mobo requires DDR2. Straightened that with newegg, new memory came today, and I put it into my old case. Fits perfect, though there is no mobo support for the far left edge where the two pci sockets are located. The stock fan is keeping it cool so far -- I'll watch that for a while. I powered it on, and while I was fiddling with the buttons on the monitor to select the DVI input, it went ahead and booted to my standard first screen. Slack booted without complaint, running that right now. Seems very snappy, stuff I've tried so far. Thanks for the various reassurances up the thread.

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Fits perfect, though there is no mobo support for the far left edge where the two pci sockets are located.
If you have some of that high-density packing foam lying about, cut a couple of small chunks out of it and stuff them under the unsupported side of the mobo. This will give at least a little physical stability - just make certain the foam is non-conductive rather than being coated with mylar or something!I've encountered this very situation and this solution has worked for years in many instances.

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Hello,Are you just missing the brass standoffs to screw into the tray portion of the motherboard case, or does the motherboard have screw holes for the standoffs for which there are no matching screw holes in the tray portion?If the former, you should be able to obtain these pretty inexpensively from your local computer store.If the latter, get some AT-style plastic standoffs from your local computer store, cut off the bottom part which is meant to go through the standoff holes tray, and let them support the weight of the motherboard.Regards,Aryeh Goretsky

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Hello,Are you just missing the brass standoffs to screw into the tray portion of the motherboard case, or does the motherboard have screw holes for the standoffs for which there are no matching screw holes in the tray portion?Aryeh Goretsky
Hi Aryeh .. It's a pretty old case, circa 2001, there probably were no micro-ATX motherboards when it was manufactured. It will be easy to drill a couple holes in its subfloor to mount standoffs -- I'll do that before I plug in any pci boards. I'm pretty happy with the new system so far. Chose an ASRock micro-ATX mobo, the Ath II X4 640 cpu, and 4gb of DDR2-1066 memory. I'm currently just running with the onboard Nvidia 8200 vga, and the onboard NIC and sound. Some of my linux distros have issues with the 8200 hardware, and none of them provide a KMixer gui with enough controls. Haven't yet got to installing windows, and may not -- I rarely use that OS these days. Old power supply seems to work fine with the new board, and the stock supplied cooler has been fine so far. Total cost of the parts I had to buy was ~ $225.00, not too bad for what I got.

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