The soul of a new machine...for me. - Jay Maynard

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Tuesday, 11 January 2005


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1117 - The soul of a new machine...for me.

One of my Linux boxes croaked the other day. It quit recognizing the keyboard. This represents an opportunity for me: I'd like to play around with Hercules on an AMD64 platform.

I want to replace the motherboard (and RAM and CPU, obviously), and use the rest of the system. It's in a regular ATX case, and I'd like to use my existing PS/2 KVM switch with it - so no USB keyboard or mouse, please.

Suggestions? How much will this run me? I want half a gig of RAM, at least. The CPU doesn't need to be the fastest available; I'll be happy with the best bang for the buck (which happens right at the knee of the price/performance curve).

current mood: [mood icon] curious

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[User Picture]
From:sideband
Date: - 0000
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About $500....

And you might check the cabling between the kvm and the offending machine, if you haven't already. It's not THAT uncommon to have a cable go bad.. or a port on the KVM.
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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Yeah, looks like $500 or so: $100 for an MSI K8T-NEO2F motherboard, $250 for Athlon64 3500+ 939-pin, 90nm CPU, and $100 for 1 gigabyte of RAM, with shipping and such taking the rest. I'll also need a video card, but that's simple enough for a server class box.

As it happens, though, it's not the machine, I think, but the keyboard...I'd tried a different KVM cable and port, and that didn't fix the problem, and I'd assumed that, since I could type on other machines behind that KVM, the keyboard was good - but that turned out not to be the case. The keyboard had some dead keys, including the function and delete keys. Yuk. A new keyboard got everything working on the other attached systems; I haven't tried the broken one yet, but I suspect it's good, as well.
[User Picture]
From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
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From what I read, Socket 939 is the way to go for upgradability. newegg.com shows AMD-64 3000+ socket 939 for $155, and socket 939 mobos starting around $100.
[User Picture]
From:shelbystripes
Date: - 0000
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Since the integrated memory controller eliminates memory latency even in single-channel mode, the best bang-for-the-buck right now comes from the S754 systems with single-channel memory. In benchmark after benchmark they give 99% of the performance of dual-channel systems, even in things that are memory bandwidth sensitive (like Doom 3 and HL2)...

I just put together a machine with an A64 2800+ for $115, a Gigabyte K8NS for $76 (though I might recommend the K8NS Pro for $20 more for the integrated GigE, but I didn't need that personally) and a stick of 512MB of RAM for $60.

The big issue with S754 now isn't the lack of performance but the lack of upgradeability. That is, they're not going to keep releasing new A64 models for S754; A64s beyond 3700+ will be S939 only, and only Semprons (which are A64s with the 64-bit-ness disabled) will be released as new S754 models in the future. So if you wanna be able to drop in a faster CPU in the future, S939 is the way to go.

But for the best bang for the buck for today, S754 is cheaper, especially since it doesn't require buying matched dual channel memory.

Oh, and no matter what socket you end up getting, you want a Zalman 7000B-AlCu to cool it. This is the heatsink to use with any of today's CPUs... yes, it's big, but that's the point; if you want your system to run cool without sounding like a jet engine, this is about your only option. When it runs in "silent mode" (1300RPM) you can't really hear it over the noise of the hard drive in your system, and it still keeps the CPU cooler than the stock heatsink at stock speeds would.
[User Picture]
From:sideband
Date: - 0000
(Link)
Nice looking fan. Great specs... Incompatible with any of the motherboards I have here.. ::sigh::

Ah, well.. When I get my A64, I'll be sure to get a compatible MB.

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