Sunday, December 10, 2006

PCCHIPS M860 MoBo with A64 CPU

Summary: bought PcChips M860 ATX mobo for use with a new low-watt A64 3000+ CPU. While it has worked satisfactorily, I doubt I'll buy another PcChips mobo.

My first upgrade was from a socket A Athlon XP 2400+ to a socket 754 Athlon 64 3000+ . Gigahertz-wise it is pretty much a wash since they are 2.08 and 2.00 GHz respectively. Comparison tools suggest a 5% boost for normal work and 20-25% if the 64-bit feature is used. While it's hard to detect a 5% improvement, I did notice some peppiness in certain graphics and menu options. Overall, the main value I've seen so far is the cooler and quieter behavior. I've even disconnected 2 of the 4 chassis fans I had running.

The PCCHIPS M860 mother board is ATX form with 800Mhz front-side bus, 1 x AGP x8 slot, and 5 x PCI slots. It is a good basic motherboard, doing what I need.

Pros:

  • Mobo + CPU installed and booted very painlessly
  • Plenty of space around the CPU for a good after-market cooler
  • VIA chip sets have been good to me in the past

Cons:

  • BIOS has few options (can be good for some)
  • Floppy and IDE ribbons are all at the "bottom" of the mobo, meaning running the ribbon cables up to the normal CD-ROM and drive location nearer the top
  • Had to reflash the mobo to obtain meaningful temperature readings
  • All of the "latest drivers" at PCCHIPS web site are much older than the CD supplied; the CD being new is nice, but it implies the vendor is pretty lazy in support for older products since they don't even bother to put existing new drivers up
  • PCCHIPS offers no tools which show board stats (temp, volts etc). I use these to setup my SpeedFan details. Without this it can be tricky to decode the various temp readings.

Overall the CHCHIPS mobo is suitable for someone like my Mom who just use their computer with a minimum of concern for adjustment. I'll continue to use it until my jump to a dual-core system.

Temperature Sensors:

  • IT8712F is a Super-IO chip with serial, parallel, floppy, smart-card; it doesn't seem to used on this mobo for any fan control.
  • F7583 appears to be a temperature sensor and fan control chip
  • K8 CPU has direct readout (per SpeedFan documentation)

SpeedFan details (need v4.30 or higher to see K8 Core Temp):

  • Temp1 of IT8712F - is not connected; is garbage
  • Temp2 of IT8712F - assume is die temp of Super IO chip; is 82-84 degree F usually
  • Temp3 of IT8712F - seems to be not connected; is garbage
  • Local of F7583 - is mobo / chipset; controls Chassis fan?
  • Remote of F7583 - is CPU plus 1-2 degrees F; controls CPU fan?
  • Core - direct from AMD K8 / A64

My for-fun system is good & basic; not a power system, but good enough the games I play and the work I do:

  • Athlon 64 3000+ (51-watt CPU)
  • 1GB DDR400 / PC3200 RAM
  • ATI radeon X1600 AGP graphics (good for games like Oblivion)
  • HP DVD R/W with LightScribe
  • LiteOn DVD-ROM
  • 80GB Samsung drive
  • Creative Audigy 4 Sound Card
  • All wrapped in a nice CoolMaster aluminum ATX case

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