Originally Posted by stranx44
Finally got my board today (darn weekend made it take longer!)....and here are initial assessments:
......... Next up....BD playback, undervolting, overclocking, vDroop measurements, RAID performance/configuration, and Speedfan configuration....
Okay after a night long battle with my board, here's some more observations:
- Added note on the installation. This board is a little smaller in footprint than my p5q-em, so the edges of the board does not rest on a case stand.
- My CPU temps were much higher than i expected (about 10C higher than on my p5q-em). Turns out it was a loose CPU HSF connection, which also seemed to help with the reboots somewhat.
- Undervolting works great! Was able to run my board down to about .95V or so. VDroop isn't too bad on this board with a range of about 25mV between idle and full load.
- Overclocking / underclocking is really ****ty! The menus are just abysmal and i could not get a good manual setting between FSB / Mem w/o the system complaining about overclocking it (even at the lowest setting it failed!). If you're contemplating anything from stock, forget about it! Best you can do for underclocking is to lower the CPU muliplier and that's about it. My 500MHz mem sticks are now crippled at 333MHz.
- Speaking of overclocking, i was playing around with the mem and as someone noted above, something quirky is happening with the timings. No matter what i input into the timings, it seems the BOS overrides it (even though it supposedly accepts it). I am getting very strange mem readings like:
I wonder if this is one of the open memory bugs plaguing the chipset, and somehow related to the failed bootups i'm experiencing.
- Since I'm using old school YL 120mm fans, I still have the older 3 prong fan pigtails to connect to the mobo. Although the fans read fine, I'm having trouble controlling them from the CHASS connector inside of SPEEDFAN. Going to have to experiment more to see if i can get it to work.
- RAID configuration was a nightmare. I was importing my 5 Seagate 1.5 TBs drives i had from my P5Q-EM system and even after full configuration, Vista wouldn't see it! I installed, reinstalled, deleted, reinstalled the RAID partition in both the BIOS and Vista and the nVidia RAID manager kept on saying i did not have a RAID drive! After many excrutiating hours mucking around with drivers, RAID settings, and BIOS settings, I was able to make it work after making the drives AHCI disks at first, partitioning / formatting them, then deleting them, and finally reallocating them as RAID drives! Jeez, nVidia could you make it any harder?!!! With Intel's ICH10R, RAID setup was a breeze... Anyhow, I'm in the middle of transferring over 6TB of backed up data now with no glitches (seems a little more stable than P5Q-EM, as long as i don't reboot!).
- Lastly, Blu Ray playback....in a word, FLAWLESS! After mucking around the past year with 680g, 780g, 630i, G35, and G45 chipsets, the BD playback worked right out of the box with my old PDVD7.3 player...no hitches, hiccups, stuttering, etc. I'm very anxious to see some of my BD reference titles (kung fu panda, speed racer) on the 9300 again!
In a nutshell, MCP7A is as advertised: a great HTPC platform for viewing HD material. However, it looks like nVidia / Mobo OEMs still have a bit of tweaking to do in the BIOS as it seems more of a BETA release at this point. The periodic reboot issues are annoying as hell, the overclocking options are lackluster, the memory issues are perplexing, and the RAID configuration process is inexcusably complex. However, once you get past all of these problems, the BD playback is just about perfect and the best I have seen to date!
Choosing between the Asus intel G45 or the nVidia 9300/9400 platform is kind of a toss up at this point:
- With the G45, everything (RAID/Overclocking/Memory/etc.) works great, except for the BD playback itself with its stuttering, lack of 24p support, backwards compatibility, etc.. Recent BIOS and driver updates have rectified this to an extent, but its still noticeable and waiting for the right drivers is a hit and miss affair.
- With the 9300/9400, the whole chipset seems to have been released as ES units plagued with memory, RAID, BIOS, etc. issues. However, once you get passed all of these problems, the BD playback is second to none! With the history of how frequently Asus updates their BIOS (and seeing how this 9300 board seems to be made for big OEM partners with its LPT1 / COM ports on board), I'm sure we'll be seeing fixes for all the problems soon.