Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 2GB ECC

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Washerman
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Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 2GB ECC

Postby Washerman » Sun Jan 17, 2016 2:25 pm

In November I bought a couple of boxes of unknown motherboards, and lo and behold there was an Asus A7M266-D in the pile, with CPUs on-board :D this was a first, never had Athlon MP before. It's been on my shelf since then, sitting on top of a new AOpen HX95A desktop case that I'd chosen for it. They go together well - board was made circa 2002, case is stamped 28/3/2002 - and it's nice and easy to work on a desktop unit. The plan is to run XP on it, with a decent video card (AGP 3650 at the moment) and an SSD (via Highpoint PCI SATA) or SCSI (via a PCI-X controller). Today the goal was to get the basics together.

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Athlon MP - motherboard overview
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Athlon MP - Asus A7M266-D Rev 1.04
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Athlon MP - AOpen HX95A case
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The motherboard's pretty clean, no bulging caps to be seen. The case is NOS, so looks pretty plain for now, it should look more interesting once the drives are installed, and I find a case badge.

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Athlon MP - 2000+ MP core
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Took some effort (and 2 screwdrivers) to get the HSF off. This was the first time I'd found out the CPU type. Guess there is room to go up to the 2800+ MP down the road.

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Athlon MP - Antec True 480W PSU
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The AOpen case comes standard with a 250W PSU, but from reading a thread on Vogons about a build based on the same board (http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=46033), a strong 5V line is recommended. This Antec should be OK I imagine.

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Athlon MP - AOpen instructions
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Nice thing about having a NOS case is having all the pieces to install a motherboard! No hunting for standoffs that are the right size.

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Athlon MP - Motherboard installed
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Athlon MP - video card installed
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Motherboard looks right at home in the case, plenty of room. Recently purchased AGP Radeon 3650 is installed too. Thankfully uses a Molex connector, no fancy PCI-E connector required.

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Athlon MP - boot success
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Boot took a little troubleshooting - when the PSU had power, the board power light came on, the fans spun up, but there was no video output or speaker beep. Once I turned the speaker and power connectors around (matching up the +), the power switch worked, and it booted up, with just a slight lag. Seems that the board might be testing the CPUs for MP capability first. The RAM is a problem though, used a single 1GB Kingston DDR stick, only 512MB is detected though. Might need registered DDR for greater RAM capacity - will RTM :D

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Athlon MP - working keyboard
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Had some trouble with the keyboard - for some reason the PS/2 keyboard I have wouldn't work in the BIOS, but a previously untested IBM keyboard (122 key, with Soarer's USB adapter) worked perfectly! Now I just need to clean this up, it is pretty grubby.

The system is fairly close to complete in this state. Next steps:

  1. Install floppy/optical drives
  2. SSD or SCSI?
  3. Increase system RAM
  4. XP SP3
  5. PCI sound? Have a Hercules Game Theater XP that is looking for a home ... not sure it's better than on-board sound though

Edit 15/2/2016 - upped the RAM to 2GB.
Last edited by Washerman on Mon Feb 15, 2016 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mwd
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby mwd » Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:09 pm

Oh wow nice build, I like it a lot.

I'd got SSD simply due to SCSI drives normally being 10/15k RPM and pretty noisy.

The Game Theater was pretty cool back in the day but I've never used one so not sure on the performance, but I think it would be a good match.

roboat
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Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:48 pm

Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby roboat » Sun Jan 17, 2016 6:53 pm

Is it single or double sided ram? I remember that one type on older boards is only recognised as half it's capacity.

Washerman
Posts: 108
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby Washerman » Sun Jan 17, 2016 8:49 pm

Yeah, I remember all those RAM shenanigans with density and double/single sides ("ranks", upon further reading) - and I think you're right, actually. The manual says that the board can support up to 3.5GB registered DDR (across 4 slots), but only 2GB of unbuffered DDR (across 2 slots) - according to the manual the slots are double sided, but there must be a density issue. I'll have to do some digging for appropriate RAM soon.

I have also found out that the motherboard doesn't like one of my PS/2 keyboards, but worked with the other one, so it has some quirks. I'm planning to flash the BIOS with the latest version, required for 2800+ support.

roboat
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby roboat » Sun Jan 17, 2016 9:46 pm

The board can probably realistically handle 4x1gb sticks of ram then the 3.5gb limit is most likely a 32bit OS limit.

Washerman
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby Washerman » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:49 am

roboat wrote:The board can probably realistically handle 4x1gb sticks of ram then the 3.5gb limit is most likely a 32bit OS limit.


I've sourced 4GB of registered PC2100 DDR from WA, so hopefully I can test out the limits of the board soon :D

Washerman
Posts: 108
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby Washerman » Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:14 am

mwd wrote:Oh wow nice build, I like it a lot.

I'd got SSD simply due to SCSI drives normally being 10/15k RPM and pretty noisy.

The Game Theater was pretty cool back in the day but I've never used one so not sure on the performance, but I think it would be a good match.


Thanks :)

I'm still tossing up on the SATA/SCSI choice, but noise won't matter too much - those coolers, graphics card and PSU are ridiculously loud, to the point that I am considering more passive cooling solutions. It won't be something that can be run 24/7, that's for sure!

Re the GTXP, I bought one new on the basis of Dan's review - http://www.dansdata.com/gtxp.htm - but sold it years later ... and then bought one again last year :) it's definitely the front running option for sound in this build so far.

monaro327
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby monaro327 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:20 am

Very cool.

Washerman
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Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:19 pm

Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 512MB

Postby Washerman » Mon Feb 15, 2016 3:48 pm

monaro327 wrote:Very cool.


Thanks! Have some more projects to come, just have to organise my study.

For this build, I got some more parts in recently, 4 sticks of 1GB PC2100 ECC. According to the manual, this should allow the motherboard to physically see 3.5GB. I tried all 4 sticks at once, and it refused to boot. Taking one out, it was happy with 3GB. This reminds me of the A7N8X-Deluxe I used to have, pretty much could never use all RAM slots. In this case, I've left it with 2GB only, as I'll be running XP 32-bit so no point going big with RAM.

The fans are nuts, so I investigated watercooling, but that is going to be too expensive and hard to find. Thinking about some Noctua case fans on the heatsinks instead, they move a reasonable amount of air at much lower dB.

Also found a backup board and CPUs in my stash! Didn't know I had it, but handy to have in case this board falls over. Will have to check the CPUs but thinking they are probably 2000MPs as well.

Finally, also pulled out a U320 SCSI card, but it doesn't have 50-pin to support a SCSI CD changer (Nakamichi). Found some 29160 cards in the SCSI controller box, so might put them to use. Upside is that there are drivers all the way back to Win98, but then that might cause problems with the video card (HD3650 at the moment). Might have to hunt out a 6xxx AGP card for Win98 duties.

Pics to come, though it's not a huge amount of progress at the moment.

roboat
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Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:48 pm

Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 2GB ECC

Postby roboat » Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:47 pm

This might help quiet things down if it fits with the video card being so close.
http://www.techbuy.com.au/p/79188/COOLI ... 60-80B.asp

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avalanche
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Location: Watching You

Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 2GB ECC

Postby avalanche » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:48 pm


Washerman
Posts: 108
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Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 2GB ECC

Postby Washerman » Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:54 pm

Neat idea, and I might use them in another project! Not sure if the Coolermaster Earsplitters will move enough air if the voltage is dropped though.

Need to get back on this build!

Washerman
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Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:19 pm

Re: Athlon MP Socket A build - currently 2000+ MP, 2GB ECC

Postby Washerman » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:56 pm

So finally found a little time to add a couple of bits to the Athlon MP. Still one of the noisiest builds ever!

First up, the Nakamichi 5-disc SCSI CD changer - MJ-5.16, build circa 1998. Colour matches the front bezel, so it blends in nicely.

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I've decided to go the SCSI path for storage. I found a PCI-X 29160 controller in a box of cards recently, and as it has Win98 drivers, as well as XP ones, and supports the SCSI CD-ROM, so that probably suits this build best.

Another change is from the Hercules Game Theater XP to the Diamond Monster MX300. It's going to be easier not to have the Hercules breakout box hanging off this build; and from various sources it seems that the MX300 is a gem. I picked up the necessary SPDIF board from eBay Russia, and it looks ready to go!

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And a further change to the specs ... from the Radeon HD3650 to the Gainward Golden Sample 6800GT Ultra/2400 "Goes Like Hell" :D (its literal name). Should be the fastest nVidia card for Win98, and reasonable enough for Win XP. As this motherboard can't support higher than 2800MP CPUs, even this card might be bottlenecked by the CPUs. Comes with Doom 3 and a case badge ... got to start prettying up the case ...

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Big Red and the SCSI card installed and running.

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Nakamichi is detected on the SCSI bus, all starting to look good! :)

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The back panel

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All aboard!!!

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Well, next step is to dig up the SCSI hard disks, and start installing the OSes. Unfortunately they're a bit buried as I'm getting ready to move house :( but I do feel better to have made some progress!


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