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Hi to all, and DFI-newbie questions

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Hello :)


I receive my first DFI mobo this coming Monday (3/4/06) and I'd like to ask a couple of questions. I was glad to find such a well-organised forum existed.

I'm retiring a very trustworthy Abit NF7-S/ 2800+ (unlocked) Barton-based rig to take advantage of the new(ish) AMD64 platform. It has run very stable for several years but the lure of a Venice 3500+ has brought me to here.


Frankly, I looked to Abit at first. My wife & I have 3 of them - a workstation each and a storage/ server rig - and they just keep on. No reason to change allegiances - and no offence intended to DFI-users. But I was unable to find an Abit offering that works well. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life trying to get a UL8 past the POST! ;)


My Achille's heel is flight-sims. :rolleyes: (And motorbikes http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v458/bra...tington_red.jpg )

Both hobbies are totally processor-intensive - it's just that the second relies almost entirely on the Mark 1 brain, which comes free! A look at the photo will reveal that I'm missing a vital component - a Mk.1 right arm - and that's why I haven't leapt straight into the nf4/64x2/crossfire bleeding-edge arena. Not enough dosh!


Anyway - I want to go ahead and build a rig with the components listed below. Everything except the CPU, mobo & PSU will be carried over from the nF2 rig. So here are some questions which would shed some light (and confidence) on the up-coming build. I am working my way through the amazing database that these forums contain, but I'd like to try sticking to one thread until I find my way around.


1) Memory:

The matched pair of Mushkin PC3200 Dimms are rated @ 2:3:2 DDR 400 (Part No. 991085) but are discontinued. Stupidly I removed them without checking on the chip-type in Sandra, but I think they are BH5s.

I'm not looking to overclock straight off, so will I be able to run with these at stock voltage & timings?


2) BIOS:

Obviously I'll be POSTing into the factory-default BIOS first, but is there a newer version that I should be looking to flash in order to use the components listed?


3) Drivers:

I'm not planning any RAID arrays, and I am happy to use the unified 5.10s (without the IDE drivers) which I know already from using nF2. Again bearing in mind that I don't look to o/c anything yet - are these a safe set of drivers to start with?


4) Fear factor:

No, not a new console-game, just a kind of plea for reassurance. Should I expect a relatively trouble-free first boot and be able to run from stock settings until I have the time to investigate & exploit this board's capabilities?


Thanks for wading through this long post. Cheers!

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Welcome to the forum!


First off your memory should work fine at stock speeds/timings/voltages - shouldn't have to worry about it.


As for your Bios, there is likely a newer one though I haven't played with your board in particular (though I've been keeping an eye out... :rolleyes: ) but check out tmods bios cd. Should be in the Bios Factory section.


Dunno about drivers either, personally I'd use the ones that come with it for the time, though you might want to check fo newer ones online.


The board should certainly run just fine at stock, shouldn't have any problems though it may take a little time to learn the quirks of DFI's versus Abits. :)

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I just built a DFI rig after being a loyal ASUS fan for years. :cool: I had some problems initially, but I finally got things straightened out.


My biggest issues came from my RAID array. Thankfully, the folks here helped me through it and I am now up and running at stock settings. (I'll start clocking here after a while... once everything burns in!) If you aren't running RAID, you shouldn't have any real big issues.


Start by reading this thread for basic info: http://www.dfi-street.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17498


A few quick notes:


My MB came shipped with 711 BIOS, but I ended up flashing back to the 602 to work with my RAID array. If you aren't running RAID I would stick with the 711 (if that's what comes with your rig) and go from there.


When doing the first build on this MB, start small. MB, CPU, HSF, one stick of ram, and video card. Boot into BIOS and check your ram timings. This board is pretty picky with the timings for some reason, so the less 'AUTO' settings you have, the better. Do a search of the forum to get an idea of what timings will work for your ram. (Loose at first is okay... you can tighten it up later.) My Corsair XMS ram runs at 2.75 volts, so I had to bump the default voltage 0.2 volts.


The CPU voltage undervolts for some reason... so I bumped mine a bit... your mileage may vary.


Remember to set the AGP timing to 67 or 68.


I almost plugged the wrong 4-pin connector into the motherboard. For the record, it's the aux-12 volt plug (2-black/2-yellow) and NOT the 20+4 pin connector. (Black/orange/red/yellow) :shake:


Are you using an IDE or SATA hard drive? If SATA, use the two connectors closest to the CPU (3 & 4) because they are the locked ports. (They won't be disturbed during O/C later!) If you are using SATA HD's, make SURE that you power down and unplug the drives BEFORE making BIOS changes. Make the necessary changes, save, reboot... let it go until you get a non-bootable disk error then power down. Reconnect your SATA drive and reboot as normal. (Some folks have had issues with SATA/BIOS changes.)


Make SURE that if you are using an old hard drive that you get all of your information off of it before your build. Get the hard drive factory software to clear your drive (write zeros) so you don't have a lot of old crap in the boot sector. (This kicked my azz with my RAID array! Thanks to RGone/Learners Permit for getting me on track!) Set the partition and format, then get ready to install your OS.


I slipstreamed XP PRO/SP2 so it went pretty easy from here. 5.10 drivers worked fine for me. (Not using NVidia IDE drivers obviously... they suck and cause all kinds of issues.) I used most of the drivers from the factory CD and didn't have problems there. I used the latest NVidia video drivers for my GForce 6800GT.


Most importantly, if you hit a road block... come back here and post about it. Everyone I have met here has been very helpful and insightful. They have come up with ideas that I never would have thought of... and I have been building PC's for 10+ years.


Have fun and good luck!



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Thank you both for coming back so promptly :) I feel a lot better for your replies ;)


I must say that I think the insistence on everyone having rig specs in their sig is a great idea - a few other forums would benefit by that rule.


Thanks FHR for pointing out those few wrinkles. Some of them I'm au fait with - like the nV IDE driver issue, but I hadn't considered the SATA/ BIOS situation for example. Just fyi, I doubt I shall be looking to RAID up anything on this rig. I won't be using it for photo or vid editing - and I find the single Raptor just enough for a lean & mean machine. Major storage is on another rig on the network.


All in all, I feel I'll be able to work through this build now - and I'll be sure to holloa if I run into any walls.



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My board arrived @ 1030.a.m. & the despatcher took away the Abit UL8 that wouldn't make it past the POST - adios baby! A trip around the RMA system's the closest you'll ever come to postage :rolleyes:


The Ultra-D looks good & I like the layout a lot :) Just the sharp definition of yellow on black is neat for spotting where components will go. I'm almost tempted to cut a window in the side-panel of my old Chieftec tower!!!


So I quickly pop the pushpins out and remove the NB hs+f. It uses a thermal pad - but there are only TIM marks at the corners of the chip; zip in the middle. Maybe the HS would need a skim & set - or the thermal pad would magically expand to fill the gap -but I dont really care at all ;) It's just made cleaning up the nF3 chip a lot easier!


I'm using a carefully-prepared Vantec Stingray LC set. It's a very functional system which I've modded - but one which must have completely bypassed the Quality Control Dept on its release to the retailers :confused: I know I was only one of hundreds who received flawed kit - musta been a financial disaster for Vantec.


Happily, the plate used for attaching the NB block is the same as on my old NF-7S - so I don't have the annoyance of drilling deeper countersunk recesses on a wholly new plate. A flat, tight connection on a small blob of AS5, two pushpins & I'm there.

Next I'm reverently laying my first ever AMD64 into its resting-place and locating the waterblock on a silver bed - and silently thanking whoever designed the new, easier clippage! :angel: It mayn't seem much - but for a one-armer with a stubborn streak it's paradise :D (Try fitting a Si-97 on a Socket A board, in the case, with one hand only - that's hell )


I already fitted the VGA-cooling-block onto the x850 last night; and cleaned out the Chieftec and wiped the inside with light machine-oil. A fine film - just enough to immobilise dust and make it easily removable on the proverbial lint-free rag when cleaning time comes around: not that there'll be much getting in. With a water-cooler there's really only one intake fan needed (if that), and I've used the lowest of the two rear fan-holes - halfway up in the tower - to bring a bit of cool air in across the the tubes where they enter the cpu-block. It's only there because I upgraded the radiator fan to something pulling more than twice as many cfm as the Vantec offering - but I had to use a two-wire connection rather than a 3-wire, meaning the 80mm case fan is just there to trigger the cooling system. The rad fan is loud enough that I'll know if it fails - though I'm hoping that the DFI software will take care of any danger anyway. The extra case-fan will mean the water will be marginally cooled on its way in & out of the CPU block.


I've mounted the radiator & fan on the sidepanel behind the mobo, for two reasons:

1) The Chieftec carries its fans in moulded plastic fittings fixed to the metalwork through square holes - so I would've had to drill the case to fit standoffs for the radiator mounting.....

& 2) it's so much easier to just remove that panel if I want to disconnect the water system, and there's no tubes obstructing the back I/O & PCI slots in back of the case.


I'd also pre-installed the big, lumpy bit of the Hiper 580 PSU. I once watched a mate of mine fumble the placing of a power-supply with the mobo in, and drop a nice heavy Enermax onto a row of caps :rolleyes:

Man that modular system is way cool. The photo's that'll be in the next posting will show how tidy it is. Not being held back by a loom in the way is THE business where a clean build is concerned.


I added the extra stand-offs for the mobo and tidied up the work area - then I went and took the shower that I'd missed rather than miss the mailman. ;)




It is up and booted now - but my hand is aching so that's enough writing for today. Everything seems OK - but I'll be checking tonight and will let you know.....


Thanks again for the help & the morale-booster - so far-ee, so goodee :D


More with pics tomorrow,



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