My new Rocket

Launch statistics:

1. ASUS P5P43TD Motherboard

2. Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 @3.0 Ghz.

3. 4 Gb DDR 1333 Mhz RAM Kingston

4. 500 Gb 7200 RPM SATA Harddisk Seagate

5. Nvidia GeForce 250 1 GB. Palit Graphics Card

6. 22″ 2233 SW plus Samsung monitor

7. Sony DVD R/W

8. Canon LBP 2900B Laser Printer

Having said that let me tell you why I consider this a rocket :).

1. 1333 Mhz FSB DDR3 RAM

2. Corresponding supporting CPU  (1333 Mhz, FSB, 45nm fab technology, ~65 Watt TDP)

3. Good enough ATX motherboard with overclocking capabilities

4. Nvidia Graphics Card supporting CUDA, PhysX, SLI, HDMI, DVI-I.

Pros:

Motherboard:

1. Asus Express Gate utility: I think overall it is a good utility so that one does not need to boot in to any OS for web browsing and skpye. These features are built into the utility that comes up before the OS boots. This is a very good and desirable feature which I guess should become a default in most motherboards.

2. 5.1 Channel Integrated Sound card

3. Support for EM64T i.e. one can run a 64 bit OS on this chipset, given CPU also supports EM64T.

4. BIOS supports Virtualization. With virtualization support one can run an OS like windows / linux on a running OS with near native performance. I could really see the difference in performance running Ubuntoo on QEMU, with and without h/w support enabled. The speed improvement was dramatic.

5. This was the only motherboard that I could find in the market which supported 1333 Mhz RAM and Core2 Duo processor, having only a single PCI Express 16 slot. I don’t consider having a SLI or Crossfire support as essential as most of the times, the difference in performance of games is not exactly 2x. Even if you get some performance boost using SLI / Crossfire, but most of the times it is not needed. Also you end up paying a lot more for the price of Motherboard because of having dual PCI-X 16 slots. And if you want to upgrade your Graphics card, then you end up throwing / discarding two graphics card instead of one.

6. This board has overclocking capabilities upto 1600 Mhz FSB, though I have not tried this feature yet.

7. This board supports PS keyboard, while the other board of almost equal capabilities that I had narrowed down to while buying was Intel P45 Chipset based DG-45SG motherboard, did not have PS2 keyboard support. I don’t really like using soft touch keyboard, but this is just a personal preference.

8. It has 3 PCI slots in case you want to install some legacy PCI card on your motherboard.

9. It also has support for IDE, in case you want to install IDE based Harddisk or CD-R/W to your system.

10. The chipset has Gigabit LAN support.

11. The board has 6 SATA ports which is good if you want to have lots of disks in your system say for RAID. But since the motherboard does not support H/W RAID, your only choice is a software RAID scheme or buy a RAID controller. Most of the times, RAID is not really required but you only require a backup space. There are plenty of software available for creating backup specially on linux.

CPU:

1. Very good POWER/ GHZ. ratio. In this case it is 65W/ 3.0 GHZ, which I think is very good. If you care about power consumption of a processor then I guess one must definitely look for TDP of a processor. Simply having a higher Ghz. processor is not enough unless you are using it in some kind of server. Believe me that most of the times the processor is idle and hence having a higher Ghz processor, consuming huge amount of power is not always desirable. More on how to choose the hardware configuration / PC buying guide later. But for me power is an important consideration.

Graphics Card:

1. NVIDIA: I belive that Nvidia cards in general have better Linux support and in general have better utilities shipped with it. Most of the times the default configuration on Linux works fine, even if it is not h/w accelerated. Aditionally I think that CUDA is a much better and supported API then ATI stream. Additionaly it has PhysX capability for physics processing.

2. Installing NVIDIA drivers on Linux is a breeze and are very well supported. They also provide 64 bit drivers for both linux and windows. Probably that is true with ATI cards as well but in the past I have had real troubles installing ATI cards on Linux.

3. I am yet to benchmark my Graphics Card, but my guess is that it should be very good.

2233 SW Plus Samsung 22″ monitor

1. It is dual input. One can receive both VGA as well as DVI-D input to the LCD panel.

2. It has very high resolution (1920×1080) which is HD resolution, and comes within the range of resolution supported by my graphics card.

3. The monitor has Pre-Defined modes, like text, internet, game, movie etc. which with a single click adjust the brightness, color, contrast etc. of the monitor. It is a really good feature.

4. The other good feature with this monitor is that it has auto adjusting capabilities and does not require setting size and position of the screen manually.

Cons:

Motheboard:

1. The layout of motherboard is not so good. The VGA port is too close to the PCI slots. In my case the graphics card and the fan fitted on top of it hides out the PCIx1 slot and partially covers the PCI slot.

2. The drivers from ASUS specially for 5.1 sound are not really supported on Linux. It takes some time to configure sound on Linux.

3. The board does not have H/W RAID. While this feature is available on the P5P43TD PRO motherboard. I did not know the feature difference between this and my motherboard and hence ended up buying non PRO motherboard. I haven’t checked the price of PRO version, but my guess is that it should not be more than 500 INR. Another difference between PRO and non PRO version is that PRO has E-SATA and firewire ports as well.

4. PCI slots are too many. I guess ASUS should have provided more PCI-X slots instead of PCI slots. 2 PCI slots could have been enough and additional PCI-X 2/ 4 / 8 slots would have been useful.

Printer:

1. The printer driver does not install on Windows 7 Home edition, though it installs easily on Windows 7 Home Ultimate. I believe that Canon has not tested their drivers on various flavours on Window7

2. The printer is little difficult to install on Linux. The Linux drivers are not easily findable / locatable on Canon’s website. It is not even listed if Canon had drivers supporting Linux.

3. The printer does not have dual side printing capability. The only workaround is to first print odd pages and then even pages.

Monitor:

1. The panel is too thick that I cannot stick my webcam on top of it.

2. DVI cable is not part of the package and this could be really problematic as DVI cables come in various types (DVI-I, DVI-D; with 24 + 1, 18+1, 24 + 5 pins etc.) and figuring out which DVI cable and converter will be required by you could be really troublesome. Check out wikipedia if you really want to know why finding DVI cables could be a problem.

3. The stand is not rotatable. I find it really strange that why Samsung has not included this standard feature in its LCD panels.

Memory:

1. Since I have 4 GB memory installed, it is not recognized on 32 bit Windows and for 64 bit Windows, drivers for various devices are not always available.

2. On Linux, you will need to recompile your kernel with PAE support or compile the 64 bit kernel for the whole of 4GB memory to be addressable. I will try to write another post on this explaining how to compile kernel with PAE support and the difference that it makes.

CPU, Graphics Card:

No Cons that I could think of.

Overall I think a good configuration is one which suits your needs and where you utilize all the potential of that system. Having a very good system and not utilizing it is a waste of resource and money. I will definitely write a guide on how to buy a good system configuration which suits your needs very soon.

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