Pre Build 3: Looking at Micro ATX mobos

September 2, 2008

After spending some time researching Micro ATX motherboards and narrowing them down to the features that I require (most notably IEEE 1394 support with an Nvidia chipset & Gigabit LAN), I’m leaning towards an Abit AN-M2HD, available for under $100 at most online retailers.  Here are the specs:

Brand ABIT
Model AN-M2HD (LE)
Supported CPU
CPU Socket Type AM2+/AM2
CPU Type Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64
FSB 1000MHz Hyper Transport (2000 MT/s)
North Bridge GeForce7050PV/ nForce630a
Number of Memory Slots 4×240pin
Memory Standard DDR2 800
Maximum Memory Supported 8GB
Dual Channel Supported Yes
Expansion Slots
PCI Express x16 1
PCI Express x1 1
PCI Slots 2
Storage Devices
PATA 1 x ATA100 2 Dev. Max
SATA 3Gb/s 4
SATA RAID 0/1/0+1/5/JBOD
Onboard Video
Onboard Video Chipset NVIDIA GeForce 7050PV
Onboard Audio
Audio Channels 8 Channels
Onboard LAN
Max LAN Speed 10/100/1000Mbps
Rear Panel Ports
PS/2 2
Video Ports D-Sub
USB 4 x USB 2.0
IEEE 1394 1 x IEEE 1394a
S/PDIF Out 1x Optical
Audio Ports 6 Ports
Onboard USB
Onboard USB 8 x USB 2.0
Onboard 1394
Onboard 1394 1x 1394a
Physical Spec
Form Factor Micro ATX
Dimensions 9.6″ x 9.6″
Power Pin 24 Pin

Some other candidates in the same price range include the MSI K9N2GM-FIH (AMD) and the MSI P6NGM-FIH (Intel).  An attractive feature of all of these boards is the onboard video.  I should not need a discrete video card with the use of these motherboards and this will be one less aspect to deal with during the build.

Before buying any board, it’s a good idea to check linux compatibility and see if the board is being used by any other MythTV users.  Aside from Google, some other good sources of information is the MythTV mailing list archive and the Knoppmyth forum.  There are probably other good sources, but I seem to gravitate towards these two.

Abit AN-M2HD

Abit AN-M2HD

Some searching reveals MythTV users successfully using the AN-M2HD and getting 1080p out of the GeForce 7050PV.  The latest Nvidia driver supports XvMC with the 7050PV which might prove nice depending upon the chosen CPU.  Whether or not the board and chosen CPU can actually decode 1080p without dropped frames is another story.  More research to do…