Caleb Cushing's Blog

The Motherboard I want doesn’t exist

My Desktop is dieing and needs to be replaced. So I’m working on researching the parts I’d need to replace it. As any good IT person knows, the motherboard is the most important decision to make when building a computer. Theirs a good chance that someone reading this will cry out I’m wrong.

The reason the Motherboard is the most important decision is it dictates the potential of the whole computer. For example the motherboard on my existing system has an AGP video card slot, I can’t buy one of the latest and greatest video cards because it doesn’t support it. Motheboard dictates everything from the power supply you buy to video card, ram and processor, and more.

So why is it I can’t find a motherboard that I want? well… I have pretty complex requirements.

First, it has to work on Linux. That actually isn’t that difficult but it does require a little research making sure all components are supported under Linux, and they have to be supported well, I don’t want half-assed support that’s going to take me a week to get working. I also have several seemingly incompatible hardware requirements.

I want a dual socket motherboard that supports recent quad core processors, ideally processors that have on chip virtualization features.

My next requirement is that I wanted an onboard graphics chipset that is supported by linux with open source drivers. The best choice for this is the intel line of chipsets. The latest being the Intel GMA 4500 HD. Now I have a problem, I can’t find a SINGLE board that is Dual Socket and has onboard intel video (actually I think I did find one but the processor support was capped at like p4 or something). So why is it I can’t get a system like this? Intel makes all these parts and yet they don’t have an offering.

The last thing I want is onboard raid 0/1/10 that will work with my linux system without too much finagling. Advice has been given to me that I should ignore that and just use linux’s raid (or buy a true hw raid card).

I also have some requirements for pci* slots but they are less strict, 1+ 16x pcie (for a future video card), 1+ 4x pcie or 1+ pci-x (for hw raid card in the future), 1+ pci (depends on onboard sound… I have a good audigy card that will work for me if the onboard isn’t better than it).

So it seems I’ll have to sacrifice some requirements. Chances are I’ll do some heavy video card research so I can dump the intel video requirement.


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