[mythtv-users] good microATX board

Bela Lubkin filbo at armory.com
Wed Sep 8 04:27:34 EDT 2004

David Collett <david.collett at dart.net.au> wrote:

> Not sure if you can get them where you are, but I recently build my myth
> box around an Albatron KM18G-Pro. It is an mATX nforce2 board with
> onboard sound and gf4mx video(with tv-out). It has a spdif header on the
> mobo, mine did not come with a spdif (optical/coax) plug. Luckilly I had
> a backplate with the right plugs to connect to the header (from another
> mobo). Not sure how hard it would be to get/make one of those. I now
> have albatron mobos in both my PC's and have never had a problem with
> them.

I picked the Albatron KM18G-Pro 2.0 for the Myth box I'm building, but
NewEgg.com went out of stock on them, then dropped them entirely from
their catalog.  I couldn't find the KM18G anywhere else at a reasonable
price ($120 is not reasonable for what was $80 at NewEgg), so ended up
ordering a Chaintech 7NIF2.

Parts have arrived and I started to assemble, when I figured out that
they'd somehow sent me a used case.  :-(  Two of the motherboard mount
holes were unusable (one had a stripped hex/phillips head screw stuck in
it, the other had a broken off screw shaft).  I didn't want to use my
new motherboard as a fuse to test the quality of the power supply, so
now I get to wait for a replacement.  :-(

Below is the research grid I worked up on the nForce2 IGP micro-ATX
motherboards currently on the market.  This may be helpful to other
seekers.  My personal search criteria were:

  Req: TV-OUT with S-video connector
  Req: onboard NIC, audio, USB 2.0
  Req: S-video & USB connectors obtainable by mere mortals(*)
  Want: Underclocking support
  Want: Athlon XP Mobile support
  Want: S/PDIF support & connector
  Want: good customer reviews

I settled for the Chaintech 7NIF2, which doesn't have S/PDIF,
underclocking or Athlon XP Mobile support.  Albatron KM18G PRO 2.0 has
the S/PDIF but was unavailable.  (7NIF2 has pads on the motherboard
where an S/PDIF pinout would go, but no pins; a serious modder might be
able to fix this, I can't.)

(*)I specifically separate _support_ of various connectors from
_connector availability_.  Many motherboards claim to support certain
kinds of connection, when in fact they only have _pinouts_ for them.
They do not include the cables necessary to transform pins on the
motherboard into standard USB 2, 1394, S/PDIF, etc. connectors on the
outside of your case.  Pinouts vary, you can't necessarily use a cable
from one motherboard on another.  Some boards ship with all needed
cables.  Some omit them, but they can easily be ordered from the
manufacturer or sometimes a dealer (e.g. NewEgg carries a nice selection
of Asus cables/brackets).  And the sad majority: the manuals mention
"optional" cables, but the company web site and support email people
have no idea how to actually get them.  :-(

I can't promise this is 100% correct.  I had the 7NIF2 marked as
supporting S/PDIF until mine arrived with no pins on that part of the
motherboard.  I still don't know if it has 1394; didn't notice it on the
motherboard, and haven't seen BIOS setup yet since I had to return the
case/power supply.

The Biostar is the only choice with any real underclocking (or
overclocking) potential.  It got pretty well reamed (negative review) by
a private correspondent, and fell off my radar.

Key Make/model
=== ======================
 1  Albatron KM18G PRO 2.0
 2  Asus A7N8X-VM/400
 3  Biostar M7NCG 400
 4  Chaintech 7NIF2
 5  EPoX EP-8RGM3I
 6  MSI K7N2GM-L
 7  Shuttle MN31L

Motherboard #
1 2 3 4 5 6 7  'X' = yes, '-' = no, '?' = didn't find an answer
=============  =========================================================
3 3 3 3 2 3 3  # PCI slots
3 2 3 3 2 2 3  # DIMM sockets
- - - - X - X  Dual VGA outputs
X X X X - X -  Onboard TV-OUT support
X X X X - X -  TV-OUT connector hardware readily available
X - - X - X -  TV-OUT connector hardware included in retail package
X X ? - - X -  TV-OUT connector includes both composite and S-video
? ? ? ? - ? -  TV-OUT has hardware MPEG-2 decoder
A A A C C A A  Onboard audio: 'C' = CMEDIA CMI9739, 'A' = REALTEK ALC650
X X X - X X X  Onboard S/PDIF output support
? ? X - ? ? ?  S/PDIF connector hardware readily available
- - - - - - -  S/PDIF connector hardware included in retail package
X X X X X X X  Onboard 10/100 NIC
- ? ? ? ? ? ?  Onboard 1394 support
- ? ? - ? ? ?  1394 connector hardware included in retail package
X X X X X X X  Onboard USB 2.0 support
X X X X X X X  USB 2.0 connector hardware included in retail package
X X X X X X X  Under/overclock support (FSB speed)
- - X - - - -  Under/overclock support (Vcore)
- - X - - - -  Under/overclock support (multiplier)
- - ? - - - -  Athlon XP Mobile support
X ? - X ? ? ?  Good customer reviews


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