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Simple, Bare-Bones Motherboards? 627

basic0 writes "After my Windows box recently lost its life in a puff of awful smelling smoke, I tracked the fault to the motherboard. Now I'm in the market for a replacement board, but all the boards I find seem to be all-in-one models with on-board everything. I already have a good graphics card, NIC, USB audio device, etc. I just need a no-frills motherboard like I used to be able to buy. It seems like a waste to buy a board with all the built-in stuff (and probably pay extra for it) when I'm never going to use it. Has anyone else had similar experiences? Do a lot of people actually use the on-board stuff? Is it still possible to purchase a motherboard that's *just* a motherboard?"
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Simple, Bare-Bones Motherboards?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:53PM (#12465322)
    You end up paying more for a bare-bones motherboard because of their rarity.
    • by Trizor ( 797662 ) <> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:02PM (#12465391)
      And besides, there are all sorts of advantages to the redundancy the cards you already have will provide. Should something go bad, you'll have a back up, as well as a control set to compare against test results. I'd say get a board with onboard components and maximise yoru use. 2 NICs is especially nice if you find your self in a situation that requires odd network topology and weird on box configurations.
    • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:03PM (#12465394)
      You end up paying more for a bare-bones motherboard because of their rarity.

      Actually, it is a correct, if limited, summation.

      When you think on market scale production, one fact is simple: the more you produce, th lower the individual unity cost. That is why, today, a dot-matrix printer is more expensive than a laser one.

      Considering the great majority of motherboards produced are those "on-board" models, and the demand for "clean" boards is small (and getting smaller each passing day), the natural tendency is that the production cost pre unit for a clean board is higher.

      On the other hand, I do like clean boards better. The chances of a failure is reduced, since the number of components is reduced too. That can also lead for a higher durability.

      So, as far as I'm concerned, the "on-board" mobos are cheaper when you buy then, but clean ones tend to be cheaper on the long run. At least for me, since I never throw away a working computer. I just move it to other functions (disk server, firewalls etc).
      • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @05:17AM (#12466763) Homepage
        There is another aspect: Chip sets.
        To have a chipset being accepted by the motherboard manufacturers, it has to come with easy implementable reference designs and with a small board real estate, that is: a minimum of used area for the chips itself and for the connections to other functions. So chip sets tend to integrate as many functions as possible, because thus board manufactures need less additional circuits and wiring to put those functions at the boards. A large portion of the boards in turn are sold to assemblers anyway, which are keen on boards with many functions already builtin, because then they don't need to put additional cards and ports into the boxes they are assembling.
        So for a board manufacturer to get into the assembler business to sell boards he has to offer fully integrated boards, and he will choose fully integrated chipsets to deliver.
        And if he has once designed fully integrated board series, what's the point in designing stripped down versions again? He will use the same chipsets anyway, because he has all the testing equipment in place for those, he reuses the design of the wiring (once the masks for wiring are done, the manufactunging costs are the same, independent of the number of wires), so all he saves are the few cents for the actual sockets and the soldering of the sockets to the boards.
        Basicly a "bare" board then is nothing else than a board without the sockets, but electrically the functions are there. But to manufacture those boards intentionally you need another production process, another QA process, another packaging. It might be cheaper to just sort the boards according to their final testing results and then specify which functions are 'there' (those that work in the tests).
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:04PM (#12465405) Homepage Journal
      "You end up paying more for a bare-bones motherboard because of their rarity."

      I doubt there's much price difference anyway. The reason why mobos have on board lan, for example, is they can add it really cheaply.

      Frankly, I wouldn't want a mobo without the frills. Integrated Nic is nice. On-board sounds means there's a backup. On board video, provided you still have an AGP port, can also be used as a backup. When the machine's retired, it can easily be given to somebody else.
      • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:52PM (#12465610) Journal
        If you're running Linux, try to find out if the drivers are available for the built-in parts. They probably are - builtins tend to be pretty vanilla standard Southbridge parts, so enough other people often have them, and Knoppix can probably find them. But otherwise you may need to use your own boards.

        If you're running Windows, the integrated on-board stuff will work fine, and as another poster says, you could use the built-in graphics to run a second monitor, which you'll find very addictive. If you're a gamer, you'll probably want to use your own video card, but otherwise it's nice to have your system be cooler and quieter with the built-in video.

      • False economy (Score:3, Informative)

        by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        The problem with onboard video is that 1) it typically uses shared RAM, which is never 100% stable (or if not shared RAM, usually some very small amount -- like 8mb even in current machines!!) 2) in my observation the onboard video circuit is the most likely point where the magic smoke gets out; and 3) *sometimes* it doesn't disable cleanly even if it's otherwise dead, so you can't replace it with a proper AGP card anyway.

        Also, motherboards with onboard video are typically made cheaper all around, and are
  • FP (Score:2, Funny)

    by zelphior ( 668354 )
    Could it be?

    Anyways, I'm in the same boat. I havnt had any luck finding a good motherboard that supports my ram (184 pin RIMM).
  • Nah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hardburn ( 141468 ) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:54PM (#12465327)

    I don't think they're sold anymore, and they're so cheep now that you wouldn't save much, anyway. Just ignore whatever extras come with the board.

    In fact, you just might save a few bucks in the long run by using the on-board stuff, since it may use less power than the equivilent slot-based stuff.

    • Re:Nah (Score:2, Informative)

      by xSauronx ( 608805 )
      indeed, if you want a cheap mobo, get a used name-brand one. Id gladly pick up a used Epox or Asus board if the Asus Im using right now died on me, and I wouldnt have a complaint about price, or concern about quality.

      Anything made in the last few years is usually thoroughly reviewed on at least one hardware site, if not several; and checking support forums for something old will let you know what to to fix it...or if its problem free. The Asus I have (A7N8X iirc) has been stable and trouble

    • by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:20PM (#12465502) Homepage
      There's a good chance that the integrated stuff he's going to get for free anyway is actually BETTER than the expansion cards he's so insanely keen on continuing to use.

      Welcome to the reality of computer components - there's no value in trying to save old tech.

      • That's exactly true. My new motherboard, an Intel-based board with a 915G chipset, sports onboard audio that's better than my old-skool soundblaster live. It's possible that it uses a few more cpu cycles to do the sound, but hey, that soundblaster used to be in an 800 mhz P-III, and this one's a 2.8Ghz P-4. Extra clock cycles i've got.

        So, I ditched my soundblaster live. Doesn't bother me a bit.

        Also: Onboard video today is perfectly suited to basic desktop usage. To put it in other terms: "There is no
        • The sound on the NForce chipsets is actually stealing much less
          CPU time than an SB LIve! or Audigy 1. It's right on par with
          Audigy 2 in that respect, which was mentioned a lot on techsites
          back when NForce 2 was new. Since the sound seems to be using some
          Intel 8xx derivative driver under Linux, I wouldn't be surprised
          if the 915G chipsets have something similar.

          You can get 5.1 sound from an onboard chipset through reversal of
          one of the inputs, but EAX 4.0 support is probably not going to work.

          Onboard graphi
  • Cheapness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cortana ( 588495 ) < minus threevowels> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:55PM (#12465338) Homepage
    Motherboards are so cheap nowadays that you may as well buy one and disable all the stuff you're not going to use. I guess it's because they are produced in such numbers, that onboard audio/network chips cost mere pennies. It would probably cost the manufacturer more to sell two products, one without the extras.
    • Re:Cheapness (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cecil ( 37810 )

      Although it's not so much the selling, it's that it would cost them more to *develop* two products. As FSB, memory and CPU speeds have exploded, the margin of error for motherboards has decreased accordingly. Even tiny changes to the physical layout of a motherboard can make the difference between a rock-solid stable machine and one that crashes every 10 seconds. Lots of QA goes into testing board designs thoroughly. It's easier to simply drop all the ridiculously cheap, commonly used components (LA
  • by l33td00d42 ( 873726 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:56PM (#12465342)
    ... are cheaper in my experience, since they're geared toward the value market.

    quit yer whining and buy a motherboard.
  • extras (Score:2, Funny)

    Yea that zemtobit internet is such superfluous addition.
  • by Agret ( 752467 ) <alias.zero2097@gma i l .com> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:56PM (#12465344) Homepage Journal
    I already have a good graphics card, NIC, USB audio device, etc.
    Well you don't want an on-board graphics card. Just ignore that. If you have an on-board NIC you can remove your PCI card and free up a slot. On-board audio is damn good these days. I paid $80 for a gigabyte board with all the on-board shit and I only use on-board NIC & Sound. They aren't very expensive and if you don't like the on-board stuff then don't use it!
    • Personally, I'd love to just get a good-ol' barebones mobo too. The first thing I do when I buy a new one these days is disable _everything_ except for the NIC..

      Stay away from onboard video.. that's just common sense.

      The onboard audio these days is passable, if you're using a sub-$100 set of stereo speakers. But if you're an audiophile like myself with several thousand dollars invested in a nice 7.1 spkr setup, (or heck, even a $300 set of 5.1 speakers) then the onboard audio just doesn't cut it. I t
      • I think the 'avoid onboard video' thing is a bit silly. When NForce2 was new, its onboard video was perfectly acceptable for a low-midrange system. Hell, for anyone that doesn't do much gaming, it's still fine.

        Add to that the fact that ATI's RS480 chipset includes X300 equivalent graphics, and it seems pretty silly to say 'onboard video sucks.' The X300's not a screamer by any means, but onboard video that'll run Far Cry at an acceptable framerate is fine by me.
    • Most onboard audio chipsets don't even support multiple audio streams in hardware. Onboard audio is not good.
      • by RzUpAnmsCwrds ( 262647 ) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @12:16AM (#12465926)
        Not true. A decent processor with a codec like Realtek's ALC850 can handle 64 strems in hardware without issues.

        NVIDIA's SoundStorm, for example, is excellent and compares well with discrete solutions.

        VIA's "Vinyl" audio is also quite good.

        There's also an onboard Creative Labs chip that's excellent.
      • by jgarzik ( 11218 ) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @02:34AM (#12466419) Homepage
        Most onboard audio chipsets don't even support multiple audio streams in hardware.

        Completely false.

        Pretty much all of the new on-board audio supports multiple channels (OS drivers may be another story!). The bleeding edge on-board audio even supports High Definition Audio [].

        Most of the high-volume motherboard chipset vendors -- Intel (the big fish), AMD, NVIDIA, SiS, ULi, VIA, ... -- all implement the same advanced features in their chipsets: SATA2 NCQ, USB 2, HD audio, gigabit ethernet, and more. Just wait 3-6 months, and a new-and-spiffy ethernet/SATA/USB/audio feature will appear for free on a modern motherboard. If its a mass-market feature, of course.

        Blindly choosing "no on-board devices" is rather silly. Today's mass market motherboard contains on-board devices, which means the cheapest motherboards give you that stuff for free. If the on-board device meets your feature requirements, use it. Sealed silicon interconnects are far more reliable than PCI slots anyway.

        ...speaking as the author of the [old OSS] VIA audio driver for Linux, and the sometimes-maintainer of the [old OSS] Intel/SiS/Nvidia/AMD audio driver for Linux, as well as other Linux drivers for on-board (and off-board) devices.

  • YES (Score:4, Funny)

    by TechnologyX ( 743745 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:56PM (#12465345) Journal
    Awesome story, again! Google gets DNS jacked and we get to help this fucknut find a motherboard, and it will probably be posted 4 more times this week by timothy and CowboyNeal HOORAY OFR /.
    • Re:YES (Score:5, Funny)

      by sketerpot ( 454020 ) <> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @11:28PM (#12465742)
      So that's what happened to Google. I tried to search for news that might tell me why Google was down, but then I realized that Google was down. :-(
  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kr3m3Puff ( 413047 ) * <<me> <at> <>> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:56PM (#12465349) Homepage Journal
    After my Windows box recently lost its life...

    Thank god... one less Windows user out there now. I am sorry to inform you that they no longer make motherboards for Windows as you might as well install Linux or buy a Mac...
    • Re:Finally... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 )
      "Thank god... one less Windows user out there now. I am sorry to inform you that they no longer make motherboards for Windows as you might as well install Linux or buy a Mac..."

      Good for a chuckle, but Insightful? Did the guy who modded this comment really think a gamer would be happier with Linux or a Mac?
  • Yeh, there are a lot of "all-in-one" motherboards out there but a lot of highend ones aren't that bad. Personally I was in a similar boat, I had a great soundcard, video card, network card, etc. I settled on an ASUS who's only integrated component was sound. Finding one without integrated video is pretty easy, just look at the companies websites, reviews, etc. However most are the high-end boards, but they're at most $30 or $50 more than the cheaper modes. Ethernet, SATA, and in some cases sound are a
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:57PM (#12465353)
    I can't imagine how much you think you would save with motherboards that support all this stuff going for $65.

  • by atrus ( 73476 ) <.gro.eilavirtsurta. .ta. .surta.> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:59PM (#12465364) Homepage
    Unless you go to server boards, the answer is no. The reason? Everything is integrated into the chipset. Once designed, it costs an insignificant amount more to build that way. All you have to do is add the right headers to the end of the board.

    Even in server boards, things still get integrated. Different sets of things (SCSI controllers, low-end video hardware). Reasons? It frees up slots (big +++ in 1U 2U rackmount land), and at the same time drops cost (may be hard to believe, but in the log run it does).

  • Welcome to 1999 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @09:59PM (#12465365)
    Its *VERY* cheap to integrate this stuff onto the motherboards. All of those functions are handled by one or two chips which probably costs on the order of 5 - 10$.

    Onboard video is usually pretty terrible (unless you're buying an nForce board), and if you are an audiophile like me, you'll want the 500$ sound card with the 120db DNR:) But in reality, it almost doesn't matter who made your NIC, your USB transcever, etc etc.

  • You'll probably spend less by selling your existing cards and going with one that build all that stuff in. That said, the one with everything built in is also going to be less replaceable than an individual card.
  • Find a motherboard in your price range and ideally from a quality manufacturer. If it has a bunch of on board stuff simply don't use it. Who cares, as long as it's priced right. If your complaint is that motherboards are too expensive, then I can't help you. They haven't been any cheaper, so suck it up and spend $50 - $100 on a new one.
  • The one thing that I wouldn't dare get on-board is video. If you have on-board video, the manufacturer usually leaves off the AGP Slot or other appropriate Connector that allows you to install in a decent high-end graphics card. Historically these boards are also notoriously difficult to disable the on-board video on. These types of MBs appear to be destined for terminal work (...rather not high-end graphics, gaming, or CAD work ).

    I just purchased a socket 775 PCI Express MB with the 915 chipset. It o

    • Another problem with on-board video is that more they almost always use the system's RAM for their memory. Unless you have a lot of RAM (512 MB+) that can really impact the system because the memory is taken away from the operating system. More than that, lag of having to go through system circuitry instead of through its own on-board memory could also be a factor, especially if you don't have really fast system memory.
    • If you have on-board video, the manufacturer usually leaves off the AGP Slot or other appropriate Connector that allows you to install in a decent high-end graphics card.

      Virtually all MB's with on-board video have an AGP or PCIE connector and disabling the on-board video is at worst a trivial toggle in the BIOS, if it doesn't automatically detect that you've put a different video card in.
  • by foonf ( 447461 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:05PM (#12465408) Homepage
    The core functionality for most of the onboard components is now built right into the chipset. It costs at most a couple of bucks to add the connectors and the rest of the hardware (a sound codec, ethernet transciever, etc.) needed to fully support it, and the added value is more than that.

    A lot of stuff that is now integrated on literally every motherboard used to be an add on card. 10 years ago you would be whining "why do I have to get a motherboard with an IDE controller and onboard parallel ports, I already have a multi-IO card". But things change and for the most part the integrated hardware is adequate, and it isn't economically viable to not provide it.
  • Not Much Choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:05PM (#12465411) Homepage Journal
    Most of these peripherals are integrated into the North- and/or South-Bridge chips these days. The additional cost of these on-chip features has already been amortized out, so the cost savings of not having them integrated into the chips is effectively zero.

    If you are a 31337 g4m3r, integrated graphics is indeed a joke. However, it's good enough for 85% of the users out there, who will almost never run anything more intensive than Word, IE, and the occasional Flash-based game. Same deal with integrated sound -- for Windows event beeps and boops, it's more than plenty.

    10/100 Mb/s speeds are now common on integrated Ethernet controllers, and most of them have very little braindamage these days. 1Gb/s on-chip controllers are also already starting to appear.

    To put it another way: Parallel, RS-232 serial, and PS/2 mouse/keyboard ports used to require separate expansion cards. Today, they are integrated into the motherboard chipset, and no one thinks the worse for this. For those who need extra ports or special high-performance ports, third-party PCI expansion cards are still available.

    So, in short, the way systems are being put together these days, there's no cost savings to be had by breaking out the peripherals you don't need. If you feel a need to put the old parts to good use, donate them to a school, or use them to build a Frankenbox on which to do kernel or driver development :-).


  • I understand what you are saying. I recently went shopping for a new DIY system and the amount of hardware that's already on the motherboard is staggering.

    But considering that even good motherboards that are loaded can be found for roughly the same price as loaded motherboards, why not just get the motherboard that's loaded, go into the BIOS, and disable the device that you don't want to use? Then you can at least use the on-board as a backup system should your hardware cards fail.

    For example, if yo
  • After all those days it's pretty impossible to buy a cellular phone that is just a phone. Cars with only brakes, motor and transmission costs four times as much as electronic-ridded drive-by-razor-thin-wire-with-microsoft-on-board mass market marvels. Or try getting plain vanilla DSL with one IP, no frills and direct connection to something that resembles internet, instead of living in militarized zone of your own.

    Fuck it. You are out of luck. At least while the market is dominated by Bling-Bling and neoX
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:09PM (#12465433)
    After my Windows box recently lost its life in a puff of awful smelling smoke,

    Next time be sure to clean out the registry on a regular schedule.

    • Next time be sure to clean out the registry on a regular schedule.

      Yes, specifically HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Hardware\Capacitors\Self_Destru ct\Lifetime.
  • buy a mac (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:10PM (#12465437)
    sell the parts at a swap meet.
  • people said the same thing in 1990ish, when manufacturers started integrating serial/parallel/game ports onto the mobos.
  • No chance (Score:5, Informative)

    by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:12PM (#12465443) Homepage
    Companies like via, nvidia, intel produce chips which will tend to the largest market segment, which is how they produce chips with everything on board at a cheap price. If they produced chipsets of different types, the production runs will be smaller, support and testing costs larger and pricing higher. I actually expect the likes of AMD to release CPU+chipset chips with say the top 256MB of ram built-in, along with both the north and south bridge, nic phy, audio and usb and everything else in between. The resulting board+cpu will be cheaper than the current board+cpus.

    AMD actually currently integrates the north bridge in the athlon64 if I'm not wrong.

    Even if you want architectural simplicity and efficiency, its hard to find a simple ARM, m68k or ppc microcontroller without something built-in specialized for its market.Having just a no-frills set of parts was last seen in the 8086 and 6502 days in which each chip did only one thing. And it was expensive as hell.
    • Re:No chance (Score:3, Informative)

      by zerocool^ ( 112121 )
      AMD actually currently integrates the north bridge in the athlon64 if I'm not wrong.

      It's actually the memory controller, I believe. Which is why Athlon 64's haven't rolled out DDR-2 support - the type of ram is tied to the processor.

  • Onboard not that bad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Psionicist ( 561330 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:13PM (#12465456)
    I used to reason exactly like you once and tried to use my software preferences when I choose hardware, no bloat etc, but eventually I found out that hardware "bloat" is not that bad, unlike the software kind. My most stable boxes are the ones that use the onboard components, whereas my old plain vanilla motherboard with a 3rd party soundcard hangs pretty frequently because of god-know-what compatibility issues. When you get onboard audio, at least you know it will work with the chipset.
  • by Beuno ( 740018 ) <(argentina) (at) (> on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:16PM (#12465471) Homepage
    Ive had very good experiences with ABIT barebone motherboards, which I normally use on servers.
  • The mobo market is intensely competative. So for $120 you can something loaded! How much cheaper do you expect your mobo to get? The mobo is the sacred heart of you machine! Get a good one. If you already have a sound or ethernet card, run 2 interfaces! Its all in good fun! The Linux kernel will surprise you with what it can do. Whats wrong with having 10 USB's? SATA RAID? Muliple DVD's? Get an ASUS, MSI, Abit, Soltec, DFI, AOpen, Chaintech, Gigabyte, Foxconn, Epox ... They're all good. Get something that l

  • I am collecting a bunch of older hardware that I no longer have a use for due to the inclusion of everything on the motherboard. I have been finding that I, and my clients, do not use everything when it's new. Eventually, most stuff does get used.

    Further, unless you are rebuying good modern *everything* every few years - the on board stuff is probably as good as what you are using.

    What am I talking about integrated on the motherboard:

    On board USB:
    I avoided USB stuff like the plague for several years. M
  • Power usage (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nakarti ( 572310 )
    Well if you do happen to use all the integrated junk(although some of it is less junky, such as the ATI or nVidia integrated video) you tend to use less power. And yes, lots of people do use the integrated stuff, because they don't know about the better audio quality, video clarity, network performance(mainly moot on that one), and system performance they can get with dedicated hardware.
    That and it is nearly as cheap to get integrated systems than bare mainboards(especially microATX, which is often cheaper
  • It's cheaper for chipset and motherboard makers to make a limited number of models, and that means extra features even if you're not going to use them.

    Even if your motherboard doesn't have a network port, it's probably supported by the chipset and there's probably traces on the motherboard for one to be soldered on. I imagine it costs more to make different models that don't include hardware already supported by the chipset, as that makes inventory much more complicated for the manufacturor and the various
  • by malarkey ( 514857 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:23PM (#12465517)
    It's so often you let the smoke out of something and it doesn't work anymore. It's too bad you can't just buy a can of smoke, and refill the motherboard.
    • by srhuston ( 161786 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @11:51PM (#12465815) Homepage Journal
      Actually, I did.

      Someone borrowed a Netgear switch from me, and said he had a power supply for it already. Silly me thought he knew what he was doing, and didn't first demand to see the PSU. Whaddya know, a Netgear switch prefers to have 7.5VDC@1A, not 15VAC@.3A

      He came back to my office in a panic, because I didn't have any other switches to lend out. Said he let out the magic smoke, something he'd heard me say about hardware before. I went down to the electronics lab with the switch and user in tow, found a 'lytic cap the same as the one that blew, and said "No problem, I'll just put in a new can of smoke. Gimme 15 minutes." Handed him a working switch (with the correct PSU) and I swear he thinks that little canister literally holds smoke inside it.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:27PM (#12465531) Homepage
    If that's what you really want, you can buy a passive backplane [] and plug in CPU and peripheral boards, up to and including dual Xeons [] Passive backplanes are used in specialized industrial applications, and will cost you far more than a "loaded" motherboard. This is not something desktop users buy. But they do exist.
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:33PM (#12465547)
    I see lots of advice that say buy a motherboard with extra stuff and if you need to disable it in the bios. But many new motherboards are making a choice to go with a non-standard IO layout []. While usually this means it comes with the ATX plate you need, there are those of us who bought into cases that use an older style of ATX back plate, non-standard size ATX back plate, or in even more rare and cheaper cases no plate what so ever.

    For example... my case is an HP Vectra desktop with that Asus a7v333 motherboard. I'm odd I know. In order to get the provided plate to fit properly I'd need to cut the hole larger by about 10cm or so. Further, the audio jacks extend above the size of the hole making the top jack unuseable.
  • Try searching (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaEMoN128 ( 694605 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @10:55PM (#12465621)
    Mwave, TigerDirect, Directron, Newegg....there are many sites that provide these barebones motherboards. I have never seen one for less than 80 dollars though. I have found all in one integrated boards for much cheaper. If you are looking for a barebones system though, try Tyan, MSI, or Giga-byte. ASUS tends to pack everything onto the board, soyo and abit are the same. I havent heard or had much experience with epox, dfi (they also have good reviews, and I believe the lanboy is fairly barebones but expensive). Do about 20 minutes searching and you can find what you are looking for. I personally recommend a Giga-byte board. I have had nothing but great luck with them.

    Best of luck in your search.
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @11:09PM (#12465667) Homepage
    You can get a motherboard with SATA, ATA, RAID, onboard audio, NIC, etc, for like 60$ CDN. Maybe back in the days when motherboards were 180$ CDN for a barebones, and 250$ for the one with terrible AC'97, was this an issue. Nowadays you buy based on what features you want, and disable the rest.

    I use Intel EEPros in all my machines because they are well supported and in every OS I can load. I just disable the onboard NICs. I've noticed, though, that recently onboard audio has become high enough quality that I can move the mouse and not "hear" it on my speakers.

    Suck it up!
  • by gukin ( 14148 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @11:45PM (#12465788)
    I realize that ponying up the extra $16 bucks to get a $56 dollar motherboard from your typical $40 dollar motherboard is quite a strech but if you get this [] board, you'll be able to play virtually every game made before 2003 and, if your patient, some stuff afterwards.

    Not to sound like a snot, but if you become a u83r 1337 g4m3r, you can always give the system to your sister.

  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @03:17AM (#12466508) Homepage Journal
    It seems like a waste to buy a board with all the built-in stuff (and probably pay extra for it)

    Not really.

    The fallacy is that these extra peripherals cost extra. They don't, really. The price you pay is determined by, more than any other factor, the economy of mass producing exactly the same product for such a large market.

    Especially in the chipset, those extra transistors come almost for free. It would cost MORE to make another version of the chips with a different configuration. Likewise, even with the same chips, it would cost MORE to make additional models without the extra connectors. There is tremendous savings in manufacturing only one model (or relatively few). Distribution and retail sales also saves costs only having to deal with fewer distinct models.

    So just don't use those extra bell and whistles. But don't imagine they're costing you anything extra. The PC motherboard market is extremely competitive, and many companies and individuals shop primarily for the lowest price. If there was an easy way, such as making a different model without some parts, to achieve a lower price, you better believe the manufacturers would do it in a heartbeat.

    And there are plenty of budget motherboards. If they could save even a small amount taking off more features, they certainly would. Because they haven't, you can have high confidence those extras aren't actually costing you anything extra.... in the reality of today's manufacturing, distribution and retail marketplace.

  • by adolf ( 21054 ) * <> on Sunday May 08, 2005 @08:15AM (#12467196) Journal
    Don't start looking for a new item based on what you don't want, but instead try to find one that includes what you do want.

    I had a few requirements for the last motherboard upgrade that I bought for my own personal use, so I made a list:

    Support for the last of the Socket-A CPUs
    Dual-channel DDR
    4 DIMM sockets
    At least 5 PCI slots
    Two regular IDE ports
    Two SATA ports

    I plugged some of these requirements into newegg's search engine, and found several that included all of these features.

    It turns out that it was cheaper to buy one that also included on-board audio and a gigabit ethernet jack, than to buy one without.

    So, I went with the cheaper one. I've been ignoring the on-board audio since day 1, and decided to just go ahead and use the built-in LAN and free up a NIC for better uses.

    I might've chosen one that included Firewire, and on-board video, too, for all I care. I don't have a use for those functions, and I don't foresee having a use for them. But would it piss me off to have paid less for their inclusion, were that the case? Absolutely not.

    I know how you feel. I got upset in the 90s when companies irrevocably started putting IDE, floppy, serial, and parallel ports onto motherboards. "What am I going to do with all of these expensive VESA local bus multi-I/O cards?"

    Something similar also happened to me in the 80s I realized that the ISA clock card in my XT had been obsoleted by a part on the motherboard.

    Needless to say, I got over the trauma of those transitions pretty quickly. You will, too, once you figure out what you're going to do with all those expensive 3c905 and genuine DEC Tulip cards...

    [Hint: Local schools, libraries, friends-of-friends, and children-of-friends are all fine places to deposit good hardware which has been obsoleted by a motherboard upgrade. Just make sure you get it to them before time makes it completely fucking useless, and keep it appropriately packaged in antistatic bags or somesuch so it doesn't die all on its own before it gets a chance to be used again.]

  • by Myself ( 57572 ) on Sunday May 08, 2005 @10:15AM (#12467666) Journal
    The jump from AT to ATX motherboards was a step backwards environmentally. We used to have "Super I/O" cards with all our interfaces on them, and we could reuse that card when we switched motherboards to support a new processor.

    These days, with all the ports on the mobo, we throw away an extra pound of plastic every time we change chips. This stuff seldom changes -- the ATX port cluster still includes a parallel port, PS/2 ports, and USB ports like when it was introduced. How much of this stuff is sitting in a landfill now?

    I'd like to see most of that integrated with the case. Like the front-mounted USB and audio ports, why not put an actual USB hub and USB audio device, along with USB serial and parallel devices, perhaps a USB ethernet adapter, on a PCB inside the case? Let it connect to a single motherboard USB header.

    This would give case designers the ultimate flexibility in putting the ports where they want, since a lot of casemodding these days seems to involve port rearrangement. It would liberate the mobo designers from having to mount and support all that plastic, which would in turn allow motherboards to be smaller for those who don't need all those ports. And, for those of us who don't care to have it integrated into the case, we could stick our port cards or port bays into whatever slot or drive mountings we chose.
  • by JaF893 ( 745419 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @04:09AM (#12474647) Journal
    Why not try the ACME Motherboard Finder []

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