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Motherboard for socket 5 build

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First post, by feipoa

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I have an unpopulated AT computer tower that I thought would be suitable for a socket 5 build. The purpose of the build is merely to have a build of all the socket and slot platforms for my period of interest, which is the 386-PIII era, or approximately 1992-1999. I have four motherboards with a socket 5 and was wondering if anyone has experience with these and which they would pick for the build. I believe all the boards use direct-mapped SRAM cache.

The target cpu is likely to be an AMD K5-PR200 running at 133 MHz. My aim is to use the K5 in a socket 5 motherboard without an upgrade interposer module. Graphics card, which is another topic, will likely be a Riva TNT. Might even go Riva128+Voodoo2 if I can bother to troubleshoot my flakey Voodoo2 PCB.

The motherboard at hand are:

ASUS PCI/I-P54TP4 (430FX - Triton)
ASUS PCI/I-P54SP4 (SiS 501/502/503)
Gigabyte GA-586IP (430NX - Neptune)
Elitegroup SI54P AIO w/Phoenix BIOS (SiS 501/502/503)

I don't know if any of these boards will work with the K5 yet, but as I understand it, some socket5's could accept K5's.

As for the history of the boards - bought on eBay some years ago. They all are functional. One board was bought just because it had a 40 MHz FSB and would work with the original Cyrix 6x86-80, while others were purchased hoping they would work with the Cyrix 6x86-80 (before I found the one that works), and some I was hoping to get L2 cache working with a Pentium MMX Tillamock.

Nonetheless, they are here now and I'd like to select the best one for the project at hand. Any advice from someone more seasoned with these boards?

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Reply 1 of 42, by dionb

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What are your criteria?

If you're looking for best performance, forget the i430NX and (slightly less drastically) the SiS501 and go for the i430FX.
If you're looking for good build quality, I'd go with Gigabyte or Asus over Elitegroup.
If you're looking for least fuss, avoid the PCI/I-P54TP4 as it has a Dallas RTC that almost certainly needs sorting.

Oh, and both SiS501 boards have the ubiquitous and buggy/crap CMD IDE controller, and the i430NX has no I/O controller at all.

Only decent reason to go for i430NX: 256MB RAM support, all of which cacheable.

Reply 2 of 42, by feipoa

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Critera: Best over all performance with the largest cacheable range. Must work with K5-PR200. The presence of a Dallas doesn't matter, it will get converted. Onboard CMD IDE controllers don't matter, I use PCI-based host controllers for HDDs. PS/2 header nice, but there is one board that doesn't have it, but uses AWARD and a standard KBC-40, so it will get converted. How much can these SiS 501 bards cache with 512K memory?

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Reply 3 of 42, by dionb

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Best overall performance: no question, the PCI/I-P54TP4 with i430FX. It's a year newer than the other two chipsets and it shows.
Largest cacheable range: the exact opposite, GA-586IP as i430NX can cache 256MB, where the i430FX can "only" do 64MB (note that in 1995 16MB was seen as extravagant...)

Not sure about cacheable range of 501, documentation on early SiS designs is notoriously sparse. My guess would be 64MB in WB, 128MB in WT, but can't confirm. I do have a 501 board (So4, not So5 - but that shouldn't matter for these purposes) at home so could theoretically test.

As for K5-PR200 - no idea. Given the P54TP4 is almost a year younger than the others I'd give you highest chance there, but you probably just need to test it yourself.

Reply 4 of 42, by Anonymous Coward

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430NX can take 512MB. I assume all of it can be cached.

I'm hoping to get a good 430NX board for my dual gold top P100s. This would have been ridiculously expensive back when it was bleeding edge. The 430FX with a P120 or P133 was also a performance leader for a while, but it was soon displaced by faster things and became budget very quickly. Personally, I'd do two Socket 5 boards. One with a 430NX and a proper Pentium, and a 430FX board with a K5-200.

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Reply 5 of 42, by derSammler

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The PCI/I-P54SP4 and the SI54P-AIO both have the buggy-as-hell CMD640 IDE controller, so avoid using these.

I'd use the PCI/I-P54TP4, as the NX chipset is kind of slow.

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Reply 6 of 42, by vetz

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Made a post about the PCI/I-P54TP4 some time ago: ASUS PCI/I-P54TP4 Socket 5 motherboard thread/review

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Reply 8 of 42, by AvalonH

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P54TP4 is one of the most stable boards I have used, ever. The one I had came with Pipeline Burst Cache. From 1995 to 1998 I ran it with a P75, later overclocked to 100/120/133 with undervolted 5v fan. Still use it to this day for Dos. Very stable overclocking board.

Reply 9 of 42, by feipoa

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The P54TP4 sounds like a real winner, however the pipeline burst option makes it feel more like a mid-path between sockets 5 and 7. Apparently, this same chipset was also used in socket 7 boards. Also, the missing option also has the feel that this was a cheaper variant of its fraternal brother with the PB option. Has anyone compared PB and async cache on this same board to see what the difference was?

I like now the NX board was a socket5-only board, but will have to see how much slower it is than the FX.

Nobody voted for the SiS 501/502/503. Is it that lousy?

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Reply 10 of 42, by Anonymous Coward

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I think the 501/502/503 was a better choice if you're going with Socket4.

The 430FX chipset was intel's first chipset designed to use pipelined burst cache. I can't remember if the pipelined cache option was available right at introduction, but it was definitely available shortly afterward. I think pipelined burst cache is okay on Socket5, but you should use a COAST module even if they're less dependable.

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Reply 11 of 42, by feipoa

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FX supports EDO as well. But I'm guessing not the NX and SiS 500 series. The SiS white paper suggests that it has a cacheable limit of 128 MB when using 512K, 1M, or 2M cache. Interesting that the cacheable range doesn't increase with increasing RAM. More cache just for greater 'hits' I guess.

Seems as if the 430FX boards which sport the COAST slot identify themselves as socket 7, although they do not necessarily have split voltage capability. Which begs the questions, what defines a socket 5 motherboard? I figured it was the split voltage alone, but perhaps not?

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Reply 12 of 42, by Anonymous Coward

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There are mountains of socket 7 boards which don't have split rail capability. It was an optional part of the specification, and most boards only started adopting it after the MMX chips came out. 430FX was a crossover chipset. Usually if the board only supports 1.5x and 2x multipliers, it's considered socket5. If it supports 2.5x and 3.0x then it's socket 7...and of course socket 7 boards will have bigger VRMs to handle the extra current required by the faster Pentiums.

The difference between Socket5 and Socket7 is minimal, kind of like with Socket2 and Socket3 on the 486 platform.

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Reply 13 of 42, by feipoa

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Didn't that NEC Proserva system have dual socket 5's, yet it uses a 3x multiplier to run the Pentium 200's?

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Reply 14 of 42, by Anonymous Coward

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I didn't have a close look at it, but didn't it have an HX chipset? HX is a proper socket7 platform, and it should have 3.0x out of the box. If the socket5 was used in that machine, they were probably just clearing out old parts.

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Reply 15 of 42, by dionb

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feipoa wrote:

FX supports EDO as well. But I'm guessing not the NX and SiS 500 series.

SiS 501 supports EDO too (iirc it was the first Pentium chipset to do so), but its memory performance is clearly slower than the i430FX. Even with FP, both are a lot faster than the i430NX.

Reply 16 of 42, by feipoa

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Yes, the Proserva is HX. Odd to use a socket 5 in there. It would be interested to see if some of the systems have "socket 5" and some have "socket 7" written on the ZIF.

I searched for "EDO" and "extended data" in the SiS 500 series manual and the search returned nothing. Manual was dated: January 9, 1995, Rev. 2.0.

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Reply 17 of 42, by derSammler

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feipoa wrote:

I like now the NX board was a socket5-only board, but will have to see how much slower it is than the FX.

NX was the first chipset for the P54 and while it has some nice features (fully cachable 512 MB of RAM with tag installed - FX can only do 64 MB; SMP support), it was just as slow as the older LX with limited PCI 2.0 support. It's also more or less Intel Pentium 75-133 only. It doesn't like non-Intel CPUs much.

If you want a historical build from the early Pentium days, it's a good choice. But otherwise, go for the FX board.

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Reply 18 of 42, by mpe

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feipoa wrote:

Which begs the questions, what defines a socket 5 motherboard?

Well, the former is 320pin the latter is 321pin and that's what defines the socket 5 vs socket 7.

What makes things complicated is that some vendors mounted 321-pin Sockets 7 on boards with no split-voltage support (or with support through an external VRM that was not present and even not populated). And that includes not just crappy vendors, but also Intel who was considered as reference design maker, so this was widespread.

Given this I would personally not use "Socket 5 motherboard" definition, but rather talk about a motherboard with or without dual-voltage support.

My Socket 5 build would have the Gigabyte board 😀

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Reply 19 of 42, by Warlord

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There is some more rare 430HX socket 5 boards that support POD200 😐 These would of been high end, dead end boards. 😒 While not historically period correct it would of competed with early socket 7 233MX, and might of been faster.