Shiny new hardware!

By | September 3, 2006

I’m writing this post from my new computer, finally an upgrade from my venerable old Duron 700.

The specs on the new one are:
Athlon64 X2 4600+ AM2 2.4Ghz 512Kb cache
Asus M2N4-SLi AM2
2x 1Gb DDR2-800
2x Western Digital Caviar 250Gb SATA II 7,200RPM 16Mb cache
Gigabyte 7600GT PCIE Graphics card 256Mb DDR3

and I’m running Ubuntu 64-bit. It’s a nice change to have a machine that behaves in a responsive fashion.

A note to hopefully help anyone out there: I spent some time, with little success, looking for hardware compatibility reports for this motherboard on the internet. I’d heard issues with similar models and Linux. In particular, the M2N32 which has an nForce 5 chipset is supposed to be quite problematic. I’ve heard that Asus doesn’t care all that much about Linux users. The M2N4-SLI however uses nForce 4. So let me put this in a single sentence for anyone searching: The M2N4-SLI works great in Linux, I’ve had no problems whatsover. Sound, network, SATAII, USB, all that stuff was autodetected just fine. The only thing that doesn’t work like it should is hibernate, and I suspect that’s due to the closed-source nVidia graphics drivers. I’m not too concerned, I didn’t plan on using it anyway.

The other good thing is that it’s almost totally silent. Any noise from it is drowned out by the other, old machine that runs beside it, and that’s a fairly quiet one too.

The only issue I’ve had with the setup is that the graphics card won’t drive my 17″ CRT at anything under 85Hz, which it can handle, but makes it go a bit blurry. No matter what I told xorg.conf or XrandR, it wouldn’t change. So I’m using that as an excuse to buy a 19″ LCD, which I’ll have on Monday.

10 thoughts on “Shiny new hardware!

  1. Laurent

    Hi,

    Thanks for theses great informations.
    I’m actually studying to build a new computer arround the M2N4 and an AMD Dual Core + Dapper Drake.

    Could you confirm me which Ubuntu version you installed ?

    Thanks a lot
    Laurent

  2. robin Post author

    Laurent, sure. I’m running Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper) 64-bit. All the hardware support has been working fine (except an actual hardware-based issue with the video card, but I’m hopefully getting a replacement in a few days). Everything except the video card works with open source drivers, too, although I believe nVidia supplies binary drivers for the nForce 4 chipset too.

  3. Laurent

    Robin,

    thanks a lot for these informations. It isn’t easy to find compatibility information about Linux and ubuntu with so specific uptodate hardware.

    So I will try this MB !

  4. Nathan

    Hey… maybe you can help me… I am building an extremely similar machine but am running into a problem and I am having a really difficult time isolating it.

    Athlon X2 4600+ AM2
    M2N4-SLI
    2 * 1g DDR2-800
    BFG NVIDIA 7800GT
    2 * Western Digital 350gb SATA II

    During idle the CPU is at around 60 degrees C and hard locks up when trying to install any OS (no KB, mouse, animation, CD movement, HD movement, nothing) usually the first moment there is a CPU intensive task. I’ve tried everything I can think of… replaced the MB, reseated the heatsink/CPU, new CPU cooler, isolating every device I can think of in the BIOS, and a new powersupply (520W). Suffice it to say I’m fairly sure it is the CPU itself which is currently on its way to California to get tested by AMD.

    AMD said like 95% of the CPUs they get test positive so that makes me worry that they are going to send me an email and tell me that I’m a moron. If that happens, all I could guess would be another bad motherboard (seems unlikely), bad memory (seems unlikely because the MB detects it and does the full memory test without error), or something that came to me recently which is the BIOS revision.

    I can’t check at the moment to the current BIOS revision because my processer is in a UPS package in the middle of colorado by now probably but it is either 0201 or 0301. The 0301 series, AMD says, is the first ones they decided to support X2 with.

    My (long winded) question to you is, did you have to flash your BIOS or update it in any way for your 4600 AM2 to work?

    Thanks,

    Nathan
    nathanmarcos@cox.net

  5. robin Post author

    It really sounds like a heatsink problem, or a faulty processor that is generating too much heat. For comparison, when idle (like right now) the heatsink temp is about 35C, with a room temp of about 15C. On a hot day, it’ll idle a little higher, but never reaches 40C. When I’m doing something CPU intensive, it’ll get up to about 42C and the fan kicks in, and then it’ll sit around the 45C mark. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it higher than about 47C, and that was when I was encoding two videos at once. The fan speeds up to compensate for the temperature change anyway, so it makes sense that it’ll sit around a certain point. Note that these temperature readings are provided by a sensor in the heatsink, so probably add about 5 degrees to get the real CPU temperature.

    I haven’t had to flash the BIOS at all. I don’t know what BIOS revision I’m running though, but I expect if you bought it within the past month, it’ll be similar to what you have.

  6. Patrick Hohmeyer

    A little WARNING though :

    I have almost the same build and the 2.6.15 kernel (which is what Ubuntu 6.06 uses) works fine. (as does 2.6.16).
    But after I updated to a 2.6.17 (or 2.6.18) kernel, it refused to boot. After a lot of debugging (including bisecting the kernel) I found out (two days ago), that I need to provide the kernel-parameter “enable_8254_timer” (without the quotes) in order to make it boot.

    Running with it since then and everything’s fine again 🙂

  7. Pingback: Blog Without An Important Name » Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy) upgrade

  8. LokiSnake

    Hi, I built a new computer with a very similar configuration (same board, processor, and BFG 7600GT card). Instead, I am running Slackware. I am wondering if you got the gigabit Ethernet to work? If so, was a custom kernel needed? Do you know what module I need to add to support the on-board gigabit?

    A reply email would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  9. Robin Post author

    The ethernet just worked, I didn’t have to do anything. I haven’t tested it at gigabit, my LAN is just 100Mbit. I think the module that it uses is ‘forcedeth’.

    HTH.

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