Asus M2A-VM HDMI: Ideal AM2 mATX motherboard?

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Asus M2A-VM HDMI: Ideal AM2 mATX motherboard?

Post by MikeC » Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:13 am


ForTension
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Different versions

Post by ForTension » Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:24 am

I was looking at the "M2A-VM" and the "M2A-VM HDMI" versions of the boards. Anyone know if there are differences other that the lack of firewire and the hdmi/htpc video riser card on the cheaper (~$15) version?

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Temperature in bios

Post by klegg » Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:18 pm

I have this board, using it in a home made case with a heat pipe solution (from mcubed) to cool th cpu.

I really don't know if I have made something stupid or if the bios reading of temperature is wrong.

Have run several different test cases, e.g., in one underclocked run I measured around 40 C at the top of the heat spreader (on top of the CPU) while at the same time cpu reading from onboard sensor reported just under 55 C. This could be explained by me doing something stupid while mounting the stuff, but I have checked and checked so I start to suspect something is wrong with temp reading, and wonder if someone else have experienced something similar?

Regards,

/jon

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Re: Temperature in bios

Post by MikeC » Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:29 pm

klegg wrote:Have run several different test cases, e.g., in one underclocked run I measured around 40 C at the top of the heat spreader (on top of the CPU) while at the same time cpu reading from onboard sensor reported just under 55 C. This could be explained by me doing something stupid while mounting the stuff, but I have checked and checked so I start to suspect something is wrong with temp reading, and wonder if someone else have experienced something similar?
What's the problem? I don't see a problem.

You cannot expect the mb/cpu monitor to give the same temp reading as a physical probe atop the heatspreader. No way the latter can be positioned correctly, esp. if you have anything mounted atop. The edge temp will be much lower than the center of the heatspreader.

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Post by djkest » Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:34 pm

I think I'd still prefer the Gigabyte GA-M69A-SH2 motherboard to this one. It has S/PDIF out and HDMI on the motherboard, not on a breakout board. I think this is crucial for an HTPC. I really considered this one but nixed it because you can't have full funtionality if you go with a standalone video card.

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Post by Steve_Y » Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:13 pm

I was a bit surprised to see that the BE-2400 couldn't be undervolted below 0.95V @1Ghz. My old 90nm 65W 3600+ undervolts to 0.8v @1Ghz without any problems (with the system drawing 38-39W rather than 41W when idle), and from what I've read that's not unusual.

It's a shame that the review didn't test the CPU undervolted at stock speed. I've found that the benefits of that are much more significant than undervolting when idle. At full load (Orthos using both cores) my 3600+ system used around 85W at stock speed/voltage, undervolting to 1.05v brought that down to around 65W. Since it's often encoding audio/video for hours at a time that 20W is pretty significant. I'd expect the 45W CPU to do better; if there isn't much of an advantage over the standard chips then what's the point?

Of course this is a review of the motherboard not the CPU, so I'm getting a bit off topic...

Personally I found that the Asus M2A-VM HDMI's northbridge temperature was more of an issue with the southbridge. That's particularly true when gaming. I had a couple of crashes when running old games like Deus Ex. The northbridge was painfully hot to the touch and the system wouldn't even boot until it had cooled down. That problem went away after adding more cooling to the northbridge, while I've ignored the southbridge without any issues.

As the review points out, the northbridge chipset cooler is not easy to replace. This probably isn't a problem for typical systems, only those with extremely low airflow and no active CPU cooling to move some air over the northbridge. It's still something to bear in mind if you want to use it to build a silent media centre and use it for the odd game...

Other than that issue and a few nitpicks (such as closer together SATA connectors that some boards) it is a very nice board. I've had few problems, decent stability now that the cooling is sorted out, and it definitely has an amazing selection of features for the price.

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Re: Temperature in bios

Post by klegg » Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:54 pm

MikeC wrote: What's the problem? I don't see a problem.

You cannot expect the mb/cpu monitor to give the same temp reading as a physical probe atop the heatspreader. No way the latter can be positioned correctly, esp. if you have anything mounted atop. The edge temp will be much lower than the center of the heatspreader.
Heat spreader is made of copper, and the temperature difference I see implies a temperature gradient in the spreader which is unphysical.

Also, note the core temperature as reported by speedfan in your review, 14 C. Unless your test environment is really cold, this is obviously wrong.

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Post by mattthemuppet » Mon Nov 26, 2007 8:42 pm

thanks for the review, I'm idly looking into HTPCs and this would be an ideal board. The HDMI on a riser isn't an issue for me as there's very little chance I'll get a TV with that input within the lifetime of this board.

I'd go with an X2 4000 though and spend the money on a wireless card :)

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Re: Temperature in bios

Post by Steve_Y » Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:24 am

klegg wrote:Also, note the core temperature as reported by speedfan in your review, 14 C. Unless your test environment is really cold, this is obviously wrong.
That is wierd. Speedfan on mine is reporting a much more realistic core temperature of 27C (idle).

In Speedfan Temp2 seems to be the chipset temperature, that's the PC Probe II reading that it matches up with. I wonder what the other two temp readings are from?

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Post by bomsy » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:26 am

I have used M2A-VM HDMI on my home computer for a few months. It is great so far. Two issues though:

It was hard to fit a large heatsink (Scythe Mine) onto this mainboard. I had to bend the fins on the onboard heatsink just south of the CPU slot to be able to tighten the Scythe Mine heatsink in place.

ASUS has made a firmware upgrade that includes the much talked about upgrade to the onboard GPU (690G). Don't forget to upgrade to that if you'll use the onboard GPU. Half Life 2 runs fine after the upgrade (and ran decently before it).

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Re: Temperature in bios

Post by Lawrence Lee » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:34 am

klegg wrote:Also, note the core temperature as reported by speedfan in your review, 14 C. Unless your test environment is really cold, this is obviously wrong.
Our testbed is an open platform, so that may explain it. Also that screenshot was taken right after bootup.

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Post by klegg » Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:11 am

Amourek: 14 C is about 57 F?

bomsy: firmware, where can I find this? On asus page I only find different versions of the bios as well as drivers for different version of Windows (I use linux).

Thanks!

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Post by pure456 » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:20 pm

I have this board, and I have to say I really regret getting it. The HDMI and DVI are flaky beyond belief. If you read the Asus forums, people are having all kinds of troubles with flickering screens using DVI. When I first set it up I used a DVI to HDMI cable, and I wasn't too stressed about it since it was going in an HTPC and I'd be using HDMI.

Except now connecting it to a plasma TV through HDMI, it never displays properly when you first boot it up. I get the Asus splash screen, then blackness. Even though I can't see it I know that windows booted properly because I restart it using the keyboard (windows key, up, enter, right, right, enter). After a restart or two I get the Asus splash screen, blackness, then the desktop displays properly and all seems well.

Until I actually try to play a video. VLC, media player classic and WMP+FFDShow are all hit and miss. Sometimes it will play fine, but if I'm lucky I get occasional (every 10-15 minutes or so) blank screens/no sound for a second or 2 while the video is playing. If I'm unlucky this happens every couple of minutes. Obviously not an ideal situation when you're watching a movie.

I took the first board back and got a replacement, but the issues continue. Asus support is predictably useless.

I'm waiting until the ATI 2600 series replacements come out next year, hopefully a dedicated graphics card will solve the problem. But really, I feel pretty ripped off since the only reason I went with an AMD CPU was because of the 690G chipset. Had I known I would have to buy a graphics card anyways I would've went with Intel.

What type of connection was used for the video testing of this board? Also, what drivers and bios version? If it was HDMI I'd love to hear how you got it working. I've tried seemingly every permutation of CCC and bios versions and I can't get it to work. fully updated XP Pro, AMD 4400+ and 2 gigs of ram.

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Post by mimwdv » Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:17 pm

I've got this board in my SilverStone LC02 case. It's OK, but I'm very limited in the heatsink I can use due to the placement of the CPU on the board - it's a long way away from the back of the case, and interferes with the DVD drive. It needs a very low-profile heatsink that'll fit under the drive. I was hoping to use a fan-modded Zalman but there's no way it's going to fit.

I did have some other issues with it previously (other case, different setup), including overheating, random reboots and very sloooow boot - but since a Windows reinstall it seems to be behaving much better so I'm inclined to put that down to other glitches rather than the board itself.

I'm currently using VGA, and have had no issues with display etc but I haven't tried it with my HDMI panel yet since that's off being serviced :(

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Post by pure456 » Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:09 am

Mine is in an Antec Overture II, with 3 hard drives (2 SATA, 1 IDE) and an IDE optical drive. No additional cards other than the HDMI card it comes with. Unplugging the 2 SATA cards from the power supply doesn't help.

My XP install is fresh and I only installed XP updates, motherboard drivers, HDMI driver, graphics and sound drivers, ATI Remote wonder software, CnQ, Speedfan, Itunes, VLC, FFDShow, and a probably a couple of other programs. It seems like alot when I type it out but really all that's been installed are drivers, utilities and a few mediaplaying programs.

It's never been on the internet and there are no games or anything like that installed. It's as fresh as a computer can be, on boot it uses about ~250 megs of memory and most of that is CCC.

Asus support's responses to any questions amount to (1) reinstall drivers (2) RMA board.

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Post by pure456 » Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:15 am

Oh yeah, the firewire isn't all that hot either (get it? :wink: ).

I plugged in my 4th generation Ipod via firewire and it won't work with this motherboard but it works on my other computers. I tried an external firewire hard drive and that works with this board. I'm guessing that the harddrive works because it has it's own power source but the firewire port doesn't supply enough juice to the ipod to both recharge and run it.

I only have 2 firewire peripherals so I can't test this any further. It's not abig deal since I can just connect the ipod via USB but it's something to think about.

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HSF for M2A-VM

Post by dan006 » Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:37 am

Hi - I have one of these shipping over soon. Anyone have any recommendations on a quiet HSF that fits on this board? It will be used as an HTPC, no overclocking, I really just want it as quiet as possible.

Nice review :D

Thanks!

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Re: HSF for M2A-VM

Post by Steve_Y » Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:46 pm

dan006 wrote:Hi - I have one of these shipping over soon. Anyone have any recommendations on a quiet HSF that fits on this board? It will be used as an HTPC, no overclocking, I really just want it as quiet as possible.
If you're not planning on using a low profile case you could always fit a Scythe Ninja. You can't do much better than that for quiet cooling. As long as there's some airflow through its fins you could probably run it fanless.

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Post by dan006 » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:47 pm

Should have mentioned that - Im using an Antec NSK2480, dont think a Ninja would fit in there...

Dan

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Post by plind » Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:51 am

I have recently built an HTPC and had my eye on the Asus M2A-VM HDMI from the beginning, especially for its great feature set. But as indicated by Pure456, I googled for this board together with the keyword "problems" and boy did that open a can of worms! Investigating further, I found that the generally perceived best 690G board (on mATX format) was the Gigabyte MA-690GM-S2H. So I finally got that one and I have to say that I'm very pleased with that board. No problems whatsoever. The only two small drawbacks:
1. the NB runs quite hot; for my current case this is not a problem, though;
2. it only has a TOSLINK connector onboard for digital audio out; the SPDIF connector is on a separate bracket, which has to be bought separately as well.

Just my 2cts.

Pascal.

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Post by zds » Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:12 pm

Nice review!

However, I disagree with the reviewer about the HDMI card: the people who have a discrete graphics card are not going to need the HDMI of the integrated graphics.

The only reason the HDMI exists is DRM, so if you have discrete graphics card, you can use the integrated for the extra monitor using plain DVI. DVI is in all respects equal or better than HDMI except if you are running DRM-content under Vista.

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Post by mLy! » Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:55 pm

Does anyone have experience with the MSI K9AGM3-FD

It's about 20 euro's cheaper than the gigabyte S2H, and has all the same features.

+I think (based on pictures) there is more room around the socket, that can make it easyer to install a Ninja or any other large cooler.

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Post by goink » Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:49 am

zds wrote:
The only reason the HDMI exists is DRM, so if you have discrete graphics card, you can use the integrated for the extra monitor using plain DVI. DVI is in all respects equal or better than HDMI except if you are running DRM-content under Vista.
Not quite... You don't get sound over your DVI cable. So if you plug your PC into a receiver (using HDMI) and then plug your receiver into your TV using HDMI then you don't really need a separate audio cable.

Actually is quite handy...

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Post by zds » Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:07 am

goink wrote:
zds wrote:
The only reason the HDMI exists is DRM, so if you have discrete graphics card, you can use the integrated for the extra monitor using plain DVI. DVI is in all respects equal or better than HDMI except if you are running DRM-content under Vista.
Not quite... You don't get sound over your DVI cable. So if you plug your PC into a receiver (using HDMI) and then plug your receiver into your TV using HDMI then you don't really need a separate audio cable.

Actually is quite handy...
Point. But you don't need audio for every monitor on multi-head setup, so the HDMI on the discrete graphics card would be sufficient.

If you for some reason want to use the integrated graphics to feed TV set and discrete graphics some other displays, then this is a problem. But even then the separate audio cable sorts things out.

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Post by Forumlurker » Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:43 am

Asus M2A-VM HDMI.

I have worked in computer store. We did use the motherboard for while and we had many faulty units. it was something like 3-4 of 10 motherboards that had some kind of problem.

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Post by klegg » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:11 am

pure456 wrote:What type of connection was used for the video testing of this board? Also, what drivers and bios version? If it was HDMI I'd love to hear how you got it working.
Hello?

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Post by Firetech » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:54 pm

klegg wrote:
pure456 wrote:What type of connection was used for the video testing of this board? Also, what drivers and bios version? If it was HDMI I'd love to hear how you got it working.
Hello?
Maybe PM Mike C for a response, if that's what you're after?

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Post by comomolo » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:05 pm

mLy! wrote:Does anyone have experience with the MSI K9AGM3-FD

It's about 20 euro's cheaper than the gigabyte S2H, and has all the same features.

+I think (based on pictures) there is more room around the socket, that can make it easyer to install a Ninja or any other large cooler.
Not quite the same: there's no optical SPDIF audio onboard in the MSI, only through an optional add-on.

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Re: Temperature in bios

Post by theMAGE » Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:56 am

Steve_Y wrote:
klegg wrote:Also, note the core temperature as reported by speedfan in your review, 14 C. Unless your test environment is really cold, this is obviously wrong.
That is wierd. Speedfan on mine is reporting a much more realistic core temperature of 27C (idle).

In Speedfan Temp2 seems to be the chipset temperature, that's the PC Probe II reading that it matches up with. I wonder what the other two temp readings are from?
Me too, I am getting weird temperature information from the sensors, under Linux:

k8temp-pci-00c3
Adapter: PCI adapter
Core0 Temp:
+14°C

it8716-isa-0228
Adapter: ISA adapter
VCore: +1.02 V (min = +0.00 V, max = +4.08 V)
VDDR: +3.26 V (min = +0.00 V, max = +4.08 V)
+5V: +4.92 V (min = +0.00 V, max = +6.85 V)
+12V: +11.97 V (min = +0.00 V, max = +16.32 V)
5VSB: +4.95 V (min = +0.00 V, max = +6.85 V)
VBat: +3.25 V
CPU Temp: +21°C (low = -1°C, high = +127°C) sensor = diode
M/B Temp: +38°C (low = -1°C, high = +127°C) sensor = thermistor
temp3: +24°C (low = -1°C, high = +127°C) sensor = thermistor
vid: +1.550 V

This is in a Antec NSK2400 case, with a fanless Ninja Mini, and the two side Tri-Cool fans on the lowest speed. The CPU is BE-2400 and the memory is 4 x 1GB OCZ Platinum DDR800 running at DDR667).

I have found the northbridge and southbridge to be really hot, and the memory is quite hot too.

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Post by comomolo » Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:07 pm

zds wrote:The only reason the HDMI exists is DRM, so if you have discrete graphics card, you can use the integrated for the extra monitor using plain DVI. DVI is in all respects equal or better than HDMI except if you are running DRM-content under Vista.
Jeez! That's a lot of disinformation in such a small paragraph...

DVI connectors can handle both digital and analog signals (when available from the source). The digital side of DVI (called DVI-D) and HDMI are electrically IDENTICAL. There's no way one is better than the other in terms of picture quality.

HDCP protection applies both to DVI and HDMI. HDMI itself has nothing to do with DRM.

HDMI adds audio and eventually control signals to the DVI video-only signals.

More information here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Visual_Interface
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hdmi
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDCP

I just bought a Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H and I'm planning to take all its juice out of an Ubuntu installation.

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