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BOXDG31PR vs. GA-G31M-ES2L for a cheap Hackintosh


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I'm getting ready to build my first Hackintosh, just a general-purpose PC. I want it to be trouble-free. I started a thread about it: Building a cheap Hackintosh but that got a bit long and filled with newbie questions. At this point I've narrowed things down and I need to choose between 2 motherboards, and I need to choose a graphics card.

 

I was going to use:

Antec NSK1380 mATX cube case

Samsung Spinpoint 500GB SATA drive (plus an IDE drive I already have for backup)

And an IDE CD/DVD drive/burner I got for free.

 

I was recommended:

mobo: Intel BOXDG31PR

CPU : E4600 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo

and I was going to get this RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB DDR800 (1.8V, 5-5-5- timing)

 

The other possibility would be to use the Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L or GA-G31M-ES2L mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...pk=GA-G31M-ES2L. I could actually save a bit of money that way, and use the E7200 45-nm processor which has a 1066Mhz FSB compared to the E4600 which is 800MHz.

 

Is the Gigabyte board quite as safe a choice as the Intel? I was told I couldn't use the 45nm chip with the Intel because I wouldn't be able to set the BIOS for it, unless I also had an E4600 I could put in at first. Would I have the same problem with the Gigabyte, or could I just use the E7200?

 

I've read that some people have problems with the 45-nm chips, and that they work best with a retail install. I haven't decided which install to do yet, but I'd be open to a retail install. Although I was kind of hoping to do one of the hacked versions, then once I know I've go system together right I could install a retail version, in order to spread the cost around a bit.

 

Also I haven't decided on a graphics card yet. I was thinking of going with an 8600GT. Would an 8600GT, say from XFX or EVGA be noisy? I want something that will be quieter than my eMac, which I don't think should be too difficult since it has a huge fan that cools the CRT, . If an 8600GT would be noisy, I was thinking of going with this cheap, silent 8400GS: ASUS Silent 8400GS 256MB GDDR2. Should that work? There's a similar silent 7300GT. The silent 8600GT models have huge heatsinks and look like they might be a problem in a small case like that.

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I was recommended:

mobo: Intel BOXDG31PR

CPU : E4600 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo

and I was going to get this RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB DDR800 (1.8V, 5-5-5- timing)

 

The other possibility would be to use the Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L or GA-G31M-ES2L mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...pk=GA-G31M-ES2L. I could actually save a bit of money that way, and use the E7200 45-nm processor which has a 1066Mhz FSB compared to the E4600 which is 800MHz.

 

Is the Gigabyte board quite as safe a choice as the Intel? I was told I couldn't use the 45nm chip with the Intel because I wouldn't be able to set the BIOS for it, unless I also had an E4600 I could put in at first. Would I have the same problem with the Gigabyte, or could I just use the E7200?

I've built Hackintoshes with both boards. (DG31PR and G31M-S2L - I have user reviews of both on newegg). I'd classify these boards as almost identical.

 

Pros of the Intel board: the audio hardware (ALC888) is superior and easier to patch than the Gigabyte board.

Cons of the Intel board: the catch-22 with 45nm processors- BIOS has to be upgraded with 65nm

 

Pros of the Gigabyte board: supports 45nm processors out of box, supports C2 Extreme processors

Cons of the Gigabyte board: the audio hardware (ALC662) isn't as good, a bit harder to patch

 

Both are rock stable. Several DG31PR systems I've built are running strong for production work, running 24/7 for months on end without a reboot. Intel boards are just rock solid. The G31M-S2L system I built (E7200) is also running strong, every bit as stable and reliable as the Intel systems. When I first built it, I took it to work (a major studio here in LA) and replaced my MacPro for a week with it and did all my editing work with it, and it performed perfectly.

 

So either of these make for a great system, each has it's pros and cons- so go for the board that most fits your pros.

 

To avoid the most basic issues of audio I/O (it rarely works completely with ANY motherboard) just invest in a cheap USB audio adapter that adds the I/O you need. It's generally superior sound quality to built in components anyway (which tend to be noisy from system board interference).

 

 

 

Also I haven't decided on a graphics card yet. I was thinking of going with an 8600GT. Would an 8600GT, say from XFX or EVGA be noisy? I want something that will be quieter than my eMac, which I don't think should be too difficult since it has a huge fan that cools the CRT, . If an 8600GT would be noisy, I was thinking of going with this cheap, silent 8400GS: ASUS Silent 8400GS 256MB GDDR2. Should that work? There's a similar silent 7300GT. The silent 8600GT models have huge heatsinks and look like they might be a problem in a small case like that.

I've built lots of systems with small cases and fanless video cards and I've never had a problem with a fanless card overheating. You just need the case to have some adequate ventilation.

 

In fact, with friends' machines, I have seen cards with fans blow up when the fan gets so full of dust it stops spinning and the card then overheats and blows out a capacitor. I've replaced 3 graphic cards for friends in the past several months from that very problem. A fanless card won't ever have that problem since it should be designed to cool itself with a larger heatsink. People get jumpy when the heatsink of a fanless card gets hot- but of course it's going to get hot! It's doing it's job. Depending on something with moving parts is going to add a much higher chance of failure, than something designed properly to work without them.

 

No matter what case you use- just keep it free of dust, and keep dust out of your heatsinks/air vents. Dust buildup is the biggest component killer, by far. Every other month or so, open the case and take a vac+compressed air to it.

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To avoid the most basic issues of audio I/O (it rarely works completely with ANY motherboard) just invest in a cheap USB audio adapter that adds the I/O you need. It's generally superior sound quality to built in components anyway (which tend to be noisy from system board interference).
Okay, you mentioned one of those in my prior thread. I'll get one, but I'll still try to get the audio working so I can use the front-panel jacks on the case.

 

I'm wondering though, these motherboards say they have surround sound. How does that work, are there outputs somewhere? I don't see any.

 

I'm going to go with the silent 8400GS video card since it's cheap, only $23.

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I've built Hackintoshes with both boards. (DG31PR and G31M-S2L - I have user reviews of both on newegg). I'd classify these boards as almost identical.

 

Pros of the Intel board: the audio hardware (ALC888) is superior and easier to patch than the Gigabyte board.

Cons of the Intel board: the catch-22 with 45nm processors- BIOS has to be upgraded with 65nm

 

Pros of the Gigabyte board: supports 45nm processors out of box, supports C2 Extreme processors

Cons of the Gigabyte board: the audio hardware (ALC662) isn't as good, a bit harder to patch

Actually, the GA-G31M-S2L is out of stock at Newegg so I'm planning on getting the GA-G31M-ES2L which is similar and also listed as working in the HCL. The ES2L version apparently has ALC883 audio, which seems to have most of the features of the ALC888. (In any case, I don't have immediate plans to use this computer for home-theater.)

 

(I see that you have to buy an accesory audio cable to get the surround sound, which answers the question I asked about that.)

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Actually, the GA-G31M-S2L is out of stock at Newegg so I'm planning on getting the GA-G31M-ES2L which is similar and also listed as working in the HCL. The ES2L version apparently has ALC883 audio, which seems to have most of the features of the ALC888.

 

Ah, I hadn't noticed the ES2L had different audio- on the HCL it's mistakenly listed as ALC662.

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By the way, will I be able to install Windows on this machine if I want to? I could deal with buying another hard drive for it, if need be.

 

Of course. Windows would be the most common OS installed on just about any PC.

 

I would recommend a separate hard drive for multiple OS's simply because that's the easiest way to set up a multi-boot system, but it's also possible to have Windows and OSX reside on different partitions of the same hard drive. One benefit is that Darwin can boot Windows and Mac OS from the same bootloader- otherwise you need a bootloader method to select which OS at startup. It can be as simple as selecting the startup disk in the BIOS at each boot, or as complex as a bootloader like GRUB used by Linux.

 

Check out the Multi-booting and Virtualization section of this forum for lots of ideas on how to plan for a system with multiple OS's, and how to boot them- there are a lot of ways of setting it up.

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I love my DG31PR... everything but sleep, front audio and line-in/mic. very, very reliable. can run pretty much any processor. very good choice.

 

im using this card: only the XxX over clocked edition with the Zalman Cooler. very good card for the $

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814150260

 

make sure you get low latency ram because this mobo under clocks the ram and Cpu's slightly... but it's an intel with an intel processor... so performance and reliability in stock form is amazing... stress testing i was able to run over 180 processes with the setup in my sig.

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Well, the hard drive in my old Mac died, so I have to go ahead with this. I have a case, monitor, an IDE DVD drive and an E7200 processor already. This is my shopping cart:

 

post-300985-1226127015_thumb.jpg

 

Is there anything wrong with getting the retail Leopard version 10.5.4? They also offer 10.5.1.

 

As far as the video card, I'm still not clear on whether this one works in a really straightforward manner without any special procedures I have to go through. I could get a 7300GT if that would be easier- it looks like the most trouble-free card listed in the HCL.

 

I'm going to pull the trigger tomorrow.

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Someone over on Anandtech's forums bough the DG31PR and it shipped with the latest BIOS. So it might be that Intel has finally fixed the catch-22 with those boards and has updated them. I can't say for sure, because I haven't purchased one recently, but just a heads up.

 

The graphic card should work fine- use EFI studio to enable it- takes literally a second.

 

Buy OSX and support Apple no matter if you're doing a retail install or not. :)

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