Motherboards and CPUs : A painfull buying experience

Fried my CPU and Motherboard last night in a how-quiet-can-you-go attempt. I was messing around under the hood whilst tired and trying to watch telly. Pulled the heatsink and fan off the chip and powered on. The CPU lasted around 1 second before it fried and a burning smell filled the room. Motherboard now makes a feeble squeak when it powers on without CPU (apparently its meant to make the proper beep, but then stop).

So I then spent 3 hours on the web trying to find a processor and motherboard that work together. I can’t believe that the whole issue of motherboards is still so vague. Chips appear to be moderately well documented, it’s fairly clear the types of chips that are available for each manufacturer – Intel Celeron for low-power / value, or Pentium for more professional; AMD Duron/Sempron for cheap, Athlon XP/64 for pro.

But once you’ve decided on a CPU finding a motherboard that will work for it is a nightmare. First you need the form-factor, this didn’t use to be a problem but you now have ATX, uATX, mATX. Then you have the manufacturer, Asus, Gigabyte, Elite, Atex, etc. Then the chipset on the motherboard, nForce, Via, SiS. Then what on-board peripherals you want, LAN, Snd, Modem.

And websites don’t give you filter options that match how you shop for them! They list by manufacturer, which is pointless cos then you have to click-through for each motherboard and see what processors it supports (and what FSB speeds to check it actually supports the CPU optimally). I eventually found a website which listed motherboards by type (Athlon XP, Duron, Celeron, Pentium) so you choose a processor, and then have to navigate all the way back out to get to the CPUs. Why not deep link to them!

And then when you finally find the ones you want, the site must deliver to cardholder address first. So I move to another site. This site has the MB, but not the CPU. Another site, has both, go to buy and I get a database error when creating my account. So I move to another site, this site also has both, but also has a database error.

I then have to change my plan and find another motherboard as I can’t find the one I want anywhere. I choose another motherboard and then go through the process again, but this time I stick with dabs.com. Even though the buying experience doesn’t map to how you want to shop, its acceptable and I know that if I find something and its in stock, their online purchasing is going to work.

After 3 hours of searching I finally chose the AMD Sempron 2400+ as its almost identical to my frazzled Athlon XP 2000+ (same bus speed and L1/L2 cache), and a Gigabyte SoA VIA KT600 with integrated Audio/LAN/RAID.

Surely there’s a niche in the market for a website which gives you a consumer lead breakdown of motherboards to CPUs and makes this whole process easier. It would certainly save me the headache I had late last night trying to fix all of this.

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