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In the beginning was the bus. And the bus evolved to host the PCI slot. And cards were developed for that slot. Good cards. And it was good.

Then came machines that forgot the PCI slot or forgot the slot altogether. Or tacked-on a forlorn solitary PCI slot that may or may not have tight communication with the CPU through a tacked-on PCI support chip. The current PCIe slot is actually, "slots," and has/have good cards available. Good expensive cards.

Meanwhile, lots of affordable PCI cards offer pretty much the same performance as their younger PCIe siblings, provided the Motherboard has PCI slots that perform at least as well as the PCI slots on a typical Pentium-III system.

Finding such Motherboards is helped by having an idea what you're looking for. Modern performance and three PCI slots? A full-sized ATX Motherboard then. Native chipset PCI support as well? One of the Intel Q-series chipset mobo's from an industrial computer supplier. Expensive-initially but maybe cheap-in-the-long haul because the kind of machines that use Q-series chipsets are designed to run a long time. If NOS (New Old Stock) and used is OK, then a best-of-both-worlds PC can be built on the cheap.

This thread is dedicated to finding machines with solid PCI performance and strong PCIe slots, stable RAM and a strong CPU.

If you have or know of or can imagine such a PC, please post about it.

There are lots of complete computers on ebay that might be ideal for somebody's (modern) PCI slot paradise. Somebody that knows a line of PC's, say Dell or HP, could point out favorite models. The perfect post would always say how many PCI slots there are. Imperfect speculation is welcome too, however. It's a good place to start. A comprehensive database of models and their chipsets and form factors would be a worthwhile goal.

Opinions are welcome. Stories of deploying favorite PCI cards on motherboards with chipsets you like? Please! Sharing IRQs? Sure, why not. That time you were snakebit by a piece of hardware or a driver? Only if it's slot related I suppose. But 'slot related' is a generously defined term. And discussion of other slots is not verboten.

Love letters to a favorite PCI card or its software have a place here. Tell us why it's worth seeking out a relatively modern two or three native-PCI slot motherboard to run them on.

Single-task dedicated computing such as for audio multitrack or video editing is the default assumption. Multipurpose considerations such as internet connectivity (except for initial verification/upgrade) are welcome for discussion too, provided they're conceivably slot related.

best,

john

PS, This same posting appears on an orange site and a blue site. Though hardly related, both, for different reasons may not be safe for viewing at work.

Originally posted to jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 02:09 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

    by jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 02:09:07 PM PST

  •  Why do you need lots of slots these days? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, Odysseus

    I wind up finding all the connections I need through the USB slots, other than a fine video card (which uses to spaces since it has a big fan alongside the card).  I have an extra card installed so I can still talk to my old serial-card weather station, but when I replace the weather station it will have a USB interface.  I also have installed a parallel port card so I could talk to an old printer.  Again, when the printer gets replaced (when I no longer have a toner cartridge for it), USB or even wireless will be the connection.

    I am a hardware engineer at work, and the servers we use have ten slots plus an interface for a small device that actually counts in the BIOS as a slot.  We put into them (for our device) four quad port GigE NICs, two dual port 10Gb NICs and two dual port SAS cards to attach to external JBODs.  We're going to be putting in a SAS controller this Fall as well.  Just in case you were interested in a system that uses lots of cards in slots.  But then again, that's not a system that would be used by customers who can't afford to drop multiple hundreds of grand on an appliance, so our market is very limited.  I think the server alone goes for about 35-50K, but I haven't priced it recently since it's only a component of our appliance.

    •  Three For Audio (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      There are PCI cards for audio that work well in multiples.

      best,

      john

      Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

      by jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 02:28:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This takes me back to the old days... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jabney, Odysseus, freerad

        ...where I used to work, the City of Chicago.

        When we started using PC's (real circle-B IBM 5150's!), we usually had three of the 5 slots filled, and the 4th blocked by the connectors from the SixPack card. We graduated to 16-bit ISA slots, then MicroChannel, then mixed ISA/PCI, then all PCI. In most cases we got  minimal machines, wherein most of the expansion slots were left empty, and rarely had even a full complement of RAM. Yet we were expected to run CAD software, traffic simulation softwear, operate scanners, etc. I had to improvise with a used USB/SCSI adapter for that last item, as the 8-bit ISA card that had originally come with the ScanJet III had nowhere to go, and had be disposed of in the ValuePoint that I had been using to run the scanner before we faced a reorganization and two moves. I was almost ready to install a salvaged PCI SCSI card on my machine when I retired!

        I visited recently and observed that my section now has all-in-one flat-panel units (non-touchscreen), and I have no idea what number of PCI or PCIe slots are in them!

        I use older laptops at home, these days.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 03:18:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A Bad SCSI Card Or a Bad PCI Slot Fried (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW

          ...one older, but still nice motherboard, that I know of.

          Not all older is worth it. But some might say that having two ISA slots with CardD was worth the effort. Any idea what the last intel chipset that had an ISA slots was?

          best,

          john

          Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

          by jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 04:10:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dunno about the last ISA-supporting chipset... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jabney

            ...but that SCSI card I mentioned gave one of our Compaq Prolinea's a fit when our IT maven tried installing it: locked the machine up completely. It was otherwise funstional in the Valuepoint, and the Prolinea worked ok afterwards. Too bad I couldn't snag the scanner, as it had great depth-of-field, and worked ok with the USB adapter I had.

            Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

            by JeffW on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 04:20:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Think of it as building a dedicated insrument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      Using cards that would otherwise be sold on ebay. A good PCI slot or two or three is worth having if you don't need the PC as your primary game machine.

      best,

      john

      Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

      by jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 03:11:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You don't need as many expansion slots (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, JeffW, Odysseus

    Because the chipsets are on the motherboard now.  Ethernet, wifi, audio, etc.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 03:03:33 PM PST

  •  Are servers an option? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney

    E.g. HP's DL380 G6/G7 lines of servers still have optional PCIe/PCI-X risers, though they come by default with all slots on PCI Express (PCIe). Both should still be available in certain channels; though the G8 (quite new) has only PCIe.

    Each of the maximal 2 PCI-X risers has one PCI-X slot, though only one of them also takes classic PCI. (the other is PCI-X only)

    But why would you need all that?

    PCI is outdated and can't cope with today's performance. the game in town these days is PCIe.  You don't get any newly released hardware for PCI.

    ______
    "Und wer nicht tanzen will am Schluss - weiß noch nicht dass er tanzen muss", Rammstein, "Amerika"

    by cris0000 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 04:23:23 PM PST

    •  its actually even easier. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jabney

      Apparently, Asus sells at least one main board with 3 PCI slots

      The P8H61 R2.0, Intel H61(B3) chipset.

      ______
      "Und wer nicht tanzen will am Schluss - weiß noch nicht dass er tanzen muss", Rammstein, "Amerika"

      by cris0000 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 04:54:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Risers? (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know. But some 1156 slot friendly chipset servers with a few native PCI slots are out there. It's finding them that ebay doesn't make too easy..

      And newest does not always mean best sounding. Some soundcards just got it right and have proven their worthiness.

      best,

      john

      Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

      by jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 05:14:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this gets stranger and stranger (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        if you have need for a ceartain hardware, you have a budget and you cn check what is out there.

        If the application is in servers in a data center, you will probably not be able to avoid risers - most 1 and 2 RU servers work with risers and horizontally placed cards.

        Why don't you explain a little context of your project - what cards excatly you have to accommodate, what your server budget is, what OS and application is supposed to run on it, and in what environment your machine is supposed to run? (Studio, Industrial setting, Data center, etc)

        As for Ebay, if you are a professional in any kind of organization you will not want to buy used stuff. You don't get maintenance and support contracts, and the risk of failure is substantially higher - much much higher than the few bucks you save that way.

        ______
        "Und wer nicht tanzen will am Schluss - weiß noch nicht dass er tanzen muss", Rammstein, "Amerika"

        by cris0000 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 05:24:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sound (0+ / 0-)

          There's good performance left in PCI cards that can be tapped easily. An ATX card leaves space for PCI and PCIe cards. But not all PCI slots are equal. If this doesn't concern you, that's OK, but trying to find a PC with something added and nothing missing that I would use  (multiple PCIe16 slots anyone?) is not all that strange.

          best,

          john

          Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

          by jabney on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 05:45:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Mac guy say not sure if on topic but here goes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, JeffW

    Okay, I use PC's for my SolidWorks and stuff. I barely gave Parallels w/Windows 7 an effort on a Mac Mini, then I fell in lust with a Lenovo D20 that I found refurbished.

    I added some Crucial ECC memory to the tune of 48 GB split between each bank/each Xeon E5649 processor. It came with a Quadro 4000 but I want to swap that out and add an AMD W8000 in the near future to get Displayport 1.2a and 4K display support.

    I also picked up an OCZ Technology Revo Drive 3 X2 Series 480 GB which I'm still working up the gumption to install, I'm still  without a plan to image and swap the current disk to the SSD.

    I added a USB 3.0 dual port PCI-e card to a 2x slot so I'm not expecting full spec performance but it should easily exceed USB 2.0 performance. The NIC is dual Gbit ports.

    This things a worktruck, not a sports car so I'm not looking for max single thread performance, but the quadro supports two WQHD displays over Displayport so I'm in fine shape.

    Meanwhile, Solidworks, GibbsCAM, MaxWell Render and X-plane will be very happy with my "truck".

    Sadly, I missed an identical one last week at $800 less than the one I picked up in December. It would have become a  rendering node on the network.

    For the record, Thunderbolt is supposed to support PCI-e 3.0 in the next rev, and I'm guessing Displayport 1.2a will be part of that. Mac guy like that.

  •  May I Introduce Google (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Odysseus

    First result from a simple search:

    Motherboards with Three, Four or FIVE 32-bit PCI-Slots!

  •  Why extra slots? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, JeffW

    Some discussion in comments as to what is the relevance of additional slots since most modern MoBos come with chipsets supporting audio and video built in.

    The obvious answers: quality and ability to keep drivers up-to-date. Aside from the fact I have yet to find the video quality of even built-in nVidia video good enough if I plan to use the PC for anything requiring good video. And by that, I do not mean super high end on steroids games running dual CPU / fan video cards. Just simply development work on my Win7 with the built-in video in a good ASSU MoBo still left me less than satisfied, thus the add-in video card.

    Of course there are those of us who get years of use out of PCs, and do not build a new one every year or so, and being the conservative Scrooge I am, I still run a Dell D600 laptop that is ten years old. It runs Win7 just fine, and is serving as a repository for digital books downloaded from university consortia involved in digitization, and is the perfect platform for keeping by the bed for reading email and news, and play Chess with Houdini 3 or Bridge with Jack 5.

    However, the built-in video is hopelessly out of date, vendor, both Dell and video brand, have no intention of providing drivers that can handle more modern needs, so I am stuck with 1028 resolution, which fortunately is more than adequate.

    For a while, a crew if developers provided rogue drivers for the chipset which provided higher res, but that ended with Win 7, as end of life has definitely been reached.

    That is of course, and extreme case. But even the most basic of modern PC games can make high demands on video cards. A good example are the newer generation Railroad simulator games. I bought one last year and had to upgrade the video card and install it on my Win 7 development PC, the game was just too much for my Win XP dual core PC, even with the powerful nVidia adapter in it.

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:03:04 AM PST

  •  I was in this same boat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, JeffW

    Had a small home server that only had 2 PCI, 1 PCIe 1x and 1 8x slot. Was having trouble because I wanted to use a Video card, sound card, eSATA and TV card. Finally solved it once video cards started having decent HDMI 1.4a output. I let my receiver do the heavy lifting on sound output and that opened up ports for what I wanted to do.

    Of course I could have used a HD Homerun for the tuners and saved some time but sometimes the easy solution isn't as much fun.

    "I chose to change facts, reality, and the meaning of words, in order to make a much larger point." - Paul Ryan John Oliver

    by SC Lib on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 07:08:06 AM PST

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