New motherboard - Atermiter X79 LGA2011

Atermiter X79 motherboard purchased from the Atermiter shop in China

Introduction

Friends, you're going to think I'm nuts, but I broke down this morning and spent just over $95CDN ($84.71 + shipping) for an older socket LGA2011 motherboard (X79). I've been using an AMD A8-5600K APU and a Gigabyte F2A85XM-D3H motherboard for the past 6-7 years. I would love to buy a Ryzen 5 3600XT but that would also mean buying a new motherboard and new RAM. I already have a XEON E5-1650 processor to fit the LGA2011 motherboard. The motherboard I chose is this one:

Atermiter X79

There are a lot of X79 motherboards on AliExpress. I picked this particular one because it has:

  • 4 DIMM slots for quad channel DDR3 RAM
  • NVME M.2 SSD slot
  • 3 x PCIe slots that are at least 8x
  • 2 x PCIe slots at 1x
  • USB 3.0 header on the motherboard
  • 6 x SATA ports (2 x SATA III, 4 x SATA II)
  • 8 USB ports (6 x 2.0 and 2 x 3.0)
  • What looks to be at least 5.1 audio (with some nice solid state capacitors around it)

Buying the motherboard

There are a lot of scary warnings on the web site and because it's not made by one of the well known companies that sell to retailers here it looks like a pretty crazy idea, but I think it'll be fine. My concerns with buying the board are:

  • The board gets held up by the Canadian postal system - my wife and I sent a small package 2 hours away from us by Canada Post and it arrived months later. Other packages we mailed later to other provinces, and the same destination arrived before a particular package did.
  • There are some warnings on the site about water damage on some boards, but that they're all tested and all new. How do you get water damage on a new board?
  • The RAM I have ends up not being compatible with the motherboard. The board will supposedly take Registered ECC, ECC, or non-ECC RAM. This seems a bit strange that it's capable of taking all 3, but if it will take unbuffered DDR3 RAM then I can just use my existing 32GB of GSkill Ripjaws 1866MHz RAM.

There are a couple of conflicting sections around how much RAM the Atermiter X79 board can take. The specifications section mentions up to 128GB, and the section below the motherboard mentions 64GB. I believe the maximum capacity to be 64GB (4 x 16GB DIMMs). I see Newegg Canada sells single sticks of 32GB Registered ECC RAM, so it's possible it could take 4 x 32GB sticks. I can't imagine having 128GB of RAM, and I don't really have a purpose for it.

Purpose

Ultimately this is a significant power upgrade for me. The processor is better than the i7-2600 in our KODI server, meaning that some of the video encoding I do might happen on my workstation rather than the server. So now the waiting game begins.

Eventually I'll probably replace the CPU, motherboard and RAM in our KODI server with a Ryzen setup, but that's at least a year down the road now that I'm working on replacing my workstation motherboard and CPU.

I'm torn on whether I'm going to buy a new Windows license for this motherboard/CPU combination. The Windows 8.1 license I bought for the A8-5600K (then upgraded to 10) is tied to that motherboard. I will probably stick to using Xubuntu on the desktop since the only thing I've used Windows 10 for at home in the past 1/2 year is to print labels (and I think glabels can do that on Linux).

I am excited to see how the new motherboard and CPU encodes video. When it comes in I'll be sure to post some Handbrake-cli (command line interface) video encoding results and compare those to my old motherboard/CPU and the i7-2600 in our KODI server.

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