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Old June 4th, 2005, 02:18 PM   #1
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Which hardware for ideal Vegas box?

Please forgive me if this is a FAQ, I didn't find an answer elsewhere.

Based on the "Which CPU" thread (http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=45178), it appears I may want to steer towards a Prescot 550 3.4GHz on an Asus P5AD2E MoBo. This box is to be a compromise. I can't afford hundreds/thousands of dollars worth of specialized DV editing hardware and related goodies, but hopefully that will be mostly made up for by the pure horsepower of this system.

Assuming that's a halfway reasonable approach, I have a few questions...

First, will that combo likely yield realtime (or better) rendering to MPEG2? If not, is there a hardware encoder that plays nice with Vegas and is reasonably priced?

Secondly, what kind of display card should I be looking for? I don't necessarily want to run true "dual head", but the capability to plug in an independent composite or S-video preview monitor would be nice. Is there an inexpensive way to do that with Vegas?

Lastly, and related to the graphics question. I've been thinking about getting one of those Hauppauge PCR350(?) cards so this box can serve part time duty as a PVR. I'm not sure if that's something Vegas can make use of for MPEG encoding/decoding, Audio/Video D>A or A>D, etc. Maybe this would at least provide composite/S-video outputs for the monitor? Anyone else been there who could share a clue?

Oh, and I have to do all this on $100 or less. ;-)

Seriously, I am on a very tight budget, but not so tight that I want to build a box that's inadequate for the job. Priority wise, MPEG2 render speed and a preview monitor are probably my biggest concerns.

Thanks,
Charlie
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Old June 5th, 2005, 02:07 AM   #2
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I think you'll be mighty pleased with the 550/P5AD2-E. The video card I bought is the ATI X600 All In Wonder....great card for the money, and has built in PVR TV. Since Vegas doesnt rely heavily on the video card, it's not that critical as far as performance goes.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 09:04 AM   #3
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Is there a company out there that builds this particular box? With so much on my plate at the moment, its best for me to purchase one than build it. Thanks
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Old June 5th, 2005, 12:27 PM   #4
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Kevin, if you know exactly what you want, there are various vendors that can custom-assemble a computer for you.
monarchcomputer.com - excellent resellerratings.com rating; may take some time to ship
local computer stores

Quote:
Secondly, what kind of display card should I be looking for? I don't necessarily want to run true "dual head", but the capability to plug in an independent composite or S-video preview monitor would be nice. Is there an inexpensive way to do that with Vegas?
For a preview monitor (for normal standard definition TV work, not HDV, not projectors) you should hook up a TV (or NTSC monitor) to your camcorder (or deck). Setup vegas to do external preview over firewire.

Quote:
Based on the "Which CPU" thread (http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=45178), it appears I may want to steer towards a Prescot 550 3.4GHz on an Asus P5AD2E MoBo.
I don't think you need that particular motherboard... it's a bit of overkill, and it's not really faster.

Quote:
Lastly, and related to the graphics question. I've been thinking about getting one of those Hauppauge PCR350(?) cards so this box can serve part time duty as a PVR. I'm not sure if that's something Vegas can make use of for MPEG encoding/decoding, Audio/Video D>A or A>D, etc. Maybe this would at least provide composite/S-video outputs for the monitor? Anyone else been there who could share a clue?
MPEG does not edit very well (unless it's MPEG1?). However, that card may be a good choice for a PVR? I don't know that much about PVR to say so, but it seems some people use that card for that purpose.
You could also check out the following forum:
Arstechnica.com Audio/Visual forum
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Old June 5th, 2005, 07:13 PM   #5
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The ATI X600 All In Wonder, when used as PVR will let you save as either MPEG, AVI, or a ATIVCR file. It comes with scheduling software, everything you need.

As far as the P5AD2-E not being a faster motherboard, that is incorrect. It allows for a 1066 Front Side Bus, which gives your 800 FSB chip some headroom. The BIOS allows for very easy and very stable overclocking through pre-set profiles, which automatically adjust all settings for you. You only choose a percentage of overall OC. I use 10%, which takes my 3.4 up to 3.75ghz. I run it this way full time with zero issues, and it runs all day and all night. I work at my computer full time doing a wide variety of tasks, and the only crashes I've had were when I was trying out Vegas 6a.....which now using 6b, no issues. If you get a MB with only 800 mhz FSB, you'll be locked at that rate, and cant take advantage of some very useful performance boosts.

I know that Glenn recommends against OC'ing "unless you really know what youre doing", but the need for that is quickly disappearing with the new ASUS boards being set up with the easy BIOS presets. Before I got that board, I had been afraid to OC and didnt even know where to begin, but now, I just go to the BIOS, select a percentage and I'm blazing it up (literally!)...and the ASUS desktop temp gauge shows me whats going on. I've found that 10% keeps the temp just right, and again, zero instablity, with 53 second Vegas Rendertest results. There is quite simpy no reason to fear any more.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 11:45 PM   #6
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The "faster" front side bus: The processor in question runs at 800mhz I believe, so you can't actually take advantage of the faster FSB.
If you want to get into semantics the motherboard would be faster.

As far as overclocking goes... I don't think there are any features in that motherboard that make it "easy". As far as I know, it doesn't do anything to check for instability. Certainly, chances are good your system will be stable overclocked 10%. However, not all RAM will tolerate running 10% faster. It may not be obvious, but when the RAM heats up it may become marginal and cause system instability.

The motherboard BIOS may certainly make it easy to overclock, because it saves you the extra button pushing of having to raise the FSB speed manually. Cheaper Asus boards should have the same 10% overclock preset, so they are just as "easy".

2- I personally have worked on two computers that will not take a 10% overclock. The videoguys (or rather, Gary?) report their DIY2 system is unstable when overclocked 10%, even though it at first appears to be stable.
They used the Asus P5AD2 Premium.

Point is: A 10% overclock is not guaranteed... and risks instability. You may report things working properly, but there's a good chance it won't be the case for other people. In the videoguys' case, their rig is unstable.

3- If you knew what you were doing, you'd:
A- Stress test your system to check instability. Some problems only show up when your system is stressed (i.e. rendering).
B- Be able to overclock your system more without significantly raising instability. Drop the memory divider and you can get a lot higher because RAM won't limit your overclock.
C- Lower temperatures for just a few dollars by applying thermal paste like Artic Silver 5 (or the stuff from Radio Shack). The wax stuff on retail heatsinks is easy to apply but not very good. (Disclaimer: Read instructions if doing this. This is important to avoid screwing up.)

There's information around the internet on how to overclock. It's not hard doing B and C... that information can be tracked down by reading the appropriate instructions (the motherboard manual, and the AS5 website). If you do those three things, a 10% overclock is almost guaranteed (ALMOST!). The performance boost will be a smidge under 10% because the RAM is running slower. see http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=18841
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:20 AM   #7
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I'll go with a lot of that, so I'll also add that I use Patriot RAM. Therefore, I will make my statement stand as follows:

P4 550
P5AD2-E Premium
2g Patriot RAM (which has the most throughput of any DDR2 RAM, 5.6gbs)
Western Digital SATA drives
Enermax LGA775 Power Supply

= super stable system at 10% easy BIOS overclocking, and even 15%, though 15 gets too hot for my personal comfort zone. But no crashes either way.

I have indeed rendered SEVERAL long projects (2 hours worth of timeline, medium layers and effects) using the 10% BIOS setting, and have done a couple at 15, though again, it just got too hot for my own comfort feeling (66c, and lightly touching 67 every now and then...at 10% it stays around 65, though Intel says it can go to 69.1 and be fine). This setup has been stressed through a great deal of it's use, though it's so friggin fast I no longer have to do all night renders. One time, I had time to go cut grass while it rendered.

As far as the processor/motherboard FSB, sure, the proc is 800, but when you OC the proc FSB......where can you go if your motherboard FSB doesnt have any overhead? The P5AD2-E (that E is important...it means it supports the 1066 FSB extreme edition chips) gives you not only enough FSB throughput to allow for the overclocking, but also gives you the room to later upgrade your proc when the 1066's come down to mere mortal prices.....

I didnt know about Videoguys troubles, and I would love to know the weak spot in their system, but the setup I have outlined above works more than grandly, and I wouldnt hesitate to recommend it, even to someone who doesnt "know what they're doing"....heck, I dont know what I'm doing, but I'm doing it up pretty good!

RE: the ease of BIOS overclocking with this board...yeah...it's that easy, and no...you dont have to know diddly. You tell it 10% and it auto adjusts the ENTIRE system to fit the OC, including the RAM and FSB....the engineers at ASUS (who "know what they're doing") figured out the math for us, and we just give it the command to make it happen. Again, I've been running this machine at 10% full time 24hrs for about two months now, give or take, and I've pushed it very hard quite often, and aside from Vegas 6a bugs, I've had zero crashes or troubles of any sort, and the performance is simply amazing. I have never been so pleased with a computer in my life. Have you (Glenn) actually used (in italics) the P5AD2-E Premium?

Last edited by Daniel Runyon; June 6th, 2005 at 01:25 AM.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 01:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Have you (Glenn) actually used (in italics) the P5AD2-E Premium?
I don't own that motherboard obviously, but my point is:
A- A cheaper/less-features motherboard will perform just as well.
B- Overclocking risks instability. It may not be immediately obvious until you stress your system (i.e. render).
C- No overclock is really guaranteed. While you may have had luck overclocking your system 10%, not everyone else may have the same luck.

As far as the Asus engineers figuring out the math... I think you're just making that up. It seems that the default overclock settings simply raise the speed of the Front Side Bus- without touching things like voltages, memory divider, etc. I own an Asus P4P800 non-deluxe (865 chipset, older generation board) and you can do the same thing by manually entering in the FSB you wish to run at and you just change one setting in the BIOS. Raising the Front Side Bus speed raises the speed of everything in the system- CPU AND RAM. RAM usually craps out first. Some RAM will crap out at 10% overclocked (not sure how frequent this is with DDR2).
*By default, PCI/AGP frequencies are locked. If you change FSB manually, PCI/AGP operating frequencies will still be locked by default.

From reading hardocp.com's review of that motherboard, it seems like it does the same thing as my board.

Quote:
As far as the processor/motherboard FSB, sure, the proc is 800, but when you OC......where can you go if your motherboard FSB doesnt have any overhead? The P5AD2-E (that E is important...it means it supports the 1066 FSB extreme edition chips) gives you not only enough FSB throughput to allow for the overclocking, but also gives you the room to later upgrade your proc when the 1066's come down to mere mortal prices.....
Past generation chipsets (Intel 865/875) typically have lots of headroom for overclocking... somewhere around 50% at default setups.

As far as upgrading goes, the 925 chipset doesn't support dual core processors as far as I know. In the future, you are probably looking at dual cores for your upgrade path (or an entirely new system).

In some ways, the capability to run at 1066mhz FSB can be considered "faster". I personally don't consider it faster. In practice, a cheaper motherboard without excessive features will be just as fast.


I'm not trying to offend you, but in my opinion your advice is bad or misleading. (See points A B C above.)
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Old June 6th, 2005, 02:44 AM   #9
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I will definately go with my advice not being as technically informed as some of yours tends to be, but I dont see how you can get misleadind from it, as I have even been willing to amend it above in consideration for there being more factors involved in my own success than just the motherboard/proc, and included the rest of my potentially very pertinant system specs. I will forever stand by the system:

P4 550
PDA52-E Premium
Patriot DDR2 RAM
Western Digital SATA drives
Enermax LGA 775 power supply

as a very well tested and used (and in case you missed it, stressed many many times with long renders, no issues whatsoever) system.

And I fail to understand why you do not think having a hard 800 limit on the MB FSB is not a performance hindering spec....ie your comments that the cheaper, non 1066 capable chipsets will run just as fast.

I will, however, concede that I do not know everything about technical specs of computers, and there is a definate chance of someone elses advice being better than mine. I do not in any way try to pretend otherwise...but if someone is asking the question about which motherboard and proc will give them the most satisfying solution to building a Vegas hot rod machine without having to seriously break the bank....I'll definately let them know how thrilled I am with the setup mentioned, and I would see no reason that someone putting together the same system would have crappy results and instability unless there is an issue with computer parts being manufactured with poor consistancy.

BTW, I see you mention that on your board you OC by manually entering the FSB you wish to use. The P5AD2-E Premium does not work in such a manner, though it does indeed have such an option. In the BIOS, first amongst an entire range of manual OC options, including manual FSB, RAM timing, voltage and whatever, there is a series of....again.....PRE CONFIGURED OC Profiles......each labled as a percentage. Now, again, I dont claim to understand all of what that does, but it is indeed presented by ASUS as a way for those who dont know all about the finer details, to be able to enjoy more power and speed from their machine....their very point is not having to study this crap but still be able to do it, and it only makes sense that at some point a manufacturer would do such a thing, as a great many people WANT to OC but just dont want to or can understand all the various settings that must work in synch.

Here are some gems from the review you referenced, which can be read in its entirety here:
http://hardocp.com/article.html?art=NzAx

"ASUS is a favorite among the enthusiast crowd, well know for their solidly designed and stable motherboards. With their dedication to building perfect products that run like banshees, ASUS constantly strives to push the limits of speed and stability through innovative board designs and attention to detail with their BIOS implementation. Their latest release again reinforces this trend."

"Note that in all modes with the exception of Manual, all board voltage and FSB configuration is automatically configured by the AI system."

"The PCI Express Frequency option controls FSB for all system PCI-Express based devices, including the video card slot. ASUS chose to allow an incredible 150 MHz maximum with this setting."

I in no way intend to offend you, and sincerely hope you are behind your (somewhat slower....j/k ;) machine with a good sporting attitude that realizes we do not have to all have the same viewpoints within a discussion in order to not be enemies or whateva... and I do not mind at all if you dispute something I say as long as I am given the freedom to defend my information, but it seems to me that you keep repeating things after I have addressed them....for instance....you keep saying that instability may not arise until the system is stressed.......and again, I have rendered many a timeline, usually several one after another, pushing it as far as it can be pushed....especially condsidering that I live in GA with no air conditioning in my home...its a hot box in a hot box....and no breakdowns at all.....the most smooth system I have ever used. I think my advice is pretty well sound to tell you the truth. What really is advice, here..... You have a fellow thats basically saying "What have you guys found to be awesome that I can get too?" and I'm saying "This right here, my man, has satisfied me bigtime and I've found to be worth every penny....if you have enough pennies to get one for yourself, I think you'll be happy too.". KnowwhatI'msayin........???

Last edited by Daniel Runyon; June 6th, 2005 at 04:03 AM.
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Old June 6th, 2005, 03:47 AM   #10
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I also just noticed this from Gary, of Videoguys. Seems pretty thrilled with it also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Bettan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Runyon
If youre going to get a new board, I would whole heartedly recommend the ASUS P5AD2-E Premium.

RIGHT ON THE MONEY! This is the go to single processor motherboard for NLE. We used it in our DIY2 article http://www.videoguys.com/DIY2.html and since then it just keeps winning awards and delivering outstanding performance!
And for the benefit of those out MB shopping, the P5AD2-E Premium has pretty much every port and plug you would need, so there will be much less need for seperate expansion cards. Even has awesome built in audio, though I dont use it as I have an XLR interfaced card for recording instruments into Vegas. Point being, some of the money you spend in the MB will be saved due to needing no new PCI-E cards for your basic plugging.... but do keep in mind, there is very limited IDE drive support...you will definately want to get a few SATA drives....it gives you full internal support for up to 8....yes 8 SATA hardrives! Better get yourself a good case with lots o' drive slots! When I got mine, NewEgg had a great deal on 250gb drives, at $130 each....go ahead...you know you want a terrabyte!
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
For a preview monitor (for normal standard definition TV work, not HDV, not projectors) you should hook up a TV (or NTSC monitor) to your camcorder (or deck). Setup vegas to do external preview over firewire.
No HD, but I'll be doing a lot of 16:9 work. Not all monitors seem to be able to deal with that appropriately. Long term plans include possibly getting one of those approx. 20inch widescreen/flatscreen LCD TV/monitor things that are so prevalent at Bestbuy and Circuit City these days.

Quote:
I don't think you need that particular motherboard... it's a bit of overkill, and it's not really faster.
Good point. It is about $100 more than I'm used to spending, but then I also used to spend over $100 on the extra cards (sound, network, etc.) that are built into this one. So all things considered, it's effectively about the same cost. I've still got mixed feelings about cramming all that functionality right onto the motherboard, but that seems to be the trend these days...

Quote:
MPEG does not edit very well (unless it's MPEG1?). However, that card may be a good choice for a PVR? I don't know that much about PVR to say so, but it seems some people use that card for that purpose.
You could also check out the following forum:
Arstechnica.com Audio/Visual forum
Yeah, editing MPEG (or any kind of compressed format) is not a good idea. (I'll be editing DV and then rendering to MPEG2/AC3 for making DVDs.) I'm aware that a lot of these kinds of cards will accept analog A/V, hardware compress to MPEG and save to a file or whatever, but I don't know whether or not they would also make that hardware MPEG compression capability available for software like Vegas to make use of. That's the big question...

Thanks for the pointers and the link!

-cw-
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
I don't own that motherboard obviously, but my point is:
A- A cheaper/less-features motherboard will perform just as well.
B- Overclocking risks instability. It may not be immediately obvious until you stress your system (i.e. render).
C- No overclock is really guaranteed. While you may have had luck overclocking your system 10%, not everyone else may have the same luck.
I'm generally comfortable with overclocking. I've O/C'ed an AMD K6-233 to 225Mhz (raised the bus speed from 66 to 75) and O/C'ed a Celeron 300 to 450MHz. Both systems were obviously built some time ago, but are still running today as Linux servers. I understand some people are not comfortable with overclocking, or worse, are _too_ comfortable because they don't grasp what it's about.

Dan, one thing that might save you a little grief from folks like Glenn would be to simply affix the appropriate disclaimers to your O/C related posts, at least in a forum like this where people are generally going to value reliability over speed and probably don't fancy themselves as PC tinkerers. They're typically just trying to get the work done and out the door. Who knows though, the promise of getting the work done a little faster might be enticing. :-)

To add to Glenn's advice:

You want to take a shot at overclocking? Fine. There's lots of good info out there on how to do it. Make sure you pick the right hardware for the job (big and beefy), use the "good" thermal grease and watch your temps/voltages. If you ruin something, it's going to be because you put to much voltage into it, and/or overheated it. i.e., destruction can almost always be avoided. So what happens if you go through all that and discover that your system won't O/C at all? As you probably guessed, them's the breaks. As Dan said, there are no gaurantees. If it doesn't work out, at least you have a machine that will run solid and cool at its _intended_ speed (which is still pretty darned fast).

You say you don't want to overclock? That's fine too. It doesn't make you less of a man (or woman) and nobody should look down on you for it. It's kind of like hot-rodding your car. Obviously not for everyone.

In either case, over-evangelizing or being militant about it is likely to bring you a lot of grief.

In this case however, I just see it as a good technical discussion with an enhanced sound pressure level.

;-)

Thanks for all the insights guys, much appreciated.

-cw-
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Old June 6th, 2005, 02:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
No HD, but I'll be doing a lot of 16:9 work. Not all monitors seem to be able to deal with that appropriately. Long term plans include possibly getting one of those approx. 20inch widescreen/flatscreen LCD TV/monitor things that are so prevalent at Bestbuy and Circuit City these days.
Depending on what you do, it may be better to get a portable CRT-based NTSC monitor. Why:
A- If your target audience is viewing on televisions (CRT-based), then a NTSC monitor like that would give the best color accuracy.
B- You can use it in the field too. You will of course need to power the monitor. For some people this may not be useful (i.e. shooting a documentary), or you may like something like DVRack better (DVRack is pretty different though).
C- The mid-highend ones will handle 16:9 too.

Example (not necessarily the best value): http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=242041&is=REG

It all really depends on what you want though. For client viewing, something large may be better.

Quote:
Good point. It is about $100 more than I'm used to spending, but then I also used to spend over $100 on the extra cards (sound, network, etc.) that are built into this one. So all things considered, it's effectively about the same cost. I've still got mixed feelings about cramming all that functionality right onto the motherboard, but that seems to be the trend these days...
Even the low-end motherboards have on-board sound and on-board network. On-board sound is OK. It is hissy and may not have the greatest freq. response and distortion. Digital outputs are digital so they don't suffer from that, but you will need speakers with digital input (and then you just move the problem to the speakers... the "sound card" or digital-->analog converter in them may be good or it may be bad).

On-board network/ethernet is typically very good, there's no need to get a network card unless you want a faster type of connection for some reason (i.e. gigE, fiber channel, etc.).

The only downside I can see is that you might get some IRQ/resource conflicts. You only need to worry about that if you are adding in some performance-critical parts that don't like IRQ sharing (which then becomes a IRQ conflict)... i.e. pro sound cards. You can check for IRQ sharing through run --> msinfo32 --> expand the hardware resources branch.
You generally don't need to worry about it.


---
Daniel:
I guess we are miscommunicating a little here. My point is:
Yes, your system is stable. That's great for you.
However, other people may not have the same luck. The videoguys' DIY2 system for example does not seem to be stable at 10% overclocked according to Gary.
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...t=43484&page=2

Quote:
3) Overclocking - we did this because so many of our custoemrs asked about it. Overclocking is risky. We do not overclock our machines beyond 10%.

I have settled in on 5% for my home machine. I use AiBooster NOS feature which only overclocks as needed. The nice thing about the ASUS AI Booster is that you can easily control your overclocking and settle in on the best settings for you.

I did run my machine at 10% for some tests. Over the next few days I had a couple of crashes and at other times the machine appeared to be acting funny. The heat readings were still within acceptable levels. At 5% we did not run into any stability issues.
As far as motherboards being faster:
A lot of hardware review sites sometimes say ____ motherboard is fast. Every manufacturer's motherboard is more or less fast.

Some do benchmarks and say a particular board is faster than another. This is not really true. The only reason they are faster is because they are overclocked in some way (the manufacturers send them slightly overclocked samples). When you buy a motherboard from a store, they typically have all the overclocking disabled and they all perform more or less the same.
MSI first came out with dynamic overclocking... which is hard to catch because the system runs at normal speed when it isn't doing anything.
Asus boards have a feature which automatically optimize memory timings and enable PAT (which is like overclocking). On retail boards, these features are disabled. Which is a good thing, because they will sometimes cause instability. They do however allow easy tweaking of memory timings without having to manually find the optimal settings.

Some of the sub-compenents differ from board to board (i.e. Intel or 3com ethernet may be faster than others), although they generally do not affect performance in a meaningful real-world way.
Chipsets perform differently from one another... so in that way, some motherboards are faster than others. But it's really because a certain chipset is faster than another.
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