Advice, Please: Highly Compatible Hobbyist Motherboard

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  1. Posts : 108
    Windows 7 and 10

    Advice, Please: Highly Compatible Hobbyist Motherboard

    I have an old (2012) Lenovo ThinkPad E430 laptop, and I have a desktop machine housing a somewhat newer (2015) ASUS H97-PLUS ATX motherboard. I like the ThinkPad; I don't like the ASUS.

    Case in point: on a different Win10 desktop, I just made a sort of Windows To Go USB drive. Neither the ThinkPad nor the ASUS would boot it. After hours of screwing around with the fancy but confusing ASUS BIOS, I gave up. On the ThinkPad, by contrast, I got hints. As has often happened, the machine worked with me. I had the USB drive fixed and running in 15 minutes.

    It's not the first time. The ASUS is just a hassle. The problem may mostly be the BIOS/UEFI utility, though it's also not Win11 upgradeable.

    So I am looking for suggestions for a flexible, Linux-compatible, user-friendly mobo that will ideally use my LGA 1150 (Core i7-4790) CPU and DDR3 RAM, with a good selection of ports and slots, in an ATX form factor. (This one is 12" x 8.6".) Budget helps; this is a secondary machine that I mostly use for these sorts of tasks (e.g., rebooting a lot, without disturbing workflow on the primary computer).
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  2. Posts : 6,651
    Windows 11 Pro - Windows 7 HP - Lubuntu

    The ASUS H97-PLUS ATX motherboard + i7-4790 is a good system.
    As the i7-4790 is 4th gen CPU and Intel is now on the 13th gen you won't find any new MB that will run the i7-4790 and DDR3 memory.

    You didn't explain why you don't like the Asus as it is just a hardware that runs the same Win 10 that is on the Lenovo laptop.
    Your Asus should be more powerful and faster than the Lenovo, so the fact that you prefer the laptop doesn't make any sense to me. Maybe we can help you to tune up your Asus if you explain why you don't like it,
    You can install any Linux on the Asus and it will run very well.
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  3. Posts : 108
    Windows 7 and 10
    Thread Starter

    The ASUS BIOS/UEFI interface has always made it difficult to get various bootable installations up and running. There are lots of settings but, at the end of the day, the same USB drive (for e.g., WinXP, Ubuntu, Win7, Win10) is working on the Lenovo, and it is still not working on the ASUS. And there is the not-entirely-incidental issue of Win11 compatibility, notwithstanding workarounds.

    An example - F8 works on the Lenovo, not on the ASUS. It's more roundabout to get into the bootup troubleshooting menu, and sometimes it doesn't work at all. Another thread has another example.

    You're right - the hardware on the ASUS is superior. That will matter on some workloads. I would rather not have to rely on the old Lenovo. That's why I'm looking for a better solution for this secondary (presently ASUS) desktop machine. But I'll be doing most of my heavy work on the primary desktop. The most important thing, for the secondary machine, is that I want to be able to plug in a USB drive and make it work.

    Maybe the answer is that I need a Phoenix BIOS, as in the ThinkPad, rather than an AMI BIOS, as in the ASUS. I just don't have enough experience with different UEFI/BIOS interfaces, including their more recent versions, to know whether that's the explanation. I have been impressed with the ThinkPad from day one; but I'm not sure whether the real answer is just that Lenovo has always been, and still is, a provider of superior quality. I'd just shop for a Lenovo desktop mobo, but I don't know anything about how their merchandise may have evolved over the past decade.

    I did look briefly into alternative BIOSes, but it didn't sound like there's much prospect of installing a BIOS different from the one selected by the motherboard manufacturer.

    It doesn't have to be a new motherboard. Used is fine. It may even be preferable, if there's a tried and true solution from within the past several years.
    Last edited by raywood; 07 Jun 2023 at 08:49.
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  4. Posts : 6,651
    Windows 11 Pro - Windows 7 HP - Lubuntu

    My wife had a computer a ASUS H97-A with a i5 and I've installed a small SSD (128G) for Windows and programs and a 1T HDD for data. It was one of the best computers I've ever had.
    Laptop BIOS is made for a specific hardware and normally is more simple than a desktop BIOS.
    Your ASUS H97 BIOS can work as Legacy or UEFI and to boot as Legacy or UEFI the drive you're booting, the OS and BIOS must be set properly.
    Insert the USB Linux drive into a port, start the computer and press F8 to launch the boot menu. Can you see two options to boot the USB Linux drive (USB UEFI (Name) and USB (Name))?
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  5. Posts : 108
    Windows 7 and 10
    Thread Starter

    I'm sure your wife's ASUS was a fine computer. Mine is too. As I've explained twice now, it just doesn't work very well for my specific purpose.

    No doubt the laptop BIOS is designed specifically for the laptop. That makes it even more remarkable that, in this case, the laptop BIOS is actually the more flexible and forgiving one.

    As I said, F8 does *not* work as you've described on the ASUS. It does work that way on the laptop, and that does help with troubleshooting.

    Yes, I'm aware that the ASUS BIOS has multiple settings. As indicated in the linked example and again in this thread, I seem to have tried all combinations. I've been using PCs a long time. There's only so much mystery to this. But I have to hand it to ASUS - in this case, they have me stumped.

    I do appreciate your efforts to help. But the question here is not about how to make it work. That was the focus of the other thread. Here, I'm asking for hardware suggestions, from people who understand what I'm talking about. If someone tries to deny my experience, that may be reassuring for them. But it does not help me.
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  6. Posts : 1
    Windows 11

    Your problem is due to trying to use any form of Windows to go. Its not supported by Microsoft. It works badly and updates will break it. It will frustrate you, thats why Microsoft dropped it. I know there are several tools that claim to do it but they dont work well with newer versions of Windows.

    Its not possible to make it useable for both legacy and uefi. I think thats part of your problem also. Dont waste any more time on it. It will just be an unstable mess. Trying to buy hardware to fix it wont work. Bios functions do vary from machine to machine but thats not the root of your problem.
    Last edited by Di0nysu4; 12 Jun 2023 at 19:02.
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  7. Posts : 4,700

    If you want to keep using your cpu and ram, a different mobo of that era might be easier for you.

    The gigabyte mobos I have had have been straightforward. I particularly like the b75m ( which is for intel gen3 )

    I expect the intel gen 4 version could be worth looking at. Something like the ga b85m d3h
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  8. Posts : 6,651
    Windows 11 Pro - Windows 7 HP - Lubuntu

    SIW2 said:
    If you want to keep using your cpu and ram, a different mobo of that era might be easier for you.

    The gigabyte mobos I have had have been straightforward. I particularly like the b75m ( which is for intel gen3 )

    I expect the intel gen 4 version could be worth looking at. Something like the ga b85m d3h
    I had a 4th gen Gigabyte (Z87-D3HP) MB that I bought in 2013 at Micro Center. It was a disaster.
    The first one had many problems and I exchanged on the first week with another on Micro Center (Micro Center - Computers and Electronic Device Retailer).
    After some years the computer began to shutdown by itself.
    The MB had a smell of something that has burned so I conclude it was the MB. I bought a used ASUS H97-A on ebay.
    I sold the computer to a friend and it is working till today.
      My Computers

  9. Posts : 108
    Windows 7 and 10
    Thread Starter

    Windows To Go USBs seem to work fine on my laptops - Acer and ThinkPad.

    Thanks for that suggestion about Gigabyte. I liked my Gigabyte mobos, but haven't had one in the past 10 years. I'm looking into options now. I've progressed partway in PCPartPicker.

    Sad to hear the story of unloading the wrong hardware. With enough time and machines, one can test almost anything. In the real world, sometimes one just wants to unload stuff.
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  10. Posts : 4,700

    I specifically suggested the B85 series because they are simpler.
    GA-B85-HD3| Motherboard - GIGABYTE Global
    Last edited by SIW2; 14 Jun 2023 at 00:31.
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