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Very important questions about upgrading. Help!!!

  • Motherboards
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  • PCI Express
Last response: in Motherboards
February 16, 2004 12:28:43 AM

Hi, I'm new to these forums and simply have some questions about when I should upgrade. Here are my concerns and such:
I'm wanting to build a very decent gaming pc that is as future-proof as reasonably possible (and affordable). I know there is no such thing as "future proof" when it comes to computers, but I'm looking for upgradability. Now I will have the means to build a very good PC in a couple months at the latest, but I read everywhere on the web about "new hardware standards" just over the horizon. By this I mean DDR2 and PCI Express.

So if I was to go ahead and build, say, a fast P4 system with a great AGP mobo and the whole nine yards, do you think I would regret this when DDR2 and PCI Express surface? *In other words, will these new hardware standards be evolutionary enough to warrent waiting so long for them?* I don't want to build a kick-butt system in a couple of months only to find that card manufactures quit supporting it.

So here are some questions:

Do you think video card manufactures will STOP making AGP video cards soon after PCI Express begins being supported?

Will DDR2 likely be THAT much better than fast DDR memory?

Do you think PCI Express will offer a HUGE performance differance right away?

If I was to go ahead and build a system WITHOUT these coming standards, should the system be good enough to give me, say, two years of gaming before requiring a new chipset?

Do you think a mobo supporting DDR2 and PCI Express is going to be rather pricey for a while given the new technology (I'm trying not to go overkill with the spending)?

Overall, do you think these new "standards" will make THAT much of a difference for a while (in real-world applications)? Personnally, I can see them being very necessary years from now, but for the time being, I don't know how much they'll affect performance. I can't see developers making games that more or less REQUIRE these hardware features for a while. But I don't know THAT much about the subject to begin with.

Just looking for your opinions. I REALLY appreciate any and all help you guys can give me.


More about : important questions upgrading

February 16, 2004 12:42:01 AM

I don't think that AGP is going away any time soon. Nor do I thing ATX is either. If you just look at history, the socket 7/AT platform stuck around for a long while. Once in a while like right now there comes a time when there are several technologies on the near horizon which will bring us to the next norm. Most times I tell people to just go ahead and spend their money. Whatever you get will be obsolete very quickly regardless. However, when you're talking about a new standard in form factor and graphics acceleration then you should think about waiting for a while.

I don't think you're going to see a huge impact with these new standards. However, if you want to get the most mileage out of your components I would wait until BTX and PCI Express come out. If you get a new BTX case it might last you five years! I'm not sure what the timetable is but I think it's Q2 of this year which is right around the corner.

You've tried and failed. The lesson here is, never try again. -- Homer Simpson.
February 16, 2004 1:01:41 AM

Hey, great reply!

My only real hang-ups now are these:

The computer I have right now is junk. It was a budged pc a couple years ago, and I'm using a PCI video card I picked up (no AGP slot). So it's nothing usable for future or most current games. It has a 900 MHz Celeron with 384Mb of VERY slow memory. I can't run my favourite games worth a crap. I have both BF1942 demos, and my system starts chugging if more than 6 players are on the map at a time (not from lag, but from slowdown). So I would have to wait a long while if I get a new mobo with the new standards(you mentioned Q2, I've seen it printed Q3 even Q4 by some sources).

The other thing is that I have a decent videocard already which I've never used. It's a Leadtek Winfast A250 Geforce4 Ti4400 (the one with the HUGE wrap-around heatsink) - given to me by my girlfriend. If I was to upgrade to a PCI Express board, that card wouldn't be an option. And most sites aren't very optimistic about the upcoming boards which will be both AGP and PCI Express.

And most of all, I'm trying to save money. So it would be great if I could use the above video card for a little while at least.

But thank you for the great reply!
I hope I can come to a good decision with this.
February 16, 2004 1:29:34 AM

I think the best option for you is either a good AMD XP or P4 system. It will last you long enough to let the new technology to mature and go down in price. Let say something like a nforce2 motherboard and an Athlon XP2800+ (or more, if you can afford) matched with your videocard will let you play any games to come. and wont cost you too much either.

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
February 16, 2004 2:20:26 AM

Thanks for the input!

This is what I will most likely do. It's certainly the cheapest route (since I already have a gfx card) and if I choose wisely with the chipset, I think it will be upgradable enough to keep me going for a couple. Here's my current setup:

900 MHz Celeron
384Mb slow RAM
Radeon 9200se PCI videocard
17" CRT SAMTRON 77v monitor
20 gig HDD
Phillips CDRW
Windows XP Home

I'll probably keep and re-use my crappy monitor and the CDRW.

Now if I was to choose between a high-end P4 system and an Athlon 64 system (an upcoming 939 pin set), which should be preferred?


February 16, 2004 5:37:24 AM

I recently built computers for two kids for only $850 each, that included Geforce FX 5900-XT cards, Antec cases, 512MB ram, Athlon XP 2000 processors (another $15 and you're at 2500 or 2600, my budget didn't allow for another $30 total though), nForce-2 motherboards, DVD drives and CD burners, as well as optical mice and keyboard / 19" monitors / floppy / 80GB quiet Seagate hard drive. One even got a case with a window in the side. Since you can use your existing monitor, keyboard and mouse, you could get a similar system for around $600, and that's after shipping. Use your existing ATX case and power supply and you're down to around $450. Use your existing CD-ROM and floppy hardware instead of buying new, down to $395. Use an existing hard drive, and it's a meager $320 that gets you a very nice gaming system.

Then, when new technology comes out, you then have the ability to wait until it matures a little bit (and it will need to mature, it always does) before you buy the latest greatest, and you have an almost new and <i>totally</i> serviceable (quite good) system that you can sell or trade to a relative or friend.
February 16, 2004 3:13:57 PM

Good advise!

I want to spend right around 900 dollars for new parts when building. And I already have a videocard and CDrw drive, so I figure that should get me a pretty decent rig in a couple of months if prices drop. I'm actually wanting an Athlon64 system (maybe fx), if they'll be cheaper when I build. Though I might go for a higher-end P4. I'm still not too sure. I know I won't be using my current keyboard and mouse because my keyboard has no features and my mouse is starting to mess up on me. And I also won't be using my current tower. It only has a 100w power suply and room for a single 5 inch drive bay. I can get them all day long on Newegg with a bunch of features for around 50 bucks or so. But I will definitely make use of re-usable parts to save cash.

I'm kosher with building a nice rig now instead of waiting for the top-end, and that should save me a little money up front. I'm sure it'll be a while anyway before games will more or less REQUIRE those new hardware features for good play. I know devs write for a low common denominator concerning hardware and they'd be alienating their market by making games that require that hardware.

But here's to me trying to make the best use of my money.


PS: Please, if there's any other advice or warnings that I should read before building, let me know. Thanks guys!
February 16, 2004 3:24:09 PM

Keep in mind that the biggest bottleneck in today's system are not really cpu or memory, but rather storage and data transfer. Unless they promise me a new standard in 6 months that will be able to move datas much much faster than today's SATA, RAID,..., then I wont wait to upgrade...because sometime, fast enough is just enough!

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
February 16, 2004 3:40:21 PM

Yeah, I agree. But I have a question... What are the differences between SATA and RAID? And which do you prefer? (I'll be checking some of the articles here for info)

I see all kinds of HD's that are SATA for really good prices. But people at another forum that I frequent keep going on about how RAID is the better choice.
February 16, 2004 4:15:40 PM

SATA is Serial ATA. PATA is Parallel ATA. SATA seem a bit faster than PATA, but not that much. It may change in the future thou. RAID is when you use 2 or more HD to have faster of safer storage. When in mode 0 (stripping), RAID use 2 HD and treat them like 1 big, and split the data and send them to both at same time. ie, a 50 megs file will be split in 2 and each drive will receive is part, theorically cutting transfer speed in 2( if it take 4 seconds to send a 50 megs file to one drive, then sending 2 chunks of 25megs at same time to both drive may takes 2 seconds). But if one drive fail, then you lost everything because files on HD are half there! Mirroring or RAID 1, is just that...a mirror of your drive. if one fail, the other still have the data. The exact same data are sent to each drive at the same time. This is mostly for security reason where datas are valuable.

Which one I prefer? RAID 0. I have pretty decent transfer speed. I have 2 Western Digital 1200JB HD (120 gigs), which give me one of 240 gigs. I backup everything I value on CD or DVD, so I dont really mind a crash...thou I hope it wont happen soon!!! My motherboard is the Soltek 75frn2-rl, which use the Promise fasttrak RAID controller, and from what I've seen from other boards solution (mostly ITE, SIL, HighPoint ), it is the fastest. The board is very good and fast too. I run it with a AMD 2500+ barton (it run at 400 fsb, at 3000+ speed thou) and 1 gigs of dual channel corsair 3200 RAM rock stable.

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!