$2k w/o monitor to spend. PCI-E? DDR2?----------

Buddy of mine is looking for a gaming rig. Wants to spend around $2k without the monitor. DVD burner is the only real requirement. Other then that, he doesn't really care. What do you guys think? I have heard PCI Express is the next wave, but isin't really even utilized yet. However, I'm sure he will have this rig a while. So in the future, he may want to upgrade video cards. So.... PCI-E? Next, DDR2-533 RAM? What's so special about it aside from the fact it's quicker then regular DDR400? Also, I have heard that the top of the line video cards are hard to come by. They are sold out everywhere. But we'll hold the whole rig up waiting if need be. I assume 6800GT Ultra or ATI X800 would be in order? Both run about $450 right? ARE they worth it? Are there any cards between the ATI 9800XT and the X800? Hard drives(s). Ooooo.... maybe two 36G 10K's in a RAID? And finally, CPU and MOBO. Intel. AMD. Don't mind either. I know large cache sizes and high FSB numbers don't always mean everything. Biggest question regarding CPU's I have is what cores should I be looking for? Thanks for your help guys!:)
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  1. Ok firstly an athlon FX CPU will outperform ANY P4 in gaming so you will want to get a socket 939 FX chip if your budget can stretch that far. Neither PCI express (note: PCI-x is a 66Mhz 64bit PCI slot used in server boards. I think what you mean is PCI express) or DDR2 are currently supported by AMD, so you can forget them striaght away (unless you want to leave upgrading for 6months+).

    Dont bother with 2x36GB raptors in RAID, you wont need it for games. Instead get 1x74Gig and perhaps a 200Gig for storage.

    Graphics card wise the X800's and 6800's will be quite a bit faster than the 9800XT, but I dont think the GT ultra's and equivalents are worth the money.
  2. Oops. Yes, I did mean PCI-E. Thanks for the catch. I guess the biggest thing I'm wanting to do for him is leave him with tons of upgrade room. I'm sure within a year PCI-E and DDR2 will be what all the gamers are getting. I would like for him to keep his motherboard and just upgrade the video card for example. And DDR2 isin't much more expensive then comparable DDR memory. I could get 1G of DD2-533 for about $259 where as about $170 for DDR400. 533 is a little faster so that's great, but the biggest thing is he'll have the motherboard capable of upgrading even further in a couple years. And the 16X PCI version of the ATI X800 is only slightly more. Same preformance, but he'll have that upgradability there for the future. See what I'm getting at? Thanks for all you're help guys!:)

    AMD 2800+ (Barton Core)
    Asus A7N8X
    2 X 512MB Mushkin RAM
    Sapphire ATI 9800PRO
  3. FYI, DDR2 is not a good idea because of higher latencies. You would need at least DDR2 @ 666 to have the speed/bandwidth to make up for the lost cycles.
    The 6800GT is a good deal if you can get one for $400. If not, Ati has the X800PE for $499. It's actually a better deal framewise, than the GT, just rather expensive.
    It's PCI express, and it is useless at this point, but if he will upgrade his graphics on this board, it becomes a must have (maybe).
    Nforce4 boards should become available this month, they will have PCI express slots.
    You could always get a second rate Intel system if you want to spend more to get less (DDR2).
  4. Ok, update. I talked to my buddy last night and he has been doing a little surfing around the net. From articles he's read and things other friends have told him, he wants to go Intel. There's really no arguing with him. He's made up his mind, and it's his money.... so I guess that's that. So I've been looking around and I think the 3.4G Prescott Core looks like a great deal. Now, I see it comes in two forms. One is socket T (LGA775) and the other is socket 478. I don't really see any other differences then that. What's the deal? Also, I just learned he already has a 5.1 Eclipse surround system he wants to use for the PC. Nice little setup. So I'm not too sure if integrated sound off the motherboard will do these speakers any justice. Most all mobos have 5.1, 6.1 or even 7.1 integrated, but how does it stack up against a decent sound card? And my final question, how come I don't see any dual layer DVD burners with an 8MB buffer? Oh, and he's sold on waiting for an SLI mobo and getting a 10k HD by the way. Thanks for all your help guys!

    AMD 2800+ (Barton Core)
    Asus A7N8X
    2 X 512MB Mushkin RAM
    Sapphire ATI 9800PRO
  5. socket 775 is for pci-e. whereas, 478's are regular old AGP

    Current Spec: AMD Athlon XP2000+, GeForce4 MX440, 256MB DDR, aOpen Mobo.
    Specs By End OF November: AMD Athlon64 3200+, Asus X800XT, 1536MB DDR400, Asus A8N-E-Deluxe
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