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A challenge... amd 64 3000+ better than 2.4ghz p4?

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January 5, 2005 4:54:03 PM

I come seeking advice.

I have a Dell Dimension 2400. For those acquainted with this lovely machine, it's motherboard is AGP-slotless. Thus, I have been trudging along for the last year and half with a pci graphics card (PCI!!). Recently, the thing crapped out on me so I plunked down another $120 to once again be able to barely stumble through my games and applications. Well, I I've had enough! I'd like to upgrade my system but I'm not sure how feasible this is without spending more money than I can afford. Right now I'm running a p4 2.4 ghz...

First off, let me say that I have been consulting a few "Build a Budget Gaming Machine" articles but they have left me more confused than when I started- Though I've certainly gotten the impression that Athlon 64 cpus are superior to P4's. Would it be fair to say an Athlon 64 3000+ is a better choice than sticking with my P4 2.4?

If so, I'd need to pursue a mobo. As my budget is limited, PCI-e capabilities aren't a priority at this point. Newegg suggests this one with an amd 64 3000+

http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?descripti...

but the low price has me concerned. Any suggestions?

I have around $450 to make a difference. Any chance I could find a way to cram a cpu, mobo, and maybe a graphics card into that budget?

On the other hand, I could just get a mobo for my current p4 and head in that direction...? Thanks for any advice in advance .

- could anyone point me to a good recently written articles on building a budget gaming pc, or a good computer site in general? Tom's Hardware is the only good source I have at the moment.
January 5, 2005 9:35:33 PM

My 3000+ A64 754 is a faster than my friend's 2.8 P4. He is jealous ...

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
January 5, 2005 9:42:33 PM

The Athlon 64 3000 will likely outperform the P4 2.4 in everything (a search on THG for processor comparisons should give specifics). Assuming that all you need are a CPU, mobo, and graphics card, you can do alot with $450:

Athlon 64 3000 (socket 939) @ zipzoomfly: $161 + free shipping
Gigabyte GA-K8NF-9 @ Newegg: $149 + $5 shipping
Gigabyte GV-NX66128D 6600 @ Newegg: $119 + $3 shipping

Total: $432 for a pretty damn good system (with PCIe graphics card) You can find other mobos with PCIe cheaper than the Gigabyte, its just the one that came to mind.

Its worth it to invest in a PCIe mobo and graphics card now, as there is *nothing* in the price range that can compete with it (check out THG's VGA charts IV and V). AGP cards with similar performance to the geforce 6600 cost at least $30-50 more, which makes up for the added cost of a PCIe capable mobo.

Product specs:
http://www.giga-byte.com/MotherBoard/Products/Products_...
http://www.giga-byte.com/VGA/Products/Products_GV-NX661...
http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/ProductInformation/...
Related resources
January 5, 2005 11:35:13 PM

Hey guys, thanks a lot for the input. I don't know much about cpu sockets. Will an athlon 64 3000 socket 939 differ significantly from a socket 754?
January 5, 2005 11:42:10 PM

Socket 939 has dual channel memory support, 754 won't, 754 CPU's are generally faster than 939 cpu's at the same speedrating, socket 939 is more futureproof.
That's about it, and there's a lot more, but you can find that anywhere in the CPU forum.
January 6, 2005 12:10:49 AM

And memory.

And probably a case with PSU.

The loving are the daring!
January 6, 2005 12:27:18 AM

The socket 939 version offers many benefits over the 754. Basically here's what you get:

1. dual channel memory access (instead of single)
2. 1000-2000 MHz hypertransport system bus (instead of 800MHz)
3. NX bit protection (to protect against buffer overflow viruses)
4. Cool&Quiet (lowers CPU clock speed when under light loads to save power and reduce noise)
5. New Winchester core (loses significantly less heat than the 754's Newcastle core, so you don't need extravagant cooling systems - unless you're overclocking)
6. Overclocking! (there is *alot* of potential in the 939 for overclocking, especially if you have a good cooling system, like a Zalman 7700Cu HSF or watercooling)

The core clock of the socket 939 version is lower than the 754 (1.8GHz instead of 2.0GHz), but I doubt that it lowers the performance.

you can read up on them here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040601/index.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20041221/cpu_charts-07....
http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20041221/images/cpu_tab...
January 6, 2005 12:37:26 AM

You are likely correct. Is Dell using proprietary PSUs? If so, my solution is a little extravagant for a $450 budget.
January 6, 2005 12:55:50 AM

Dell has switched to standard ATX psu's. Bad news is, they have an old style atx backplate, and a proprietary front switch setup. And of course new boards use a 24 pin connector rather than the old 20 pin.
He could mod the case, and redo the front connections, and get an adaptor for the psu, but it seems like a lot of work, to use used on a nice new system.
January 6, 2005 1:06:03 AM

Your system suggestion is great, but... Lets take a look at those 6 reasons s939 is better than s754.

1-Dual channel gives only a slight gain, for more expensive ram.
2-Extensive tests by forum members have shown that an HTT of 600/1200 is more than fast enough. Anything faster gives 0 gains.
3-NX is available on s754 as well.
5- The A64s run nice and cool, bothe can be OCed with the stock hsf. The winchesters are a little cooler.
6- My s754 chip is running @ 2.45, not all winchesters can get there, even with high end cooling, and I'm using stock cooler and TIM.
And, last but not least, a s754 chip rated at 3200 will outperform a s939 3200, if niether are OCed. True, I cant see why someone would not OC, but it is done.
January 6, 2005 2:12:34 AM

You have a point there. I was just pointing out the differences as they appear on paper (I have to admit that I missed the NX bit being part of the 754's architecture). The core of my argument (if you refer to my original post) remains that 939 gives access to PCIe. PCIe gives access to cheap cards that outperform AGP cards that cost *alot* more. Transitively, socket 939 gives access to cheap video cards that outperform more expensive ones (assuming you invest in a PCIe mb.
January 6, 2005 3:28:34 AM

I really appreciate the attention you guys are giving this, but I've sorta gotten a little lost in the semantics of your dialogue. And there's a new variable in the mix... my digital camera just died so my computer budget went down $100. (I may be able to pull off $400 depending on how business goes this week...)

To recap: I've come to understand from you guys that an amd 64 3000 is the way to go (as opposed to a p4), that if I choose the socket 9-- I will be able to use pci-e graphics card (which are faster and cheaper?), but if I use the socket 7-- I will be able to use less expensive ram and it will be nearly as good as the socket 9--. Is that is more or less? I don't plan on trying to overclock anything yet.

For the record I have a (non-Dell) case, and a decent 400w power supply. I think I'm using some type of sdram right now, so I imagine that may need to be upgraded as well...?

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by jonnyu on 01/06/05 00:29 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 6, 2005 4:11:40 AM

Look at the VGA Charts 4 and 5, and compare the Geforce 6600 PCIe to the AGP models. I took into account the fact that the test setup for PCIe uses an Athlon64 4000, while the AGP uses a P4 3.2 GHz, and estimated a 10-15% performance increase for the PCIe cards as a result of running with a higher performance CPU. Taking away that performance edge, here is where it lines up:

Unreal Tournamant 2004 (max quality, 4x AA, 8x AF, 1024x768, 32 bit):
6600 - 63.7FPS, 54.1-57FPS modified, equivalent to: Geforce FX 5800 or Radeon 9500 Pro

Call of Duty (max quality, 4x AA, 8x AF, 1024x768, 32 bit):
6600 - 89.6FPS, 76.1-80.6FPS modified, equivalent to: Radeon X800 XT PE or X800 Pro, exceeds all Nvidia except 6800 line.

Doom 3 (high quality, 4x AA, 8x AF, 1024x768, 32 bit):
6600 - 23.4FPS, 19.9-21FPS modified, equivalent to: Geforce 5700U or Radeon 9800

Far Cry (very high quality, 4x AA, 4x AF, 1024x768, 32 bit):
6600 - 22.7FPS, 19.3-20.4FPS, equivalent to: Geforce 5950U or Radeon 9700

Battlefield Vietnam (max quality, 4x AA, 8x AF, 1024x768, 32 bit):
6600 - 35.1FPS, 29.8-31.6FPS modified, equivalent to: Geforce 5900 , Geforce 5900 XT or Radeon 9700

Now lets take a look at prices (taken from Newegg):
Geforce 6600: $119

The cheapest for each of the other chipsets:
Geforce 5800: N/A (discontinued?)
Radeon 9500 Pro: N/A (likewise discontinued? - 9550 is available for $57)
Radeon X800 XT: $485
Radeon X800 Pro: $386
Geforce 5700U: $177
Radeon 9800: $139
Geforce 5950U: $385
Radeon 9700: (discontinued?)
Geforce 5900: N/A (discontinued?)
Geforce 5900 XT: $180

Out of all of these, the Geforce 6600 is cheaper than all of them, except the outdated models. All the rest ring in at a considerably higher price, except the Radeon 9800 (which generally has similar performance values). It won't outperform all of these cards all the time, but you can't beat it for price/performance.
January 6, 2005 4:31:02 AM

If performance is what you want, then the Athlon64 3000 is you're best bet. If money is the main concern, you'd save a ton just buying a new mb and using your existing CPU. I am loathe to suggest that though, as I hate all things Intel.

If you decide to go with the athlon, then whether you should go with socket 754, and get an AGP card, or go with socket 939 and get a PCIe card, depends ultimately on how much you're willing to put into this, and whether you need new memory or not. New memory will cost about $35-40 per 256MB of PC3200/DDR400, which is the fastest you could use without overclocking.
January 6, 2005 11:49:23 AM

ok, so a quick estimate:

amd athlon 63 3000 = $160
Gigabyte GA-K8NF-9 = $155
Gigabyte GV-NX66128D 6600 = $125
Ram = $40 x 2 = $80

total = $520

There's no way I can afford that at this point :(  I surely don't care to cut corners, but other than waiting until prices go down I suppose there's nothing else I can do. Think there's any way to shave off roughly 150?
January 6, 2005 3:10:17 PM

I think that is the cheap slow version of the 6600. You should check that.
I don't think you can go any cheaper except for the mainboard. You could get a cheap socket 754 mainboard with a sempron 3100+ but I think you'd better wait, or just buy a socket 939 mainboard with nForce 4, memory and a CPU and wait to buy the graphics card. Anyway, I'd wait.
January 6, 2005 9:47:27 PM

I see. How unfortunate.

Just to clarify, Asgallant quoted the wrong price for the pci-e graphics card he compared to multiple others, right (according to Tweebel)? Does anyone know a more accurate estimate?

As much as I love playing computer games, I'm not sure I can justify paying roughly $600 to play them :(  What if I were to bite the bullet and just try to buy a new mobo for my p4? I know the statistics (and much of the internet community) seem to be against it, but I fear it may be the only way I'll ever see Doom 3 the way it was meant to be seen. Then again, if the amd 64 is a better investment longevity-wise I would naturally have to choose that one. There's no point in paying less for a p4 product that will be less beneficial in the long run... (ie, spending this much money would be much easier if I could justify it outside of "playing games" ;)  )
January 6, 2005 10:10:44 PM

A 89$ Soltek k8an2e-gr and a 146$ S754 A64 3000+ will save you 80$ for now, add a 111$ radeon 9600pro and that 94$ you saved.
Go with a 2800+ A64, and you'll save 16$
That make something nice with the 3000+ for 430$ (price from newegg) or for 414$ with the 2800+.. if your memory is good quality, you coul gain some speed by overclocking a little bit.I run my memory at 210 FSB for a 2.1 GHz A64 3000+..a 100 MHz gain

but for 16 buck, I'd get the 3000+...

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
January 7, 2005 12:56:19 AM

The price I quoted is for the slower 6600, not the GT, and the specs I listed are for the slower version. It doesn't compete with the 6600 GT performance wise, and I never claimed that it did. My argument is that you can spend less money on a PCIe card that gives equivalent or superior performance to more expensive AGP cards.
January 7, 2005 3:11:11 AM

Thanks for the info. The 6600 sounds tempting. I imagine there must also be some p4 motherboards that are capable of supporting pci-e cards? Despite their inferiority, are there any you guys suggest? (I certainly don't need to be playing games with all settings to the max, but it'd be nice to one day get out of 640 x 480...)
January 7, 2005 10:33:25 AM

Intels new 915 and 925 chipsets support PCI-e, however than also only support LGA775 meaning you would have to get a prescott (not recommended).
January 7, 2005 11:33:51 AM

Yes, on Newegg I've seen a lot of Prescott mobos. What seperates a Prescott from others, and why do I need to avoid it? Not that it matters much, I suppose. If I had the money to buy a Prescott cpu in addition to everything else I'd just buy an AMD...
January 7, 2005 3:32:32 PM

i started looking at a new system and was going down the road of the i925xe chipset and lga775 intel chip. the mobo had a ton of features. all very pricey, though. i'm now looking at an amd solution since it is generally cheaper.
January 8, 2005 11:34:52 AM

Thank you all for your help. I really appreciate it. What other computer hardware/etc sites do you recommend reading?
!