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A64 + PCIe: time to invest now?

Last response: in Motherboards
January 12, 2005 4:03:05 PM

... Or should I rather add some RAM and wait a few months ?

Hi fellows,
I learned a lot during last few days, mostly while reading & posting right here on THG & forums :) 
IMHO it should be OK to wait a bit more be4 investing in a *real* upgrade based on A64 & PCIe.
To hear some more good advices could be interesting, especially since people here tend to take care of one's needs rather than of their's ;) 

=== My situation ===

I need to upgrade on comfort & speed issues sooner or later
- By Comfort i mean : a bigger nice screen for coding + watching movies, and be abble to launch numerous apps quicker than now;
- By Speed i mean a faster multitasks system for heavy use mostly on Linux OS, as well as for encoding audio & videos (that's mp3/Ogg/XviD encoding);
- Games are *not* an issue.

Currently run Linux (+ W2K-sp4 few hours a week) on an ECS k7s5aL with Athlon XP 1800+, 1 256Mb DDR 266, 1 Maxtor Diamond9 80Go, tnt2 m64, 17" budget Proview, 1 CD-RW LiteOn 40x12x48, 1 DVD Pionner slot-in (4 years old, seems not to be its best shape?), SB128 pci, 8Mb ethernet ADSL internet with TV channels

Have created a small BTC+B2B Multimedia services society last year --> time's money and hardware issues are a big pain (well you know that :) 

=== 1st issue : What's possible best option between a new VIVO GPU or a TV card ? ===

As for a VIVO card, i'd rather buy a small Nvidia PCIe (since ATI's drivers su** on Linux and i'd be abble to keep it for a while). Means i have to buy the new mobo+CPU ASAP
Regarding TV-card, i've never used & I wonder if a budget Pinnacle MiroTV can make it with my current config as well as with next A64-PCIe config ?
(BTW, i haven't found any recent article on THG about TV-cards)

=== 2nd issue : Is it worth buying the whole A64 3000+ system right now (+ screen), or should I go with another 256 DDR 266 RAM + new screen + TV-card for now and wait a few months before investing in an A64 3600+ full PCIe box ? ===

While i wrote "brand new A64 box", i mean mobo (integrated video) + CPU + 512 DDR400 RAM now. SATA HD, more RAM & PCIe GPU will come later, as well as the possibility for O/C or new CPU.
Does that mean i should go for a socket 939 mobo rather than a faster-for-now 754?
IMHO dual channel and L2 cache are not an issue.
But, I haven't yet make my mind between NVIDIA's nForce3 / VIA's K8T800 / SiS 755 chipsets...

Any advices are very welcome!

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January 12, 2005 6:26:32 PM

I would wait until you can afford a pc-e card. The only integrated solution is the radeon xpress 200 chipset, and it's received mixed reviews. Expect to pay about $150 for a non sli nforce4 board, and $70 for an entry level pci-e card. You may have to check back with your favorite vender on a daily basis for availability. Lower priced boards are selling out as fast as some venders can stock them.
January 12, 2005 6:50:36 PM

Well, based on what you want to do, and since game is not an issue right now, I would get something like an a64 3400+ socket 754 and a good and inexpensive nforce3 board like the Soltek k8an2e-gr. Dont really need PCIe for now as only video card really use it and since you dont game, you dont need very fast video card.

The 3400+ socket 754 is a very fast cpu, with speed almost matching those of the 3800+ and 4000+ 939. This will give very good speed for your need at a very good price. As you said dual channel and cache doenst matter so going 754, you'll just need toget one gigs of standard 3200 ram to match and you'll be happy. As for the board, that the one I run right now, and it is rock stable, so I recommend it. You ay find other equally good board that will do to.

Yes, Ati support for linux is not that good. So stick with nvidia. Game is not an issue, You might think about keeping your old card if you are satisfied with its overall performance or just get a nice inexpensive not so powerfull (I dont mean crappy) AGP video card and get a more expensive capture card with hardware MPEG2 encoder for better quality. Something like the HAUPPAUGE WINTV-PVR 350 PCI TV TUNER W. REMOTE & MPEG2 HARDWARE could fulfill your need for capture and TV.

You might want to add HDD storage and even going RAID, for editing and capturing. The Soltek, as well as other nforce3 has a fast SATA and RAID controller that you will love...

I guess that for now, that should be the best price/performance you could built.

check for price and parts and come back for more advice if needed

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
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January 12, 2005 8:55:44 PM

Thank you guys. I appreciate.

> Based on what o1die says, I admit having not known until now the lack of good integrated-Video A64 mobos, and that a good point to know !
That, with prices (see below) makes one more arg to wait a bit.

> Pat's advice to get a nice little AGP video card & get a more expensive capture card with hardware MPEG2 encoder for better quality suprised me (since other board's guys usually do not understand this special need !o) Of course that'll be wise, especially if i take care of its Linux Compatibility.

> And yeah Pat i learned from some of your posts how fast is the A64 3400+ socket 754 ;) 
Also since I'm not looking for a fast GPU at all, why choose a PCIe mobo? Maybe PCIe issues will be better on long term, not only GPU related issues? Have you some info on this?

> "I guess that for now, that should be the best price/performance you could built"
Well, I'm looking to make quite a long-term investment. So something I'd like to hear from you is <b>whether a socket 754 may be a long term solution, especially compared to a PCIe socket 939 with 90nm(Winchester)A64 ?</b>. As said before, SATA HDD will come later ;) 

> Here are some <b>prices</b> (be aware : in euros) :

* Mobos with chipset NVIDIA nForce3 250Gb range :
- <i>from 90 to 115 € with socket 754</i>,
- starting at 115 € (socket 939)

* Athlon A64 (<i>754</i> / 939)
- Athlon 64 3000+ : <i>120-150 €</i> / starting at 150 €
- Athlon 64 3400(or 3500)+ : <i>190-220 €</i> / starting at 240 €

* DDR 400 Corsair (512Mo) starts arround 80 €. But I may have better prices from my friend in China ;) 

Looking at the prices, the 939 solution is quite too expansive for now.

Internet <=> Share all we can.
January 12, 2005 9:43:40 PM

"Well, I'm looking to make quite a long-term investment. So something I'd like to hear from you is whether a socket 754 may be a long term solution, especially compared to a PCIe socket 939 with 90nm(Winchester)A64 ?. As said before, SATA HDD will come later ;) "

As I said, PCIe is really useful now for video card. Looking that you still run a system that is "slow" for today's standard, i can see that you just get the most of the system you buy.

For now, your needs are 2 things that demands special hardware. First, you say coding....which means too, compiling. For that, you rather need a fast CPU than PCIe video card. The 3400+ is just that, because it run at 2.4Ghz, its core is fast, compared to the 1.8 GHz 3000+ 939, 2.0GHz 3200+ 939 and 2.2GHz 3500+ 939. That will make compiling and encoding fast. And if it is not yet fast enough, the 3700+ is just like the 939 4000+, but single channel, and cheaper. That being said, when you'll need more than the 3700+, I guess that you'll do a full upgrade as you plan to do now, so futureproof is not an issue for you.

Second, you say capture. For that, you need good hardware. Yes, you can have a simple capture card that send the job to the cpu to compress the feed to an mpeg2 file. Dont be affraid, your cpu is fast enough to do that, but having the HW encoder just make a better quality file with less overhead on the cpu so that you could use it for something else without fear for dropped frames. Use of fast HDD and at least 1 gigs of memoryhelp in that case because the OS doesnt have to access the HDD for the swap file(at least in Windows, dont know about Linux). Having a RAID array or a dedicated HDD for the capture will help too.

So how long this system will last? Well long enough I guess, because you built it fast the first time, instead of building cheap and slower and always having to add something in the future to have it the way you first wanted it to be.

Watch out for board. Buy the cheaper you can find that have the feature you need now. You could buy a great board with many features that wont be used, so this is wasted money, imho. Define your need now, and compare. It takes time, but it pay.

As for integrated video, for capturing I'm not sure its a good solution, unless you have hardware encoder because it might slow the system down, as it have to share the memory and often, use more CPU cycles, so for now, I wouldnt care about it. As for the radeon express, yes, it could be a nice chipset, but nothing is available yet, and doenst have a fast SATA controller on gigabits ethernet and integrated firewall as nforce3(gb) has.

I built my system for mainly video stuff (capturing, encoding, ripping,...) and choose my component for better overall performance. Overall performance...that what matter.

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by pat on 01/12/05 06:48 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 13, 2005 5:58:47 AM

What kind of video in are you looking at?
I have no use for PCI-exp because I dont do video in. For you, that may not be the case. PCI-exp offers full duplex bandwidth. For gaming, this means nothing. For video in, it means a lot. You will never get that kind of bandwidth from a pci card. If you are connected for HD input, the only way to take advantage of it is with PCI-exp.
January 13, 2005 10:47:40 AM

Endyen > Video in will mostly be <b>TV in</b> + occasionnaly <b>VHS in</b>, since i've got a nice ethernet Fast ADSL TV (peritel + adaptator) box with 40 free national+thematic TV channels (you may know 40 channels is quiet a bit outside of the States ;) . I've got it since 2003 without any possibility to enjoy it, but I've also been quiet occupied so didn't mind so much.
Anyway having it could be something on top of the American + Asian kind of rare movies & mangas, world documentaries and personnal videos friends occasionnaly send to me.

As Pat says, <b>dedicated hardware encoding card</b> could do a great job while letting the system's main components mostly free for other tasks. But I'll have to check which cards will give their best on my Linux box, like wether I may get mplayer/mencoder's great encoding capabilities working with the card. Waaaooo #-)

Pat > as for <b>the swap</b> you may know Linux kernel's better in it than any Windows OS. I'm just getting a few Mo in swap (<20Mo) with 3 to 4 apps running at the same time (that mean code processing + P2P or video encoding + Internet & email as an exemple, no 3 text editors ;)  Therefore you can guess 512Mo DDR400 may do it for a start.

Thank to you guys to share your strong experience !
So I'll proceed like this :

1st, buy a dedicated hardware encoding card, new screen & an other 256Mo DDR266 RAM so i can have Video in & improve general comfort a bit.

2nd, in a few months i'll choose a good IDE+SATA AGP mobo for a kick one's ass A64 with 1 x 512Mo DDR400 memory. As for now I'll take the 3400+ socket 754 with a nForce3 chipset AGP mobo to keep my super old tnt2 m64 and the Maxtor 80Go.
Options are : available PCIe and some integrated firewall in it (if i couldn't find a dedicated small PC to run as a server)

Latter, I'll have a look at a full SATA HDD (which will hopefully release CPU/RAM from some burden, compared with IDE HDD), as well at a new GPU and some more RAM.

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January 13, 2005 11:21:37 AM


I've taken care of your advice (see my precedent post), as what you say here + in the post "Kick ass good price/performance PC" + silverpig's own advices makes it quite clear in my eyes.

Internet <=> Share all we can.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by kozaki on 01/13/05 02:22 PM.</EM></FONT></P>