I recently decided to do a major rebuild on my pc (MOBO,CPU,GPU,MEM,PSU), but after looking at some components, realized I had fallen seriously behind the technology curve. I've been reading the forum and doing research for a couple of weeks, but still need some advice on several things.
I do game with the comp, but use it for other things as well. Nothing else very demanding. Main issues are STABILITY (wife uses the pc, so random crashes are verbotten), VALUE (I like performance, but at a reasonable price) and UPGRADABILITY (ability for incremental upgrades for 3-4 years.). I haven't OCed in the past, but might try some light OCing down the road.
My current thinking is to start with a feature rich, socket 939 MOBO (had good luck with ASUS, not so good with MSI) then build out with components in the "sweet spot" for price/performance, but that may change as I go along.
1. Windows compatability - My current processor is an AMD Athlon 1.2 ghz and when I built this pc there were all kind of issues that needing patching for AMD to run well under Windows. Has this situation gotten better or is AMD still considered the odd man out by WinTel?
2. Assuming I stay with AMD, what MOBO chipsets are currently worth looking at?
3. Is SLI worth my planning for, and if so, is X16 throughput for each card really much better than dropping to X8 when adding the second card?
4. I know AMD socket 939 processors do not support DDR2. Am I correct in assuming that they never will?
5. What is the performance boost of configuring your ram for Dual Channel vs. Single Channel?
6. Will a good quality 450-480 watt PSU (Antec-True Power, Enermax, etc.) be sufficient? Looks like 12v rail amps are critical for SLI. How many amps is enough?
I know I have some additional questions, but this should be enough to start.
BTW....it looks like you read my sticky.....well formatted and good concerns and questions....Good job
wife uses the pc, so random crashes are verbotten
LOL!!! i feel ya.
1. Anyway....You need to do nothing for AMD to work well with windows.You would have to flash your BIOS if you had an older motherboard and you wanted a dual core machine.....but you dont have an old 939 and you arn't getting dual core.
2. Nforce4 is your only option in my opinion. Chaintech VNF4 Ultra. Its about $65 and its a solid board. Check reviews online...also there is EPoX EP-9NPA+Ultra....great board as well. If you want to try OC'ing try look into the Abit board...it has some utilities that are super easy to OC with. you have many mobo options...we'll figure out what you need and find a board around that.
3. Sli isn't for upgrading. By the time you wanted t upgrade you could get a card twice as fast for the same price. Example....people right now who have the 6800GT would pay the same for another 6800GT as a 7800GT. and just buying the 7800GT would be a better buy. If you dont ned SLI then you can save money with your mobo and PSU....so its much cheaper as well.
4. Socket 939 doesn't support DDR2. I dont want to say never....but there is a 99% chance it never will. the M2 will support DDR2 though.
5. roughtly 3-5% sometimes.....sometimes there is no boost, it depend on what you're doing.
6. Yes, 450-480 quality brand PSU will be enuogh for you. 12V line is critical for SLI because it has to feed your cpu, ram, and TWO VERY VERY hungry cards cards. But you wont have SLI....Without SLi look for about 18A min....i would prefer 22A and for SLI look for 24A min....i would prefer 28A.
Thanks for the info. Most of it kind of confirmed what I was thinking.
Got some more questions though. (Told you I would. :wink: )
When looking at MOBO specs, I see the FSB listed as 1600 MT/s, 2000 MT/s for the CPU and then DDR 400 (pc3200) listed as the required ram. Now, I understand that moving the memory controller on-die changed the relationship between the speed of the physical ram and that of the processor, but I don't fully understand how things are working under the current architecture. A simple explanation would be helpful (I'm kind of simple minded).
I also know you can use faster ram than the MOBO calls for, but don't really understand the advantages of doing so. Is this something that's useful only for OCer's?
Another thing. What is/are the current bottlenecks to be concerned with in hardware? In the past, the FSB and HDD transfer speeds lagged pretty far behind CPU/GPU capabilities, but that appears to no longer be the case. Am I seeing the situation clearly?
Dont worry about what they list as the FSB....they just use marketing #'s. If its an Nforce4 board it will work with an A64 easily.
Um....about the architecture, i dont honestly know how to explain it. I know the benifits you will see but hw to explain it is beyond me. With onboard memory controller you have much less latancy in your ram usage so thngs seem more nimble.
To be honest, i dont fully understands how it works. I just use it...lol
using DDR500 ram instead of DDR4090 ram does NOTHING at stock speeds.....the DDR500 ram is just rated to garante speeds upto DDR500. So its for OC'ers only.
Bottlenecks in a system usually end up around the HDD's and the cpu for gaming. Current cpu's the fastest cpu out can't keep up with a 7800GT....let alone a 7800GTX, X1800XL, X1800XT, or any SLI or CF situation. But dont worry about it....because of how things work a 3200+ with a 7800GTX will run very well.
Ok, I guess it's time to look at specific components.
1. MOBO: ASUS A8N-E @ $110
I looked at the Chaintech and Epox boards and they both look solid. But, I the A8N-E has the features I want, I have had good luck with ASUS boards in the past and the price, though higher than the other boards, is reasonable.
2. CPU: Athlon 64 3200+ Venice core @ $172
This seems to be the sweet spot on pricing. I assume the Venice core is preferred, correct?
3. GPU: eVGA 256-P2-N515-AX Geforce 7800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Desktop PC - Retail @ $284 after rebate.
I had thought about dropping down to the Leadtek PX6600TD to start, with the intention of upgrading later to the 7800GTX when the prices come down. But, after thinking about how pricing goes (6800GT is currently the same price as the 7800GT) upgrading later is looking more expensive in the long run. Plus, the 7800GT is probably all the card I'll need in the forseeable future.
4. MEM: OCZ 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) Dual Channel Platinum System Memory - Retail @ $205 after rebate.
It came down to a choice between this and the Kingston Value Ram in the same configuration. The timings are much better with this memory and, factoring in the rebate, the price difference is only $27.
5. PSU: ENERMAX Noisetaker EG495P-VE SFMA ATX 485W Power Supply 115/230 V UL (Level 3), cUL (Level 3), VDE, CB, NEMKO, SEMKO, DEMKO, FIMKO - Retail
ENERMAX Whisper II EG465P-VE FMA(24) ATX12V 460W Power Supply 95V~135V or 180V~265V (selected by slide switch) UL, cUL, TUV, CB, DEMKO , NEMKO , SEMKO, FIMKO - Retail
Price is $76 on both of these power supplies. I'm leaning toward the Noisetaker simply because it has a few more watts. Any advice on these would be helpful.
That brings the total cost of my upgrade to $847 + shipping. Newegg has everything, so shipping shouldn't be much on a single order.
My only concern is in having never done a build with a MOBO that didn't have on-board video. I usually only mount the processor and ram for the initial power-on. I assume adding the GPU to the mix will work fine.