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AMD dual core video/gaming system

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December 27, 2005 8:34:20 AM

Hi guys. I'm looking to build an AMD dual core system over the holidays as an upgrade to my Athlon XP 2500+. My primary usage would be for video encoding (CCE, HC encoding), and secondary for gaming. I plan to overclock the system but won't be going all out, I'll probably start with stock cooling or pick up a nice quiet Zalman cpu fan. So here's what I'm looking at:

CPU: between the X2 4400+ ($575) and Opteron 175 ($609). Prices quoted are in CAN$ from Infonec, a local store in my area with good prices. What do you guys think of these choices? Is the Opteron the way to go due to higher overclockability, or does the price not justify it?

Motherboard: I have no idea. I want it to be good at overclocking but I'm not sure if I need top of the line. I plan on buying SLI enabled but not sure if I'll set up an SLI rig right now since gaming is not my primary use, but it's better to be ready for the future. Here are the SLI mobos infonec offers, any suggestions? Here are my options

Memory: I already have generic 2x512mb PC3200 DDR -- is this good enough for a dual core system, or do I need something better for overclocking? What about DDR2, do I need special mobos for this, and is DDR2 the way to go?

Vid card: I'm budgeting around the 7800GT range. Infonec has an XFX 7800GT overclocked to 450 for $459, how does that sound? Or a BFG 7800GT OC'd to 425 for $429. Is there a "standout" brand of 7800GT that runs quietly? Again, here are my options

PSU: I currently have a 350W PSU with my Antec Sonata case. I might sell my old rig to my bro including the case, if so I'd get the Antec Sonata II case. This one comes with a 450W PSU, is that good enough for an SLI rig? Or should I just keep this case and get a new PSU?

Hope you guys can help me!
December 27, 2005 9:44:12 AM

I would keep the case, buy a new psu...at least 450 watt and it should be good quality. I think you can best go for one of the asus A8N-sli mobo's...it depends on what options you want, what you should buy. If you want to work with video, buy 2 gig good memory, something like geil or corsair, don't buy the most expensive, just egt something with a good price/quality ratio. with the processor i can't help you. Oh yeah and the grafics cards you suggested both sound good to me.
December 27, 2005 10:12:46 AM

Hi..

i dont think your AMD 4400+ X2 will work with a DDR2....they dont yet support DDR2... so u might want to chk that...
Related resources
December 27, 2005 11:42:36 AM

yep, won't work
December 27, 2005 1:33:20 PM

I am doing the same thing right now for the same reasons as you brother. I have been round and round the planet trying to decide what to get. After doing alot of math and research based on previous first hand benchmarking (mixed with results on this and other tech sites). I have decided that it all comes down to what you want to spend, what programs you are going to use, and how much 15 minutes of your life is worth. When it comes to CPUs, the X2 3800 ($325) will process an 2 hour DVD to a decent Divx file in 1 hour. An A64 3800 ($280) will do it in around 75 minutes. You do the math on that one. The best all around bang for the buck is the A64 3500. It will do the job in 83 minutes. HOWEVER, Divx has a dual core/dual CPU/hyperthreading codec (helium codec) that will allow up to a 90% increase in performance on these types of CPUs. BUT, you have to encode on it's "insane" settings (which will give a good quality file but the frames per second processed will still be pretty slow. I also bet that the quality of these "insane setting" vids wont look better than a movie encoded under a faster profile. So it is up to you. Maybe you dont even do Divx and I am clearly wasting my time..... I dont think you will see much difference between a opteron and athlon CPU. But then again 5 miuntes may mean alot to you.

You can do SLI if you want, but if you are a practical person, you will see that it is not a very economical upgrade path unless you have lots of money to waste (let alone trying to find a matching card 2 years down the road) I'm sure there are others who would disagree with my opinion on that though. HOWEVER, ATI's AVIVO looks promising. They already have add in cards that can hardware assist is decoding MPEG-2 streams making compression better allowing for a clearer image. They have promised that AVIVO will assist the CPU in ENCODING all types of files. Anandtech had a preview that claimed that a X1800 did a job in 25 seconds that took an X2 CPU over 2 minutes. That is a trans-generational improvement. To my dismay, it turns out that the beta release of AVIVO does not utilize the GPU but does encode certain jobs at twice the speed. Again, a supra improvement. Then again, there was no comment on the quality of these processed files...... Its worth waiting though. Buy an el cheapo GPU or get a mobo with onboard graphics and just suck it up until we reach the holy land....

Memory has a marginal effect of encoding times. Anything over 512 does nothing much for divx but may help out more for other programs.

Here is what I am planning:
X2 3800
Biostar Tforce 6100 (C51 chipset, good overclocking and basic graphics for now)
1GB of DDR-400 CAS 2.5 RAM but may move up to DDR-500 if I can get more data on if it guarantees good overclocking.

Good luck. I am getting mine by February. If you get yours first, look me up and tell me what to expect!
December 27, 2005 5:39:07 PM

Okay there is a simple reason why you are getting faster encodings with an A64 3800+ compared to the A64 X2 3800+. That's because the single core chip is clocked at 2.4Ghz and the dual core at 2.0! The dual core chip should allow you to do more multitasking though, as all your cpu resources will not be used up. Plus it has twice the L2 cache (1MB vs 512kb). Also, the divx codec may be directly responsible as I've read it does not benefit from dual core (found that here on doom9 forum).

However if you overclocked that X2 3800+ to 2.4Ghz (something I believe is entirely possible) I'm certain you'd see a performance boost over its single core twin.

For me the choice is not single core vs. dual core, it's which dual core. Should I go for the X2 3800+ and overclock it like mad, or get a higher clocked cpu like the X2 4400+ (with 2Mb L2 cache) / or Opteron and hope I can overclock it? What would be the price/performance ratio on these dual core chips?

Just FYI, here is another benchy on AMD vs. Intel dual cores for video encoding from cnet.

P.S. The encoding I do is DVD9->DVD5 or DivX->MPEG2, both using CCE which I am pretty certain utilizes multi-threading.

P.P.S. Here's another benchy from anandtech clearly showing the X2 pumelling the single core competition at divx encoding!
December 27, 2005 7:07:18 PM

Oh thats a great article! Read it, learn a lot if do divex encoding and video/DVD. Since that primary goal, definitely get the extra clams for a dual. Game wise, no need now at all. Future of course, its next gen. But I do some with 3700 takes... well Im a patient guy =) I plan on upgrading in a year when Ill be doing heavy video editing and encoding then, to dual. For now, i do limited mostly gaming instead, perfect for me, I personally think 3700+ AMD best bang for buck all around. But Im bias =) And yeah its addiciting to say, well 3800 only 60 more... then goes to 40 more for next, 70 more next... its endless!
December 27, 2005 8:36:35 PM

as of now, there are a few games that utilize 64bit support. 2 that i know of for sure are farcry and hl2/hl2 lost coast. now while other games may not use both cores, this will allow you to run more programs in the background while gaming. something you may have had a problem with in the past as far as trying to squeeze out as many fps's as you could with a minimal system.
December 28, 2005 2:35:48 AM

Are you insane my friend? Since when is 75 minutes less than 1 hour? Tell me you were tired when you read my post instead of being some over-argumentative zealot who likes to disagree with people for the sake of disagreeing........ Auto GK and Dr Divx are dual core optomized. I can say that with confidence cuz the encoding times and Fps for the CPUs I chose to compare (A64 3000-3800, plus the X2 3800 and the 620,630, and 640 chips from intel) I have personally timed and got printed encoding results from the athlon 64 3000,640 P4 and a 2ghz Barton athlon XP. I bounced those times off of the latest mother of all CPU charts here on Tom's and they all came within a few second of the charts. That means one can safely say the chart and the encoding data that comes with it is accurate. Seeing is believing I say. So no, I am not going to pay any attention to Doom9 forums and the hacks there who have half the experience as I do. I say the X2 performs better than the 3800 cuz it has two cores and the program being utilized is mumti-thread optimized.
The divx codec is optimized for dual core. Havent you heard of the helium codec? Maybe they dont talk about that on Doom9. Speaking of, I read your link. The dual core X2 completed the task an hour and 20 minutes faster. And you are saying that divx DOESNT take advantage of dual core Did you read the entire article at all? You have good intentions my friend but you need to read and then reread a post before you respond to it. Are you like a speed reader of something?
December 28, 2005 2:41:25 AM

Oops, my bad. Truth be told I *was* rather tired when I read your post and when I replied. So sorry for the misinformation, but basically I'm confused when it comes to this subject and was just trying to contribute. That is, after all, why I started this thread -- looking for some help. I don't think I ever claimed to be some doom9 elitist but if I were you I'd check my attitude at the door before I posted next time. Thanks for your good intentions though.
December 28, 2005 2:53:00 AM

My apologies. I just get kinda heated when I take so much time to post and explain a subject and then for someone to get it all twisted up. i did not even realize you are the one who started the post. Its just that there are alot of haters in the forums who like to argue points they know are wrong just for sake of looking smart or something..... I really hate people like that cuz they spread bad info around or even make stuff up and people dont know what to believe anymore. i think it really cheapens what responsible posters here on the forums are trying to do. If I had know it was you I would have taken a different tact. Guess what? Its me who shoud have taken the time to read through the posts to see who it ws who I thought was "hating" on me. Again, my apologies. And yes, I always have good intentions here on the forums!
December 28, 2005 3:09:35 AM

I skipped some of this cause of the headache i got...lol

But the Opteron idea is a good one, just get the 165 for the mid to upper 300's and overclock it. It'll often do in the 2.6-2.9 range, depending on cooling (OEM HSF gets 2.6-2.7 often!) and use the cash for more RAM or better ram if thats your budget.

2GB of ram is the current/future if ya do newer games. Some video encoding apps are dual core optimized. For example, DVDShrink's latest is smooth as silk with 2 cores. Some games are getting updated such as last weeks updates to Q4 and CoD2, those games got Hellava increased performance boosts...

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December 28, 2005 4:05:40 AM

Dux: apologies accepted!

Quote:
But the Opteron idea is a good one, just get the 165 for the mid to upper 300's and overclock it. It'll often do in the 2.6-2.9 range, depending on cooling (OEM HSF gets 2.6-2.7 often!) and use the cash for more RAM or better ram if thats your budget.


Good advice HO. The 165's are really hard to come by in my area, but if I did they'd be around $400. Here are my other options:

X2 3800+ / 2 GHz - L2 512 KB + 512KB - $375.00
Opteron 165 / 1.8Ghz - L2 1MB + 1MB - $400
X2 4200+ / 2.2 GHz - L2 512KB + 512KB - $469.00
X2 4400+ / 2.2 GHz- L2 1MB + 1MB - $575.00
Opteron 175 / 2.2 Ghz- L2 1MB + 1MB - $609

I hear the 165 can easily be overclocked to 2.4 Ghz making it an X2 4800+. But what about the OC'ability of the X2 4400+ and Opteron 175? How much more can they be overclocked to justify the price difference?

Hope you guys can help me decide!
December 28, 2005 7:24:29 AM

Dude, here is my take on overclocking. Its not a guaranteed thing and I dont factor it in when it comes to my purchasing strategy anymore. I honestly do think that venus/venice core A64 can overclock. But there is always that chance that you will get a CPU that wont do more than 200Mhz. For all we know, when the CPU you purchase is a X2 3800 for a reason: maybe it wasnt clock stable as a 2.2 ghz chip at the factory so they put the 3800 label on it. Maybe.... RAM is also an important factor in overclocking. I have read 100s of user reviews on new egg on various kinds of high performance RAM. Some say not to buy a particular type cuz they couldnt squeez even 20 mhz extra out of it. Some say they can push 400 Mhz DDR to 550 Mhz no problems. I mean, what can you believe? It would be a shame pay 150 bucks on some RAM that cant do a decent over clock. Then there is the mobo. It has the same issue as the RAM and stuff. I think the only way to guarantee overclockability is to buy a low end CPU (A64 3000 or 3200 or the X2 3800) so it has room to move up. Then buy RAM that is RATED for 500-600 Mhz so you can guarantee it will run at 425, 450, or 475 Mhz. By underclocking DDR 600 to DDR 450 it would yield a clock speed of 2.25 on the X2 3800. Follow what I am saying? Of course you could get more if you wanted. Then get a DFI lan party mobo or another mobo that has a "cult" following amongst overclockers. Now here is the shocker. by the time you factor in the more expensive mobo and RAM that costs 180 bucks per GB, you might as well have bought the more expensive CPU and you can avoid all of the problems associated with overclocking and all of the doubt too. I think it is best to buy what it is that you want in the first place. It doesnt matter how much its costs as long as it is worth it to you. As your platform ages and is on the bottom half of the performance scale on whatever benchmark or program you use the most, THEN try and overclock to extend the life of your system. if something breaks (most likely the mobo) then OH WELL! It was time to upgrade anyways right? I wouldnt risk ANYTHING by overclocking at the beginning of your purchase's life to see if you can push the envelope you know? Do it at the end when the risk is worth it. My plan is to get a X2 3800 and use it stock until AT LEAST 2 gnerations of the newer socket M2 has passed. Then I will push the CPU to 2.4 ghz which is what I believe is the most you can get out of an X2 without upping the voltage. If it breaks oh well. if not, I will be able to hang on until I can get a bad azz upgrade where I can SEE and FEEL the difference. I'm sure there are other who would disagree with my theory, but I have spent about $16,000 on computer crap since 1997. I need to start worry about other crap than impressing friends you know? Just my take on the subject.
December 29, 2005 4:53:15 AM

All the opteron 939's overlock like mad. I said the 165 cause it's peak speed is nearly the same as the 170 and 175s but at far less cost. Monarch usually has them in stock (monarchcomputer) and mwave has em too (be a bit careful there though) and even newegg. On Anandtech's forum there is a HUGE discussion about this. They even list a place that hand bins them out so you konw what you are getting before it arives. They charge a bit more but its likely worth it. This is a thread on it...there are more though.

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December 29, 2005 5:00:38 AM

Lucky me, found a place near me in Toronto that has them on sale for Boxing Week at $345 CAN -- that's a steal for sure! I'm now doing more research to decide on what mobo/mem/psu to get. I'm thinking the ASUS A8N-SLI Premium for the NB heatpipe (I'm sick of my NB fans always dying) and the nice bundle of cables/accessories it comes with. I have been recommended the OCZ EL DDR PC-3200 Dual Channel Platinum Rev 2 kit (2x512mb) for it's overclockability -- price is about $220 CAN. Would you guys say this is a good choice since I'm hoping to push the Opt 165 up to at least 4800+ speeds? Finally, I was wondering if the psu in the Antec Sonata II would be sufficient for my overclockign needs -- I believe it is a 450W SmartPower. Thanks guys!
December 29, 2005 5:02:55 AM

should be a fine PSU if it has a 450 antec (they are underated anywayz) so long as your not gonna run SLI. If your gonna, specially some faster cards, you'll need more. The ram is fine, there are otehrs. The BEST is the BH based ram but samsung TCCD is a good runner up. The patriot 2.2.2.5 kit is about $120USD on newegg after a mail in rebate. If your gonna do any battlefield 2 or plan on some high res gaming, get 2 gigs instead.

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