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New Machine build suggestions

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January 11, 2006 1:32:14 PM

Gents.

I am currently quite fed up with the twice dead and revived Athlon XP 2600+ machine. Nothing bad about AMD, but ever since my first Slot A Athlon I had nothing but problems.
This is neither a bitching or trolling post, or an "AMD V Intel" post.
I find it slightly hard to pick components based on reviews and so have to ask for the opinions.

The existing machine is comprised of following items:
Asrock K7VT6 (died last week, waiting to replace)
AMD Athlon 2600+ 400Mhz FSB CPU (running at 333Mhz FSB) - not running at all atm chilled by Arctic Cooler.
1024Mb RAM in 2 PC3200 DIMMS at 400Mhz
ATI Radeon 9200 All-In-Wonder
1Tb HD space in 5 WD HD (2x200Gb, 3x250Gb) 3 of them using PCI controller (no raid)
All on a 300W PSU in a neatly ventilated I-TEE case.


I aim to replace the mobo on this one and hand down to my wife for the purpouses of Sims2 and occasional network shoot'em-up slaughter to clear up family issues.

Now, the machine I am looking for is not aimed for gaming, although I do enjoy UT2004/CS/COD etc. and would like those to run fairly speedily.
My main priorities are 2D photo processing in Photoshop, 3D Gfx (using Lighwave and Maya), video processing/encoding, running testlab on VirtualPC and music production - to name a few daily tasks.
All the disks except system 200Gb will be moved to the new machine and although I would appreciate fast x-fers I am reluctant to go with SATA.
Disk usage is probably 90% storage 10% transfer/access.

Occasionally I tend to leave the machine on for a while - up to 2-3 weeks with a restart in between. Due to that I don't tend to poke around overclocking things, and it remains a kind of "would-be-nice-to-try-but-not-necessary" thing.

Additionally, I just replaced the batteries in my Smart UPS 700 and will be using it with the new box - last time a power spike killed the mobo and 700Gb of disks in one go.

So far I have received few suggestions as for instance:
"If you go for Intel CPU, stick to Intel's native chipset", or "Athlon 64 system will ofer more bang for the money".
But it is always interesting to hear other opinions.

So any comment is welcome.
January 11, 2006 3:32:28 PM

for a new machine go with AMD's 64 939 or 64 X2 series. there are a lot of choices, depending on how much you want to spend. sicce you are going to be doing photo prcessing and such a higher end 64 or 64 X2 should be enough.

any of the ASUS, DFI, or ABIT boards would be fine. for just general use i doubt your going to want anything special. ABIT and DFI tend to be OCer boards but are still very reliable.

your video card shoud run you about 200, give or take a little, for something to run you FSP's and such. also, stay away from ATI. i have had many headaches because of them. Nvidia seems to have there stuff together. just my 2 cents though. : ) im pretty sure others have had better experiances than i.

there is nothing wrong with going SATA. I have built many systems with SATA and no problems so far. *knocks on wood* : )
SATA 2 is the newest stuff out. you may want to look at that. great Xfer speeds and they are pretty cheep.

Sounds like you UPS's arn't doing their job. if you have a power spike that shouldn't happen. make sure you have you UPS's pluged into a surge protector and not a power strip. i have seen many machines go up in smoke because of this.

sticking with intels native chipset is a great idea, if you go intel. AMD wise Nforce 4 chipset is the way to go.
January 11, 2006 4:50:07 PM

Look for this stuff and youll end up with a nice system

939 mobo with pcie
939 A64 (3500? venice)
7800gt or x1800xl
Cosair,ocz,geil, are some good ram brands, personaly i perfer OCZ
Related resources
January 11, 2006 6:14:49 PM

i'm a photog who uses G5s, powerbooks, and PCs

amd's 939 all the way if you only want a pc, although if your work is important, i'd get the mac.

a8n-sli premium, even if you don't intend to use sli in the near future

the 7800GT is a great value (albeit $300) especially oc'ed, if you want something cheaper, the x800gto overclocks well, at just under $200, although you can't pair it up unless you go crossfire, which is stupid with the x800 - highly suggest the 7800gt, especially from eVGA, whose warranty *i think, you'd have to check me on this* covers oc's

two gigs of corsair valueselect - cheap and good

opteron 165/170 if you like to/can oc, otherwise 3800+. you'l get a heck of a lot more bang for the buck if you oc an opteron

i back up my media on [archival] DVDs, but have 1tb hard drive storage on my computer anyway
-------------
don't be afraid to pay a little more for bigger/better components. if you make a living off your equipment, don't try to save $3000 on equipment and end up losing $10000 b/c of it.
January 11, 2006 8:07:48 PM

LOL wow

im very surprised that any one would suggest a MAC on a PC forum.

most people have a anti Mac stands and for you to make the suggestion to switch to a mac is GREAT.

im a Mac boy myself. i work on them all day (fixing them, when they have problems)

the only issue is if he wants to play game there arn't many out there for a mac. it is unfortunate that the best computer manufacture can't get viedo game companys to make game for them. HerrOber listen to avatar3k and me. a Mac for photos and viedo editing is the way to go. sure they are more expencive and you will pay the Mac primium but it is well worth it. as a matter of fact the machine i am useing right now is a Mac.

just 3 more things buy the apple care and dont get the new intel stuff just yet. when ever apple changes hardware like just recently the 1 gen allways has issues. wait till 2 gen intel stuff. and upgrade the memory but dont do it from apple, they will rip you off. buy the ram from crucial. they have memory that works just fine if not better.

avatar3k my hat is off to you for makeing the unpopular suggestion. *claps hands* : )
January 11, 2006 11:51:12 PM

Macs are nice but who on freaking earth wants to pay 3-4G on a Mac when you can have a tottaly insane custom build pc for 4,000$ its stupid i think. with that kind of budget you could afford a fx57 even...
January 12, 2006 7:11:10 AM

Thanks for the tips guys, it does answer quite a few questions indeed.

When it comes to Mac, I would probably give it a go if they haven't moved to Intel platform. Motorola's RISCs were good CPUs - I used G4 once upon a time. On Intel MACs became more of the OS choice, unfortunately.
Apple did not make things better by actually enforcing the Palladium System (i.e Trusted Platform), so I'm afraid I will keep to the PCs for now.

AMD has some good CPUs, however prices on the 64 FX-57 and FX-60 are shocking - £700. That even beats Intel's extreme edition by around £200.

Opteron's I suppose is equivalent to Intel's Xeon? The only trouble with those is that there are limited 64Bit software, and most of the stuff I work with is 32Bit. I would love to see the development of 64Bit platform, but without involving my wallet for a while. :D 

SATA should be fine as long as it can be booted to in DOS mode or recognised correctly by windows during setup. Never used SATA before, so and comments would be welcome.
10.000RPM is no go, since this will increase the wear of the disks. At some point I was planning to stick to 5400RPM, but 7200 is most common now and I have to leave with that.
Was also thinking about getting an external enclosure with either USB2 or FireWire interface to keep the disks in, but this will probably come in later.

UPS didn't have batteries replaced since they died approx. 1.5 years ago. So it wasn't really involved in the surge situation.
January 12, 2006 10:28:40 AM

Don't overlook Foxconn motherboards, they offer some very nice boards at good prices. They might not be the best overclocking boards, but they are well-made, stable, and reliable. There is lots of good memory out there, but don't overlook Wintec, they make good stuff at a good price. If this is the only forum one reads, one would be led to believe that only Asus, Abit, and DFI make worthy motherboards, and only Corsair makes good memory. Not that there is anything wrong with these, because they are good, just be advised you do have other viable choices. Over the past few years we have built quite a few systems with Foxconn boards and Wintec memory, without ANY failures.
January 12, 2006 2:56:46 PM

i dont see why you wouldn't want a new intel mac they are going to a hell of a lot better than the Power PC ones. even if you dont want an intel one you can still get a Power PC one. Imac, G5, Ibook, Power Book. these are all still made.

you should watch the apple key note speaches. the reason they made the switch was be cause Power PC couldn't deliver the performance per watt. Intel is the solution to this, that and more speed.

Dont discount Apples new systems i bet you if you put a high end PC laptop up agaist the Mac book pro. the mac book would smoke it.

same goes for any of the new intel mac that are coming out.

yes the price is steap, but you get what you pay for. Macs arn't ment for the light hearted. they were built by professinals for professinals. the pure quality of their machines is beyond that of your custom PC. even the machines that dell, HP, sony, and gateway can not come close to the attention that is placed in these machines. that and you dont have to deal with some guy in india or china that can berly speak english and reads off of a 3 x 5 card. i am not tring to be a bigot or anything i love ppl from india and china. i just don't want to deal with them if im tring to fet warrenty work taken care of.

anyway as for 10,000 RPM drives go, they were ment to take a beating. they are raid drives and are very reliable. they wouldn't have made them as such if they wern't up to the task. and SATA works exactly the same as IDE just on a different connector.


This next part is for INeedCache

i can understand where you are coming from. the reason ppl sugest those boards is cause ppl have used them. agreed foxcon is a good company. they used to supply apple with the mobos for their lamp shade imacs. (good mahines) PC wise ppl are reluctant to go with them beacuse they like the big manufacturers they have been around for a long time and have made a name for them selfs. what it eally comes down to is reliability, ppl want it and those mobos have it. same goes for the memory. i have never heard of Wintec, but illl look into them. they may be a nice company.
January 12, 2006 6:43:01 PM

Quote:

Dont discount Apples new systems i bet you if you put a high end PC laptop up agaist the Mac book pro. the mac book would smoke it.


I doubt it, the mac book pro isn't going to be the only laptop with a Core Duo on board, let alone that Core Duo can go higher than the 1,83Ghz.. thus there will be more 15,4" laptops that have a +1,83Ghz Core Duo or better gfx card.
January 12, 2006 8:00:56 PM

Quote:
Opteron's I suppose is equivalent to Intel's Xeon? The only trouble with those is that there are limited 64Bit software, and most of the stuff I work with is 32Bit. I would love to see the development of 64Bit platform, but without involving my wallet for a while. :D 

So you run it in 32 bit windows. Almost any CPU you buy today will have 64-bit support (the ones that don't have a version that does and that's the better version anyways). And the Opteron is really just a server version of the Athlon64's, and tested extra hard for stability - in a server hardware crashes are not a good thing.

Mike.
January 13, 2006 4:40:33 PM

i ment curently. obviously right now the mac book is the only laptop out with a duo proc. but also remember new revisions of machines come out all the time. but even if there was a PC lap top with a duo proc in it. the mac book would smoke it.

if you care. the reason i think this is the OS the Mac OS has a lot less to deal with in terms on files. The files arn't as scattered as windows and there are a lot less files to read and write.
January 16, 2006 8:25:26 AM

It was Itanium I had in mind indeed.
Aren't Itaniums/Opterons pure 64Bit CPUs? Or do they simply support 64Bit calc?
If they are indeed native 64Bit it would be a waste to use them in the build which will operate purely in 32Bit environment. Besides, AMD made socket jumps which made many systems obsolete almost as soon as they were out (SlotA-SocketA is a good example). There is no guarantee that the same thing won't happen some time soon to the Opteron.
Imho, one should wait couple of years before going with the pure 64Bit CPUs.
Not least because of the software and drivers. I remember how long it took ASUS and Canon to come up with the drivers for WindowsXP.

As for MACs, I think I pass. It wouldn't be simply building a new box, but would require me to re-obtain all the software I already have.
I am simply not interested in this kind of step.
January 17, 2006 11:10:23 AM

Quote:

It was Itanium I had in mind indeed.
Aren't Itaniums/Opterons pure 64Bit CPUs? Or do they simply support 64Bit calc?
If they are indeed native 64Bit it would be a waste to use them in the build which will operate purely in 32Bit environment. Besides, AMD made socket jumps which made many systems obsolete almost as soon as they were out (SlotA-SocketA is a good example). There is no guarantee that the same thing won't happen some time soon to the Opteron.
Imho, one should wait couple of years before going with the pure 64Bit CPUs.
Not least because of the software and drivers. I remember how long it took ASUS and Canon to come up with the drivers for WindowsXP.

As for MACs, I think I pass. It wouldn't be simply building a new box, but would require me to re-obtain all the software I already have.
I am simply not interested in this kind of step.



Intel pretty much killed the Itanium, while the Athlon 64 and Opteron are still alive and well.

The Athlon 64, Opteron and Turion 64 [ AMD64 / x86_64 ] are all 64bit CPUs and are backward compatible with i386 / x86_32 so they will run just about any x86 software including but not limited to Linux, *BSD, Solaris x86, FREE-DOS, *-DOS, OS/2, minix, windows 3.x, windows 4.x, windows 5.x, and virtually any software that runs on those platforms.

AMD64 CPUs are very fast regardless of whether they are running 16bit, 32bit or 64bit code, they are much faster when running optimized 64bit code however.

http://66.235.243.163/bench/index.html shows FC3 i386 vs FC3 x86_64 on a Dual Opteron 252 with 4GB DDR400 PC3200 REG ECC and 3Ware 9500 in RAID5.


The socket jumps were painful yet necessary!

In order to be able to use better and faster RAM and support SMP, etc the slot / socket had to be changed.

In fact Intel was guilty of the same crime if not much worse since they switched from socket 7 to socket 8 to Slot 1 to Slot 2 to socket 370 to socket 423 to socket 478 to socket 603 (Xeon) to socket 775 AND they switched from FPM-DRAM to SDR SDRAM to RAMBUS RDRAM to DDR SDRAM to DDR2 SDRAM. [NOTE: I believe there were some other slots / sockets which I am forgetting about, like Slot M??? IIRC??? and some Xeon and Itanium slots / sockets ??? I lost track after a while ]

AMD went from socket 7 to slot A to socket 462 to socket 754 to socket 940 to socket 939 to socket AM2 (about to be introduced).

Linux is 64bit right now and works very well with minimal problems, unlike XP64 and 2003-64 which have much more serious issues. In fact with some tinkering you can get many windows applications and games to run under Linux using WINE or Cedega or by using VMWare or other similar tools and VM / virtualization technologies.

Linux and many OSS projects have been 64bit capable for many years, since the days of the Alpha! The proprietary world is still trying to catch up.
January 17, 2006 12:13:53 PM

Well, there are no "Good guys" or "Bad guys" here. Both AMD and Intel are there to grab cash, obviously.

I am pretty much looking for a platform which I don't have to upgrade for perhaps couple of years. As I never suffered from Intel's socket switching but from the AMD's, I am a little put off by Athlon and Co.
Still, I am going to choose based on the performance and value, so ofcourse, if AMD does outperform Intel - so be it.

I definitely learned something from my past experiences and that is never to go for the latest tech. Let it be available for few years, then we will see.

As for the OS, well, this wasn't really an OS question. I will go as far as saying that I won't run anything else than Windows on my workstation with a simple reason - "Better the devil you know....". It might not be the best and most stable OS but it is an "out of the box" solution. When Linux will offer the same, it will become interesting.
January 17, 2006 3:07:03 PM

HerrOber

that video was funny but, completly WRONG. it is a fact that about 96% of the world runs PC's the other 4% Mac. the reason people dont use Mac's is that they are affraid of change. and sure PC's are great for games and some other time consuming crap. i wonder if you know who came up with windows. it may surprise you but it was Steve Jobs. the windows OS is a take off of the original OS created by Jobs, it was just stollen by that ass hole Bill Gates.

i can tell you right now that what ever you can do on a PC i can do faster on a Mac. My job is made easy because we use Macs. most of my servers are Macs and the users i support are running Macs. i dont have half of the hardware issues with Macs that i have with the 3 PC's i have. and when i do i get parts in 2 days as aposed to 4 - 8 weeks. my point is, dont bash something you havent used or at least tried.

Oh and a BIG salute to Microshaft for another crapy OS. Vista is sure to be as big of a flop as Windows ME.
January 17, 2006 3:19:51 PM

Quote:

it may surprise you but it was Steve Jobs. the windows OS is a take off of the original OS created by Jobs, it was just stollen by that ass hole Bill Gates.



I agree!!!


Quote:

Oh and a BIG salute to Microshaft for another crapy OS. Vista is sure to be as big of a flop as Windows ME.


I agree again!!!! :D 
January 17, 2006 3:40:07 PM

Quote:

I am pretty much looking for a platform which I don't have to upgrade for perhaps couple of years. As I never suffered from Intel's socket switching but from the AMD's, I am a little put off by Athlon and Co.


Both Intel and AMD are guilty of switching "platforms" in order to speed up their offerings and PROFIT from it.

For the record AMD switched significantly FEWER times than Intel did.

By my calculation Intel has switched at LEAST 12 times while over the same period of time AMD switched ONLY 6 times. That's TWICE as many migrations to a new Slot or socket type for Intel.

I am not even taking the RDRAM fiasco into account.

Both AMD and Intel are going to introduce new sockets in the near future so it doesn't even matter.
January 18, 2006 9:32:36 AM

Well, If we are going to talk OS, I think the best one was Amiga OS. Easiest to use, fastest, lightest load. There won't be any OS close to that for a long time except perhaps MorphOS.

If we are going to start pointing fingers at idea thieves, whole PC market is stealing Amiga's design of custom chips. Thanks to the unique architecture even at 7.14Mhz clock frequency a 68000 Amiga500 would outrun 286. And with 68020 at double the frequency it was a tough match for a 386 DX66. And Windows did not help much there either.

I remember when Windows95 was in its infantility I saw a Power Amiga presentation, where the desktop was 1280x1024 24bit MPEG 24FPS animation while several windows were open - one of them real time raytracing (at that time there was no such thing as raytracing on any PC platform!!!).

As far as I know there is no patent on GUI in general, so the best man won. Allbeit in an undecent manner. But then again, whole market oriented system is based on the "Dog Eat Dog" principle, but let's not go there.

As for socket switching - I never defended Intel, just said that I did not experience their socket change as opposed to AMD. If this present system has been Intel based, I would be just as annoyed about socket jumps.
I must agree on RDRAM though, that was bang out of order.

If we just put all this aside for a moment: As far as I understand, I can just get any chipset motherboard and any GFX card and they will work fine? As for instance Nforce chipset mobo with ATI x800?
And going for most expensive parts is the right solution?

Last thing I would like is to get (for instance) 800Mhz FSB cpu and mobo and then find out that in order to run it at higher than 66Mhz FSB I need to affix £65.34 in postage to the motherboard manufacturer, replace all fuses in the flat, turn the CPU cooler upside down, stand on my head for 3 minutes, download version 1.543.567323.233A of bios from the branch office in Nepal, recompile that, clear CMOS and paint DIMMS red. And then to run GFX board at AGPx8 minimum I need to buy a new motherboard and repeat the procedure 3 times followed by ritual offerings :lol: 
January 18, 2006 9:54:48 AM

CISC is a lot less efficient than RISC / MHz

RISC's load/store architecture is simply faster.



Any motherboard with a standard 4x/8x AGP slot should be able to support any 4x/8x AGP card you might have or you might purchase regardless of chipset.

Any motherboard with PCI-Express x16 should be able to support an x16 PCI-Express VGA card as well.

Just remember SLI is nVidia specific and that crossfire is ATI specific.

If you were to purchase an SLI motherboard with 2 VGA cards those must be identical nVidia cards.

On the other hand if you were to purchase a crossfire board you would need 2 identical ATI cards supporting crossfire.

An nVidia SLI board will support a single nVidia or a single ATI card but you can't SLI them.
January 18, 2006 11:24:03 AM

That's great. Thanks, will definitely keep in mind.

SLI is an interesting option, I would definitely like a mobo with 2xPCI-E slots.
As for mobo chipset+GFX card combination? I would assume that Nforce chipset would go best with GeForce cards?
January 18, 2006 11:53:13 AM

SLI is very nice when it works. It is not always very stable and can be a pain to setup.

I hear ATI crossfire is even worse.

I believe both platforms, their drivers, software and the games themselves need to mature more.

Right now a single 7800GT PCI-Express on an nForce4 motherboard will give you the best bang for your buck or in this case pound / GBP. :-)

Good luck!
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