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Suggestions for Some New Hardware Around $500-600?

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February 9, 2006 9:04:36 AM

Tax refund time is coming up and I am finally going to upgrade some of my computer hardware. I have been on Pricewatch and Tom's for days reading and reviewing 'til my eyes go crossed trying to decipher all the newest information. I realized I am soooo out of the loop on which parts to get now, that I feel like a computer n00b again.

I really need help picking out new parts to get the best bang for my $$.

I am keeping reusable stuff like my monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVDRW drives, 400w power supply, full-tower case, etc. and replacing the motherboard, CPU, and I am ditching the ATA hard drives and going RAID0.
I am also going to keep my GeForce 6600GT (AGP), my PCI sound card, and my Corsair CMX1024 3200DDR, (if at all possible)

I basically would like to spend around $500-600 for a sweet ATX motherboard and CPU, and (2) 80-100GB hard drives I will set up in RAID0. I will need the board to have at least 3 PCI slots.

I will be keeping the new setup I get for a couple of years at least, except maybe going to PCI-X when I can....so a board with PCI-X and AGP 8x would be good, but, I think I can live with a 6600GT if I have to, until tax time rolls around again.
Suggestions and links would be greatly appreciated.
February 9, 2006 1:58:20 PM

up it about 150 and get this...

amd 3200+
1gb memory
80gb hd
epox sli mobo
dvdrw
February 9, 2006 2:12:19 PM

For that much i can build you one with a socket 939 mobo, AMD Athlon 3200, two 80 Gb SATAs in a RAID 0 configuration, 1 Gb of ram and you can keep using your 6600 :D  , its not that hard you just gotta search online for different deals :D 
Related resources
February 9, 2006 2:21:48 PM
February 9, 2006 2:31:06 PM

Asrock Dual (you can keep your AGP card this way) - 65
AMD 64 X2 3800+ (Manchester) – 296
CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR 400 – 196
Shipping around – 14

Sell the rest of your parts on e-bay to recoop some costs and save that money for a few months until the 7900 comes out then buy a PCIe 7800 :) 

You could also go with an Opty instead of the X2

The point is, getting a motherboard is easy and cheap whereas a processor and good memory is hard (expensive) so squeeze all you can into getting the fastest processor possible!
February 9, 2006 3:35:24 PM

Actually, I disagree regarding the processor. You should always focus on getting a quality motherboard and chipset to allow for expansion. I would recommend a decent processor, like the XP3200 Venice in this case. It's inexpensive and capable of holding it's own right now. I've also read your almost guaranteed to OC it to 2.2 with no problems.

Try this:

2 80 GB Seagates @ $118.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

1 Abit NF4 Ultra Mboard $91.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

1 X800 GTO @ $115.00 (Honestly, you guys can duke it out over this. I don't care. I just pulled it from Cleeve's list.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Arctic Silver (A Must) @ $5.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1683...

1 GB Corsair RAM @ $99.00 (You didn't spec what config your RAM is now, 2 512s ????, adjust accordingly)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

1 Athlon XP 3200 Venice @ $169.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

$598.98 (Plus Shipping)



This will get you into the PCI-E and leaves plenty of headroom for expansion. You'll be able to expand the processor and video card later as your budget allows.

When the new AMD platform arrives the socket 939s will start to drop in price in about a year and this board can handle any of them all the way up to the FX-60. Then you can drop one in that will be much faster than the XP3200 and breath some new life in this rig without breaking the bank. On top of that, Vista should be available by then, maybe with even the eventual service pack, and hopefully software vendors will have more mainstream support in their products for 64 bit applications and multi-cores.

PCI-E will be around for awhile and with the competition so hot between ATI and nVidia, there will always be a good mid-level vid card available whenever you decide to upgrade.

Keep in mind that this isn't a screaming gamer setup, but you didn't specify that, it will however handle just about any game right now on mid-settings. Top end would be kinda hard for $600.00.
February 9, 2006 3:43:09 PM

Quote:
up it about 150 and get this...

amd 3200+
1gb memory
80gb hd
epox sli mobo
dvdrw

I have a DVDRW and a seperate DVD/CDROM and I already have 1024 of DDR. Are you saying to get another 1024?. SO that saves me $150 or so to spend on something else. 8)
February 9, 2006 4:14:38 PM

Quote:
Actually, I disagree regarding the processor. You should always focus on getting a quality motherboard and chipset to allow for expansion. I would recommend a decent processor, like the XP3200 Venice in this case. It's inexpensive and capable of holding it's own right now.


How exactly does the Abit you recommend have more expansion capacity? Sure, it has a few more slots/drive capacity, but you force him to spend (waist) more money on a mid line card when by summer he will probably be able to get a 7800 cheep. Nextly, you lock him into 939 whereas the Dual will be upgradeable to AM2. I’m not saying the 3200+ is a bad chip, its actually pretty good. But it’s a dying breed and why not get twice the power right now and just wait for the 7800’s to come down?
February 9, 2006 4:18:34 PM

I totally forgot to mention that I have my FSB oc'd to 152mhz (from 133) which puts me at 3.2(CPU). I want a good motherboard that will allow me to do some decent overclocking..nothing special...just one that will allow me to manually OC the individual DDR voltages and timings.
OK, another question: is the AMD 3200+ really comparable to a P4-3.2Ghz as the similar 3.2/3200+ numbers might suggest? My girlfriend has an Athlon 2800+ @ 2083mhz and it seems to be faster than the 2083Mhz might suggest (as compared to my P4). I remember a while back, AMD used this numbering system to compare/compete with Intel (ie: a 2083Mhz being termed a 2800+).

Quote:
Didnt know what your ram config is. 1x 1Gb or 2x 512mb.
You can use they in raid how ever the performance of raid is mostly in benchmarks.

I totally put the wrong DDR info down....it is 1x1024 (not 2x512) Corsair XMS with the model # being CMX1024
February 9, 2006 5:51:20 PM

Quote:


2 80 GB Seagates @ $118.00 (you spec out sata 150 why? old)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

1 Abit NF4 Ultra Mboard $91.99 (does not have agp port)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

1 X800 GTO @ $115.00 (Honestly, you guys can duke it out over this. I don't care. I just pulled it from Cleeve's list. (you are recommending to buy another mid range card for what reason??)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Arctic Silver (A Must) @ $5.99 (totally unnecessary)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1683...

1 GB Corsair RAM @ $99.00 (You didn't spec what config your RAM is now, 2 512s ????, adjust accordingly) (with the product number he has 1024 mb of xms just dont know config and you spec value)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

1 Athlon XP 3200 Venice @ $169.00 (sure is on the low end of things, not slow but not fast either)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

$598.98 (Plus Shipping)

February 9, 2006 7:18:33 PM

I have a tube of Artctic Silver already...so that's not a problem.
I want to go as fast as possible with the $$ I can spend (don't we all? lol)
It is just confusing to me with P43.6ghz and AMD3600+ and then you have the Opteron running at 2.0-2.4 and still is supposed to be faster...all the pipelines and operations per clock cycle and all that are damn hard to interpret for me being out of the buyer's market for a couple of years now.
February 9, 2006 7:42:00 PM

For future expansion? How many people honestly upgrade only the processor? I for one never have. Why not go with something to last a while and not waist money on buying parts twice. There is nothing wrong with the asrock board, many people have really liked it and performs as well as an NF4 board. With the my config above using the asrock board you will be able to use you agp card instead of buying another mid range card. Only area where the ULi chip falls behind the NF4 is in overclocking. Still stable with lite overclocking just wont go as high. The thermal tape that comes with the processor is fine unless you like to scrape it off and apply arctic silver. Sata 3.0Gb/s is the newest standard. 2Gb of ram is not required but does have many advantages with newer games. Since you have 1Gb stick another 1Gb stick will enable dual channel for the motherboard.
February 9, 2006 7:46:10 PM

Yea, it is confusing. Both Intel and AMD are playing the naming game because they have to convince buyers that their next iteration of processors are worth the extra cash. Here’s a chart of processors and how they match against each other (note the code names).

http://www23.tomshardware.com/cpu.html

Now with the 939 Opteron’s, the only real difference is the quality of manufacturing. Opteron’s are cherry picked Athlons (San Diego core) which run really cool thus their ability to be over clocked. The primary people that buy and run Opteron’s are people that are going to over clock them (it is well known that the Opteron’s are reduced in clock significantly).

The general rule is you should never buy a processor a step up from the one you think minimally antiquate for your needs – go two higher since the one just above the one you ‘would’ have picked usually is not significantly better. Thus if you think the 3200+ Venice is OK and might go for the 3400+ then you might as well go with the 3700+ (San Diego) because it is a significant step up.

All that confusing stuff behind, this is the path I would take on processors at the moment:

For Dual:

First Choice
AMD Opteron 170 Denmark 1GHz FSB Socket 939 Dual Core Processor
Reason: It can be over clocked to the speed of an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ pretty easily and at a savings of around $200.

Second Choice (budget)
AMD Opteron 165 Denmark 1GHz FSB Socket 939 Dual Core for the same reason stated above.

Single Core:
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego is the lowest single core I would get. It is priced nicely at around 230 and can be over clocked.
February 9, 2006 7:46:45 PM

Thanks, Vascular. I am starting to get a better feel for the dual-core thing and am now currently doing comparisons on actual bottom-line speed differences between them.
February 9, 2006 7:50:48 PM

Thanks, Maxx, that is the exact same guide I am looking at when I got the e-mail. No Opterons listed on there, though...This is starting to make sense though...and all your suggestions have been extremely helpful.
Thanks to all that have replied, but I am still open for more suggestions :oops:  :oops:  Keep the suggestions rolling!!
February 9, 2006 8:23:40 PM

The opteron 165 should be somewhat comparable to the 3800+ x2 to help out with the chart.
February 10, 2006 2:02:45 AM

I see that an AMD 3800+ smokes a P4 of the same mhz....I guess I was just wondering exactly how much faster it really is...Knowing where an Opteron fits into that chart really helps and has pretty much helped me make up my mind on a CPU...now i am still riding the fence on the mobo...
February 10, 2006 2:45:19 AM

If you are going to try and use the 6600gt you have your options are limited but not bad. I would recommend getting an Nforce4 board if you were going to upgrade your video as well, but it doesnt make much sense to buy another midrange card. ULi does make good chips just not widely used. There are other options but none allow for using agp with a pci-e for upgrading video later. Here is a link to some at newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?Submit=EN...
a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2006 10:34:01 AM

"OK, another question: is the AMD 3200+ really comparable to a P4-3.2Ghz as the similar 3.2/3200+ numbers might suggest?"

You bet...! And maybe even a little more....

Prob pretty close to a Northwood running at 3.2.....or a socket 775 running 3.4/DDR2
February 14, 2006 8:56:46 AM

there's only one board out there with AGP and PCIe Asrock dual sata2, if using your current AGP card and upgrading later to PCIe is your criteria, then that's your board.

As for processors, I disagree with going two steps up. I'd say get the 3200 and overclock it to that "significant" step up and spend that money on other components or just keep in your pocket. The price difference between a 3200 and 3700 is huge for the performance jump you get as compared to the performance jump if you get by putting that money into a better hard drive, RAM or graphics card. Get the 3200 and get a raptor drive or two, or get some DDR 600 memory instead.
March 3, 2006 8:43:51 PM

OK, guys! Here's the system I finally decided on and now have installed and running:
I went with the Asus A8N-E mobo and Opteron 165 with 2x512Mb of Corsair XMS and 2 Seagate Barracudas in RAID0
I have to say this system is wayyyy more than I was expecting.
I use SandraLite to benchmark and compare to what I used to have (P4 2.8) and to other systems I was considering; and I must say, I am extremely pleased with what I got. I ended up spending about $200 more than I wanted, but it was damn well worth it.
This Opteron is overclocked all the way to 2.6Ghz and running totally stable on the stock HS/F that came retail.
According to my benchmarks, I couldn't have done any better without spending a LOT more $$.

SandraLite CPU Arithmetic:
Dhrystone: 23,283 MIPS
Whetstone: 10,583 MFLOPS

SandraLite CPU Multimedia:
Integer x4: 48,969 it/s
Floating-Point x4: 53,070 it/s

3DMark01: 23,011
AquaMark3: 69,870

I want my 3DMark05 scores higher before I post them!! :oops: 
March 3, 2006 9:29:11 PM

Nice set up looks like you ended up buy another 6600gt.
Oh well dual core is fast isnt it. :D 
!