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Decisions, decisions : new system/cpu

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March 11, 2006 2:38:09 AM

Ok, so I rebuild my system about once every 5 years, after all the hardware has had a chance to be out in the public for awhile.......

My current little system is a P-III 1.0 ghz, 640 mb ram, ATI Rage Fury Pro VC, Asus P3V4X mobo that has been flawless. (you done laughing ? )

I don't need the latest and greatest, I'm reading all the great info on THG, but most of it is geared to the new latest and greatest, I don't need the latest and greatest.
About all we do (my wife) is play the 'Tycoon' games and some Sims games, nothing hugely graphics intensive, but for some of the new games she wants, it's time to upgrade.

I see CPU's up to $900 or more, I don't need that, so I am wondering, what CPU out there is going to give the best bang for the buck, and will last me another 5+ years ? I'm looking to spend $150 or so on the processor, I'll buy a gig or two of PC3100 or whatever speed I can put in it, but back to processor, I see several AMD's, 'Clawhammer', etc., and of course the argument of a P-D vs. a P-4 505-530, and AMD Athlon 64 3400+ or 3500+.

The problem with the THG website is TOO MUCH INFORMATION !!!

Can anyone help me narrow down what I want, from technology that is around 2 yrs. old ? I am leaning towards a P-4 LGA775 Mod. 670......

Thoughts ?

P.S. I do a lot of research on pricewatch.com, so I know what the prices are, it's when you get into the core stuff, socket stuff, that I get lost. I do understand L2 and L3 cache, any other new stuff, beats me.......

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March 11, 2006 3:57:49 AM

Well if you want your system to last a good 5 years I'd definitely recommend dual core. Why? Everyone (including Windows Vista) is working on multi-threaded applications- if you go with a single core processor you're going to be left out in the cold for the next 5 years. Understand that from here on out all new desktop CPU's will be multicore. NO ONE of any significance is developing a single core CPU. Single core CPU's (for desktop and server) will be dead in the next 1-2 years.

AMD (IMO) has the best dual core solution available right now. A Athlon X2 3800+ can be had for about $300. I realize that's twice your budget, but if you're not willing to spend that kinda cash wait a few months; AMD and Intel are working on dual core Celeron's and Sempron's. Those should be under $150.

It's worth mentioning that Intel does have a dual core Pentium for about $180 (Pentium D 820). It's performance is horrid in current apps, but it does do well in multi-threaded apps (which I have already said is the future).

Hope this helps.

-mpjesse
March 11, 2006 12:53:22 PM

I appreciate that Jesse.

The problem I have - and I am betting like most others do also - is that sure, I understand clock speed, overclocking, and on-chip cache, it's when you get into the names Winchester, Barton, Clawhammer, Northwood, Newcastle, Venice, etc. that I get left in the chip dust.......

And add on to that, for example, (although a different chip than what I am looking at altogether) there is a Centrino chip - a 1.5 ghz one I believe -that has 1 mb of L2 cache, but ALL the other ones below it and above it in speed have 2 mb of L2 cache. This can add to ones' confusion when looking for new chips, especially today, with ALL the different options - most of us can't possibly keep up.

The reason I was not sure about dual-core today is because I read (on here) that dual-core isn't very good at all for single apps, but is great for running multiple apps. I guess I have to admit I don't know the TRUE definition of 'running multiple apps', because all we ever do here is play ONE game at a time, and have Thunderbird and Firefox up in the background, I don't consider that running multiple apps..... or should I ?
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March 17, 2006 9:14:27 PM

Jesse - I'm dumb - is the dual-core thing just hardware, or will any O/S run on it ? I'd like to stick to W2K.....
March 18, 2006 2:51:18 AM

If you want to save a little cash and play it safe, I would suggest:

1) Buy a good Socket 939 motherboard, PCI-E for future-proofing. You should be able to find a nice Nforce 4 board for under $150.
2) Buy decent dual-channel ram. I'd stick with 2 x 512mb (1GB total), decent quality but not the super expensive stuff.
3) Go to Ebay or a good computer store and pick up a slightly used AMD 64 3000+. There's so many Winchesters floating around now that I've seen them priced at $25 or thereabouts. Mine is in the parts closet unused because it's not worth the hassle to try and sell it that cheap.
4) Buy a moderately expensive video card. The games you describe are limited more by the graphics subsystem than the processor.
5) Buy a new, fast hard drive. I'd go with a single 10,000 rpm drive instead of a RAID array, but that's a personal preference.
5) Set it up and run it. If it does what you want, great. If you're not happy with the performance, you're only out a few bucks for the CPU. And you could still at that point lay out $300 to $400 for a newer, faster AMD 64.

Also, after AM2 and Conroe come out, Socket 939 prices should drop. So if you went with a 1.8ghz AMD 64 3000+ now, you would still have the option later this year to move up to a 2.2 ghz or 2.4 ghz chip on the cheap.
March 18, 2006 9:28:16 PM

This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for.

Yes, I am going to spend what I need for the infrastructure of the hardware, along the lines of a fast SATA and a decent VC, and I will probably buy 2 x 1gb strips of memory (2 gb total), but man, like I was
saying, when you get into CPU's and all the different 'names' such as
winchester and northwood, that's where I don't know one from the other anymore.....

I appreciate your reply.
March 21, 2006 2:59:44 AM

I didn't go with a 10,000 rpm HD, I did get a maxtor 250 gig sata 7200 rpm job for $60 after rebates, I also bought a Radeon 1300 VC, but it's going back tomorrow and being swapped with an Nvdia geforce 6600.
March 21, 2006 3:17:28 AM

personally, i'd just wait the couple of months for price to drop, unless you can get a great deal on a cpu

if you want a quality chip that will last ebay is probably not you bet bet, as you're never sure of the quality.

The geforce 6600 is a bargain, and unless your wife takes a sudden interest in some extreme gaming it'll run everything fine. (I just put an agp one in one of my boxs and have been very happy with it)

Also make sure you get a good psu, its often overlooked.

cheers
March 21, 2006 10:40:50 PM

Yep. I know what it takes, and understand everything about building PC's - I have been doing it for years, the only problem I have is keeping up with Processors, it seems they change weekly, and I just can't keep up, I have not kept up at all on processors since like 1998 or whenever the P-III 600eb mhz came out.

All I know is for right now, just about anything will be faster than her P-IIIEB 1 ghz slot one.......

Now the next quest - a good affordable socket 939 mobo.......
March 22, 2006 4:19:40 AM

Like brainysmurf said just find an Nforce4 board from a decent company, I'd suggest an Asus A8N-E. Sli seems like it would be a waste for you, so you'd probably be better of not spending the extra 50 bucks. If you want to save even more money you might want to go down to a board with a VIA K8T800, its a very decent board for the price.
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March 22, 2006 10:57:34 AM

"...when you get into CPU's and all the different 'names' such as
winchester and northwood, that's where I don't know one from the other anymore....."

Just get an Opty 175, X2/4200+, or 4600+, and you'll be golden, and still won't care about core names (which identify 130/90nm manufacturing process, single/dual core versions, features such as SSE2/3, etc.)....
March 22, 2006 1:52:53 PM

Your best bet would be to wait for about 3 - 4 months. Specially since you plan to upgrade every 5 years. You should be able to get a decent mid range PC then.

Right now dual processors are an expensive (except for the Intel 805) option and I suspect that once dual processing becomes mainstream even the tycoon and sims games you play will be mutithreaded
March 23, 2006 2:15:35 AM

The last time I was really into building them was when the 440BX chipset was the King, right about when the 'new' VIA chipset was starting to come out.

Folks, I really appreciate your input.
March 23, 2006 7:27:54 AM

Man the BX was one great chipset I don't think any chipset held the throne for that long. (Nforce4 maybe?)
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