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I need expert advice before I buy! Help me out guys!

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April 27, 2006 12:54:51 AM

Current system:
P4 Northwood 3.0Ghz
MSI Neo2 FISR
1GB of Nanya PC3200 (512x2/dual channel)
Sound Blaster Audigy2
PNY GeForce 6200 AGP
Cooler Master case w/500watt PSU.

I'm itching to upgrade, but here's my delima...

CPU?
3000+/3200+/3500+/3700+/or X2 3800+??

MB?
ASRock Dual/DFI Infinity/ASUS A8N-E/Gigabyte GA-K8N/eVGA 133-K8-NF41/ ABIT KN8/or MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum? (some are SLI, probably won't use it) TOO many to choose from!! Fried my brain!!

GPU?
6800XT/7300GS/7600GS/7600GT

RAM?
keep current mem until $$ permits? or will it be well worth it to buy new ram now?

My current system gets me by fine, I'm just parting it out for my girl to use for homework, so I need new internals. It doesn't need to play fear or oblivion on max settings and my budget is under $500. Thanks guys!! (i'm keeping everything except for cpu/mb/gpu, unless it's recommended I get new ram) Oh, and I have 2 sata hdd's 120gb and 80gb, so I'm keeping them too.

More about : expert advice buy guys

April 27, 2006 1:01:44 AM

The X2 cpu isn't really do-able in my budget, but for example... I could by a 3000+ with the Albatron K8SLI and an eVGA 7600GS for a total (w/s+h) of $309.67 minus the $20 rebate... utilizing my current components, would this system be better than my current system?
April 27, 2006 1:09:05 AM

the ram will do...Get a 3700, 7600gt, Asrock mobo...this is about 500
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April 27, 2006 11:21:43 AM

Quote:

CPU?
3000+/3200+/3500+/3700+/or X2 3800+??


I'd go for the 3700+, well actually i did, and it is good. An X2 will blow your budget.

Quote:

MB?
ASRock Dual/DFI Infinity/ASUS A8N-E/Gigabyte GA-K8N/eVGA 133-K8-NF41/ ABIT KN8/or MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum? (some are SLI, probably won't use it) TOO many to choose from!! Fried my brain!!


Now this is a tricky one. I know there are many compatibility issues with ASUS boards and certain psu's. So its best tocheck before buying. To be honest any of them should be fine.

Quote:

GPU?
6800XT/7300GS/7600GS/7600GT


I'd get a card in the 7000 series, if you not really going to play high end games any of these should be fine.

Quote:

RAM?
keep current mem until $$ permits? or will it be well worth it to buy new ram now?


Your current ram should be fine. But more ram is always good.
April 27, 2006 2:24:04 PM

Thanks for the reply guys! I have a couple more questions, but I hope they don't irritate you... please forgive my ignorance... Will I notice a difference if I went from my 3.0ghz/0.13u/P4 to the 1.8ghz/90n/3000+? I guess what I'm asking is, I know that the 3700+ would be noticeable difference, but which amd would be equivlent? On tom's hardware cpu chart my P4 is a tough little cpu, it's just old. I was just thinking... if I bought a 3000+ now bcuz of its price tag, an ok SLI board for expandability, and a 7300gs for now, would it be equal or better than my current system? I mean it's very do-able for me to buy a nice X2 later on with nice brand of 2gb ram and 2x's whatever new video card comes out later, ya know? And are the DX10 cards gonna be pci-ex16? I mean, can I count on upgrading to one of those later? Thanks!!
April 27, 2006 2:27:47 PM

I know this is probably "crossing the line" but what about an Intel based, dual core system? Is it do-able within my budget? Then I'd need a cpu/mb/gpu/and ram... ??
April 27, 2006 2:45:06 PM

i think your system is still good.... if i were you i would get 1 extra gig of ram and a new video card... there are 7800gt agp for example

the final performance would be way better than if you get a new cpu and a 7300/7600
April 27, 2006 3:16:00 PM

I would just upgrade your graphics card to a 6800 or X800, this will give a bigger improvement in perforance than anything else.

Buy a cheap little setup for your girl to do homework on with the rest of the money.
April 27, 2006 3:22:10 PM

Any specific brand or regular 6800 or gs/gt/utltra? Would it really make that much of a difference? Hmm.... I think you're right!! I'm gonna look into this... Thanks!!
April 27, 2006 3:33:26 PM

Not sure what everyone else is thinking, but at $300 for a 3800x2, a evga 7600gs is $100 after rebate, you still got $100 budget for a MB. That will last you a good long while and handle anything that isn't real terrible. Even play Oblivion on medium settings ok.
April 27, 2006 3:33:27 PM

Look for a 6800 with 16 pipelines GT or Ultra if you can find one.

Difference between the 6200 and 6800 would be like night and day.
April 27, 2006 3:43:45 PM

Newegg doesn't have anything!? Only an Apollo 6800/128mb or an Asus 6800/512mb... where else can I look? Ebay?
April 27, 2006 4:01:55 PM

yeah, ATI x1600xt 512 $145.
April 27, 2006 4:40:58 PM

Hmm... Never thought about ATI... I'm willing to give them a try... X1600PRO or the X800GTO? What nvidia are they comparable to? Which on is better between the two? I'm guessing the GTO? You guys rock!! Thanks for all of your help!!
April 27, 2006 11:29:30 PM

I'm not quite sure which is faster between the X800GTO and the X1600 but I do know that I am pretty happy with my Sapphire X800GTO. It looks like many of the Sapphire AGP X800GTOs are unlockable if you are into that sort of thing. Mine unlocked, I helped another guy from these forums unlock his, and I know a guy from on of my college classes that unlocked one as well.
Unlocking the Sapphire card basically makes it an X800XL (16 pixel pipes instead of 12).
April 28, 2006 2:34:52 AM

So what would a stock X800GTO be in nVidia terms? I can't find any benchmarks to compare? I am more than willing to give ATI a shot, because it seems that nVidia agp's are really hard to find or really high-priced. I appreciated your help!
April 28, 2006 3:52:23 AM

I am don't have a specific comparison that I can point you to but I expect that in most cases the the stock AGP X800GTO will outpace the AGP 6800GS and depending on the application may be higher or lower than a 6800GT. If you unlock it, it will definately outpace both cards and might even be faster than a 6800 ultra in some cases.

BTW, if you are interested in more performance, overclocking your CPU might be just what you need. The Northwood C P4s (800MHz fsb and HT) overclock very well. I have my 2.8C @ 3.5GHz on stock voltage. I also have an MSI board but a slightly different model. If you have any questions let me know.

For reference, with my CPU @ 3.5 and my memory and DDR400 and an unlocked Sapphire X800GTO I get about 5500 in 3D-Mark 2005.
April 28, 2006 1:16:02 PM

x800 cards are nice, no doubt, but for longevity sake, I would recommend the 1600. x800 series cards can not do HDR or SM 3.0. In fact, a lot of the benchmarks you'll see will note that the x800 is faster in some games because it uses SM 2.0 instead of 3.0. HDR is very nice for Oblivion and I'm sure we will be seeing more and more of it.
April 28, 2006 7:07:24 PM

So the X1600PRO is better because it's newer? It has HDR and SM 3.0... But from some benchmarks I've seen it looks as though the X800GTO is like a 6800GT and the X1600PRO is like a 6600GT... I found an X1600PRO @ newegg for around $119, but the mem is only 256mb/128-bit/gddr2... the X800GTO isn't much more (like $35 more) and it has 256mb/256-bit/gddr3 mem and it's core/mem clocks are faster... I'm confused to how HDR and SM 3.0 make the X1600PRO better if it's slower? I'm itching to buy now, but I don't want to make a mistake!? ....help me out fellas!! I appreciate all of your help!!!
April 28, 2006 7:15:15 PM

I would be very interested in OC'ing my P4... currently I'm only using the D.O.T. on my board... "private" setting which barely raised it to 3.04mhz, but for some reason it runs better? (my mind maybe) Anyhow, I have the Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 with Arctic Silver 5 on it and it runs pretty cool. (around 80deg F) I've wanted to overclock, but don't know much about voltages and such. So when you said stock voltages... hmm... I'll give it a try. Does your mb have the MSI Core Cell on it? Mine does and it seems easy enough to OC with, but if you could let me know tips/tricks to OC'ing I'd appreciated it!

-better to oc in bios or in windows?
April 28, 2006 7:56:57 PM

Quote:
I would be very interested in OC'ing my P4... currently I'm only using the D.O.T. on my board... "private" setting which barely raised it to 3.04mhz, but for some reason it runs better? (my mind maybe) Anyhow, I have the Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 with Arctic Silver 5 on it and it runs pretty cool. (around 80deg F) I've wanted to overclock, but don't know much about voltages and such. So when you said stock voltages... hmm... I'll give it a try. Does your mb have the MSI Core Cell on it? Mine does and it seems easy enough to OC with, but if you could let me know tips/tricks to OC'ing I'd appreciated it!

-better to oc in bios or in windows?


It's better to overclock in the BIOS than in Windows. You don't need to change the voltage unless you overclock very high.
April 28, 2006 9:07:49 PM

Thanks, I'll give it a try... one more question though... my mb has that D.O.T. which is basically pick a setting 1-4, 4 being highest oc. Is it better to oc manually, or since it has this "automatic" feature use it? Again, I appreciate your time.
April 28, 2006 9:25:38 PM

Ok, to further explain the x800 versus x1600 thing, It is easiest to use a few analogies. The x800 series is like a v8 engine, the x1600 is like a v6. But the features of the x1600 are better (kinda like having better gas mileage). x800 cards have more processing power, no doubt. However, the newest titles use HDR, and x800 cards can not use it, so they default to the older bloom style effects. Also, they can not use SM 3.0, so default to the older 2.0 style. The ability to process HDR and SM 3.0 give the x1600 versatility. It can also be used a little better for other multimedia uses as well with the latest drivers. If the x1600 was manually set to use SM 2.0 and not use HDR, it would still be slower than the x800 series, but not as drastic as the 2.0 to 3.0 comparison makes it look. HDR and SM 3.0 are more about image quality and graphic effects, not pure FPS. So, if you don't care about them, you would be better off with the x800. For most people either card would be fine. But if you will not be upgrading in the future and you are a multimedia and image quality buff, you'd probably be better off with the x1600. Personally, I wouldn't bother will any card that cannot do SM 3.0 and HDR, but that's just how I am. On the other hand, I don't really pay attention to AA, either. If you really want longevity, you'll have to make the jump to PCIe. Another analogy for HDR and SM 3.0 is how current processors have SSE, SSE2, & SSE3. In the real world, you don't use SSE2 or SSE3 very often, but when you do, it can be a pretty big difference. Why close that door if you don't have to?
April 28, 2006 9:44:39 PM

Nice! Thanks! That helps a bunch! Considering I'm using a 6200... I have no room to be picky! I just bought the Sapphire X1600PRO. My first ATI... Keeping my fingers crossed! Sure did save alot of money, as opposed to the pci-e jump! I'm just gonna wait until conroe and am2 come out, as well as the dx10 video cards... then up grade, this should hold me over till then. I appreciate all your info!!
April 29, 2006 1:40:16 AM

I have not heard of a automatic overclock that has been very good. OC'ing takes a bit of trial and error and patience. The automatic OC'ing is a step in the right direction, but they have a long road ahead of them. Lots of issue with them even being stable at this point, or on the other end of the spectrum, some of the OC's are so little you wouldn't even notice.
April 29, 2006 6:29:32 AM

My board does have CoreCell and the Core Center software.
You can use Core Center to find what is stable and what isn't but I would recomend changing it in the bios for benchmarking and when you settle on a final overclock.

There are two approaches that you can take.
1. Maximize your memory speed with some CPU speed increase.
2. Maximize your CPU speed and use a memory divider.

My guess is that your memory wouldn't overclock terribly well because I haven't heard of that brand before. Based on that assumption, your best bet would be to go into your bios and change the RAM speed from whatever it is on (probably auto or 400) to 333.

At that point the easiest way to start would be to go back into Windows. Run prime95 torture test. The small FFTs option would probably be the best because we are focused on the CPU and not the memory. Then use Core Center and click on the red arrow to the left. Use the "Auto" button and whatch for prime95 to stop with an error. As soon as prime95 finds an error click the stop button in Core Center. Then back the fsb off at least a couple of MHz and start prime95 agian.

This is a way for you to get started. I wouldn't change any voltages to start with if you slow your memory down. I would guess that your CPU can handle at least 230MHz fsb. My 2.8 is running 258x14 = 3615 MHz as I speek.

Edit: I just got an error in prime95 so I bumped it down to 256x14 = 3584 MHz. Mind you I am currently on stock voltage.
April 29, 2006 8:41:48 AM

7600gt is good for the moment.........

what`s holding you back is that 6200 video card....you could try to replace that ..and see the results........
April 30, 2006 3:52:09 AM

Man! You really know your stuff! I'm gonna try and do just as you said... I'll keep you posted... Thanks!! Just curious about the mem drop to 333? Yea, Nanya came in my old stock Dell XPS... need new memory...
April 30, 2006 3:49:29 PM

I did everything just as you said last night, and my computer just restarts? Is it my weak PSU or am I doing something wrong? Maybe it's my cheap ram? I dropped it to 333, disabled DOT, ran prime95 torture test on small ffts, set core cell to auto, watched it go up all without getting any errors... and it just restarted the computer? But the funny thing is, when it did restart it showed 3.45ghz in core cell and cpuz? I dropped it back down to stock in fear that it might just shut down again. Is there anything I'm doing wrong? Hmm? Sorry if I'm bugging. Thanks for the help thus far!
May 1, 2006 3:23:35 AM

I would have expected prime95 to come up with an error before the system crashes. Are you sure that you are not missing the error. Prime95 will put text up in its window and the little icon in the system try will turn yellow instead of being red. My system usually only crashes with no warning due to memory instability. The CPU will usually give some warning wile running prime95.

At 3.45GHz you are running 230 fsb.
Dropping the RAM to 333 makes it run at a 5:4 ratio.
So your RAM should be running at DDR368 which is below specs and shouldn't cause any stability problems.

I kind of doubt that it is your PSU. My PSU is a 400W model. I can't remember what brand but it is the one that came with my Enermax case.

I think it is probably just a limitation of your CPU. At this point, there are two paths that you could pursue:

1. You can back off a little on your fsb to maybe 225 or so and see if that is stable. Then you could check how fast your RAM will go and move it back up to DDR400 in the bios. If your RAM can do DDR450 and your CPU can do 225 fsb that would be a decent overclock. To get the most out of your RAM you will probably need to increase the voltage to your memory maybe 2.7 to start with and relaxing the timings will also help give your memory a little more overclockability. When you test with prime95 with overclocked memory you will use the option that says "blend". You can also use memtest86 to see if your memory is causing errors. Memtest86 must be run from a bootable CD or floppy disk and catches very small errors some of which don't noticably effect your stability.

2. You could start to adjust your CPU voltage and see if that helps. Start with something small like 1.550 and see if that lets you go any further that 230 fsb. With a decent cooler, any voltage 1.6 or below is probably pretty safe but I would start low to see if lets you overclock any further. Some guys go higher and have no problems at all. I get a little nervous about putting the voltage higher that 1.6 but 1.625 probably wouldn't kill it. I think I set mine to 1.625 once and got it to post @ 3.85 GHz but I don't think it would made it into Windows.

I would probably try to go with option 1 first but you can try both. If you have any more question, let me know. I don't mind helping out. I am taking a full load of summer classes at college so I might have to put off ansering from time to time but I'll do my best not to leave you hanging too long.

I hope this makes sense. It is kind of long. :roll:
!