Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Need advice on longevity of new system

Last response: in Systems
Share
May 24, 2006 2:18:02 AM

I haven't built a system in about 5 years, and I haven't been following computer at all lately. So, I have no idea how long stuff is going to last me. My situation is this:

I've got about $600 max, and I need a graphics card, mobo, cpu and ram.

I've got a pretty big case, audigy sound, 17" monitor, 7200 rpm hd, 400W PS etc. I'm looking for a gaming system (not extreme hardcore but still able to give me some nice eye candy), and I'd like it to last hopefully 3 years or so.

I know there is all kinds of stuff coming out like conroe and am2 etc., but the way I see it is even when it comes out, I won't be able to afford it for a while anyway. And I've heard people say go with a s939 because that should last a couple years. Now:

Originally I had thought to go with a Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego. But someone suggested to downsize that and go with a bigger card like 7900GT. So this is what i'm proposing for $600:

AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (s939 Venice) ($130 on Ebay)
Geforce 7900 GT ($270ish newegg)
This leaves me with $200 for RAM and mobo.

Tell me if you think this is a good use of the money and will last me a while.

thanks
May 24, 2006 3:30:38 AM

Remember the HD
SATA II 16MB cache with NCQ
But I dont know your budget for this

You may consider an enver lower end CPU as you may need 2G for Vista.
3000+ and 3200+ are just abouve $100 and the prices are dropping.

The Asus A8N-E is quite good. (nForce4 Ultra)
The Asus A8N-SLI is slightly more expensive but has SLI option. (nForce4 SLI)
Related resources
May 24, 2006 3:37:34 AM

Quote:
Remember the HD
SATA II 16MB cache with NCQ
But I dont know your budget for this


He's carrying over an existing HD.

Quote:
You may consider an enver lower end CPU as you may need 2G for Vista. 3000+ and 3200+ are just abouve $100 and the prices are dropping.


I don't think he mentioned going to Vista and it doesn't appear to be in the budget. Some predict Vista will consume enough resources to lower gaming performance, so probably not a good idea for this build.
May 24, 2006 4:18:15 AM

A couple things:
1) Don't buy any computer parts off of eBay
2) What brand is that PSU? If it doesn't have enough amps on the 12V rail, it won't run the 7900GT
May 24, 2006 5:01:23 AM

Quote:
A couple things:
1) Don't buy any computer parts off of eBay
2) What brand is that PSU? If it doesn't have enough amps on the 12V rail, it won't run the 7900GT


My 3000+ i picked up on ebay from a guy that was only using systems for 2 weeks works great. Generally however you are right.
May 24, 2006 9:02:53 AM

Quote:
A couple things:
1) Don't buy any computer parts off of eBay
2) What brand is that PSU? If it doesn't have enough amps on the 12V rail, it won't run the 7900GT


My 3000+ i picked up on ebay from a guy that was only using systems for 2 weeks works great. Generally however you are right.

Yeah, it depends on what you are looking for. Some items you just don't want to buy used, and others you will have no problems with.

Fritz
May 24, 2006 12:57:48 PM

Quote:
Yeah, it depends on what you are looking for. Some items you just don't want to buy used, and others you will have no problems with.


I'd be mostly concerned about items that have moving parts like hard drives and opticals. After that I'd probably avoid parts that could easily be static or mechanically abused like mobos, RAM and GPUs. I'd be willing to take a risk on the rest as long as it had a non-DOA guarantee from a seller with good feedback.
May 24, 2006 1:36:18 PM

If you ask me, I think it is more worth it to go with the A64 3500+. I personally have one and it can take anything I can throw at it (obviously not the same sort of throw you could make at a higher end CPU, but its plenty for gaming). Plus, for games that come out in a year or two, you always have the option of overclocking it to match a 3700+ or higher. The 3500 can be kicked up quite well. All of the A64 socket 939's from 3000+ through 3500+ can be overclocked to match either the next processor or higher in line.

7900GT is definitely a good choice if you are going single GPU, or the X1800XL which costs less.. Obviously depends on if you want an Nvidia GPU vs. an ATi one. Both are great cards though. Keep in mind that you will be limited by their onboard RAM, both having 256mb. This will cause you to need more system RAM, and 2GB of value ram is definitely the way to go if you want a semi-budget gaming system to last a few years. Newer games will be requiring more and more ram for texture sizes. I have a 7800GT that I am very happy with, and it has obviously been able to take care of my gaming (F.E.A.R., Quake 4, COD2, BF2, and I am sure it will be fine for at least another year or so).

A quality motherboard can easily be had for $100. Don't rule out some of the smaller names in the business. Its hard not to write them off, seeing as they aren't as popular as the bigger brands (some of which have been having problems lately ie: Asus). I have an Abit KN8 Ultra, which I am extremely happy with. I have had ZERO problems with it. Its a great Socket 939 board, but it does not have SLi. If you want to be able to have dual vid cards in the future, go with something that supports that.

As far as RAM goes, you could easily get a little more than value ram and do something like OCZ Performance series dual channel. Perfect bang for your buck.


Total:

$270 7900GT (or X1800XT $250)
$100-170 AMD64 3000+ through 3500+
$99 Abit KN8 Ultra
$100 1gig of OCZ Performance Series RAM
--------------------------------------------------------
$569-639 Total


Note: These prices were taken from Newegg.com. Obviously you can find places with slightly lower or higher prices.
May 24, 2006 7:00:26 PM

Thanks for all the replies.

I know I said that I had a hd, power supply, case etc...but I need opinions on whether or not i should upgrade those too. Chances are you'll laugh when you hear what I have, keep in mind this computer is 5 years old.

My power supply is a 400W PowMax, and I'm not sure how to check the amperage on the rails. My harddrive is a 30gb 7200rpm IDE from Western Digital, and case is a giant full tower Antec.

I know alot of people are talking about SATA (I've been out of the game for a good 5 years), but I'm not terribly worried about the hd size, but if SATA will increase my gaming performance, I'd consider it.

For those of you that mentioned it, I'm not worried about the RAM, I'll probably buy another stick within a few months to get 2GB. The only other thing I'm concerned about is my case. Its BIG BIG BIG, but I don't know what cases are like nowadays. [edit]It has, I beleive, I've never built a system before, two spots for harddrives, and three for optical drives) It has two fans in the back, plus two spots for fans in the front. I've read a lot of reviews of the 7900gt and I don't know if I'll be able to keep it cool enough.

...and its goddamn ugly too, it looks like its from 1985...

thanks
jvmiller
May 24, 2006 7:50:23 PM

Well... if it's a good power supply, and you don't do any overclocking, then you might be fine... but it's at the borderline for necessary headroom.

You'll run out of 30GB fairly quickly.
XP and some "program files" will take up 7-10GBs.
Add a few games, programs, and maybe music and movies, too, and you're way beyond.
Also remember to leave 20% for defrag to work correctly.

IDE drives have a theoretical bandwidth of 133/100 MBps. SATA-I has 150 and SATA-II has 300 - however, real-world performance is far from theoretical...
Another thing to consider is that most MoBos have SATA instead of IDE.
Also, sata-wires are not as ultrawide, and not restricting airflow so badly.
May 24, 2006 8:28:18 PM

Quote:
My power supply is a 400W PowMax, and I'm not sure how to check the amperage on the rails. My harddrive is a 30gb 7200rpm IDE from Western Digital, and case is a giant full tower Antec.

I know alot of people are talking about SATA (I've been out of the game for a good 5 years), but I'm not terribly worried about the hd size, but if SATA will increase my gaming performance, I'd consider it.


You can look on Toms or places like anandtech for HD comparison data. For gaming, I think of GPU, RAM and CPU bottlenecks before the HD - but then again I detest waiting for a slow HD. So on my gaming box, I have the games on a pair of RAID0 Raptors. But I actually installed that array to speed up video editing writes.

Quote:
It has two fans in the back, plus two spots for fans in the front. I've read a lot of reviews of the 7900gt and I don't know if I'll be able to keep it cool enough.


You can add front fans and/or add a blowhole if you're willing to do the metal cutting, etc. One of the selling points of the 7900GT is that it runs relatively cool and I'd have to believe that four fans plus the PS fan should be enough.

Quote:
...and its goddamn ugly too, it looks like its from 1985...


Well, maybe you could mod her up a little. Every lady likes to dress up every now and then. Oh, I see, you've used her up and have your eye on the new chick across the street? I'd never do such a thing...
May 24, 2006 8:48:39 PM

SATA is a decent performance boost over IDE drives in terms of load times (20MB/s or more in bandwidth on average in benchmarking tests), and SATA II doesnt seem to offer much of a difference except in price in the nitty gritty . 250gig SATA drives are all the rage right now, and you can find them for $80 or less when on sale (think $50). Frank_M poses a good point with how much space gets taken up by XP and program files. Start adding games, other apps, and multimedia files, and you have a HD exploding at the seams.

Your power supply might need an upgrade to handle all of this new hardware. Not necessarily in terms of wattage (450W is probably a solid bet for the hardware discussed) but in terms of stability/amperage ones that have come out in the past year are leaps and bounds above ones from 5 years ago. Far more efficient and stable. You'll even save on the electric bill (or your parents will...), and protect your beautiful new hardware!

2 fans in the back and 2 in the front should be plenty for the stuff you are talking about buying. As long as you have some solid intake/exhaust flow (ie maybe buy some new fans for your case), all of the components in discussion run with decent temps and should be cooled sufficiently. Adding a new shiny case could jump your budget gate pretty quickly..
May 24, 2006 8:49:00 PM

Quote:
SATA-II has 300 - however, real-world performance is far from theoretical...


I look forward to the day that HDs saturate their interface.

Quote:
Another thing to consider is that most MoBos have SATA instead of IDE.


AFAIK, most mobos now have both.

Quote:
Also, sata-wires are not as ultrawide, and not restricting airflow so badly.


And you can shop around and find them cheap in a wide variety of lengths for a custom fit in your case.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 24, 2006 8:50:03 PM

Yeah, that 30GB will vanish before you hardly get started. You can pick up an 80GB SATA for < $50; 120GB for < $70.
Considering the heat put out by the 7900, the thinner SATA cable is a valid consideration for airflow, or you can buy round IDE cables.
The PSU ought to have its output on a label somewhere. I'd be a little worried about that PSU, especially considering its age. Most people around here suggest $70-$80 as the amount you ought to expect to pay for a decent PSU. Although mine was cheaper, and has given no grief, my next build will also have a better one in that range.
I would be very leery of buying a CPU off ebay. A new 3200+ is $135 (Newegg price).
As old as your case is, any fans in it may be due for replacement; add some if you don't have any (or enough). One or more "suckers" in front, and one or more "blowers" in back will give good airflow through the case, especially if you use SATA and/or round cables.
May 25, 2006 12:05:25 AM

Okay, my psu only has 12amps on the 12v rail, so i'll need a new one...and its like 4 years old anyway. I dont think I can squeeze more than $600 for a new system...at least right now...perhaps i could keep the hd now, and upgrade it later? i guess i would have to find a mobo that supported both ide and sata....

the only way i see fitting in the power supply into my $600 budget is to lower my graphics card or cpu. Either that, or keep the 3500 and 7900gt leaving me 200, and try to fit a psu, mobo and 1gb of ram into $200, upgrading the hd when i had more money. Any ideas?

and about that 3200+: if i get that, i've seen the comparisons on thg, and i'd really like to have a solid gaming system for a few years...whats that noise? oh...its my bank breaking... :( 
a b B Homebuilt system
May 25, 2006 12:50:30 AM

As long as you're not playing games on the bleeding edge, like Oblivion with maximum eye-candy on 1600x1200, you could consider dropping from a 7900GT to a 7600GT; you'll have another $75-$100 to use elsewhere. Real twitchy gamers here might say that's blasphemy, but if that is your budget...
Although it ultimately will cost more, you could consider a SLI-capable mobo, where you could add a second 7600GT later. Personally, that seems a little wasteful, since single top-quality cards perform better, but the budget gets the final word.
Remember too, you're going to drop another $8-$13 each on a pair of fans for the front of your case (cheaper ones won't last), but probably no more on cables since mobos generally come with them.
May 25, 2006 1:32:18 AM

The 7600GT would be able to handle the games out right now on medium settings, but anything newer and it will choke.. Unfortunately future proofing a budget gaming system is tough to do.

As far as I understand, if there is anything that is going to help the most, its going to be the video card and the ram. The more you can pump those up, the better off you will be in terms of "future" games. HD can wait (when looking at performance increase vs price). I think jtt283 is right when he says the budget is boss. With the motherboard, video card, 1 gig of ram, new power supply and a few fans, you should be right at $600 (perhaps $30-$50 less if you snatch the right prices/deals)
May 25, 2006 1:46:19 AM

True, I'm not an extreme gamer, and don't really require max anything...i wouldn't even mind gaming at 1024x768. How long do you think a 7600 gt would last me with a a64 3500+? By last I mean still be able to do decent gaming? i'm looking for at least 2-3 years, and i suppose i could always wait a little longer for prices to drop. but your right, i have a feeling theres goign to be more little things like fans that i haven't included...:( 
a b B Homebuilt system
May 25, 2006 2:11:17 AM

I haven't been playing Oblivion, but everything I do have runs perfectly well on my sig-rig; hell, Unreal Tournament, Guild Wars, Diablo II, Dungeon Siege, Sacred, and a few others look great on my backup PC (3200+) which has a vanilla 6600 in it. I don't run any higher than 1280x1024, and most things are 1024x768.
I don't have F.E.A.R., C.O.D. / C.O.D. II, or other recent stressful games though. I've got Oblivion, but have only played it about 20 minutes (I'm not used to the mechanics, but haven't abandoned it).
May 25, 2006 2:24:40 AM

New games like Crysis, Supreme Commander, and Prey might force you down to 800x600 on a card like the 7600gt. Those are the games I think of when I hear "new games". If you are talking about playing Battlefield 2, FEAR, CODII, or others games that are current, you should be just fine at 1024x768 (even with an A64 3200+)
May 25, 2006 2:52:31 PM

A couple of things that might help:

1. No SATA hard drive has a sustained transfer rate even near the 100MB limit of the IDE/ATA/100 interface. The fastest SATA HDD out there is the 150GB WD Raptor and it can do about 85MB/sec. Yes, some 15K RPM 320GB U320 SCSI drives can get a little over 100MB/sec, but they alone cost >$1K, let alone a SCSI controller to control them.

2. All boards still have ATA/IDE connectors. With the exception of a few oddball SCSI drives and a two Plextor SATA units, all optical drives are IDE. Most boards have two IDE connectors, good for four devices. The new NForce 5x0 series chipsets for AMD AM2 chips only have one IDE connector (2 devices), but a PCI IDE controller card is pretty cheap and will fit in that huge Antec case.

3. Your case is more than big enough to fit enough fans to cool that 7900. My mid-tower ATX case has one 80mm front fan, one 80mm side fan, and one 120mm rear fan- way less than yours. I manage to cram a much warmer X2 4200+, a passively-cooled GPU, and two HDDs (one's even a hot-running 10K unit) and everything runs more than cool enough. As long as the case will fit an ATX spec board, why replace it? Especially since you're on a budget.

4. 2GB (2x1GB) is about the sweet spot for today. Much more is overkill, especially with a 32-bit Windows OS and its memory management scheme. I run a 64-bit Linux OS and have things *aggressively* stuffed into RAM and I never use more than 1GB of my 2GB RAM, even when I have an enormous amount of things open and a very high load on my computer. You want a pair of RAM modules to run them in dual channel.

5. A newer HDD would greatly benefit performance as the performance is increased by not only the rotational speed but the platter density. I'd be willing to bet your 30GB unit is a 5400rpm model, so you could get an upgrade by getting a new one. More RPM = faster and also more capacity = denser = faster. I got my 250GB unit (very nice) for about $95 shipped. If your board has SATA ports, get a SATA HDD, but it does not matter if you get an IDE/ATA one if you can get a decent one for cheap. Performance will be identical.

6. You might want to make sure your PSU has enough amps/watts and will work with a new board. PSUs used to be a lot smaller and have a different PSU-to-motherboard connector. You will want to get a good one- spend $70 or so. Less than that and you're begging for trouble.
May 25, 2006 3:38:43 PM

Quote:

Another thing to consider is that most MoBos have SATA instead of IDE.


AFAIK, most mobos now have both.
Yes, but most new ones only have 1 or 2, meanwhile the majority of optical drives are IDE.
May 25, 2006 3:46:16 PM

If you take a look at prices, you will find that SATA versions of HD's are usually maybe $10-$20 more expensive than their IDE counterparts. Buy an SATA150 drive (or SATA II, who cares if the price is right) and take care of the IDE space problem (room for optical drives), as well as bring yourself up to a newer standard and future proof for new hard drives (SATA also requires SATA power connectors, which means new power supply or adapters on existing PSU.. but as recommended by others, new power supply is strongly recommended).
May 25, 2006 6:43:18 PM

Quote:
If you take a look at prices, you will find that SATA versions of HD's are usually maybe $10-$20 more expensive than their IDE counterparts.


Huh? 250GB WD IDE: $99 on Newegg

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

250 GB WD SATA: $90 with double the cache and whaddya know, it's actually on sale today at $80!

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Quote:
(SATA also requires SATA power connectors, which means new power supply or adapters on existing PSU.. but as recommended by others, new power supply is strongly recommended).


Not sure about the solar system you live in but I've got 5 SATA drives at home and all of them have both SATA power in plugs AND conventional Molex PS power in.
May 25, 2006 7:00:23 PM

I was giving a more average number in terms of price difference. Sometimes they are less expensive, sometimes more. In the case of those two drives, yeah, the SATA is $20 less.

I think it is safe to say that the price difference is not that much between IDE drives and SATA drives, whether it is a few bucks more or a few bucks less. That seems like it is most helpful to jv.


Quote:
Not sure about the solar system you live in but I've got 5 SATA drives at home and all of them have both SATA power in plugs AND conventional Molex PS power in.

Yeah, well I have ten bagillion of those at home! And they... oh wait... yeah, they do have molex connectors as well.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 25, 2006 7:30:39 PM

I have a number of different brand/size SATA drives in various systems right now. One or two have only the SATA power connector, some have the Molex connector, and some have both (but you use either, not both at the same time).
May 26, 2006 3:36:37 PM

Quote:


Not sure about the solar system you live in but I've got 5 SATA drives at home and all of them have both SATA power in plugs AND conventional Molex PS power in.

My Seagate drive only has the sata power connection.

Right, and that's a choice made by your drive mfgr. It's not manditory for the SATA standard and that's what I was replying to. I wouldn't be surprised to see more HDs going to SATA power only over time but for now, you can easily find Molex-powered SATA drives.
May 26, 2006 3:59:23 PM

Even if there are drives with molex power connections he still needs to upgrade his power supply, and therefor will probably have SATA power connectors anyway..
May 26, 2006 7:23:02 PM

Quote:
Even if there are drives with molex power connections he still needs to upgrade his power supply, and therefor will probably have SATA power connectors anyway..


I was never debating the issue with you about buying or not buying a new PS. Look at some of my posting history and you'll see I'm very pro-overkill PS. At home, I go so far as to have extra power supplies sitting around like benchies on the basketball team, just waiting for a chance to sub.

What I quoted you saying was:

"(SATA also requires SATA power connectors, which means new power supply or adapters on existing PSU.. but as recommended by others, new power supply is strongly recommended)."

Surely you got the gist that I was focusing on the first part of your comment where you implied that SATA drives require SATA power connectors. I snipped it specifically to focus on that context and, re-reading my comments in that first reply to you, that seems plenty clear.
May 26, 2006 7:42:08 PM

Granted. I'm not trying to argue with you about it, I fully recognize the fact that I failed to convey that SATA drives can have one or the other or both. I was just reiterating for the benefit of the person who is seeking advice about it so they dont get lost in us discussing the finer points. As long as jvmiller comes out with the answers he/she needs, then everyone wins!
May 26, 2006 7:54:51 PM

Quote:
Granted. I'm not trying to argue with you about it, I fully recognize the fact that I failed to convey that SATA drives can have one or the other or both. I was just reiterating for the benefit of the person who is seeking advice about it so they dont get lost in us discussing the finer points. As long as jvmiller comes out with the answers he/she needs, then everyone wins!


Agreed.
!