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Upgrading Components

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September 29, 2006 3:54:22 PM

I was going to upgrade to an AM2 board but then Core2 Duo came along... My aging m/b did pack in so I bought the cheapest stop gap components. Now I've upgraded to a 20" monitor, my budget graphics card isn't coping and I really need to complete the upgrade.

I quite liked the nvidia 5xx motherboards for AM2, so I was thinking about buying the same for Conroe but they still aren't really here in the UK. I'd only want the 570 variant, but are they really worth it? Out of practicality I'm presuming not. I've got this current basket set to go at Dabs, but crucially the memory isn't there so I'm just waiting, watching the price drop on a daily basis :-).

I don't have an ueber power supply and want the case to keep as quiet as possible so I'm avoiding SLI and (probably) overclocking. The main obssession at the moment is WoW, so I'd just like to get from the average 20fps I'm getting (but down to 6fps with lots of action) up to a comfortable 60fps, which is standard for an lcd display.

Any comments on the following?

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Socket 775 2.4GHz (£213.81)
To me, without overclocking, this has the best performance/price combination.

Gigabyte S775 Intel 965P ATX GLan HD 8CH Audio ATX S/Pipe (£118.59)
This seemed to get some good reviews, in the absence of 570 m/bs. My case is a little tight, so it can't take those m/bs that take the floppy/ide cables off the edge of the m/b - they have to come 'straight up'.

Corsair Memory TWIN2X2048-6400C4 2x1GB 240-Pin DIMM XMS2-6400 CL4 (£218.32)
This is more or less whatI would have got for AM2, but still waiting for stock to come in...

XFX GeForce 7900GS 256MB DDR3 PCIE XT Edition Dual DVI Core Clock Speed 480Mhz (£152.08)
Overclockers have a 'silent' version but that's yet to ship. 7900GS looks like it has good performance, a good price and burns as little as 35W(?). I've not tried an ATI card before so I don't really no if they have a competitor for this.

Logitech G5 Laser Mouse (£42.30)
I'm finding it quite hard to try out any mice - our local PC World is gradually transforming into Staples - so this is going more on reputation (I have an logitech mouse, with the feet long gone and the surface worn off the buttons...). Has anyone tried the G7 wireless mouse? (I've never used a wireless mouse)

Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard (£51.11)
I don't really see the point of the LCD but the extra gaming buttons are well placed for WoW, and I'd love not to be accidentally hitting the start menu combination <ctrl+esc>. The original version of this appears to have had a problem with the key top surface wearing off, but I've read that this has been replaced with a tougher finish.

My current keyboard is quite loud - is this one any quieter? That would be food for late night sessions when everyone else is asleep :-).

Thanks

More about : upgrading components

September 30, 2006 1:07:12 PM

Thanks :-).

I don't like buying keyboards/mice before trying them but the shops around here (uk: pcworld, comet etc) are not only not displaying the mice/keybords to try any more, they're not even selling this years models!
September 30, 2006 3:06:29 PM

1) You can save money by buying non Corsair memory. G.Skill GEIL and others will see you the same memory (Micron chips) for less.

2) Change the video card to the X1900XT 256- it smackes the 7900GS around.
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September 30, 2006 4:51:29 PM

Thanks for your remarks.

Quote:
1) You can save money by buying non Corsair memory. G.Skill GEIL and others will see you the same memory (Micron chips) for less.


So stick to 800MHz CL4 memory, but find a cheaper brand> I didn't particularly choose Corsair, it was more what the store had. At the moment they just have that and Crucial, which is £17 ($30) more expensive.

Quote:
2) Change the video card to the X1900XT 256- it smackes the 7900GS around.


I only briefly looked at ATI cards, as I've only had nvidia ones since my last 3dfx card.

My preference is a for a 'silent' 7900GS card, but that's not in stock yet (overclockers). What's the power consumption like on the X1900XT? It's also quite rare to find the 256 version on sale and the 512 version is up to twice as much as the 7900GS.

WoW reckon the toughest aspect of their game is the amount of textures they use, so they recommend a card with a lot of memory rather than simply raw speed. Certainly my friend's 512MB laptop graphics card has less issues imn this respect than my card. Anyhow, I have problems finding a 512M version of 7900GS likewise...

I'm quite cost sensitive so I'd like to keep the number of deliveries down - they can cost the equivalent of up to $15-20 each - hence it's hard to pick off the best components each from a different retailer
September 30, 2006 5:11:51 PM

hold out with your current setup (perhaps) for now because memory prices arent cheap at the moment. :(  you could save a few quid if you wait...

also you dont need 800mhz cas 4 ram, if you really want 800mhz ram buy cas5 (there is little difference when using core 2 duo), or you could save more money by going for 553mhz ram cas 3. it would be cheaper (especially if your not overclocking).





Core 2 duo memory test

here are a few graphs from xbit labs they show that ddr2 533 performs well in comparison to faster ram, latencies also do not affect c2d as much as before, therefore paying more for lower latencies and payoing more for faster ram is not needed - UNLESS YOU'RE OVERCLOCKING!!! :wink:

anyway it'll save you a few pounds so then you can go out and buy the 1900xt (connect 3D) (second one down) for £170 with the saved money or buy the 7900gs and buy a better PSU, like the enermax liberty 400w for around £40 (reasonably cheap) 8)
October 2, 2006 3:23:37 PM

Thanks for for your analysis, it's always nice to see data!

Memory is neither cheap not plentiful at the moment but I have managed to create a need to upgrade. I've already had an update forced on me in june as my mobo died while trying to replace a failed graphics card...

My interim system was as cheap as I could get (more or less) with a Sempron 3000, 1G DDR RAM and a nvidia 6300(!) card. The card is probably the bottleneck, even the RAM appears to be getting stressed in WoW.

This was playing WoW passably until I got a new LCD monitor and it can't cope with the 1680x1050 res, so everyday I feel the frustration - so I will probably order in the next 48h or so.

I think the article you referenced shows that there's no gain in going beyond 800MHz, but 800MHz is 7%ish better than 600Mhz and I can only buy 533MMhz - though that would about 70% of the cost (about £150), so it's tempting. I'd buy cas5 but dabs don't sell it so I'd have to see how much the multiple shipping costs would come to if I could find it elsewhere.

The x1900xt does indeed out perform the 7900gs well for as little as £20 more. However, I'm not convinced I need all that. I will probably hop onto the 2nd or 3rd generation DX10 cards so it'll only have to last a year at most. As long as the video performance hits the LCD 60Hz limit, I'm happy, but I'll always take a bit more general processing power (for audio processing etc).

The x1900xt is much noiser and takes much more power than the 7900gs, and this is a particular concern to me.

http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/atir...

The x1900xt is 9dB louder and ues 60W more than the 7900GTX. The 7900GS has reduced power and noise figures relative to the 7900GTX.

I also found another link from your link that shows concerns about the massive drop in performance of the ATI cards in Vista:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/vista-pe...

Vista isn't ready yet, but I only have Win2k and I'm beginning to suffer from compatibility issues - that logitech gaming k/b doesn't support Win2k, I can't play back movies recorded by the inlaws on their WinXP media centre... I could upgrade to XP but that's a lot of money for one year. So I'm planning to at least try out the Vista preview as its essentially free and should let me reinstall as much as I like.

I have a cheap custom custom 'quiet' case with the 350W (as yours) PSU, but one which allegedly will sustain that indefinitely. Anyhow, it's not easily replaced (it fits in the bottom front of the case...).

If I need to cut costs, I might look at the mobo, although I do like the feautures on the gigabyte one. Anyway, I saw this, which is much cheaper, at least in Alberta:

http://www.bcchardware.com/index.php?option=content&tas...
October 2, 2006 6:25:59 PM

1) have a look at scan computers for buying off the net www.scan.co.uk it might be a bit cheaper for the cpu. rams expensive tho, however i havent checked on the price of 533mhz ram.

2)overclockers have got a reasonably cheap gskill 2gb cas 4 667mhz ram pack for only £150 (same price as the 533 ram you suggested) downclock the ram to 533mhz and perhaps lower the latency. That way, for the same price as the 533mhz ram, you get ram that, if in furtre you are overclocking, will work at a 333mhz fsb (@ 1:1 ratio). :D 

however i think that it would be wise to also have a look at the prices of the corsair value select line of ram as they, if you're not overclocking, should be compatible with almost all motherboards. The gskill ram i suggested tho is not compatible with ALL motherboards however you will have to check about that (especially with the gigabyte board you said about)...

3) the ggiabyte 965p ds3 or DS4 are good motherboards, the ds4 has raid (for multiple HDDs) and a heatpipe, plus i'm getting one! :D  They should both be good for overclocking, if you choose so to do in the future

4)definatly get 2gb of ram for WOW. :wink:

5)dont get a wireless mouse get a corded optical or laser one. :) 

6) you could buy an artic cooling accellero x2 hsf and a 1900xt 256mb that would keep temps down and keep noise to a minimum. although it would cost around £10/15 more
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProdu...
cant find the review of it tho :( 

longggggggggggggg post :lol: 
October 3, 2006 11:33:03 AM

Scan do have much better prices - and availability too, so I think I can get everything there.

Didn't think the RAM there was so expensive - Overclockers always quote ex-vat, which can make them appear cheaper.

Quote:
3) the ggiabyte 965p ds3 or DS4 are good motherboards, the ds4 has raid (for multiple HDDs) and a heatpipe, plus i'm getting one! Very Happy They should both be good for overclocking, if you choose so to do in the future


And it has firewire for me too :) .

Quote:
4)definatly get 2gb of ram for WOW. Wink


Yes, I thought it wasn't playing so badly in 512MB, though it was paging a fair amount of time. Now I notice it still pages a lot when switching apps when WoW is playing - plus it thrashes the disk quite hard, so I think I will continue to see gains when moving to 2GB.

Quote:
5)dont get a wireless mouse get a corded optical or laser one. Smile


Yes, I don't really want to be in the middle of a long team session and have to swap batteries at some crucial point! I have children so I couldn't guarantee the battery state of the mouse.

Quote:
6) you could buy an artic cooling accellero x2 hsf and a 1900xt 256mb that would keep temps down and keep noise to a minimum. although it would cost around £10/15 more


But the overall power consumption is still quite high and I'm not sure I need it for WoW. I'm not sure anything I could afford would really cope with oblivion yet (But I'm too busy playing WoW anyway...).

Overclockers have a 'silent' 512MB 7900GS, but I may save the delivery charge and just get a standard 7900GS from scan, and save maybe £50.

I'm planning on buying a heatsink for the CPU. My stock AMD one is fiarly noisy - what are the stock Conroe ones like? The blurb for the custom coolers suggest that they use PWM to vary the fan speed, so if the stock one does that too then I may no mind so much (the ambient idle noise level is probably the most important).
October 3, 2006 4:04:38 PM

they'll work, they'll be fairly quiet, although they dont allow you to overclock very much with P4s (they're the same ones used with P4s) although conroe will overclock much better than the P4 with the stock fan.

However i reccomend the artic cooling freezer 7 pro
October 6, 2006 2:26:25 PM

Thanks, it's all done now!

I ended up getting an Akasa AK-960E heatsink - not what I wanted but I ordered everything from scan in the end and it was the cheapest one they had in stock, though probably a little bit of overkill. The fan's bearly turning when the cpu's idling :-).

I ended up with the DS4, an E6600, 2GB Corsair 667MHz memory and a 7900GS video card, whichsaved me a bit of cash.

It's playing WoW like a dream now with a fairly solid (limited) 60fps in 1680x1050 with 2x antialiasing and all the settings on max. It can drop to 30 in the 'dead' mode but then your're not really doing much then anyway.
October 9, 2006 3:32:16 PM

nice, glad you're happy with it :D 

now you can play WoW at a nice fps :) 
!