AMD Homebuilt Assistance

Hi there, I'm new to the forums. I'm in pretty desperate need of assistance in building a new system. My current one (which I built 4 years ago) is severely outdated and man was I shocked to see how much stuff has changed since then. I knew I was in trouble when I was looking at video cards and asked myself, "Why the hell did they go back to PCI?! What happened to AGP8x? WHAT IS EXPRESS?!?!?!"

In any case, I've been researching and in general beating the heck out my brain for the last couple weeks absorbing 4 years worth of technology changes. I've spent most of my time reading up on the changes to PCIe and exhausting NewEgg looking for highly reviewed hardware. But I've decided that since I'm spending quite a bit of money here, I want to make sure I've done it right the first time around.

The goal:
- Medium-power gaming system
- Under $750 if possible
- AMD-based (unless there is a wave of people urging me towards Intel)
- NVidia-based (unless there is a wave of people urging me towards ATI)
- Room to expand (SLI, AM2, etc.)

My research thus far as yielded this configuration:

Mobo:
Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4
-Socket AM2
-nForce 570 SLI MCP
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16813128014

Processor:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Windsor
-2.0GHz
-Socket AM2
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16819103735

Memory:
Corsair XMS2 1GB DDR2 800
-2x 512MB
-Dual Channel Kit
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16820145566

Video: (Possibly double up later in SLI)
Gigabyte GV-NX76G256D-RH GeForce 7600GS
-256MB
-PCIe 16x
-Silent Card
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16814125028

HD:
Seagate Barracuda 80GB
-7200
-SATA 3.0GB's
(Don't keep that much on my HD. Don't intend on doing a RAID.)

Case:
Doesn't really matter to me.

Optical Drive:
DVD Burner of some sort. I'm assuming I need to get this in SATA as well now? Any recommendations?

Power Supply:
Man I am lost here... these things have completely changed since I last built. It used to be "Find a 350W, slap it in the case and you're done." Not so anymore. I have no idea if I really need an SLI ready Power Supply.. whether or not I need an Active, Passive or No 'PSU'. I need some Power Supply education here. What works best with my current setup? What gives me room to expand? Do I need to spend $200 on one of these? Do I need some kind of special SLI power connector? Should I get 20+4 or 24 pin main connector? What exactly does a PCIe power connector plug into? Do I need one? Two?

In any case, I need help. I'd love some opinions, suggestions and even complete setup ideas. I'm not the end all power gamer, but I'd like to have something real solid that will keep me playing for at least the next 2 years.

I'd like to express my extreme appreciation in advance for any help you guys lend me. It is much appreciated.
8 answers Last reply
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  1. Intel is definitely the way to go now. The AMD X2 series can't hold a candle to the Core 2 Duo.

    C2D 6300 $181.49
    Gigabyte 965P-S3 $115.99
    2X512 G.Skill PC6400 Ram $109.99
    Asus X1950 Pro Vid Card $199.99
    Epower 500W PSU (20A on dual rails) $37.95 @ Mwave.com
    Seagate 250GB HDD $79.99

    $50 or so for a good case. Comes to around $775 + shipping. Can go with the 7900GS instead of the 1950Pro and save another $20. ($40 if you include the $20 rebate.)

    Ok, that's my system to a T, but it'll get you close to where you wanna be. :) I had the same budget as you, but didn't need a case. I'll get you some links when I have time, or look them up on newegg.
  2. Well so far your system looks pretty good.A lot of people may say to go to intel,but I personally like amd.They took the performance crown from intel once and held it for almost 4 years,they'll do it again.Besides,you want to keep within a specific price range.I've found that it is a tad difficult to do when dealing with intel as most of the supporting hardware is pricey.I know this because I build custom machines for clients in my spare time.I've built bothe intel and amd systems and in my experience intel has always cost more.Goodluck.

    Dahak

    AMD X2-4400+@2.4 S-939
    EVGA NF4 SLI MB
    2X EVGA 7800GT CO IN SLI
    2X1GIG DDR IN DC MODE
    WD300GIG HD
    EXTREME 19IN.MONITOR 1280X1024
    ACE 520WATT PSU
    COOLERMASTER MINI R120
  3. I appreciate the advice so far.

    Do current AM2 boards have the capacity to support the new AMD processor when it is released? If I wait until January, it will be at least 6 more months before the latest items drop down into my price range.

    The suggestion for an Intel system is good and I'll take it into consideration. I can shave off considerable money by reducing hard drive size and such. However its not dual graphics card capable which is one of the features I'm looking for.

    Can someone advise me further on PSU's for my setup? What connectors will I need to keep it up to date?

    Dahak, the system in your sig seems closer to what I'm looking for. Any advice?

    Thanks again for the help so far.
  4. Quote:
    Seagate Barracuda 80GB
    For about $12 more you double the capacity -> 160GB.

    SLI (or Crossfire) only makes sense when you have a monitor resolution above 1600x1200. And it's rare when 2 SLI cards will outperform a single card in the next higher series: THG Video Charts 7900GS vs SLI 7600GT Go through the available benchmarks and compare performance. You can upgrade from 7600GT to 7900GS for about $60.

    There is also the THG CPU charts on the THG home page that will give you an idea of the relative performance between the AMD & Intel CPUs.

    The PSU choice gets easier once you're settled on what video card(s) you want. For example, a basic AMD or Intel system with a 7600GT video card can get by with a 350W PSU with at least 18amps of 12volt power. A 7600GT SLI system would need a 400W PSU with 24amps of 12volt power (from eVGA products website). If the more powerful video cards available can't get enough power from the PCI-E slot (75watts) you'll need to hook up a supplemental PCI-E power connector (that part is included in the video card accessory package).


    Power Factor Correction (PFC/Active/Passive/No) is only an issue if you live in a country where its required - mainly in Europe. It's not require in the US. Read more here: PSU 101
  5. WR2, your advice then is to ditch the SLI idea and go with a single high end video card?

    Are there any performance drops between a nForce 570 SLI chipset and a nForce 570 non-SLI chipset? Going with a non-SLI motherboard is considerably cheaper.
  6. Go with the same stuff I have then just do it with am2 instead of 939.Also change the video cards to 7900gt's.Goodluck.Oh ya,go with a thermal take tough power power supply say a 650 watt with 4 12volt rails.I am going to upgrade to this very soon.

    Dahak
  7. Yessir, you should drop the SLI mobo and spend the extra cash on a 7900GT.

    I would readily suggest the Core 2 Duo - it's fast, cool, cheap, and a good overclocker. So in a couple years when it's starting to look slow you can crank the clocks up some and get a free upgrade. More specifically, I would suggest the E6600 version. It's the cheapest model with 4 megs of cache and the headroom for overclocks is phenominal.

    That AMD X2 is no slouch either. So if that's your brand preference, go for it. Just don't expect to overclock that dog.

    Optical drives dont really seem to be jumping on the Sata bandwagon, so it may be hard to find one. IDE or Sata for your DVD drive really doesnt matter. Whatever you wanna spend.
  8. Quote:
    Do current AM2 boards have the capacity to support the new AMD processor when it is released?
    The Brisbane series of 65nm are AM2 series CPU and so will work in any current AM2 MB. And I think AM3 CPUs (the K8Ls or Stars CPUs) will also work in AM2 motherboards, although with reduced feature sets.

    The single GPU / multi-GPU question really boils down to 2 (OK, 3) things. The specific games you play, and the resolution you use for gaming. And, of course, your budget. You probably know that not all games take advantage of multiple GPUs (or multi-core CPUs for that matter). Even those that do make decent use of SLI don't scale as you'd expect - as in when you double the graphics card you don't get double the performance. In some cases SLI will only increase FPS slightly at 1280x1024, but give bigger increases over a single card at 1600x1200 and above.
    As part of your research you should look at the games you play now and the games in development you think you may want to try in the future. Try and research each of those individually, and see how each benefits from SLI. There are games out there where 2 7600GTs in SLI will outperform a single 7900GS or 7900GT - FEAR comes to mind. But 2 7600GTs cost more than a single 7900GS.
    Quote:
    Are there any performance drops between a nForce 570 SLI chipset and a nForce 570 non-SLI chipset?
    I can't recall any benchmark reviews between SLI and non-SLI 500 series motherboard but common sense says the performance differences (if any) between the same chipset will be very small.

    Take a look at single GPU and SLI options as you "virtual build" your next system till you're happy with the shopping list.
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