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Rules of Thumb for Great Performance at Low Prices

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December 28, 2006 12:47:58 PM

This post is mostly for new builders on their first machine, or for those who haven't read up on every possible aspect of systems already.

There's all kinds of refined advanced advice on optimizing, and overclocking is one way to get more for less, with C2Duo 6400 a good Intel choice, and Opteron 1212 on the AM2 side.

But....for the more average budget conscious person that wants to finish quickly and start playing games, at a low budget in time and money and learning curve, overclocking is not needed, and doesn't even matter much. Here are a few rules of thumb meant to be very general. If anyone can help add to or refine these, I'd be pleased.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Great Performance for Little Time and Money
-------------------------------------------------------------

1. For general overall system performance on a budget, pay almost as much or even more (some systems) for your hard drive setup as for your cpu! Examples: If you are spending above $1400 (sans Monitor), I feel you absolutely should get either a 150GB Raptor OR the new 74GB version Raptor, and perhaps a 2nd drive for video storage and even game storage. Below $1000 and I'd go Seagate 7200.10. In between, the new 74GB Raptor (not the old version, but the newer one) is very attractive for $150, and I think it's the way to go. Even near $1000 I'd personally think about that 74GB Raptor, but..... the Seagate 7200.10 is still a nice performer for budget builders..

Let me emphasize this! --> Low end cheaper dual cores are fine for now, and upgradable to quad later some day when games finally need them (not yet!). For budget with the possibility of great upgrades in late 2007, I'd go AM2, and I'd feel good about a AM2 4200, 4400, or Opteron 1212 (overclocked if you need it, but few really do). The X2 3800, and Opteron 1210 are fine on a tight budget. I have nothing against the C2duo 6300, but motherboard costs should be included.

2. For great Game Performance on a budget, pay 1.5 to 2.5 times as much for your graphics card as for your cpu. It's quite reasonable to buy a cheap dual core and the most expensive graphics card right now, for a gamer. The idea is you save money on the cpu, and then upgrade the cpu later when you finally need to. This balances things and gives you the maxium bang for buck ratio. This is important, and not widely appreciated.

3. Make your power supply 30% too big just in case you might change your mind about your graphics card or overclocking and such. Easy way if you don't like to read: add the total design power of the cpu and the graphics card (these are on the "specs" at NewEgg for each item) and add 200W. If you know you always want low end graphics cards, just add 100-120W, although top quality power supplies don't need as big a buffer. If you know you want a future upgrade to big time graphics like a 8800 GTX, then read up on the options, and also visit the Nvidia website, where Nvidia has a list of approved PowerSupplies.

4. DRAM. If you're not overclocking, the top speed DDR2 800 isn't price efficient right now IMO. Memory speed isn't nearly so important as the hard drive, for example. So long as you have enough! 2 Gigs is a good rule for now, although the extreme budget builder can do with 1 Gig, and add more later. Read Tom's Hardware on Build It Yourself re memory speeds. One upgrade path avenue for someone who does only moderate multitasking (and not lots of gaming) and wants extra future-proofing but for less $ is 1 Gig of the DDR2 800 (future proofing), and wait to add the 2nd Gig in time, but this 800 speed is less important than the hard drive.


Final Note: RAID and Overclocking. These strategies are beyond the scope of this guide, and Tom's Hardware and other sites have very good overview articles on them that you can and should read if that's your cup of tea. I did. And I choose not to do either one. They don't pay off enough for my time and money vs the high performance that I have without them.

But....they are well respected and well developed strategies. You could build with a low end dual core, and plan to eventually overclock it someday 6 or 12 or 15 months from now when software you like arrives that actually needs that kind of cpu power. Video editing is an example of something few of us do, but that needs big cpu horsepower. If you want to do video encoding everyday, and while you wait (instead of overnight), then, yeah, a faster dual core will pay off. But current games don't need that extra power, because the human eye cannot percieve higher framerates in games or video above 60 to 65 fps, and even the most demanding game can get up close enough to 55 or 60 with just barely noticible choices in the graphic options for the game.
December 30, 2006 3:45:29 AM

All of the pieces of future quad core upgrade drop-in cpus for the AM2 platform are not revealed yet, except that there will be such, and probably Opteron first (Opterons are just the best chips off the production line in past practice so far as I understand). But the AM2+ type quad core chips will also go into the AM2 platform, running at the AM2 (current standard) of hypertransport speed. The main point is that you can expect to be able to upgrade your cpu to quad core without buying a new motherboard, and this will let you continue having an extremely capable computer thru 2008 for low initial costs and low over all costs. :) 

Finally, let me add an interesting upgrade path. After having the AM2+ quad core in the AM2 for a while, you might be looking at AM3 (in 2008 sometime), and you could actually take that AM2+ quad and drop it in a new AM3 Motherboard, which is a nice way to keep costs low, and your sytem progressively upgraded (with various AM3 type components over time).
December 30, 2006 2:27:38 PM

Quote:
If you know you want a future upgrade to big time graphics like a 8800 GTX, you need 750 watts, and Nvidia has a list of approved PowerSupplies.

I beg to differ with that, I read somewhere on the nVIDIA site that 700W is enough for these in SLI. I wish I could find the link now to show you.
Related resources
December 30, 2006 2:47:26 PM

Didn't see much in your post to lead towards low cost. Raptor drives on a budget? 1.5 to 2.5 as much on your GPU? These are NOT low price options.

Thanks for the effort though. :) 
December 30, 2006 4:10:53 PM

See, this post is not bout doing what's popular. It's about doing what really pays off. Let me tell you something. The current hard drives are a bottleneck.

This means screaming fast cpus *DO NOT* make your computer much faster in actual real world use doing things.

Read that again I say. They don't help.

What helps to make a dual core computer faster is not a 6800. No.

It's a Raptor.

This is just actual results in doing things faster.

Faster loads, Faster Boots, Faster Game Level Loads.

Faster everything.

No, the Raptors are not cheap.

Also, the C2D 6700 isn't cheap.

Which is more effective?

The Raptor.
December 30, 2006 4:15:01 PM

By all means, somone buying one of the bigger power supplies should have an idea what they are after, and whether they need 600, 650, 700, or 750.

Myself, I know what I'm after, and it's particular to my exact preferences. So I'm satisfied with 450W, and a plan to always use graphics cards that fall within that parameter, for specific reasons.

Definitely we should tell a new builder to think through what they want in terms of price and performance, and that's why I gave a guide on the power supply. But perhaps it's good to emphasize the guides instead of a number.
December 30, 2006 4:19:11 PM

Quote:
Rules of Thumb for Great Performance at Low Prices


Look, I applaud you for trying to help people out, but nothing you have recommended fits the category of low prices. Low prices makes me think budget build, or at least nothing higher than mid-range. Raptors and spending what you recommend on a vid card just don't equate to low prices.

Had you left off your title at Rules of thumb for great performance, you'd be golden.

Not going to get into a pissing match with you. Your subject simply doesn't jive with what's actually within the thread.

Thanks, have a nice day.
December 30, 2006 4:19:20 PM

Let me tell you something, and you can do in depth research and chart comparisions to check on it....

If you want very good gaming performance on the lowest possible budget, you'd *BETTER* spend twice on the graphics what you do on the cpu!

:)  [/u]
a b B Homebuilt system
December 30, 2006 4:33:55 PM

Quote:
Let me tell you something, and you can do in depth research and chart comparisions to check on it....

If you want very good gaming performance on the lowest possible budget, you'd *BETTER* spend twice on the graphics what you do on the cpu!

:) 
[/u]

I'm with thunder on this, the raptor is overkill. Seriously, raptors are for people who already have the best of everything and are looking for the next upgrade. If someone tells me they are a gamer and are looking to upgrade their system, I don't start off by asking about their harddrive. And if a gamer comes to me with a S775 P4, or an 7600GT/7900GS, I'm not going to tell them to get a raptor. They need to move up to a real gaming CPU and/or a faster video card. When looking at gaming, its the video card that pays off, not what harddrive your using.

I'm also not sure I'd tell people to spend twice as much on their GPU then their CPU. If someone bought a 6300 (which is around $180), then this means they need to spend $360 on their video card??? Why so much? For about $250 they could get a 256MB x1900XT, or a 7900GTX. Either of those cards would work fine in a gaming rig, and are $50 to $100 less then the $360 mark.
December 30, 2006 4:37:03 PM

simple rules for great performance on a budget.

1 2048mb's of ram is better than more processor.

2 2048mb's of ram is better than more motherboard.

3 more graphics is better than more processor.

4 more graphics is better than more motherboard.

5 2048mb of ram and more graphics are better than hard drive size.

6 2048mb's of ram and more graphics are better than more hard drive speed which is irrelavent save for when levels are loading.

7. once you have enough power you don't need more a silverstone 850 watt may be neat but it's not required.

8. more ram and graphics are better than a flashy case.

9. more ram and graphics are better than expensive optical drives.

these are rules of thumb and not 100% etched in stone, I've little interest in those that rant about "my motherboard" or "my processor" or "my hard drive".... the truth is even the fastest processors make little difference compared to a low end processor in the same class when both are using mid to upper end graphics and the difference are even smaller in regards to hard drives and infinitely smaller still in regards to motherboards from any manufacturer or chipset.

an Nvidia 680i motherboard or Intel 975 equipped with 512mb of ram will get their asses handed to them by an Asrock 775 dual vista Via chipseted 4 lane PCIe equipped Sata 1 motherboard with 2048mb of ram..... which given the price descrepency rings in around the same mark.
December 30, 2006 5:44:27 PM

I like your rules, and they seem all true to me. One reason I point out the importance of a hard drive is because zippier performance almost all the time (hard drive dependent) is something *I* notice a lot, and so I weight it as important. For many people on a budget, they should get a seagate 7200.10, which is a nice compromise between price and performance. A Raptor is always a better buy than a 6600 or 6700 C2Duo, but I know I won't convince many of the posters.....just the clever ones! :) 
December 30, 2006 5:50:07 PM

Quote:
Rules of Thumb for Great Performance at Low Prices


Look, I applaud you for trying to help people out, but nothing you have recommended fits the category of low prices. Low prices makes me think budget build, or at least nothing higher than mid-range. Raptors and spending what you recommend on a vid card just don't equate to low prices.

Had you left off your title at Rules of thumb for great performance, you'd be golden.

Not going to get into a pissing match with you. Your subject simply doesn't jive with what's actually within the thread.

Thanks, have a nice day.


I like your feedback, and I think not many people here understand that when they routinely are waiting a moment on their new computer to do something, they are almost always waiting on the hard drive, while the cpu just puts along waiting also.

That aside, I tried to give *ratios*, and that's my point. So I'll reword the op just slightly to avoid a misunderstanding that someone must have a Raptor. Instead I should say if someone is spending $1400 sans monitor, a Raptor is a good idea. Otherwise, the ratio is a general guide, or rough rule of thumb.

Thanks.
December 30, 2006 6:24:07 PM

We have a problem here with precise numbers vs rough general rules of thumb. No I don't think you should spend *precisely* no more or no less than 2 x the cpu price. :? Unless you get lukcy on price points! :wink:

But seriously, yeah, it really is worthwhile for a gamer who wants game performance *now* to put that extra money into the graphics card.

I imagine someone really conserving money who follows my guide might get a C2D 6300, and perhaps a card closer to 1.5x that cpu price, which is in the range I recommend.

Do you think my OP makes it clear enough that a newbie could put one card in now, and buy an upgrade card eventually? If the wording doesn't convey that, I'd better change it again.

Thanks.
December 30, 2006 7:17:48 PM

I hadn't noticed, but WD updated their 74GB Raptor so that it is just a reduced capacity version of the 150GB, instead of a slower drive as in the past. This makes the $150 Raptor a great choice for the majority of builders even near $1000 for the system (sans monitor).
December 30, 2006 7:18:15 PM

I pretty much agree in many ways while disagreeing in others.

the problem with building a budget gaming computer is ppl lose focus.

you have to decide on the budget and then decide on it's useage, accept sacrifices and then jump in no holds barred.

keep room for upgradeability and forget about bling.

if one wants a total gaming rig with little multitasking then even a lowly single core is an option although day in day dual core is nicer the price premium can hurt a budget.

2048mb's of ram at this point is almost a minimum for gaming the level loading and in saved games will cause stuttering during gameplay in most modern games once the swap filing starts.

graphics are next on the list if on a budget set aside $150.00 - $250.00+ for a graphics card.

Raptor 74gb's are very nice hard drives of that their is no doubt and while the 7200.10 series is the best offered by Seagate by a mile buyers may simply not have the budget for it because of limited size choices, personally if on a budget I'd go with an 80GB 7200.09 hdd..... I simply don't need the space......, while it might be a pain being forced to backup files you like the tech Gods created External hard drives that can be bought at a later date.
December 30, 2006 7:25:24 PM

Ah....it's a good point. I did not really write for a $600-700 budget any concrete tips. Perhaps you could make a post like "Best Gaming Rig for Under $750" or something like that once you configured it and priced it out on NewEgg. I'd like to see that, and would put in my 2 cents.
December 30, 2006 10:30:48 PM

I'm not a regular poster but I'll put something together in this thread and well debate it's merits later.

I'm in the process of finnishing my liquid cooled comp atm, just transferred it to the new case and need to add some stands to clearance, I mounted the radiator underneath the case.

will throw in a pic later if interested already posted them in my usual forum.
December 30, 2006 11:22:00 PM

:) 
December 31, 2006 12:04:25 AM

Note the sig. I can play FEAR. Not at the highest everything but turn off AA and shadows and I get 40+ FPS and never break 45c. With the built-in video. (I'm holding out for a deal to write home about on a 7300GT.)Technically I prefer DOOM3 but I had to give it a shot.

I am the scum that floats on top of sludge in the low end. But I've got an Alienware Roswell case, (last remaining vestage of my bleeding edge phase), so I'm all that with green lights.
December 31, 2006 1:38:33 AM

That's something with built in video. Should be interesting when you get a card to compare those frame rates and experience. Would like to hear about it then. Perhaps you could post it here in this thread. 8)
December 31, 2006 2:55:05 AM

Quote:

1. For general overall performance on a budget, pay almost as much or even more for your hard drive setup as for your cpu! Examples: If you are spending above $1400 (sans Monitor), I feel you absolutely should get a 150GB Raptor for top system performance.


Raptors are VERY.. VERY over-rated and priced.

Nice try though, i'm sure it took you a long time to write em.
December 31, 2006 3:04:45 AM

Quote:
This post is mostly for new builders on their first machine, or for those who haven't read up on every possible aspect of systems already.

There's all kinds of refined advanced advice on optimizing, and overclocking is one way to get more for less, with C2Duo 6400 a good Intel choice, and Opteron 1212 on the AM2 side.

But....for the more average budget conscious person that wants to finish quickly and start playing games, at a low budget in time and money and learning curve, overclocking is not needed, and doesn't even matter much. Here are a few rules of thumb meant to be very general. If anyone can help add to or refine these, I'd be pleased.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Great Game Performance for Little Time and Money
-------------------------------------------------------------

1. For general overall performance on a budget, pay almost as much or even more for your hard drive setup as for your cpu! Examples: If you are spending above $1400 (sans Monitor), I feel you absolutely should get a 150GB Raptor for top system performance. OR the new 74GB version Raptor, and perhaps a 2nd drive for video storage. Below $1000 and I'd go Seagate 7200.10. In between, the new 74GB Raptor (not the old version, but the newer one) is very attractive for $150, and I think it's the way to go. Even near $1000 I'd think about that Raptor, but..... the Seagate 7200.10 is still a nice performer for budget builders..

Let me emphasize this! --> Low end cheaper dual cores are fine for now, and upgradable to quad later some day when games finally need them (not yet!). For budget with the possibility of great upgrades in late 2007, I'd go AM2, and I'd feel good about a AM2 4200, 4400, or Opteron 1212 (overclocked if you need it, but few really do). The X2 3800, and Opteron 1210 are fine on a tight budget. I have nothing against the C2duo 6300, but motherboard costs should be included.

2. For great game performance on a budget, pay 1.5 to 2.5 times as much for your graphics card as for your cpu. It's quite reasonable to buy a cheap dual core and the most expensive graphics card right now, for a gamer. The idea is you save money on the cpu, and then upgrade the cpu later when you finally need to. This balances things and gives you the maxium bang for buck ratio. This is important, and not widely appreciated.

3. Make your power supply 30% too big just in case you might change your mind about your graphics card or overclocking and such. Easy: add the total design power of the cpu and the graphics card and add 200W. If you know you always want low end graphics cards, just add 100-120W, although top quality power supplies don't need as big a buffer. If you know you want a future upgrade to big time graphics like a 8800 GTX, then read up on the options, and also visit the Nvidia website, where Nvidia has a list of approved PowerSupplies.

4. DRAM. If you're not overclocking, the top speed DDR2 800 isn't price efficient right now IMO. Memory speed isn't nearly so important as the hard drive, for example. So long as you have enough! 2 Gigs is a good rule for now, although the extreme budget builder can do with 1 Gig, and add more later. Read Tom's Hardware on Build It Yourself re memory speeds. One upgrade path avenue for someone who does moderate multitasking is 1 Gig of the DDR2 800 (future proofing), and wait to add the 2nd Gig in time, but this 800 speed is less important than the hard drive.


Final Note: RAID and Overclocking. These strategies are beyond the scope of this guide, and Tom's Hardware and other sites have very good overview articles on them that you can and should read if that's your cup of tea. I did. And I choose not to do either one. They don't pay off enough for my time and money vs the high performance that I have without them.

But....they are well respected and well developed strategies. You could build with a low end dual core, and plan to eventually overclock it someday 6 or 12 or 15 months from now when software you like arrives that actually needs that kind of cpu power. Video editing is an example of something few of us do, but that needs big cpu horsepower. If you want to do video encoding everyday, and while you wait (instead of overnight), then, yeah, a faster dual core will pay off. But current games don't need that extra power, because the human eye cannot percieve higher framerates in games or video above 65 fps.


There's an awful lot of 'opinion' here that's being touted as 'fact'.

For instance, buy 30% more PSU to future proof, (750 watt needed for 8800's?? means basically a 1kw PSU!) but only get cheap RAM. (Yeah I'll never want to try overclocking, think of all the money I saved... But do I have one kick butt PSU!)

Spend as much or more on your HD as your CPU? WTF? My Central Processing Unit is what does most of the work in my PC... My HD just reads files, and writes back changes. OK, a raptor will write a bit faster than 7200.9, but not by much, it will read files faster than 7200.9, again not by much... Measured vs 'perceived' performance puts a raptor about 1/3 of the way between a 7200.10 and a good SCSI on a decent controller. That's a baby step, get scsi if you need raw drive speed.

If all I did was surf a bit, do emails and play a few games, even then this 'advice' would not make sense as I coiuld get a HP something that would work just fine...

But I DO video edit every so often, so a good CPU helps out after I get back from vacation, or when decoding / recoding a DVD...

Yep, a raptor would help me a bit here as well, but the 20% of the time I might spend doing this is not worth putting up with the noise the other 80% of the time....

Ehh... I'm just ranting. There's so much opinion and so little fact in this post, don't know why I bothered.
December 31, 2006 3:05:46 AM

Quote:

This means screaming fast cpus *DO NOT* make your computer much faster in actual real world use doing things.


with a slow cpu and a 'FAST' raptor you won't be able do shit.

but with a fast cpu and a '7200rpm which you think is a bottleneck' will do everything so much faster.

...man deletee thiss threeeadd, people might build like the slowest computers and spend over 1k.
December 31, 2006 12:04:38 PM

I take it that folks here are smart enough to know that your opinion and mine are indeed opinions, lol. I don't start by thinking people are stupid.

Perhaps some will read up independently a lot too, like 20-30 articles, and those folks might think the advice here is pretty darn good. But if someone is really well read, and has valuable things to add, like a couple above have, it's a good thing.

Your intentional mis-representation of my advice on power supply probably will only fool you. If the Nvidia list isn't good enough for someone, that's their own opinion, but it's not mine.

Regarding anyone who does occasional video encoding, that is less than 5% of their computer use, and a few times a week, and still wants to build "Great Performance at Low Prices" (that's the topic of this post, btw), I recommend a low-end C2duo or AMD dual core....but wait....I already did that.

That's because anyone who has done a few tasks like that on a C2duo 6400 probably isn't having bad thoughts about the 6400.
December 31, 2006 1:05:40 PM

If someone wants a great performing computer, and if there are only 2 components they spend extra money on, past the basic level -- those two had better be system memory (getting at least 1 Gig, and preferably 2), and the Hard Drive.

The least informed and worst way to build a computer is to put extra money into the cpu purchase and get a cheap low end hard drive. But we have seen plenty of advice on the forumz by ill-informed members emphasizing higher end dual cores and failing to mention that the hard drive quality should be a higher priority now.

This results in more expensive systems that perform somewhat less well for most tasks than one configured as I recommend.
December 31, 2006 2:21:32 PM

Quote:
with a slow cpu and a 'FAST' raptor you won't be able do ****.

but with a fast cpu and a '7200rpm which you think is a bottleneck' will do everything so much faster.
I disagree, no one is reccomending a P4 1.6a processor here, and no one is reccomending you sacrifice all criteria to get a raptor.

my personal reccomendation when building a low end comp would be either an E6300 Conroe or a single core Athlon 64 depending on the budget and both CPU's would benefit from getting a 74gb Raptor..... would the expense be justified, no not really a 7200.09 or 7200.10 would certainly suffice while leaving room for more ram or graphics again depending on budget but would I go from buying an E6400 to an E6600 or would a Raptor be a worthy consideration..... deffinitely yes the Raptor is a worthy consideration.

it's all about the budget.

I mentioned earlier the ppl lose focus and the evidence seem ample in this regard.

before buying I reccomend ppl sit down and put pen to paper then examine their list and re-examine it a few times.
Quote:
...man deletee thiss threeeadd, people might build like the slowest computers and spend over 1k.
don't be such a queen about some borderline bad advice this is an open discussion, ppl learn by examining differing opinions in order to form their own decisions.
December 31, 2006 2:31:24 PM

Still havent proved anything.
We all knew that even low end Conroe and low-end X2 are good

The thing is like you mentioned,
You need to spend as much money as your CPU?

Any standard 7200rpm combined with a fast cpu will outperform
Any Raptors with a slow cpu in ANYTHING.


E6300 ($180) Any Brand 40GB 7200rpm ($50) $230

Athlon 3.7k ($80) 74GB Raptor $150) $230

prices from newegg..
You make the choice.
December 31, 2006 2:34:53 PM

Hey, it's great advice I gave about the Raptor! :) 

I even edited to put in price points where I'd get the $150 Raptor (at $1000 and above for sure).

btw, don't recommend a 7200.9 to anyone, IMO. Seagate did something strange going from 7200.8 to 7200.9. The 7200.8s usually outperform the 7200.9 when I last read about it months ago.

If someone has an extreme need to save money, by all means get a smaller 7200.10 I say. Including shipping, the final price on this one is about $63:

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

Let's configure that under $750 system, and this drive should be a candidate. Without shipping it's $57.
December 31, 2006 2:37:21 PM

All I can say to the person trashing the Raptors is read up in Tom's Hardware guide and look at average read speed transfer rates charts, with the other top quality drives like the 7200.10. You'll see the new Raptors are about 20% faster.

Since when you wait on your new computer to do something -- and it's not video encoding -- then it's the hard drive you're waiting on. We all wait on our computers. All of us.

Booting up. Loading game levels (which are bigger and bigger). Background virus scan (disk intense). WinXP swap file activity (happens most of the time -- bad software, but it's what we have.) File copies -- some of us do that! Hibernate resumes -- again, some of us. Did I mention just usually faster most of the time?

Given that, it's not rocket science to figure out what upgrade pays off the most. I haven't a great insight here, just a sensible and very true one.
December 31, 2006 3:49:40 PM

Quote:
If someone wants a great performing computer, and if there are only 2 components they spend extra money on, past the basic level -- those two had better be system memory (getting at least 1 Gig, and preferably 2), and the Hard Drive.

The least informed and worst way to build a computer is to put extra money into the cpu purchase and get a cheap low end hard drive. But we have seen plenty of advice on the forumz by ill-informed members emphasizing higher end dual cores and failing to mention that the hard drive quality should be a higher priority now.

This results in more expensive systems that perform somewhat less well for most tasks than one configured as I recommend.


You should have quit while you were ahead. You're going backwards now. While it's true that a HDD will most likely be the slowest part of your system, making it a top priority would be a mistake when n any kind of a budget. Your PC just doesn't access it enough.
December 31, 2006 3:52:20 PM

I won't get into a pissing contest with you on it. 8)

But I suggest read my other post just above about this same topic, for a clearer summary.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 31, 2006 4:13:53 PM

Quote:
The least informed and worst way to build a computer is to put extra money into the cpu purchase and get a cheap low end hard drive. But we have seen plenty of advice on the forumz by ill-informed members emphasizing higher end dual cores and failing to mention that the hard drive quality should be a higher priority now.


??? I disagree that the hdd is such a high priority. Hdd read and writes still happen to infrequently to make Raptors and AID0 payoff. Seeing as you don't believe me, I'll start backing my claims up.

Harddrive performance.

Half life 2 loads 2 secs faster with the Raptor instead of the 7200.10 320GB drive. It loads the Sims 2 only a half second faster. As for loading levels, Halflife2 level loads .1 seconds faster on the raptor. .1! Oblivion loads the Weye level about 1.5seconds faster on the raptor. Just look at the actual performance increases in actual programs. Having AID0/Raptor doesn't provide massive decreases in loads, it provides decreases in some cases you can only tell with a stopwatch.

I consider AID0/Raptors to be like soundcards/high end input devices. Sure, there are some fancy soundcards or keyboards out there. Buy they aren't really faster then their lowerend brothern. If you already have a 6600, with 2GBs of ram and a 7950GT, and your looking to upgrade, go for it. But if you have a P4/6300, 1Gb of ram, and a 7600GT/7900GS, you should be bringing your system up before getting things like a Raptor or soundcard. (this assumes ofcourse that your a gaming, different computing uses require a different computer setup.)
December 31, 2006 4:21:52 PM

If you have an unusual profile of preferences.....

then you'll need an unusual configuration to maximize those.


But I actually care about waiting on my computer for all sorts of things in general, and most often it's the hard that I am waiting on, more than anything.

I have to wait for boots, or resumes. I hate that.

really.

Most people care as much or more about overall general performance as much as they do about a specific single program performance.

I have to tolerate some slight slowdowns (or I did, past tense) when a scheduled virus scan ran while I was doing other heavy multitasking.

These slowdowns seem less bothersome now, with my newer hard drive.

8)
December 31, 2006 5:28:15 PM

Oh for ****s sake, all of you people jumping on this guy need to get your heads out of your asses.

If you stop and think about his recommendations, they make absolute and well-thought-out sense, and anyone who does research for a new system will come to the same conclusions.

Here's why.

1) HDD (Raptor)

To the person who said that your computer doesn't access the HDD enough to be worth the cost for a raptor, you are clueless. This is talking about real world usage. That means booting up/down, starting/shutting down programs, loading game levels, transferring files, searching for files, isntalling programs, etc etc. Of course for gaming only you don't access it enough to make a raptor really worth it - but for the real-world user, a raptor is a godsend.

To all of you who will immediately start talking about 7200.10 RAID, stop and think. This is not about video editing or large file transfers - it is about burst speed which will make your pc feel (and be) more responsive when you use it. Abosultely worth the money, though I would add, a 74GB raptor is enough for the average user for OS, programs, and the most vital games. No real need for the 150 unless you are a high end user who wants the aboslute best.

This leads into the specious argument about "oh, if you have a crap CPU and GPU, I'm not gonna recommend a raptor..."

You're missing the point again. This is about putting a system together NOW - which means you are getting C2D or X2, period. As such -

2) CPU

There is no point to get a high end CPU unless you do work that heavily utilizes the CPU 24/7. Note this is not for the rich kid who wants the absolute best, but for those who want the best power and quality at the best price points.

A 6300 is absolutely enough for anything you will do in the next year. You can overclock it to 3 GB without breaking even a drop of sweat, at which point your bottleneck (if you game) will once again be the GPU (even with a 8800GTX, don't believe me, do some research, it's well documented).

A 6400 will hit 3.2 or above with less FSB and/or voltage required, so for teh few extra bucks, it might be a better option, but that's debatable. Take your pick. Anything higher is simply not utilized by you enough to make a real world difference, period. Complete and utter overkill - not to mention that the extra 2MB buffer on the E6600 and above adds almost negligible performance.

I wouldn't recommend AM2 now, but that's really your call. Make sure you spend a little extra on a MOBO that you can drop a quad in, in a few years when there is software that actually makes real use of this. For now, a 6300 overclocked to 3 GHZ - which once again, even inexperienced users can now accomplish with a simple step by step guide - will do everything you can ask for the best price point of the last 4 or 5 years

3) RAM

Get the ram you need, and no more, as the difference between 533 and 800 with a C2D is no more than 10% and most often less than 5%. Again, do some research if you don't think that's possible, it's true.

If you want to overclock, again, get what you need. To hit 333 FSB you need DDR25400, to hit 400 you need DDR26400 or CL4 DDR25400, etc.

And get 2GB. Cheaper (per gig) than buying 1, and you will need it sooner rather than later.

4) GPU

If you game, concentrate money here, but it depends on the resolution you game at.

DX10 complicates things, but the software utilizing it will be limited for at least a year. So unless you absolutely LOVE Crysis, from a price/performance standpoint, WAIT to buy DX10 until you see that price/performance sweetspot emerge. A midrange graphics card now will do fine for almost anything at mid-range resolutions.


RECAP

Try to actually understand the reasoning and the premise behind the original poster's recommendations. Except for the debatable recommendation of AM2 which I would caution against (why bother to take the chance?) they are all sound.

And again - you will NOT regret getting a Raptor if you follow the rest of the above recommendations. Unless you game ONLY (low need to access the HDD) or video edit EXCLUSIVELY (7200.10 raid will be almost as good for less), you will notice the difference. It's all about the details, and the little time savings here and there from the raw burst access speed is simply worth more than almost any other upgrade to the above that you can make.

Finally - spending x amount more on GPU than CPU - it's a rule of thumb, people, and the idea behind it is correct. Stop quibbling about whether it should be 1.3 or 1.7654 for a given configuration.
December 31, 2006 5:40:39 PM

Cheap Path to AM3 for AM2 builders:

The new idea: If I buy an new AM2+ chip to drop-in my AM2 board, and it's a fairly nice quad core am2+, I don't have to lose the value of that purchase when I upgrade again later!

I can just put the quad am2+ chip into a new AM3 board in another 8 months (or 12 if I'm happy meanwhile)! I'll recycle the oldest am2 chip back into the am2 board (and sell or give away the old computer, whatever). And then I'll have the new am3 board with the am2+ chip for another 8-12 months or whatever, as a transition, while the the newest am3 cpu prices improve in my favor.

I will have kept my costs low and my equipment fast. At no point will I have to pay for an entire system upgrade at once, neither will I be much out of date.

Meanwhile, before the am3 drop-in cpu, I'll be able to put AM3 type upgrades (ram, drives, graphics, etc.) into my new AM3 board, and get those future proofing advantages, while my total cpu costs over time remain quite low vs the modern higher performance I'll have!

That's what I want.

!
a b B Homebuilt system
December 31, 2006 6:03:40 PM

Quote:


I have to wait for boots, or resumes. I hate that.

I have to tolerate some slight slowdowns (or I did, past tense) when a scheduled virus scan ran while I was doing other heavy multitasking.

These slowdowns seem less bothersome now, with my newer hard drive.

8)


Why do you have your Vscan running while your useing the computer? I have mine scheduled to run at night while I'm sleeping. Oh wait, I see. You shut your computer down and have to wait for it to reboot. I don't shut mine down. I only reboot when I update windows. (or if while I'm tinkering with something it goes horribly wrong...) The only other things I do is websurfing, watch tv/movies, and play games. Most of this stuff can be done with a 1GHz CPU, so my 3500+ is more then enough. The only thing that stresses my computer are the video games I play. I'd be willing to bet that MOST people use their computer for the same reasons. (actually most people buy dell/HPs, and only use their computer for office/web stuff.)

Nice "refute" of my link with no real info btw. Nicely done.
a b B Homebuilt system
December 31, 2006 6:13:53 PM

Quote:
To the person who said that your computer doesn't access the HDD enough to be worth the cost for a raptor, you are clueless. This is talking about real world usage. That means booting up/down, starting/shutting down programs, loading game levels, transferring files, searching for files, isntalling programs, etc etc. Of course for gaming only you don't access it enough to make a raptor really worth it - but for the real-world user, a raptor is a godsend.


It might be dark where your head is located, but its bright enough out here for me to see things clearly :lol:  Booting up and down isn't what I'd call usage. And for many, it isn't something that needs to be done often. Some of us can get away with rebooting only once or twice a month. Most of us don't start up DB programs, and WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT A RAPTOR FOR LOADING LEVELS????? Click on the link, READ, and see what that expensive drive gets you. Compared to the newer harddrives, it isn't much. Mear seconds (if your lucky) for loading levels. For the real world user, any recent drive, such as the 7200.10 series, is fine.

Quote:
Get the ram you need, and no more, as the difference between 533 and 800 with a C2D is no more than 10% and most often less than 5%. Again, do some research if you don't think that's possible, it's true.


I do agree with you on this one, and I'm hoping people start taking notice. From what I've seen, if you run a 1:1 ratio, the difference between these speeds if very little. DDR2-533 is fine for stock C2Ds, while DDR2-667 is fine for modest overclocks. You only need to worry about getting DDR2-800 if your shooting for a 400MHz base speed, or your worried about overclocking higher then 350ish. (would make your DDR2-677 run at 700MHz or better.) I say worried, because I've seen many 677 modules run at 800+ just fine.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
December 31, 2006 6:29:51 PM

My 2 cents.
1) Spend the extra $ on those things you see and touch all the time. Monitor, mouse and keyboard. These things will last for several generations of PC technology.
2) Get enough, but no more. Memory needs to be enough for your needs. Get too little, and performance suffers; get too much, and the extra is wasted. (vista might change this). Get enough hard drive space, but not much more. The cost per gb is still coming down.
3) on the power supply, get enough, and then some . Check that the vendor is conservative in quoting a SUSTAINED wattage, not a peak one. The 12v numbers are the critical ones. For the and then some, running the PSU lightly loaded should keep the noise down.
4) For fast action games, spend extra on a video card, but not too much. The better the card, the better the gaming, but they obsolete quickly, so don't pay too much.
5) Don't bother with SLI or crossfire. A 8800gts/gtx will run any game reasonably well as a single card and be less expensive. Multi GPU motherboards are more expensive, and more complicated. The two lesser vga cards used will obsolete more quickly that a single better card.
December 31, 2006 6:51:04 PM

Quote:

It might be dark where your head is located, but its bright enough out here for me to see things clearly :lol:  Booting up and down isn't what I'd call usage. And for many, it isn't something that needs to be done often. Some of us can get away with rebooting only once or twice a month. Most of us don't start up DB programs, and WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT A RAPTOR FOR LOADING LEVELS????? Click on the link, READ, and see what that expensive drive gets you. Compared to the newer harddrives, it isn't much. Mear seconds (if your lucky) for loading levels. For the real world user, any recent drive, such as the 7200.10 series, is fine.


Yes and no. The average user does still need to boot up and down on a regular basis. Everytime you install a program that asks you to restart, when you decide to try out vista and have to install and reboot, and just when you feel like saving some power and shutting down your beast.

In case you didn't notice, though, I mentioned many other times your harddrive is accessed for short periods of time where the burst speed of the raptor makes a real world difference.

Having both a 7200.10 and a raptor, and used both extensively.. I'd liken it to having enough vs not quite enough RAM for the tasks you do. That little delay while windows uses the swap file.. that's the difference. Not quite as pronounced obviously, but enough to matter. I'll admit it might not feel major to you, but to most, I'd argue, it's responsiveness in short bursts which makes the most difference in pleasure of use.

As for PSU...

Personally, I would not buy anything above 550W from a reputable manufacturer (so you can be sure you're actually getting what you paid for). Why? The ONLY reason to need more if for SLi or Crossfire - CPU wattage trend is going towards lower power, and the GPU I believe - and this is an opinion - will follow suit reasonably soon, though it hasn't yet. And Sli or XF are simply not in the picture when you're talking about price/performance.
December 31, 2006 7:10:22 PM

I've been using standby, hibernate, and shutdown for years, and my computer is expertly configured to best meet my requirements. Suggestion: don't always start with an asumption other people here aren't experienced unless they say they aren't experienced. The standby mode has long been one of my favorite features. But....my repeated software updates often require reboots, quite often in fact. Just in the last 7 days I needed about 5 reboots.

But yes, everyone should take advantage of Standby and Hibernate.

Now....

I hate waiting on my hard drive to do things, and yes....it's great to have patience, and chill! But that isn't the point of this thread, really.

:wink:
December 31, 2006 7:11:57 PM

I think you have some good points, though I don't agree with some of them.
Somethings I think would help make your post clearer.
1. links to stickies and charts for the hardware.
2. A list in order of importance with % of budget to use for the different parts.
3. Adding the missing parts like Mobo,case an optic drives.
You generalized a bit to much. AMD benefit form fast/ low latency ram and Intel doesn't as much. What you say about PSUs is true for cheap ones. they really can't put out the watts they say and getting a higher rated one is the safe way to go.. You did leave out some very important things to look for in a PSU like amps on the 12v rail and the right connectors.
The one thing I think you over looked is for a tight budget[ under $500] buying a dell or hp and adding a vid card. If not OCing it is the cheapest way to go and you get OS, software and tech support.
I like what your trying to do here. With some links to some numbers an a little better layout I think this could help some noobs.
December 31, 2006 7:19:59 PM

I thought it better to avoid many specific recomendations, because this post is under 500 words right now, and it could get too complex, and I'd like it to be true 3 months from now too. 8)


About a $500 system. It's a great idea to put out a specific configuration for newbies on the cheap. Perhaps you could do that in a new thread. I'd be happy to see that kind of thing in the forum.
December 31, 2006 7:36:54 PM

Quote:
All I can say to the person trashing the Raptors is read up in Tom's Hardware guide and look at average read speed transfer rates charts, with the other top quality drives like the 7200.10. You'll see the new Raptors are about 20% faster.
don't chase specifications, I own 3 raptors 1 X 36gb and 2 X 74gb's ... yes they are nice... well be honest the 36gb is pretty dated by todays standards and isn't noticeably any faster than the newest Sata drives... although I'm sure their might be a cppl of benches that show a difference using it side by side I don't see it.

the 74gb's are very nice of that their is no doubt I opted to install them as a stryped raid array and while the difference is negligible over a single 74gb I just plain like the added capacity and slight speed increase during the occasional large file transfers or game installs.

all of that said I wouldn't pay the extra coin for a raptor over a 7200.09 80gb or even a 320gb 7200.10 Seagate, yeah they are a little slower but the additional size and coin saved is well worth investing elsewhere if on a budget.

if you hope to game at all the 2 most important critieria are ram and video, if you don't plan on gaming at all and in anyway whatsoever then perhaps a Raptor will be worth it but the speed difference while nice is relatively minor and the additional capacity of any standard drive that is almost as fast can't be ignored.

to be honest I wouldn't reccomend a raptor to anyone on a budget, I love mine but I understand I had to pay for them.
December 31, 2006 8:24:24 PM

I agree not putting any specific component[ that would just start a fanboy pissing match] is a good idea thats why I think adding links to charts/stickies would help. It would also help back up your opinions and take up very little space. The length of the post is why I would recommend a list with % of budget. Numbers say a lot an are easier to understand for most.
December 31, 2006 10:45:38 PM

Yeah, it's in the context of having enough Ram to begin with. But about the Raptor, the equation has changed.

I've read about the Raptor for years, and evaluated it carefully for each of my builds (5), and it was not the best choice for the price points I was building at.

That was the case 3 years ago.

That was the case 2 years ago.

That was the case 1 year ago.

When I bought my recent 7200.10 5-6 months ago, again, better choice than the raptor....


But....


Things have changed.

We are not in the situation we were in when we did our careful evaluations.

Suddenly, with the new 74Gig update, the Raptor at $150 is the single best choice really in a new build anywhere over $950 now.

That's new.

That's not how it was for a $1100 build just 6 months ago, by my lights.
January 1, 2007 1:08:09 AM

Quote:

Things have changed.


Who says?

I think it's only you whose strongly saying raptors are worth to put as much as money on as the CPU on the low budget.

please.
January 1, 2007 2:02:25 AM

Does WD pay you by the post? The 'new' 74 GB raptor industrial class has added a 16MB NCQ buffer... But its still a sata 150 class drive. The Seagate 7200.10's have always had a 16MB NCQ buffer, and are sata 300...

The WD's are hot, noisy and not cheap, but do deliver up to a 20% performance advantage vs a 320GB seagate desktop, but the WD is 178.00 for 74 GB (msrp, not listed on newegg) vs the seagate's 95.00 price. The seagates are cooler, quieter...

So if I was in the corporate environment (and I am), and needed a really fast drive array for a very busy DB, I'd go with 15k SCSI's... But if I was buying for a large, but not fast DB, I'd use the seagates.

At home, I use the seagates for the piece and quiet....

The price per GB just doesn't justify the slight increase in performance, and the increase in noise and heat totally rules it out
January 1, 2007 4:55:17 PM

Basically all the arguments against the Raptor here are *EXACTLY* the same as the arguments I made and was convinced by myself a year ago, and even 6 months ago.

I understand these arguments perfectly, because I did a lot of research, and I reached precisely the conclusions you all are saying.

That is completely right.

6 months ago.

What changed????

3 things really.

1) The 74 gig size Raptor got updated to the latest tech, and speed up *A LOT* (and is now about 20% faster reads than the 7200.10)

2) The price went down some more. (this means it competes now with only a $93 premium over the same size 7200.10)

3) Cpus continued to improve in performance/price, so that *modest cost* systems now have very powerful cpus! (that has changed even in just the last 6 month a good deal)


So.....


Things are different.
January 1, 2007 5:15:01 PM

Definitely drive noise is a matter of priorities, and personal preference. Now.....I have a almost silent system. It has two 7200.10s with the swap file on the second drive near the outside edge, etc. Very Optimized.

This is because I have two primary priorities on my system: Silence and massive video storage.

But.....

If I were building a game system on a budget, it would cost less than my silent system, and would perform better at games, and would have some fans running at higher speeds, etc., and the new Raptor, which is quieter than the older Raptors, would be drowned out by the game sounds by orders of magnitude.

Get that? Drowned out by the Game sounds.

btw....I like silent computing myself, just like you. 8)
January 1, 2007 6:52:31 PM

Quote:
A Raptor is always a better buy than a 6600 or 6700 C2Duo, but I know I won't convince many of the posters.....just the clever ones! :) 

What's troubling about this statement to me is the generality implied by it. It's really not true in all cases. It would only be true for applications which are not primarily CPU bound and are disk intensive. No?

Got any articles or benchmarks you want to point at to support your insistence that a Raptor is always better ... for all applications??? ... than to buy an E6600?

-john
!