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need hand-holding advice for mobo upgrade

Last response: in Systems
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April 18, 2008 7:33:51 AM

hi, this is my first forum post here so please be gentle :D 

ok my situation is, i built a gaming pc a couple years ago (parts list provided by a friend). now a friend's son is 14 and wants a gaming PC. i was going to give him some of my parts and upgrade my system. but the motherboard market is so complicated that i don't know what to get.

here's my current box:
motherboard: asus p5w dh deluxe
ram: crucial ballistix ddr2-6400
video: ati x1950xtx
cpu: intel e6600 dual-core 2.4GHz

i'm going to give him those and build the rest of his box with spare parts i have.

now here's what i need help with:
my budget will be $800 +/-$200
planning to do this in june/july
so far i plan to get:
8800GT 512MB $250
4GB ram (i have no idea what kind/speed) $150
that leaves about $400 for mobo and CPU both.

for my motherboard i need (at least):
3 sata (for my HDD, non RAID)
1 IDE (for my 2 DVD-RW)
built-in lan
i do NOT need built-in audio, video, scsi, RAID, and i don't overclock because i don't like to mess with stuff i don't fully understand.
i prefer asus only because my last 3 motherboards were asus so i feel comfortable with that brand.
my main priorities for a motherboard are STABILITY, RELIABILITY, QUALITY. i want a board that will never ever give me any kind of trouble.
it would be nice to have a cpu upgrade path. i read about intel's upgrade path and "45nm" and "penryn" are mentioned but i don't understand how that will affect my options for cpu upgrades in the future. how long until they start selling cpu's that won't fit in my motherboard? i don't even know the current intel cpu's would work in my asus p5w.

i'll spend whatever i have left (hopefully about $250) on the best intel cpu i can get.

so now my questions:

a) does my budget plan look ok? ($250 gfx, $150 ram, $150 mobo, $250 cpu). obviously this is an estimate

b) what motherboard should i get?

c) what ram should i get? i don't really understand what DDR2 and DDR3 are or what the various specs mean. i just want some stable name-brand ram that won't be a bottleneck for my system. no overclocking necessary.

d) is the 8800GT 512MB still the best price/performance card to get for a gamer?

e) any other comments welcome please


edit:
i have a creative x-fi xtreme gamer sound card so i don't need onboard sound (and would actually prefer a motherboard without built-in sound)
i don't ever plan to get a 2nd video card for SLI so that's not a requirement. if i ever have the money to burn on a 2nd video card then i'll upgrade the motherboard again if necessary.
April 18, 2008 12:25:54 PM

a) You said what the pc was built for, but not what the new pc is being built for. That can change things up. What are the uses?

b) no such thing as perfection. Every board has pros & cons. Consider the ASUS P5K, P5K-E WIFI or P5KC with DDR2 & 3 support.

c) DDR2 best bang right now. I don't know if you read the latest Tom's article on DDR2 VS DDR3. The improvement is about 5% on average. Is 5% worth the extra cost? It's up to you.

d) Ok, so this is a solely a gaming pc? Anything else you do on the pc? 8800 GTS512 would be the best bang nvidia card. Can be had for about $200-ish after rebate. HD3870X2 would be the best bang fastest ati card.

e) All new mobos come with onboard sound. You can disable it in bios.

Forgot to add this. Your current mobo isn't that bad. In fact, it was one of the best. It supports 45-nm cpus. Just do a bios update. Basically, as long as the new cpu is socket 775, the mobo should support it with a new bios. Some mobo makers decide it's time to screw the customers. ABIT was one of them to stop supporting their AM2 boards for AM2+ CPUs. All the boards need are new bios updates, as evidenced by many other AM2 boards.

http://support.asus.com/cpusupport/cpusupport.aspx?SLan...
April 18, 2008 12:51:01 PM

Oh since you're going to upgrade in june/july you'll have a few new juicy GPUs from both ATI and Nvidia. Same thing for the rest of the hardware, it will get cheaper by july and new shiny parts would be out.
Related resources
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
April 18, 2008 1:44:25 PM

Your budget should get you a really nice system.
ASUS P5K-E $140
C2D E8400 3.0Ghz dual core Wolfdale (part of the Penryn family) $210
(alternate CPU - C2Q Q9300 2.5Ghz quad core Yorkfield (part of the Penryn family) $295
4GB DDR2 1066 Crucial Ballistix $155 (alt RAM 4GB DDR2 800 Crucial Ballistix $110
EVGA 8800GTS (G92) 512MB KO $220

Motherboard/CPU upgradeability - this will be the last socket 775 motherboard/cpu you'll own.
Going from a dual core to quad core cpu might get you an extension
on this system but IMO you shouldnt need a MB/CPU upgrade for the
lifespan of the system.
The NextGen CPUs (Nehalem family) are going to a different socket layout and are due out in late 2008 for the top end models / 2009 for the "bang for the buck" mainstream models.

April 18, 2008 10:46:30 PM

the machine is mainly gaming, i do copy dvds now and then. mainly i play BF 2142 and steam games, but would like to play stuff at max detail @ 1920x1200 for another 1-2 years before my box is too slow

would the p5k be an improvement over the p5w i already have? the p5w has a million features i dont need (raid, multimedia stuff, dual LAN, firewire) and if the p5k is in any way more compatible with current parts, or faster, that would be better.

is the 8800 still going to be the best mainstream card through june/july? i haven't heard about anything new coming out that soon. the ati cards all seemed to be much hotter and about the same speed as the 8800 so i'm planning to go with the 8800 unless something new and much better is imminent. if it matters, i use XP and probably will never use vista.

i guess i shouldn't worry too much about motherboard upgradeability since the new cpus will be out in 8 months.

i did read the article about the best ram and how it's barely faster than non-enthusiast ram, and i doubt ram is ever a bottleneck in my pc. in fact i doubt i ever use the full 2GB but it's cheap so i might as well get 4GB
April 19, 2008 11:40:54 AM

Should've put "gaming" in the title. Anyway, you can google reviews of the cpus that interest you. Like Q9300 vs E8500. Disregard 3dmark since it's not a game:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2quad-...

The ASUS premium/deluxe always comes with those zillion features you don't need. Hence, the high price tag. The P5K-E (forget the vanilla) or better is compatible with the parts. Faster is like a few megahertz. The X48 would be the "fastest". Unless you overclock, you dump money down the toilet. Get the P5K-E at the minimum. At stock, you can't tell the differences in speed between boards.

Ok, 9800 will be discontinued after a short life. 9900 will be the new kid. By then, it'll have been out.

I don't care what you buy really. Sorry. So you dump money down the toilet, be my guest. Pick up X48, 9800GTX, DDR3, etc. I show you the best bangs. You decide what to buy.
April 24, 2008 9:23:07 PM

thanks very much for all this info. it will definitely help me make a decision.
!