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Gigabyte GA-EP45C-DS3R - good choice?

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August 13, 2008 11:40:46 AM

Trying again with new thread title as there wasn't any response...

I'm looking to replace my ageing AMD Athlon XP2200 :ouch:  system. I'm not a gamer/overclocker - I'm just looking to build a solid system that'll give me good mileage for at least 3yrs. Sorry if this is a rambling post but I'm not really up on the latest PC hardware technology and have all kinds of considerations on my mind. I do want quad-core though as I've got some specific software in mind (chess engines) that'll take advantage of it.

Here's my initial thoughts on mobo/cpu/ram based on what's available at a local supplier:

  • Gigabyte GA-EP45C-DS3R, iP45 Express, S775, PCI-E 2.0 x16, DDR2/3 1066/1333/1600, SATA II/RAID, ATX
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (might consider Q9400/Q9550 depending on bang/buck if the rumoured price falls happen. Q9450 is currently about $400 in the UK including tax)
  • 4GB(2x2GB) Corsair Value Select, DDR2 PC2-5300(667), 240 Pin, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 5-5-5-15

    Now here's the kind of thoughts/questions I'm asking myself:

    1. With the old AMD system I got some extra mileage by upgrading the CPU/RAM. I'm thinking that if my system needs a boost in a couple of years I can track down a (hopefully) cheap 1600MHz FSB Yorkfield core and swap in some DDR3 RAM. Is this naive thinking?

    2. How valueable is the motherboard's DDR3 support for someone like me? If it's a distraction then maybe I should just stick with a DDR2 based board and see what else is on the market.

    3. Are dual DDR2/DDR3 boards likely to have any problems compared to straight DDR2 boards?

    4. If I'm just sticking with DDR2 then maybe I should go with 800 MHz ram now in case I want to chuck in the 1600Mhz FSB Yorkfield later.

    5. How strictly should one observe the motherboard manufacturers' lists of approved RAM modules if your not overclocking? The Corsair parts weren't listed under Gigabyte's QVL.

    6. There's a lot of excitement about the upcoming Nehalem platform. From what I read the stuff being released in Q3 2008 is aimed more for enthusiasts/early adopters. More consumer-oriented parts (probably what I'd be wanting) are still some 12 months off. Am I reading the situation correctly? I'm not so desperate to upgrade that I couldn't wait a couple of months to upgrade if it was really worth it but I'm not sure I can hold out a year.

    Thanks if you've read this far! Any input welcome.
    a c 251 V Motherboard
    August 13, 2008 2:44:03 PM

    The combo DDR2/DDR3 boards are a poor choice today, in my opinion.
    DDR3 is not noticeably faster because the core 2 cpu's are not memory limited. You are looking a a 1% difference here.

    If you are looking at a quad core cpu, then I think I would try to wait for nehalem if your budget permits. The first 2.66 units will be $284 in 1000 unit quantities. They should launch in October. These new cpu's are 30% faster, clock for clock, and they have hyperthreading which gives them the appearance of 8 cores.

    If you must build today, go with 4/8gb of DDR2-800 RAM. It won't cost any more than DDR2-667.
    Related resources
    August 13, 2008 3:18:28 PM

    By the time you switch to DDR3 memory, you're CPU you'll want to upgrade to wont be the same socket as what your mobo has and you'll need a new mobo anyway.
    August 13, 2008 3:32:54 PM

    Thanks for the replies. Sounds like DDR3 support is basically a red herring if I were to go Yorkfield.

    I'm after a solid, non-overclocked, non-gaming system with good bang/buck. In terms of budget I'd be prepared to spend up to around £1000 ($2000) for a base unit although that already includes WD VelociRaptor and an additional 1TB drive.

    If I we're posting this in October would Nehalem be a no-brainer over the Penryn-based system? I understand that DDR3 offers poor bang/buck right now compared to DDR2. Although maybe the integrated memory controller in Nehalem will address this?
    a c 251 V Motherboard
    August 13, 2008 3:55:27 PM

    In October, Nehalem would be a no brainer if you wanted a Quad. For a duo, the E8500 would still be good.
    My best guess on the cost of the nehalem parts:
    2.66ghz cpu $330, based on $284 1000 unit prices + markup.
    X58 motherboard $300, This is the current highest end motherboard price level.
    6gb of ddr3 MEMORY $225. 4GB kits of DDR3 go for $150 now, and the prices are going down. The X58 can use 3 channels of DDR3 memory, so I anticipate 6gb configurations to be common. I think the integrated memory controller will be sensitive to the speed of ram, so more and faster is better.
    a b V Motherboard
    August 13, 2008 3:56:11 PM

    GPU - Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5 TV-Out/Dual DVI/HDMI (PCI-Express) - Retail
    $285.00

    PCU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 LGA775 'Yorkfield' 2.83GHz 12MB-cache (1333FSB) Processor -
    Retail $340.00

    Monitors - LG L207WT 20" Widescreen LCD Monitor - Black $214.00

    PSU - Corsair TX 750W ATX2.2 SLI Compliant PSU $120.00

    Case - Antec Nine Hundred Ultimate Gaming Case $120.00

    Memory - Corsair 4GB DDR2 XMS2 PC2-6400C5 TwinX (2x2GB) X2 - 8GB total $234.00

    Optical Drive - Asus DRW-2014L1T 20x DVD±RW SATA Dual Layer Lightscribe ReWriter $37.00
    (Black/Silver) - Retail

    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-Bit - OEM (66I-01939) $110.00

    ASUS P5Q-E LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    $160.00

    $1,620.00
    Add your Velociraptor and 1 TB drive to this.
    August 13, 2008 8:04:07 PM

    Why wouldn't you use DDR2 PC2 9600 if the mobo can handle it?

    I am looking into upgrading my PC and was looking at the ASUS P5Q-E LGA.
    a b V Motherboard
    August 14, 2008 11:45:33 AM

    Welcome to the forums, hutch77!

    If you can afford it it is fine. I thinks at those speeds I would prefer DDR3.
    The problem is you may never be reaching those speeds, so you may be better off with plain DDR2-800 for most processors.


    !