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Upgrading...need advice between 2 different MBs and components

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October 13, 2008 7:38:08 PM

Hi. I'm replacing the guts of my current config. I'm trying to choose between 2 Gigabyte MBs/CPU/Memory for a Windows XPsp3 system:

GA-MA78GM-S2H
GA-MA790GP-DS4H

I'm on a fairly slim budget (around $400) and would like to get as much 'bang for my buck' from one of these 2 boards.
Not at all interested in OCing.
Will probably purchase a MB/CPU/RAM combo from Mwave...my current innerds is a combo from them.
I'm planning on using the integrated graphics on the MB instead of adding a vid card...at least for now.
Not looking for an 'extreme machine' or even a heavy 'gamers machine'...just a fast/current machine, upgradeable to Vista in the future maybe, able to play some older games (Myst 3 Exile and the like).

Here's what I'd like to carry over:

Fortron Blue Storm 500W 'AX500-A' PS
Floppy drive
Antec SX835II Performance II Series Workstation Tower case w/5 80mm case fans
Benq DW1640 IDE DVD burner
WD Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200RPM SATA HD
CRT monitor (I know, I know)...will eventually replace with LCD when I get more $ :bounce: 

A) Wondering if the PS will be powerful enough to run either of these 2 boards well.
B) Wondering if I should go with an Athlon or Phenom processor
C) Usually use Crucial ram...heard XP 32-bit won't use 4GB, so will probably go with 2GB ram
D) Obviously, the GA-MA790GP-DS4H is a newer chipset/board...is it worth the extra $??...or should I go with the cheaper/older board??

Thanks much for any help/advice :) 

flamanar
October 13, 2008 8:09:05 PM

I can't comment on the specific equipment selections but can give some advice on how to build something decent for a reasonable price.

I run an old S939 AMD 4000 San Diego with an MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum MB, OCZ El Platinum DDR400 (PC3200) RAM & EVGA8800GT but it still gets 90-120 fps with Counterstrike Source at 1900 x 1200 resolution on my 24" monitor. At the time I built it the MB, CPU and RAM ran to about $900 from TD. It hits 14000 on 3DMk5 at 1028x768 but can hit over 12000 at 1900x1200

I'm building a new rig using a QX6850 CPU MSI P7N Diamond MB but this time I'm buying the components almost entirely off eBay where quite honestly you can pick them up for 50% of retail or less.

If you are prepared to go with some older technology or shop around on eBay a little you could probably put together something very decent for what you want to spend. I figure I could build my "old" system for about $100-$150 these days (excluding the graphics card) and trust me - its still pretty decent. Hey - with the money you save you could even pick up a decent graphics card or an LCD monitor! Go for a borad that takes DDR 800 RAM (PC6400) as in terms of $/GB that is probably the sweet spot right now

I would not try gaming with integrated graphics - trust me it sucks.
October 13, 2008 8:37:26 PM

If you only want to play old games like Myst 3, it won't matter what you get. However, integrated video options a horrible for gaming. Your CPU is being used for EVERYTHING in this case. Audio, video, and math. Plus you use your system RAM (2GB in your case) to do all that. Not only will this mean you don't have a "heavy gaming machine", but will relegate your system to a "non-gaming machine." Old games might run fine, but don't try playing anything modern.

A 500W power supply should be fine with that setup, even if you add a single video card to the mix.

As far as whether to go with an AMD CPU or not, all depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you're hoping to build a system that will eventually be upgraded into a 'gaming machine' I'd suggest an Intel chip right now. The AMD Phenom quad cores really aren't all that great. So if you want a Quad Core, get an Intel based quad core.

Currently, Intel beats out AMD in both Dual-Core and Quad-Core options. But, it's all about what you want, and how much money you have to spend on what you want. Find the best bang for your buck, and go with it.
October 13, 2008 8:38:09 PM

Are you absolutely set on an AMD-based system. There are good options in the low-end from Intel as well. I would DEFINITELY go with 4GB ram, there's no reason not to, even if your OS doesn't recognize all of it. Your PSU looks fine, and should power whatever system you upgrade to (so long as it's not SLI/CF or GTX260/280)

For $400 I would build like this:
AMD:
GB MA78GM-S2H - $85 w/ free shipping
AMD Athlon X2 5400+BE - $77 w/ free shipping
GSkill 4GB ram - $60 w/ free shipping
if the integrated graphics aren't powerful enough you could upgrade with this:
Asus HD 4670 - $70 after MIR
$222 ($292 with upgrade option)

Intel:
Zotac nVidia 7150 MB - $63
Intel E5200 - $84 w/ free shipping
same ram as above
same upgrade option as above (probably needed since Intel X4500 < ATI HD 3200)
$207 ($277 with upgrade option)

I'm not trying to sway you, but just presenting options.
!