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confused on latest technology

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September 26, 2008 2:31:10 PM

I always build my own systems, but I tend to get disconnected in the years between upgrades. My current system is probably four years old and is showing its age. I like to play games (but my wife hates it, hence the long time between upgrades). I've been getting the upgrade bug lately, but find myself at a bit of a loss since the latest technology became available.

First, by necessity, I build for value, so I don't go hog wild on stuff. I want a geforce 8800 gt, which has finally dropped in price. I want a intel core 2 duo e8400, which is a good mixture of price/power. After that it gets fuzzy.

The MB I am looking at is the Asus p5n-e. I know little about the latest MB tech, so I don't know what to look for other than ensuring that I have two IDE headers. I have two IDE hard drives and an optical drive, so I really need the two to keep things running. I don't want to chuck them out and buy SATA, that's a waste of money. Eventually, I'll move to SATA (probably just in time to find a new tech there to make it obsolete).

Here's the problem though; I want about four gigs of ram, which appears to be a good standard right now. However, I keep seeing references to some sort of conflict that keeps MBs from reading more than two gigs of ram. Apparently, if you have a 64 bit OS, that will fix it. But, I have no experience with 64 bit OSs.

So, is this really an issue, or is it isolated to a few specific MBs? What difference is there between 64 and 32 bit OSs? Will the 64 bit OS play games (Vista 64) or is it like the old days of Win95 and Win NT where one played games but the other didn't?

September 26, 2008 2:46:00 PM

From a normal users standpoint, the only difference between x32 and x64 is the amount of RAM it can utilize. Other then that I have not run into any compatibility issues.
September 26, 2008 3:08:00 PM

Actually, arctourus, a 32-bit OS will limit your usable RAM to somewhere between 3 & 3.5 gigs (depending . It's a limit to the 32-bit interface, and has nothing to do with your motherboard. People still recommend getting a 2x2GB DDR2 800 RAM kit, though, because the price is so attractive that it doesn't make any sense (from a cost standpoint) not to get the full 4gigs.
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September 26, 2008 3:10:57 PM

Right now, I would recommend that you stay away from the 8800GT. I have been building my own computers for years and have always been partial to Nvidia. However the last one I bought, an 8800GT Alpha Dog, gave me nothing but problems. I have sent it to XFX twice for repairs and they tell me that nothing is wrong with it. However, I continually get blue screens and multiple other booting problems. I recently replaced it with an MSI 4850 and have not seen another problem since. Looking at numerous reviews, I see now that Nvidia has had multiple problems with the chipset used on the 8800GT. I am not saying stay away from Nvidia. Just stay away from the 8800GT. This is the one I bought and it is the most impressive video card I have ever owned. The cooling system MSI put on this one keeps it cool, which has been a problem with 4xxx series video cards. I give this one a 5 star rating.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The issue with 64 bit versus 32 bit operating systems only pertains to how much memory the system can access. Because of its limitations, XP can only access or see about 3.4 to 3.6 of a 4 gb memory set. I have 4 gb of Mushkin memory and XP only sees 3.4 gb of it. However, I have 2 hard drives and dual boot with Vista 64 bit on the second hard drive, and this operating system can see and utilize all of it. It's not a big deal. I could not get the 8800GT to operate at all on the 64 bit OS. My opinion is that you are better off with a 32 bit OS. I I would definitely stay away from 8800GT. Good luck!
September 26, 2008 3:19:38 PM

Ram is cheap today. 4gb of DDR2-800 in a 2x2gb configuration is recommended.
With a 32 bit OS, you will be able to access about 3.4gb. The remainder is reserved for hardware buffers, primarily related to the vga card. With a 64 bit OS, all 4gb are available, plus the ability to use 8gb or more.

Vista-64 will run well in most cases.
If you have old dos 16 bit programs, they won't run.
If you have some old obsolete devices, then they may not run. 64 bit vista requires certified drivers, and obsolete devices are not worth the effort to certify them.

The P5N-e was probably picked because it has two IDE headers, most have only one. It uses the Nvidia 650i chipset which is a bit old, and has few USB headers.
You can expand your motherboard choices in a few ways.
Buy a SATA dvd burner. A good Samsung costs only about $25.
A PCI IDE card will cost under $10.
As a suggestion, look at a more modern mobo like the Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3L $89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you have old IDE drives, they could be contributing to your PC's sluggishness. Newer SATA drives are faster, and high capacity for a very reasonable price. I think you should using your IDE drives for backup(if at all) and using a more modern SATA drive for your main drive.

E8400 is a good choice.
For a vga card, read this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/Best-Graphics-Card,...


---good luck---
September 26, 2008 3:29:07 PM

I'd like to comment on jlabits post.

First I have a friend with these specs.
E2160/P35-DS3L/4gb DDR2 800/8800GT/Vista64
AND
He has never to my knowledge had an issue with his 8800GT and Vista64, I say to my knowledge because I know his computer guy very well.(no its not me).

So in short just because you had issues with a Shoddy XFX card, don't blame all 8800GT's and Vista64.
September 26, 2008 3:39:48 PM

just hog everything over will you? Sata is a lot faster then the IDE, ive noticed it myself with my old IDE 160gb drive. and 500gb storage is well worth it. Especially if you see prices drop to 80$ us for a 750gb Samsung Spinpoint F1 or Western Digital AKS 640GB with 32mb cache.

If your on a budget why don't you just save some cash for one sata drive
and use the IDE header to transfer everything over.

You could save some money and buy a Core 2 Duo E7200...
And just 2 gig of ram if you still use XP.

And @ cliffro
totally agree, i've read many comments that the card is just plain good. I myself own a 8800GTS 512 and it still kicks bottoms.
September 26, 2008 4:38:25 PM

One of the hard drives does has some age, but the other is a fairly new one. Here's the next question that comes into play: if I retain those for storage and get an SATA for the main drive, how much power am I going to be sucking out? I don't plan to go SLI, but could in the future. Basically, I need to be able to run a few case fans, processor, MB, two hard drives (three if I get the SATA) and an optical drive. I usually stick with the onboard sound.

So what's a good wattage for that? Do I need something reallyl beefy?
September 26, 2008 5:04:14 PM

Most of the power requirements come from the vga system.
The rest of your parts are very typical, and are incluced in any generic psu recommendation.
In simple terms, if your vga card needs one pci-e connector, like the 8800GT, then any quality psu with one connector will do the job. This will usually be something around 400watts.
A quality unit will come from Corsair, PC P&C, or Seasonic. Look at this list: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10...
For your system the Corsair 450VX would be fine.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
If you want a stronger unit with two pcie connectors, I can recommend the PC P&C silencer610.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SLI has been a poor upgrade path in the past. It should be used only by
those who will not currently be satisfied by the fastest available single vga card
which is currently the 4870X2. The 4870, GTX260, or 9800GX2
offer very good performance for the money now.
To get SLI. you have to spend more up front for a SLI capable mobo,a
more powerful SLI capable PSU, and better case cooling. Upgrading a single card later with a
second equal card does not get you 2x increase, it is more like 1.1x to 1.5x depending on the game.
At that time, you will still be paying top dollar for a card that is closer to
being obsolete.
It would be better to sell the old card and use the proceeds
towards a better new generation single card.
!