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Upgrading from 939 - Should I go AM3 or AM2+ ?

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February 14, 2009 1:18:09 AM

It's time for my 2-3 year PC upgrade. I currently have a 939, Athlon 3200 single core, 2 GB system and am looking to start fresh. I would like to build a system that will allow me to upgrade here and there throughout the upcoming years, and will last the next few years. I mostly use my PC for basic household stuff, family photo editing, family video editing, surfing the net, excel, some gaming (nothing serious though, just casual), multimedia (music and movies). I know I don't need a powerhouse of a PC, but I would like to build something with some oomph that will still be kicking over the years.

So now my question, do I spring for the newest of the new AM3 system (which I figure will be more upgradable as the years pass), or go with the tried and true (and probably a little less expensive - especially when it comes to DDR2 versus DDR3 memory) AM2+ system? I'm pretty sold on the new AM3 720 tri-core chip, it seems like it has great performance for the price and will be a great intro for me to the world of multi-cores. However, I'm stuck with the motherboard situation, to go AM3 or AM2+ (since this chip will work on both).

Any and all thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

More about : upgrading 939 am3 am2

a b à CPUs
February 14, 2009 1:35:14 AM

You mentioned editing family videos. Generally speaking that would call for a quad core system. You would see a noticeable improvement in rendering and other video processes. AM3 is brand new and I haven't read anything yet about AM3 and video editing.
February 14, 2009 1:55:18 AM

I'll be using Photoshop Premiere Elements, which requires only a dual-core. I figure a tri-core should be good then, but I could be very wrong.

It looks like the AM3 system will be only about $50 more than the AM2+, maybe even less. Is it worth it?
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a b à CPUs
February 14, 2009 2:15:08 AM

I just finished reading this AM3 review:

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

AMD came out with the Phenom II x4. It is supposed to be a new and improved quad core cpu.
AMD came out with the Phenom II x3. It is supposed to be a new triple core cpu.
The triple core costs less than the quad core.
It's going to boil down to features and benefits.
a c 83 à CPUs
February 14, 2009 1:32:24 PM

AM3 shows little improvement over AM2+ right now. The only benefit I see with getting an AM3 board is possibly a longer life span on the board, there's no confirmation on how long AMD will include DDR2 and DDR3 memory controllers in their processors. Even with that said AM3 could get replaced when K10 gets replaced, it's all unknown right now so it's hard to future proof a platform.

Personally I'm leaving my computers AM2+ since I already own the motherboards from last year, my next build may or may not use AM3, really depends on cost.
a c 159 à CPUs
February 14, 2009 2:59:01 PM

Right now newegg is charging more for the 7xx series am3, so I would look elsewhere for a better deal. Fry's electronics stores has the 710 for $124.99 which is a good price. I personally would get them over the older phenoms. They should be more reliable and use less energy, as well as run cooler. The 7xx series is actually a tri-core, while the 8xx series is 4 cores.
a b à CPUs
February 14, 2009 3:16:55 PM

o1die - Have you looked at the Phenom II x4 cpu's?

rcurry - Are you on a tight budget?

Last night I went to AMD's web site. I looked at features and benefits and specifications for Phenom II x3 and Phenom II x4. There was a section in Phenom II x 3 that made me think an AM3 motherboard and DDR3 memory would be needed for optimal performance. Here's the AMD section that made me think that:

A high-bandwidth, low-latency integrated memory controller
Supports PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066); PC2-6400 (DDR2-800), PC2-5300 (DDR2-667), PC2-4200 (DDR2-533) or PC2-3200 (DDR2-400) SDRAM unbuffered DIMMs – AM2+
Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500(DDR2-1066MHz) and PC3 10600 (DDR3-1333MHz) – AM3
Up to 17.1GB/s memory bandwidth for DDR2 and up to 21GB/s memory bandwidth for DDR3
February 14, 2009 5:38:25 PM

Not a super tight budget, but a budget none the less. Below are the two systems I'm trying to decide between.

1) Phenom II 940 x4 BE
Asus M4A79 Deluxe (Am2+ MB)
DDR2 Memory

Totals around $460

I like this system because it's a quad core (which is nice), the board is solid, and the memory is cheap and fast. I'm worried, though, that I'd be basically buying into a dying technology since the AM3 leans towards DDR3.

2) Phenom II 720 x3 BE
Asus M4A79T-Deluxe (AM3 MB)
DDR3 Memory

Totals around $490

I like the fact that this system will give me the ability to upgrade in the years to come. However, will I miss not having an extra core? Would I be overpaying for memory that is not as good of a performer as it's cheaper DDR2 counterparts? There is also a cheaper AM3 MB out right now:



This is less money, but I'm not sure of their boards. Gigabyte is all I've used in the past, but I've put together a few systems for friends recently with their boards and have not been impressed. I thought I'd try Asus this time.

Anyways, I 'm taking a few days to think it over and get other peoples opinions. I'm hoping that on Monday (presidents day) I may be able to find some deals and make a decision.
a b à CPUs
February 15, 2009 9:34:53 AM

I'd personally spend a little more and buy a Phemon II quad, but I'd go a DDR2 system and then get more RAM (4Gigs) and slip a 4850 grphics card in there.

Perhaps a slightly slower quad core ... sounds like you don't need the fastest - that might save a bit of cash too.

The tri cores look pretty good but I imagine you woud get a bit more life out of the quad.

Get a quality mobo.

Make sure you get a decent case with plenty of airflow - 120mm fans front and rear.

The Phenom II doesn't need the bandwidth of the DDR3 Ram anyway - the uncore clock would have to be raised quite a bit more than it is currently set on the cpu to make any use of it ... and it currently is not.

DDR3 is actually a bit of a fizzer - from a price and performance perspective.

A 500W PSU should be enough - plenty of decent cases come with them too.

Play around with the various combinations and pick the one that best suits your budget.

Good luck.
February 15, 2009 4:21:27 PM

I like the idea of going AM3. It just seems like in a few years it would be nice to be able to drop a new chip in without swapping mb and ram.
a b à CPUs
February 15, 2009 7:13:23 PM

I went over to anandtech.com and a few other sites to see what I could find out. There was an interesting article explaining how and why the AMD Phenom II x3 was actually a quad core with one core disabled. The article explained how during manufacturing the cpu's are tested. If a problem with a core is detected, then the core is disabled. A similar process occurs with L cache memory. It's not much different from articles I read 20 years ago about Intel cpu's. The cpu frequency was tested. Depending on the results the cpu's were sold as different cpu versions. The manufacturers are simply trying to be efficient, avoid waste, and maximize profit.

Personally I am leaning toward quad core.
February 15, 2009 8:19:45 PM

The future is going DDR3 on Socket AM3. The move to AM3 is still in transition really, no surprise, it's all new. (Looking forward 2 years plus).

The cost of DDR3 is changing and this will accelerate soon - at the same time, DDR2 cost is going to increase eventually - this always happens with old ram.

Regardless of whether you go with Socket AM2+ or Socket AM3, definitely go with an AM3 cpu.

You could use an older AM2+ mobo for now, and move up to an AM3 mobo later - like next year, when the new mobos are all tested, and the DDR3 price is cheap. An older board with a older 690 chipset might be cheap now - current chipset is 790GX(best onboard vid) or 790FX(hi-perf), and either of these are best with SB750 southbridge. But an older 690 AM2+ will run the AM3 cpu, and use DDR2. But this all means a plan to upgrade the mobo in a year. And do you already have DDR2? OR ARE YOU BUYING THAT TOO? in which case go DDR3.

The mobo from ASUS that you mention is a really hot mobo - as in good - reviewed here by Legit Reviews:
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/902/1/
That would be a hi performance mobo w an 790FX/SB750 chipset - apparently the bios is loaded with options for extreme performance overclox etc. - it will handle whatever you need.
But I also think those new Ultra Durable Copper mobos from Giga are going to be hot also. (either AM2+ or AM3 btw)

The AM3 cpu's are just rolling out now, and more will appear probably every month or so for the next 2 years! Cores = x4, x3, x2 are all coming.

The Triple core mentioned has 6 MB L3 cache.
The Quad 810 has 4 MB L3.
(whichever you prefer)

A 3xBE black edition triple is very exciting if you want to oclock. Or it's a nice option to use in "casual gaming".

Personally, I recommend you also float this question through the forums at "AMDzone". This topic is constantly discussed there.

Conclusion - buy all AM3. but hold off a month or two if you can, just to see what's coming next. There's a thread on the zone called EZ Guide to Socket AM3 also. You are asking the most popular question, and it's quite personal at this stage. It sounds like you are fairly well versed in the topic already.

Hope this helps a little. :) 
a b à CPUs
February 15, 2009 10:20:49 PM

sighQ2 - You mentioned quad 810 which is a downgraded version due to a memory cache problem discovered during testing. The 940 has the full 6MB L3.

My crystal ball is cracked so I have yet to figure out how AMD Phenom II x4 is going to fit into the overall picture.
a b à CPUs
February 16, 2009 9:36:03 AM

sighq also mentioned AMDZone ... BM would be proud of you for that m8.

Big hello to Chris n Tom too !!
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
April 22, 2009 6:27:08 AM

log jammin said:
I like the idea of going AM3. It just seems like in a few years it would be nice to be able to drop a new chip in without swapping mb and ram.

+1

but then again, in a few years, they'll have much better am3 mobos and ram... that's the problem i'm dealing with :S
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