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Need help with budget $200-250, 2 parts. CPU/Mobo

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February 27, 2009 3:42:06 AM

Says the title, 2 parts, motherboard/processor.
From the top:
I have an 8800GT (PCI-X), a decent case, a 420W power supply, 1G (2x512) of pc3200 corsair, 1 IDE HD that has windows on it, 1 SATA HD for storage, Audigy 2 ZS (PCI).
I'd like to build a very solid computer around what I already have, and I'm curious as to what some of you would do in my situation.

My previous motherboard/CPU just went out on me (in the middle of editing a new video with a deadline..) and I'm feeling kind of lost about mostly my CPU decision. My old setup was a 4400+ with a gigabyte NF4 Mobo, which held its own for about 4-5 years before the mobo shot and took the CPU with it.

RAM may end up being an issue, but I may be able to find a good combo deal if I can't use the old RAM in a new mobo. (It's been a while since I've shopped for parts).

I'm very skeptical about getting a Phenom but I know for sure that I want a mobo that will support future processors (Preferably AM2+).
I don't know what to do about wattage, because I had my mind made up about getting a 6400+ but most reviews I've read about motherboards in my price range seemed to have difficulties handling the CPU.

Please understand, however, that the setup will be used specifically (90%) for gaming with high FPS at high graphic settings (Left 4 Dead, HL2 Mods, STALKER, and future FPS games, etc), and about 10% for video editing and office/school work (I have campus computers for that stuff). SLI isn't a *must* but I'd like to fit another 8800 in later down the road(if it can fit both cards, they both have fans which take up a substantial amount of space, and I'd still need room for my PCI Audigy2ZS).

I've been reading for literally hours now, and the stress of this decision ultimately led me to posting here. I'm sure you're all knowledgable, and I greatly appreciate any replies in advance.
Thanks again, and I look forward to each response, as I'm in a rough spot right now.
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February 27, 2009 5:08:00 AM

There are several problems.

Intel came out with the Core i7 series of processors. AMD just came out with the Phenom II series of processors. Memory is moving up to DDR3. You would need three items instead of two.

The budget is another problem. The new components are expensive.

It's probably just a matter of time before the older motherboards, cpu's and memory fade away. You mentioned support for future processors and AM2+. The future does not look very bright for AM2+. It's very similar to what happened to the AMD socket 939 systems.

Based on your budget there may be a compromise and the possibility for future upgrades - a new AM2+ motherboard with the latest northbridge and southbridge chipsets and a Phenom II cpu that is backward compatible with AM2+ motherboards and DDR2 800 memory. Later when the budget allows you could use the same cpu in an AM3 motherboard with DDR3 memory. Once you have the AM3 motherboard and DDR3 memory you could upgrade to a Phenom II x4 quad core cpu. Sounds like a plan to me.

BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 HDMI ATX Motherboard - $109.99
Right now there is a $10.00 mail in rebate which would bring the price down to $99.99

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

AMD Phenom II X3 710 2.6GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Processor - $119.99

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

CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Memory - $32.99
Right now there is a $13.00 mail in rebate which would bring the price down to $19.99

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

Total price before mail in rebate is $262.97 plus S&H
Total price after mail in rebate is $239.97 plus S&H

I have the exact same motherboard in my current system. It cost 50% less than the premium motherboards but still has all the features. I also have the exact same memory. Have not had any problems.
February 27, 2009 11:47:18 AM

I just ordered what you said, and it all came to ~281, which works for me.
I'm just wondering, why the phenom and not a more powerful athlon?
The ghZ is only .4 higher than my previous CPU from 5 years ago. Will the 2 extra cores actually make that much of a difference as far as my gaming/editing is concerned?
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February 27, 2009 3:39:31 PM

What you ordered is an AMD Phenom II x3 triple core processor that was just barely within your budget and provides you with an ugrade path in the future. If you follow the upgrade path you will eventually wind up with a new AMD Phenom II x4 quad core processor in a new AM3 motherboard and new DDR3 memory.

The AMD Phenom II x3 710 triple core processor you ordered is rated at 2.6mhz while the AMD Athalon 64x2 6000 dual core cpu for example is rated at 3.00mhz. I can understand how you might think the dual core is more powerful. There is a lot more to it than just the cpu frequency. There will be a an improvement in performance because of the switch to triple core and a lot of brand new improvements and additional features such the the large L2 and L3 memory caches. If you are able to upgrade to the new Windows 7 operating system when it becomes available there will be another improvement in how memory is handled. On top of that the "old" single, dual, and quad core cpu's can't be used with the new AM3 boards and DDR3 memory. The upgrade path comes to a dead stop!

It gets a little crazy with games. Results will vary. In some games you will see some improvement while in others it will stay the same. It depends on how a game was designed. Some games were designed for multi-core cpus and multi-threading. Some were designed strictly for dual core cpu's. It just depends. There are quite a few articles about games and test results with different pc systems.

You will definitely see an improvement during "rendering" processes when you work with image editing and video editing software. Recently we had several threads about that.


February 27, 2009 4:07:38 PM

Awesome, I can't wait to try everything out. I hope my PSU holds up more than anything now, haha.

I think I'm underestimating the power of the phenom truthfully, which leads to my skepticism...
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February 27, 2009 4:54:55 PM

Phenom is K10 while Athlons up to X2 6400 are K8. K10 processors are faster at the same clock speed, the Phenom II is even faster than the original Phenom due to a die shrink, increased L3 cache, and I'm sure some other things factor in as well.
The Athlon X2 7750 is based on the Phenoms K10 core and at 2.7Ghz out performs the older K8 based Athlon x2 6000 @ 3.1Ghz in a number of benchmarks despite being 400mhz slower.
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February 27, 2009 5:48:15 PM

kfR,

I knew I forgot something. If you're up for it you can easily overclock your cpu. Tom's Hardware just published an article with step by step instructions for several types if AMD cpu's, including a Phenom II processor:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-overclock-at...

Go ahead! You know you want to! Crank it up!
February 28, 2009 12:06:42 AM

Haha you're definitely right. I've been reading some more today and it seems that with a good fan/heatsink combo the x3 processors can easily be clocked over 3.0 ghz and in some cases even higher than that! I've never been one to overclock due to my personal luck but I can guarantee I'll have the x3 running at 3.0.

Thank you all and more specifically johnny for your quick and knowledgable responses. I've been reading articles here for years and I figured there couldn't be a better place for a question like mine than this website and I was certainly correct. Now I just have to wait til Monday to put everything together and get my pc up and running again.

All in all thanks again for the awesome info and advice and I'm sure I'll enjoy my new setup. I'll be sure to post some benchmarks once I get everything up and running.
!