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Upgrade advice (core 2 or i7)

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April 21, 2009 4:15:44 AM

Hey guys,

I'm usually hanging out in the "photography on the net.com" forums as that's my area of expertise... I answer a lot of newcomers questions there, so I'm posting here banking on the "pay it forward" philosophy. :) 

My last custom build was done back in.. oh.... 2002 I think it was? I ordered seperate parts on eBay and slapped together a configuration consisting of a P4 3.2, 1GB of dual channel OCZ platinum, 0-Raid 10,000 rpm raptors (x2) .. and, well, i'm no gamer, so a basic agp vid card.

Not being in the market for so long, I've lost touch with advancements made in the pc market. I've got a 21 megapixel camera and my system just doesn't cut it when it comes to heavy duty photoshop editing. Obviously, my RAM factor is NOT helping one bit!

After having spent thousands in photography equipment, there's a liiiitle bit of room in the budget left for upgrading the pc. Since I have a decent case, 500w PS, DVD-RW-DL, 7.1 sound card, 24" LCD, bluetooth dongle/board/mouse, I figure there's not a lot of expense to worry about for some performance boost. I have such little time, and with a lot of searching and googling I came up with the following selections:

I chose the Core 2 E8500 because of some decent photoshop benchmarks in the charts area. I know photoshop doesn't support quad core, and I'm willing to invest in the best value for the present time knowing that a full upgrade may necessary in as little as a year or two (when quad core is THEN supported)

Intel Core 2 Duo Desktop Processor E8500 3.16GHz
OCZ 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 PC2-8000 1000MHz Platinum XTC
ASUS P5QL PRO Motherboard/IntelP43/DDR2 1066/6SATA

(1) Ok, so like I said, I've been out of the game for a long while.. don't have a clue about the performance these configs can deliver compared to what I'm using now. While this is a cheap upgrade, will this be like a night vs. day comparison? Will my productivity go through the roof? Things are quite slow now. Even some web video stutters (on a 512mb AGP nvidia card)

(2) Does AGP even exist anymore or do is everything pci express?

(3) Should I look at a DDR3 based chipset for the few extra hundred i7 would cost?

I'm confident there are a lot of knowledgeable people out there to help bring me back to present day computing! Thanks in advance!

More about : upgrade advice core

April 21, 2009 1:35:17 PM

LOL.. this place is great!

in the photography forums, ask somebody a dumb and gereral question, which lens should I buy? and you'll get 15 different answers from 15 different people. Ask a specific question here and get nothing at all. So much for pay it forward.
April 21, 2009 2:01:34 PM

A) Your suggested upgrade will be alot better then your current rig, remember that win XP don't support more then 3GB Ram.

B) all PCI express now

C) I believe that i7 supports hyperthreading, I thought that once apon a time photoshop did as well (really not certain). If so it may be worth the extra cash for i7
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a b à CPUs
April 21, 2009 2:11:44 PM

Either would be a huge upgrade from your P4.


Neither Win XP (32 bit) nor Vista (32 bit) support more than 4GB worth of address space. Since installed devices also need address spave to function, users typically only have access to somewhere in the neighborhood of 3GB worth of RAM. The actuals will vary depending on the specific configuration. If you can live with the small~ish loss in available memory, feel free to use a 32 bit OS. If you want more than 4GB of RAM, then you will definitely need a 64 bit OS. In which case know that XP64 isn't being developed any further. So your choice then becomes Vista 64, or a Win 7 Beta from Torrents.


Photoshop will certainly take good advantage of whatever resource you choose to give it.
April 21, 2009 2:14:20 PM

those are all excellent points which have added new light to my upgrade strategy.

I had no idea about the winXP RAM limitation. Adding vista to the budget is now a must.

Had no idea about PCI express. Requiring full HD resolution will require a NEW and capable graphics solution :-/

Hyperthreading, yeah, excellent consideration - I'd have to agree that there likely is HT support within photoshop, which is a performance advantage worth upping the ante for. For photoshop work - is a 12MB cache terribly advantageous over a 6MB version?

Sorry for the earlier sarcasm - I truly do apperciate the pointers. It would have taken weeks to stumble on those facts which would have utterly screwed me. (I would have attempted an XP install on 4GB of memory)
a b à CPUs
April 21, 2009 2:29:03 PM

Sounds like you have some cash so I'd spend it on a decent i7 rig that will last.

Get 6Gb of DDR3 for it and look at a 940 or a 920 i7 ... the 920 is a bit slower but smoking at memory intensive tasks nevertheless.

I suggest a quad and getting an i7 because you seem like someone who likes the system to last a while ... this one should.

Since your a photo nut get yourself a couple of 2Tb drives.

I suggest a 4850 1Gb card as a minimum ... but it sounds like you don't game much ... this is a great card for the price tho.

You might be able to use the old case et al ... see what you can salvage.

The raptors in RAID0 will be ideal if they are still in good condition as a boot drive ... the 2tb's for storage.

Buy a quality high end mobo ... ASUS should do the trick but there are others.

See what i7 users recommend here?

Good luck.
a b à CPUs
April 21, 2009 2:37:58 PM

The big thing I would consider is that fact that socket 775 is at the end of its life. Core i7 has moved to socket 1366 and Core i5 will be something else, and memory requirements are different, so by going Core 2 will cripple your upgrade path in the future.

Personally I'd try and squeeze for the i7 now - you can stick to 3GB triple channel RAM and get the i7 920 CPU and overclock it a smidge for some extra kick. Then in the future add more RAM and newer socket 1366 CPUs.

A half-decent NVIDIA GPU would be good too to really give Photoshop CS4 a boost as well.

If you are looking at a throwaway system then go with the Core 2, perhaps overclocking a slower one and spending the extra money on more RAM (like 8GB) - Photoshop CS4 64-bit LOVES 8GB RAM ;-)
April 21, 2009 5:43:54 PM

Reynod said:
Sounds like you have some cash so I'd spend it on a decent i7 rig that will last.

Get 6Gb of DDR3 for it and look at a 940 or a 920 i7 ... the 920 is a bit slower but smoking at memory intensive tasks nevertheless.

I suggest a quad and getting an i7 because you seem like someone who likes the system to last a while ... this one should.

Since your a photo nut get yourself a couple of 2Tb drives.

You might be able to use the old case et al ... see what you can salvage............


well, the thing is that the cash isn't there... it would be dipping into a line of credit... so I would still need to be prudent. But you guys are addressing some important issues (as someone who's ignorant to computer technology advancements) which are helping steer me in an entirely new direction.

Upgradable RAM (beyond 3GB), faster memory (DDR3, triple channel), socket 1366 being standard as 775 is phased out. I suppose I was originally going for barebones, value-based, "superior to my current rig", and "ride this stuff out for the next 3 years" technology, which I see is a mistake since a few more hundred invested dollars is the "smart for today and tomorrow" option.

Thanks LePhuronn for addressing CS4 64-bit and especially that particular RAM value. I'm very intrigued at the kind of performance benchmarks this particular configuration would yeild.. *droool*

daydreaming... *no more 1 minute load times as photoshop CS4/plugins start up*

PS - my dual raptors are still stable, but they ARE aging, and I try not to stress them much. They are currently paired as secondary
drive for my photoshop cache only. Now you should get a sense of how important I devote my resources to that one particular application :) 


I suggest a 4850 1Gb card as a minimum ... but it sounds like you don't game much ... this is a great card for the price tho.
said:

I suggest a 4850 1Gb card as a minimum ... but it sounds like you don't game much ... this is a great card for the price tho.


Haha, yeah, no gaming. 1GB sounds like overkill. Photoshop requires a good open-GL compatible card, but nothing of that magnitude. The used market might do me well here. (Regarding games.. yeah.. I've had a playstation 3 system for about 2 years now and I still don't have any games for it)

Thanks again, guys - you've come through with some outstanding information and have probably saved me from a few years of headaches!!!
April 21, 2009 5:57:11 PM

question.. how do you get an 8GB memory configuration out of a tri-memory board? Every board I'm spec'ing is setup for a 2+2+2 for 6 gigs. Wouldn't 2+2+4 just throw off the timings?
a b à CPUs
April 21, 2009 6:18:57 PM

- Upgrade to Vista 64Bit, It was the BEST thing I've done in a while. It runs all my apps and games creamy smooth. The visuals seem much better on the same video card and monitor to. It just handles things better and it manages memory a little difference than XP. It loads more into RAM and launches things faster.

-If you are able to upgrade to an i7 your system will have a longer life spand as you will be investing in a new architecture with future possible upgrades. The LGA775 chips are still here, but there are not future plans for them. So what you get now is what you get. Although the cost will be about half of an i7. So as you stated you are budget limited, I would go with the e8500, P43, and 4GB of DDR2. It's a solid upgrade and you will be happy.

-As far as your last questions you can't do 8GB in triple channel. It would be 3,6,or 16. You CAN do dual channel on a triple channel board, but you would only be running it in dual channel and would be 4 sticks of 2GB.
April 21, 2009 8:41:40 PM

Pearlallica said:
question.. how do you get an 8GB memory configuration out of a tri-memory board? Every board I'm spec'ing is setup for a 2+2+2 for 6 gigs. Wouldn't 2+2+4 just throw off the timings?


I'm into photography as well and also am considering an upgrade. I have a Sony A200 with several lenses. If I'm not mistaken I think you have a Canon, but I cannot remember the model number. Full frame is nice except when you have to work with it on an old PC.

Converting a batch of 500 RAW files to JPEGs is quite a task, even for my highly overclocked dual core CPU. In the future, Photoshop most likely will take advantage of more than 2 CPU cores. Save the money now and invest into it later when larger and faster products are out. The larger RAM kits will make it easier to work with large files.

I can open up Photoshop in a few seconds and my old PC did take its own sweet time.
On a budget, I would recommend:

Intel E8500 $189.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte P45UD3L $93.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Platinum 8GB DDR2 800 kit 4x2GB modules $94.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows Vista 64bit or x64 $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This comes out to $478.96. This should do everything that you need it to do. If you find you want more CPU power, you can always research how to overclock your CPU/Motherboard. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.
a b à CPUs
April 21, 2009 9:44:56 PM

Quote:
775 is a dead socket. get the I7


Not at all. 775 is still an excellent choice for a budget machine that performs quite well.
a b à CPUs
April 21, 2009 11:45:54 PM

^
Correct, the 775 is still a GOOD setup if you are under a budget that doesnt allow an i7. But if you can swing it, the i7 is the way to go. But if all he is doing is graphics like photoshop, the core2duo is a good setup at a good price
April 22, 2009 1:11:22 AM

The programs the user is mainly using is Photoshop CS4, which only uses 2 cores. There wouldn't be any benefit getting an I7/Bloomfield when the program cannot utilize the 4 CPU cores. Photoshop is quite expensive if not purchased as a student or faculty of an educational institution. With that being said, he will most likely use that program for years to come on the same setup like his previous setup. An e8500 is solid choice and getting an i7 would give him very marginal gains with the current programs that he is using mainly.
April 22, 2009 1:19:32 AM

the 775 socket is still a good bargain and the quad cores like the q9400 (~$220) are good deals. There are several articles here in TH that show at the current time, 4GB ram is rarely fully utilized no matter what you are running. But that will change. Same way w/ the quad cores, not many apps utilize them all at this time, but that is changing everyday.

But the DDR3 ram in triple channel is sweet. The i7 boards handle it perfectly. You can get an i7 920 processor for ~$280, 6GB of TC ram for~$100, mobo for ~$125, ~Vista x64 for ~$100. Throw in a nice Video Card like the Radeon 4830 w/ 512 or 1GB of GDDR3 or a GeForce 9800 for ~$100-$140.

Look for a mobo that supports at least 8GB of ram, and 16GB is better. That way you can upgrade the lowest priced component of your PC easily in the future. Also get a good power supply, 550 watts or greater, 80+ certified efficiency. There are some simple calculators for figuring wattage online.

But that's just my 2 cents worth. :lol: 
April 22, 2009 2:33:20 AM

cowboybob said:
the 775 socket is still a good bargain and the quad cores like the q9400 (~$220) are good deals. There are several articles here in TH that show at the current time, 4GB ram is rarely fully utilized no matter what you are running. But that will change. Same way w/ the quad cores, not many apps utilize them all at this time, but that is changing everyday.

But the DDR3 ram in triple channel is sweet. The i7 boards handle it perfectly. You can get an i7 920 processor for ~$280, 6GB of TC ram for~$100, mobo for ~$125, ~Vista x64 for ~$100. Throw in a nice Video Card like the Radeon 4830 w/ 512 or 1GB of GDDR3 or a GeForce 9800 for ~$100-$140.

Look for a mobo that supports at least 8GB of ram, and 16GB is better. That way you can upgrade the lowest priced component of your PC easily in the future. Also get a good power supply, 550 watts or greater, 80+ certified efficiency. There are some simple calculators for figuring wattage online.

But that's just my 2 cents worth. :lol: 


i7/Bloomfield uses triple channel memory in the high end boards. Lower end boards use dual channel, but this setup would be aimed at higher performance. The resulting amount of memory in triple channel mode would be 3GB, 6GB and 12GB kits. I would also like you to show me where you can find a Socket 1366 board for $125. When more RAM is installed on the PC, it makes it easier to work with larger files. Also, Photoshop can be GPU accelerated, so the OP should look into a GPU that works with the program as well.
April 22, 2009 2:40:57 AM

So I've done some research based on the excellent suggestions above. The total amounts aren't final as extras (OS, power supply) are additional considerations. This is a good basis so far.
---------------
Intel E8500
Gigabyte P45UD3L
OCZ Platinum 8GB DDR2 800 kit
EVGA 512-P3-N954-TR GeForce 9500 GT
$629.10 (Canadian after Tax)
---------------
Intel Core i7 920
ASUS P6T Deluxe
OCZ Gold 6GB
EVGA 512-P3-N954-TR GeForce 9500 GT
$1,060.46 (Canadian and Taxed)

Regarding the 4 cores not being utilized by photoshop... true, but who knows what Adobe has planned down the road...

It's a tough call.. I'll roll it around in my mind for a while, but I'm in a much better position now than I was than yesterday ;) 

ONE-SHOT: yeah, I'm shooting with Canon equipment. At 21mp, my files are loading fine in lightroom (slower than the 12mp files from before). I do heavy masking, brushing, and filtering, and I need a fast system to compliment my aggressive workflow. Less time editing and more time with my family is worth the extra cost. :) 
April 22, 2009 2:46:23 AM

Pearlallica said:
So I've done some research based on the excellent suggestions above. I'm surprised that only 400 dollars seperate the two rigs.
---------------
Intel E8500
Gigabyte P45UD3L
OCZ Platinum 8GB DDR2 800 kit
EVGA 512-P3-N954-TR GeForce 9500 GT
$629.10 (Canadian after Tax)
---------------
Intel Core i7 920
ASUS P6T Deluxe
OCZ Gold 6GB
EVGA 512-P3-N954-TR GeForce 9500 GT
$1,060.46 (Canadian and Taxed)

It's a tough call.. I'll roll it around in my mind for a while, but I'm in a much better position now than I was than yesterday ;) 

ONE-SHOT: yeah, I'm shooting with Canon equipment. At 21mp, my files are loading fine in lightroom (slower than the 12mp files from before). I do heavy masking, brushing, and filtering, and I need a fast system to compliment my aggressive workflow. Less time editing and more time with my family is worth the extra cost if it means more minutes with my family. :) 



I forgot to add a Video Card, although the same 9500GT on the i7 setup will work fine with the setup that I suggested. You also need a Power supply and I would suggest a new DVD player. Any questions and we can help you put together the rest.
April 22, 2009 3:10:15 AM

one-shot said:
I forgot to add a Video Card, although the same 9500GT on the i7 setup will work fine with the setup that I suggested. You also need a Power supply and I would suggest a new DVD player. Any questions and we can help you put together the rest.


I tossed in a CORSAIR 650W EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail @ $100

Is a new burner really necessary?
April 22, 2009 7:23:16 AM

Pearlallica said:
I tossed in a CORSAIR 650W EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail @ $100

Is a new burner really necessary?


Well, it's not necessary, but I think a SATA DVD burner is great because of the smaller wires verses the large IDE cables. It's only ~$25, but the choice is yours, not biggie. The PSU looks great. Any thoughts on what system you are planning on going with?
April 22, 2009 7:33:49 AM

go i7 really!

but you need raid! raid10 or dual raid -- raid0/raid10

4 drives

take your first 1/3 and make the c drive as raid0

the take the rest and make raid10

---------------------
warpedsystems has done this for over 5 years, THG calls it "short stroking" we called it "dual drive" or dual drive raid"

anyways! use raid! yes the solid state drives are getting cheaper but a 300gb raptor can be had for $180 what a rip!

get a 1TB drive or bigger and use the other 1/4 or 1/3 in raid0!

short stoking - cool name it only took THG 5 years to figure it out - sorry guys!
a b à CPUs
April 22, 2009 1:44:10 PM

^
I find RAID on a desktop PC unpractical. There are limited benenfits with a single user. Unless you are mirroring drives for fault tolerance, there is no need.

Just get a faster Hard drive if you need speed. There are plenty of great drives out there that have great read/write speeds, and you don't have to go SSD for that.
April 22, 2009 5:16:34 PM

Ok, you guys have been great so far. Free advice at its finest. I'm very grateful - believe me.

My shopping cart is getting more and more full (newegg) and I'm nearing the checkout aisle. I have decided on i7 because I'd like have this system last a long while. I seem to upgrade in great strides, so I might as well make the next leap a good one! And I plan on upgrading fully 64-bit because by the sound of some of your experience things are much more fluid and responsive at this state.

Intel Core i7 920 $406.79
ASUS P6T Deluxe $387.01
OCZ Platinum Edition 8GB (4 x 2GB) $125.42
EVGA 512-P3-N954-TR GeForce 9500 GT $101.00
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 power supply $128.24
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB x2 (RAID 0) $151.40
Pioneer 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model DVR-116DBK - OEM $28.24
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit $169.49

TOTAL SO FAR *** $1,497.59 *** (CA$ and taxed without shipping costs)

Notes:
(1) I've always relied on raid 0 for performance and it's yet to let me down. I generally save (or backup) documents on other drives so I'm prepared to lose my system files and re-install in the event of a failure.

(2) Not sure about 8GB DDR3 vs. 6GB DDR3 configuration. With 8 I'm losing the "triple channel" feature. I'm on the fence because I read (and trust) above that photoshop benefits from an 8GB setup.

(3) Also not sure about cooling. I'll probably attempt to overclock the processor after I read on the subject some more. Not sure if I should stick with the included heatsink given my computing needs (photoshop)

Thanks again guys! This has been a great discussion thus far!
a b à CPUs
April 22, 2009 6:41:43 PM

I would get a triple channel set of DDR3 memory for that P6T Deluxe board.

7200.10 drives are old. I go for the 7200.11 or ES2 drive. I have both a 7200.10 and ES2 drive and the ES2 drive is MUCH faster for a little more cost.

So why the 9500GT? do you plan to game at all? if not then that will work just fine.

The 6GB ram setup would be faster and give you better throughput. I'd opt for a faster memory cache.

Cooler.. just use the stock one until you want to OC.



April 22, 2009 7:28:23 PM

^you mean .12 because the .11 are faulty one's.

also @pearllalica, the e8500 vs i7 wasn't really fair since the e85 isn't a quad core.

also 775 is dead because you can get amd equivalents or better's of the same cpu for around the same price, well the 720 is quite a bit less than the e84 but thats the only exception. (720 BE vs e8400, 940 BE vs Q9550, 810 vs Q8200, 710 vs e7400)
April 22, 2009 9:24:24 PM

Wait a while to get the i7 cause there is already a new line of them coming out and the new ones that are out now will no longer be the greatest thing ever. Get a Core 2 Quad and overclock the hell out of it, (liquid is necessary.)
April 23, 2009 1:26:07 AM

Pearlallica said:
Ok, you guys have been great so far. Free advice at its finest. I'm very grateful - believe me.

My shopping cart is getting more and more full (newegg) and I'm nearing the checkout aisle. I have decided on i7 because I'd like have this system last a long while. I seem to upgrade in great strides, so I might as well make the next leap a good one! And I plan on upgrading fully 64-bit because by the sound of some of your experience things are much more fluid and responsive at this state.

Intel Core i7 920 $406.79
ASUS P6T Deluxe $387.01
OCZ Platinum Edition 8GB (4 x 2GB) $125.42
EVGA 512-P3-N954-TR GeForce 9500 GT $101.00
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 power supply $128.24
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB x2 (RAID 0) $151.40
Pioneer 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model DVR-116DBK - OEM $28.24
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit $169.49

TOTAL SO FAR *** $1,497.59 *** (CA$ and taxed without shipping costs)

Notes:
(1) I've always relied on raid 0 for performance and it's yet to let me down. I generally save (or backup) documents on other drives so I'm prepared to lose my system files and re-install in the event of a failure.

(2) Not sure about 8GB DDR3 vs. 6GB DDR3 configuration. With 8 I'm losing the "triple channel" feature. I'm on the fence because I read (and trust) above that photoshop benefits from an 8GB setup.

(3) Also not sure about cooling. I'll probably attempt to overclock the processor after I read on the subject some more. Not sure if I should stick with the included heatsink given my computing needs (photoshop)

Thanks again guys! This has been a great discussion thus far!


Since you have made your decision on the core i7, I thought I would show you some of jsv35's "budget builds" http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/172986.aspx
(These are US prices)

If you're getting a new i7 system, I would not skimp out on the graphics card, since cs4 takes advantage of it (not sure how much, but it does), and I would get a ATI 4870 or GTX260 or better. Also, get either 6gb or 12 gb of ram, since it prefers dualtriple channel.

Really, though... unless I am not understanding your situation or something, those prices are wayyyy tooo high. i7 should cost ~270, mobo should be 200-300, ram is a little high as well, burner should be ~22 for a sata connection, and vista should be hovering around 100. I think I mistook CA for california =D (if you meant canada)
June 1, 2009 8:31:12 PM

Final update to conclude the original post:

hey guys, gotta give ya'll some sincere credit. My computer knowledge has come a long way from all those years and I've finally decided on a rig that satisfies my photographic needs.

I put in an order this morning with newegg.ca (finally!) after much deliberation (and saving up). I'm feeling really strong about my choices, and I don't have a single computer literate person in my life I can share these specs with that might have an ounce of appreciation for what they are... so here I go:

Thermaltake Spedo VI90001N2Z Black 0.8 mm SECC Steel ATX Full Tower
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB (x2) Raid 0 - SYSTEM DRIVE (and photo storage)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB - PROGRAM DRIVE
WD Raptor 360 74GB (x2) - Raid 0 - PHOTOSHOP CACHE DISK (already own these)
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
ZALMAN CNPS9900LED 120mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler
EVGA E758-A1 3-Way SLI (x16/x16/x8) LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5

total was 1,977.67 Canadian

Our US/Canadian dollar is really close today... more than it has since the start of the recession. I WISH I could have used the US newegg store but it's simply un-allowed.

I was scoping out the new ASUS p6t7 supercomputer mobo.. got some impressive reviews. What threw me off is that one of the reviewers said he payed 1 or 2 thousand bucks for it (forget which)... it was listed at $500... that's a big margin of... error? Plus, I can't imagine I'd benefit from it's features such as high video bandwidth.
!