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New Computer Time - What to Go For

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April 12, 2009 3:11:26 PM

Howdy, Bonsoir and Welcome,

I've been a long time fan of AMD. Consequently, my current setup is an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ on a Gigabyte M59-S5 SLI motherboard and 4 Gig of DDR2 RAM. I've already started a few of the upgrades, in otherwords, the computer is now running 2 x nVidia 9800GT Graphics cards in SLI with an 850Watt power supply and it's freaking sweet right now.

But the main reasons for upgrading, is because I need 64 bit vista whereas I've only got 32 bit vista and my HDDs are running out of space and I could do with a bit of a pep for Windows (fresh install).

Im considering whether I should go with an i7 and AM3. Unfortunately there isn't a lot around for AM3 unless you want to go CrossFire. I could conceivably go to a 780a motherboard for AM2+ which should support an AM3 CPU then upgrade the mobo later on.

I don't want to overspend, I need to reign in the expenses, but if an i7 is the best choice, then an i7 it is.

Here's what Im currently thinking... I have three choices, go with an i7, wait for the 980a (MCP82) chipset, or build slowly slowly the AM3 system. That's the great thing about AMD, parts are interchangeable. Good thinking there on behalf of AMD.

So.

i7 System
  • Intel i7 920
  • Gigabyte GA-X58 Extreme Motherboard
  • 4 Gig DDR3 1066 RAM
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64
  • 2 x 1 TB Hard Drives

    This would cost me around £900

    Wait for nVidias 980a chipset for AM3
    A comparable AM3 system once the nVidia 980a chipset is firmly available, would cost me by my reckoning, around £700. However I want to upgrade straight away/very soon. So I don't think waiting will cut it for me.

    AM3 System in Stages
    First Stage - £450
  • ASUS Crosshair II Formula
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64
  • 2 x 1 TB Hard Drives

    This will give me an instant graphical improvement because my 9800GTs (PCI-E 16 v2) are running on a v1.1 bus and therefore half bandwidth.

    Second Stage - £150
  • AMD Phenom II X4 810

    Third Stage - £230
  • Some kind of nVidia 980a based AM3 Motherboard
  • 4 Gig DDR3 1066 RAM

    Total Cost - £830

    This represents a cost saving on the i7 platform of £70, while an increase in expenditure of £130 to start upgrading now.

    This seems a pretty intriguing idea to me however because I should in theory be able to get the best bang for my buck at that point in time. So when it comes to stage two, I may be able to get a better processor for the money, or even get the same processor for cheaper.

    I also like the idea of seeing continuing improvements. A further benefit, is that AMD parts are always (usually) cheaper than intel, therefore it's easier to upgrade.

    The draw back, is there's effectively £150 wasted on a motherboard that will only get six months life. Also the whole process, even at £700, may not be as cost effective compared with going with an i7 rig.

    Any thoughts?

    Any experiences out there?

    Cya
    Simon
  • More about : computer time

    April 12, 2009 3:25:42 PM

    if you want am3 it has to be:

    Crossfire AM3 mobo £115
    4gb 2x2gb CL9 1600mhz ram £80 @ the moment
    Phenom II x4 955 £230
    ATi 4870 £150
    Coolermaster 690 £75
    Corsair 850TX £90
    WD 1TB caviar Black £85
    Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit(Ultimate is too much for a gaming PC) £74

    that already beats the i7 PC other than storage space and costs £10 less. You also get a gfx card which can be overclocked to perform better than the two 9800GTX's in SLI.
    April 12, 2009 3:43:06 PM

    Crossfire AM3 motherboard is not happening. I dislike Crossfire and I dislike ATI. I have my two nVidia 9800GTs working quite happily now, and that's what Im sticking with.

    I used to have two 7600GS in SLI and they were more powerful than one ATI 4670. To be fair, I think the 4670 I had was faulty. I had graphical artefacts in the Sims 2, the stupid thing wouldn't play BluRay despite being HDCP compatible, the fans ran 100% constantly and it thought it was running on a v2.0 PCI Bus.

    I've heard from other people with similar problems with ATI for one reason or another.

    I went for the 9800GT in the end from XFX, the XXX edition, 670 Mhz. The benchmarking in 3D Vantage blew the 4670 out of the water. Reviewing the stats again, it almost suggested the 4670 was so poor, the benchmark results for the CPU were being lowered. Added another 9800GT in and I got some brilliant results. My CPU score is reported at over 20,000!!!!!

    You can most definitely forget the Crossfire for me.

    I already have a case, Gigabyte Aureus 2, and an 850W PSU. As for Home Premium vs Ultimate, what makes you think this will purely be for gaming? I do lots of other stuff in the background and also do quite a bit of video editing.

    The question really is, go with i7, hold for the AM3 system that I want, or upgrade slowly starting with an AM2+ motherboard?

    With the Phenom II x4 955 (presume that is AM3) just around the corner, I think I may have to go with that.

    Cya
    Simon
    Related resources
    April 12, 2009 3:48:16 PM

    @the 9800gt vs 4670, well no s***, the 9800GT's rival is the 4770(equal to a 4850) which is way more powerful and will probably overclock better due to it's 40nm nature.

    ATi beats nvidia in your price range at the moment with an amd PC, nvidia chipsets are arguably as good a chipset as pentium 4's are CPU's.

    Also Ultimate has a lot of bloatware, home premium is the OS to go for unless you wait out for windows 7.
    April 12, 2009 4:01:04 PM

    According to my calculations, the ATI4670 should be 3.2x faster than the nVidia 7600GS. Even with two 7600GS, the ATI4670 should be faster. That's why I think it was faulty. Also CCC didn't actually control anything on the card.

    I guess the only question, is whether those benchmark scores take into account v1.1 or v2.0 PCI Bus.

    I wasn't aware there was an ATI 4770. There is a 4870, but that's overkill.

    In any event, as I say, I trialled the 4670 with a view to upgrading to crossfire, but its problems left me cold, so I ignored ATI and stuck with nVidia. That's four nVidia cards I've used in my PC without a problem.

    Vista then, maybe I should stick with Vista Business? Home Premium appears to have more frils like being able to make DVDs, Have more "fun" on your PC and create high def movies etc. Business has scan and fax, hardware failure protect and something about being able to log into windows domains (as I have).

    I do fancy the All in One Media Center Functionality though, which is only present in Ultimate or Home Premium.
    April 12, 2009 4:14:27 PM

    maybe you should wait off for 7 or get an OS cutting program and take the unneeded programs off of a ripped vista ISO(all the retail discs contain the same contents but the code chooses what to install) then burn another DVD with the new ISO on and install that.

    It'll be legal as long as it's a dvd from your own ISO.

    also the 4770 comes out May 4th. should be about £80, same price as the 4830, just as good as the 4850.
    April 12, 2009 4:21:16 PM

    So the 9800GT's rival is a card that hasn't even been released yet?

    Im, not quite sure what Im saying wrong in the post. I suppose I could use vLite to trim off the stuff I don't need from Vista. But I've already got my PSU, Graphics Cards and Case, don't need a debate on those because those aren't changing.

    So the only question, quite literally....

    Should I go immediately for a £900 i7, or spend around £850 over six months or so on a piece by piece AM3 system starting off with a 780a motherboard that'll be scrapped after six months at the most until I can get a 980a nVidia chipset for SLI.

    April 12, 2009 4:59:20 PM

    Just due to me being impatient.. i7..

    I also think that it'll still think it'll run better than AMD, but i'm the opposite to you I luuurrrvv Intel, sort of.
    April 12, 2009 5:08:23 PM

    and you can't make sentences correctly.

    I disagree with you because the 955 beats Intels 920 at stock speeds(sure, the 955 has an extra 444.4r mhz extra but it has 25% less cache and doesn't have smt)

    It also OC's to 4ghz with ease apparently.

    EDIT: @sjdean, take away the PSU, I think you'd need the new case and a new graphics card won't hurt since it offers more performance and less watts
    April 12, 2009 5:10:40 PM

    AMD was always great for its money and there was a lot of choice. I do still quite like the upgrade path between AM2+ and AM3, the way you can run an AM3 CPU on an AM2+ board.

    The old AMD Athlon 64 was also supposed to be better at 32 bit or something than an intel too which is why I chose AMD over Intel last time.

    But I do think the i7 has nailed it this time around.

    I really want an i7, but I don't want to spend over the odds. Ouch. Decisions decisions.
    April 12, 2009 5:13:10 PM

    And your a bit of jackass really
    April 12, 2009 5:30:38 PM

    Helloworld, I've repeated myself several times now. The graphics cards are not up for discussion. They're brand new and I bought them two months ago. I also repeat, again, I have a case, the Gigabyte Aureus 2. It is new, still boxed. The case. PSU. Graphics cards, not up for discussion.

    How many times do I have to repeat myself?

    Even if I was to consider the ATI 4870, it's still £70 more than the nVidia 9800GT. I tried the ATI 4670 and it was crud. So, no. Not going there. But I've already said that.

    Do you happen to have anything which isn't speculation? You've told me that there's an as yet unreleased graphics card which is the current competitor to the 9800GT.

    Now you're saying that the AMD 955 beats the i7 920. The 955 hasn't even been released yet. Do you have any real world benchmarking?

    The comparative AM2+ variant, AMD 940, shows on average to be 22% slowed than the i7 920 according to this review:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-940,2114-...
    April 12, 2009 5:53:12 PM

    ok ok.

    what brand of PSU? if it's corsair, PCP&C, seasonic, silverpower, silverstone or xigmatek, don't bother answering.

    Ok, on the gfx cards but you will be disappointed if you get a motherboard with an NVidia chipset.

    Now, on the cpu. The 955 has more L1 cache than the older variants If I remember correctly, also am3 variants are generally faster than am2+ cpu's.

    Not forgetting that most of the i7 builds the P2 is compared to have 6gb of ram, 50% more than the P2 build.

    I can't remember where I found it but there was a review somewhere comparing the 720 BE with the 810, 940, E8400 and i7 920. In those benchmarks, on average with a 4870 IIRC, the 720 was overall on par with the i7 920. Sure it lost in encoding bench's due to only having 3 logical cores vs 8 of the i7 but would beat the i7 in gaming. The 940 came behind the i7, no-one's benched the 720 with an unlocked core so far but my guess would be that it would be on Par with the i7.

    and I also agree with alex's 2nd post in this thread.
    April 12, 2009 5:56:28 PM

    That's handy you were agreeing because it related to you.
    April 12, 2009 6:27:59 PM

    I don't think I will be disappointed by a motherboard with an nVidia chipset. Either the X58 or an nVidia chipset motherboard has to run my graphics cards. That's not negotiable. The 590 chipset is pretty good, but I have heard some iffyness about the 780a.

    The PSU is none of those. It is a CoolerMaster RealPower M850. Runs my mates i7 perfectly happily. Again, the PSU isn't open for discussion, yet you continue to do so. Are you incapable of reading what Im writing?

    I have been building PC's for a while.

    Again I reiterate the question, which so far you have not been able to answer, about whether to spend now on an i7 or spend over the next few months and upgrade the PC in pieces to an AM3.

    I've seen a couple of benchmarks that suggest that the 720BE is mostly on par with i7 but does suffer in a few areas. This review though seems to show the i7 way out in front in virtually all areas: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/socket-am3-phenom,2...

    Meanwhile in quite a few areas, the 810 does not seem to be as good as the cheaper 720BE. However one can see the progression, and in theory, it would appear that the 955 should (and I await benchmarks) be close if not on par with the 920.

    Got any links showing benchmarks proving the 720BE is on par with the i7?

    You agree with Alex that you're a bit of a jackass? Yes, I think that was aimed at you. You can tell this from the sentence structure from each opening paragraph from your insult "and you can't make sentences correctly."

    April 12, 2009 6:34:46 PM

    To be honest as well "hello", if you can't accept the fact I've got 2x9800GTs, a Coolermaster PSU and a brand new case (keep your "buy something different" comments to yourself - Im not changing these), then please keep off the conversation.

    If you have something relevent to the question I asked, then please post. You have contributed considerable clutter without actually helping to answer by providing an opinion.

    I feel like getting an i7 just to spite you!

    Cya
    Simon
    April 12, 2009 8:12:01 PM

    Honestly if a person is going to build now and has the money i7 is the way to go. If gaming was the only thing then I would say the pII would be a decent buy considering graphics power is more important then cpu power in games. But doing other cpu intensive tasks the i7 is generally significantly faster.

    Here is a link to a comparison of a pII 940 to a i7 920 on many apps and even with a 10% clock speed advantage the 940 can't keep up and I doubt the 955 will do significantly better.

    As far as gaming goes the i7 has one advantage none of the others have and that is the ability to use both sli and CF and in the next year and beyond who knows what will be the hot setup for graphics.

    I also believe that what ever platform or video card manufacturer a person selects, it will give an enjoyable gaming experience.
    !