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MicroATX MB selection...

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August 19, 2009 4:34:56 PM

I'm looking to build a new system to replace my aged P4 2.4 OC system and the MicroATX platform has my interest since I'm looking to save physical space, money and try and get a bit better performance.

Shouldn't be too difficult.

However, I'm undecided on a MB. My initial pic is the ASRock G41M-LE from the System Builder's $600 PC, but am wondering if there are any other options in this price bracket that offer good OC-ability, and upgrade flexibility... I may wind up keeping my next computer another 5+ years.

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August 19, 2009 4:57:03 PM

wel for the upgrade flexibility 775 platform is already in the morgue wait for intels i5 or i3 sockets or if you want something now the amd am3 platform
August 19, 2009 5:09:55 PM

i'm looking to try and keep the component cost to under $300.

I already have:
WD 300 Raptor
Sony Optiarc 7240s

So, I just need:
CPU: E5200 66.99 Newegg
Artic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro $13.98 open box Newegg
MB: ASRock G41M-LE 47.99 open box Newegg (looking for alternatives)
Memory: Patriot PVS24G6400LLK 4GB $59.00-$20 rebate=$39.99 Newegg
Case: HEC 6K60BS Mini Tower $31.99 Newegg
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 4770 512mb $109.99 (undecided on if this is the card for me, was looking at the HD 4870, but may be overkill for me (graphic design work, flight sim))

total at the moment = $310.93 + tax + shipping = ~$362

Sure, I could wait until the next generation, but I've already waited 6 years or so since I originally purchase this P4 2.4. I feel steeping into a OC dual core will already be blowing the doors off my P4 by leaps and bounds.

Currently, my system is starting to show more frequent BSOD, likely from my OC (running upwards of 3.0ghz, just lowered today to try and take some strain off). So, I can't wait another couple of months really.

I appreciate your insight, especially since I wasn't privy to those new sockets.

I'm open to more advice, I just have to keep things within budget. Either way, anything I get that is from the last 1-3 years is going to be faster than my current system.
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August 19, 2009 5:20:58 PM

power supply?
August 19, 2009 5:22:28 PM

and intels next gen will be kicking round in a month
August 19, 2009 5:26:13 PM

i have an Enermax 430 watt PSU at the moment, I presume i'll be needing 500w+
August 19, 2009 5:38:31 PM

This $25 Rosewill micro-ATX case comes with a free card reader, has a 120mm fan, and can take another up front: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... The HEC case you've listed has just an 80mm fan, and appears to take more of those smaller, whinier fans in front.
Consider an AMD 550BE. At stock, it beats the pants off the e5200, and also overclocks well. The e5200 may OC higher, but that might bring it to parity at the expense of more heat and possibly reduced lifespan.
August 19, 2009 5:40:27 PM

the amd 250 also compares favorably
August 19, 2009 5:59:12 PM

For an HD4770, your 430W Enermax will be sufficient.
August 19, 2009 8:19:16 PM

The AMD 250 looks interesting for the money. It's a tough decision especially since I'm coming from such an old CPU and I don't have an unlimited budget =\
August 19, 2009 8:22:21 PM

well amd makes sense that all am3 processors can fit in to older am2+ boards an use ddr2 an ddr3 ram so when you need another upgrade you can jus get ddr3 ram an board an reuse the cpu
August 19, 2009 8:26:32 PM

that does sound good. now i'll just have to find a good microatx mb that will be flexible with future expansion...

and a good CPU cooler too.
August 19, 2009 8:32:20 PM

you ganna be using a 32bit or 64 bit os
August 19, 2009 8:37:02 PM

32 bit winxp pro corporate
August 19, 2009 8:43:42 PM

I would go with a Phenom II and AM2+ motherboard considering your budget. Not sure if an all AM3 and DDR3 M-atx build is possible given your budget. The cooler you chose would not work with an AMD setup so that would have to be changed. Everything else would work.

Newegg.com - Open Box: ASRock A790GMH/128M AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $61

Newegg.com - AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor - Processors - Desktops $79

Newegg.com - Cooler Master Hyper TX3 Socket 775/1156/AMD 130W 92mm CPU Cooler RR-910-HTX3-GP - CPU Fans & Heatsinks $20
August 19, 2009 8:52:58 PM


Open Box: BIOSTAR TA790GX XE AM2+/AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
ASUS EAH4770 FORMULA/DI/512MD5 Radeon HD 4770 512MB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video ... -
G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500C
AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX250OCGQBOX - Retail
Subtotal: $284.97
August 19, 2009 11:19:41 PM

For video card you may want to look at 4850's. Some are same price or cheaper than the 4770 and are faster.
August 20, 2009 12:04:15 AM

I had my eye originally on the 4850's, but was then derailed by Tom's recent recommendation on the 4770. I will certainly look at the 4850s again, 512 and 1gig versions.

If I were to compromise, would it be better to buy a cheaper CPU and spend more on a GPU, or the other way around?

I also intend to set this machine up with 4GB of ram.

I wish Tom's did some more MicroATX MB comparisons, seems to be so little info out there in one spot without digging through forums like this.

The Gigabyte/AMD 280 Regor combo at $122 is a pretty sweet deal, but am unsure if that MB has good OC abilities.

BTW, here is my exact current setup:

MSI Neo-2-LS Bios V2.5
P4 2.4 Northwood PGA478 800MHz FSB OC'ed to 3.0ghz (250mhz x 12)
Swiftech MCX4000/Panaflow 80mm
(2) Corsair CMX512-4400C25PT = 1gig
BFG nVida GeForce 6600GT 128mb AGP
WD3000 VelociRaptor 300GB SATA
Sony Optiarc AD-7240S 24x DVD-RW SATA
Enermax EG465P-VE 431W

Again, I primarily do graphic/web design with Adobe CS4 and run RealFlight G4.5 flight simulator which is really taxing on my existing setup.
August 31, 2009 6:37:43 PM

anyone else have any advice?

i'm trying to narrow down the:

AMD AM2/3 capatable MicroATX MB

AMD CPU

High Quality air CPU cooler (I will be overclocking!)

GPU (something less than $100, but is at least superior to my 6600GT)

4GB Memory that OCs well and doesn't cost a fortune
August 31, 2009 6:49:35 PM
August 31, 2009 7:34:00 PM

I'm looking at this for ~$20 more than the Athlon II 240 Regor combo with same MB:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Maybe I'll use the on-board GPU until I have some extra money for a dedicated GPU since I don't really use any software that is much inhibitted by my existing rig - so I can live with a bit less performance.

The RAM, geezz, expensive. I haven't really messed with OC ram too much, but I am trying to figure out what ram is good quality for the money. Looks like most people are suggesting the G.Skill sticks.

Not really sure on how to pic RAM....
August 31, 2009 8:13:25 PM

aside from price, what is the difference between the two models of G.SKILL you listed just now?

For lon term use, like 3+ years, would it be more wise to invest in the MB that supports DDR3?
August 31, 2009 8:20:38 PM

The difference between the two RAM kits is the required voltage. The more expensive kit shows that it only requires 1.8v, but the user comments indicate it needs more than that for DDR2 1066 operation. Either kit would work just fine.

I prefer to use DDR3 for any new build since it's the new standard. No future CPU's will support DDR2 RAM, so its price will continue to rise as it's phased out. DDR3 RAM prices should remain pretty stable until it's replaced with DDR4 (or whatever they will call it). DDR3 leaves a better upgrade path, but if it is stretching the budget then just go with DDR2.
August 31, 2009 8:38:11 PM

That is a triple channel kit designed for Intel i7 chips. It also has a slow CAS rating of 9 and is DDR3 1333 instead of DDR3 1600.
August 31, 2009 8:40:48 PM

what are the basic criteria for DDR3 for use with the Phenom or Athlon X2 CPUs?
August 31, 2009 8:47:38 PM

The AMD chips use a dual channel RAM controller, so you should look for kits that come in an even number. A 2x2GB setup is most common.

A decent DDR3 1333 or 1600 RAM kit with a low CAS rating is going to run you at least $80. If that breaks the budget, I would stick with DDR2 RAM. I wouldn't get a cheap DDR3 RAM kit. It's only worth using if you get a decent kit IMO.
August 31, 2009 8:59:11 PM

Ok, I'm looking at two setups here:

total $199.98
Phenom II X2 545 + Gigabyte GA-MA785GM $139.99
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) $59.99


and your suggested combo $229.98:
Athlon X2 250 Regor + GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 combo $145.99
Patriot Viper 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) $83.99


My current rig has held up for most of the last 7 years or so with upgrades to the RAM, GPU, PSU, HD and CD drive. The MSI Neo2 865 ATX board I've had all this time has supported this.

So, between the two MB/CPU/RAM setups, which do you feel will give me the most bang for my buck and provisions for future growth?

BTW: I'm gonna use on board video until I can afford a decent video card (4850 or equiv depending on when I'm ready to buy), so this leaves me a lil bit more room in the budget for the MB/CPU and RAM to spend a lil bit more to hopefully get a bit more in one or more criteria (speed, upgrade path)

(i'm intentionally not listing the CPU fan since that's going to be a constant regardles of build, barring any case fitment issues)
August 31, 2009 9:13:16 PM

Your math is a bit off on the second setup. The total for the motherboard+CPU+RAM = $229.98 ($145.99 + 83.99). I would say it's worth the extra $30 to go with the AM3/DDR3 setup for future CPU/RAM upgrades.
August 31, 2009 9:19:49 PM

i fixed :) 

ok, well, now I guess I'll try and figure out what cooler is going to fit in the Rosewill R102 case and if I might be able to find this stuff or something similar anywhere else for at all cheaper :D 

At least now I know what direction I'm going in. Thanks for the help shortstuff_mt!
August 31, 2009 9:38:27 PM

That would be a very nice setup. The Phenom II X2 is a good upgrade for the extra $10.
September 1, 2009 6:14:17 PM

any idea on how this new system will compare to my existing OC'd P4 machine?

I typically run Adobe CS4 Photoshop-Dreamweaver, RealFlight Simulator G4.5, and lots of web surfing

just saw another thread on the Semptron processor that someone unlocked to the equivalent of a Athlon II X2 for ~$40
!