APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week BUDGET RANGE: $400-600 After Rebates
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Occasionally serving files to HTPC and laptop, web surfing, large PDF viewing, Photoshop-like programs, occasional data crunching (but this stuff takes weeks and isn't time sensitive, so it doesn't really matter), movies (would like to be able to play those 720p avi's smoothly...)
I don't do any gaming.. my wife will occasionally use it to play sims 2 or something but the biggest priority is that web surfing/video watching is smooth. My current system (2.8ghz HT w/2gb ddr RAM, hd2600xt agp) has started to feel laggy with flash-intensive sites, hence the upgrade.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Would like to re-use the following, though will upgrade/discard if needed:
Generic Looking Dell 19in 4:3 CRT Monitor (will upgrade monitors at some point later)
Have an ATX case
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, tigerdirect.com, any reputable site..
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.
PARTS PREFERENCES: None: I was looking at the Gigabyte mobos with AMD processors.. but I'm open to anything.
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 + 1440x900 (though this isn't important..)
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Would like it to be quiet, but only if it wouldn't add much expense. I might also like to change out the case for one that looks more generic so that I can give the current one to my brother. This system runs 24/7 (for file serving/backups), if that makes a difference.
This will be a humming little machine with more power than you should need for your applications. You could, however, trim back it needed by:
Going to a dual core AMD CPU
Eliminate the video card - the mobo has onbaord graphics - todays are better than the old ones - you might want to try it first or alternatively scale back to a less powerful game card - although this one is on sale and you would give up a lot to go down in price
Note that this uses the latest AM3 cpu slot from AMD and DDR3 memory - helping to future proof it. It is further upgradable (later?) by getting a more powerful PSU - a lot more power is available - or upgrading the video card or adding more memory. But whats listed above is more than enought to easily handle your applications.
I am looking to upgrade and my use is almost identical in terms of video and some media serving.
A couple of quick questions - what's the difference between the GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P m/b you recommend and the Asustek M4A785TD-V or Asustek M4A78T-E apart from price? The only thing I can see is higher spec onboard video perhaps?
If you chose a dual core CPU instead of triple core to save $$ what would you think would provide most bang for buck?
My work provides Windows 7 to employees (for home use) for free, so that isn't needed. I have an IDE DVD writer, but I very rarely use it... so don't include it in the budget (I'll upgrade later if needed)
did you upgraded the firmware of the seagate hd .11?
I didn't, but when I bought it (earlier this year) it said 7200.11 on newegg... does that mean it was already updated?
Eliminate the video card - the mobo has onbaord graphics
Are you sure that board has onboard graphics? I couldn't find anything about it in the specs. But we're still under budget... for another $100 or so, could I get a significantly better video card? Or could I get one of the similar mobos which have onboard video support and try to set up crossfire? Maybe with the GA-MA785GT-UD3H? I know it may be overkill for what I use it for, but I'd rather have more power if needed than not (and I'd like to keep this as my main system for several years).
OK. Take away the optical drive and the revised cost is 388.92 AR. Now you have some options to consider.
You are correct – the mobo listed above does not have onboard graphics. I confused it with another – sorry. You have several good options to upgrade from the baseline listed above using the same good series of Gigabyte mobos. I did not see the one you listed – the GA-MA785GT-UD3H listed at newegg so I will let you plug it in.
GA-MA770T-UD3P(rev. 1.0) Baseline above $69.99
GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H $89.99
For the additional $20, you get a faster mobo, integrated graphics with HD 4200, and a slot for a second video card, but at one quarter speed. It uses older DDR2 memory – so if you select this option we will need to change the memory. DDR2 memory should not have a noticeable impact on your uses and might save you $20 or $30, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Regarding the speed of the second slot, one quarter speed is more than enough to handle doubling the video card listed in baseline – and even some faster ones. One half speed will provide full performance to all but the top end enthusiast game cards.
All things considered, I favor the GA-MA785G-UD3H, unless you decide to go with the 5870 video cards below which might (don’t know) be slowed down a little in the second slot with only one quarter bandwidth, but am not sure if it best meets your preferences.
First, I just want to reiterate that the recommended 4670 video card will more than handle all of the uses you listed and allow some reasonable gaming. Here is a review that compares the generic 4670 with some faster cards – and shows you how the 4670 performs in game play
The next step to consider is the 4770 – which is about 50% faster and is too new to be included in the above review. Here are some THG charts for comparison that tie into that article (note that 35 fps – frames per second – is the sweet spot – anything less starts affecting the appearance and anything more you won’t notice – but it is nice to have some overhead for growth) :
The primray reason this is a large $40 jump in price (besides being a lot better performing card) is simply because the 4570 includes a great rebate and the 4770 is new and in high demand and discounts are just not being offered.
The next two steps should be the new cards covered in the following review which I include to let you see what the cards can do and if you want to spend the extra money:
Note that if you move up to these cards, while your power supply can easily handle one card you would probably need to upgrade it before going Crossfire with 2 cards. The earlier cards should work in Crossfire with a 600w PSU.
With the video card – you have to just go with your preferences since the baseline card clearly meets all of your stated needs. The video card might meet all or most of them too, so you still might elect to try that option as it is simple to add the card later. But it certainly would be nice to have room to accommodate growth if you think you might need more later.
Revised total with high end options of both mobo and video card: $523.92