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Long term upgrade plan

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March 26, 2010 6:35:24 PM

Okay, I am defnitely in the budget category here. My desktop is running an Athlon 64 X2 chip with 2 GB (I think, maybe just 1GB) of DDR2 RAM. I had a GeForce 7600 GS with 256 MB, but then when I moved the x16 slot got damaged. I'm down to using my old GeForce 5200FX. An upgrade is definitely in order, especially if I ever want to play another new game again. I have some idea of what I want to do but wanted to run this by the community here to see what you all think. What I'm looking for right now is a good foundation to build on in the future. Here are my thoughts so far:

1. Motherboard - I definitely want DDR3. I'm also leaning pretty heavily towards AMD, but want a platform that can be upgraded in a couple of years, or so. So I'm seeing this new 890GX/SB850, and it's looking pretty good. SATA3 is built into the south bridge, which could come in handy for future storage upgrades. A couple of USB 3.0 slots are integrated on most boards, too. And, while the 790FX and other chipsets might support the phenom ii x6, the 890GX definitely will. The ASUS board looks good, and the Gigabyte might look slightly better. One thing that might tip the scale is whether the Gigabyte is able to unlock cores. Has anybody done this yet?

2. CPU - Like I said, AMD is what I'm thinking as they tend to offer good performance for my price range. I'm not experienced at all in overclocking, but would like to try it a little, if only just for the heck of it (computers are a tool, but also a toy ;)  ). I'm strongly considering the Phenom II X2 555 BE right now with the intention of unlocking the cores. I'm aware that I could get a chip with a bad core or two, so I'm still considering just how important those extra cores are to me. If I do decide I want to be 100% sure I get four cores then I'm still undecided whether I would go with a 555 or 565. I've heard they have the same room to overclock.

3. Memory - 2 x 2GB DDR3, probably PC 1600. Would going down to 8 or 7 CAS latency be worth it? I plan to eventually upgrade to 8 GB and a faster processor, but don't want to have to replace my initial memory investment.

4. GPU - Probably won't get a new card right away. The first question is do I just use the 4290 mobo chipset, or do I install my old 7600 GS card? When I do pick up a GPU (probably my first upgrade after I get my initial mobo/cpu/ram) I'm thinking of going with an ATI HD 5770. The next upgrade after that would probably be going CrossFire.

5. Storage - I have a 160 GB HD right now, probably 5400 rpm. I'll stick with that for now, but will pick up a higher capacity HD soon enough, probably around 1 TB with 7200 rpm. What I want is to eventually get a 60+ GB SSD for a boot drive.

6. Other stuff - If I do start tinkering with overclocking and/or upgrade the CPU or get two graphics cards, I will likely need to upgrade my case and cooling, and I will definitely need to upgrade my PSU. I'm not sure what I have right now, but I want to say 400 W or 450 W. Any tips on cooling solutions, etc are appreciated, but I don't know that I'll need it for awhile.

One other consideration... I'm just a little bit of a Linux geek. I'm planning on picking up Windows 7 before I lose my student discount, but I will likely only use it for gaming or other apps that I can't get to work on Linux. My current distro of choice is Kubuntu, though I'll look around a bit on that before installing again. If anybody has any experience with this hardware and Linux, let me know.

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a b B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2010 6:43:27 PM

Here's a very nice CPU + motherboard combo:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $279.98 (AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz + Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard combo)

I wouldn't mess with unlocking cores. If you want a quad core, buy a quad core.

Here's some nice CAS 7 1600MHz RAM:

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail $114.99
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2010 6:51:42 PM

Not to be a pain, because I know you laid a lot of this info out, but following the How to Ask for New Build Advice makes pulling out the pertinent info a lot easier.

What's your budget? What resolution do you plan to game at?
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March 26, 2010 7:16:09 PM

coldsleep said:
Not to be a pain, because I know you laid a lot of this info out, but following the How to Ask for New Build Advice makes pulling out the pertinent info a lot easier.

What's your budget? What resolution do you plan to game at?

Sorry about that. I guess I'm just one of those guys that starts something without reading the instructions. ;) 



APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This summer BUDGET RANGE: ~$400 initial investment (mobo/cpu/ram)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, watching media (eventually will be building an HTPC), CFD (small cases for fun)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Will likely replace everything eventually, but initial investment is just for mobo/cpu/ram, followed by a GPU a little later.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg is fine COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm open to suggestions, but leaning AMD

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, to learn on SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, for future upgrade

MONITOR RESOLUTION: probably 1920x1080, need to upgrade monitor eventually, too

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've got a good idea of what I want to do laid out in my first post. I just wanted comments on the particulars.
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March 26, 2010 7:19:47 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Here's a very nice CPU + motherboard combo:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $279.98 (AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz + Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard combo)

I wouldn't mess with unlocking cores. If you want a quad core, buy a quad core.

Here's some nice CAS 7 1600MHz RAM:

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail $114.99

I get what you're saying about the cores, though I may be willing to live with two cores until I upgrade to a six core some day. Still debating that. My two questions here are whether I'll be able to play modern games (like BC2) with such a processor, and whether the Gigabyte mobo is or will be able to unlock the cores. If I do get a two core I would like to at least try to unlock the cores.

Regarding that memory, I was looking at that set, too. I will likely go for that unless I see a combo deal for something else as good or better (might be one for some similar OCZ with the CPU).
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2010 7:41:53 PM

I still don't know why you would get the dual core chip. Your $400 budget allows for a nice quad core chip, new 890GX motherboard, and quality CAS 7 DDR3 1600 RAM. The parts I listed above total less than $400. Why go with anything less?
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March 26, 2010 8:02:38 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
I still don't know why you would get the dual core chip. Your $400 budget allows for a nice quad core chip, new 890GX motherboard, and quality CAS 7 DDR3 1600 RAM. The parts I listed above total less than $400. Why go with anything less?

I'm just considering my options. The dual core would just be cheaper with the possibility of becoming a quad core. I'm looking at it a bit more, though, and it looks like I could get the quad core package with the Gigabyte board (not having to worry about whether it unlocks cores or not) for $400. I think the best combination on Newegg I was able to find with the dual core came out to $360. The security of knowing I'm getting all four cores just might be worth $40. The difference in prices of the two cpu's is about $65, but I would be saving a little money going with the Gigabyte board instead of the ASUS board (which I know unlocks cores), as well as having a few more favorable combos available.
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 26, 2010 8:11:41 PM

BigBlueDart said:
, but I would be saving a little money going with the Gigabyte board instead of the ASUS board (which I know unlocks cores)


Whoa, whoa, whoa. You do know that it's all a crapshoot, right? Unlocking cores depends a lot more on your luck with the specific physical chip you get rather than what motherboard you put it on.
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March 26, 2010 8:21:02 PM

coldsleep said:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. You do know that it's all a crapshoot, right? Unlocking cores depends a lot more on your luck with the specific physical chip you get rather than what motherboard you put it on.

I know. I know. But if I was going to get a two core it would be worth at least trying, right? Anyway, thanks to shortstuff's prodding and a little more price research I think I am leaning towards getting the quad core.
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April 2, 2010 3:24:59 AM

Best answer selected by BigBlueDart.
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