So I've definitely decided on the MSI DKA790GX motherboard. It will work great with the AMD 965 im getting, and the 4GB mushkin pc2-6400 I've already got.
I'm not sure what to do about video though. It's got the ATI 790gx northbridge, which is an onboard radeon HD 3300. I'm not wild about onboard video though, especially in this case because I don't wanna cannibalize my ram, which I don't ever plan on increasing over 4gb (until much later, when im ready to go ddr3).
So basically I have two (cheap) video options:
I go buy the best card (out of the only two) that will run in Crossfire Hybrid mode with the 790gx chipset, which is the HD 3470. I can get that card for under $100, which isn't bad. But it doesn't seem like that great a card either, at least not by itself. I'm wondering if the Hybrid Crossfire capability would be worth it though, and powerful enough to run the newest games at decent settings? And would it matter which one (either the onboard or the PCI) I plug my monitor into?
and option B:
I disable the onboard vid, and re-use my existing radeon X1800XT for the new system (and find something real cheap for the old one since I plan to keep it running as a VST box). When I compared the X1800XT to the HD3470 at gpureview, the 3470 didn't look that much better. Although it's 3 years newer, has the same amount of gddr3, and has faster clocks, it only has about 1/3 as much memory bandwidth as my X1800XT.
I'm wondering if the onboard 3300 hybrid-crossfired with a brand new 3470 would even be as good as my old X1800XT? I imagine Hybrid Crossfire is going to be more finicky with more certain games, too, as it doesn't look like something that AMD is marketing very aggressively at all.
I don't mind re-using the X1800XT at all, it's still loud as a lawnmower but also still holding up great after 4 years. I'd love to be able to use it until I wear it out since I can't resell it for anything.
Which video option do you guys think would be best for me? Thanks!
It's going to be win7 64bit, for general home use, and some gaming. Also some editing and programming. I'm upgrading from an Athlon 4600 on an MSI K9N Neo V3 board. I've been using this computer for everything including alot of music & midi stuff, and it's still fairly fast but it doesn't run newer games like GTA:IV very well at all. So I'm going to put my XP 32bit drive (with all my old music stuff) back in this box, and just use it for that. And I'll plan to use the new quad-core box for modern games and pretty much everything else.
I rechecked the specs for the video cards on gpureview.com, it looks like the X1800XT totally outperforms the HD 3470, by a factor of three. So unless there's some advantage to the newer HD series I'm unaware of, I don't see any point in buying the HD 3470 just to run in hybrid crossfire with the onboard 790gx video - I'm guessing the X1800XT would still outperform them combined. So, I think I answered my own question, unless I'm overlooking some important difference between these series of vid cards.
I'm convinced my major bottleneck is CPU power, and upgrading from an Athlon X2 to a Phenom II X4 will make all the difference I need. And I will keep running the X1800XT in my newer system until it gives out (because I've never had a video card last as long as this one has), or becomes too much of a bottleneck itself. I've got an older, unused video card laying around that I can put back in my XP studio pc, just for basic video support.
not that the Athlon x 2 4600 is lighting quick but I would say the X1800XT would be the bottleneck in that system. You may want to check the AMD web site to see if there is WIN 7 driver support for the card. If you want to play games like GTA:IV, I would encourage you to look into more modern cards with better performance.