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Building and/or Upgrading an AMD-based system

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Last response: in Systems
October 15, 2010 4:26:06 PM

I have one computer (that uses a 30" Samsung monitor, 2560 x 1600):
Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4
AMD Phenom II x4 965 BE
Sapphire 5870 Vid Card (Cypress XT)
g.skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600

I need another computer for my office. I have a Samsung P2370 (1920 x 1080)and that's the extent of what I know about this new machine. I don't want to spend more than $800US and I need everything but peripherals. I am not, however, married to using new components in the new machine. I am not opposed to upgrading the system I have, using parts from it in the office machine (I'm looking at you, Sapphire 5870! ). I prefer an AMD-based system. I would like to get about 3-4 years of expected service with this build.

I am confused by the new offerings from AMD. Should I go "cheap" and get an Athlon II x3 445 or jump up, with an almost 3 x multiplier in cost, to a Phenom II x6? If I go the latter route, it seems to make more sense to upgrade the existing machine to a Phenom x6 and "match" that to a newer GPU, but which GPU?

The route I would like to go is to transfer the 5870 to the new machine and match it to something like the 445 with a mobo. The 5870 seems a better match to the office monitor's resolution. I would then be able to upgrade the GPU in the machine I use almost exclusively for gaming. (The office machine is used for CAD, office work, and some gaming.) This route seems like I could bring the price in at around $500US. If I go this less-expensive route, then I will also make less expensive case, HD, etc, decisions.

I am pretty comfortable making case, PSU, HD and memory decisions but I do go round-and-round over the rest... :ange: 

If I am unclear on anything, then I will happily clarify! TIA!!

More about : building upgrading amd based system

October 15, 2010 4:35:43 PM

Wait, a HD 5870 for office? Send it this way and I'll send you a bag of office-good video cards and I'll throw in a CPU, a PSU and a case.
October 15, 2010 4:42:17 PM

It's not so much a "5870 for the office" as it is a "bigger better for gaming"... ;) 
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October 15, 2010 4:51:22 PM

Well, right now you don't have many options, that mobo doesn't have SLI or you'll be using a high-end crossfire mobo for the office system? Probably will be more options in the video cards sector in a short time though with the new ATI 6 series.
October 15, 2010 11:09:51 PM

I think I have settled on the parts. Any glaring problems, bottlenecks or other mistakes to this:

CPU = Athlon II x3 445
Mobo = ASRock M3A770D
GPU = Sapphire 1000283L Radeon 5770 1GB
RAM = g.skill Eco 4 GB (2 x 2GB)
HDD = (the ever-reliable) WD Caviar Black, 1TB
PSU = Seasonic X650 Gold
Opt. = Samsung 22x DVD Burner
Case = Antec Three Hundred (Black Steel)

I will just build a new machine for the office and leave the home gaming rig alone, for now. This group of products brings me in under my original target of $800US by about $100US, before rebates. I am most concerned that the MoBo/CPU don't "match" well to the vid card. Thoughts?
October 16, 2010 12:35:05 PM

Thanks for finding those combos! I definitely signed up for the Case/DVD combo.

I am curious if the CPU/Mobo combo is going to be noticeably better with the vid card. It's fifty dollars more; not huge, really, and I do like that the Mobo is more "current" than the one I selected. It seems that if I move up to the 640, for another fifty, than I really ought to go whole hog and get a x6 Thuban, for another hundred. I might not find a combo, but the x6's are clearly a more robust CPU and will probably forestall an upgrade, making the cost a good buy nonetheless.
October 16, 2010 12:42:57 PM

Don't do the ripjaws, the ECO series is preferable.

If this is really for office work as you say you don't need anything beyond a dually, 4GB of ram, and integrated.
October 16, 2010 12:47:19 PM

Dun get antsy about LOVO RAM

How Much Power Does Low-Voltage DDR3 Memory Really Save?,265...

It clearly doesn't make sense to go for a low-voltage memory product as the first (or only) step in reducing power consumption. We found differences of up to 1 W during idle and up to 4 W at peak. Although we used an AMD machine for testing, we also tried an Intel P55 platform with XMP support that allows for automatic memory configuration. The results were very similar. Exchanging the graphics card or the motherboard will likely have a larger impact on power consumption, so it makes sense to look at more power-hungry hardware first and optimize your memory last.
October 16, 2010 12:51:49 PM

Normally, I'd agree.

But they're the same price. The lovo will save at least a few dollars over the lifetime of the build, reduces heat inside the case, reduces stress on the IMC, will overclock higher.

It makes absolutely no sense to get the ripjaws over the eco.
October 16, 2010 12:58:47 PM

I agree entirely.
October 16, 2010 1:12:04 PM

The RAM issue is decided. I like the evo, for a lot of reasons. Saving a few personal dollars over the lifetime of the build seems like a good idea, especially when my personal dollars are not the sole representation of the model. As noted, it is also less heat, which means less noise.

As to the "office" issue, it might be more accurate to say that the machine is -located- in the office. Some of what gets done with the previous machine, a Mac Pro, is unambiguously demanding. To that, my question was about the desirability of making the double step to a x6 Thuban over the 445, bypassing the middle, as demonstrated by the combo that mosox found.
October 16, 2010 1:23:00 PM

Thanks, mosox! That's the kind of impression I need. My knee-jerk is that a x6 is overkill.

I think I like the original combo you found. I like that the board is Hybrid CrossFireX, and that it supports Blu-Ray natively. It's a bigger CPU than I settled on, but the power consumption is still low.

Seems like the winner, unless anyone has a clear reason not to go that route.

Thanks, everyone, for your help!
October 16, 2010 1:31:59 PM

Hybrid CFX is when integrated graphics combines with a low end discrete for better performance - however for actual gaming always hit a decent discrete GPU
October 16, 2010 1:38:53 PM

So, with the original combo that mosox posted, your suggestion, batuchka, is to not use the CrossFire with the Sapphire card? Is it a hit for only games? What kind of games? I don't play any FPS.
October 16, 2010 1:49:37 PM

Hybrid Crossfire X works with lower end Radeon class GPUs like HD 3450,etc so the feature is irrelevant when something like a HD 5770 is slotted in
October 16, 2010 2:33:07 PM

The Sapphire card is the one I prefer. It's on my wish list. There is no benefit to using the MoBo's on-board graphics with that card?
October 17, 2010 8:09:36 AM

Nope. 1% or something.