I am looking to build a reasonable (<$1000 tax, title, license out the door) system for the opening of the next World of Warcraft expansion in December. I have been an AMD user since the mid 90s, and had been looking at the AM3 socket boards. I used to build systems back in the late 90s and into early 2000, however I havent really kept up on the hardware or homebuilding since then - my job just doesn't apply anymore and life has only so much time.
So my general goal was to build a box that can be expanded so that it was relevant for WoW for the next 4-5 years. My thought was to invest in a solid, fast, top-end motherboard and pair it with an inexpensive AM3 socket processor, 2-4 GB of memory, and a video card.
WoW (from what I understand) is more CPU intensive than GPU intensive - so I know I would have to balance the performance between the two devices.
I don't have the info to be able to gauge the variance between say a 6 core Phenom II and a 3 core Athlon II x3 or a Sempron AM3 socketed CPU - and this is where I am stuck. The lowest end Athlon IIs run ~$50, with a Phenom II x4 955 running ~$150. But I dont know what I am getting for that additional $100, and if I wait 6-12 months, will I be able to pay 50 bucks to upgrade then.
I have absolutely no idea about videocards anymore as well. Crossfire? SLI? I'm reading,but if there is a short answer as to what is best based on an AMD platform and the application of WoW.
if you're wanting this to last longer, i would lean towards a 4 core phenom II and that can be overclocked if you want (they've got some good base speeds too). the 6 cores are really unnecessary, especially with amd's 6-core.
as for video cards, i would say stick with a single card arrangement. going multi-card means you have to have multiple slots on the MB and a sufficiently powerful PSU, all of which adds to the cost. A single card like the gtx 460 is a solid performer and if you do wanna add a 2nd video card, sli with nvidia is the way to go cause they're scaling seems to perform best.
The only issue with AMD and Nvidia is that I hear some of the chipset on the mobos don't work well with SLI. You may need to look more into that. However, the GTX 460s are good enough that you can buy one now and get great performance out of it until you can afford the second (if you need it). Also, get the 1GB versions, not the 768MB; they perform noticeably better due to the extra RAM and cores.
All of the previous CPUs (AM2+ and older) will work on the AM3 boards, but they won't gain any new functionality. If you look in the details, the supported CPUs are the Phenom II / Athlon II / Sempron 100 Series that all have a maximum TDP of 140W.
Ouch quads, CF..SLI for a WOW rig sounds way off For your needs some $4xx-5xx config would do nicely and at the rate tech moves just buy the next gen bang for buck *solution* as per your needs in future hehe