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Building new PC

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January 17, 2011 6:24:12 PM

Hi all, I'm having some computer problems. if I were to decide to buy a new motherboard, CPU and memory, I have some questions. Its been about 5 years since I built a PC.

1. should I go with intel or AMD? it seems that with AMD, you get much more for the money. i notice you can buy a 6 core amd at 3.3ghz for the same price as an intel with 4 cores running at 2.93ghz.

2. if i were to go with AMD, which socket? is AM3 the newest and best? which chipset should I get?

3. will i be able to use my current vide card? i'm using an evga 7800 GT which uses the pcie slot. this is one of the earlier pcie video cards.

4. will i be able to use my current power supply? right now i'm using a Enermax Liberty 620 watt.

5. will i be able to use the same case I have now? right now i have an antec P180

6. anything else I should be concerned about?

thanks for all your help.

More about : building

January 17, 2011 6:39:43 PM

Budget please and what do you plan to do on the PC.
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January 17, 2011 6:43:26 PM

1.) Cores are deceiving. Right now, AMD is a lot cheaper, but Intel is a lot faster. Especially with their new Sandy Bridge CPUs (the i5-2xxx and i7-2xxx). To put it in perspective, AMD's X6s were about equal to the i7-930 (the previous Intel generation). They were faster in some applications, but slower in others. The main cost savings was found in the motherboards and RAM. The old i7 board were easily $100-150 more than equivalent AMD boards, and the i7s required triple channel RAM (three sticks), which is typical $40-50 more. However, the new LGA1155 boards aren't crazy expensive and the new Intel CPUs all use dual channel RAM, which eliminates a lot of the cost savings of AMD.

Right now, assuming you have a healthy budget, you shouldn't be looking at anything except the Sandy Brigde CPUs. Judging from your questions, I'd say you're in the market for the i7-2600 or i7-2600K. An i7-2600 build is easily in range if you've got $550 for the CPU, board and RAM. Knock $100 for the i5-2500 or i5-2500K. An AMD build (the X4 955 is the only CPU I'd look at) would be more like $275.

However, that doubling in price is definitely worth it for Sandy Bridge. The original i7 was already a great deal faster than the X4 955, and Sandy Bridge added another 20-30% performance on top of that.

2.) AM3 would be the only socket worth while to buy from AMD. If you weren't going Intel (which you should), the 8xx chipsets would be best. Specifically, the ASRock 870 Extreme3 would be the best board. However, you should buy Intel. Look at any of their LGA1155 P67 boards. There isn't much data out about the different models (the socket is only a week or so old), so which board is best is kind of a crapshoot. I'd look at Asus and Gigabyte first, followed by ASRock, then MSI or EVGA (not even sure if they all have models out yet).

3.) Is it a PCIe 2.0 slot or a PCIe? If it's a 2.0, it'll work. If it's PCIe, it should as most boards still have those slots. Just double check it.

4.) As long as it's an ATX unit. Might need to buy a converter to get the right number of pins to connect to the motherboard.

5.) Yes.

6.) Not really. You'll probably need to buy an OS too, so don't forget to budget the $100 it takes to get Windows 7.
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January 17, 2011 6:52:35 PM

my budget would be about 500-550 canadian. right now i'm not playing games, but i do plan on playing diablo 3 when it comes out. the last time i was playing games was when I was playing Guild Wars, the original one. i also do video file convertions, use internet, etc

here is how i figure i'd break it down:
motherboard: $150
cpu: $250
memory: $130 (DDR3)

this is the main reason why i'm leaning towards AMD rather than intel.

so MadAdmiral, does this change your answer?
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January 17, 2011 7:05:42 PM

its the EVGA 7800 GT that I bought in early 2006. so its probably PCIe. when did PCIe 2.0 come out?

the case I have is an ATX. how would i know if i'd require a converter to get the right number of pins to connect to the motherboard?

MadAdmiral said:
3.) Is it a PCIe 2.0 slot or a PCIe? If it's a 2.0, it'll work. If it's PCIe, it should as most boards still have those slots. Just double check it.

4.) As long as it's an ATX unit. Might need to buy a converter to get the right number of pins to connect to the motherboard.


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January 17, 2011 7:37:14 PM

ok i got my signature enabled again but for some reason, not all of it gets displayed. here is what i have:

mobo: Asus A8N32-sli delux
cpu: AMD Athlon 64 x2 4200
memory: OCZ 2x1ghz platinum ed (2-3-2-5)
video card: evga 7800GT CO
case: Antec P-180 with 4 fans
PSU: Enermax Liberty 620W
HDD: WD raptor 74gb + Seagate 160GB
Optical drive: IDE dual layer burner
OS: Win 7 32bit
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January 17, 2011 7:54:20 PM

I have no idea when PCIe 2.0 came out.

RAM isn't going to cost you $130. Some great DDR3 1600 mhz CAS Latency 9 sticks will run around $40 (Corsair's XMS3s are currently the best value). That's for 4 GB. If you don't mind having 4 x 2 GB (less room to upgrade), then it'll only be $80. For 2 x 4 GB, it'll be around $100. Of course, those are US prices, so it might be a touch more expensive, but not that much.

Either way, the i5-2500 is definitely in budget. If you can't get the i7-2600, that's the next best thing.
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a b À AMD
January 17, 2011 8:11:46 PM

PCI Express 2.0 motherboards started to show up in late 2007.

PCIe 2.0 motherboard slots are fully backward compatible with PCIe v1.x cards so the EVGA 7800 GT is still usable.
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January 17, 2011 10:36:34 PM

GIGABYTE GA-880GA-UD3H
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
AMD Phenom II X4 955
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

$318.97

You don't need that video card you have, the mobo has a better video card integrated, you can even play games on it or you can add a video card.

SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
ASUS EAH6850
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

$179.99

the video card is overkill for that game though, you can also get a HD 5770.
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January 17, 2011 10:58:45 PM

Given what you're doing, I can't get behind using any AMD CPU. I also can't get behind using an ATI/AMD GPU either, as they aren't very good for non-gaming tasks.

Here's what I'd look at:

CPU/Mobo: i5-2500K and Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3 $345 (with free game)
RAM: G.Skill 2x4 GB DDR3 1333 CAS Latency 9 $77

That's $422. You could drop the RAM to a 2x2 GB kit to save $30-35. That might give you enough to start looking at a GTX 460 for a discrete GPU. It looks like the 768 GB ones run about $120-130, while the 1 GB models run closer to $150-160.
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January 17, 2011 11:03:11 PM

He's doing his video conversions on an Athlon 64, the Phenom will fly compared to that. A few less seconds/minute doesn't matter IMO. Also the CUDA conversions have low quality (Tom's article).
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January 17, 2011 11:42:03 PM

Fair enough on the CUDA. However, the 460 fits the budget (even without the extra 4 GB of RAM), so why not get the best GPU possible? Also, I'd be surprised if video conversion is the only task. I'm sure there is some video editing that goes along with that...

As for the comparison between the X4 and the i5, it's night and day. The original i5s were already a lot faster than the X4, and the new i5s are a good 20-30% faster than that. Again, the i5 fits into the budget, so why not get the best performance possible?

I should also point out that if you're happy enough with the current performance of your GPU for now, you could step up to the i7-2600K for about $100 more. That would offer even better performance than the i5. Still, I think a new GPU is going to become necessary very soon.
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January 18, 2011 1:22:09 AM

thanks for your replies everyone. a couple of questions:
1. what is CUDA converstions and which cpu is better for that?
2. what do you mean by GPU? is that the video card or the cpu?
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January 18, 2011 2:13:22 AM

1.) CUDA is a feature of nVidia GPUs. It has nothing to do with CPUs. CUDA conversion refers to using the GPU's processing power to convert files instead of the CPU's processing power.

2.) GPU = Grapichs Processing Unit. It's what makes the video card run. GPU is just a quick way to say video card.
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January 18, 2011 10:24:22 AM


i'm used to saying video card. so GPU is not something that comes on all motherboards right? if the motherboard doesn't have built in video, then it doesn't have a GPU right?

so if i'm converting video files, should I get an nvidea video card?

MadAdmiral said:
1.) CUDA is a feature of nVidia GPUs. It has nothing to do with CPUs. CUDA conversion refers to using the GPU's processing power to convert files instead of the CPU's processing power.

2.) GPU = Grapichs Processing Unit. It's what makes the video card run. GPU is just a quick way to say video card.

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January 18, 2011 10:34:46 AM

Correct. I'm not sure how much a nVidia card will help in the process of converting the files, but if you do any editing or rendering, it will help out a lot. Besides, the GTX 460 (either the 768 MB or 1 GB versions) is still more powerful than the HD 5770 in gaming.
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January 18, 2011 12:05:01 PM

well i don't do any editing. what i'm doing now is downloading squash matches in .flv format, then converting them to .avi so I can watch them on my WD Live TV hub.
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January 18, 2011 12:11:07 PM

the problem with the Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3 is that it has a 6 pin CPU power connector. my PSU has 4 pin only.


MadAdmiral said:
Given what you're doing, I can't get behind using any AMD CPU. I also can't get behind using an ATI/AMD GPU either, as they aren't very good for non-gaming tasks.

Here's what I'd look at:

CPU/Mobo: i5-2500K and Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3 $345 (with free game)
RAM: G.Skill 2x4 GB DDR3 1333 CAS Latency 9 $77

That's $422. You could drop the RAM to a 2x2 GB kit to save $30-35. That might give you enough to start looking at a GTX 460 for a discrete GPU. It looks like the 768 GB ones run about $120-130, while the 1 GB models run closer to $150-160.

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January 18, 2011 12:23:04 PM

I believe they sell adapters. I think that pretty much every board uses 4 pin right now, so that's not an issue with the board I picked, but with the PSU.
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January 18, 2011 12:29:17 PM

sorry i don't understand. you're saying all boards have a 4 pin cpu connector, exept for the one you mentioned above? or all boards these days have 6 pin connector?

MadAdmiral said:
I believe they sell adapters. I think that pretty much every board uses 4 pin right now, so that's not an issue with the board I picked, but with the PSU.

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January 18, 2011 12:53:17 PM

Doing a quick spot search on Newegg shows that most boards use either 4 pin (AM3, other Intel chipsets) or 8 pin (somewhat common on LGA1155). I didn't notice any with 6 pin CPU connectors. Are you sure you're not looking at the PCIe power connector?
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January 18, 2011 1:11:28 PM

sorry I looked at a small picture of the motherboard and i thought it was 6 pin. i'm looking on gigabyte's site and you're right, all of them are 8 pin or 4 pin. my PSU has the 4 pin connector. but it also has another 4 pin connector that says 12V on it. can I use both those together for the 8 pin connector on the mobo?

MadAdmiral said:
Doing a quick spot search on Newegg shows that most boards use either 4 pin (AM3, other Intel chipsets) or 8 pin (somewhat common on LGA1155). I didn't notice any with 6 pin CPU connectors. Are you sure you're not looking at the PCIe power connector?

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January 18, 2011 1:13:05 PM

by the way, here are my requirements on a motherboard:
- firewire port for my movie camera
- IDE port for my burner
- Sata 6Gb/s ports
- pci slots. in case I need one.
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January 18, 2011 1:41:40 PM

You can't combine two 4 pin connectors to make an 8 pin. You'd end up frying the motherboard and/or the CPU. Likely both. They're used for two different things. It'd really help if you gave the model of the PSU so when can look and see what it's compatible with.

Off the top of my head, the only one of those requirements that might be an issue with a majority of boards is the IDE port. It's rapidly disappearing. It's not a big issue though because you can find SATA DVD burners for under $20. Firewire (IEEE 1394) is pretty common on boards. The Gigabyte doesn't have one, but the Asus P8P67 does. However, it's $20 or so more expensive.
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January 18, 2011 1:49:58 PM

my PSU is the Enermax Liberty 620W that I bought 5 years ago. I guess I can do without the IDE port if i have to. I can always use a sata DVD drive from work untill I buy a bluray burner. since i'm getting a NAS soon, I dont' really need to burn DVDs anytime soon.
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January 18, 2011 2:10:13 PM

Ok, looking at the PSU on Newegg, it appears it has a 4+4 pin connector for the CPU power. What that means is that it can be used with either a 4 pin board or 8 pin board. The +4 just means it has an additional 4 pin plug that is basically used to just fill space. You'd need to connect it, but it doesn't do anything.

The 6 pin connectors you were looking at are the PCI power connectors. You use them to power the GPU.

Also, the main motherboard power plug (the big one) is a 20+4 pin. It will work with basically any board out there.
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January 18, 2011 2:31:46 PM

so I'd only use the 4pin connector like in the picture that Mosox posted?


MadAdmiral said:
Ok, looking at the PSU on Newegg, it appears it has a 4+4 pin connector for the CPU power. What that means is that it can be used with either a 4 pin board or 8 pin board. The +4 just means it has an additional 4 pin plug that is basically used to just fill space. You'd need to connect it, but it doesn't do anything.

The 6 pin connectors you were looking at are the PCI power connectors. You use them to power the GPU.

Also, the main motherboard power plug (the big one) is a 20+4 pin. It will work with basically any board out there.

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January 18, 2011 2:33:21 PM

what about the CPU and motherboard in this article in Tom's Hardware? its his $2000 computer. I figure if its good enough for Tom, it should be good enough for me. its a big more expensive, but if I can still use my PSU and get dirt cheep memory for now, i should be ok and i'd get approval from my boss (the wife).

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-a-pc-overcloc...
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January 18, 2011 2:44:51 PM

I put them both in, but I guess it doesn't matter.

The problem with the System Builder's Marathon builds is that they're generally old when they're released. Also, they're not tailored to your individual needs. I never advise using the SMB PCs as anything but a starting point on what to look for. Occasionally, I'll use their recommendations for heatsinks or cases, but not often. The SMB is mainly used to benchmark how the market has changed in the past month. They build a machine with the current "best" parts for the current amount of money, then compare it to what they did last month. Basically, it's used to show how much an older PC has depreciated in value and performance in that month.

That build uses the old i7-950, which is about 20-30% slower than the new Sandy Bridge i7s. They old i7s are probably about 5% slower than the new i5s, but I'm not sure about that nubmer. At best, they're equal, but the i5 is $100 cheaper.

Also, the X58 motherboards are more expensive, and they also require triple channel RAM, which is also more expensive. Basically, you'd be getting old tech, which has no upgrade path, getting a lot lower performance, and paying extra for it.
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January 18, 2011 3:58:22 PM

ok so looking at www.canadacomputers.com which is most likely where i'd buy my stuff, they have these CPUs:

i7-2600k quad core socket LGA1155 at 3.4ghz - $340
i7 950 quad core socket lga1366, 3.06ghz - $310
i7 930 quad core socket lga1366, 2.8ghz - $315
i7-2600 quad core socket lga1155, 3.4ghz - $315
i7-870 quad core socket lga1156, 2.93ghz - $300
i5-2500k quad core socket lga1155, 3.3ghz - $235

you'd get the i7-2600k?
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January 18, 2011 4:14:05 PM

If you can afford the i7-2600K, get that one. If you can't, get the i5-2500K. That's assuming you want to overclock at some point. If you don't the i7-2600 would be the first choice, follwed by the i5-2500.
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January 18, 2011 4:33:22 PM

i might overclock later on when the PC gets older. but for now i won't. lets assume I won't. why is the i7-2600 better if i don't plan on overclocking?
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January 18, 2011 4:52:50 PM

It's cheaper. The "K" series is meant for overclockers. The non-K CPUs and the K CPUs are the same out of the box.
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January 18, 2011 5:14:06 PM

what's the main difference between P67 and H67? they both came out at the same time and in this link, it seems the only difference is that P67 supports FDI whereas H67 doesn't. so what's FDI support? i read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible_Display_Interface, but i don't understand how it would benefit me.

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January 18, 2011 6:30:34 PM

The main difference is that H67 has support for integrated graphics. If you were planning on using the CPU/board without a discrete GPU, you'd need an H67 board. If you're using a discrete GPU, the P67 would be better.

FDI is basically integrated graphics. It's using the CPU and motherboard together to enhance onboard graphics. The eventual idea is that you won't need a discrete GPU, just a powerful CPU.
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January 18, 2011 7:24:06 PM

some of this stuff is making me laugh :)  i bet you can guess what my next question will be. what is a discrete GPU? is it just a fancy way of saying a video card plugged into the PCIe slot?

MadAdmiral said:
The main difference is that H67 has support for integrated graphics. If you were planning on using the CPU/board without a discrete GPU, you'd need an H67 board. If you're using a discrete GPU, the P67 would be better.

FDI is basically integrated graphics. It's using the CPU and motherboard together to enhance onboard graphics. The eventual idea is that you won't need a discrete GPU, just a powerful CPU.

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a b À AMD
January 18, 2011 7:32:38 PM

velocci said:
some of this stuff is making me laugh :)  i bet you can guess what my next question will be. what is a discrete GPU? is it just a fancy way of saying a video card plugged into the PCIe slot?

A discrete GPU is a GPU that is not integrated into the CPU or any of the motherboard's chipset. It is not limited to being plugged into a PCIe slot. It can even be a PCI slot or even a USB port.
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January 18, 2011 7:48:52 PM

Slightly off topic, but what GPU can be plugged in through a USB port? Can't say I've ever seen one that didn't use a slot...
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January 18, 2011 8:16:58 PM

damn. i don't know that I can find a socket 1155 motherboard with chipset P67 that has firewire, sata 6.0, at least 1 pci slot, ATX, and with 1 IDE port (although I can live without the IDE port, it would be really convenient for me to have it), and that's not to expensive.
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a b À AMD
January 18, 2011 8:47:45 PM

velocci said:
damn. i don't know that I can find a socket 1155 motherboard with chipset P67 that has firewire, sata 6.0, at least 1 pci slot, ATX, and with 1 IDE port (although I can live without the IDE port, it would be really convenient for me to have it), and that's not to expensive.

Doesn't the ASUS P8P67 LE fit your requirements?
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January 18, 2011 11:19:56 PM

yup that's it. i guess i was using the america site, you were using the global site or something. now its a matter of finding where I can buy it here. I don't like to buy this stuff online. but i'm open. thanks alot ko888
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January 19, 2011 12:42:08 PM

when you read the memory specs of a motherboard and it says "Dual-Channel DDR3 2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333Mhz...", what does the O.C mean? I know it stands for over clocked, but does it mean it lets you overclock the memory?
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January 19, 2011 1:29:25 PM

It means that in order to get the RAM to those speeds, you'll have to overclock the sticks. The board won't automatically default to the higher speeds. Generally, you overclock the RAM and the CPU together.
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January 19, 2011 1:39:39 PM

i don't like the sound of that. why does Asus do this? or do all the brands do this?
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