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Advice on choosing between an Athlon II X2 245 or an Intel C2D E6700?

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June 30, 2011 3:12:58 AM

Hey TH,

I've finally got an opportunity to upgrade from a dying Dell Dimension Pentium 4 system, but there's a bit of a catch: I am only limited to a hundred bucks in Amazon gift card money to do it (maybe $10 over off the credit card to cover shipping). As the jump to anything from a P4 will be adequate for me at this point in time, here's what I've narrowed my choices down to and I was wondering which option the members here think I would I be most pleased with to suit my needs and budget limitation.

I've already got a Micro ATX case that I can use, a "hand me down" EVGA GeForce 9800GT 512MB DDR3 PCI Express card that I got from my brother, as well as all the other necessary components to build a PC, except for a PSU. My expectations aren't high: I'm looking to play games from about 2007 and earlier at nice detail settings, probably at a max resolution of 1280 x1024. Some points of reference would be maybe games of the caliber of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and if I can squeeze by, maybe even Modern Warfare 2.

My question to the members is, which one of these configurations would best support the 9800 GT and meet my needs:
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*This mobo: BIOSTAR Biostar Motherboard A780L3G AMD AM3 760G/SB710 DDR3 PCI Express2 SATA2 microATX A780L3G ($44.99 + $5.99shipping (Not an AM3+ board, but it still has some potential for future upgrade avenues)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B004GTQEVK/ref=d...

*Coupled with this CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9 GHz 2x1 MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W ADX245OCGQBOX ($49.95 + $4.99shipping)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GLDF58/ref=ox_sc_a...

For a grand total of about $110 including shipping.
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Or... This setup:

*This Mobo: Intel Core 2 Quad/Intel G41/A&V&GbE/MATX Motherboard, Retail BOXDG41WV $28.95 + $5.49shipping

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003HEGH1W/ref=ox_sc_a...

*With this CPU: Intel Pentium E6700 Processor 3.20 GHz 2 MB Cache Socket LGA775 $65.00 + $4.99shipping

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B003OAL1AG/ref=d...

For a grand total of about $100 flat.
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If I decide I want an overclocking option (which I likely won't), I'd probably take this Intel setup instead:

Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor E6600 3.06GHz 1066MHz 2MB LGA775 @ $51.97 + $4.99shipping;
Gigabyte Core 2 Quad/Intel G31/FSB1333/DDR2-800/A&V&GbE/Micro ATX Motherboard GA-G31M-ES2L @ $41.99 + $5.99shipping (I gain overclocking, but lose DDR3 and PCI-e 2.0 support with this one, though) all for about $94.
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Bear in mind, while this is by no means a "beast" solution, I'm coming from a Pentium 4 :o  and I got a lot of games between 2003 and 2007 to catch up on and keep me busy for a little bit.

So... Any tips? Thanks in advance! :) 

More about : advice choosing athlon 245 intel c2d e6700

June 30, 2011 5:13:55 AM

intel will be better because of its better clock speed.
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a c 103 à CPUs
June 30, 2011 10:48:39 AM

The intel is a bit better except the upgrade path, if you can get a 955BE in the next year get the AMD if not go for intel.
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a c 91 à CPUs
June 30, 2011 11:34:55 AM

forget any socket 775 intels, they are a dead upgrade path. go with the amd, even if it is a bit slower, at least you have better upgrade possibilities. Also, whatever you get, get ddr3 its much cheaper than ddr2 and faster. Also, just fyi, that intel setup is equivelant to what i bought 4 years ago.....just to give you an idea how old it is. You will also want to realise that the graphics card 9800gtx will not likely run on the psu you have. Can you tell us exactly what psu is in the case?
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a c 117 à CPUs
June 30, 2011 11:56:35 AM

Quote:
So... Any tips?


Don't be so damn cheap, and don't buy 3 year-old used stuff because you think you will save money :lol: 

AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Heka 2.8GH: $60 with code EMCKDHB33 valid till 07/04/2011

The retail-box AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz is $55 with code EMCKDHB32.

And I question the contention that the e6600/e6700 would out-perform the Regor.

AM3+ motherboards start below $70. Buy one. It's up to you as to go with the Regor or the 720BE. I'm frugal, and I would still go with the 720BE and a $30 cooler. Combined the the 9800gt you'll be flyin'


edit: Sorry ... I fergit

I'm guessin' --- but the 9800gt will probably pull 90-100w
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June 30, 2011 7:13:23 PM

Thanks everyone :)  ... You have no idea how much this helps. From the looks of things, I think I'll be going the AMD route. It's unfortunate because the thing that's holding me back is that I'm limited to using about a hundred bucks in Amazon gift card money (so no "Egg" shopping for me at the moment :(  ). Basically, without boring anyone too much with my life story, I'm waiting tables and doing the online college thing for Animation, I have about a year and a half left to go, and the old lady is the one who's bringing in the bulk of the funds right now. Needless to say, the money's pretty tight these days.

But... I did have this $100 Amazon card laying around, so I thought, why not squeeze every cent out of that and see what I could come up with. The thing is, I'm using an existing Micro ATX case from a dead eMachines T5026 (the PSU is shot), so that's why I'm sticking with mATX boards. The only things I'm needing to actually purchase are the new CPU and new motherboard (using the Amazon gift card funds), and a PSU, the CPU cooler, and at least 3 GB DDR3 RAM (which will likely be the only items I spend actual cash out of pocket for). I'll be happy just going the ebay route with those last three items. I already have the "hand me down" 9800 GT gfx card and all the other components needed for a PC are already covered. I'm looking for a really budget upgrade that will really just serve it's purpose in getting me out of the P4-era, plus give me a little experience in assembling my first computer from scratch. Then, when finances improve, I'll likely abandon this rig anyway and will be looking to go all out from the ground up again.

Quote:
wisecracker: The retail-box AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz is $55 with code EMCKDHB32.


I actually saw that one on Amazon going for about 5 bucks more than what you have it there. I wasn't sure if it was a good processor (as I am very new to all this, and I have no experience with AMD tech). That seems to be a good recommendation over the one I mentioned.

Therefore, I'm wondering then, would this one be even better? (I'm assuming the higher the number, the better; i.e. Regor 245 -> 250 -> 255)
AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1GHz: http://www.amazon.com/AMD-Athlon-II-255-3-1GHz/dp/B0035...

Then pair it with this AM3+ capable mobo:
Gigabyte AMD 760G + SB710 Chipset DDR3 1333 AM3 Micro ATX Motherboard (GA-78LMT-S2P): http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-SB710-Chipset-Motherboar...

Then when finances improve, perhaps I could throw a better CPU in there.
Also, I was wondering, might anyone be able to recommend a good, reliable branded, yet inexpensive PSU that'll fit an mATX case?
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a c 106 à CPUs
June 30, 2011 8:49:44 PM

That will make a nice little pc, go for it and upgrade when you have the cash.
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Best solution

June 30, 2011 9:35:58 PM

go with the amd stuff instead. you can upgrade a lot in the future in you have the money. and yes the higher the number at the end the faster its clocked at.
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a c 117 à CPUs
June 30, 2011 10:30:40 PM

Once you go Black, you'll never come back :lol: 

I would suggest a single 4GB stick of DDR3 since you will be limited to 2 DIMM slots on that motherboard.

What speed RAMs are you looking at? Be sure to check the MB QVL list for compatibility.

edit: I fergit ...

The Corsair builders series PSUs from New Egg are good stuff BUT !!!! you need to carefully check that dang Dell Case and verify ATX compliance.

(Dell cases sometimes suck for upgrading)

A cordless drill, hammer, hack saw and/or Dremel tool can be your friend :D  You may also want to verify that a standard mATX motherboard will fit without too much engineering
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June 30, 2011 11:53:46 PM

Awesome! :)  Thanks sincerely to everyone for all the helpful feedback. I'm pretty much flying in the dark with this stuff as it's my first time actually putting together a PC, so the clarification is indeed very useful in my case. Thanks ComputerNugget for clearing up the thing regarding the way the CPU series' are numbered.

Quote:
wisecracker: I would suggest a single 4GB stick of DDR3 since you will be limited to 2 DIMM slots on that motherboard.

What speed RAMs are you looking at? Be sure to check the MB QVL list for compatibility.


That's definitely a wise suggestion. It looks like the board will get up to 8 gigs, so it'll probably be best to go with a single 4GB stick to start, then add another later on. As far as speeds... well, I'm not too savvy when it comes to that department. Quickly looking over the specs sheet, it appears it's dual channel (from my understanding that's good; but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that there's a certain procedure involved in setting it up a certain way). It also looks like if I OC with the board, I can go from the stock 1066 MHz up to 1333 MHz (PC3-10600? is that correct?), which I'll probably try to learn how to do if it's possible with my cooling and equipment, and such. I know I won't be able to add any additional case fans to the side of the case, and that board only has a single PCI slot which will most likely be used by my Wifi adapter card, so not even slot fans either. Here's the documentation on the board: http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=... Maybe something like these? Or would that be overkill for what I'm building? - Corsair XMS3 8 GB : 2 x 4 GB Memory - DIMM 240-pin - 1333 MHz ( PC3-10600 ) http://tinyurl.com/3zeo48q

Quote:
The Corsair builders series PSUs from New Egg are good stuff BUT !!!! you need to carefully check that dang Dell Case and verify ATX compliance.

(Dell cases sometimes suck for upgrading)

A cordless drill, hammer, hack saw and/or Dremel tool can be your friend :D  You may also want to verify that a standard mATX motherboard will fit without too much engineering


You're absolutely right :)  ... I actually looked at seeing if I could use anything from my Dell Dim 4550... the darn thing is as proprietary as it gets. I wanted to put a higher rated PSU in there than the 250W power box it has at one time, and ended up discovering that I'd have to dremel out a hole the size of a fist to get a standard ATX PSU to fit. Additionally, to replace the mobo in there would be near impossible (or take too much work than what it's worth), because a standard ATX board wouldn't line up correctly in the Dimension 4550 case. So, once I get this other PC up and running, the Dimension is probably going up on ebay for a couple of measly bucks toward better tech for the newer computer.

What I'm actually using is the case from a crippled eMachines (Gateway, right?) T5026, which from what I understand, is a standard mATX specification compliant case according to some info I found here: http://www.dexplor.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=21265&sid... . The only thing I'm now concerned about, is that the T5026 originally came with an LGA775 board inside (which only supports P4's and Celeron's). This definitely would work without a problem if I were going with the Intel rebuild (by dropping in a different LGA775 board that supports C2D's and C2Q's), but I'm not sure if the AMD AM3 board would necessarily work. Unless it doesn't matter, so long as the AMD board fits the standard mATX mold and T5026's case isn't so old that it doesn't meet mATX standards as they are today.

The original board is 9.6 in x 9.6 in, the AMD board is 9.6 in x 8.1 in. When I remove the LGA775 board from the case, it looks like grooves were made to accommodate for different sizes, but what worries me is if there is any difference between how AM3/AM3+ and LGA775 mobo's are manufactured so that the USB, sound output, and VGA ports and such will line up with the case on the outside correctly. Anyone have any experience with switching between the two? Nevertheless, that looks like a good recommendation for the PSU. The mobo docs state that I have this: 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector. So as long as the PSU conforms to this, that should be okay I'm assuming (I don't know the first thing about rails and volts and such, however). I'd like something with a good number of watts though. At least 600W+, I'm thinking. EDIT: This one look suitable? It's $59.99 after the rebate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . It's ATX though so I'd have to make sure it'll fit okay.

Sorry for the wall of text... Thanks! Like I said, you have no idea how much this all helps :D 
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a c 117 à CPUs
July 1, 2011 2:06:05 AM

I think you are good-to-go with the emachines case.

Dual-channel memory ('sticks' in pairs) essentially gives you a 5% or so boost in performance over single-channel memory. If you go with a single stick it is advisable that you purchase a similar stick from the same OEM when you upgrade.

The memory you selected, though not on the QVL list, looks to be a good match for your motherboard. Here is a single 4GB stick of that Corsair memory for $25 after rebate. 2x4GB is a bunch of memory if you want to go there --- bordering on over-kill for a budget gaming rig --- but it is certainly something you can 'grow' into as you demand more from your rig. You do need a 64-bit operating system to recognize all the address space.

The single-stick of RAM would free up extra cash for some after-market cooling. Something in the range of 15x250MHz over-clock should work well for a rookie :lol: 

A 600w PSU is a bunch. You could easily go with either the 430w or 500w. The 500w would give you enough room to grow into a new Bulldozer CPU and a 180w+ video card <--- that covers a lot of GPU ground.

If you anticipate over-clocking your future Bulldozer CPU (with your after-market cooler!) and cranking up that new AMD Radeon 8870 video card, you should probably go with the 600w PSU.
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July 1, 2011 2:07:57 AM

Meh... I just hit my first true roadblock. I think I'm going to HAVE TO get a mATX power supply for this case. Unfortunately, the strongest one I have been able to find so far is at Newegg: a 470W for $59.99. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I found a 550W Athena Power, but it's been "deactivated" (as Newegg likes to call their items that are out of stock). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I found out that the mobo will fit in the case, but I'm going to be looking at severe power shortage issues (especially with that 90 to 100 Watt hungry 9800GT in there. Luckily, the CPU is a 45nm and only demands 65W... but yeah...).

EDIT: Thanks Wisecracker! :)  We must've making our posts at the same time. Hey, 75 to 95 bucks total (after rebates and depending on which PSU I would choose) wouldn't hurt the wallet too much at all. I'm going to see, but I think I have a really old computer (probably from about '2000) up in the attic. If I'm not mistaken - I can't remember what the heck it was - it's not a major brand/prebuilt. I'm going to check and see if it's an ATX case (I want to say it's a mid-tower). It's just a regular old rectangle shaped thing; nothing like the proprietary thing with all the funky curvature like this Dell has). It was used in an office. Anyhow, I'm going to check and see if the PSU is ATX and see if it'll fit in the eMachines' case (though I really doubt it). Otherwise, if it is an ATX case, I could seat the mobo in there temporarily until I can get a better/newer case (I'm liking this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FLPBUI/ref=ox_sc_s... ), and then get a higher rated ATX PSU... maybe even the ATX version of that same mobo (it's the same price as the mATX one). I'll cross my fingers and see if it is... or if it's even still up there anymore.

Thanks again for everything! :) 
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a c 117 à CPUs
July 1, 2011 2:13:38 AM

How small is this dang case? LOL Got a link?

I think I'd spray paint a conventional ATX PSU and mount it on the back of the case!


Will your 9800gt fit?
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July 1, 2011 2:48:39 AM

Here's a spec sheet: http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/emachines-t5026/4507-3...

I also managed to dig up some pictures:

Front and Back: http://tinyurl.com/3wguk7l

Size Reference Shot Next to Monitor and Keyboard, etc.: http://tinyurl.com/3vcbhrs

Inside: http://tinyurl.com/3sj3tfx
http://tinyurl.com/3l2andp
http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/5354/nexgencase.jpg

The old mobo doesn't have a PCI-e slot that I could test to see if it will definitely go, but physically I can get the 9800GT in there and it looks like it'll work fine. I'd have to have the actual new board present to know for sure though.

And here's Tiger Direct's list of available mATX PSU's: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Category/guided...;145_160_2690_2690 . The highest one they have looks to be 400W.

EDIT: I magnified that last pic of the inside of the case, and looked up the PSU P/N that person has in theirs. It's this one: http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Power+Supplie... . That site says it's ATX, but it looks awfully thin.

EDIT AGAIN: Now I fergit... :lol: 
This is the original PSU that was powering the T5026: http://www.newpowersupply.com/bestec_atx_300_12eb3_atx_... . It says there that it's an ATX power supply. I think I'll be just fine, after all. :whistle: 
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July 1, 2011 3:15:54 AM

remove the hard drive cage and put the hard drive that other bay you have. the 9800gt should be no problem fitting in there with the hard drive cage removed. and it looks like a regular atx psu, they have the holes for the screws in the same place. it should all fit in ther fine, and like casey from Trucks would say "it should just slide into place."
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July 1, 2011 4:07:24 AM

Thanks ComputerNugget! I was getting a bit nervous there for a moment. But no sweat - it looks good; and with your suggestion to remove drive cage, even better. I was wondering, though: Compared to Gigabyte, is Asus a bad brand (Are either of them considered reliable brands)? I was thinking of getting this mobo instead: http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/AMD_AM3Plus/M5A78LM_LX... . It's got slightly better features (like higher potential for OC speeds with the DIMMs), but I'm leery because it's about five dollars cheaper than the Gigabyte board. It also says it's a uATX board, but it's 9.6 in x 8.0 in; I'm wondering if I'll have problem if I decide to transfer to a regular ATX case down the road, whereas with the mATX, I know I shouldn't. Also, what the heck is Hybrid CrossfireX and will it make me drool even more to have this new computer set up :lol:  ? Wikipedia (a reliable,"trustworthy" source, of course :lol:  ) states that this is only supported on the 790GX and 890G chipsets. That ASUS board says it's a 760G. I'm confused? :o 

By the way, you guys are awesome :)  ... Thank you for all your patience with my many, many questions and lengthy posts; as well as providing this novice with some great answers to get me started down the road of building PC's from the ground up.
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July 1, 2011 6:07:07 AM

from what i know gigabyte is the oldest most reliable brand. they have been in the business from the start (i think) and ASUS is also a really good brand. asus and gigabyte are pretty much the top two and MSI is close behind them.

and there should be no problem putting a microATX in a standard ATX case. the case should have the holes lined up the motherboards. mATX and ATX boards have the same holes and so should the cases.

and hybrid crossfirex is this thing that they brought out so that the intergrated graphics work in tandem with a discrete graphics card, but it was a total fail from what i know.

and i cant say much about the overclocking of the memory since i have little knowledge of OCing ram. and thats a reall good board from ASUS, the reason it can OC ram that high is because the new Bulldozer CPU's coming out support ram of 1866MHz so im guessing the asus board allows for ram to reach those speeds in anticipation.
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a c 117 à CPUs
July 1, 2011 1:39:35 PM

Asus/Giga-Byte motherboards are dandy. You should have no issues with mATX/uATX

Either should take a clock bump to 240-250MHz. The Asus has an extra PCIe x1 slot which may come in handy.

On other 'Black Socket' MBs Asus has a dedicated section in their memory QVLs which show sticks qualified for Bulldozer. It may be worth a peak for comparison to guarantee future compatibility. As an example, this G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1866 kit is qualified for Bulldozer on the Asus M5A97.

No harm in firing an email off to Asus tech support and asking about compatibility with the M5A78L, right? And here's the poop: AthlonII/PhenomII stock memory controller speed is 1333MHz and the Bulldozer stock memory controller speed will be 1866MHz. In certain cases with qualified memory, the AthlonII/PhenomIIs memory controllers will run 1866MHz BUT ...

You don't have to. You may 'down-clock' the 1866 to 1333 in the BIOS ... as a matter of fact, with an AthlonII/PhenomII, the 1866 memory may default to 1333 anyway. Got that? :lol: 

You are well beyond 'hybrid Crossfire' feature --- and it can only be done with limited lower-speed ATI Radeon discreet cards, and in combination will not approach the 9800gt in speed.

If you are so interested, however, you could run 2 monitors -- one off the IGP and one (maybe 2?) off the 9800gt.

Newer ATI/AMD video cards have a feature called 'Eyefinity' which will push up to 3 monitors, so you could go 4 monitors including the IGP!
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July 1, 2011 3:43:02 PM

Once again, let me just say it - you guys are truly awesome :)  I really am learning (or least becoming aware of) so much I had no idea about before because of your guidance. Just want you to know I appreciate all the help...

Now, without getting all teary-eyed :lol:  , I think I'm pretty much intent on sticking with the ASUS mobo. I did a side by side comparison of the spec sheets, and I feel the ASUS - even though it's slightly less expensive - will offer the best (albeit, basic) feature set for the money. I d/l'ed the QVL, but I'm a little lost here. It doesn't indicate stock clock speeds for most of the RAM on that list (I noticed RAM timings and voltages on there though); so it's just going to take a little footwork while I investigate each entry and see which ones (if any) may be qualified for Bulldozer/best for OC'ing. I'll likely just take your suggestion, Wisecracker, and shoot tech support an e-mail and hope for the best. I probably won't be able to do any real OC'ing until I can get a decent case that will allow for better cooling options (at least maybe have some vents on the side/top for a 120mm fan; something like this is what I eventually will have in mind: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001TUYTZ2/ref=ox_sc_a... ). I'd also like to replace the 9800GT eventually, and maybe pair the AMD CPU with an AMD/ATI card like the HD 5770, but I don't know if that's overkill for my system or if it's even worth it to worry about getting a card like that until I have a case with more leg room, and can upgrade to at least a 955 BE CPU.

It's a shame, because I could actually start out by getting the 740 BE that Wisecracker recommended initially with Newegg for $60, instead of paying that same amount to get the 255 Regor because I'm limited to using my Amazon gift card. It'll have a lower clock speed, but it'll be a triple core which might help a little bit once I start doing stuff with Maya for school. Plus, I could probably get a fourth core to unlock or just OC the original three (I'm thinking, anyway: http://www.overclock.net/amd-cpus/854402-amd-phenom-ii-... ). I'll be happy if I can do 15x250MHz on the Regor without screwing things up! ( :lol:  <--- Virgin Overclocker) Well, something is better than nothing, however, so no real complaints here at all. I also don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I have to admit, it is a comforting thing to know that before you even have your PC in hand, you can already start pondering future upgrade possibilities that will make a substantial difference (unlike this blasted Dell...).

My next questions are: A) While chances are, I won't be able to OC the RAM to 1866 anyway running a Phenom II/Athlon II, I should still be able to get it up to 1600 using either of those two platforms, shouldn't I? B) When you're selecting a processor and RAM, do you need to ensure that there will be a 1:1 ratio in speeds before you do anything at all? C) Also, when selecting RAM, in general, lower timing for the first four numbers are better - is this correct? (i.e. 9-9-9-24 vs. 7-7-7-20)

Eyefinity also looks freakin' awesome, btw... but I don't have the desktop space for even a second monitor! :lol:  Still, it's nice to know I'll have the options if I go with an ATI/AMD card for later on down the line (I imagine racing and FPS games would work out pretty nice with something like that).

Thanks again everyone! I promise my endless barrage of questions will end at some time or another... I'm just an excited rookie and I'm sure we've all been there before :lol:  Just looking to soak up all the information I can before I take my first plunge.

EDIT: On a completely unrelated side note, my Mom's got a machine with an LGA775 board that currently has an almost identical processor to the one I've got in my Dell right now (she's got the P4 3.06 GHz HT 800 MHz FSB Prescott, while I've got the Northwood 478 533 MHZ FSB version). The docs say that I could drop a Pentium D at most in her system. However, I've been reading around that this generation of CPU's has problems with producing high temps. Her system is also a bTX... and finding a better PSU than her 280W stock for cheap is near impossible. I can, however, find a decent speed Pentium D for pretty cheap. She doesn't really run anything that advanced, with the exception of a little Photoshop CS4 every now and again to tinker with family photos. In fact, I'm pretty sure she's still running a PCI (not PCI-e) 64 MB Geforce4 MX GPU and Windows XP Pro SP3 with about 1.5 GB (expandable to 4GB's) of DDR2 system memory in her system. In anyone's opinion, should I even bother? Is all the hoopla regarding temp control warranted in the case of those processors?
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July 1, 2011 8:13:57 PM

Best answer selected by revone.
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nThey were all good answers. Special thanks to Wisecracker and ComputerNugget for walking me through everything I've needed to know about this upgrade.
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a c 117 à CPUs
July 3, 2011 12:19:44 PM

You are kinda stuck on your mom's rig -- either way you go it's not very cost effective. Are you sure it's DDR2?

More RAMs will provide a better boost in Photoshop CS4, but you would be dropping $50 (I suspect it's DDR) to do so, with no where to go in the future.



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July 3, 2011 5:33:38 PM

Thanks Wisecracker for getting back to me on this one, as well... Well, it certainly does appear that it's quite the dead end as far as her system is concerned. I've checked and double-checked on the RAM type that her system takes, and it does in fact seem like she's got DDR2 in there (to my surprise given the age of the other system components). It looks like her system supports PC2-5300, PC2-6400, and PC2-8500 with a max of 4GB altogether). I did manage to snag a single 1GB stick of PC2-6400 (800MHz) RAM for about 7 bucks (including shipping costs) from an auction on ebay, so that ought to give her at least a little bit of a performance bump in making the move from 1.5 to 2.5 GB of system memory. This is the machine she's running: http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/mpc-clientpro-375-p4/4...

The only thing that kinda stinks is that I was hoping I could replace her Pentium 4 with a Pentium D to at least get her a rudimentary dual-core based system, but in looking at the options, it hardly seems worth it. For starters, she's got a BTX motherboard; finding a higher watt PSU than her stock 280W isn't practical at all because they're so difficult to come by (and you know "rare" usually equates to "expensive"). I found a Pentium D 940 3.2 GHz ( http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=27519 ) for $30 + free shipping, and a Pentium D 950 3.4 GHz ( http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=27521 ) for $32 with free shipping... BUT - I'm concerned about the Max TDP ratings on those things. Up to 130W! Her little 280W PSU is going to be strained, plus trying to get adequate cooling for a CPU like that is inconvenient because of the BTX board limitation. By the time I spent enough money to perform all the little upgrades to max out her system potential, she'd be better off putting that money toward a much nicer, budget pre-built. On top of that, I've been reading around in various places (including a few threads on this forum) that the Pentium D's are nowhere near as efficient as Intel's later multi-core CPU's because that Netburst technology they used in the Pentium D's just wasn't that great. I thought it might be an improvement over the P4 3.06GHz with Hyper-Threading to go with a Pentium D with either 3.2GHz or 3.4GHz speed, and who knows, it might actually be, but it hardly seems worth the cost of buying all those parts to make it all work with a BTX system. So, I'll probably just chuck the extra 1GB RAM module in there, hope for a slight increase, and leave it at that.



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July 15, 2011 7:14:47 PM

So here's what I ultimately ended up with. I'd like to note that all I have spent in actual cash out of pocket so far has been $33.00 USD. The rest came from the gift card money I had with Amazon and some active selling on ebay of some unused things I had laying around the house. Here goes:

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 440 - Condition: Open Box (no heatsink/fan included) - $45 shipped
MOBO: ASUS M5A78L-M LX AM3+ Motherboard - Condition: New - $33 shipped
AFTERMARKET COOLER: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 CPU Cooler - Condition: New - $20 (after $5 MIR) shipped
RAM: Corsair Dominator 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333MHz - Condition: New - $61 shipped
PSU: Antec Earthwatts EA650 650W Continuous Power (3 x 12v rails) - Condition: New - $38 shipped
THERMAL PASTE/GREASE: ARCTIC SILVER 5 (3.5g syringe/tube applicator) - $5.69 shipped
GPU: XFX 9800 GTX+ - Condition: Used - $50 shipped

For a grand total of... approx. $253.00 shipped.

Could I have done even better for this amount of money?


I'm crossing my fingers that the Athlon II X3 440 will have a good 4th core that I can unlock (that motherboard has the Core Unlocker feature). Additionally, I'd like to get a little more speed out of it through overclocking, if that's at all possible (is 3.5 to 3.6 GHz realistically attainable with this CPU?). If the 4th core turns out to be a dud, it's no biggie.

All in all, for my first building experience, I think I will be very happy with this for a little while.
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!