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advice on cpu, mobo, ram choice

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January 8, 2003 6:50:02 PM

Hello,
I have a few questions to ask.
I´m going to buy some new hardware (mobo, cpu, ram, sound) soon but I´m not too sure what exactly I should buy :) 

I´m planning to use it mostly on gaming.

Now I thought of getting a P4 CPU with about 2,67 GHz, an SiS648 chipped mobo with ddr400 ram and some decent soundsystem, perhaps with a Audigy and a Inspire soundsystem.

A friend of mine said, that an AMD CPU on an nforce2-board would kick any P4-chipset´s ass so I decided to take a closer look.

I checked some benchs but couldn´t really get a big difference, performance-wise..

What would you recommend me to buy and why?
What is an nforce2-board going to cost me?
Or would a P4PE actually be better than an Sis648 chipset?
What about DDR400 and DDR333?

Sorry if I post this in the wrong forum, but because my question is widely related to the CPU I found it appopriate to post it here :/ 
January 8, 2003 7:26:49 PM

You must not be too concerned with price if you're aiming at a P4 2.67GHz and DDR400. So why get a SISsy motherboard when you could get something real, like an Intel 850E with PC1066?

If you do want to go the AMD route (don't ask me why or why not to though, because frankly I don't think it much matters at present for which is better) then nForce2 is the way to go. It is an uber-sweet chipset. I can't think of a much better reason than to choose an AMD system than the nForce2 mobo.

It's hard to beat a kick-arse onboard sound, onboard Firewire, onboard USB2, onboard Serial ATA, onboard LAN (especially dual-LAN ... though admittedly gigabit LAN would be MUCH cooler) and a dual-channel memory controller. The whole AGP 8X thing doesn't seem to be worth any drool to me though. But anywho, nForce2 might be one of the biggest saviors of AMD.

I'd say either way you go (Intel or AMD) you'll be happy just so long as you avoid cheap-arsed parts. (SIS, VIA, OCZ RAM, generic RAM, etc.) If you want to get a good CPU, then don't bring it down with cheap parts.


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January 8, 2003 7:56:02 PM

I agree, if you're going high-end P4, then the Intel 850 is by far the best solution, combined with good RDRAM. We run P4's on the 845 platform at work for average stuff, but the 850's for high volume work/graphics. Far superior.
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January 9, 2003 9:39:27 AM

Thanks for the answers..
I think I heard that Rambus was kinda dying out :/  And from benchs I got the impression, that the difference between ddr333 and rdram existed, but not too dramatically.. And from what I saw here on THG, the SiS648-chipset really is near the 850E chipset, regarding performance.

http://www6.tomshardware.com/mainboard/20021204/sis648-...

And of course I want a good system, but on the other hand I wouldn´t mind saving some money here and there. I just thought, a CPU with 2.5+ GHz was good for future games... :/ 

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by cowpower on 01/09/03 06:48 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 9, 2003 12:58:18 PM

I agree that unless you have tons of money to burn, PC1066 totally isn't worth it. Even then, I personally just think it doesn't make sense.

At least where I am, it costs a <b>lot</b> more then DDR. And in that article you linked to, it got only 140 more points in 3dmark...

As for 2.5ghz+ for future games, that's really more then you'll need, there are other things in your system that'll start to feel old a lot sooner then a CPU. As with any CPU, the highest few models of P4 cost far more $/mhz then the slightly slower ones. I'd reccomend a 2.4B and then spending more cash on a better video card or another componant.

-Col.Kiwi
January 9, 2003 1:27:06 PM

Yes either system you buy you will be thrilled with....I personally suggest you wait for the sis655 motherboards to hit the market....they will offer dual ddr333 which should out perform rdram....buying a ddr system will allow you more room for upgrades in the future...especially going with pc3500...as far as an amd system goes you cant go wrong with the nforce2....and yes it will out perform the intel ddr solution available right now....but then again the intel chips do overclock better so you could prob get it to outperform the amd system with a little tweaking....for the price they are both about the same so you cant go wrong...i would just wait on the new sis mobo and see how it stacks up against the amd solution...my two cents :smile:
January 9, 2003 3:33:46 PM

Quote:
I think I heard that Rambus was kinda dying out :/ 

People keep saying that, yet even without any improvements in ages, the RDRAM systems still have top-notch performance with very few configuration worries. DDR meanwhile struggles to get to the same level of performance, and even then there are numerous configuration concerns to take into account depending upon the mobo you get.

Besides, with DDRII, Athlon64, and Prescott all coming along in the near future, do you really think that you would keep your old mobo and RAM the next time you upgrade anyway?

Quote:
And from what I saw here on THG, the SiS648-chipset really is near the 850E chipset, regarding performance.

http://www6.tomshardware.com/mainboard/20021204/sis648-...

Uh huh. And did you also read <A HREF="http://www.tomshardware.com/mainboard/20021204/sis648-0..." target="_new"> the negative comments</A> that THG had for that chipset and for SIS? We get the following quotes:
<font color=green>
Quote:
<b>DDR333: Only With Two!</b>

Why should SiS have it any differently than VIA? All current chipsets for fast DDR memory are hampered by the Achilles heel of fast clock rates and aggressive timing: three or even four DIM modules cannot be had at high processing speeds, as the resulting signal lengths create problems.

In practical terms, this means that DDR400 can only be achieved by using a single memory module. This, however, was mitigated by the fact that currently neither Intel nor SiS nor VIA supports DDR400 - performance beyond DDR333 cannot be achieved.

But even with DDR333, two DIMMs are as good as it gets. If the main memory is to be expanded to its maximum (up to 3 GB), three 1-GB modules are necessary. But the chipset can only manage this with 133 MHz (DDR266).

Quote:
But there are still many skeptics who question whether or not the current chipsets from SiS are really stable when running.

Quote:
its PCI performance is nowhere near that of the Intel chipsets.

Quote:
Things get more difficult when it comes to fine-tuning: because mainboards with SiS chipsets have always sold primarily in the low-budget range, even manufacturers are cutting corners in order to remain competitive. As a result, aggressive memory timings are not thoroughly tested, or are only optimized to a modest degree. This makes it very possible that memory from manufacturer X will not work reliably with fast timings on the board from manufacturer Y.

</font color=green>And did you ever wonder why that article specified in the test setup RAM that was "256 MB PC3200 CL2"? That's CL2 DDR400! That's no where <i>near</i> the supposed DDR333 CL2.5 that THG talks about earlier.

Is the SISsy motherboard really worth those gambles to you?

Further, let's look at prices, shall we? If you get a Matsonic SIS648 motherboard for $75 and a 512MB stick of OCSystem DDR400 CL2.5 for $127 you'll spend $202 for the ultra-cheap route. Admittedly, here the ultra-cheap route for RDRAM is a DFI 850E motherboard for $107 and two 256MB Generic PC1066 32ns sticks for $88 each, for a total of $283. So yes, going the absolute cheapest route you can save whopping $81 bucks going with the SISsy solution. Turn that around to look at quality parts though instead of uber-cheap crap.

You could do a Gigabyte SIS648 motherboard for $80 and a 512MB stick of Corsair XMS DDR400 CL2 for $171 to total $251. Or you could do an Intel 850E motherboard for $129 and two 256MB sticks of Samsung PC1066 32ns for $94 each, for a total of $317. Now you're only saving $66 to go the SISsy route. Ooh.

Either way, a whole $81 or a whole $66, you're not even saving enough to buy an extra stick of RAM. (Not that you could even <i>use</i> an extra stick of RAM since the SIS motherboard will only run one stick at DDR400 anyway.)

I'm not trying to persuade for just Intel systems either. If you went AMD you could get an Asus nForce2 Deluxe for $136 and two 256MB sticks of Corsair XMS PC3200 CL2 DDR SDRAM for $87 each. That's $310, which seems like a lot, but you wouldn't need to buy a sound card to go with it because it comes with very excellent onboard sound. Hell, it comes with onboard USB2, onboard Firewire, onboard RAID Serial ATA (and ATA133), and onboard <i>DUAL</i> 100Mb LAN as well. It has everything short of SCSI! And since you can get an Athlon 2600+ for about the same price as a P4 2.6GHz, there's no real price difference with the processor. So subtract the extra $50+ that you would have spent on that Audigy card, and now you're actually <i>saving</i> money compared to the P4+SISsy route listed above.

I'm just trying to say that it really doesn't make sense to cut corners so badly that you have to get that SIS motherboard. You could get much better quality parts for only a little more. You can even <i>save</i> money if you go with an AMD solution and use the quality onboard sound instead of getting an Audigy.

I'd just like to sum it up with my favorite quote from THG.
"<font color=green><b>Anyone who decides in favor of a low-cost product knows there is a risk of certain minuses.</b></font color=green>"


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January 9, 2003 4:36:05 PM

The THG review of the sis648 , the intel pe review was garbage......anandtech's review of both of these chipsets yielded different results and they did better testing and observing of the mobos other than generic benchmarks...for example in the pe review (thg said aopen was a superior overclocker...when in fact eventhough there are two memory dividers (1:1 , 4:5), the memory speed is locked at ddr266 and ddr333......very funny they overlooked a big thing which makes this board useless to an overclocker that really wants alot of performance gain....and another example on the sis review anandtech got the gigabyte mobo to run ddr400 up to 422mhz reliably on the memory default of 2.5v....also Gigabyte does certify DDR400 operation with 2 banks full however they actually got it to run hours with three dimms filled...I find much critism between these two reviews.....
on another note I do agree with the ddrII statement....and the 850e is a totally awesome chipset but the thing I do not like about it is that it doesnt have the pci/agp lock and isnt as overclockable as other ddr solutions...but you have made good points here
January 9, 2003 4:53:52 PM

Quote:
The THG review of the sis648 , the intel pe review was garbage......anandtech's review of both of these chipsets yielded different results and they did better testing and observing of the mobos other than generic benchmarks...

I think at least part of that is simply because review sites get pre-production engineering samples instead of retail models most of the time. Sometimes different reviewers don't even end up getting the same revisions of the product. So then of course they get differing results and in the end, it's really all garbage. Well, maybe not garbage, but certainly I don't trust <i>any</i> review 100% unless they specifically state that they have a retail sample, not an engineering sample.

Quote:
and the 850e is a totally awesome chipset but the thing I do not like about it is that it doesnt have the pci/agp lock and isnt as overclockable as other ddr solutions

That's unfortunately all too true. Intel really should consider upgrading the 850 chipset once more. (Or just replacing it with something new.)

For example, I'd really like to see a motherboard capable of quad-channel 16-bit PC1066 (or dual-channel 32-bit PC4200) if you actually want to fill all of the slots. (It'd be only dual-channel if you don't fill them all.) The bandwidth would be overkill, but the latency should get improved significantly. That and throw in all of the things we're used to seeing by now like PCI/AGP locks, AGP8x, blah blah.

Heck, if Intel could make a QC-RDRAM board with as many onboard features as a fully-decked nForce2 mobo, I bet they'd sell like hotcakes.

Of course, then again, I haven't seen too many people actually order hotcakes at McDonalds anymore. No one sits down to eat a nice slow breakfast these days. It's all about sandwiches and rush rush rush...


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January 9, 2003 5:03:33 PM

Quote:
but the latency should get improved significantly

No matter how many channels of ram you have, the latency should remain the same. You make a request and it gets filled. You should only pay a penalty for your first transfer anyways since modern ram uses burst transfers.

Dichromatic for your viewing plesure...
January 9, 2003 5:06:04 PM

They would cost more than a hotcake. :smile:

<font color=red>The solution may be obvious, but I can't see it for the smoke coming off my processor.</font color=red>
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