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Performance Or Money?

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May 30, 2003 3:15:10 PM

Hello THGC folks. I'd appreciate your help. :)  Please read through the <i>whole</i> post before replying.

<b>The Basis:</b> I'm looking at building a new PC and am trying to weigh what processor to base it on, as the processor may not get upgraded for years. (Mobo choice listed below.) It has currently come down to these three P4s and three AXPs...

<b>The Contestants:</b>
1) <b>P4C 2.6</b>GHz and <b><font color=red>NO</font color=red></b> extra bucks.
2) <b>P4B 2.66</b>GHz and <b><font color=green>50</font color=green></b> extra bucks.
3) <b>P4C 2.4</b>GHz and <b><font color=green>50</font color=green></b> extra bucks.
4) <b>Barton 2800</b> and <b><font color=green>50</font color=green></b> extra bucks.
5) <b>Athlon 2700</b> and <b><font color=green>100</font color=green></b> extra bucks.
6) <b>Barton 2500</b> and <b><font color=green>150</font color=green></b> extra bucks.

<b>The Stipulations:</b>
<b><font color=red>*</font color=red></b> All have retail coolers to start. If better than retail is needed, that cost will come out of the __ extra bucks.
<b><font color=red>*</font color=red></b> The PC is a <i>silent</i> PC, so <b>NO</b> loud heatsinks are allowed.
<b><font color=red>*</font color=red></b> The CPU <b>must</b> be capable of surviving for <b>2 years</b> without upgrade in possibly hot and humid climates. No extreme OCing burnouts or touchy on-edge OCs are allowed. A margin for stability is a requirement.
<b><font color=red>*</font color=red></b> All will be run with paired sticks of Corsair 3200LL on either an nForce2 Ultra 400 or an i865 mobo. These choices are <i>not</i> likely to change.
<b><font color=red>*</font color=red></b> The PC will primarily be used for 3D game programming and 3D game playing. Graphics will either be a fanless GF4 Ti4200 or a fanless Sapphire Atlantis 9700Pro Ultimate depending on funds. (There is a $250 difference, so even a Barton 2500 alone will not enable me to get the 9700Pro.)
<b><font color=red>*</font color=red></b> I understand that the prices may (hopefully will) drop further in a month or two when I buy my PC. This is a debate to help me see the logic behind the CPU choice from as many sides as possible, not for any specific CPU models themselves. So arguments based on 'it will be cheaper in another month' are useless and will be summarily ignored.



<font color=green>Again, your help is appreciated. Thank you.</font color=green>

<font color=purple><pre><b>There are 10 types of people in this world: those who can understand binary and those who can't.</b></pre><p></font color=purple>

More about : performance money

May 30, 2003 4:59:42 PM

I would get a P4C /HT.

What i usually do is i decide on the CPU last. Choose a good board, how much ram etc and your videocard. Go with a radeon 9700 non pro (u can overclock it slightly to pro level ) or better (9700np is really cheap and performs really good )and after check how much money you have left and decide what cpu you want.
May 30, 2003 5:28:58 PM

Ganache, you didn't even read the post, did you?

<font color=purple><pre><b>There are 10 types of people in this world: those who can understand binary and those who can't.</b></pre><p></font color=purple>
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May 30, 2003 5:35:27 PM

I think I´d probably get the 2.6C. As I understand, that´s the most expensive alternative, but I think the 2.4C is also good... (I´d pay the 50 bucks extra for the 2.6C, though...). I think HT is a good differential for future-proofing your CPU, as is the 800Mhz FSB: the bandwidth might get used a lot later on (as well as today). Also, the 2.6C is actually one hell of a CPU and will run circles around any of the others...

My experiences with HT have been very convincing, so... let me put it in words: <i>I LOVE HT!</i> I feel sorry for those who think it´s a flop. It´s not. I´ve seen it. So if I were you, I´d go with 2.6C or 2.4C if I wanted that extra 50 bucks for something else.

Also, I´m sorry to say that I don´t know a lot about the quieter alternatives as to coolers and such... sorry. My input is useless in that matter... :frown:
May 30, 2003 5:56:34 PM

So Mephistopheles, you're saying that the HT and the 800MHz FSB is very much worth the added expense for the P4Cs? (Which actually was is my currently standing point of view as well, but I wanted to be open to other suggestions lest I pass up something else that might have been better.)

Okay, time to put on the hat of Ye Olde Devil's Advocate. What if I said that I could probably overclock the Barton 2500 to the same FSB and clock speed of an AXP3200+ and still have $100 extra left over? What if I said that I could practically guarantee a similar overclock of the Barton 2800 but for no extra money left? Would you still vie for the P4C 2.6GHz against overclocked Bartons? If so, why? If not, why not? :) 

<font color=purple><pre><b>There are 10 types of people in this world: those who can understand binary and those who can't.</b></pre><p></font color=purple>
May 30, 2003 6:21:11 PM

Slvr, I can only tell you about what I know. 6 is a great choice out of AMD & the cheapest as you know. You get a lot out of what a $96 chip?

I'm currently running what your talking about. 2500, A7N8X Deluxe V 2.0, but I have Hyper X 3200 RAM in it. I'm running the TI4600 myself. I also run the Antec True Power 430 with the smart fans for the PSU. It's totally silent in my Armoire. I've built them with Antec Smart Power PSU's that don't have the Smart fans on it & it's a lot louder machine that way. To loud to me that way. I'm getting 13200 3Dmarks in 3Dmark 2001SE. I'll be able to play what comes out, even Doom 3 I'd bet. I'm not OCed either. This set up might work out for you. Will I run mine for 2 years? No! I like to play with new stuff to much. Could I run it 2 years? Yes I believe I could if need be.

From there prices go up. I know about the P4's & HT. For a gamer like myself & you seem to be, HT wouldn't do much for me at all. I don't surf the web when I'm gaming. I don't defrag or anything else when I'm gaming. As fast as I burn my photo CD's with the RAM I'm running & the 333 FSB (don't know if the extra Cashe helps here or not) I don't really need to be any faster myself, especially for the extra $$$. PhotoShop is like a rocket with the 2500. It would be faster with a P4 no doubt, but then there's the $$$ again.

Hope that helps a bit. Off on a tangent below so no need to read further if you don't want to.

I'm currently in a dilemma myself. I'm trying to decide if a Raptor HDD is going to help me out in gaming. I'm doing a lot of home work on that right now. Don't need more than 36 gigs if it's fast for gaming. Otherwise I'm going to stay with the JB 8 mg cashe WD HDDs. I've got a whole 12 gigs on this 80 gig & that's the most I ever carry on a HDD myself. If I decide it's faster a Raptor is going in here next week. See that's how I am, just got to play.

Honey, what's that smell? Don't bother me now I'm working on my computer! OOPS!
May 30, 2003 6:56:17 PM

You could overclock the P4C's which will leave the Bartons in the dust. Also you can get a fairly decent overclock with the retail heatsink/fan which are fairly quiet. To overclock the bartons to those speeds your going to need a hefty cooling combonation. Air cooling will do but in order to be quiet you'd have to go to water.

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
May 30, 2003 7:52:12 PM

Quote:
Air cooling will do but in order to be quiet you'd have to go to water.

People say that, but I'm still not sure if that even makes any sense. I mean <i>most</i> water coolers have a radiator with two fans or more on them. (And at least have one fan.) So all that you really have done with watercooling is moved the heat sink's fan from inside of the case (where the steel case dampens the noise a bit) to outside of the case (where there is nothing to dampen the noise). If you're lucky you'll be running low-speed fans outside of the case ... but is it really any quieter? At all?

And I'm still tempted to try combining a Swiftech MCX with an 80mm to 120mm fan adapter and a low-noise 120mm variable-speed fan. There's just something about it that sounds fun...

Quote:
You could overclock the P4C's which will leave the Bartons in the dust.

Can you? I mean they're already running at an 800MHz FSB and the multiplier is locked. How much can you actually squeeze out of one when the only method of OCing is to increase the FSB and the FSB already <i>that</i> high? Do you have any numbers? I mean if it <i>is</i> possible then it would be worth considering.

<font color=purple><pre><b>There are 10 types of people in this world: those who can understand binary and those who can't.</b></pre><p></font color=purple>
May 30, 2003 8:13:32 PM

Quote:
Slvr, I can only tell you about what I know. 6 is a great choice out of AMD & the cheapest as you know. You get a lot out of what a $96 chip?

I have to admit that it's one of the options that I've seriously considered. I tacked on a Volcano 11 to those plans to help OC it. I dunno though. I mean OCing is <i>never</i> a guarantee and if it was binned that far down, chances are higher that it'll have a flaw to keep it from OCing very far.

One of the things that's really stumped me though is the performance comparisons between the P4Cs and the P4Bs and AXPs. That whole PR system is really breaking down when comparing AXPs to P4Cs, so you'd <i>really</i> have to OC something fierce out of the AXPs to make them worth it.

But then I'm also tempted by the thought of turning around and just keeping the Barton 2500 at stock (or minimal OC with retail heat sink) and upgrade my RAM from 512MB to 1024MB... It'd be just shy of $150 for me to do it with Corsair 3200LL.

Argh. Decisions, decisions...

Quote:
Could I run it 2 years? Yes I believe I could if need be.

That's the other thing that concerns me a little. Not that the processor would live two years if not OCed. I could use the retail heat sink and have three years guaranteed ... or waranteed anyway. Heh heh. But what happens next?

I <i>know</i> that there'll be an upgrade path for processors on an 865 mobo two years from now. It might seem cheezy by then, but it'd at least still exist and extend the life of the hardware a little more before it's totally obsolete.

I don't however know if AMD is really going to continue pushing the AXPs. They'll have A64s out and the AXPs are already so close to their limits. Will AMD really continue the AXPs? I don't know... I'd personally like to think so. Combine a 0.09micron shrink with SOI and you'd think that it'd be pretty easy to extend the life of their AXPs. Yet I can't help that nagging feeling that AMD is ready to give up on the core in favor of something slightly more scalable.

Quote:
For a gamer like myself & you seem to be, HT wouldn't do much for me at all. I don't surf the web when I'm gaming. I don't defrag or anything else when I'm gaming. As fast as I burn my photo CD's with the RAM I'm running & the 333 FSB (don't know if the extra Cashe helps here or not) I don't really need to be any faster myself, especially for the extra $$$.

You've got a good point here. HT sounds great, but I really don't do any multi-tasking of intense softwares. Oh sure, right now my taskbar has some twenty odd programs running, but those are mostly web browsers, DOS shells, and text editors. And of the rest the only one really using any CPU resources is WinAmp. :)  And I definately don't multi-task while gaming. :o  So how much is HT really worth to me? I guess not too much all considered. I think it's more the 800MHz FSB bandwidth that impresses me. I mean heck, the P4C 2.4GHz was almost as good as a P4B 2.66GHz. That's pretty impressive. Games especially seem to love memory bandwidth, which is a big lacking in AMD's CPUs.

<font color=purple><pre><b>There are 10 types of people in this world: those who can understand binary and those who can't.</b></pre><p></font color=purple>
May 30, 2003 8:20:52 PM

what i would do is get the P4C 2.6 with the 800FSB because it is the most economical chip out of the 3 Intel chips there is right now. I would get that chip because it supports HT and if you are going to be doing game programming then it is the logical thing to do. You are going to have at least 3 programs open at a time so that will definetly help you out.

To my knowledge they arent multiplier locked unless you get the MSI board that was reviewed on this website. I have seen a 3.0 800FSB get clocked to 3.5Ghz with the stock HSF.

Regarding the Video Cards i would get a 9700 Non-pro because like it was stated earlier its cheaper and very comparable to the 9700 Pro(by the time you buy this setup the Pro will probably be pretty comparable to the Non pro prices that are currently going on right now).

I definetly would not go with AMD or Nvidia for anything that i buy. Pure test results show that Intel and ATI makes better hardware especially if your doing multitasking and gaming.

Mike
May 30, 2003 8:38:38 PM

Quote:
Regarding the Video Cards i would get a 9700 Non-pro because like it was stated earlier its cheaper and very comparable to the 9700 Pro(by the time you buy this setup the Pro will probably be pretty comparable to the Non pro prices that are currently going on right now).

You're now the second person to suggest a video card which to my knowledge does not exist. Can you show me a <b>fanless</b> non-pro 9700? This is a silent PC and my video card <i>will</i> be fanless at retail so that it is silent and has a warantee.

<font color=purple><pre><b>There are 10 types of people in this world: those who can understand binary and those who can't.</b></pre><p></font color=purple>
May 30, 2003 8:44:36 PM

im pretty sure they dont make a FANLESS 9700Nonpro. But the fan that does come with teh NP is pretty quiet from what i remember. Sorry i guess i didnt catch the whole Silent PC thing. I dont think you have and alternative for a gaming maching with out a fan on the GPU
May 30, 2003 9:54:12 PM

I have yet to encounter any fanless Ti4200; however, Sapphire will (supposedly) be releasing an "Ultimate"/fanless edition of the 9600 PRO. Here's the <A HREF="http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/urltrurl?url=h..." target="_new"> link </A>. I'm not sure on the credibility of that site, so just take this post as a grain of salt. But it's something you might want to keep an eye out for over the next month.. if the 9600 PRO meets your performance requirements.
May 30, 2003 10:31:22 PM

Put my vote down for the 2500+. It overclocks to a 2800+ with BARELY any increase in temp, with stock voltage and cooling. Save your $$$ and use it to buy a set of ear plugs. That way you will be able to buy a decent video card.

<font color=red>Now that I am running RAID 5 I find myself praying for a hard drive failure.</font color=red>
May 31, 2003 1:09:55 AM

I know buying the 2500+ won't entirely make up the difference in price between the 9700 PRO Ultimate and the Ti4200, but if the $150 extra bucks saved on the processor ends up being the difference between being able to buy a 9700 PRO or having to settle for something less, I would definitely go with the 2500+. Since it's a Barton, it should run relatively cool at stock speeds. Since you said the system is specifically for gaming, I would MUCH rather have a 2500+ with 9700 PRO than a P4C 2.6 with Ti4200. I had a Ti4200 (for about a week) and later bought a 9800 PRO, I can say with no hesitation that the Radeon makes a much bigger difference than a slightly faster processor. Not only that, but the 2D image quality is superior.

If spending more money for a faster processor would not necessarily preclude buying the 9700 PRO, then by all means, buy as fast as possible. But the graphics card has far more to do with your gaming experience than the processor when all things are close to equal.

<font color=green>The Netherlands is where you go when you're too good for heaven.</font color=green> :tongue:
May 31, 2003 9:13:23 AM

I would agree with twitch. There is also one aditional factor in favor of the xp2500. It requires the least amount on cooling. As to ocing it seems that most "B" chips are able to jump 33mhz on the fsb with a 1 X multiplier reduction, and very little change in heat.What this means to the athlon aside from a slight bump in overall speed , is a 15% increase in memory bandwidth. This does not bring it anywhere near the mem bandwidth of th intel chip, but it does yield a real gain in cpu output.As to lasting two years, not without a new video card. Count on the battle between "the two" there to benefit games and gameplayers . Nice decision to be making.
May 31, 2003 11:27:02 AM

Get the 2.4C pop it to 3,4Ghz and get a 9500PRO.

Long live Intel!

From the darkside...you know!
May 31, 2003 12:35:49 PM

Quote:
One of the things that's really stumped me though is the performance comparisons between the P4Cs and the P4Bs and AXPs. That whole PR system is really breaking down when comparing AXPs to P4Cs, so you'd really have to OC something fierce out of the AXPs to make them worth it.

I agree here it's hard to tell. My friend runs the P4 2.53 (I think) & I've ran his machine & he's ran mine. I feel mine is faster, he feels his is. I suspect that I am faster though. I benchmark my machine & he won't. I think he has & has seen the results & doesn't want me to to say told ya. So that's how come I can't get him to bench. Regardless I spent considerably less on my rig.

Quote:
But then I'm also tempted by the thought of turning around and just keeping the Barton 2500 at stock (or minimal OC with retail heat sink) and upgrade my RAM from 512MB to 1024MB... It'd be just shy of $150 for me to do it with Corsair 3200LL.

I'm running at stock. I have the RAM running async with the Hyper X 3200 & contrary to what has been said & is said here daily, I gain 500 3Dmarks (3Dmark 2001 SE) running async. I've played with sync & async & for gaming I get the best performance running async on my RAM.

Quote:
I know that there'll be an upgrade path for processors on an 865 mobo two years from now. It might seem cheezy by then, but it'd at least still exist and extend the life of the hardware a little more before it's totally obsolete.

I wouldn't count on that myself. Intel has had more sockets & slot adapters than Carter's got Liver pills, historically. If it wasn't for Crashman I don't know how half the with Intel people could upgrade. I wouldn't count on an upgrade path out of Intel myself.

Quote:

I don't however know if AMD is really going to continue pushing the AXPs. They'll have A64s out and the AXPs are already so close to their limits. Will AMD really continue the AXPs? I don't know... I'd personally like to think so. Combine a 0.09micron shrink with SOI and you'd think that it'd be pretty easy to extend the life of their AXPs. Yet I can't help that nagging feeling that AMD is ready to give up on the core in favor of something slightly more scalable.

I agree. I think the XP is done myself. The Hammer better be good or AMD is in a world of stuff. Some complain about this. Me I'm happy. I've had the same socket since I've been using AMD & I think the next generation will be the same. I've had way more versatility over the years with AMD. I still think that the 2500 is one whale of a piece of silicon my self. The best out of the Athlons without a doubt. I haven't a clue as to what I'll be running a year from now, don't have a crystal ball to gaze into. For the $$$ I put this machine together for, I'm not going to loose much on it no mater what happens. I can get my $$$ back & move on to Intel if need be.

Quote:
I think it's more the 800MHz FSB bandwidth that impresses me. I mean heck, the P4C 2.4GHz was almost as good as a P4B 2.66GHz. That's pretty impressive. Games especially seem to love memory bandwidth, which is a big lacking in AMD's CPUs.

I'm not as comfortable with the 800 FSB. To me it's no faster than AMD's 200 FSB, but that's only speculation on my part. I can tell you what I know. I was running the 2400 when I bought the 2500. The 333 FSB & 512 Cashe on the 2500 crush the 2400's badly in games. I had the 2400 on a A7V8X with 2x256 Hyper X 2700. 3Dmarks were 11359. Now with the A7N8X, 2500 & 3200 Hyper X I'm at 13200 3Dmarks. So the dual RAM on the Nforce (although faster & running async) & the FSB on a slower CPU has shown me that gain. I actually went slower to go faster, crazy Huh? So I can tell FSB is a big deal. I'd also say that high quality RAM in these boards is a big deal. How that compares to P4 is still a question in my mind as well. If p4's & boards weren't so expensive, I'd get some of them to play with. It may be a moot point anyway if AMD doesn't put out a killer chip soon, we'll all be running expensive Intel rigs as they'll be no other choice. That would put a hurt on what I do with computers. It would cut my upgrades in half at least with the way the Intel CPU's will escalate in price if that happens.

Yea, I'm about a clear as mud on this issue I guess. Hope it helps you make a decision Man.

Honey, what's that smell? Don't bother me now I'm working on my computer! OOPS!
May 31, 2003 5:09:08 PM

get the 2.6ghz with 800MHZ FSB on the springdale motherboard. the asus P4P800 Deluxe looks good - but if you need basic maybe Intel will do. If you need to go cheaper, the 2.4 800MHZ FSB should do also.

You're looking at a possible prescott upgrade (3.2ghz+ potential upgrade) in the future as Asus claims that that board is prescott ready. Not to mention it's 149 bucks at newegg and has all the features that canterwood has. Yes they claim it has PAT but they call it something else. Well claimed to have anyway. *shrugs* I bought this board we shall see soon enough.

AMD will be phasing out Athlon's in september so buying an AMD board will not be wise at this point. Maybe save up for athlon64 instead would be a wiser choice if you can wait.

Then again it's a matter of preference, need, and want.

"Bread makes me poop!" - Special Ed

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=9933" target="_new"> My Rig </A>
May 31, 2003 8:19:53 PM

I don't think the 9500 PRO comes in a fanless version like the 9700 PRO does. I think that's specifically why he mentioned the 9700 PRO.


<font color=green>The Netherlands is where you go when you're too good for heaven.</font color=green> :tongue:
May 31, 2003 8:25:03 PM

sup silver,

I have a suggestion about the memory. <b>ALOT</b> of people are having problems with the LL versions of corsair ram. I strongly recommend just getting the regular versions and deal with those. Both the nforce2 and the latest intel platforms are having compatibility problems with LL ram. You can read various forums both here, corsair, and at anandtech that verify what i'm saying.

I just built a 3.0 C on an abit ic-7 with 1gb of pc3200 corsair XMS non LL , and it worked perfectly. It was so quiet, and it had 5 case fans. 4 of them were from pcpowerandcooling.com , the 80mm Silencer's, and the one on the side panel of the Chieftec case I had. I couldn't tell that it was on. It had an AIW 9700 pro, and it wasn't loud at all. I hope this helps ya out some.
June 1, 2003 6:40:32 AM

1: You do know thats a Zalman cooling that Saphire uses? You also know that by putting a 9700pro with the SAME Zalman yourself will save you some cash? But ofcourse, the voided warranty may discourage you.

2: You state that you POSSIBLY will use the computere in a "hot & humid" environment (the tropics? :smile: ). With this in consideration maybe you should opt for something else then the stockfans. But ofcourse it all depends on how hot and humid.

3: I think "the more, the merrier" so go with "lots" of ram i.e. 1 gig instead of the "best" ram. 512 is fine for most games/apps by todays standards but this probably will change soon. As games like WWII online already takes advantage of 1gig ram I suspect others will soon follow. And when programming there is no such thing as to much ram!

But generally I would go with the cheapest possible CPU and the best possible Videocard since you want it for gaming. I think that the comparison of cheapCPU/expensiveGC V
expensiveCPU/cheapGC shows that the first combo has an advantage over the latter one.

And lets not forget that the 4200 series is a seriously old technique by todays standards. Its more than a year old. Although the 9700 isn't novelity I think that it will cope much better in the coming years. I also think that THG has adressed the question of CPU/GC a while back (cant remember the article, right now)



Anyway

GL
June 1, 2003 7:11:35 AM

Sorry to post again BUT if you go for the 9700pro with the Zalman ZM80A-HP (this is actually the combo Zaphire uses in its "ultimate edition") be SURE that it can be used with the mobo you're going to use. For more info check this (its way down on the page):

http://www.zalman.co.kr/english/news/20021014.htm

GL

Turk
June 1, 2003 9:33:35 AM

Now to the ram. LL ram is not recomended for the intel 800 fsb boards. They do require matched pairs. Nforce chipset requires only pc2700. While you can use LL ram for a gain, the nforce boards will run quite well with cas 2.5 ddr 333.This price savings could also add to help get the better video card.
Now it is getting very close to an xp2500 with Radeon 9700np or a P4 2.4 with a gforce 4200. That is a no brainer.
!