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Upgrade Help Please

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April 5, 2004 7:55:07 AM

I'm looking to upgrade my computer. The other big thread on this is quite helpful, but my needs are a little bit different. The other user is a gamer who says that money is no issue as long as he can play his games without choppiness.

For me, I want a good system but I'm the type of guy who wouldn't buy a brand new car and instead would wait a year for the almost as good but much cheaper used version. Also, gaming is not the main function of my system. I run my business from my computer and do intensive database manipulations. My current computer is woefully slow for this and I want to stop banging my head against the wall and get a faster computer.

My current system is 2.0 g Celeron, ECS Elitegroup P4VMM2, 256 kingston 400 ddr ram (just got this), 128 kingston 2100 ram. I have a spare 128 2100 ram I would like to use as well but there aren't enough slots in this computer.

From browsing these boards I'm leaning towards the 2.8c P4 with the ABIT IS7 motherboard. Is this a good combo for me with speed and value in mind? What's the deal with getting matching ram? Is my hodge-podge of ram going to slow my computer down much from its potential?

Every day that goes by with this machine is just time wasted waiting for it to process. But I would wait a bit more if there are any near term (next few weeks) significant price-reductions, new technology, etc. I should wait for.

Any help with this issue or other tips would be greatly appreciated.

More about : upgrade

April 5, 2004 8:06:29 AM

The IS7 and P4c 2.8 is a great combination. You shouldn't use the pc 2100 though, for a number of reasons. You would have to run your memory async is a big one. You would not be able to have dual channel memory is the biggest. If you get another piece of the pc3200/DDR400, it should run dual. If you are going to use winxp, you will need at least 512 of ram.
April 5, 2004 11:09:10 AM

Before I recommend anything, it would be interesting to learn what it is you do exactly, and see where the bottleneck is. CPU's, even dog slow one's like Celerons are not often a major bottleneck in DB applications, especially not "personal" sized DB's. Depending how big your db is, what the operations are you perform, its quite possible the real bottleneck is the lack of enough memory, maybe the disks are far too slow, etc. IOW, you could buy a $1.000 P4EE, and not see any performance increase if your app keeps trashing the harddisk.

So tell me this: when your system is so slow, is there intensive haddisk activity ? How much ram is allocated by the application ? To find out, press ctrl+alt+delete, go to processes and look for the app and report its memory footprint. also, what is your main activity ? is it searching for data, or building datasets, or calculations ?

Point is, its quite possible for instance a gig of ram and a faster harddisk system would give you 10x as much improvement as a cpu+mb swap. I regulary work with huge databases at work (huge like 10-100 GB), and they support 10+ users with near instanteneous query responses on a 3 year old dual Pentium 3 based server (600 MHz). However, the system does have tons of memory, super fast RAID disksubsystem, and the DB is well designed. IS this app something you built yourselve on acces/sql/db2 whatever, or a commercial application ?

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
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April 5, 2004 1:58:47 PM

Thanks for the input so far. Let me try to give some more detail.

"IS this app something you built yourselve on acces/sql/db2 whatever, or a commercial application ?"
I use the eBay sponsored auction management software. Called "Seller's Assistant Pro". It is known to be not programmed terribly efficiently. The information is saved in database format but the program is more than this.

"So tell me this: when your system is so slow, is there intensive haddisk activity ?"
Possibly. I click on an icon to put a group of 50 records in order and it takes 4 seconds. I do this sort of activity multiple times a session and it's just time wasted. I was manipulating this program on my 1.8 p4 system and it performed operations noticably faster, though still much slower than I would like.

"How much ram is allocated by the application ?"
In the range of 40-60 megabytes. I have 256 + 128 ram on this computer and it never gets to over 260 being used at one time.

"also, what is your main activity ? is it searching for data, or building datasets, or calculations ?"
Just generally organizing items in the ebay application. Searching seems to be pretty fast. But I might need to put this group of 80 records in order by email address followed by putting them in order by ebay user id - this adds an extra 6-10 seconds of dead time when it processes these requests that I think can be cut in half with a faster system. This time may not seem like much but I perform these sorts of actions many times a day.

I generally am multi-tasking between the ebay app., surfing the net, and using outlook.

Perhaps this could help people understand a bit more about my situation.

Thanks.
April 5, 2004 4:57:47 PM

Okay.. I'm don't know what this ""Seller's Assistant Pro" is, never heard of it, but if you are a spammer, then all I can say is: DIE DIE DIE !!! And get a Celeron 300 :) 

If not, sounds like some terrible programming indeed. Oh well, it doesnt sounds like you need a RAID 0 stripe set with a cache controller and 4 gigs of RAM either. Its anyone's guess what cpu will run your apps best, but big caches can go a long way in masking sloppy coding. Athlons are generally also better at running subpar code, Pentium 4's generally require optimized code to flex their muscles, so also in your case I would also suggest a 3000+ Athlon 64 with AOpen AK86-L as tested by <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.html?i=1959" target="_new">anandtech</A>
Quote:
As stated in our review, the AK86-L is a fast and stable Socket 754 motherboard that represents outstanding value. With the recent changes, AOpen has certainly broken away from the pack in the value segment and deserves to be recognized as an AnandTech Editor's Choice.


Combined with a A64 3000+ you get some serious processing power for a bargain price. Cool&Quiet might be a nice touch as well, allowing the system to power down its fans when you"re not taxing the cpu (less heat, less noise). You'll need new memory though, but you'll need that pretty much anyway.

A P4 2.8C + IS7 would not be a bad choice either, and likely satisfy your needs, but I think it offer a little less value for the money (likely less performance, no C&Q, no 64 bit if ever you'd need it, no NX protection,..). You would likely be happy with either setup though, anything beats a Celeron.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
April 6, 2004 2:28:19 AM

Oh, boy, here too P4MAN? :wink:

I second the IS7/P4 2.8C and 2 matched sticks of 512MB PC3200 or faster. Excellent choice. Very fast and a rock solid Intel chipset.


ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
April 6, 2004 3:11:36 AM

Ok, now I have recommendations for two different setups. One with the IS7/P4 2.8C, and one with the Athon 64 3000+ setup. Which one would be better for me? Which one is more future proof for further upgrades?

Two matching 512 were recommended. I just bought a new 256-400 chip and would get another one like this if necessary. My total memory needs never exceed about 260 megabytes so wouldn't the dual 256 be 100% sufficient for my purposes?

And what is the significant of the "c" version of 2.8 versus the "e" version. I notice that the "e" version is a little bit more expensive.

And don't get me wrong about emphasizing the "value" part too much. I want a computer that is significantly better than mine right now, I just don't want to pay the huge premiums for the latest stuff. But I think the systems recommended so far have been exactly what I'm thinking about.
April 6, 2004 3:41:32 AM

Oh no not again. You have no idea of the can of worms you just opened. Please state the main purpose of computer and intended use. it would be helpful. but either choice will be acceptable. it's not like the difference is huge.

If I glanced at a spilt box of tooth picks on the floor, could I tell you how many are in the pile. Not a chance, But then again I don't have to buy my underware at Kmart.
April 6, 2004 5:13:10 AM

The 2.8C is a Northwood core and the E is the new Prescott core. I just got my 2.8C up and running and I am nothing but pleased. The Auction software you are running would fly by with one. If you go the Prescott route, try a 2.4A.
A little less money and healthy overclocker. You can start with choosing a MB that will support both. If you want an A64 I would wait for the new Nforce chips, which shouldn't be long. I just don't see any 64 bit apps waltzing down the pike for quite a while yet.

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. Now, let's eat!
April 6, 2004 5:18:36 AM

Here we go,

so if he should buy thr p4-2.8c or 2.4 why not get what anandtech recomends as a better overall choice?

http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.html?i=2014&p=2

If I glanced at a spilt box of tooth picks on the floor, could I tell you how many are in the pile. Not a chance, But then again I don't have to buy my underware at Kmart. <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by darko21 on 04/06/04 01:20 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
April 6, 2004 6:54:03 AM

Neither of them will be very upgradeable, both sockets are dead ends and will be replaced in a couple of months. The A64 is obviously more future proof without upgrades if you believe 64 bit windows and apps will be worthwhile within the time your intend to keep your machine. I do, but others disagree. As for performance, I'm fairly certain the A64 will be considerably faster running bad code, but I have nothing to prove this.

>Two matching 512 were recommended. I just bought a new
>256-400 chip and would get another one like this if
>necessary. My total memory needs never exceed about 260
>megabytes so wouldn't the dual 256 be 100% sufficient for
>my purposes?

Yeah probably. But there is no need to match them, at least not on the A64, not too sure about the P4. A64 currently is single channel, so there really is no issue in getting a 256 and a 512 Dimm, or using just one dimm if you must.

>And what is the significant of the "c" version of 2.8
>versus the "e" version. I notice that the "e" version is a
>little bit more expensive.

C=northwood, E=Prescott. Prescott is a new core, more cache but a longer pipeline (which means reducing performance/clock). Long story short, overall prescott performs slightly worse or equal to NW but produces a LOT more heat (to the point where its really worthwhile avoiding the product). If you decide for a P4, get the "c", especially if its cheaper.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
April 6, 2004 10:15:57 AM

what type of hard disk are you using? cache size, rotor rpm, ata33/66/100/133 or sata...
are you running raid arrays?


A fine day!
April 7, 2004 5:47:50 AM

Now I am quite interested in the hard drive side of this problem.

Some fellow users of this auction software told me that a top of the line hard drive is required. One user said that things are going very fast now that he has the
"- 2x 38Gb WD Raptor Hard drives (10,000 RPM)
[We run these on RAID (Parallel) for safety.]"
This isn't necessarily the deciding factor for him though since he also got a brand new system with a 3.0 p4.

Another user recommended I upgrade to an SCSI drive (whatever that is).

How could I find out my hard drive's specs? I just know it's a 40 g Maxtar (sp?) hardrive that is probably a 2 year old model and came standard on my 2.0 g celeron computer.
April 7, 2004 5:08:55 PM

How could I find out my hard drive's specs? I just know it's a 40 g Maxtar (sp?) hardrive that is probably a 2 year old model and came standard on my 2.0 g celeron computer.
____________________________________________________________



It's probably a 5400rpm ATA 100 Diamond Max. The label and numbers are on top of the drive. Pull it back out from the cage and check the numbers against Maxtor's web site. I am using one as a slave to just store data.

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. Now, let's eat!
April 7, 2004 5:59:08 PM

I suggest 2.8c($180) with the Abit IS7($100) motherboard. Then save your 256MB stick of DDR400 RAM and buy another one($50). You could get a 2 Hitachi 36.7GB 10,000rpm hard drive($130 each) or just one and get a 120GB second hard drive ($90). And then a new case(say $50). For video I don't think the Abit IS7 has onboard video so you could get the Abit IS7-M which comes with onboard video(Intel Extreme Graphics 2) or buy a cheap-o video card. If you think you need a new video card you can get a Sapphire ATI Radeon 9600Pro for a $130.

<A HREF="http://kevan.org/brain.cgi?michael:) " target="_new"> You Want To Click Me, Go Ahead:)  </A>
April 7, 2004 10:15:17 PM

Sure, you can use your Kingston PC3200. For some reason, I was thinking about your PC2100 and not the PC3200 you mentioned also. If you buy another Kingston PC3200 one just like the one you have, it should also work in dual channel mode. If it's Kingston valueram, it isn't recommneded for dual channel but it most likely will work. Either way, you could always run 2 sticks in single channel mode sacrificing some performance. Or just run your one stick for now. From what I have read about A64 and from knowing the IS7 well, I'd say you have a better chance of your memory not working in an A64 than the P4, but you can always just check and see if your ram is recommended for the motherboard you want to buy. Also ask if others have successfully used the combo. I've thrown alot of different sticks of ram into IS7's without problems, but for A64 I have no personal experience to go by, but only online reviews. I'm thinking both the A64 or P4 routes will serve your needs and personally feel that your P4 2.8C and IS7 choice is an outstanding combo.

ABIT IS7, P4 2.6C, 512MB Corsair TwinX PC3200LL, Radeon 9800 Pro, Santa Cruz, TruePower 430watt
April 8, 2004 1:26:37 AM

Thanks for all the help guys. Now I think I'm set on the IS7 with 2.8c. Also I'm sure I'll get a smoking hard drive. The SAPro program I use always autosaves everything I do so it must constantly access the hard drive. This could really be a big problem right here. I think I'll just use my old drive as a slave drive.

But what about SCSI? Should I go this route or just stick to a normal hardrive that's 10,000?

Where can I find a good online resource about building my own computer? I've installed parts here and there but never done everything from scratch.
April 8, 2004 3:25:48 PM

My sugestion: www.newegg.com
Good prices, realiable, great service. Just look reselleratings :wink:


Still looking for a <b>good online retailer</b> in Spain :frown:
!