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August 13, 2004 11:32:36 PM

Please don't turn this into a flame war.

A good friend of mine is going to school and he wants me to build his computer. He's a mild gamer, but most of his classes are CAD based and whatnot.

In honest opinions hopefully backed with some benchmarks what do you think his best possible solution would be for a gaming/cad rig?

I was shooting for a possible opteron, but i don't really know if that would help him any with games.
I also thought about an A64, but i don't know if i can truley trust the mobo selection that is out. It's almost too new for me to say if it's good or not.
And obviously i'm going to go P4 if i go below those, but i don't want to give him a space heater. I'd like to give him something that will be higher end for at least a year and a half.

I'm just starting to look around now, but i really would like input from all of you on which would help him the best.

I do know i want to build him a better machine than a p42.6c rig, and a good thing to note though.. he's used to an old p3 500mhz w/256mb of ram. windows 98. So anything will be godly to him now.

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ 

More about : question

August 13, 2004 11:40:53 PM

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=2122" target="_new"> this </A> might be more helpfull than the 50 posts that are about to follow :) 

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
August 14, 2004 12:10:44 AM

A64 3200+, MSI N8N Neo Platinum, 1GB of Corsair Value RAM, 200GB WD SATA, 400W power from Fortron, 6800GT, any case that looks pretty.

Thats what i would buy. i dont know your budget but that is a HUGE upgrade from that old computer and its a great bang for buck machine.
If you want to go high end...
i would go
A64 3800+, Gigabyte K8NSNXP-939, 1GB of Dual Channel RAM name brand, Raptor 72GB or two WD 80GB SATA in RAID-0, 450W Fortron power, 6800Ultra, and a nice pretty case.

You can mix the higher CPU with the lower HD, Graphics card, power, and RAM.....it will save you some money. Its all about how much your friend wants to spend.

What do you call a group of midgets? A pack, gaggle, a pride, or maybe just a murder?
Related resources
August 14, 2004 12:27:21 AM

well depending on your friends needs, what is more important to him? CAD or Gaming? if school comes first, then i would say CAD is more important, then the P4 is the best choice for him. the P4 is superior to the A64 in 3d studio rendering and Lightwave 7.5. <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=206..." target="_new">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=206...;/A>

<A HREF="http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/athlon64-3..." target="_new">http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/athlon64-3...;/A>

<A HREF="http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040601/socket_939-25...." target="_new">http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040601/socket_939-25....;/A>

of course for gaming the A64 is better because of onboard memory controller, <b>but</b> not by much.... i am living testament to that. My P4 is quite adequate and up to the task if necessary, and is no more than 10% slower in some games!!!

------
Prescott 3.2E 1MB L2 HT
1GB PC 3200 Dual channel(PAT)
Asus P4P800 Bios 1016
PNY Geforce 6800 GT 256MB DDR3
60,823 Aquamarks
August 14, 2004 1:38:15 AM

For most CAD progs, the AMD chips are better. In games the AMD chips are better.
I am not secure enough with the 939 mobos to recomend one. For socket 754, the nforce3 250 chipsets are best. Check out the Asus K8N-E Deluxe.
Since the recent price drops, the A64 3200+ has become reasonable.
I cant bring myself to suggest the high end graphics cards, but at $225 or so , the R9800pro is a great buy.
August 14, 2004 1:39:53 AM

I was pretty much sure of getting him a pentium, but i don't really know much about CAD, i have heard pentiums are better at that task.. but why exactly?
I'm a CAD newb. Never even looked at it before.

Another thing.. that 10% less in games he wont notice. That's only something that we would notice... and therefor i believe i'm trying to focus on CAD more.
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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/13/04 10:14 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 14, 2004 1:57:18 AM

That's interesting you say that.. i do know before the a64 it was p4 for CAD, but now that i'm looking at other sites(that i can't trust) they are showing athlon MP's owning in CAD.
But i think it would be better for him to go single CPU, and i was also thinking 9800pro for him as well. He's not a crazy doom playing fiend, but he loves halo, and battlefield vietnam.

i see that the added sse2 to the a64 has helped improve it's scores in CAD.

<A HREF="http://arc.aquamark3.com/arc/arc_view.php?run=277124623" target="_new">http://arc.aquamark3.com/arc/arc_view.php?run=277124623...;/A>
46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/13/04 10:02 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 14, 2004 2:07:03 AM

You said you want something faster then a P4 2.6C
you pretty much are looking at AMD then.
Well i guess you if you need a space heater you could get a P4E....but you said you didn't want high temps.

Also different CAD programs require different uses. Some favor AMD, some favor intel.
if all call those a tie, AMD has MUCH lower temps then the P4E. Gaming would be MUCH faster.

If you go INtel find a P4 2.8C and overclock it to 3.6. The temps would be lower then a P4E and its cheaper.

What do you call a group of midgets? A pack, gaggle, a pride, or maybe just a murder?
August 14, 2004 2:12:59 AM

Welp, i'm going to ask him what exact programs he's going to use. And there is no way i'm overclocking a machine for him, mainly due to me being a few hours away from him if anything goes wrong. ^^ Although i'm pretty damned good, i feel that should be his choice.

Also, he did say he wanted his case to be as quiet as possible. But.. everything else i'll worry about once i figure out which cpu to get him. If it was me i'd go A64, but i'm not setting it into stone untill i read everything i can read. HOpefully from real experiences.


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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ 
August 14, 2004 2:36:50 AM

in one of your own clickys you show the LOWEST A64 out the 2800+ beats the P4EE(which is about 800% of the cost of a 2800+) in compressing files.

For lightwave the 3800+ (which i recomended for a top end setup) is 8% faster then any P4...and its not even the quickest.
Intel does have a whopping 14% lead in the 4D rednering, a 4% lead in 3D studio max,

I quote from the conclution of that article
"A look at the benchmark results reveals that there are only few areas where Intel dominates. While the synthetic benchmarks often speak in favor of Intel's 3+ Gigahertz chips, there are only few real-life applications left that run better with Intel inside: audio/video encoding and some rendering applications. Games and multimedia applications have already been a domain of AMD's Athlon64, and the new Socket 939 processors underscored that fact."

It all depends on what CAD programs are being used. Some favor intel and some for AMD. But i like AMD for cost and for heat, and for gaming.

Kanavit says 10%....what about Doom3? the highest demanding game so far....on Anandtech.com....kanavit is 21% behind the 3800+ and 25% behind the #1 chip.

I say AMD can hold its own in CAD because it doesn do well ine some of them, but intel can't hold its own in gaming, or keeping itself cool, or even in pricing.

What do you call a group of midgets? A pack, gaggle, a pride, or maybe just a murder?
August 14, 2004 8:50:14 AM

Its pretty hard these days to say one is faster than the other. It really depends what apps you use, and even within a certain app, the results can varry rather widely with different workloads. have a look <A HREF="http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/print/athlon64-340..." target="_new"> here </A>

In Cinema4D, you'll notice the P4 taking a comfy lead in raystracing, but falls behind on all the other tests. Similar results in Autocad where P4 lead in one test, fall behind in others.. so be really carefull with blanket statements like "cpu x is faster for cad/3D/whatever". truth is, they are pretty damn close.

IMO, the A64 gives a more even performance with little to no real weaknesses. P4 performance seems to jump up and down more often and dependent on optimized code. This shows really well when you look at non commercial (or less popular) application performance where the K8 will often lead significantly (sometimes being almost twice as fast).

Add to this the much richer feature set (64 bit support, NX bit, Cool&Quiet, less heat/noise issues), its undisputed lead in gaming performance and a slight price advantage, and I would vote for the A64, especially if he intends to keep the rig for a couple of years after which time 64 bit performance might become a real issue (especialy at 3D/CAD). Nevertheless, I'm sure he'll be glad with either, just make sure you don't spend too much of the budget on the cpu. Ammount of RAM, quality/size of the monitor, speed of the harddisks, etc, those things will likely play a much bigger role in his experience.

One last word of caution: you ask for real world experience; keep in mind precious few people own both a high end P4 and an A64, most have one or the other (or neither). I'm sure every P4 owner will love his machine just as much as the A64 owner, and both will find it very fast compared to their previous setups (especially if they where ~500 Mhz class machines!!), so expect them to recommend what they have themselves. Such feedback can be usefull for evaluating compatibility/stability/installation/.. issues but not for performance. If you ask Kanavit how his machine performs in Doom3 or POVRay he'll say it *ROCKS*, even if the same budget could have bought him an A64 that would outclass it completely.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
August 15, 2004 12:11:11 AM

what do you think about 3000+ newcastle, it's about 35 bucks cheaper and i really need to save him some cash.
Thinking about MSI platinum mobo for 130. Nice bundle.. and it has all the features.

hmm.. maybe ima going via chip. k8t neo fsr
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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/14/04 08:43 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 15, 2004 12:51:55 AM

Get the MSI board, and the 3000+
I dont know what level of Graphic card you need but i would recomend a 9800Pro for a smaller budget.
WD 200GB SATA, great price on a great HD.
Now all you need is an optical drive and a case/PSU

Optical it all depends if he wants a DVD burner, a dual layer burner, or just a CD burner, or just a DVD-ROM drive.

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<font color=purple> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=purple>
August 15, 2004 1:02:08 AM

Heh. Trying to find ram is tricky. I hate buying other people new new technology. Too much reading. Ilove mushkin, but i'm not too sure on how good it is with this board. And he's only got a budget of a grand.. so i doubt we are going 200gb hd. He's in college everyone has a burner :D .

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ 
August 15, 2004 1:27:50 AM

THG did a review of like 13 brands of RAM and like 8 Mobo's

If he is doing CAD he will need a larger HD. for an 80GB you are looking at 70bucks, for 50bucks more you can get 120GB more. The 200GB IDE Ultra ATA is the lowest cost per GB for WD.

I just built a computer for like 660bucks, no monitor, no keyboard and mouse and i have a A64 2800+, 200GB HD, CD burner, and so i think if you built what i have and even upgraded a thing or two depenidng on price drops....you can still buy a decent CRT. And a keyboard and mouse should be like 20bucks.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 15, 2004 1:31:28 AM

Any suggestions on a case? I'd like one without a p/s unless it's antec, but i want to make sure his a64 will be plenty a cool. :D 

My Antec Lanboy is awesome, but i don't know if i want him all up on my style ^^>
I'm looking at this nice black lian li case newegg has on sale. 91 dollars.

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/14/04 09:33 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 15, 2004 3:00:43 AM

i guess spending 92bucks for a 120GBs is better then 120 for 200. Yeah, 30bucks and 80GB more. And its just as fast because you dont use the full bandwidth of it either.
the only thing it has that is a +, is a 5yr War. where as WD has a 3yr.

Ultimatly it comes down to you, and what YOU like not what me or others like.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 15, 2004 4:10:13 PM

I know it's a good deal.. but he's gotta keep it close to a grand. Now he told me he wants a monitor.
So i'm gonna be a nice guy and give him my 120gb IDE hard drive that i have laying around and my dvd/cdrom drive.

What really sucks right now is what i have i wouldn't suggest anyone going lower. And you can't go on older technology becuase it's the same price. A P4 northwood system is seriously the same price as this a64 system.. and i can't justify doing that at all.
This is what i have.
MSI k8t neo-fsr
antec black performance series 2/350w ps
9800pro ati
a64 3000 newcastle
mushkin pc 3200 512x2 (2-3-2) 248 dollars, still looking for ram.
Samsung syncmaster 997df 19" Dynaflat CRT 209dollars(also might skimp on this, but it's a great monitor.)
And he needs windows. So that's another 90bucks to go home.
Keyboard and mouse.


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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/15/04 12:12 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 15, 2004 5:14:39 PM

$248 for a GB of RAM?!?
The A^$ have on board memory controlers and dont need low latency RAM. Also the 754 chipset you are getting doesn't utilize dual channel so its a waste to get it.
But two Kingston, Corsair, or even Mushkin.
Right now on newegg, Mushkin....PC3200 512MB, $75 per dimm. So thats 150bucks TOTAL for 1GB of RAM.

With the on board memory controler and no dual channel, just get value RAM. Especially if you are on a budget. the faster and dual channel stuff is just a waste for a 754 budget PC. There, i saved you 100bucks, now buy your friend a larger HD for 50bucks more, and a DVD drive for like 20nbucks. And use the left over 30bucks i saved and mail it to me.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 15, 2004 5:26:46 PM

see.. i know it doesn't matter but i've been reading people are having problems about which memory amd64 takes.

Newegg is out of that motherboard, and it's a time situation.. so i can't wait for it. :/ 
And i was under the assumption all a64 boards were dual channel.. :/  is it only the nforce chipset? or is 754 just not dual channel..
Thinking about going asrock using the sis chipset. 77 bucks right now support of 2gb, only two ram slots though.
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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/15/04 01:38 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 15, 2004 5:50:45 PM

939socket board have dual channel RAM.
754 socket is single channel.
BOTH boards have on board memory controlers.

The Nforce3 chipset is WAY better then VIA. I have a Chaintech VNF3-250 board and i would reccomend it. its a great board and its cheap. $75 on Newegg. I have Kingston RAM and i know it works.

<A HREF="http://www6.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20040602/memor..." target="_new"> memory results </A>

Click there, its the results of what works and what doesn't. Read the whole article if you want. The big brother of the VNF3-250 is on there....i would go for Corsair, Kingston, Crucial Value RAM...i'm sure Mushkin works too.
I have kingston and it works beautifully.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 15, 2004 6:23:21 PM

I'm glad you said that board. When i was about to purchase an a64 system i was going to buy that same board, but i never really knew anyone that's used 'em. Good to see someone has it and it's working good for them :D .
Thanks for the memory link, i've been searching google and it hasn't been working too well for me, too many BS sites.

I don't remember reading this review either .. weird.
As for that board, that makes me happy becuase i'd rather use the nforce3 chipset even though a lot of people are extremely happy with their SIS chipsets.

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ 
August 15, 2004 6:42:15 PM

With a Chaintech VNF3-250($75), 3200+($218), 512MB of Mushkin RAM(75), a 200GB WD SATA HD($127), Sapphire 9800pro($193), Antex Soulution Series W/350W PSU ($65), total of $753.
Pick up the 2nd Dimm when he can afford it. That would leave 250 bucks for a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
If you can get a cheap CRT then you could get the full 1GB of RAM.
You could always lower the Vid card to a 9600 or something to save $100 if he is not a big gamer.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 15, 2004 7:38:06 PM

Thing is.. he played on my barton computer and he wants it to be at least like mine. 9800pro is great value and he's into battlefield vietnam and halo. The gb of ram is an almost definate though. You can seriously tell the difference between 512 and a gig in battlefield vietnam. Plus if he's gonna use it for CAD(learning cad) then it should help him out a lot.
I'm still gonna be a nice guy and hook him up with my DVD/cdrom drive and hard drive. (they are just laying there and i'm sure i'll never do anything with it.. along with a pentium 2.8b with a gig of rdram. But i'm gonna keep that for a project.)
Then he also needs the 90$ full instal oem xp. but that has been included in the total from the get go.
Thanks for your help, you helped me majorly. :D 
I need to keep up with things.. i stopped paying attention for three months and i'm out of the a64 loop. :D 

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ 
August 15, 2004 8:38:05 PM

I would say if you want to get the gig of RAM, get the 2800+.
With 90 for WinXP, and 75bucks for 1 more dimm of RAM.....the swap from 3200+ to 2800+ would cover Win XP, and if you are giving him a HD and Optical Drive....that saves 120bucks. So that could cover the extra dimm, and with the money left over buy the monitor and keyboard/mouse.
If you have like 30bucks left over after you calculate it i would upgrade the CPU. Just because they are so close in price and for CAD he will want every ounce of power he can get.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 16, 2004 3:08:09 AM

Vnf3 chaintech
Antec black performance 350w
512x2 mushkin pc3200 ram (75a piece :D ) Confirmed that they work on the board.
A descent 17 inch samsung CRT (luckily he's used to 17 :D )
.20mm dot pitch
A64 3200 now due to saving cash on the hard drive and DVD/CD rom. :D 
Saphire Radeon 9800pro
OEM windows/heatsink and some fans.
1,000 with shipping.
He said that's good.. and he's gonna go pick up keyboard and mouse at best buy or something. :D 

Hope it looks good to you , you gave me a huge hand on it.
The only thing i'm scared of is buying cheaper memory, i'm used to OC'ing and i like the fast stuff. :D 
Hopefully when it's all said and done it's gonna be rock solid.

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ 
August 16, 2004 1:05:22 PM

The heatsink and fan that come with the 3200+ will keep it very cool....most people under load keep it under 60C. If you buy the CPU with the heatsink and fan you are golden. nothing else needed. A64 run really cool and dont need anything more then what is packaged with it.
If by fans you mean for the case. All you need is one 120mm fan extra. (because the antec case comes with one i think)
one intake and one exhaust should keep your ambient temp low.

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<font color=blue> I am on an express train to hell. I hope I'm in the front row, the ride is ALWAYS better in the front. </font color=blue>
August 16, 2004 2:10:52 PM

http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?descripti...

Not set in gold, due to me not thinking theres enough ventilation in the front.. but i'll have to wait till after work for that.

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46,510 , movin on up. 48k new goal. Maybe not.. :/ <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Johanthegnarler on 08/16/04 10:11 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
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