Well, after having been out of the loop in the world of PC's for the last 3 years or so, it's come that time where I am ready to build.
Amd Athlon XP 2100+ (runs @ 1.7ghz)
Asus A7V333 Motherboard
512Megs of PC2700 Memory (Corsair with XMS heat spreaders)
Western Digital SE 120G Hard Drive (8meg cache)
Radeon 9800 128Meg Video Card (Non-pro)
Toshiba DVD Rom (SD-M1612)
Plextor CDR (PX-W4012A)
Sony 19" Trinitron that's got a set of guns or rods going out.
Klipsch 500W Promedia Sound System (6 speaker setup)
Logitech MX700 Cordless Mouse
Microsoft Elite Keyboard
3Com Ethernet (pretty standard 10/100 card)
Sound Blaster Audigy (version 1)
Lian-Li PC60 Case
Most of the aforementioned system was purchased from Hypersonic-PC and I was EXTREMELY satisfied with it for it's lasted almost 3 years and could stand to go another year if I wanted to stretch it out. I've never been one to "buy" a pc because I always felt more comfortable building my own and that was the first time I went with a company like Hypersonic-PC.
Now that you see what I am dealing with I have no real desire to "upgrade" aside from keeping the speakers, mouse, and keyboard. Everything else will probably go to my parents for their own use. I feel that it's not exactly cost efficient to upgrade with the latest technology that I have caught wind about.
My options at this point are to build or buy. With having been out of that build loop for a good 3 years, I am a bit hesitant to return, but I also think it could be fun.
So, aside from all the previous ramblings, I don't suppose anyone could toss some ideas my way on a brand spanking new system to work towards? I'm an avid gamer (FPS/RPG/MMPORPG) and do some freelance graphic design work. So I'd like to keep my budget under $3,000 if at all possible and would gladly like some feedback on whether I should attempt to build (and what are some new technologies to look at) or go through some place like Hypersonic-PC again?
Thanks tremendously and I do apologize for the length of the post.
**I am not an overclocker nor interested in overclocking**
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by ohlmsjm on 10/20/04 11:29 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
How do you feel about Gigabyte? They have a nice socket 939 board with the nforce3 250 chipset. Put one of the new 90 nano chips (a64 3000+. 3200+ or 3500+), slap a Nvidia 6800GT, a liteon dual layer DVD burner, some decent ram, and you have a good start. If you want to stay with Ati, the only card they have, that is worth it's salt, is the X800PE, but it's $500.
Some will suggest that you wait for SLI. It will not be out for a few months, and will need $1000+ for 2 decent graphics cards.
They aren't just for OCers you know. They run even cooler and quieter. I'm trying to steer away from s754 myself. Too many people saying it's a dead end. On socket 754, I prefer the Asus K8N-E Deluxe board.
Socket 754 is dead end for people who want to upgrade after 1 year. I don't think the original poster upgrades so frequently and if somebody can handle AXP "Palomino" 2100+ heat, then Newcastle 3400+ (2.4 GHz) shouldn't be a problem.
AMD Athlon 64 is a faster gaming rig than Intel, Intel still beats AMD in many video encoding programs, but AMD is better in some...
Intel makes HOT CPU's unless you stick to the Northwood cores which appear to be getting harder to find. AMD cpus are cooler, but they still generate some heat.
Based on your usage and the fact you want a cooler running CPU, My suggestion would be an AMD 64 system.
AMD 64 comes in 2 basic flavors for your needs: Socket 754 and Socket 939. 754 is the older socket, fastest cpu is the 3700+ and its expected that AMD won't make faster cpus for that socket. Socket 939 is a bit faster because of Dual-channel memory (but it only gives about 3-5% performance improvement as AMD is not memory-starved)
So, if you're looking for something to sit in a closed box for a few years (without upgrading), 754 is probably your best choice because 939 is pretty new and pricing is higher. If you want to upgrade often, then 939 is your choice because that's AMD's new platform.
Next wrinkle: AGP graphics is going away. Not to say it's already dead, but it's days are numbered. You may not be able to get the next generation of graphics cards on AGP (maybe, maybe not - crystal ball isn't saying anything right now). PCI Express (PCIe) is the new graphics interface. Intel has a PCIe chipset available, and nVidia just announced theirs (nForce4) for AMD. Boards for A64 are not available yet, so if you want to be able to upgrade your gpu, it may behoove you to wait a month or so until PCIe boards for AMD come out. That will also be socket 939.
Graphics cards: nVidia is the GF6800GT. There's an ultra, but it's not much faster than the gt and it's a lot more $. It runs Doom3 fastest and most other games almost as fast. ATI has the X800 series. X800XTPE is hard to find and expensive, X800XT is a little more than the 6800gt but outruns it in most games except Doom3.
The next step down in video cards is your 9800 (Pro and XT versions are faster than yours but its still the same generation.)
Since you dont upgrade every year like alot of us do, I recommend the following.
Mobo: Asus with the NForce 4 SLI socket 939 Chipset.
CPU: A64 3500+ 939 pin 90nm
Memory: 2x1GB pc4000
Graphics card(s): BFG brand PCIe 6800Ultra-OC x2
This computer core should get you by for another 3 years if thats what you are aiming for. It is silly fast, and will do you up right for years to come, and with a budget of $3000 imo it is the only way to go, hell even though this core is expensive it still isnt anywhere near $3000 but is as fast as you can go. You will have to wait untill December to get one but it will be worth it.
<b><font color=blue>Co-Founder and Administrator of Toms Hardware IRC</font color=blue></b>
Thank you very much for all the responses.
I'll have to go do some research on all the suggested hardware and see what I can come up with, get a build, and run it by the experts here to see what you think.