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Yet another request for advice...

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Last response: in CPUs
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December 16, 2004 12:07:45 PM

After months of delaying, I've finally decided to bite the bullet and upgrade my system. My Athlon 700 (yes, you heard me) and GeForce 3 just don't cut it anymore!

I'll be doing a complete build from scratch (well, apart from cannibalising my DVD writer) since everything else is old and decrepit...

I don't have a huge budget (am trying to keep it to around £600 or less) but would still like a system capable of running games with bearable performance for a while yet (I realise that 80fps at 1280 resolution isn't gonna happen!)

My current thoughts are:
A s939 Athlon - probably the 3000+ (or the 3200+ if the price difference is small)
1Gb of RAM (2x512Mb) - PC3200 CAS2.5 (the Geil set from Overclockers)
Geforce 6600GT AGP
Either the Asus or MSI m/boards (had good experience with these manufacturers before)
And a new PSU - probably will need 420W or more?

My questions...
1. Based on the above config, is the graphics card good enough? I can't stretch to a 6800 Ultra, but if a few extra quid for a 6800 would have a huge impact on games, I'm sure I could flog a kidney or something. If I'm spending £150 quid already there's no point buying a turkey...

2. I've gone for the s939 rather than s754, despite the s754 having a slight performance advantage. This is because I thought I could pick up a faster s939 processor in a year or so's time, when hopefully they'll be a lot cheaper. E.g. move from 3000+ to 4000+ by only changing the processor, plus get a new gfx card (i.e. keep the m/board and memory). Does this make any sense, or am I missing something? Also, I understand that the Winchesters overclock well, so I could squeeze the difference between s939 and s754 out of the new rig anyway.

3. Obviously, if I'm planning on keeping the setup for a couple of years or more (especially if I upgrade the processor in 12-18 months) my graphics card will need upgrading (since I'm not even buying top-spec now). Because of this, I don't see any point in getting a PCI express motherboard, since I'm unlikely to carry the card into a new system. The AGP motherboards appear to be cheaper too.

4. BUT... I hear people raving about nForce 4. Is it worth waiting for one of these boards and paying the premium? If so, I'll have to get a PCI-E gfx card...

5. Assuming I go with my current choices, I think I'll take the Asus board, so I can also stick in the Thermalright XP120. Thermalright recommend the Panaflo fan, but it isn't stocked by my usual suppliers. I'd rather not buy just the fan from a supplier - I object to paying £10 postage for a £10 fan! Are there any other 120mm fans people can recommend? I hear the delta fans are great, but very noisy. But then again, hopefully it won't be running at full RPM. My case is aluminium, so I don't wan't anything TOO noisy, but obviously I don't want to kill my nice new equipment with excess heat!

6. The case has 2x 80mm input fans (front of case) and 1x80mm exhaust (rear), plus the PSU fan(s) (when I buy it!). Is this sufficient, and is it balanced? I don't have the tools (or skill) to hack holes in my case, but I could fit slot/bay fans if necessary?

7. Last question - I promise! Thinking about PSUs, I'm tempted by the Antec NeoPower (expensive, but I like the cabling system and it's a nice colour heehee), or the Enermax Coolergiant series. The reviews of these seem to be good, but I was wondering if anyone had any practical experience of them long-term?

More about : request advice

December 16, 2004 1:03:58 PM

Do you know that you can get close to 4000+ performance with only 2.4 GHz socket 754 3400+? The only difference between them is 4000+ has dual channel DDR400 memory controller and extra 512K L2 cache. Dual channel memory controller doesn't make good difference in performance and performance boost from extra 512k L2 cahce is very very ignorable.

At this moment, waiting for nForce4 doesn't seem to be a good idea. Nobody knows when they will hit stores in real quantity. PCI express is useless now and at least for next 2 years, so really not much point in waiting for nForce4.


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December 16, 2004 4:11:43 PM

I definitely agree with Spitfire_x86 on the nForce4. If you want to upgrade sometime soon, I would definitely not bank on getting the nForce4 cause it is too much of an unknown. It's the newest thing, and it's gonna cost ya.

I just bought the s939 3200+ so I might be somewhat biased on this point, but I liked the upgradability of the s939 over the slight performance edge of the s754, although depending on how good you are at upgrading your system on a regular basis, this is your call.

My answers:

1. I'm always up for stretching a little for graphics cards especially if this is primarily a gaming computer.

2. See above

3. Ummm... I don't know where the question is, but your logic seems good.

4. See above

5. I went with the MSI board, but just because it was available, they are both good manufacturers.

6. I really don't see this system being too hot, I guess it depends a lot on what you decide to do with the graphics card, but I would venture to guess that the current fans will be sufficient.

7. No experience with either, and don't really know enough to comment.
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December 16, 2004 5:31:22 PM

Quote:
Do you know that you can get close to 4000+ performance with only 2.4 GHz socket 754 3400+? The only difference between them is 4000+ has dual channel DDR400 memory controller and extra 512K L2 cache. Dual channel memory controller doesn't make good difference in performance and performance boost from extra 512k L2 cahce is very very ignorable.

Gee. I'm sure glad that AMD implemented a part numbering system to make comparisons between CPUs more realistic and fair. :eek: 

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Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life." - Steve Taylor</font color=red></b></pre><p>
December 16, 2004 7:00:06 PM

Save money going with a 3400+ 754 now with a good socket 754 mobo, as Spitfire_x86 suggest, going with inexpensive quality RAM (not dual channel expensive stuff) and a GT6800 or ATI X8x0 serie video card. Even if you put a 4000+, your videocard will be the bottleneck and to get the most, you'll have to buy a faster video card too...so, once there, why not another mobo with updated feature??? Get fast stuff now. You may find yourself waiting even more before updating, and saving more money for your next monster upgrade.



-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
December 16, 2004 7:03:08 PM

yeah...they just expect up to compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges...754 vs 754 and 939 vs 939...

We simply just dont. we compare $ vs performance ...

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
December 16, 2004 7:30:50 PM

The socket choice looks like it is becoming just a personal preference, and I still stand by the opinion that it really depends on how you intend to upgrade... if you upgrade "all at once" (which I still think is just buying a new system) then it might make more sense to go with the 754. But I really do agree with pat on the graphics card as your bottleneck. It's always better to spend a little more money here than your wife would let you if she knew what it was (at least in my case).
December 17, 2004 8:08:41 AM

Well, thanks for all your comments - it's helped a lot.

Having read a bit more on these forums, it looks likely that any future upgrade will need to be a CPU & M/board upgrade since AMD will probably ditch s939 soon. In this context, it seems silly to get a s939 for 'upgradability' since the best I'll probably manage is 3200 to 4000 - hardly worth the effort.
I guess it comes down to whether I'm going to overclock - the s939 is a better bet for o/c, but otherwise the s754 would be better.

But I might wait until after xmas to see if there's any stock clearout bargains / openbox returns etc...

PS The dual GPU card from Gigabyte looks interesting... Wonder how it'll compare with the 6800s in price/performance.
!