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Upgrade Advice?

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Last response: in CPUs
May 23, 2005 6:35:33 PM

First, I am a hardcore gamer and I'm not interested in overclocking. I am not interested at this time to get a PCIE mobo as I have a $500 GeForce 6800 GT Ultra AGP card (which I got for free at work). I've always built my own machines, and now I've got an interesting configuration:

Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.20GHz
Motherboard: Soyo P4S-645DX Dragon Ultra
Memory: 1024MB RAM (DDR 266)
Video: NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra 256.0 MB
Sound: SB Audigy Audio [9C00]
Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2 (2600.xpsp_sp2_gdr.050301-1519)
Power: Antec TruPower 550W
Case: SilverStone Temjin TJ-06 (all aluminum large case).

Basically, everything is a little over two years old, except for the video card which I just got, followed by the new case, because the damn card was too big for my old case. While it improved game performance considerably compared to my old GeForce3, it obviously is starving for better components and the mobo supports 4x max.

After reading up and catching up on times, I've realized there are just so many options now it's mind boggling compared to just two years ago. Basically 3 Intel and 3 Athlon processors mixed with multiple socket types makes for a lot of combinations.

I'm currently leaning heavily to an Athlon 64 with a 939 socket based on what I've read on these forums. I've read one guy mention that 939 would be dead in a year, but he seemed to be out of the majority there. Thoughts on that?

Now for the bang-for-the-buck calculations:
3000+ is ~$150: 100% (P)erformance, 100% (C)ost, 1.0 (V)alue = P/C)
3200+ is ~$200 (107%P, 133%C, 0.80V)
3500+ is ~$267 (117%P, 178%C, 0.65V)
3700+ is ~$335 (123%P, 223%C, 0.55V)
3800+ is ~$370 (127%P, 246%C, 0.52V)
4000+ is ~$485 (133%P, 323%C, 0.41V)

For example, I'm leaning to the 3800+ which would give me a 27% performance increase over the 3000+ for 246% of the cost. 27% performance is significant for a $170 premium. But I think 33% performance for $285 with the 4000+ might be a little much as the bang for the buck is diminished, maybe. I could consider it based on advice on the next section...

The reason I want to upgrade is because I just purchased a Dell 24" 1920x1200 LCD (waiting eagerly for arrival). My current monitor is a ViewSonic 19" 1280x1024 LCD. Playing games on this new monitor will require rendering 75% more pixels. By my calculation 2,304,000 32bit pixels at 60 FPS requires 0.51GB/s. With AGP 8x maxing out 2GB/s, I doubt this will be a bottle neck. This is my biggest concern and reason for this post. I would like to make sure my new computer will be able to play games at HDTV resolution at 60FPS. For example, I'm playing World of Warcraft right now. With my current setup, I'm getting 10-30FPS based on what video settings I'm using at 1280x1024. At work, I get a MUCH faster frame rate playing at 1600x1200 with everything maxed out (at least 30FPS). The work machine is a P4 3.4GHz with 2GB RAM, and a Radeon X800XT. So my feelings are that making this upgrade will not be a problem. Hoping I can use the other DVI to hook up my other monitor without performance problems.

As for mobo, was thinking of an EPoX EP-9NDA3+ Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce3 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard. No strong feelings on this, seems it'll do the job. At $111, pretty reasonable.

For memory, thinking of getting 2GB (2x1GB). There's CORSAIR ValueSelect DDR400 (PC3200). For $88 a stick, I would consider going all the way to 4GB, but doubt I need more than 2GB any time soon. There are huge price differences... but PC3200 is PC3200. Any better recommendations?

And finally, just wondering about the different builds of Athlons... Venice, San Diego, etc... they all seem to have similar prices and similar performance. Any insight on this as well?

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to all your thoughts!

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May 23, 2005 7:12:21 PM

It sounds like you've got it all pretty well figured out to me. I mean you could tweak components for an extra few percent performance, but it'll cost more and in your case I don't think will be necessary. Go with what you're planning and enjoy.

<pre><font color=green><i>Jesters do oft prove prophets.</i> -Regan in
King Lear (Act V, Scene iii) by William Shakespear</font color=green></pre><p>@ 188K -> 200,000 miles or bust!
May 23, 2005 7:32:59 PM

I'd probably go for the 3700+ San Diego, EPoX board and 2X1GB PC3200 RAM. You won't need anything special in terms of RAM since you're not overclocking. The lowest latency RAM may give you an extra 1-2% performance, so not really worth the added cost. Also the 3700+ San Diego will perform on par with a 3800+ Winchester/Venice in most games actually. Since many games favor cache over a small boost in CPU frequencies, you may be able to save some money and get the same performance.

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May 23, 2005 9:34:06 PM

Thanks guys, I'm glad I was pretty close to the mark!

So I switched the order to a 3700+ San Diego. Ordered the stuff at for a total of $611. With taxes and 2 day shipping, total was $681. It'll be great once I get all this stuff together with the new monitor!