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Alienware Rig: Dual 1.2 or single 1.4 help choose

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August 1, 2001 1:55:34 AM

ok, here's the deal. I called the people at alienware up and they kinda got me very interested in their dual processor 1.2 ghz MP workstation and said it would run close to 2 ghz and would last me the longest. However they also said that the socket would probably change at 1.4 so i would most likely never upgrade the system, but they said that it would never have to for at least a few years and by then processors that were a lot faster would be out. Now if i get the single athlon 1.4 ghz socket A i would be able to upgrade probably up to 2ghz because they are going to keep the socket for this chip. So if i'm going for longevity, power and bang for the buck, which one of these systems would you choose. I really need some expert opinion on this one, thanks.
**********Single Athlon 1.4****************
Case: Dragon Full-Tower Case (300-Watt PS) (Conspiracy Blue)
Processor: AMD Athlon 1.4GHz Processor 266MHz FSB w/Heatsink & Cooling Fan
Hi-Performance Heatsink/CPU Cooling Fan
Motherboard: AMD 761 Motherboard w/1AGP/5PCI for Athlon Processors
Standard 1.44MB Floppy Drive
Memory: 384MB DDR SDRAM (PC-2100)
Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Pro Keyboard 2-USB Ports
Mouse: Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer USB
Hard Drive: 75GB HD 8.5ms seek time, 7200RPM, UltraATA
Secondary Hard Drive: (None)
SCSI/IDE Controller: (None)
Monitor: NEC 19" FE950+ MultiSync Flat CRT - Black
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce3 w/64MB DDR TV-Out 4X AGP
Video Cooling: KoolMaxx Video Cooling System
Sound Card: SoundBlaster LIVE! 5.1 X GAMER
DVD-ROM: Pioneer 16X DVD 40X w/Software MPEG-2 Decoder
Storage: PlexWriter 16X/10X Write 40X Read CD-RW Recordable-IDE
Secondary Storage: (None)
Modem: US Robotics V.90 56K Internal Voice/Fax/Data
Speakers: Klipsch ProMedia 4.1 400-Watt THX Speakers & Sub
Controller: (None)
Secondary Controller: (None)
Printer: Lexmark Z53 USB Inkjet w/Cable & Shipping included
Scanner: (None)
MP3 Player: (None)
Ethernet NIC: 3COM EtherLink 10/100 PCI
LAN Accessory Kit: (None)
Power Protection: (None)
Warranty: Aliencare Toll-Free 3-Year 24/7 ONSITE Warranty
Games: (None)
Productivity Software: (None)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Millennium
Shipping & Handling: Fed-Ex 2nd Day Air w/insurance (Monitor included)
Free installation & configuration of favorite games
Performance Benchmarks Documentation
Personalized Owner's Manual
Latest Drivers

(Please allow approximately 2-3 weeks for delivery)
Total = $ 3383.00

*****************Dual 1.2 Palomino MP********
Chassis: Dragon Full-Tower Case (460-Watt PS) (Conspiracy Blue)
Processor/s: Dual AMD Athlon MP 1.2GHz Processors 266MHz FSB w/Heatsink & Cooling Fan
Hi-Performance Heatsink/CPU Cooling Fan
Motherboard: AMD 760 MP Chipset Dual-Processor Motherboard w/1AGP/5PCI DDR-SDRAM SCSI ONBOARD
Standard 1.44MB Floppy Drive
Memory: 256MB DDR SDRAM (PC-2100)
Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Pro Keyboard 2-USB Ports
Mouse: Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer USB
Raid Configuration (if applicable): (None)
First Hard Drive: 18GB HD 15,000RPM, Ultra160 SCSI
Second Hard Drive: (None)
Third Hard Drive: (None)
Fourth Hard Drive: (None)
SCSI/RAID Controller: *On-Board SCSI 32-Bit/Dual-Channel Ultra160 Controller
Monitor: NEC 19" FE950+ MultiSync Flat CRT - Black
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce3 w/64MB DDR TV-Out 4X AGP
Digital Video: (None)
Video Cooling: KoolMaxx Video Cooling System
Sound Card: SoundBlaster LIVE! 5.1 X GAMER
CD-ROM: (None)
DVD-ROM: Pioneer 16X DVD 40X w/Software MPEG-2 Decoder
Storage: PlexWriter 16X/10X Write 40X Read CD-RW Recordable-IDE
Secondary Storage: (None)
Modem: (None)
Speakers: Klipsch ProMedia 4.1 400-Watt THX Speakers & Sub
Desktop Adapter (Ethernet NIC): Dual On-Board 3COM Ethernet 10/100
Printer: Lexmark Z53 USB Inkjet w/Cable & Shipping included
Scanner: (None)
DV Camcorder: (None)
Power Protection: (None)
Warranty: Aliencare Toll-Free 3-Year 24/7 ONSITE Warranty
Productivity Software: (None)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
Shipping & Handling: Fed-Ex 2nd Day Air w/insurance (Monitor included)
Free installation & configuration of favorite games
Performance Benchmarks Documentation
Personalized Owner's Manual
Latest Drivers

(Please allow approximately 2-3 weeks for delivery)
Total = $ 4223.00
August 1, 2001 2:02:39 AM

None,

Alienware is overpriced. Build it your own and save $300 to $400 dollars to buy some Software-Games for it.

Nice Intel and AMD users get a Cookie.... :smile: Yummy :smile:
August 1, 2001 2:09:57 AM

It depends on what you're doing. Since you have to ask, I'm going to assume that you don't NEED the dual processor system, and because the second processor will be largely idle, that makes me recommend the single processor system. You probably don't need the onboard u160 scsi controller and the 15k rpm hard drive with that system either. Adding that the hard drive is only 18 GB, this is a lot of performance with little storage for a high cost.

I'd suggest going with the single cpu system but with one change. Instead of getting the single 75 GB drive, go for two IBM 60GXP 40 gig drives and add a promise IDE RAID card. This will give you slightly more storage and almost doubled performance (providing you run them in RAID 0).

However, if you do decide to go for the dual system with the U160 SCSI, I'd suggest trading that plextor IDE CDRW for a Plextor SCSI CDRW. The added cost is minimal considering what you're willing to spend on the system and a SCSI burner is a nice plus.

Lyrics. Wasted time between solos.
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August 1, 2001 3:29:50 AM

Some of the people here (namely Toejam31) have had some pretty bad experiences with AlienWare. You might want to consider going with some other company, or better yet, build your own.

As for dual CPU's, I'd say if you have to ask whether or not you'd need duallies, you probably don't have much use for them.

Kelledin

"/join #hackerz. See the Web. DoS interesting people."
August 1, 2001 3:44:37 AM

Err...the IBM 60GXP drives seem to have a pretty high failure rate. Where I work, we had one customer special order some rackmount systems wih 60GXP's, and we ordered five separate retail-boxed drives over the course of a month to serve this customer. Three out of those five drives failed out of the box.

The 75GXP's are nice and reliable though. I've bought several of the 30GB 75GXP's and had no problems at all.

Kelledin

"/join #hackerz. See the Web. DoS interesting people."
August 1, 2001 3:48:55 AM

The 1.2GHz CPU is very close to the performance of the 1.4GHz CPU. You'll be getting close to the same performance on single-threaded apps like most games. On multithreaded apps or when running many apps you'll be getting almost twice as much performance on the dual processor system. In addition, the SCSI system with what sounds like a Cheetah X15 drive will vastly outperform the pathetic IDE drive. I'd recommend the dual setup.

-Raystonn


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
August 1, 2001 3:57:50 AM

Actually it was the 75gxp that had a high failure rate. At least thats what I heard on all the tech forums.(had to return 3 45gig 75gxp's myself heh)

~Matisaro~
"Friends don't let friends buy Pentiums"
~Tbird1.3@1.55~
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
August 1, 2001 6:09:01 AM

Yup, heard nothing but good things about the 60GXP, that is why I bought one myself. I mean, almost every site that has a guide recommends them. They are good.

And to the original poster (forgot name as you cannot see it from post page), I would seriously consider building one yourself. You don't have to phsyically build one yourself, but go to a reputable local shop somewhere (not Best Buy or something, but small computer shop) and have them build you one. Plus, they can tailor the system to your needs, or even sell a preconfigured one. You will save money, and if there are any problems, they are local, provided you went to a local shop, what city are you in? If you live in the boonies, then sorry :( 
deez
August 1, 2001 2:45:40 PM

So the question remains, what are you going to be using the computer for?

-----------------
Whoever thinks up a good sig for me gets a prize :wink:
August 1, 2001 3:29:50 PM

It's your funeral. Don't say that you weren't warned ahead of time. ;-)

<A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/community/modules.php?na..." target="_new">http://forumz.tomshardware.com/community/modules.php?na...;/A>

One purchase from them, and I guarantee that you'll be building your own the next time around. I'd take the excellent advice given above and put together your own custom system. Any of the components listed that Alienware uses can be found on the Net ... cheaper, too.

I can only think of two reason for letting someone else build your system. One ... you don't know how. Two ... the warranty/technical support. If you can rule out the first reason, believe me, you don't want Alienware if you need the second.

If you decide to go with them, let me know. I'll invest my money in aspirin stocks and make a killing.

Think about FatBurger's question. You should always consider what you'll be using the computer to do before building a system, this way ... you can tailor the components around the primary tasks.

I'd also advise you to choose a budgetary amount for the system ahead of time, and stick to it, even if you see something shiny and new that sounds great. No computer lasts forever, and nothing is ever enough. You'll be upgrading before you know it, whether to run a program that requires more processing power or memory that you already have, or just for speed. Or to "keep up with the Joneses". It's better to build a bare-bones system and add components later on, than to lay down four grand for a gaming system when all you really want to do is get your email and surf the Net. IMHO.

Later ...

Toejam31

<font color=purple>My Rig:</font color=purple> <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?rigid=6847" target="_new">http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?rigid=6847&lt;/A>
August 1, 2001 7:20:11 PM

i recommend these vendors to you. I have never had a problem and i order from these guys all the time.

those two computers seems extrememly expensive! For that money just buy a low end Dell server ya know!? that way you get there excellent service too.

but here they are:
www.mwave.com (some ass defaced the site so it's down at the moment)
www.egghead.com

i had a minor shipping problem with computers4sure but i got a refund on the shipping so the service seems excellent there.

i recommend mwave because they have everything you need at the site and they will even put it all together for you for 72 bucks! not a bad price at all! considering some places charge 72 bucks an hour. just go to there ccatalog and shop away. I have ordered from these guys all the time and i have never ever had a problem. The price is pretty good too. not the best.. but the quality of the place is there. I never had a bad part and i have yet to take back something because it was bad. these guys will even test and assemble motherboard bundles for you for 9 bucks. if they actually do it thats another issue all together but still...

you can build yourself a really kick ass system at mwave for 1600.

Do you actually believe what you think?
August 1, 2001 9:19:10 PM

A couple more quick comments. Shut your eyes and click a new link if this is overkill!

With the current speed of IDE hard drives, you'll get more out of your new system by installing additional memory, instead of a SCSI controller and/or peripherals. The advantage is increasingly negligible, and just isn't needed for an average desktop machine. You can save a ton of money by sticking with IDE ... and that ain't chicken feed.

Lexmark printers are nothing to write home about, in my experience. If you are going to get a killer rig, why not a really good printer?

There's no need to get a NIC card unless you are going to network more than one computer together, or run a cable modem. It'll just take up a PCI slot and an IRQ. And there is the possibility that there are other brands even better than 3COM.

Be prepared to add additional fans if you get that Chieftec (Dragon) case. Alienware will never do it, even if you call them everyday to remind them. Call it a major communications gap between the sales people and the actual builders. By the way ... it's a really nice case, but if you can't live without a removable mainboard tray, look elsewhere.

WinME or Win2k? No contest. Win2k, all the way. It's no surprise to me that Micro$ just noticed that WinME has a huge memory leak. I've despised it from the first day that I saw it. And for good reason. Research it, and see for yourself. If you don't want Win2k, install Win98SE and upgrade to WinXP in October. You'll be happier in the long run.

I don't care what other people say. Some people are psychopathic postal workers, and others worship cows. Consider my advice ... a decent PSU is worth it's weight in gold. Check out Enermax, Leadman, Sparkle, or PC Power & Cooling. Newer systems need larger amounts of clean power, and generic 300W PSU's are not necessarily adequate for any and all occasions. Of course, there will always be someone who says that they have been running 10 SCSI drives for six years on a 200W PSU, and they'll claim that it is more than enough. But ... some of us are a little too old to believe in leprechauns.

In other words, try 350W as a minimum ... and more is better. And I'll say it again ... Antec is not "all that".

Again ... IMHO. Reasoning is subjective. Good luck!

Toejam31


<font color=purple>My Rig:</font color=purple> <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?rigid=6847" target="_new">http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?rigid=6847&lt;/A>
August 2, 2001 12:33:58 AM

"With the current speed of IDE hard drives, you'll get more out of your new system by installing additional memory, instead of a SCSI controller and/or peripherals. The advantage is increasingly negligible..."

I disagree there. SCSI drives are up to 15000 RPM now. IDE drives currently max at 7500 RPM. Currently available SCSI drives have up to 160MB/sec of bandwidth available to them. Currently available IDE drives have only 100MB/sec available. Last, and most importantly, the latency (seek time) on IDE drives are terrible as compared to SCSI. You can get a SCSI drive with a 3.6ms _average_ seek time. IDE drives hover around 9ms. That's nearly 3 times the latency.

IDE drives have one benefit: cost. For those looking for the best performance, cost comes secondary.

-Raystonn


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
August 2, 2001 3:26:50 AM

For the price of a U160 controller and an 18 GB 15K rpm SCSI drive, he could get an IDE RAID controller and four 20 gig 7200 rpm IDE drives and probably have some money left over. SCSI drives do have 160 MB/s available, but a single 15K rpm drive will never have sustained rates that high. They only reason why SCSI drives have such high bandwidths available to them is because in a lot of cases, they are in servers with 8 SCSI drives in a striped RAID config and can actually take advantage of the bandwidth. A single SCSI drive on a U160 controller is a waste. True, the drive will burst it's entire 2 meg cache at 160 MB/s in 1/80 of a second, but that's not that big of an improvement over the 1/50 of a second for an ATA100 drives' burst. As well, if you have your U160 card in a PCI slot on a motherboard like the ASUS A7M with a 33 mhz 32 bit PCI bus, you won't even be able to reach the 160 MB/s burst. You'll just top out at the 133 MB/s limit of the PCI bus. If you want the full 160 MB/s, you'd have to increase the width of the PCI bus to 64 bits, or increase the frequency by either overclocking the bus to 40 mhz, or by buying a board with some 66 mhz PCI slots, which of course are expensive. Even after the burst, the 15K rpm SCSI drive will be able to sustain a tranfer rate of approximately 2x that of the 7200 rpm IDE drive, but if you stripe two IDE drives, you will get that level of performance, plus more storage space, for a lot less money.

Let's look at this again:

2x 40 gig IBM 60 GXP hard drives - $250
IDE RAID controller - $50
Total - $300

Seagate Cheetah X15 15000 rpm U160 18.4 GB - $340
U160 controller - $170
Total - $510

IDE performance - 4 megs of cache (2 on each drive), bursts of 100 MB/s, cache emptied in 1/25 second, effective 14400 rpm, 80 gigs of storage space. All for $300.

SCSI - 2 megs of cache (I believe anyways), burst of 160 MB/s (133 MB/s if used in a regular motherboard), cache gone in 1/80 second (1/66 sec if on a regular motherboard), 15000 rpm, 18.4 gigs storage space for $510

If you're looking for the best performance, you wouldn't be looking at a single U160 setup at all. You'd be going for a RAID setup for sure, and probably with fibre channel.

If you're looking for the best performance for $510, you'd probably go with a real hardware IDE RAID card (not the software Promise versions), and 3 or 4 IBM 60GXP 40 gig drives. This setup will outperform the single SCSI, and you'd have 120-160 GB of space instead of only 18.4 gigs.

Lyrics. Wasted time between solos.
August 2, 2001 4:08:20 AM

You completely skipped the most important point in my post. Latency (seek time) is the most important factor to look at in a hard drive. Any set of hard drives can reach high levels of bandwidth by going with a RAID design. However, IDE drives have much higher seek times than SCSI drives. 9ms is among the lowest for an IDE drive. 3.6ms is the lowest for a SCSI drive. IDE drives have 250% as much latency as a SCSI drive.

When dealing with virtual memory, each memory page is 4KB. Most of the time spent reading in from the hard drive to access virtual memory is actually spent waiting for the hard drive to seek to the correct spot. IDE is just piss poor in comparison.

-Raystonn


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
August 2, 2001 3:01:33 PM

What happened to the originator? I wouldn't mind getting this post back on topic...

-----------------
Whoever thinks up a good sig for me gets a prize :wink:
August 3, 2001 12:55:16 AM

With 256 MB of PC2100 DDR costing about $40 these days, you could still get an IDE RAID controller, two 40 gig 60 GXPs (with an 8.5 ms seek time), and 512 MB of ram (to virtually eliminate any virtual memory usage), and still be over $100 up.

Lyrics. Wasted time between solos.
August 3, 2001 4:32:17 AM

Not to mention which, aside from virtual memory, disk latency is not all that important. Any O/S worth its salt will cache user-level disk reads and writes in RAM buffers and write out accumulated dirty pages in one large chunk. More intelligent operating systems (or intelligent hardware RAID controllers) will also do elevator sorting of disk writes (making latency even less important), and good RAID controllers offer some RAM cache of their own as well.

Kelledin

"/join #hackerz. See the Web. DoS interesting people."
August 3, 2001 4:59:02 AM

All the cache in the world won't help you when it's time to commit to disk. The data you will be committing is not going to be one big linear chunk on the drives. I suggest you look at some benchmarks comparing SCSI and IDE drives, with and without RAID.

-Raystonn


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
August 3, 2001 5:08:20 AM

Ok, you guys are over my head. What kind of performance difference are we really talking about here and who will notice? What software will notice?

<font color=red>Yeah, I took a crap on your lawn. Whatcha gonna do about it?</font color=red>
August 3, 2001 6:17:11 AM

If you're just planning on having one hard drive, you'll notice a huge difference with something like a Cheetah X15 (a SCSI drive). It will have better throughput and much better access times (than an IDE drive). It costs more but you always get what you pay for. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to justify a purchase made on a budget.

-Raystonn


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
August 3, 2001 4:11:41 PM

Or it was someone who got an unusually good/bad deal on something.

Or they bought a P4.

-----------------
Whoever thinks up a good sig for me gets a prize :wink:
August 3, 2001 11:02:32 PM

A single U160 SCSI will outperform a single ATA100 IDE in every benchmarkable respect. But for the price of a single U160 and controller, you could build an entire IDE RAID setup with 4 times the storage space and a ton of ram that will outperform the SCSI in the majority of benchmarks and real life situations.

My point is that the money spent on a U160 controller and single Seagate Cheetah could be much better spent. There is no point in limiting yourself to 18.4 gigs when you could have very comparable performance, 4 times the storage space, and more money left over to improve the rest of the system with an IDE RAID solution. By going IDE RAID, you get a faster overall system than by going SCSI.

Lyrics. Wasted time between solos.
August 4, 2001 4:59:46 AM

I agree it's not prive/performance it's value/performance.

~Matisaro~
"Friends don't let friends buy Pentiums"
~Tbird1.3@1.55~
August 4, 2001 5:15:57 AM

hey guys.......check out my other post. I gave up on alienware 3 days ago, but thanks for the help. What i really need now are your opinions on the parts i'm planning to order, just check out my other post, thanks.
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