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Author Topic: Help me blow lots of money on a new PC...  (Read 1624 times)
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Destructor
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« on: February 16, 2006, 08:41:50 PM »

So, it's that time of the year again (ah, taxes), and I'm looking at blowing a ton of cash for a giant PC upgrade. I also need some thoughts on a lot of things.

First off, Newegg has a special here that is selling a AMD Athlon 64 FX55 with motherboard (for free). But I don't know how the processor compares to this (AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800), for example.

Basically, I'm looking for something really nice and expensive, but definitely in the AMD line. RAM is already covered, and I don't need a HD or sound card (as both will just port over assuming I'm not going SATA on the HD (or a RAID config)). But I do need a nice PCI-E videocard (as my old one is AGP).

Has anybody blown a ton of cash recently and has an idea at what's worth getting? Or anybody seen any recommendations anywhere that show cost verses what you'll get in the end?

Thanks in advance for whatever finds you might dig up.
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2006, 11:08:00 PM »

LE did right here.

Looks like a solid rig.  Really depends on how much cash "a ton" is.

The bare minimum for upgrading would be the motherboard/CPU and RAM as well as video card.  You will probably need a new power supply.

Your hard drives should be okay as long as the motherboard has IDE connectors and they are relatively new.  If they are 7200 rpm with a decent cache they should be fine.  Same with your optical drive(s).

It depends on how important sound is to you whether you want to spring for a fancy new sound card, use the old one, or go with onboard sound (if supported on the motherboard).

Hopefully somebody can give you some info on the CPU.  Should be easy enough to search for.
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2006, 02:47:16 AM »

Sup Destructor, I was just in your shoes!  I actually just finished assembling my computer and (omgwtfbbq) it seems to be working fine.  Still waiting on XP to finish installing, but it should be melting faces soon.

Anyway, here's what I gathered about the CPUs:

The FX-5x line is the hands-down most powerful single-core CPU on the market today.  In any single application process, the FX-5xs pwn everything, Dual-Cores (X2s) included.

Thus, for the current time, and the current games, and the current gaming OS of choice (XP 32bit), the FX-5x line is the best on the market.

Now, you'll notice I didn't get one of those.  Why?

-Dual Core is where the industry's going.  Software has to play catchup, but believe me IT WILL BE WORTH IT!  Look up the CPU comparisons of Multitasking on Tom's Hardware -- Dual-Core CPUs can, predictably, do heavy multitask work in half the time or less than even the mightiest of single-core processors.  And what happens when games start really taking advantage of dual cores?  Yes, they'll start kicking the single-core CPUs asses, no contest.

-The X2 4400+ is arguably the best deal for your money in terms of dual-core CPUs.  Why?  Well, on the 4400+ and beyond, but not a model number before, the L2 caches (I think it's L2) have all been doubled from 512 to 1024.  In AMD dual core CPUs, there isn't a greater performance leap than that--all the other number upgrades are just faster clock speeds, except for the jump from the 4200+ to the 4400+.

My friend across the hall has a FX-57 and believe me, it melts my face.  However, there's a point where you just can't tell the difference between 200+ FPS and 300+ FPS.  And since gaming future *will* use every drip of power it can get its hands on, including Dual-Core processors, does it really matter to you that this generation of games will run at 200 FPS instead of 300?   If not, (and it shouldn't), get a dual core.  When the dual core apps come out, the tables will turn -- you'll have the 300 FPS, and your FX-57 friend will have the 200.

Also:

Get a SATA HDD!  3.0GB/s is nothing to sneeze at.
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2006, 05:36:30 PM »

Thanks to your suggestions, Lord Ebonstone, I've gone ahead and spent too much (as I already stated I was going to do):

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ processor, Corsair XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB), Western Digital 320GB SATA HD, ASUS A8N-SLI motherboard, Radeon X1900XTX 512MB video card (sorry, I always have been and always will be an ATI 'fan' smile ), and that case and power supply you suggested in your other thread.

Thanks for the help. My wallet doesn't thank you though. biggrin
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2006, 06:49:24 PM »

It could have been worse, you could have gotten this:

Dell XPS 600 Renegade along with the 30" Widescreen LCD listed at the bottom of the screen  :twisted:
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2006, 10:02:22 PM »

Hrm. I would add a drive to that, Tim ... How about a 74GB Raptor drive? Run your OS on it and your basic apps and games, and mount your second hdd as subfolders for large data storage*. Plunk your disk caching onto all logical drives. It will run like a top. There is an advantage to having disk caching on all your drives; working with large files off secondary disks doesn't require the use of the defined temp folder to copy.

eg : 150x55MB RARs on E: (secondary SATA drive). Go to extract to E:, and the system will use the e: drive virtual mem cache to extract it, meaning the file(s) are extracted into RAM (virtual memory on that drive), and then the pointers are moved to wherever you "logically" extracted it on that drive. It's that, or having the system extract it to your %TEMP% folder (likely C: system drive) and then pass it through the disk controllers to the second drive. Given your crazy-ass purchase price, I think maybe you should also get a second 300GB drive and RAID0 the damn thing for even FASTER access. biggrin

Oh, and those RAPTOR drives are FAST. I have my XPMCE2005 sitting on a 36GB, with a few "slave" 8.5ms SATA drives. Bumped system performance big time. Disk access is always the bottleneck until we get a feasable/cost effective solid state memory replacement.

* What I mean is (and this *should* be common knowledge, but people still use "drive letters") ... you can nest a drive mount within your folder structure. For instance, if you have 100GB of music, you really don't want that sitting on your system drive, but you MAY want to have it under "My Music"... you could move you Doc & Settings default to your second drive, OR just go to disk management, select the logical partition (let's say E: ) you want to store the music, go to edit and add a mount point so it also is C:\Documents And Settings\Destructor\My Documents\My Music\Big_Effen_Collection (the last folder should be empty, it's a logical link for the drive to mount to).

Then under my Music you can get into Big_Effen_Collection, or access E:, and any software that looks at My Music and its subfolders will see those files as if they are there. You could even remove the E: mapping if you wanted.
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2006, 04:28:06 AM »

Quote from: "CeeKay"
It could have been worse, you could have gotten this:

Dell XPS 600 Renegade along with the 30" Widescreen LCD listed at the bottom of the screen  :twisted:

No no no... My title was 'help me spend', not 'help me waste'. biggrin

Purge - I've debated on going the next step forward and pick up a Raptor drive (or even RAID 0 two SATA drives), but for now I think I'll stick with what I have.

Although...how difficult would it be to RAID a second HD (short of buying a second one, what else would I have to do and how much of a speed boost would I see?), and could it be possible with my motherboard choice?
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2006, 07:05:59 AM »

Quote from: "Destructor"
Thanks to your suggestions, Lord Ebonstone, I've gone ahead and spent too much (as I already stated I was going to do):

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ processor, Corsair XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB), Western Digital 320GB SATA HD, ASUS A8N-SLI motherboard, Radeon X1900XTX 512MB video card (sorry, I always have been and always will be an ATI 'fan' smile ), and that case and power supply you suggested in your other thread.

Thanks for the help. My wallet doesn't thank you though. biggrin


Can I make a recommendation on the motherboard?

If you're going with one of the Asus SLI boards, get the A8N32-SLI Deluxe. It's by far the most refined, feature complete, and solid of all the Asus SLI boards.

It also fixes a few minor quibbles you might encounter with the other Asus boards.

That being said, all the Asus boards are generally the most solid and reliable of all the SLI solutions that I know of.

And that's coming from an extremely happy DFI SLI-DR owner.

I'd definitely go for the A8N32 though.
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2006, 02:06:01 PM »

Actually, the one I linked to (and bought) was the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe. Just didn't properly describe the link in my post above. biggrin

And yeah, I've been a fan of the Asus line of boards for many a year now. Never driven me wrong.
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2006, 04:10:24 PM »

Destructor -

I dunno if I would have gotten the A8N32 with an ATI card.  SLI is just as clunky and finicky as it was back when Voodoo Labs tried it with the Voodoo2.  What I mean to say is, as far as I know, you can't use two ATI cards on the A8N32.

'SLI' = nVidia's buzzword.  If it's "SLI Compatible," you should also read, "...as long as the cards are nVidia's."

'Crossfire' = ATI's buzzword.

AFAIK the two require different motherboards.  I say this because I've seen both "SLI" and "Crossfire" mobos... I may be wrong.
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2006, 05:01:37 PM »

LE makes a good point.

Glad you were going for the A8N32, as it's a great board.

But he's definitely right about the ATI card. Not that it won't work just fine with the one card (because it will), but getting an SLI board and then getting an ATI card is like wasted potential smile

But then, the X1900's are awesome and tend to allow AA and AF at even higher quality resolutions than even a 512mb 7800GTX, so perhaps you don't care about SLI except maybe for future applications?

The 7900 series cards are supposed to launch next month.

OH!

And I have that exact RAM. It's purty biggrin.
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2006, 05:08:15 PM »

Asus has a Crossfire board, the A8R-MVP.  Uses the ATI Radeon 200 Chipset.
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2006, 08:54:17 PM »

Quote from: "Thin_J"
But then, the X1900's are awesome and tend to allow AA and AF at even higher quality resolutions than even a 512mb 7800GTX, so perhaps you don't care about SLI except maybe for future applications?

That's it exactly. I had no intention on blowing another $600 anytime soon for a second video card, so I'm happy with only using one card.

That, and since this motherboard doesn't have onboard LAN, I wouldn't have enough PCI slots accessable with a second videocard (need two free - one for my LAN, one for my soundcard).

And I didn't go with one of the Asus boards with the ATI 'standard' inside simply because I didn't want one with a videocard onboard. Didn't want to take the chance of something not working happily upon disabling the onboard card.

I also realized that I'd be fine with a NVIDIA board for a single slot solution as Firingsquad's base PC for testing is an Asus board with the NVIDIA stuff on it.
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2006, 12:23:40 AM »

Quote from: "Destructor"
Although...how difficult would it be to RAID a second HD (short of buying a second one, what else would I have to do and how much of a speed boost would I see?), and could it be possible with my motherboard choice?


It's easy to do since (I'm assuming) the RAID controller is built into the board.  There is a prompt after the POST where it will say "Press F3 for Promise RAID Contoller setup" or something similar.  Then you tell it what drives you want to use and what flavor of RAID you want.

I wouldn't recommend it.  The RAID0 speed boost will likely be minimal (probably not even noticable) and you risk everything since if one drive fails everything is gone.  The only reason I would use it is if you have a lot of important data and then you'd go with RAID1 (mirroring).  I guess if you are going to do all that you might want to go nuts and try RAID5.  Probably need some more dedicated hardware for that.

I have two 10,000 RPM Raptor drives in a RAID0 array.  It's fast but I'm pretty sure it's not really much faster.
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2006, 02:51:29 PM »

Holy mother of fuck...

After getting all the parts in, and spending a couple of hours after work yesterday setting everything up...

The improvement I'm seeing over my old config is stunning. There's just no other way to put it.

Every game I own can now be played with full graphical options at 1680x1050 (Dell 2005FPW) without framerate hitches. Even Everquest 2 (I'm playing the free 30 day trial right now, so sue me) runs amazingly well at the High Quality settings (shadows, fauna, etc). Still can't play Extreme though (with full screen shadowing of buildings, etc), as there still isn't a PC out there that can do so. biggrin

I love it. And it's so quiet, I have to check to see if the fans are actually running.

Bring on Oblivion! I'm ready for whatever you can throw at me! smile
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