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View Full Version : My rig options. Opinions welcome.


marqmajere
02-15-07, 02:30 AM
Right now I'm running a 3500+, 1 gig of DDR pc3500, and a X800pro. With my tax return, I'd like to upgrade to a dual-core setup. There is, of course, a catch. My budget is about $650. (The girly and I have furniture to pay for) I game at 1280x1024. My 19"CRT will go up to 1600x1200, but the refresh rate of 75hz is an eye killer. I plan to overclock the cpu. I've been out of the loop for a while so any input would be very helpful.
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Here are a the options I am considering:

AM2 3600+ X2/Biostar Tforce combo
http://www.newegg.com/product/Product.asp?item=N82E16813138026

2x1gig G. Skill DDR2 533
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16820231044

Geforce 8800GTS 320megs
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16814130038
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This build will cost $600 on the nose which is nice because I can buy a good air cooler for the cpu.

Now I have a few of questions regarding this build:
*Do the new AM2 procs take advantage of anything over 400mhz ram? I know the old 939's really didn't see much improvment going above that.
*When overclocking, can you still oc your proc without ocing your ram as you could in the 939's?
*Will I notice a difference running the slower DDR2? Consider that I'm only gaming at 1280x1024. I'd like to turn on some eye candy as well.

I already have an OCZ 600watt power supply, so power isn't an issue. Here's a list of games that I play:
F.E.A.R.
Oblivion
World of Warcraft
Star Trek Legacy
Vanguard (Not yet, but I'm considering picking it up)
Doom 3
Quake 4

Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 02:39 AM
If you can swing it, go Intel Core2Duo. There's no reason at all to go AM2 over LGA775 right now unless you're just an AMD fanatic or can't afford the little bit extra. The Conroes squash them.

My advice is to look into a good Intel LGA775 board, low range Conroe, and some DDR2 of your preference, along with whatever gfx card you want. I'm sure there's a way you can swing it w/ $650 if you look hard enough.

marqmajere
02-15-07, 03:10 AM
How would this system compare to my previous build?

Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16819115013

ASUS P5VD2-X LGA 775 VIA PT890
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16813131090

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16820231044

EVGA 320-P2-N811-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16814130082

That came out to $672. That's $72 more than the AMD system above.

Would I really notice a difference while I play games at 1280x1024? I plan to overclock the cpu. Nothing too drastic.

Zelda_fan
02-15-07, 03:21 AM
Do not go with that motherboard. It won't overclock worth an ass, and VIA is known for making buggy unstable chipsets.

If you're on a budget, go with something that has an Intel P965 chipset in it. I recommend the following.

GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 $135
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813128012

It went through 96 hours of [H]ardOCP torture testing (where they run Prime95, 3DMark2007, and memtest at the same time to stress the system) under an overclock. For $135 that is a mindshattering deal on a motherboard.

Your CPU is ok.

I'd go with this for your RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820150054

It uses Micron D9 chips on the RAM which means it will overclock EONS better than the GSKill stuff you are considering (If you are going GSkill then only get the HZ series as it's the only one guaranteed to use D9s). With this RAM and mobo, you could probably take the CPU to 3GHZ which would make it perform better than an X6800 system.


These parts make the system $140 more, but you would literally get 80% more performance if you are willing to dabble in overclocking. Maybe you could sell parts of your old system to make some more $$$.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 03:21 AM
Clock for clock, the Core2Duos are significantly faster than the AM2's. Add into the equation that the C2D's overclock over twice as well and use less power and there's just no contest.

See if you can scrounge up another 50$ and go with a P965 chipset board. They are exceptionally stable and overclock like mad. You could get that E4300 anywhere from 2.8-3.0gHz with decent cooling on this Gigabyte:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813128017

Other than that, looks great. If you want a good, cheap cooling solution then look into the Arctic Cooling fans. I think the Freezer 7(?) is LGA775 compatible.

marqmajere
02-15-07, 03:27 AM
So you're telling me that by gaming at 1280x1024, I'll see a huge increase in performance by going with the C2D? How much of an increase? 30%? 50%? My budget is about $650. I really can't budge beyond that. :(

marqmajere
02-15-07, 03:31 AM
Also I've been reading that the performance difference between DDR2 533 and faster DDR2 is not worth the extra money. Can I overclock the C2D proc without overclocking the ram? I know I could on my old A64 3200+. I'm not talking about a huge overclock. Maybe 400mhz or so.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 03:31 AM
At least 30% in not only your gaming but all applications. That's with a decent overclock. Very possibly more.

If you have to, I would cut back to 1GB of memory and go with that $109.99 P965 Gigabyte I showed you if you absolutely must stay under 650$. Fear and Oblivion play just fine w/ 1GB. You could always invest a little more later for more RAM, but you can't swap out a motherboard without a lot more hassle.

Zelda_fan
02-15-07, 03:33 AM
So you're telling me that by gaming at 1280x1024, I'll see a huge increase in performance by going with the C2D? How much of an increase? 30%? 50%? My budget is about $650. I really can't budge beyond that. :(

In today's games? Probably not that much, but by spending $100 more dollars, you'll be giving a lot more headroom for tomorrows DX10 games which are becoming glaringly CPU limited. If you go AMD you'll be fine for now, but in a couple of months, you're rig will start to be outdated. Badly.

Plus if you go LGA775, you'll have a great upgrade path to a nice quad core in a year or two. You are really getting so much more for for just an extra $100.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 03:33 AM
Can I overclock the C2D proc without overclocking the ram?

Depends on the motherboard. You'd have a much better chance w/ the P965 than you would with the first board you posted.

Zelda_fan
02-15-07, 03:34 AM
At least 30% in not only your gaming but all applications. That's with a decent overclock. Very possibly more.

If you have to, I would cut back to 1GB of memory and go with that $109.99 P965 Gigabyte I showed you if you absolutely must stay under 650$. Fear and Oblivion play just fine w/ 1GB. You could always invest a little more later for more RAM, but you can't swap out a motherboard without a lot more hassle.

I disagree. If he's going to use Vista I would recommend 2GB minimum.

Zelda_fan
02-15-07, 03:35 AM
Also I've been reading that the performance difference between DDR2 533 and faster DDR2 is not worth the extra money. Can I overclock the C2D proc without overclocking the ram? I know I could on my old A64 3200+. I'm not talking about a huge overclock. Maybe 400mhz or so.

If you plan on overclocking DO NOT GO CHEAP ON THE RAM. You really need some memory that uses Micron D9s if you want to overclock.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 03:37 AM
I disagree. If he's going to use Vista I would recommend 2GB minimum.

So would I, but I didn't see him say he was running Vista. Really no reason to right now if gaming is top priority.

Zelda_fan
02-15-07, 03:37 AM
You may want to wait until the R600 is released. Graphics card prices will drop like mad, and you might be able to get something equivalent to the 320MB GTS for cheap.

Zelda_fan
02-15-07, 03:40 AM
So would I, but I didn't see him say he was running Vista. Really no reason to right now if gaming is top priority.

Here is the thing. I can not, in good conscious, recommend a system build to someone that will become outdated in a few months. His original build (or even the improved one with the Core2) would be fine for now, but would give him no real over clocking room for future games and applications. And EVENTUALLY he'll have to upgrade his OS. That's why I'd recommend the extra $140 worth of stuff. $140 will go a long way in "future proofing" the system.

marqmajere
02-15-07, 03:42 AM
At least 30% in not only your gaming but all applications. That's with a decent overclock. Very possibly more.

If you have to, I would cut back to 1GB of memory and go with that $109.99 P965 Gigabyte I showed you if you absolutely must stay under 650$. Fear and Oblivion play just fine w/ 1GB. You could always invest a little more later for more RAM, but you can't swap out a motherboard without a lot more hassle.

That's actually a good idea. I could go with 1 gig now, and later add a second gig.


You two have conflicting opinions about ocing the proc without ocing the ram. One says it's possible and the other says I need super high-end ram. Which one is it?

marqmajere
02-15-07, 03:44 AM
Here is the thing. I can not, in good conscious, recommend a system build to someone that will become outdated in a few months. His original build (or even the improved one with the Core2) would be fine for now, but would give him no real over clocking room for future games and applications. And EVENTUALLY he'll have to upgrade his OS. That's why I'd recommend the extra $140 worth of stuff. $140 will go a long way in "future proofing" the system.

Can you really future-proof a computer? I mean honestly. I'm the type of person who upgrades once a year or so. Even then, I don't need the most cutting edge graphics. As long as it doesn't look like crap, and runs decently, I'm happy.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 03:48 AM
Here is the thing. I can not, in good conscious, recommend a system build to someone that will become outdated in a few months. His original build (or even the improved one with the Core2) would be fine for now, but would give him no real over clocking room for future games and applications. And EVENTUALLY he'll have to upgrade his OS. That's why I'd recommend the extra $140 worth of stuff. $140 will go a long way in "future proofing" the system.

The E4300 has a 9x multiplier ( http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2903&p=2 ), so you don't need extremely high FSB's to get a good overclock out of it. All you need is a board that has an FSB that will flex a little, like the 109.99$ P965 Gigabyte board I linked him to before. There were plenty of reviews on newegg from guys who had E6600's @ 3.2gHz which says the FSB OC's pretty well since the E6600 has a 9x multiplier, as well. The P965's overclock really well, and in particular the Gigabyte and the Asus boards. I had a P5B Deluxe that I ran a 500FSB on stable 24/7.

So I think he'd be fine if he went with that paired with the E4300. I could see 2.6-3.0gHz being reachable which is enough to push an 8800-series card.

As far as the OS, Vista is still a ways away for gaming. Can't really recommend it right now although it'll pay off down the road. From what I gathered in his original post, gaming is his top priority right now and he'll get that with XP which uses less memory. You can get by with most games with 1GB right now and can always upgrade in the future when finances pick up a little.

Xion X2
02-15-07, 03:50 AM
That's actually a good idea. I could go with 1 gig now, and later add a second gig.


You two have conflicting opinions about ocing the proc without ocing the ram. One says it's possible and the other says I need super high-end ram. Which one is it?

Great RAM isn't a necessity for a good overclock. It comes down to the motherboard. If you have memory dividers, then you can set those to clock the memory back to give you some headroom.

G.Skill is good memory, anyway, and usually overclocks well. You may want to look and be sure you can't pick up some DDR2667 for close to the same price, because that would give you a little more headroom for overclocking.

[Edit]Just caught this from the reviews on newegg.

"I have my FSB: DRAM ratio at 1:1. "

Hence, the board has memory dividers, so you don't need top shelf RAM for a decent overclock. Just get a good brand like G.Skill/Corsair and you should be fine. I'd try to find some that's a little faster, though. Maybe some DDR2667 or DDR2800.

marqmajere
02-15-07, 03:57 AM
Great RAM isn't a necessity for a good overclock. It comes down to the motherboard. If you have memory dividers, then you can set those to clock the memory back to give you some headroom.

G.Skill is good memory, anyway, and usually overclocks well.

That's what I'm talking about. Just setting the mem dividers so you can go higher on the cpu without taxing your ram so much. I was hoping that the newer mobo's still had that feature. I've added that Gigabyte board you and Zelda linked me and I also added a 1gig stick of this ram:

Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16820134045

With the E4300 and the 8800GTS, it all came out to $665 which I guess I can live with. I'll have to wait to buy a better cooler for it, but I'm sure the stock cooler will do for now.

marqmajere
02-15-07, 04:20 AM
I read this article over at Anandtech. They used the exact same board in their setup with the E4300. Looks to be a great budget cpu/mobo combo.

http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2903&p=8

They even stated that with the lower FSB, you don't need fast DDR2 to get a great overclock out of it. I was looking to get a mild oc, roughly 300-400mhz, but it looks like a 1ghz overclock is entirely possible, even off of the 667 ram I selected.

Now all I need is to wait untill Friday when my refund is deposited and I'm ordering up that stuff. It's like Christmas in February! :)

I feel odd though spending $65 more on a system with half the ram, but I suppose in 6 months I won't even care.

XDanger
02-15-07, 03:56 PM
R630 is the mid-range im waiting for.

marqmajere
02-16-07, 04:49 AM
Alrighty. Here's what I've settled on and it's pretty close to my budget.

Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz 2M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16819115013

GIGABYTE GA-965P-S3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16813128017

EVGA 320-P2-N815-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16814130038

CORSAIR XMS2 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 675 (PC2 5400) Desktop Memory - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16820145573

Total is $673. I went with 1 gig of ram, because I can always buy another 1 gig stick later, should I need it. I was thinking of buying the Artic Freezer Pro, but the price on that has gone through the roof. I'm not sure what happened there. All in all, not too shabby. I'm looking forward to putting it all together soon. Thanks guys for the help. :D