Looking for input/info about parts

Well, like the title says, I'm getting ready to build a new machine. If all goes well I plan on moving out of my house and getting a new place this Fall. So, I need some new hardware. First, here's my system specs (so I can get some evaulations on what kind of performance boosts I'll see).

Processor: AMD Athlon XP 1700+

Mainboard: MSI K7T Turbo2

RAM: 640 MB PC133 SDRAM

Sound: SB Live! X-Gamer

Video: GeForce 4 Ti 4600 w/128 MB RAM

HD 1: 15 GB Western Digital (ATA 66, 7200 RPM)

HD 2: 40 MB Maxtor (ATA 100, 7200 RPM)

PSU: 400W Antec

I've looked around quite a bit to gauge prices. I'd like to keep my computer around the $700 range, without taking into account a monitor. NewEgg still seems to be the best place to get parts, so I did most of my research there. Here's what I came up with:

Case: MAXTOP Signature Series Type II Mid Tower PC; $27 + $15 s/h = $42

Processor: Intel Pentium 4 Prescott/ 2.8E GHz 800MHz FSB, 1MB L2 Cache, Hyper Threading Technology (Retail); $178

Mainboard: MSI "865PE NEO2-PLS" i865PE Chipset Motherboard for Intel Socket 478 CPU (Retail); $73

RAM: Corsair Value Select 184 Pin 512MB DDR PC-3200; $85

Video: ATI Radeon 9600XT; ~$140

HD: Western Digital 120GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model WD1200JD; $96

PSU: Antec P4 ATX12V 400 Watt Power Supply With 2 Fans, Model "SL400"; $57 + $6 s/h = $63

Grand Total: $677

I most certainly want to get everyone's comments on these parts. Although nothing is set in stone, I'll comment on why I made some of my choices and ask some questions about certain technical aspects I don't quite understand.

First in regards to the processor, I have nothing against AMD. As mentioned above, I currently run an Athlon XP processor. I have nothing but respect for them. But looking at the chips available on NewEgg, Intel seems to have a wider range of chips available in my price range. Basically it looks like I can get more for my money with Intel (in regards to clock speed, FSB speed, and cache size). But I've also been reading about AMD's Athlon 64 processors. I don't know much about them, but are they worth looking into? Would I really be taking advantage of whatever it is this technology has to offer? I read an article in a local computer mag that said they're basically the best performing chip out there this year. It also said that the 64-bit version of Windows is due out in a few months to consumers. Would I be better off spending a little more now to take advantage of this later? Or would I be just as happy with the 32-bit version? Or maybe do you think Athlon 64 prices will go down once the 64-bit version of Windows hits shelves (does anyone have a more accurate date for that?) I should also note that I chose to buy the retail version because it comes with a heatsink and fan as well as a 3-year warranty for an extra $8.

To go along with the processor, I've selected an MSI board. I'm not very familiar with the different mainboard companies. The only brands I've owned are MSI and Abit. Since my Abit (and a friend's) both died in under two years, I've pretty much lost my faith in them. But my MSI board is solid, and I have no complaints. So I started with them, and picked a board in my price range that had all the features I wanted--namely support for the Prescott core and a nice built in sound card. Some of the slightly cheaper MSI boards seem to have issues with the Prescott core. But to me it seems stupid to go with a Northwood core for the same price (correct me if I'm wrong). However, I'm open to suggestions about the board as well.

The video card is something I'm completely open to changing. My price range is around $150 for the card. I've heard better things about ATI lately than I have NVidia. I don't game as much as I used to, so top performance is not as big a deal for me. As long as I can run the latest DX9 games like Doom 3, Pacific Assault, etc, with decent frame rates I'll be happy. I've heard that the manufacturer really doesn't much matter, so unless there's a huge problem with particular brands, I'll probably go with the cheaper one. Again, suggestions would be helpful.

The hard drive was another issue. EIDE or SATA? I've read up on both, and, as far as I can tell, SATA is faster and eaiser to work with (thinner cables, also means better airflow). But the evidence for SATA's superiority was thin at best. Is there any reason to get one over the other? I'm also partial to Western Digital. I've had issues with Maxtor drives, as have my friends. But this always seems to be a personal preference, as all HD manufacturers seem to have black marks on their records.

Finally, the PSU. I know better than to cheap out on this part. I've heard good things about Antec and Enermax, and both seem to be in the same price range. I think I'll need at least 400W to power everything I'll have set up. Anyone think I'll need more? I'll be running specs at least similar to what's been listed, plus an extra HD (I'll be pulling the 40 GB from this machine), and up to two optical drives (52x burner/DVD combo, maybe a spare CDROM). Maybe 420-450W would be better?

The case and the RAM were just picked for price. The case looks pretty solid and well ventilated for the cost. I don't really know much about RAM either, so if there's anything wrong with that chip, let me know. I just scrolled down until I found the first company I've heard of.

I think the main points of interest are easily the Athlon 64 and the 64-Bit version of Windows, the video card, and SATA vs. EIDE. I realize this is quite a lengthy post, but I trust the voices of the people on this board. If anyone has any advice for me I'd most appreciate it. I'd hate to buy something and find out that I could have done significantly better, even at a slightly higher cost.
 
if you want to game get an athlon 64 chip (they beat out all p4's for gaming where the p4 will beat it for everything else), and the 9600 wont cut it for newer games. spend about $30 and get a 9800pro. as far as EIDE and SATA id go with a Seagate SATA myself since its only a couple dollars more usually and you dont have big, flat cables hampering airflow in the case, and Seagates are QUIET. i would personally skimp a little on the cpu since the E chips command a bit more of a price if you choose to go p4, and get a C class chip. something around a 2.6-2.8. the money you save could go towards an i875 mobo. ive got an i865 abit is7 with a 2.6 c and it overclocks to 3.4 EASY with stock cooling. ive also got it matched with pc4000 ram tho.

main point is, stay away form the 9600 when a 9800pro is only a little bit more. you WILL thank me later for it.
 
Taking into consideration what you said, I found these:

Intel Pentium 4 Northwood / 2.4C GHz 800MHz FSB, 512K Cache, Hyper Threading Technology (Retail); $171

and

Intel Pentium 4/ 2.6 GHz 400MHz FSB, 512K Cache Processor (OEM); $149

The only 2.6 GHz P4 NewEgg has is the second one. I realize that NewEgg isn't the only place to buy stuff, but I've noticed it's considerably cheaper than most places I've shopped at. Plus no shipping, which most people would charge I'm sure.

The chip I'm thinking of getting costs $178. The 2.4C chip is only $7 less. I'm thinking the extra $7 for the 1MB of cache is worth it. The 2.6 chip they have is an OEM. That means I'd probably have to spend at least $15 or so on a decent heatsink/fan (making the price ~$164), which is included with the 2.8E. Again, I think it's a negligable difference in price.

The only other chip I can find that would save a considerable amount of money is:

Intel Pentium 4/ 2.4A GHz 533MHz FSB, Prescott Core, 1MB L2 Cache (Retail); $122

And that seems reasonable. Really my handicap when it comes to processors is I don't fully understand the relationship between the numbers and the performance. For instance, there's a 2.8C GHz that's actually $4 more than the 2.8E. Why?

When I started looking at processors I basically scrolled down the prices until there was a considerable leap from one chip to the next. That's where I stopped and looked at chips in that range to see what would get me the most for my money. I figured posting here early would allow me ample time to get opinions, and to be redirected if I'm going in the wrong direction. But I do appreciate your input.
 

ExCyber

Staff member
For about $20 more you could get a 36GB Raptor drive instead of the 120GB Caviar. This is a substantial performance/capacity tradeoff, but it's worth noting that it's an option. Basically the Raptor drives are high-performance 10,000RPM "SCSI" (read: workstation/server-class) drives with an SATA interface. They also have a longer warranty (5 years) than anything else in the same price range. This is a matter of priorities; I'm only mentioning it because it's easy to miss these drives.

Basically it looks like I can get more for my money with Intel (in regards to clock speed, FSB speed, and cache size

You can't just blindly compare numbers between Athlon and P4; the microarchitectures are vastly different, and there can be substantial differences within each family that are not immediately obvious. I strongly recommend looking at some benchmarks at sites like Anandtech and Tom's Hardware as a sanity check before you make a commitment to either platform.

But I've also been reading about AMD's Athlon 64 processors. I don't know much about them, but are they worth looking into? Would I really be taking advantage of whatever it is this technology has to offer? I read an article in a local computer mag that said they're basically the best performing chip out there this year. It also said that the 64-bit version of Windows is due out in a few months to consumers. Would I be better off spending a little more now to take advantage of this later? Or would I be just as happy with the 32-bit version?

They are worth looking into because they are great chips in general. OS and driver support for AMD64 seems to generally be on deck -- AMD64-enabled Windows XP is currently in open beta (you'd tell me I'm crazy if I said that MS let people download Windows ISOs, right? :hehehe:), and drivers are available from NVidia and ATI. I haven't heard anything about games/applications yet, but if the Linux AMD64 migration is any guide it will mostly be a matter of vendors using a new compiler and making some bugfixes for new releases.

To go along with the processor, I've selected an MSI board. I'm not very familiar with the different mainboard companies. The only brands I've owned are MSI and Abit. Since my Abit (and a friend's) both died in under two years, I've pretty much lost my faith in them. But my MSI board is solid, and I have no complaints.

From what I've heard, MSI is probably one of the better brands to get if you don't plan to overclock or do other crazy stuff. They aren't a glamorous "enthusiast" (read: overclocking nut) brand, but their boards have a reputation of being quite solid as long as they're run in spec. I'm going to be a bit too lazy right now to check up on chipset details, however. I suggest looking at Anandtech and Tom's Hardware to make sure that the chipset that board uses stacks up nicely.

I've heard better things about ATI lately than I have NVidia.

The impression I've gotten lately is that NVidia tends to win on raw pixel-blasting ability, while ATI tends to win with image-enhancement effects like antialiasing turned on and on image quality in general.

The hard drive was another issue. EIDE or SATA? I've read up on both, and, as far as I can tell, SATA is faster and eaiser to work with (thinner cables, also means better airflow). But the evidence for SATA's superiority was thin at best. Is there any reason to get one over the other?

Price vs. cable size, unless you're the type who likes moving drives among different machines.

I've had issues with Maxtor drives, as have my friends.

As have I. Their RMA department is very nice, but I think my next drive will be a WD or Seagate.

I think I'll need at least 400W to power everything I'll have set up. Anyone think I'll need more? I'll be running specs at least similar to what's been listed, plus an extra HD (I'll be pulling the 40 GB from this machine), and up to two optical drives (52x burner/DVD combo, maybe a spare CDROM). Maybe 420-450W would be better?

400W should be okay. 350 would be pushing your luck.
 
You can't just blindly compare numbers between Athlon and P4; the microarchitectures are vastly different, and there can be substantial differences within each family that are not immediately obvious. I strongly recommend looking at some benchmarks at sites like Anandtech and Tom's Hardware as a sanity check before you make a commitment to either platform.

I suppose that's true. But for someone like myself that gets lost in all the information out there it's difficult to go by anything else. I have visited Tom's Hardware, but I can never seem to find anything useful there. I don't know if I'm retarded or if their site organization just sucks. But the Anandtech site you linked had a nice bunch of side by side benchmarks. I think the most interesting article I read compared the Northwood to the Prescott. It now makes more sense why they're priced similar at NewEgg despite the obvious cache size advantage of Prescott. In fact, the article made it perfectly clear that for anything under ~3.2GHz, Northwood performs better than Prescott. Who knew?

And as impressive as the Athlon 64s are, they're still a little too steep. Plus, from the benchmarks I looked at, the 32-bit Windows outperformed the 64-bit almost all around. Granted it's a beta, but it tells me that it will be a while before 64-bit catches up, and that waiting a few years to make the jump won't be a regretable decision.

At least, these are my understandings. I could be wrong.

From what I've heard, MSI is probably one of the better brands to get if you don't plan to overclock or do other crazy stuff. They aren't a glamorous "enthusiast" (read: overclocking nut) brand, but their boards have a reputation of being quite solid as long as they're run in spec. I'm going to be a bit too lazy right now to check up on chipset details, however. I suggest looking at Anandtech and Tom's Hardware to make sure that the chipset that board uses stacks up nicely.

I've never overclocked before, but I'm interested in trying it out. Some friends of mine have gotten nice performance boosts with no side effects from mild OCing. I was mildly disappointed that my XP chip was locked to prevent OCing. At least it was my understanding that I would have to modify the chip itself somehow to be able to OC.

Regardless of that issue, I do want the option of overclocking, and I'd like it to be as painless as possible. I have read that MSI does have decent OCing options, but could you maybe recommend a reliable board for OCing? I know my friend runs an Asus board, but I've not heard such good things about them through word of mouth. And my past experience with Abit leaves me hesitant to try them again, even though they seem to be somewhat of a leader in the OC arena. Ultimately it's not a huge issue, so I'm thinking maybe the MSI boards will be sufficient for a little experimentation, but nothing too drastic.

The impression I've gotten lately is that NVidia tends to win on raw pixel-blasting ability, while ATI tends to win with image-enhancement effects like antialiasing turned on and on image quality in general.

This is another one of those things I could spin my wheels forever trying to look at. Basically I'm looking for a solid performing card in a certain price range. Though I might decide to increase the budget since it's not something I need to purchase but once every few years or so. An extra $40-$50 now might be a good idea in the long run.

Price vs. cable size, unless you're the type who likes moving drives among different machines.

I didn't really notice too much of a difference between SATA and EIDE prices. I have seen drives as low as $0.50/GB in the weekly CompUSA ads. Since there seems to be no clear cut advantage of SATA (since I won't be moving drives), I might just wait until the next time I see one of those deals and get it from them. Surprisingly they're usually brand name (WD, Maxtor, and Seagate) that they offer.

And yes, Maxtor's RMA was very friendly and fast. I had my new drive to me in a few days. But between my drive dying and my friend's two (or three) drives sharing the same fate, I'll stick to using Maxtor as a storage drive for relatively unimportant stuff :)

Thanks for the info. Already I feel like I've learned some important lessons.
 

Pearl Jammzz

Established Member
get rid of the 9600 pro....it's ass, get a 97-9800 pro, not much more. Also, might wanna check into getting a 2500+ and OC'ing it, that

s what I did and I love it to death. Alowed me to get another 512 stick of ram pushin me to 1gig, which is heaven for games. SUmthin to think about...
 

Dud

Established Member
I agree with PJ. I want to get rid of my 9600 Pro for an 9800 Pro. It gets the job done, but if I start buying PC games again I'll need the 9800. Instead of a 2500+ why not get a 2600+? It was like a $6 price difference when I got mine, might as well take a little step up.
 

Dud

Established Member
Originally posted by Pearl Jammzz@Jul 19, 2004 @ 04:20 AM

what's the difference between the 2500+ and the 2600+? Just a different multiplier?

Yeah, I think it's just 1.83Ghz vs. 1.9Ghz.
 

ExCyber

Staff member
Regardless of that issue, I do want the option of overclocking, and I'd like it to be as painless as possible. I have read that MSI does have decent OCing options, but could you maybe recommend a reliable board for OCing?

Overclocking is a hit-and-miss proposition by nature. My understanding is that some MSI boards overclock quite well, but that it's not generally a big design goal for them since they're mostly targeting OEMs.
 
usually a mobo will restrict you by limiting your v-core for your cpu, which in the case of athlons is VERY important. i had an msi board and whiule i think at the time it was mainly the pc2700 that limited my overclock, i also couldnt push my v-core past 1.6.
 

Alexvrb

Established Member
As for why the Prescott isn't so awesome compared to older P4s at the same clock, it seemed obvious enough. I mean, the pipeline went from long to more-stages-than-advertising-dollars. Plus it dumps out heat like a nuclear core.

Anyway, I can strongly recommend any Athlon 64, even the "lowend" 2800+. They perform great, and you don't have to worry about dual-channel setups, but their memory performance is still excellent thanks to their integrated controller. Plus, it isn't that expensive at newegg, and a good Athlon 64 nforce mainboard is very affordable. So overall it might not be as expensive as you think. But a reasonably priced P4 solution would work out fine too.

As far as PSU goes, 400w is plenty because it is a high-quality Antec PSU. If it was a cheaper brand, I'd recommend at least 450w. Everyone has already hammered your original GPU choice, and I agree. The 9600 Pro/XT are excellent midrange cards, but if you're using a fast CPU, your system would not be well balanced. If you can afford a 9800 Pro, that would be a solid choice. Stay away from anything SE or that otherwise has a gimped memory interface (sometimes they don't label cards so well :().

The only other thing I see as a possible issue to contend with is sound card selection. I can't recommend using most onboard solutions, and its not just about number of channels. Sound quality, software support, and performance are all factors. Most onboard can't really cut it, IMO. An inexpensive Audigy 2 would be fine, all the Audigy 2s share the same chip, I believe. They impress me a lot more than the Live! series or even the first Audigy. I look forward to see what the Soundstorm 2 is capable of, as far as onboard chips go, but it still have extra noise by its very nature as integrated sound.
 
As for why the Prescott isn't so awesome compared to older P4s at the same clock, it seemed obvious enough. I mean, the pipeline went from long to more-stages-than-advertising-dollars. Plus it dumps out heat like a nuclear core.

Once I read the article at Anandtech.com I realized why this was so. But it makes sense why they did it. At faster speeds it works to the chip's advantage. However, if I do get a 2.8 GHz P4, I don't suspect I'll be overclocking past 3.2 GHz or there abouts. And the Prescott doesn't break away from the Northwood until around 3.6 GHz (not 3.2, as I initially quoted).

Anyway, I can strongly recommend any Athlon 64, even the "lowend" 2800+. They perform great, and you don't have to worry about dual-channel setups, but their memory performance is still excellent thanks to their integrated controller. Plus, it isn't that expensive at newegg, and a good Athlon 64 nforce mainboard is very affordable. So overall it might not be as expensive as you think. But a reasonably priced P4 solution would work out fine too.

Upon looking at the benchmarks, the Athlon 64s do have a pretty solid lead in performance when it comes to gaming. The lower end chips, however, don't seem to perform quite as well as a 2.8 GHz P4 for everything else. Yes, I don't game as much as I used to. But I also realize that when I do game, that's when I'll want the extra power. So although I'm still leaning towards the P4, I'll be considering the Athlon 64 up until I order, and may even decide to get one. Since I don't plan on purchasing for another couple of months, I have plenty of time to sort everything out. Mostly I want a chip that will keep me satisfied for a couple of years when I'll probably want a new one, but without breaking the bank. Which is another reason I might wait on the 64-bit processor. A couple of years from now they will be more mainstream, more efficient, and Intel will surely be in full swing with their line of 64-bit chips, making them even cheaper. I usually like to wait until the "next big thing" comes out, so I can pick up the "last big thing" at a cheaper price. :)

Everyone has already hammered your original GPU choice, and I agree.

Indeed. The panning has been universal, and I have taken that into account. I do think I'll be happier spending a little more to get the performance boost of the 9800 Pro. Although I'm a little surprised to see that no one has stepped up to offer an NVidia FX alternative. Since the 9800 Pro is about $200, what does the FX line of chips have to offer in that range? Anything? From the little bit of exposure I have to graphic card debates, the 9800 Pro seems to be the dominant choice. But having an alternative would be a good thing.

But this is the card I'm looking at currently (but only because it's the cheapest listed, and I've been told they're pretty much all the same): Sapphire 9800 Pro

I hope the 128 MB version is adequate enough. I certainly don't want to shell out the extra $50-$100 for the 256 MB version.

The only other thing I see as a possible issue to contend with is sound card selection. I can't recommend using most onboard solutions, and its not just about number of channels. Sound quality, software support, and performance are all factors. Most onboard can't really cut it, IMO. An inexpensive Audigy 2 would be fine, all the Audigy 2s share the same chip, I believe.

Well, I can, and might, pull the Live! card I have currently. My current board has on board audio, and I can leave my parents with that. I've only had a couple of minor issues with the Live!. I don't really know if I want to spend $70 or so to upgrade to the Audigy2. I also see free sound cards (or cards for a couple of bucks) after rebate at OfficeMax all the time. I'm sure they're not near the quality, but they might be better than my Live! or whatever's on board (Mad Dog brand, 6-Channel surround). At any rate, I can wait to make that decision. If I'm not happy with what's on board, or with my current Live!, I can always pick one up later.

Although I am remided of this bash quote when I think of the Audigy. :lol:
 

Alexvrb

Established Member
Originally posted by Quadriflax+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Quadriflax)</div><div class='quotemain'>Once I read the article at Anandtech.com I realized why this was so. But it makes sense why they did it. At faster speeds it works to the chip's advantage. However, if I do get a 2.8 GHz P4, I don't suspect I'll be overclocking past 3.2 GHz or there abouts. And the Prescott doesn't break away from the Northwood until around 3.6 GHz (not 3.2, as I initially quoted).[/b]
Well, I think it was probably the other enhancements that helped it stay afloat. The longer pipeline alone is actually detrimental to performance clock-per-clock. The reason they did it isn't because "it's faster at higher speeds". The reason they did it is because they couldn't REACH much higher speeds without doing it. With their P4 design, they didn't have much choice if they wanted to keep ramping speeds. I'm much more fond of Intel's work with their Pentium-M chip (not Pentium 4-M). It has a really good TDP and excellent performance for the clock. They should build dual core desktop chips out of those. Anyway...

Originally posted by Quadriflax@

Indeed. The panning has been universal, and I have taken that into account. I do think I'll be happier spending a little more to get the performance boost of the 9800 Pro. Although I'm a little surprised to see that no one has stepped up to offer an NVidia FX alternative. Since the 9800 Pro is about $200, what does the FX line of chips have to offer in that range? Anything? From the little bit of exposure I have to graphic card debates, the 9800 Pro seems to be the dominant choice. But having an alternative would be a good thing.
Don't get me wrong, I said the 9600 was decent, but not for your system. A 128MB 9800 Pro would be fine, especially since it would cost like $60 more just to get a 256MB version. Don't be fooled into buying a 9800 with a 128-bit interface! 256-bit is what you're looking for. The reason I didn't suggest an FX is because their IQ isn't very good, especially with shaders. The 6800 cards are much better though (though still not perfect), but nothing from that series is currently in your price range, and when it is, it'll probably be a budget version with way less pipes. If you were willing to wait, you could get an X800 derivative from ATI that would probably be pretty good. Otherwise, the Sapphire should be fine.

<!--QuoteBegin-Quadriflax


Well, I can, and might, pull the Live! card I have currently. My current board has on board audio, and I can leave my parents with that. I've only had a couple of minor issues with the Live!. I don't really know if I want to spend $70 or so to upgrade to the Audigy2. I also see free sound cards (or cards for a couple of bucks) after rebate at OfficeMax all the time. I'm sure they're not near the quality, but they might be better than my Live! or whatever's on board (Mad Dog brand, 6-Channel surround). At any rate, I can wait to make that decision. If I'm not happy with what's on board, or with my current Live!, I can always pick one up later.[/quote]If those are your options, stick with the sound that is onboard the new mobo. A "free" or very cheap soundcard may suffer from the same issues as the onboard in many regards, and it could even be inferior. The Live just isn't worth it. If you're not gonna shell out money for a good card, don't bother. Honestly, your onboard will likely work great for you. Plus, its not like you can't upgrade later, its not like your PCI slots are going to make a run for it or anything. ;)
 
Well, I think it was probably the other enhancements that helped it stay afloat. The longer pipeline alone is actually detrimental to performance clock-per-clock. The reason they did it isn't because "it's faster at higher speeds". The reason they did it is because they couldn't REACH much higher speeds without doing it. With their P4 design, they didn't have much choice if they wanted to keep ramping speeds.

Well, that's pretty much what I meant. Reading the article the design made sense, all things considered with the trade offs they made.

Not to stray too far from the original topic, but what's up with Centrino? My g/f just ordered a new laptop without consulting me :)rant ) and I didn't really get to figure out what it was all about. My one friend seems to think it's mostly hype. From what I read that sounds pretty much true. Supposedly it's more energy efficient, saving on battery power? At any rate, I'm sure it was something she didn't need, and well overpaid for (or could have at least gotten something more useful for the money). Oh well, she's happy with it.

Don't be fooled into buying a 9800 with a 128-bit interface! 256-bit is what you're looking for. The reason I didn't suggest an FX is because their IQ isn't very good, especially with shaders. The 6800 cards are much better though (though still not perfect), but nothing from that series is currently in your price range, and when it is, it'll probably be a budget version with way less pipes. If you were willing to wait, you could get an X800 derivative from ATI that would probably be pretty good. Otherwise, the Sapphire should be fine.

I was confused about that at first. I saw some posts in other message boards that said something about the 256-bit interface. I didn't realize there was a 128-bit one. I thought it was just the amount of memory, which also happens to have the numbers 128 and 256. Took me a beat to figure out I was aiming for a 256-bit card w/ 128 MB of RAM. About waiting for the X800, are we talking soon? Since I don't know exactly when I'll be getting this new system (I'm thinking around October, assuming everything goes well this fall in finding a place) I do have some time. I'll certainly be keeping my eye out for anything new, but I don't really know what's in store for the future.

As for the FX cards, I was more referring to the lack of fanboy reaction. From the newsgroups I periodically read, they seem especially high and vicious when it comes to defending their chosen camp. To me, I could care less. The difference of a few frame rates is not going to make or break me.

If those are your options, stick with the sound that is onboard the new mobo. A "free" or very cheap soundcard may suffer from the same issues as the onboard in many regards, and it could even be inferior. The Live just isn't worth it. If you're not gonna shell out money for a good card, don't bother. Honestly, your onboard will likely work great for you. Plus, its not like you can't upgrade later, its not like your PCI slots are going to make a run for it or anything.

Well, I may very well pick up a free one anyway, just to see what happens. But you really think the onboard will be better than the Live? I can't say I'm totally shocked. I guess that card is at least four years old at this point (at least it's been four years since I bought it). I know my friend is happy with his onboard surround on his Asus board. We'll see what happens :)
 

schi0249

Mid Boss
Centrino is the low power processor Intel makes. It's not really a matter of hype or price. Centrino is the "Celeron" of laptops. It was designed to extend battery life. Existing P4's are too much of a battery draw to make them advantagous in portable form.
 

ExCyber

Staff member
Actually, Centrino is pure hype; it is a marketing campaign. It is not a processor, chipset, or feature, but a label applied to laptops that feature certain combinations of Intel CPU, 802.11, and northbridge/display controller chips. You don't need a Centrino laptop to have any or all of the Centrino features. This doesn't necessarily mean that Centrino is a rip-off, just that it's only slightly more meaningful than an "Intel Inside" sticker.
 

Alexvrb

Established Member
ExCyber is right. The CPU behind so-called "Centrino" systems is the Pentium-M I was referring to in my last post. Never compare that to a Celeron. It is nothing like a Celeron. A modern Celeron is a P4 only with a small cache and really, really, really bad performance (ie 1.6Ghz Duron stomps 2.6Ghz Celeron into the ground and costs like $30-40 at the same time). Celeron is a budget chip, whereas Pentium-M is a specialized chip. A Pentium-M is a low-power, efficient, fast chip. It doesn't have the clock speed of a P4, but much like Athlons, it doesn't rely purely on clockspeed to perform well. A higher-power desktop version could actually give the P4 quite a run, if they made one. But the laptop one is decent on battery life and runs cool, too.

As far as sound card goes, the Live! might have a little better performance, but overall compatibility/reliability will probably be better with the onboard. I'd stick with that or spend the $70 for an Audigy 2. Live! isn't horrible, but I didn't care much for Live! or Audigy 1. Although, you can force Audigy 2 drivers on an Audigy 1. But you don't get the better hardware, just better drivers.

For the GPU, I'd stick with the 9800 Pro, or maybe by then an XT. Who knows, the whole landscape could shift by then. If you succeed in getting a place, just PM me and I'll tell you if my opinion on anything in particular has changed. I frequent Newegg myself, so I have an idea of what they have in stock, too. They aren't always the best in price, but I've never bought from a place with better customer service.
 

mal

Established Member
Originally posted by Alexvrb@Jul 21, 2004 @ 01:25 PM

A Pentium-M is a low-power, efficient, fast chip. It doesn't have the clock speed of a P4, but much like Athlons, it doesn't rely purely on clockspeed to perform well. A higher-power desktop version could actually give the P4 quite a run, if they made one.

Isn't that where Intel is believed to be heading with it's desktop processors?
 
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