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Building a new system


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#1
gbowne1

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Here is my idea on a new PC for myself:

I'd like to use an AMD processor. My current one is a AMD Athlon XP 2000+. I'd like to have at least 3GB of RAM. My current system has about 786,432kB listed in the boot up black screen. I've been using Windows XP Home SP1a which was upgraded to SP2 and added all the updates up to the latest one. I would like to upgrade to Vista, hopefully the ultimate. I looked into using Solaris, Ubuntu 7 and Fedora Core and trying out others. I currently use a dial-up connection, albeit a free one, at 48kBPS. I'd would like to use a ASUS motherboard/mainboard. My current one is a ASUS A7N8X-X. I do a lot of MP3 playing, using MediaMonkey and Windows Media Player 11 and downloading on P2P (eMule, Sharaza, Limewire) My current library of MP3's is up to about 3,000 and mostly are in 128. I surf the web a lot, chat, and do quite a bit of IM'ing with friends and sometimes play music over chat through the sound card (which has given poor results on PalTalk. I use iTunes for my 80gb Apple IPod Video. My current video card is a AGP ATi Radeon 9200 with 256MB. I would like to be able to run programs like Microsoft Flight Simulator, MasterCAM, ArtSoft's Mach3, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Diablo II, Adobe Acrobat 8, OpenOffice 2.2, GriSoft AVG 7.5 Free, WebFerret 6, AdAware SE Personal, Spybot S&D, Yahoo Mail! and Messenger. My current hard drive is a but I also have a swap tray where I can put in anything I want (used it to get date off my old hard drives from other PC's). My monitor is a viewSonic A70 but I want to switch to a ViewSonic LCD like a 19".

Current System:
Motherboard = ASUS A7N8X-X
Memory, RAM = 2 Modules (one 512MB, one 256MB) making a total of 786,432 kb running @ 133MHz Single Channel
CPU= AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (Thoroughbred -B w/256kb L2 64kb L1) running 6.25 x 267
Drives: HD: Seagate 250MB Model ST3250238A (formatted to 238mb) UDMA-5 ATA-100 IDE (has 2 partitions)
Optical: ASUS CRW-5232A3
one currently empty swap tray by LianLi
ATA / IDE Iomega Zip 250
Video nViDia ATi Radeon A9600SE (RV350 or RV360?) 8x AGP 256MB
Monitor: ViewSonic A70
Sound: Creative SB Audigy 2 OEM

My thoughts on a system:

ASUS Motherboard something like a M2N or M3, socket AM2 or AM2+, 10/100/100 LAN, SATA
AMD processor something like: AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ Processor ADX6400CZBOX - 3.20GHz, 2 x 1MB Cache, 1000MHz (2000 MT/s) FSB, Windsor, Dual-Core, Retail, Socket AM2, Processor
3GB Memory, RAM Ultra or Corsair PC6400 DDR2
SATA II hard drive 250MB minimum. something like: Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB Hard Drive - 7200, 16MB, SATA-300, OEM maybe Seagate
Hiro 56k v.92 Modem or US Robotics 56k v.92
Optical Drives: ASUS QuietTrack 52x32x52 and/or ASUS QuietTrack DVD-R/RW or 12x/16x DVD maybe also LiteOn DH 18 or 20x??
Iomega Ditto, Jaz or Zip 250 ( have plenty of these ty
Backup: TRAVAN Tape drive, LTO Ultrium or DAT, 4mm DDS, 8mm AIT StorageWorks
Video Card: GeForce 8600 or 8800 GT to 1GB SLi PCIe or Similar nVidia ATi Radeon...????
Sound Card: Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi
Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate, Ubuntu 7, NT 4.0, Solaris 10, Fedora Core, XP Home SP2/SP3 (when avail) or Win XP Pro, Win 2000 Adv. Server
Power Supply: Ultra X3 or X-Pro 500w-1000w
Case: Ultria Aluminus Black ATX Mid-Tower ULT40054

Comments, Suggestions, Thoughts???
Email address removed to protect the innocent :)
Seattle, WA

Edited by Murray S., 30 March 2008 - 11:55 AM.

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#2
gbowne1

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Ok guys.. 20+ views and no replies? Am I that stupid? Whats up? Or do I have to reply to myself..

I'm not really a power user but.. I'm learning here. I really would your help.

Greg
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#3
stettybet0

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If you've waited for more than 3 days, please post in our Waiting Room. If not, please respect the fact that we are all volunteers here who give our time for free and who have personal lives outside of this site. Also realize that being such a popular site, we constantly get crawled by search engines, which will count as views on your topic.

If you would like help, it would be helpful for us to know what your budget is and what will you mainly be using the computer for. For example, if you will be doing a lot of AutoCAD, it might be in your best interest to get a workstation GPU, however the best can cost more than $2000.

Also, you might want to look at an Intel CPU if your budget allows it, as the Intel's Core 2 lineup outperforms its AMD counterpart.

Iomega Ditto, Jaz or Zip 250 ( have plenty of these ty
Backup: TRAVAN Tape drive, LTO Ultrium or DAT, 4mm DDS, 8mm AIT StorageWorks

Why do you need these? External hard drives, USB flash drives, CDs, and DVDs have rendered these things obsolete.

You will want a different brand of power supply. Some good ones to look at are PC Power & Cooling, Antec, Corsair, Hiper, and Tagan.

Also, for most users Vista Home Premium will be sufficient. Do you really have a need for any of the additional features of Ultimate?

Speaking of operating systems, why do you need that many on this computer? Unless you have a specific reason for them, all you will be doing is taking up hard drive space. Also, keep in mind that unless you have a retail copy that you've uninstalled from your old computer, you will need to buy a new copy of XP in order to use it on this new computer.
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#4
John Hook

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gbowne1

I'm with stettybet0 on a few points - avoid the TRAVAN or 4MM or 8MM tape-backup solutions! You're better off backing up to DVD-R media or investing in a large external hard drive to backup files to. I worked for YEARS with all of those magnetic tape backup solutions and they are all VERY slow, cumbersome and prone to bad tapes as mag tape wears out.

I also agree with stettybet0 about going with an Intel CoreDuo as opposed to an AMD processor. While it's true that AMD's are cheaper and in some cases, outperform their Intel counterparts, I've run into compatibility issues with AMD-based boards and certain PCI cards do to timing issues. AMD chips also tend to have some op-code incompatibilies with certain programs / drivers. As I see it - if you're building a high-end system - go with Intel. You can purchase the OEM Intel CPU's for MUCH LESS than the "Boxed Retail" versions - you'll just have to purchase the fan/heat sink separately.

I'm ALL about ASUS motherboards - so I believe you're going down the right path by picking ASUS. NewEgg.com tends to have good deals on ASUS boards. I've been building systems for 10+ years and I've used a LOT of different boards. ASUS products tend to be reliable, fast and have lots of nice features in terms of highly customizeable BIOS settings.

As for the IOMEGA ZIP drive - are you buying that because you have lots of archived data on ZIP discs? I'm just leary of ANY type of magnetic media as it prone to corruption and errors. Floppy discs and magnetic tape are really a thing of the past. Even digital magnetic tape can be a nightmare as the tapes stretch and wear out over time. I would use USB Flash drives for moving around your data. They're small, faster than diskettes or ZIP disks, and can hold up to 8GB of data if you buy a high capacity drive. If you have a large collection of ZIP discs - I would consider burning those files to CD-R, CD-RW or DVD-R or DVD-RW or even flash drives. I have SO MANY clients that call me about not being able to get to files on their old 3.5" diskettes or ZIP discs years after the fact.

Don't go cheap on your power supply or processor & case cooling fans! The brands stettybet0 recommended are all decent. You can get very cheap Taiwan made parts - but they're not built to very good specs and are prone to incorrect voltages and failure. You get what you pay for!

As far as video hardware goes - I'm a fan of ATI's AGP offerings. They tend to be pricey - but ATI is good about constantly improving their drivers and their cards perform very well. I would shy away from imbedded graphics and sound hardware. If you want something better down the road - you can't upgrade chipsets that are soldered to the motherboard. The imbedded sound hardware on most motherboards uses cheap DSP chips that don't perform as well as high-end add-on sound cards. Soundblaster cards are decent - but Creative isn't so good about releasing stable drivers in a timely manner. The sound hardware really depends on what you're going to do with the PC. I mix digital music with high-end sound editing software, so I've invested in DAL Digital Audio cards with Optical & Coaxial I/O ports that can handle studio quality 96K digital audio. Most users don't need this. The Audigy 2 or newer cards are more than enough for most users. Again - the OEM versions are much cheaper.

I would do some research about which brand of SATA hard drives are the most reliable and perform the best. It's a hard market to shop in because I've had GREAT drives from all the major MFG's and VERY BAD drives from those same MFG's depending on the drive type and the year that I bought the drive. You might want to do some Google searches to check out product reviews on hard drives before you buy them. Check out http://www.tomshardw...rage/index.html for information and reviews of hard drives. This may not still be true - but I've had GREAT luck with both FUJITSU and IBM hard drives. Western Digital, Maxtor and Seagate have given me mixed results - some have lasted YEARS and others have died too quickly.

As for DVD/DVD-R/CD/CD-R drives, I've found the Memorex line to be VERY affordable and surprisingly reliable and compatible with almost ALL the media I've used. I used to be a big fan of Plextor and Pioneer drives - but have run into reliability and media compatibility issues with both of these brands. Since BlueRay is starting to come into play in both the consumer video and data storage market - you might want to see what's out there, if anything, in terms of drives that can deal with BlueRay DVDs.

All of my suggestions are based on personal experience working with the hardware that I've mentioned. "Techy's" tend to be VERY opinionated and have HUGE, over-inflated Egos. I say this because I'm not looking for a flood of posts from other users who want to debate my suggestions. It sucks that I even have to qualify my posts with this statement - but I know from experience that someone out there may want to turn my advice into a debate. I'm not interested in online "pissing" contests. I'm just giving you my suggestions based on my own personal experiences.

Good luck with your new system!

John
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#5
stettybet0

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Sorry there mate, the right to badmouth techs is reserved for those who have been on this board for more than one day.

Now, not to debate you, but to point out where you are wrong:

Cheaper AMD CPUs never outperform their more expensive Intel Core 2 counterparts. That wouldn't make sense now would it, as no one would buy an Intel Core 2. Intel currently owns the CPU market in performance, there is no way around that.

AMD CPUs don't suffer from opcode problems. Both AMD and Intel use basically the same opcode in their CPUs these days, and anything which will run on an Intel will run on a comparable AMD.

You state the OEM CPUs can be had for "MUCH LESS" than the retail versions. On Newegg, the OEM Q6600 is a whole $15 cheaper than the retail version. Once you add on a decent HSF and some thermal paste, you have a more expensive purchase. Unless the user intends to do some higher-level overclocking, the retail version is recommended.

You state my PSU brand suggestions are merely "decent". Have you some better ones?

While it's great that you're a fan of ATI's AGP offerings, AGP is obsolete technology. I highly recommend the user gets a PCI-Express compatible video card, which is the only type their motherboard will support (if they get one which was made in the last several years). Also, most newer motherboards with integrated graphics have a PCI-Express slot for an upgrade, so there's no need to shy away from one with integrated graphics as long as it has a PCI-Express slot. And pretty much all motherboards have integrated sound, but they all also have an available PCI slot for a sound card upgrade. Also, keep in mind that some chipsets have HD audio integrated which have comparable output to dedicated sound cards. The only reason in this case to upgrade is if the user has a surround sound setup.

Pioneer is one of the top brands of optical drives and is highly recommended by just about every tech on the board. Just because you've had a bad experience with the brand doesn't mean many more have had terrific experiences. This, coupled with actual research, is what we base our recommendations on. You can't base recommendations on experience alone, as everyone has bad luck sometimes. Also, older experiences may not be applicable, considering how quickly computer hardware changes.

So anyways, thanks. This post really helped me appease my huge ego. :)
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#6
John Hook

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stettybet0,

This is EXACTLY why I wrote that disclaimer in my post - to avoid a techy "pissing contest", something I've become WAY TOO familiar with on these forums.

In the PAST, maybe not NOW with Intel's Core Due line of CPU's, there WERE cheaper AMD CPU's that outperformed their Intel counterparts. My understanding is that AMD internally overclocks their CPU's to make up for the performance differences with their Intel counterparts. And YES - while the AMD CPU's are opcode compatible with Intel CPUs - Intel has exclusive rights to their Floating Point microcode - something that gives Intel CPU's an edge over AMD and other CPU Mfgs. You stated "AMD CPUs don't suffer from opcode problems. Both AMD and Intel use basically the same opcode in their CPUs these days, and anything which will run on an Intel will run on a comparable AMD" Perhaps this has changed, but I've run into drivers and patches for sound cards and other device drivers and apps that specifically addressed issues with AMD based PC's. I stand by the fact that there IS software/hardware out there that has issues with AMD processors. This probably has to do more with bus and memory timing issues more than opcode compatibility - but STILL - there are programs and devices which run FINE on Intel-based PCs - but require special drivers/patches to run on AMD-based PCs. If you'd like - I can provide links to examples of this.

If you read my post - I was telling this user to AVOID AMD - so I'm really with you on this. I do, however, believe that their IS a market for AMD-based systems as they cost less. If given the choice between an inexpensive AMD-based PC and a compareable Intel Celeron-Based PC - I'd likely go with the AMD as the Celeron is nothing but a Pentium with a defective/disabled FPU. Gamers tend to like AMD systems because they can overclock them - something that Intel has made more difficult in the past by hardwiring clock speed multiples in their CPUs. I've also worked with the now obsolete Cyrix line of CPUs - which in their day, had some distinct performance advantages over Intel's CPUs. I'm not ANTI-AMD by any means. I think AMD's offerings have their place in the market. While Intel remains KING in the CPU world - I believe that cheaper Intel-compatible alternative CPUs are healthy in that they force Intel to be more innovative and price-competitive in the market place.

I just checked on Pricewatch.com. The cheapest INTEL CORE 2 DUO E6600 is $230.99, while the OEM is $198. That's almost a $33 difference - which is more than the $15 difference you mentioned. The savings between Boxed Retail & OEM back in the Pentium 4 days was much greater. Sorry - Intel has obviously changed their pricing strategy. The boxed processor comes with a fan and a longer warrantee - so I guess the retail boxed version probably makes more sense now. You were right - I was wrong!

As far as power supplies go - I was in COMPLETE agreement with the brands you recommended. By "decent" - I didn't mean "so-so" or "acceptable" - but rather, these are all reliable, high-end power supplies. My point was to avoid the no-name cheap brands. Please - cut me some slack here! Don't challenge me when I'm telling this user that I agree with you !!!

You're right about PCI-Express versus AGP - but I stand by my recommendation to go with 3rd party audio & video as opposed to integrated audio & video hardware on the motherboard - if you're building a high-end system with high-end graphics and sound requirements. True, there are motherboards out there which have OUTSTANDING onboard video & audio hardware. But if you want something higher-end than what's built onto the motherboard - why buy a motherboard with substandard audio & video hardware - if you're just going to disable it and install the hardware you really want? For the average business or home PC user - imbedded graphics & audio hardware is more than adequate. But if you're in the business of high-end audio engineering, video graphic design or a gamer looking for the fastest/best video hardware - motherboard based audio & video hardware falls short of what's available in add-on cards. The DSP based AC97 audio hardware that almost EVERY PC mfg built onto their motherboards is INFERIOR to the high-end offerings of Creative and other sound card mfg's. To most users - it's just fine - but if you're REALLY into audio - you need a decent sound card that has sound font capability and doesn't rely on cheap DSP and CPU intensive drivers to deliver the best quality sound. Likewise - the high-end video cards with high-speed dedicated processors and lots of onboard memory will play those new 3D games MUCH better than most of the hardware that's built onto most motherboards. I stand by my preferrence of ATI Brand video cards based on years of dealing with video card driver NIGHTMARES! NOTHING will make a PC more unstable than buggy video drivers! ATI makes high-end, full feature, flash upgradeable video hardware - but more importantly - they've got an excellent staff of developers who are CONSTANTLY updating/patching/improving the drivers they write for their video cards. I don't believe that NVIDIA or Intel do as good of a job when it comes to video hardware and drivers. This is just MY opinion based on 18+ years of working with this hardware.

I respectfully disagree with you about Pioneer. I was VERY dedicated to Pioneer CD/DVD readers and recorders for over a decade. Early on - they were considered the BEST since they "pioneered" most of this technology. I paid $800+ for my first 4 or 8X CDR drive from Pioneer - which was a BIG deal at the time. Likewise, Plextor is, or at least WAS considered the "BMW" of CDR/DVDR hardware - and I've collectively spent THOUSANDS of dollars on BOTH Pioneer & Plextor drives. Over the years - several cheaper brands emerged which I was skeptical of at first, but took a chance on anyways. The problem with the newer 8X, 12X, 20X Pioneer drives that I was buying was that their firmware limited the media that was compatible with these pricey drives. I bought a very inexpensive ($40-$60) Memorex CDR/CDRW 40X drive and it worked with EVERY disc I tried to burn in it. That same drive is still working today. I've had to retire my Pioneer drives as they either failed or wouldn't work with the new CDR DVDR media that I was buying. Forget about Sony! While I'm a Sony [bleep] when it comes to their consumer audio equiptment, their PC drives, as well as Sony's optical media, are worse than the cheapest no-name brands! I'm not budging on this issue. I've been through [bleep] and back with CDR/DVDR technology since it was first introduced back in the 1990's. I've dealt with Sony, Teac, Pioneer, Plextor, Memorex, LG, etc drives and DOZENS of media brands. I have spent all-nighters downloading firmware upgrades (both mfg and hacked) and extensively experimented with dozens of drives and media brands. My opinions about this aren't simply based on reading reviews and posts on websites; I've got years of hands-on experience working with technology from its infancy to where it is today. For the money, the inexpensive Memorex drives are you best bet as they are reliable, compatible and work with the widest range of media. I know what I'm talking about when it comes to CD/DVD recording technology. If you want an argument in this area - BRING IT ON!!!

OK - I'm done! I respect you and agree with you on most of what you wrote - so please don't take offense to my reply. I HONESTLY wanted to avoid this back and forth debate about technical stuff. You didn't argue with me about ASUS or my hard drive recommendations or many other things! I was actually in agreement with you on most of what I wrote - especially the stuff about AMD v/s Intel.

Techy's are notoriously opinionated and argumentative; it just goes with the territory. No bad feelings here. Edited an unnecessary line - just because you partially bleep your obscenities doesn't mean they fit our family-friendly policy.


Thanks for the spirited debate! If you can think of anything else you'd like to argue about - let's say CABLE v/s ADSL or RISC v/s CISC or Windows v/s Linux or anything else - I'm up for the challenge!


Regards,

John
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#7
gbowne1

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Thank you for replies. Those were an interesting read. I've had my current system for quite a while now and wish to build with current components and technology. I've been a regular PC user since 1995. I'm not into overclocking. I have used Windows since 3.1 and Windows 95. I was not happy with Windows ME at all. Too much internet use and downloading killed that system. I have had much better luck and have had more stable systems since I switched to using AMD. I have not had the same amount of BSOD with these systems than when I ran a PII, PIII, etc. Those can be a real pain too. I'd just like to buy the components of my PC with current technology, within say 2007/2008.

I intend to do a lot of CAD/CAM with AutoCAD, MasterCAM, SolidWorks, ArtSoft Mach3, etc. I do have AutoCAD 2005, and am going to upgrade all the CAD/CAM software on my PC and aquire the SolidWorks and CNC / CAM software. This is because I run a small home machine shop. I do a lot of CNC work.

I enjoy flying on the PC & flight simulators. I started out with FS 95 & 98 on my computer, but I have been using a copy of MS Flight Sim 2000 Professional which I intend to upgrade. I just have been happy with 2000 Pro for the time being.

Whatever chip and mainboard/motherboard I buy has to be able to outdo an Athlon ADXA2400DKV3C (Althon XP 2400+) that came out around 1999 that I bought used that I intended to put in my 2000+ system before I decided to upgrade to all newer stuff.

As for brand names, etc. I am perfectly ok with purchasing whatever you suggest. I too had a Memorex 40x CDR/RW drive, I think the 40X Max. A very good drive. Can't say that I have ever used a PC with Pioneer, except a 2x/4x external 6 disc once. Which ones should I try? Lately I have just been happy with both the ASUS QuietTrack CDR/RW and DVDR/RW drives that I have. But I would be open to something else that may be better.

Af far as the tape media, backup, etc. I have a Zip 250 in my current system because the disks are small enough to carry around, but bigger in storage than a floppy. A few of my Iomega-happy friends still have their 250, even though they also carry around USB drives, and use both DVD and CD storage. Mind you, these are also people that also own servers and server grade professional equipment.

As for a Video GPU, I was using the GeForce MX 400 before I got the card I have now. While happy with it, it did not have the merory I would like to have.

I'm not much into gaming, but I have enjoyed playing Diablo II, even though it's been out for a long time yet. And I still have a copy of The SIMS with all the addons. I just tend to do all my gaming on a console.

As far as the OS goes.. I'm not really sure what I would like, I'm open to trying out whatever works best with my system build. I've just been used to using Windows for so long. I've just been told about and looked at others that I think would be nice.

Memory I don't suspect will be too hard to deal with, but my current is a mix of PC2100 and PC2700. See the spec I posted.

As for hard drives, I've used most of the brands out there. My largest volumes have been a Maxtor 80 and a Seagate 250. Most of them have performed pretty well, especially the Maxtor ATA/IDE/UDMA 80GB which was a boxed retail version from CompUSA.

Oh, and as for the Power Supply, I'd heard of Antec. Not sure of the others.

In the way of sound, I love my MP3's so much I stopped buying and carrying large volumes of CD's around. I'm used to the SoundBlaster on my own I had terrible problems with playing MP3's through the sound card into PalTalk chat audio using the AC97. I used to have the "Live!" 5.1 version of the SB card before I bought a OEM SB Audigy 2 at a good price. Being Happy with WMP11 and MediaMonkey for now, playing through a pair of Harman/Kardon HK 195's.

As far as buying stuff, ComputerStop. and TigerDirect are my thoughts right now. www.computerstop.com & www.tigerdirect.com.

As I have a Dell Inspiron 8500 Laptop, so may get a external hard drive so I could swap files with that. And I'm also thinking about tossing in a WiFi card for the desktop PC so that I could access the city's free wifi they are testing around my area.

I'm also gonna get into doing some other things like playing around with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc. I really need to spice up my page at http://www.geocities.com/gbowne1 , and I also take pics with my digital cam, and sometimes my web cam.

My printer is a HP PhotoSnart C5100 series C5180 AIO.

I don't have a huge budget but I'm willin to spend whatever it takes to make my next PC happy.
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#8
John Hook

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gbowne1

First of all - let me appologize for the ego-driven, technical debate between me and stettybet0. It was my intent to give you advice based on years of personal experience - and not have this thread turned into a technical "pissing contest" between two users offer you our advice.

It sounds like you're pretty PC savy and have been working with PC's for awhile. Your original post as well as the one that I'm replying to make a lot of sense.

I agree with you 100% about overclocking! I've experimented with overclocking extensively on a variety of motherboards/cpu's and I've come to the conclusion that if you need a stable, reliable system - overclocking is a BAD idea. I suppose if I were a gamer who wanted to make my system as fast as possible - overclocking might make sense if I were willing to live with the occasional lockup or reboot. For must users, it's best to stick with what works - and overclocking tends to make PC's unstable.

The fact that you're running AutoCad and other CPU intensive applications only confirms my original suggestion to go with an Intel CPU rather than an AMD CPU. Intel CPU's have superior FPU's (Floating Point Units) or built-in math co-processor. This is what has given Intel an edge or AMD and Cyrix over the years. Intel's CPU architechture tends to be more conservative when it comes to voltage and heat dissapation - making Intel Processors less prone to thermal failure. AMD and Cyrix have gained performace by pushing the limits of their CPU's by overclocking them - which makes them run hotter and more prone to thermal failure. If you're looking for a fast, cheaper PC - AMD is a good option. Intel's superior FPU makes it a better choice when it comes to Floating-Point intensive applications - such as AutoCad or any application that uses intensive Floating-Point processing for rendering graphics.

As far as the CDR/DVDR issue - I have been buying them for years - since the technology hit 4x speed and a 4X CDR drive cost $700+. After spending countless hours re-flashing my Pioneer and Teac drive(s) firmware to make them compatible with new CDR media - I learned a LOT about this technology. I always believe that I needed to by the most expensive, highest rated CDR/DVDR drives for my computers - so I stuck with Pioneer and Plextor for several years. After years of fighting with media compatibility issues and drive failures with these so-called "high-end" drives - I was in a K-Mart, of all places and found a Memorex 40MAXX drive for about $40 or $50. I purchased it and was completely amazed how fast it was - how it worked with ANY CDR media I put in it - and how after 6-7 years - it's still working great - something I can't say about those Pioneer & Plextor drives that died after 2-3 years and failed to work with so many of the blank disks I purchased. That said - I'm sold on Memorex. I continue to buy their drives NOT because their cheap - but because they work well - don't die after 2-3 years and are compatible with just about ANY CDR or DVDR media I purchase. I'm not sure if ASUS makes their own drives or they're OEM'd from some other MFG. Just because a piece of hardware is branded a certain way - doesn't mean it's not made by some other MFG.

As far as the ZIP drive - if you absoutely require the ability to access legacy ZIP discs that you own - I would recommend purchasing an External ZIP drive (USB - if this is available). ZIP was all the rage 10 years ago because of the capacity and size of the disks. This as all changed with the availability of CDR, DVDR and high-capacity USB Flash Drives. Magnetic media simply is NOT reliable or archival. Anytime you have storage medium that makes contact with a read-write head - that media is eventually going to wear out - this applies to magnetic tape and magnetic diskettes. Over time and depending on the environmental conditions - the magnetic oxide will eventually dry up and flake off of those tapes and disks. Optical discs are read by a laser which never makes physical contact with the disc's surface - therefore - if handled and stored properly - are rated to last up to 100+ years. Flash memory drives can be written to and read millions of times. They are solid-state chips with no moving parts so they're not prone to wear & tear by continuous use. As far as size goes - you can buy a 1-8GB flash drive that's smaller than a cigarette lighter - which you can carry around on a keychain. My advice is to let go of your old ZIP discs and start using CDR/DVDR and/or FLASH drives to store and transport your data.

Most new motherboards support SATA drives - which are easier to chain together than the old EIDE drives. Some motherboards offer built-in hardware RAID which would allow you to stripe or mirror your data across 2 or more drives depending on the RAID level you use. This is a feature that only used to be available on servers - to make the drives redunant or fault-tolerant. Check out the link in my previous post to get evaluations of the latest drives. It's hard to say which drive to buy these days as the drive MFG companies keep merging and buying each other out. Seagate, Maxtore & Western Digital are the three most common consumer brands - although I've had good luck with IBM DeskStar and Fujitsu drives in the past.

Anatech is a good power supply. although I think the PC Power & Cooling power supplies are better. Stay away from no-name Taiwanese power supplies!

Avoid AC97 audio! Go with the SoundBlaster Audigy or higher. The AC97 is DSP based audio which processes most of the audio via DSP chips and requires bloated drives that HOG Windows CPU cycles to run. The Audigy 2 series or higher has higher quality sound processing and dedicated chips for MIDI, etc.

There are LOTS of good sites online to purchase PC hardware - I'm rather fond of NewEgg.com as they tend to be the site with the best prices when you search for hardware via www.pricewatch.com. Check out both www.pricewatch.com and www.newegg.com to get some of the best deals on motherboards, video cards, hard drives, etc.

Best of luck with your new PC!

- John
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#9
stettybet0

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Sorry for any misunderstanding John, but since I have the word "tech" underneath my name here, I'm sure you can see where I'm coming from. I'm not quite sure who you were referring to then, but let me tell you that the techs here are all people I highly respect and they don't deserve your criticism either. Sure, some of them are opinionated, but isn't every recommendation an opinion? And it just so happens that the techs here do a lot of research and have plenty of experience, thus making them have very valid opinions.

Of course, this is not to say that you or anyone else can't have valid opinions either. I'm glad you realize that you aren't always right, and we certainly know that we're not always right as well. However, this is an important reason why we tend to debate. It leads to the clarification, justification, and correction of statements, all of which benefit anyone who reads the topic.

Also, I wasn't suggesting that your lack of time on this site makes you less qualified to offer help. I was saying that it made you unqualified to criticize those who work here. It's unfair to make such a generalized statement about every tech here after only being around for a day. In the same vein, its also unfair to suggest that my age would affect my qualifications in offering help. While I may not have as much experience with a wide variety of older computers, this may actually be a benefit as most mistakes I see you making are due to you basing things on older information/experiences.

Speaking of that:

In the PAST, maybe not NOW with Intel's Core Due line of CPU's, there WERE cheaper AMD CPU's that outperformed their Intel counterparts.

Indeed, but we are talking about now aren't we, so this isn't really applicable.

My understanding is that AMD internally overclocks their CPU's to make up for the performance differences with their Intel counterparts.

By definition, this isn't possible. "Overclocking is the process of forcing a computer component to run at a higher clock rate than it was designed for or was designated by the manufacturer." So a manufacturer can't overclock their own components, only an end user can.

And YES - while the AMD CPU's are opcode compatible with Intel CPUs - Intel has exclusive rights to their Floating Point microcode - something that gives Intel CPU's an edge over AMD and other CPU Mfgs. You stated "AMD CPUs don't suffer from opcode problems. Both AMD and Intel use basically the same opcode in their CPUs these days, and anything which will run on an Intel will run on a comparable AMD" Perhaps this has changed, but I've run into drivers and patches for sound cards and other device drivers and apps that specifically addressed issues with AMD based PC's. I stand by the fact that there IS software/hardware out there that has issues with AMD processors. This probably has to do more with bus and memory timing issues more than opcode compatibility - but STILL - there are programs and devices which run FINE on Intel-based PCs - but require special drivers/patches to run on AMD-based PCs. If you'd like - I can provide links to examples of this.


Intel only just recently gained the performance crown with CPUs. The new instructions implemented with the Core 2 line (SSE4) were also implemented by AMD. I don't disagree that there are some software or hardware that will not work with AMD CPUs... But are there any made in the last 10 years? I think you would be hard pressed to find some. Also, memory timings and bus speeds (assuming you mean FSB) have nothing to do with compatibility and in the case of memory timings, have nothing to do with the CPU.

If you read my post - I was telling this user to AVOID AMD - so I'm really with you on this. I do, however, believe that their IS a market for AMD-based systems as they cost less. If given the choice between an inexpensive AMD-based PC and a compareable Intel Celeron-Based PC - I'd likely go with the AMD as the Celeron is nothing but a Pentium with a defective/disabled FPU. Gamers tend to like AMD systems because they can overclock them - something that Intel has made more difficult in the past by hardwiring clock speed multiples in their CPUs. I've also worked with the now obsolete Cyrix line of CPUs - which in their day, had some distinct performance advantages over Intel's CPUs. I'm not ANTI-AMD by any means. I think AMD's offerings have their place in the market. While Intel remains KING in the CPU world - I believe that cheaper Intel-compatible alternative CPUs are healthy in that they force Intel to be more innovative and price-competitive in the market place.


Yes, I agree that there is a place for AMD since they cost less. However, a Celeron is not just a Pentium with a disabled FPU these days (especially considering how Pentiums are no longer made... though the name "Pentium" has been rebranded on some recent dual-cores). The most recent Celeron has only half the L2 cache of the chip is was based upon, and that is the only difference. And while in the past gamers went with AMD CPUs because they were better performing, this is no longer the case, and Intel CPUs are now the choice of gamers. However, AMD CPUs are not chosen because they are better overclockers. A Pentium 4 holds the record for the highest speed with over 8ghz. The highest clocked AMD chip is just over 4ghz. Pentium 4s were great overclockers, much better than the Athlons. Even now, it is easy to get a Core 2 to overclock over 1ghz its default speed, while you are lucky to get 300mhz out of an AMD. And all multipliers are locked these days by both companies, except in "extreme editions" (Intel) and "black box editions" (AMD), which tend to be a good deal more expensive than those with locked multipliers. However, with a good motherboard and RAM, it is easy to get everything out of an overclock via FSB that you could've via multiplier.

In response to the very long video/sound paragraph...

I completely agree with going with a dedicated video solution in just about every situation. No motherboard has high quality onboard video comparable to a decent dedicated video card. I was just saying that just because a motherboard has onboard video, doesn't mean it is impossible to be upgraded (which you seemed to suggest in your first post).

As for sound, not every motherboard uses AC97. My EVGA 680i uses HD Azalia audio which supports 7.1 channels. Keeping in mind that sound cards are rendered useless in some situations under Vista, you can see why when you say a dedicated sound card will speed up gaming, this is just not true if the user will be using Vista. In fact, they won't even make the game sound better! As multi-core systems become the norm, I wouldn't be surprised if we stop seeing dedicated sound cards (this is what the Vista developers were thinking). Therefore, unless the user has a specific need for a dedicated sound card, I'm reluctant to recommend them.

In response to the long optical drive paragraph...

I see where you're coming from in that you like Memorex as they offered similar performance for much less. However, these days, all DVD-burning drives are similarly priced, and Pioneers certainly aren't so astronomically priced. For example, this oft-recommended drive is only $31. I don't even see a Memorex drive listed on Newegg.

I agree with you 100% about overclocking! I've experimented with overclocking extensively on a variety of motherboards/cpu's and I've come to the conclusion that if you need a stable, reliable system - overclocking is a BAD idea.

Overclocking done right should not have an effect on the stability of the system. If it does, then it was either not done right, or it was too ambitious an overclock. I'm not saying that everyone should overclock, but I also don't think users should be shunned away from it either.

The fact that you're running AutoCad and other CPU intensive applications only confirms my original suggestion to go with an Intel CPU rather than an AMD CPU. Intel CPU's have superior FPU's (Floating Point Units) or built-in math co-processor. This is what has given Intel an edge or AMD and Cyrix over the years. Intel's CPU architechture tends to be more conservative when it comes to voltage and heat dissapation - making Intel Processors less prone to thermal failure. AMD and Cyrix have gained performace by pushing the limits of their CPU's by overclocking them - which makes them run hotter and more prone to thermal failure. If you're looking for a fast, cheaper PC - AMD is a good option. Intel's superior FPU makes it a better choice when it comes to Floating-Point intensive applications - such as AutoCad or any application that uses intensive Floating-Point processing for rendering graphics.

Again, while the floating point calculation advantage may have gone to Intel in the past, there is currently no real difference as both Intel and AMD use nearly identical instruction sets. A quick google shows that Cyrix was pretty much out of the business by 1997. Again, you cannot back up your statements with info this old, considering how quickly hardware changes. As for the lower voltage and heat dissipation, in (recent) history Intel has actually been on the high end on this, especially during the Netburst era (P4 and Pentium D). With the introduction of the Core 2 lineup, Intel got much better going from a TDP of 130W with a Pentium D to 65W with a Core 2 Duo. However, AMD's most recent AMD Athlon X2's have a TDP of only 45W, still giving AMD the edge in this sector. And as I pointed out, a manufacterer cannot overclock their own parts by definition. From what I've read it seems that Cyrix came closer to underclocking their parts... They advertised a CPU which would run at 433mhz, yet it only ran at 300mhz.

Anyways, to the original poster:

Do you have an exact budget? Because while a workstation GPU is very useful for things like AutoCAD, they can also be very expensive (>$2000!).

Edited by stettybet0, 31 March 2008 - 04:24 PM.

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#10
gbowne1

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Well, I'd rather buy local as much as possible. I can spend a minimum of $1k... #k is doable.. How are MSI products?
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#11
John Hook

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gbowne1,

You said you like to buy local as much as possible. If you know the exact components you're purchasing for your new system, I'd first check out:

www.pricewatch.com

This site will offer you the best Internet prices from the vendors who advertise their prices online. I'm not sure what your sales-tax situation is in the State where you reside. Generally - if you're buying out-of-state and the vendor in question doesn't have a presence in your state, you can avoid paying state sales taxes.

When using www.pricewatch.com, I've found that www.newegg.com tends to have the lowest / most competitive pricing of the online PC hardware resellers. In most cases, newegg.com waives shipping fees if you ship STANDARD (UPS Ground). I've purchased LOTS of PC hardware from newegg.com and have never been burned. I consider them to be a competent, trustworthy, reputable online reseller.

If you source your components on www.pricewatch.com, you may find other cheaper vendors for specific components. Just be sure to check out their sites and terms before you order anything online.

I offer this advice only in an attempt to potentially save you $$ - based on my own personal experiences.

Hope this helps.

- John Hook
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#12
gbowne1

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The Intel systems I looked at included one of the following MB:

ASUS MAXIMUS FORMULA LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
ASUS P5K3 DELUXE/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
ASUS P5GZ-MX (LGA775)

One of the following Video Cards:

ASUS EN8800GTX/HTDP/768M GeForce 8800GTX 768MB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
ASUS EN8600GTTOP/HTDP/256 GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
EVGA 256-P2-N436-LX GeForce 7300GS 256MB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail

One of the following HD's:

Seagate Barracuda ES ST3750640NS 750GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000 HDS721010KLA330 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Seagate 80GB SATA2 7200RPM 8MB Model ST380815AS or ST980813AS

and..

One of the following CPU Chips:

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Yorkfield 3.0GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 Conroe 2.13GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E6420 - Retail
Intel Pentium E2160 Allendale 1.8GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2160 - Retail

Could I do better than these?

Greg

Edited by gbowne1, 07 April 2008 - 11:14 PM.

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