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The CPU/APU market


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#1
drmoneejd

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Hi, once again I seek advice in the wonderful world of Geeks to Go! :happy:

So I currently own (all new) OCZ 500 watt PSU, 16gb(2 dual channel 8gb systems, so 4 physical sticks) of Ripjaws DDR3 memory (not the fastest at 1333, and overkill I know but I got a great deal in it) and an Antec mATX case that I really like. I'm looking to get a cpu, mobo, and gpu for around $350 to make a decent (but budget friendly) gaming rig. I've worked mainly with AMD in the past, so I know little about Intel, except that they are a little higher priced and said to be better. But with the mixed reviews of Intel vs AMD, APU vs CPU, and Phenoms vs FX, I'm not sure where the best bang for my buck is. The highest priced mATX boards I normally come across with 4 RAM slots are 90-110 (for AMD anyways), so I figure another 110-130 for the CPU, and last 100 or alittle more for the GPU. Some people that I've asked laugh at me wanting to build a mATX computer for games, but I think it's definitely possible. Also I have a new AM3 cooler, so OEM cpus and AMD is preferred, but not set in stone.

So basically can anyone speak from experience of which is better in a gaming application, or at this price range if I'll even notice a difference? And if you could recommend any products (cpu/mobo/gpu) that would help as well The purpose of this build was mainly researching what's available, so that's what I'm doing! Thanks :thumbsup:
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#2
Digerati

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I don't have any specific recommendations but I have a few comments to chew on. For your motherboard, I would just look around at Newegg for µATX boards that support your RAM. It looks like they have 82 µATX AMD boards to choose from (I prefer Gigabyte, then ASUS). However, I think your budget is pretty tight for a decent game machine - considering a decent graphics card can cost more than your $350 just for the card. That said, game designers know most people cannot afford $1500 or more for a 1/2 way decent game machine, so they design their products to provide pretty decent "game play" on lessor systems. Still, the more money you can put in a game machine, the better.

Some people that I've asked laugh at me wanting to build a mATX computer for games, but I think it's definitely possible.

It is all a matter of perspective. It is important to note that many full tower ATX cases struggle to provide enough cooling for the components inside, so a tiny µATX, with fewer and smaller fan options will struggle even more. And yet you will see many notebook makers "claiming" to make gaming notebooks - and I have to laugh at that. While the hardware may be powerful enough for good gaming, there is no way a notebook case, with its very limited fan support, can keep the components cool enough for my comfort - and this is evident by the fact these systems typically, and frequently toggle down in speed (and thus performance) to keep from overheating. And also, notebook cases typically are impossible for the "normal" user to open up for a proper cleaning of all the heat trapping dust that gets sucked, and packed inside. At least with a µATX case, you can open it up for cleaning.

I would take a µATX gaming machine over a notebook gaming machine any day of the week.

Note too, not all µATX cases are the same. Many are "slim" models that only support "low-profile" ("half-height") expansion cards and often only low-profile PSUs. This can greatly limit your options. You did not specify which Antec case you have. And speaking of PSUs, you need to make sure yours will physically mount inside that case.

I don't see an operating system listed. A common mistake is some users assume they can use their old Windows license on a new computer. Understand only a "boxed" full Retail license can be transferred to a new computer (or upgraded motherboard). It is illegal to use an OEM license that came with or was purchased for one computer on another computer. A disk “branded” with a computer maker’s brand name, or is labeled with “OEM/System Builder”, “Upgrade”, “Academic Edition”, or "For Distribution with a new PC only", is not transferable to a new PC (or upgraded motherboard) under any circumstances. These OEM licenses are inextricably tied to the "original equipment". So if that is the case, I recommend 64-bit Windows 7 or one of the many free Linux alternatives. Just ensure it is 64-bit since you have selected 16Gb of RAM.

Finally, you may not be aware, and for many enthusiasts it is not a concern, but it is important all readers understand that both Intel and AMD warranty their “retail” boxed versions of their CPUs that come with supplied heatsink fan assemblies as “a unit". Consequently, both Intel and AMD require the use of the supplied coolers with their CPUs and using any alternative cooling solution violates the terms of the CPU warranties. Note this IS stated in the CPU warranty booklets that come with each CPU, or can be viewed online at Intel and AMD.
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#3
drmoneejd

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Thanks for such a quick reply. I'm sorry I wasn't specific enough,I've already mounted the PSU in this case Here and even though it wont keep it cold, it does have a 90mm case fan that helps some. Antec was a typo for Apex. And I'm going to be using Windows 7 64bit and LinuxMint 64bit. And I have been looking on Newegg for awhile but sadly the 82 drops to only 26 when I add the need for 4 ram slots. And I've only used ASUS before, but based off reviews I was looking at these two, although I don't know anyone who uses a MSI
MSI
Gigabyte

And I did not know that about the cpu warranty, but it's something good to know for when building others. I simply figured that an after-market fan (I have this one here) would cool better. That's the only thing I'm hoping will fit ok in the case.

Also I was looking at these gpu's
HIS or ASUS
and the cpu:
here
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#4
Digerati

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MSI, like many board makers, has a wide range of products, from entry level to high-end. I have used MSI with several builds and have no complaints. That said, I still prefer Gigabyte boards - but that is more a personal preference.

I simply figured that an after-market fan...would cool better.

That, of course, is what the aftermarket cooler companies want us to believe. And in most cases, it is probably true. And while cooler is generally considered to be better, 3 or 4 degrees here or there is no big deal - IF the case is doing its job of providing lots of cool air flow through the case. That is, the difference between 54°C and 50°C will not affect performance or the expected life of the CPU.

Consider this - OEM coolers are warrantied for 3 years. Most aftermarket coolers are warrantied for 1. Only the OEM coolers will cover replacement of the CPU, if in the [admittedly] rare event a failed fan takes out the CPU. So, because neither Intel or AMD want to replace the CPU or cooler during the warranty period, they provide excellent coolers that will even support moderate overclocking (although overclocking voids the warranty too!). Remember, the CPU cooler simply "tosses" up the CPU heat into the case cavity. It is then up to the case's fans to move that heat out.

I am not into hard-core overclocking so I always use the OEM coolers. The only exception is when building a HTPC that will be integrated into a home theater system. When someone spends $10,000 or more on home theater speakers and electronics (not counting the TV!!!), the last thing they want to hear is fan noise coming from the PC. So then I will use a super quiet fan, or go with a passive (fanless) cooler.

That said, while the OEM TIM pads are MUCH better than nothing, I always remove them and use a good paste.

but sadly the 82 drops to only 26

Only 26? I'd say that is still a huge selection to choose from. In looking at your case, one 90mm fan in back is not a lot of cooling (you cannot count the PSU fan) and that would be a concern for me. :( However, in looking at the images, it does look like you can fit a fan behind the front panel, in front of the drives. Side panel fans are hit or miss when it comes to cooling. They sometimes create too much turbulence and disrupt the desired front-to-back air flow through the case. That one having a tube to direct the flow may be good - as long as the tube aligns right over the CPU. But since these cases are designed to support 1000s of motherboards, and since CPU placement is not standardized, it may, or may not align right. If it does align, you might try a side fan. If it does not align, I would recommend removing the tube and don't use a fan.

As for graphics cards, I would take the one that supports my two monitors without having to use adapters - so that would be the HIS.

Finally, almost all motherboard makers maintain QVLs (qualified vendor lists) of compatible CPUs and RAM on the motherboard's webpage. Make sure the CPU you choose is listed for the motherboard you buy. There are too many RAM makers and models for them to test them all so make sure you buy RAM with the same specs as listed RAM.
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#5
drmoneejd

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Honestly I have never thought about the perspective of the oem's coolers to ensure they have minimal problems with warranties, but that's a good point. And there is definitely room for a front fan, which I will install soon. I am also using only sata (no eide) and a modular psu in hopes of getting good air flow, but the taking off of the side tube is a good idea. Also I'm not sure if you can tell by the pictures, but the case does have a vented area on the side, close to where the video card will be, so that's better than nothing. And 26 is a lot, but I'm also looking for something for usb3 and hopefully am3+, although I don't know if they are even staying with am3+ or just looking into the fm1 architecture. But thanks for giving me a little bit of confidence in msi.
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#6
Digerati

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Well, you know, it seems like just about everything thing else, the makers can put more goodies on the larger models. You may want to consider a mid tower case.
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#7
drmoneejd

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Well, you know, it seems like just about everything thing else, the makers can put more goodies on the larger models. You may want to consider a mid tower case.


That's very true, and I will probably never build anything smaller than a full atx computer again, but this was kind of a personal goal, to see the problems I face, so I'm going to stay with it :happy: .
However after reading more on some sub $200 processors, I decided to go with Intel. I found that i3's benchmark better than the entry FX series and later I can upgrade to an I5, which I have heard a lot of good things about. Also some matx Intel boards are offered with no on-board video at all, which I would think would better suit me since I already know I'm going to buy a video card. Oh and I have read that amd is going to start focusing more on the mobile market, which makes me want to familiarise myself with Intel a little more.
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#8
Digerati

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I will probably never build anything smaller than a full atx computer again

For the vast majority of people, a "full" ATX is WAY too big and heavy. Unless you need 6 or 7 hard drives, a mid-tower is typically plenty big.

However after reading more on some sub $200 processors, I decided to go with Intel. I found that i3's benchmark better than the entry FX series and later I can upgrade to an I5, which I have heard a lot of good things about. Also some matx Intel boards are offered with no on-board video at all, which I would think would better suit me since I already know I'm going to buy a video card. Oh and I have read that amd is going to start focusing more on the mobile market, which makes me want to familiarise myself with Intel a little more.

Well, I prefer Intels but there is nothing wrong with AMD CPUs. They are excellent, reliable products that make excellent computers. It is also true that AMD is backing off competing with Intel, but they are not abandoning the PC market. So that is not a reason to look at Intel.

Buying a board without integrated graphics does allow you to put your budget money elsewhere, but buying a board with integrated graphics allows you to buy a working system now, then budget later for a nicer graphics solution later.
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#9
theking697

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This is my setup and it runs bf3 on high settings phenom ii x4 960t asrock 970 extreme 3 used to unlock CPU to six core and overclock to 4ghz and i have the his iceq 6570 which makes a decent computer
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#10
drmoneejd

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For the vast majority of people, a "full" ATX is WAY too big and heavy.

You're right, I'll probably go with a mid from now on.

Well, I prefer Intels but there is nothing wrong with AMD CPUs.

I've always preferred AMD, I've built Intel based systems that others had ordered, but I've never actually ordered one myself till now. But it's really interesting how many more are available as far as boards themselves, north bridges, and sockets. I think there may even be some brands that only make Intel based boards (like evga i think).


This is my setup and it runs bf3 on high settings phenom ii x4...which makes a decent computer

Really? Just curious does it play well? Like do you know your average fps?

Edited by drmoneejd, 27 February 2012 - 04:50 PM.

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#11
Digerati

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The only Intel-only motherboard maker I know is Intel. eVGA concentrates on Intel, but they make AMD boards too - nForce 730a.
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#12
drmoneejd

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Well I really appreciate the advice and after looking I think I've decided to go with This one.
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#13
Digerati

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Check the motherboard's QVL - qualified vendors list for compatible RAM and CPUs.
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#14
drmoneejd

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I did, and decided to go with this i3, and even though my ram isn't specifically listed, g-skill is, just not my latency, the board offers MemOk!, which should work with almost any ram, and if not I'll cross the bridge when it gets here.
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#15
Digerati

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There are too many RAM makers and models for motherboards to test them all. So while you should buy a CPU from the QVL, you don't have to with RAM. You should however, buy RAM with the same specs as listed RAM to ensure compatibility.

Do note that chipsets, motherboards, and memory controllers are getting much better at managing and controlling RAM. And RAM makers are getting much better at making RAM that consistently comes off the assembly line very tightly meeting published specs. That said, they are not perfect. Until Man can create perfection 100% of the time, there will be flaws. And no program like MemOK! can make incompatible RAM compatible. So you should still buy RAM that meets specs of listed RAM.
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