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Thread: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

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    Question £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    Hi chaps. Been a while since I have been on here but I wanted to bend your collective ears...

    It's time for an upgrade. I have already ordered Windows 7 and want to look at a general upgrade. My current system is a Socket 939 Athlon X2 4200 with 2gb DDR. I figure I can work to a budget of around £300-£350 and for that I want a new small mATX case, CPU, mobo and at least 4gb of RAM.

    I have 3 options as far as I can tell. I need multicore for video encoding, games needs are minimal (but an excuse to buy Arkham Asylum is not too much to ask!). My current ATI 1600XT is looking decidedly old... My biggest wish is for a rig that is both snappy, and does the little things extremely well - encoding a FLAC file to LAME MP3 for example, or converting an AVI to be compatible with my Sony Bravia LCD TV. My new iPod touch is in the post and the prospect of encoding movies for this is also quite attractive...

    Option 1) Core i5 – I reckon I could squeeze an i5 750, Low end board (Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2), 4gb Crucial 1333Mhz DDR3 and an Antec NSK 3480 out of £367. This is the absolute top end of my budget and would rely on my keeping my ATI X1600 XT graphics card.

    Option 2) AMD Phenom II X3 720 - This I would consider to be the next step down. I am not too sure about going for a quad core mainly because the additional jump to an X4 955 is only £30 off a Core i5. If I went down the 785G mATX motherboard route (ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO), I could make use of the integrated graphics in the short term - this is making the assumption that integrated graphic on this board (with the 128mb Sideport memory) will be better than my 1600XT. In fact if that's the case - it adds to the argument of a Quad X4...

    The X3 route gives an upgrade price of £306, to my mind upgrades the graphics and keeps me on the latest platform. That said....

    Option 3) Athlon II X4 with the above configuration. This works out at £280. Now I can introduce an argument for adding a £50 graphics card, or wait for the ATI 5xxx generation cards that will work in Hybrid Crossfire. Alternatively, go for a non integrated mobo and save £10 to put into a dedicated card. Additionally, by speccing a quadcore I should have good performance for media encoding.

    NOTES:
    I have a 17" DVI monitor which I will be keeping, along with keyboard + mouse.
    Energy efficiency is important. This would lead me to side with Intel, however if I ditched my graphics card, that would save around 40W of power draw at full load meaning they are more even. That's with the assumption that the 4200 chip on the 785G is better than the 1600XT.
    I could flog my Chieftec Dragon and current Athlon X2/2GB DDR/250GB drive rig for £50 to make a dent in the above cost. I will keep my current 320GB drive...plus external USB.


  2. #2
    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    hmmm,
    a) ATIs low-end 5-series cards will not see any improvement from Hybrid Crossfire with a 785 board, *if they work at all*. I'd ixnay that concept from the start.
    b) If energy efficiency is really important to you go for the 65W Phenom II X4 905e or X3 705E, or wait for the alledged 45W Athlon II X4 - they have lower clock speeds than the other Phenom II / Athlon IIs, but are still a huge step up from your current Athlon.
    c) I'm not convinced how much "better" than a 1600XT the HD4200 is - it's gonna be tricky finding comparable reviews. Your best bet is to work back through several generations of graphics reviews.

    Based on your requirements, I'd personally go with a Phenom II X3 705e stuck in a Geforce 8200 mobo combined with a Hybrid SLI supporting GFX card - the 9800GT is meant to support this and is now available in ECO edition for ~ £75. The advantage here is that not only is the graphics card already lower powered (the ECO 9800GT is bus powered, so max 75W), the motherboard supports turning off the discreet graphics when you're not doing anything graphically intensive, saving even more power. Add 4GB of DDR2-1066 to that, and you're looking at an outlay for mobo, cpu, ram and gfx of ~ £270. Buying the extra core of an X4 905e will add about £40, but you might be able to find GPU-accelerated encoding programs that'd take advantage of CUDA...

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    Re: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    A socket 939 X2 4200 sells for over £50 currently:

    http://shop.ebay.co.uk/?_from=R40&_t...All-Categories

    This is what I would look at getting:

    AMD Phenom II X4 905e ~ £124

    http://www.scan.co.uk/TodayOnly/Index.aspx

    This is a 65w TDP quad core processor.

    Asus M4A78-EM ~£52

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-...-uATX-VGA-HDMI

    This motherboard has all solid capacitors.

    4GB PC2-8500 DDR2 RAM ~£61

    http://www.scan.co.uk/TodayOnly/Index.aspx

    385W Enermax PRO82+ PSU ~£43

    http://www.scan.co.uk/TodayOnly/Index.aspx

    This PSU has 88% efficiency.

    HD4670 512MB GDDR3 ~ £54

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/512Mb...PCI-E-VGA-Card

    This card is bus powered.You can use ATI Tray Tools to set custom 2D clocks too!


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    Normally I hate to disagree with CAT, but if Energy Efficiency is particularly important to you I'd go with the NVidia combination in preference to take advantage of Hybrid Power. Obviously, your choice, though

    I've done some digging: you might be interested in the graphs on this Hexus review which shows the 2400XT in comparison to a 1650XT. You may find them interesting because the HD4200 is essentially a 3450 with no dedicated RAM, and a 3450 is essentially a 2400XT with a better UVD block. They all have exactly the same core architecture in terms of numbers and type of shader units etc. so have very similar 3D performance (the HD4200 suffers from having less, and slower, dedicated memory). The 1650XT hammers the 2400XT, so I don't think HD4200 would be a step up from your 1600XT at all - in fact, quite the opposite...

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    Re: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    Well if Hybrid Power works then it would be a good choice too. IIRC some 9800GT graphics cards do not support Hybrid Power although I could be wrong here! If the 780G is deactivated when the HD4670 is present you could always underclock the GPU further using ATI Tray Tools too for 2D stuff.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    The 4670 is a nice card, as said above, bus powered, and therefore low consumption - although 4770/4850/4870 prices have got so squished, as a valueerformance proposition its not as good. If power consumption is (as you say) a big concern, then its decent. I have an Intel/Nvidia combo in my rig, I feel AMD offer better value at this end of the price range though.

    4670 can cope with the odd gaming bout far far better than the X1600 or HD4200 ever will, and also has far better video processing capabilities.

    I'd go for:

    AMD Phenom II X3 (705e) £90
    AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4670 £50
    4GB DDR3 £60
    Seasonic S12-330 £40
    Motherboard (AMD chipset 770, or similar) £50
    Antec 300 case £45

    I think that has come in underbudget. The prices I give are a guide as some stuff had to come from different retailers. I made a basket on ebuyer with an MSI motherboard and a BeQuiet 350W PSU or OCZ 400W PSU and it came in at £325-£330

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    Re: £350 Upgrade - Thoughts Welcomed!

    Well, there might be something to be said for sticking with my current X1600 then, for the time being. It is also bus powered and I put a silent Arctic Cooler on it a year or so back. I wonder though whether or not i might be better flogging my current PC as is, surely a student or someone with low requirements would want a dual core X2 with a full copy of win XP pro and office 2003 for £100-£150? All they'd need to do is plug i na monitor...

    I have not really considered Nvidia. Partially because the nforce4 board I have now has been a royal pain due to the USB2 drive incompatibility with XP over the years but I will have a think. A lot of the review i read seem to indicate though that the 4770 is wiping the floor with anything nvidia had got. Like the bus powered approach though.

    The case I have my eye on is the Silverstone SG01 - white will fit with the decor ;-)

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