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Thread: Buying a new PC - pls look inside and give me your advice

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    Buying a new PC - pls look inside and give me your advice

    Hi all

    I'm looking to buy a new PC, HL2 being the main aim. I was going to go with an XP2500, 1gb RAM and 9800pro which I'd consider adequete... But I've recently come across this up for grabs 2nd hand:

    Amd Athlon XP 2500@3200+ w/ Coolermaster Aero7 Lite
    Abit NF7 Motherboard - Onboard Nforce2 sound, network.
    512mb (2x256) DDR 3200 RAM, Running in Dual Channel
    80gig Western Digital 8mb 7200rpm Cache Hard Drive
    80gig IBM Desktar 7200rpm Hard Drive
    Geforce FX 5900@5950 128mb(Bios flashed to 5950, runs at 5950u speeds stock)
    16x DVD Drive
    52x24x52 Philips CD/RW Drive
    400W PSU
    UV Reactive rounded IDE cables (goes well with the UV Cathodes )
    Premodded case with Window - http://www.eehee.co.uk/peecee.jpg (Old picture, no UV stuff in that pic)
    4 Blue LED Fans, 1 UV Fan. 2 Blue Cold Cathodes, 1 UV Cold Cathode, 2 Light Tubes on front of case
    Firstly I'll be trying to buy without the case as I can't stand modded cases! Just a personal thing.

    As to the contents... I'm asking whether it's a thoroughbred or barton, obviouslly prefering a barton. Slightly worried about the IBM HDD in there, they as bad as I've heard? Also need to find out if they're SATA or IDE, again SATA being a preference.

    The mobo seems ok to me, but would I be better buying without the gfx card (or selling it) and getting a 9800pro instead?

    And lastly I'll be wanting to stick it all into a black coolermaster preatorian, so I'll want the drives to match up. Coolermaster sell these:



    which I guess one or two of you will have experience with, could you tell me how they work please? Fit all drives ok?

    Assuming I buy that, would I be alble to stick another 512mb RAM in and keep it all running in dual channel mode? I really don't understand RAM I'm afraid

    And finally, a rough cost without case?


    Now, would I be better building a similar system myself from new (I guess not) or building an A64 machine?

    Sorry for the length, but I want to get my purchase right.

    all!

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    Resident abit mourner BUFF's Avatar
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    XP2500@3200 - 2500's are Barton only
    NF7 doesn't have SATA (or IEE1394 or SoundStorm), it's the NF7-S that does.
    gfx card - depend on what he's charging for it
    CM drive covers - they use double sided sticky tape. A bit tricky to get everything lined up perfect but they work OK. Obviously no holes for activity LEDs, headphones or eject pin (can drill your own)


    Given that you don't want 1/2 of what he has I would say build yourself (he may not want to split too). Nforce2 boards are cheap now (NF7 £40, NF7-S £55), XP2500 £50 & HDD prices are dropping all the time, a DVD-R/RW instead of DVD & CD-R/RW etc.

    A64 if you go socket 754 won't be too much dearer - main difference will be the CPU cost (3000+retail is £120 or so) & mobo may be slightly dearer (Chaintech VNF3-250 or Gigabyte 8KNS about £60) so I guess it depends upon how tight for cash you are.
    Last edited by BUFF; 09-08-2004 at 11:16 PM.

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    Ok thanks, those facias looked really good in store but from what you've just said I'm staying well clear!

    I think you're right, I'd prefer the better mobo, SATA drives and ATI gfx so I may as well leave his machine alone.

    To save making another topic, what's the difference between the 2 types of Athlon and how much performance difference exists? Gaming again being the most important factor. I've seen the cheaper A64s quite reasonably priced, tempted...

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    Resident abit mourner BUFF's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with the CM fascia's as you can see I have 2. You just need to spend time lining things up just so. Most annoying thing is CM logos on each 1 (I've removed it on 1 but never got around to the other).

    AMD64 is the best gaming platform that you can buy. Only problem is that if you buy Socket 754 it has a limited upgrade potential (probably just below 4000+) & 939 is dear (cheapest CPU is £250).

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    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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    whats wrong with the FX5950???? Compared to the 9800pro it has virtually identical [and in some cases better] performance.....

    imho thats a good system and depending on the price its worth going for...

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    i dont think i would ever buy a second hand pc especially if it has been overclocked, you just dont know how far the previous owner pushed it! Plus everything will be out of warantee i should think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joely
    i dont think i would ever buy a second hand pc especially if it has been overclocked, you just dont know how far the previous owner pushed it! Plus everything will be out of warantee i should think.
    Personally i buy most of my gear secondhand, especially stuff thats been overclocked, as at least you know roughly how fast the stuff will go.
    I bought my current p4 secondhand a while back specifically because I was told it could do 250mhz on stock volts - the only guarentee you get buying new is that it will do 200mhz on stock volts, unless you get one had-picked for £££.

    Whats a warranty anyway - the only thing I don't void the warranty on is drives - and I've returned 3 this year so far
    Wibble

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud1
    whats wrong with the FX5950???? Compared to the 9800pro it has virtually identical [and in some cases better] performance.....

    imho thats a good system and depending on the price its worth going for...
    I'd agree, if there wasn't this niggle at the back of my head about ps2.0 problems with the fx series (or am I imagining this). Also, the 5950 retailed for a vastly higher price than the 9800 Pro, so that will likely push up the price. All this without even considering the pro-ATi thing going on at Valve.

    Also - it's an nf7, not an nf7-s, hence ****ty onboard audio (no soundstorm) and has 2x256 RAM (no good for a dual channel upgrade to 1Gb)

    Finally: - 400W PSU...is this branded or what?

    Too many niggles for my liking. Self-build.

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    Too many niggles imo, would prefer SATA HDDs to IDE and one of them's IBM, drives are the wrong colour, I'm going for the black CM case (the black widow without the window and glossy paint) and I'd have to use those front panels which, while they look great, don't sound all that good I'm afraid (double sided tape... I was expecting to snap off the front facia and fit that instead, there'll still be a grey draw, and do they protrude from the front of the case or fit flush? I'm guessing they can't fit flush if you're sticking them over the front)

    Problem with no dual channel if I want 1gb of RAM, wrong GFX card and it's all been overclocked or flashed. It's going for £450-500 atm incidently.

    So anyway, thanks for the advice here, but if I can ask for a bit more:

    I was going to build a system round an XP2500 with 1gb of RAM. Unfortunately I'm not up to speed on a few areas, I've had a quick blast round a few sites and FAQs but I'm still lacking knowledge or detailed comparisons on the following:

    Dual channel. I know that you need matched pairs of RAM to achieve this, but how much difference does it really make? Is it essential?

    The difference between the differernt A64s. I think I'd be going with a S754, what differences are there between this and 939? As far as I've found, the chips are identical between the 2 slots, but they've stopped making 754s (not a problem to me). Is this everything?

    Can someone reccomend an A754 motherboard, SATA, front USB and front firewire required.

    Once those are answered I think I'll go ahead and order, will post again to use your knowledge for a final check Thanks again for help.

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    Guessing you mean the praetorian? I want one of those, wish I had money...

    Difference between s754 and s939: 754 is single channel memory, 939 is dual. As for RAM - depends, I still think paying 50% more for corsair is silly if you're running at stock - can get much better deals if you look around.

    Looking into socket 754 boards now.

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    (double sided tape... I was expecting to snap off the front facia and fit that instead, there'll still be a grey draw, and do they protrude from the front of the case or fit flush? I'm guessing they can't fit flush if you're sticking them over the front)
    You possibly can remove the stock fascia & replace with the CM (still sticky tape) I didn't bother trying. All you do is recess your drive an extra couple mm & it will be flush

    Problem with no dual channel if I want 1gb of RAM,
    Yes it will run DC just put the 2x256Mb in slot 1 & 2 & the 512 in slot 3.

    wrong GFX card
    personal choice & if the price was right...

    It's going for £450-500 atm incidently.
    ..but that's too dear. You could virtually build it new for that.


    Dual channel. I know that you need matched pairs of RAM to achieve this, but how much difference does it really make? Is it essential?

    They don't need to be matched but reasonably similar helps (you wouuld be surprised at some of the combinations that supposedly have been run DC).
    On an nForce2 SPP platform you are looking at under 5% extra performance - it isn't essential.

    The difference between the differernt A64s. I think I'd be going with a S754, what differences are there between this and 939? As far as I've found, the chips are identical between the 2 slots, but they've stopped making 754s (not a problem to me).
    As has been said 754 is single channel, 939 dual - there is a performance difference but again not a lot.
    They haven't stopped making 754's - they've only just introduced the 3700+ & there is a pile of Semprons yet to be introduced for 754 if you aren't bothered about 64 bit.

    Can someone reccomend an A754 motherboard, SATA, front USB and front firewire required.
    Gigabyte K8NS Pro
    Abit KV8 Pro rev 1.1
    Some would say MSI K8N Platinum others would disagree
    if you didn't need IEE1394 Chaintech VNF3-250
    I don't think that there is any stand out board that I can see (& I've been looking too).

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    I'm inclined to recomment Asus motherboards. The more I use, the more I like them.

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    get a mobile XP2500 as well mate if your planning to overclock

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    Cul-de-Sachian sybrows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash
    get a mobile XP2500 as well mate if your planning to overclock
    I agree, from what i've been reading on here if you're gonna stick with Athlon thats the best move. On a budget thats my next purch to move on from my shocking locked 2000 pally
    BrOw

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    Have done my research, including that very very useful A64 thread, and have come up with the following conclusions:

    A socket 754 mobo + A64 would be a good, cheap buy, but would limit prospects of putting higher specced A64s in in the future and would rule out dual channel memory. For best effects I should pair it with 1gb of PC3200/3700, depending on what I can get cheap.

    A socket 939 mobo would be the best A64 mobo to buy, but is waaaaay more expensive and (from what I've read, some basic stuff like this is damn hard to find!) having dual channel memory doesn't actually make all that much difference (from a framerate of 60fps I could expect 62/63 if using dual channel?). However it may be worth it due to the ease of replacing the A64 with another A64 in the future, if I go with 754 I'd most likely be limited to Semperons. To take full advantage of dual channel + the increased hypertransport I should use as good a set of paired RAM modules as I can find.

    I could of course go with a high spec Barton or Athlon mobile, for similar prices to a 754 combination.

    So, in my last post on the subject before I compose a spec, is this all correct? Are there any price drops expected in 939s I could take advantage of? And would a 754 A64 beat an XP rig that cost the same?

    Sorry for dragging it on so long, but one major failing I've noticed in tech sites is that they very rarely compare the new stuff with the old. E.g. they're happy to compare the latest ATI and Nvidia cards, but won't compare with the previous generation except in certain initial reviews and in previews... And also it's hard to find a definition + stats for things like dual channel memory, I was expecting roughly double performance increase as goes with the name, but this appears not to be the case. Again, the best I can find on hexus is a DDR preview dating back to march 2001!

    However, having said all that, the incredibly useful forums more than make up for it. So thanks to all who've replied and wp

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    939 boards are available to buy from about £85.

    At the moment if there were 2 identical (clockspeed & cache) AMD64 CPU's other than 754/939 pin then the 939 would probably gain about 5%.
    Of course we all expect further price drops as time goes by & other CPU's are launched.
    It's rumoured that Intel have a price cut coming Aug 22nd & history would say that if it happens AMD will probably respond.

    You can't touch an nForce2/Mobile Athlon for value - you just can't buy an AMD64 & board for £120 (£90 if you go for an XP-M 15/1600, more like £175 for something 1/2 decent on AMD64). But that's it - you are at the peak of socket A with no future upgrades on that platform.
    An AMD64 at 2.4GHz will outperform an XP at 2.4, but you might not get 2.4 out of a cheap AMD64 whereas you might get 2.6-7GHz out of an XP-M...

    Then of course the 754 will be ready for any performance gain that 64 bit OS/apps may bring.

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