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Thread: Looking for comments on my spec list

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    Looking for comments on my spec list

    Hello everyone,

    I am way overdue for a new system and have been mostly out of touch with recent developments. I have been researching of late in anticipation of buying a new system. Below is a list of what I'm leaning towards presently and I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions or warnings of pitfalls. Thanks very much to anyone who can take the time to comment.

    I primarily use my computer for development within Visual Studio.NET and typically have a couple of instances of it running as wells as Office, Enterprise Manager, etc. But I intermittently go on gaming binges also (actually I'm almost admitting to myself that the impending release of Elder Scrolls 4, Oblivion is driving my desire for a new system now). I want stability, speed, quietness, looks and without paying more than necessary. Nothing in my list is set in stone but for the first time I'm heavily leaning towards an AMD system this time.

    Here are some questions I have. After some research I reasoned that I would save some money by buy cutting back on the processor and video card but buying versions that are good OC candidates out of the box. I haven't done any overclocking before so out of the box is a must.

    Specs so far:

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+
    2GB DDR400 PC3200 Memory (Major Brand,1GBx2)
    ASUS A8N-SLI Premium
    Sapphire ATI X800XL Ultimate 256MBDDR
    2 x Maxtor 250GB 7200RPM 16MB Cache SATA
    LG 16X 4167B DVD RW +- Dual Layer Rewriter
    LG 52X32X52 CD-RW
    Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS 7.1
    Antec Performance One Series P160 ATX Mid Tower Case
    480 Watt Thermaltake SILENT Power Sup.Dual Fan Control W0014
    Microsoft Windows XP Professional X64 Edition
    Mitsumi 7 in 1 Internal Card Reader and Floppy Drive

    Questions:

    1) I know AMD systems are faster and run cooler these days but I will I find my development environment to be just as stable (or very close to it)? Would I sacrifice any stability at all by overlocking the processor and/or video card, assuming that I keep it within limits?

    2) I know DDR400 RAM is pretty good, would there be a price/performance advantage to switching to some specific RAM?

    3) I spent more time researching the case than anything and I'm still not happy. Roughly in the order of importance I want a case to be quiet, reasonably priced, good looking, roomy, not overly susceptible to fingerprints/dust, accessible USB and audio ports without having to open a full door. I don't want gaudy but I also wouldn’t mind a side window with some neon but that is not necessary. I'm leaning towards the Antec P160 or P180. But several of the Thermaltake's are intriguing also, like the Shark, Armor, Tsunami etc. I like their Kandalf but it seems kind of pricey.

    4) I'm leaning towards that Sapphire X800XL Ultimate because it is reasonably priced comes with the Zalman cooler and overclockable out of the box. However, would my setup allow me to throw in a couple of 6800 GTX's in a SLI configuration in a year or two?

    5) For the sound card, I looked for the cheapest sound care that does DVD-Audio.

    6) I'm leaning towards buying this system at ETC Computers and have used their site to create my list. They didn't have a lot of power supply options so I picked the only one that was >= 400 that had "silent" in the name :-). Also considering the Antec TPII 430 Blue in case I get a side window.

    Thanks again.

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    1. I would expect a dual core to be fine and at that speed not even sure u would need to overclock
    2. Maybe not a specific brand as such but if you can find something with low CAS ratings then you will have quicker RAM than something with higher CAS. That may add a few percent more in performance aiming for 2gb is a good shout and make sure its a known name I spose, Corsair, Crucial etc
    3. Antec are great cases can't really go wrong with them, always my first choice
    4.Y bother getting the X800XL Ultimate? for another say roughly £40 -£50 you could get a 7800gt top end card that you could run in SLI if you needed/wanted to. Seems silly to outlay another couple of hundred £ a few months down the road just for sli
    5. Never been anything wrong with sound blaster i dont think, im sure some real audiophiles will have other ideas
    6.As ever be wary of unbranded PSU's with that kinda system you dont want the thing to go pop. Id get something with an Antec badge on just to be safe, others on here swear by Tagan, Seasonic etc

    Im sure others will have be able to offer some more advice
    If your botherd about quiet then you might consider swapping the maxtors for samsung spinpoints

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    I would say the memory is going to play a rather important role in whether you can overclock or not, I've seen quite a lot of branded memory that did it's job perfectly well until it was overclocked, then it fell over.

    There is specific RAM which is built for overclocking, but at the end of the day you might find you got better system performance by spending a little more on a graphics card rather than buying higher performance memory.

    There are a lot of "What if's" one of them being the possibility of perhaps going for a 7 series nVidia card like the 7800GT which is reasonably priced if you have the money for a Sapphire X800XL.

    It's not necessarily due to the native Shader Model 3.0 support, but more in mind of the 8x.xx series forceware drivers.

    As you are probably aware, the high end graphics cards are CPU limited in performance at high resolution and high settings, and the rumour is that the 8x.xx series drivers will take advantage of dual core processors, which you already mention.

    This may be the first killer application (so to speak) that takes advantage of dual core, unless you are into video editing.

    Again, it is rumoured that a graphicsc card driver that can take advantage of a dual core processor may enjoy a 30% performance boost.

    No doubt ATI will also develop something similar.

    There are no right or wrong answer, but I hope my reply might give you another avenue to ponder!
    Core i7 920, Asus P6T, 3x2 1333 DDR3, Vista x64, Ageing 8800GT (Next upgrade!), Adaptec 1430SA with 4x500 gig HD (2x RAID 0 and 2x RAID 1), Blu Ray rewriter, 1TB HD for data, housed in Cooler Master ATCS 840 awaiting water cooling with Corsair HX1000 PSU, Microsoft Habu and Reclusa, 22" and 17" TFT.

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    Yeah dude! NightshadowUK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NGC224
    Microsoft Windows XP Professional X64 Edition
    I'd go with the standard version of Windows XP Professional. Benchmarks show that there's currently no difference performance wise in games that run on the standard version of XP and those on x64 edition. Also, with the latter, you may come across driver issues and find that some games won't even play with the OS.

    - Main source -
    Last edited by NightshadowUK; 08-10-2005 at 08:49 PM.

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    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    The first 8 series drivers just came out in beta form and apparently do take advantage of dual core. They are also faster for single core if you don't enable AA.

    Dual Core will take advantage of 2Gb of memory if you multi-task, and BF2 (for instance) already runs much smoother with 2 Gig. The 1 Gig modules don;t run at such tight timings as the 512Meg ones, so you have a choice: Value for no OC, low latency for medium OC on tight timings, or high bandwidth for bigger OCs.

    The advantages of dual core at the moment are for people, like me, who like to do several things at once. You can leave something running in the background while you play a game, or edit photos in paintshop, without crucifying performance.

    For the OP - get a better PSU. Thermaltake are all mouth and no trousers. The Antec True Blue is not their best model either. I have an Antec P160 and it is comfortably the best case I've ever used (which includes Lian Li).

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    Thanks guys,

    Looks like I better put a bit more into the power supply.

    As you probably guessed, I know very little about overclocking and only got to thinking about it from coming across it so many times while researching what to buy. I read plenty of good stuff about the 3800 X2 being of great value because it so easily overclocks into a higher performer. But I didn't want to get into anything too complicated and may nix that plan. I'm sure this will be a dumb question but can overclock a processor irrespective of the RAM.

    On their website, ETC offers major brand, Kingston, OCZ and GEIL for RAM choices.

    Your video suggestions did prompt some more research and the jury is out on this decision. The big advantage of going the 6800GT route would be that I would only need to buy 1 SLI card a year or two out instead of 2. However, an overclocked X800 XL outperforms the 6800GT in most cases and the Sapphire Ultimate version overclocks even better and that Zalman cooler is a big bonus. Pay me now or pay me later I guess.

    With the ASUS A8N-SLI Premium, am I correct in assuming that moving to a SLI setup would be as simple as plugging in 2 SLI cards and turning on SLI in the BIOS?

    I didn't know that upcoming drivers may start taking advantage of dual-core; that would be great. 30% wow! Think it is safe to assume that all the ATI 800's and above and all the Nvidea 6800's and above will support this?

    Is there any reason to pick an Antec P180 over a P160 or vice versa?

    Damnit NightShadowUK, I thought the OS was one area I didn't have to lose any sleep over. I was primarily thinking of Windows X64 for Visual Studio/SQL Server 2005. But I wouldn't want to have too many incompatibilities with games.

  7. #7
    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    If you have the right mobo (and that certainly includes your choice) then you can OC irrespective of RAM, because you can set a memory divider.

    OCZ is one of the top memory makers, but also one of the most expensive. Geil is more prevalent in the US but seems to be producing high performance RAM at relatively good prices. Kingston is well priced and good quality without being good at OC. Don't buy "major brand". If they won't put their name on it, you don't want to put it in your PC. You could be lucky, but OCs are prob out of the question and you may end up having to underclock it.

    ATI doesn't have drivers out yet that support dual core (NVidia's are only Beta and ATI are playing catchup at the moment), but it's safe to assume that they will at some point. Both manufacturers drivers support all cards for the last few years. I don't think the X800XL is a good overclocker. In any case if you're going to spend £200 on a video card you might as well spend an extra £50 and get a 7800GT, which is next gen.

    SLI is not quite so simple. To be sure that it will work you need two of the "same" cards. In any case, as the 7800 has shown, getting SLi for the future is probably never going to happen. Buy it now or ignore it.

    I have the Antec P160 and I'm very happy. About the only real complaint I've seen about it is the front fascia being plastic. It was certainly the easiest build I've ever done. The P180 is looking very "a la mode", a big wannabe case atm, but reading between the lines people are having a few problems with it, e.g. PSU cables not being long enough to fit the case layout. No doubt these can be overcome and there are some very solid plusses, but you're going to have to work harder (and pay moore of course).

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    Da, you guys were saying 7800 but for some reason I was reading 6800. I thought 7800s were out of the question but maybe I should rethink. (I spent top dollar buying the top of line NV with my current Dimension XPS and vowed never to do that again but I since concluded that I just had a dud).

    I just checked and there is an ASUS EN7800GT for an extra $123 CDN/£59. But if I did that why wouldn't I just add another $133 CDN/£64 onto that for the GTX version. This happens with my video card choice every time. I might as well give up and just order 2 7800 GTX cards now :-)

    Also I wonder if the ATI is having an effect on everything else now because ETC now has several other ATI choices including an X850XT at nearly the same price. And a X800XL AIW for $91 CDN/£44 more. Maybe I should see what happens over the next couple of weeks before I decide on the video card.

  9. #9
    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    The latest ATI cards are the 1800 series. The 800 series are comparable to 6800s. The 1800 series is as rare as hen's teeth at the moment, and this, like the launch of the 800 series, is going to keep ATI prices high for a while.

    IMO you'll have to wait months for the price of these to settle down. The 7800s have already been out months and the price has already come down.

    GT or GTX? Like the 6800 series (GT and Ultra) the only difference is the speed they're clocked at. With the 6800s everyone found that the GTs overclocked mightily (to Ultra levels and beyond) while the Ultra had less headroom. With the 7800GTs some manufacturers are "pre" overclocking them (XFX take a prize here I think). XFX also do a pre-OC GTX for about £25 more. The big difference between the GT and GTX is the DDR3 RAM speed.

    Anandtech's review of the XFX GT OC summed it up nicely, "Those who might still want the GTX over the GT are those who like playing at the highest resolutions possible (and have the monitors to do so) with AA enabled. The majority of gamers, however, will be more than pleased with how well this card handles at 1600x1200 with or without AA. We even found that when enabling ultra high quality in Doom 3 at 1600x1200, the game ran just as smoothly on the GT as on the GTX."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorsson
    GT or GTX? Like the 6800 series (GT and Ultra) the only difference is the speed they're clocked at.
    The GTX has 24 pipes compared to the GT's 20.

    With the latest Nvidia drivers you can mix and match Sli cards as well, though it's not something i'd want to do or recommend.

    I've just upgraded to the Asus A8N Premium with the P180. It was a pain in the butt installing everything in the case but now it's all in there im satisfied. For a big case it's pretty cramped inside and cable management is not easy. I went for the Tagan 2 force TG580-U22 psu and it's as silent as you could want. It just about fits in the P180, see this thread here for more info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorsson
    The majority of gamers, however, will be more than pleased with how well this card handles at 1600x1200 with or without AA. We even found that when enabling ultra high quality in Doom 3 at 1600x1200, the game ran just as smoothly on the GT as on the GTX."
    Not that I care about Doom3 but that sounds awesome and if it handles that I guess it should handle anything in the near future. Then throw in the imminent release of dual core support and I believe you all have me strongly leaning towards a 7800GT. I assume the ASUS version of this card is fine?

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    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    Buying a vid card with the same chips you have these choices:

    1. Buy the cheapest
    2. Buy the best overclocker
    3. Buy one with a software deal you like

    The underlying card is the same, only cooling solutions and software differ.

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    Anthropomorphic Personification shaithis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NGC224
    I was primarily thinking of Windows X64 for Visual Studio/SQL Server 2005. But I wouldn't want to have too many incompatibilities with games.
    Then go x64, it doesn't really have compatability issues with games, unless you are talking games that wouldn't run on 32 bti XP.

    The only things that haven't run for me were virtual CD programs (like Deamon Tools) and there are 64 bit ones available now that work.

    Currently playing World of Warcraft, BF2, FarCry and the FEAR demos without a hitch......

    The only real area of compatibility are drivers. Just make sure your devices have drivers. Most things do, just the odd things like printers, scanners and capture devices can be found currently lacking support by the manufacturers.
    Main PC: Asus Rampage IV Extreme / 3960X@4.5GHz / Antec H1200 Pro / 32GB DDR3-1866 Quad Channel / Sapphire Fury X / Areca 1680 / 850W EVGA SuperNOVA Gold 2 / Corsair 600T / 2x Dell 3007 / 4 x 250GB SSD + 2 x 80GB SSD / 4 x 1TB HDD (RAID 10) / Windows 10 Pro, Yosemite & Ubuntu
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    If you want to save a packet on the graphics card get a sapphire GTO2 for about £150. You can flash the bios on it and overclock it easily to effectively an x850xt. Then you could skip a generation of graphics cards and get something faster along the line.

    PSU wise might want to consider a 500 or 600W seasonic, they are rock solid and very quiet.

    Apart from some obscenely new and expensive ocz ram, 1gb modules don't tend to overclock too well so if you're going for 2gb i'd get 2x1gb corsair value select and use dividers to overclock your cpu. Certainly avoid 'major brand' stuff.

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    Lots of great feedback. I'm not building my own box so for RAM I'm at the mercy of what the builder carries. Anything wrong with the following?

    OCZ Dual Channel Value Series PC3200 DDR400
    OCZ 2GB Kit DDR400 CL 3-4-4-8 (OCZ4002048V3DC-K)(1024MBx2)
    $291 CDN / £141

    Thanks for the GTO2 tip dodgybob, after a cursory search it looks like quite the bargain if it is available.

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