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Buying ALIENWARE. Big PENTIUM decision...please help!


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#1 of 74 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 01 2005 - 07:37 AM

About to buy my first ALIENWARE system.

Here are my specs. Big question to follow....
("?" replaces REGISTERED TRADEMARK LOGOS)


[1] Area-51 5550

Warranty: 3-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service Bundle with AlienAutopsy and Respawn
Operating System: Microsoft TM Windows TM XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Chassis: Alienware TM Full-Tower Case (480-Watt PS) - Saucer Black
Cable Management: Alienwareï TM Cable Management System
Power Supply: Alienware TM 480 Watt Power Supply
Processor: Intel TM Pentium TM 4 Processor 660 w/ HT Technology 3.6GHz 2MB Cache
Motherboard: Alienware TM PCI Express Motherboard with Intel TM 925XE Chipset 1066/800MHz FSB
Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz - 2 x 1024MB
Graphics Processor: ATI RADEON TM X850 XT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 w/ Dual Digital and TV Out
Chassis Upgrades: AlienIce TM 2.0 Video Cooling System - Astral Blue
System Drive: High Performance - Serial ATA - 250GB Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/8MB Cache
Optical Drive One: Lite-On TM 16x DVD / 52x32x52x CD-RW Drive
Optical Drive Two: NEC TM ND-3520 16x Dual Layer DVD TM R/W Drive
Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster TM Audigy TM 2 ZS High Definition 7.1 Surround Firewire (IEEE TM 1394)
Network Connection: Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Portable Storage : Alienware TM 10-in-1 Digital Media Reader / Writer
Display One: No Monitor
Display Two: No Monitor
Free Alienware T-Shirt: Free Alienware TM T-Shirt - Black
Free Alienware Mousepad: Free Alienware TM Mousepad
AlienInspection: AlienInspection - Exclusive Integration and Inspection - $99.99 Value - FREE!


$2987 shipped


Now....

For an extra $555 is it worth going from a
Intel TM Pentium TM 4 Processor 660 w/ HT Technology
3.6GHz 2MB Cache
to a Intel TM Pentium TM 4 Processor
w/ HT Technology Extreme Edition 3.73GHz 1066MHz
FSB 2MB Cache
?

Will I see that much difference in processing
with the chip upgrade?

Appreciate the advice.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 74 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted April 01 2005 - 08:32 AM

There's some tests between these two processors over at tomshardware.com. The EE definitely wins all the benchmarks, but I don't think it's by enough to justify a $555 difference between the two. The main advantage is the 1066MHz bus, but I personally don't see that as being worth $500+. If you really want the extra speed, buy a nice heatsink and some good thermal paste and overclock it (which shouldn't be a problem because the 600-series is supposed to run cooler than the previous Prescott's).

#3 of 74 OFFLINE   RichP

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Posted April 03 2005 - 02:55 AM

Uh, what happened to the Mac Ron?

Are you a super hardcore gamer? If not, then this PC quite honestly will be massive overkill.

For that kind of money you can get a dual proc G5 PowerMac that will last you at least 5 years.

Just my 2¢


#4 of 74 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 03 2005 - 04:19 AM

Rich,

I am sure this is overkill for what
I want -- but I want processing speed,
plain and simple, because I run a lot
of high-memory programs and load my
computer with startup apps.

I'm not sure I want to go Mac. I am
not convinced it would be the better
choice mostly because I have hundreds
of dollars worth of software that won't
even run on it.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#5 of 74 OFFLINE   Glenise

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Posted April 04 2005 - 09:02 PM

LOL.
I was wondering what happened to the mac too.

#6 of 74 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 04 2005 - 11:48 PM

Glenise,

I can't take the chance.

I havde too much PC software here that
will not run on the Mac.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#7 of 74 OFFLINE   Christian Behrens

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Posted April 05 2005 - 06:44 AM

Well, let me be another voice of reason then. Didn't you originally state that you wanted to buy a new system at the end of the year? If yes, then there is no point at looking at specs right now.

If no, then you might not really see a huge shift in performance, as IIRC you're machine wasn't exactly a slouch (specs-wise). Maybe just some optimizing/reformatting is in order?

-Christian
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin)

#8 of 74 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 05 2005 - 07:37 AM

Christian,

I probably did originally say that, Christian.

I have the opportunity to purchase it now --
that is why I am looking at systems.

My current Dell is indeed no slouch, but this
my normal 2-year upgrade that becomes part of
a business write-off.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#9 of 74 OFFLINE   Glenise

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Posted April 05 2005 - 10:38 AM

Ron,

I always wanted a mac but they cost too much for me.
I just love the osx gui.
I've always only bought windows stuff.
Why doesn't Jobs just release OSX for Intel?

#10 of 74 OFFLINE   DanielKim

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Posted April 05 2005 - 02:56 PM

If there is an option for an AMD Athlon 64 processor, I would jump over that any time of day over the Intel processors. Although there isn't much support for the 64 bit processor, the architecture is much better and advanced compared to the Pentium. You would also shave a LARGE chunk on the cost, but seeing your HT cost is probably not an issue =p. The AMD also has a 2000 mhz front side bus and runs much cooler as well. They even have a few AMD boards with PCI express. That's my 2 cents....


Dan

#11 of 74 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted April 05 2005 - 04:08 PM

Dan:

Are you familiar with the chips in question? They are actually 64-bit also and run significantly cooler than the other recent intel chips.

For gaming AMD is still boss, and possibly always will be. However, Ron has indicated that he has no real interest in gaming. Therefore, other than perhaps price, the AMD would offer little, if any, advantage over the intel.

#12 of 74 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted April 05 2005 - 04:18 PM

Quote:
I always wanted a mac but they cost too much for me.

You don't need to buy a PowerMac tower or PowerBook, you know. Check out the Mac Mini, eMac, iMac G5, and iBook.

Quote:
I just love the osx gui.
I've always only bought windows stuff.
Why doesn't Jobs just release OSX for Intel?

1. Part of its reliability is due to the fact that Apple doesn't support every combination of junk-quality parts that someone might throw together.

2. Part of what makes Macintoshes appealing is that Apple is willing and able to design systems that are more than the sum of their hardware and software parts.

3. Moving to generic Intel/AMD clones would mean giving up influence over hardware direction. Apple was able to force transitions to the PowerPC, and to MacOS X. But even with Microsoft providing the operating system, IBM wasn't able to force a transition to Windows/PowerPC.

4. Apple makes most of their revenue from hardware. Take that away, and they'd need to raise the price of Mac OS X, possibly by more than PC users are willing to pay.

5. You'd still need to buy some variation of Windows from Microsoft if you wanted to run off-the-shelf Wintel apps.

6. Developers who were inclined to be cheap or lazy would write off the Mac OS X on PowerPC market and release just Wintel binaries. (Reasoning: A Mac OS X on x86 customer can run them, and will run them if desperate enough.)

If #6 started happening with any frequency, then the game would become "Who has a better Windows than Windows?" As I recall, when IBM played a similar game (with OS/2), the cost of the game was prohibitive, and IBM lost. Apple is probably in no hurry to repeat that IBM experience. Posted Image

#13 of 74 OFFLINE   Scott L

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Posted April 05 2005 - 04:38 PM

Quote:
Ron has indicated that he has no real interest in gaming. Therefore, other than perhaps price, the AMD would offer little, if any, advantage over the intel.
lol if that's true I think his graphics card thread is a sham! Posted Image Deciding between a 6800 Ultra and X800 and he doesn't even game!? May be best to stick with a 6600/X600 to save on power and heat.

#14 of 74 OFFLINE   DanielKim

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Posted April 05 2005 - 05:08 PM

Quote:
Are you familiar with the chips in question? They are actually 64-bit also and run significantly cooler than the other recent intel chips.

For gaming AMD is still boss, and possibly always will be. However, Ron has indicated that he has no real interest in gaming. Therefore, other than perhaps price, the AMD would offer little, if any, advantage over the intel.


Wow....are you familiar with reading? Posted Image

Here you go, try again.

Quote:
If there is an option for an AMD Athlon 64 processor, I would jump over that any time of day over the Intel processors. Although there isn't much support for the 64 bit processor, the architecture is much better and advanced compared to the Pentium. You would also shave a LARGE chunk on the cost, but seeing your HT cost is probably not an issue =p. The AMD also has a 2000 mhz front side bus and runs much cooler as well. They even have a few AMD boards with PCI express. That's my 2 cents....



Now, why would the AMD be preferred in gaming? Because it's a superior cpu in all aspects. FPU (floating point calculations crucial in 3D modeling) and SIMD (simple instructions and math) performance is better on the AMD processor than the Intel processors. Did you also see that the AMD has a 2000mhz front side bus? There are many more things than price to be offered and you might want to do research on your own before you categorize processors for gaming/non-gaming. And as someone mentioned before, Ron would be ok with a $50 dollar card if he is not going to be gaming.

Dan

#15 of 74 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted April 05 2005 - 06:20 PM

Quote:
I want processing speed, plain and simple

Unless you're running applications that take a number of minutes or hours to complete a task, I'm not sure if you will notice the difference between a 3.6 GHz CPU and the 3.0 GHz CPU you have now. Rule of thumb: in the absence of such a workload, there needs to be a 50%+ speedup for most people to notice.

But let us say you do have such an application. Perhaps it would make more sense to replace the CPU, motherboard, and RAM in your Dell than to toss out your Dell entirely. (If you have an application that is hard-disk-bound, the appropriate upgrade might be to get some extra HDs and a RAID controller and treat the new HDs as a striped set.)

Maybe you should be looking at a multi-processor machine with a bargain-basement video card. Seriously. If your application is one that can benefit from 2 to 4 x86 CPUs, and the cost of whatever version of Windows you need for such a system is not a problem, and you won't be gaming, why not preferentially allocate your budget to the parts of the system that are going to matter to you the most?

Just some thoughts.

#16 of 74 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted April 05 2005 - 06:43 PM

Just for kicks, I went to Dell's small business section and configured a Dell Precision Workstation 670.

Two Intel Xeon 3.60 GHz CPUs (2 MB L2 Cache each), 1 GB ECC SDRAM, 400 GB SATA HD, 16x DVD-ROM, 16x DVD burner, 128 MB graphics, Windows XP Pro, Office Pro, and sound card (Audigy 2). But only the cheap keyboard/mouse, no monitor, and no speakers.

The total was over $4600, but dropping the CPU speed to 3.20 GHz (per CPU) lowered it to around $3500.

I'm sure there must be other "multi-CPU" Wintel vendors; so take this just as a point of comparison.

#17 of 74 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 05 2005 - 11:49 PM

Thomas,

Stay with me here.....

What is up with the Intel Xeon chips? I know so
very little about them. How superior are they to
the P4 chips?

The above configuration looks great but I would
go with 2GB ram just because of the amount of
programs I run at once. Also, wouldn't a SCSI
drive serve me better?

Finally.....

Just came across this article

I am thinking perhaps it may be worth waiting
another 6 months for this technology - don't
you think?

Yes, computer technology gets better every month
but this looks like a MAJOR upgrade to the industry.

Please let me know your thoughts.

I just priced the following for about $4200.
Not sure if I configured it right as I never configured
a SCSI or dual processor system before. It has no
sound card, but I already have an external EXTIGY
card which I love.


Dell Precision Workstation 670:
Intel® Xeon™ Processor 3.20GHz, 2MB L2 Cache

2nd Processor (Must match speed selection above):
Intel® Xeon™ Processor 3.20GHz, 2MB L2 cache

Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional,
SP2 with Media

File System: NTFS File System
Intel Hyper-Threading: "ON."

Memory: 2GB, DDR2 SDRAM Memory, 400MHz, ECC (4 DIMMS)
No Keyboard Option
No Mouse OptionHard Drive Configuration

All SCSI drives, Non-RAID, for 1 or 2 drive total configuration

First Hard Drive: 300GB Ultra 320 SCSI, 1 inch (10,000 rpm)

Hard Drive Internal Controller Options:
U320 SCSI Integrated Controller - For Connecting Internal Hard Drives


CD-ROM, DVD, and Read-Write Devices:
48XCDRW AND 16XDVD+/-RW w/Sonic RecordNow! Deluxe,Sonic DVDit! SE,PowerDVD

No Floppy Drive NFD

Graphic Cards:
128MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 1400, Dual DVI
or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA

No Monitor Option
No Speaker option
No SOund Card Option


Any changes you see should be made let me know.
You may think I am better waiting for the new dual
core chip as described in the link above.


 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#18 of 74 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted April 06 2005 - 12:50 AM

Wow....are you familiar with reading?


Sorry to offend you, I really didn't mean to set you off.

I posted a link to some benchmark tests in another of Ron's threads. The benchmarks clearly showed that the AMD won in games while the intels generally won in encoding.

Ron, I read this article today that claims intel will be releasing the first dual-core processors in May. If this is true, it would certainly be to your benefit to wait for those.

EDIT: Sorry Ron, I just saw that you already linked to this article. I think waiting for this technology is definitely a good idea.

#19 of 74 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted April 06 2005 - 12:55 AM

Here's the link to those benchmarks. It is clear that AMD does not win every benchmark, although it does win several. But this shows that AMD is NOT the perfect processor for EVERY application.

#20 of 74 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted April 06 2005 - 04:44 AM

Quote:
What is up with the Intel Xeon chips? I know so very little about them. How superior are they to the P4 chips?

I'm not too familiar with the Xeons, as compared to the P4s or other CPUs. My memories from a few years ago are that (a) the Xeons had support for connecting multiple processors together into one system (many x86 CPUs didn't), (b) the Xeons had tons of on-chip cache (to improve performance), and © the Xeons were expensive compared even to other Intel CPUs.

It looks like regular x86 CPUs may have caught up with the Xeons as far as the cache. So I'm guessing (I could be wrong here) that P4 vs. Xeon difference is now just a matter of pricing, branding, and ability to easily put several CPUs into one box.

Quote:
The above configuration looks great but I would go with 2GB ram just because of the amount of programs I run at once.

You might want to consider buying memory from a reputable third party. I am sure that a PC vendor would be happy to sell 2 GB to you, but I'm not as sure that you'd get a good price. Posted Image

Quote:
Also, wouldn't a SCSI drive serve me better?

I know that SCSI used to have advantages over IDE/ATA. There's now Ultra3 SCSI (160 Megabytes/second: 16 times faster than FireWire 800) -- but you would probably need to run a striped RAID flat out to use all that bandwidth. (On high-end servers, there's an attachment method called Storage Channel, but I've never heard of anyone using it on a personal box.)

That said, are your applications disk-bound? If so, are there other methods of improving disk performance (e.g., striped hardware RAID of (S)ATA disks) that might give you more storage capacity or a lower cost?

Quote:
I am thinking perhaps it may be worth waiting another 6 months for this technology - don't you think?

It might be. You might be able to get a single-CPU system similar to one of today's dual-CPU ones; or a dual-CPU system equivalent to a quad-CPU one. Since CPU performance is your key metric, that's nothing to sneeze at.


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