Building a new computer this weekend

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Darrel McBane, Jun 14, 2002.

  1. Darrel McBane

    Darrel McBane Second Unit

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    Decided to build a new computer. I've been watching prices on the P-4 come down for months. And been debating on just keeping my P-3 400 for the web and buying an X-Box for games.

    Or build a new computer once the P-4 2GHz come down to the $200 range.

    So tomorrow I'm picking up the following.

    Intel P-4 2Ghz 512K
    Asus P4B-533P4 motherboard
    PC-2700 512meg DDR ram
    IBM 40GB ATA 100 HD
    Asus G4 Ti 4400 128 meg Video card
    10/100 network card
    Samsung 24x10x40 CD
    300w P4 case
    SB 128 PCI sound card
    XP Home

    Already picked up Morrowwind and Medal of Honor, Allied Assault.

    Should be a fun weekend project.
     
  2. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Great setup, sounds like my dream PC. Only thing I would change is the sound card, and spring for XP Pro for the added options and tweakability. That system will last you a while; my p3 800 is showing its age but no where near obsolete imo.
     
  3. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    I have to disagree with your basic core. You've chosen to go with a P4 CPU with DDR memory. This is a bad move. The fundamental architecture of SDR/DDR memory is quite different from that of RDRAM memory. Similarly, the fundamental architecture of the P4 CPU is quite different from that of the P3 and AMD Athlon (not to mention the Celeron and AMD Duron).

    Now the architectures of RDRAM and the P4 happen to match up to each other; this is not an accident, they were designed this way. This is why RDRAM never worked well with the P3, by the way. Similarly, the architectures of SDR/DDR memory and the Intel P3 and AMD Athlon match up to each other quite well. SDR or DDR memory does not work as well with the P4 as RDRAM does, or said another way, does not work as well with the P4 as it does with the P3 or Athlon.

    Admittedly, at the 2GHz level, the difference is negligable, but it does exist, and a P4 with RDRAM is faster than a P4 with DDR. Small as the difference is, it will grow and grow as the P4 gets faster and faster. Any day now, ~2.5GHz P4s will be here, and 3GHz P4s will be here by the end of the year. At this level, the difference between RDRAM and DDR will be quite noticable. If you think there's even the slightest chance that you might one day wish to upgrade your CPU without having to also upgrade the memory (and thus, the motherboard as well), do yourself a favor and go with RDRAM now, while you can.

    Of course, that will cost more. Instead of going with RDRAM to match your P4, my best suggestion here would be to stick with DDR, but get the CPU that best goes along with it: the AMD Athlon XP. The best Athlon XP is slightly faster than the best P4, yet costs less. Comparing an Athlon XP to a P4 that matched its price would show a much greater performance advantage on the Athlon's side. Simply put, the Athlon XP is faster than the P4 (in terms of real world performance, not talking about megahertz here) and costs less.

    The intent of this is not to spark an AMD vs. Intel debate. I'm an Intel supporter, for whatever it's worth. I would love for Intel CPUs to be the better choice, but sadly, they aren't. How can they be, when you get more performance for less money from AMD. The intent of this is not to start that debate, which has been done so many times before in so many other places; rather, the intent is to show you another possibility which I don't know if you've considered or not. So I'm presenting it for you to consider.
     
  4. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    Here's a suggestion-rather than get the 2Ghz chip, go for the 1.6a. This chip runs completely stable clocked at 2.1 Ghz (I've had it like this for about three weeks now since I got it and ZERO problems). A pretty big discount there as well.
     
  5. Darrel McBane

    Darrel McBane Second Unit

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    Thanks for the comments and ideas.

    I'm not a fan of overclocking. I'd rather buy a fast chip and system and live with the few fps loss. I also think the Intel is the most stable chip and am willing to pay a little extra for it.

    Now. I'm no expert on modern sound cards. Mainly because I'm just interested with using my two Altec Lansing speakers and sub. I also noticed the Asus has a 6 channel plug-in. I'm not sure what it may take to utilize it. But, I'll check into it if I eventually turn this into a HTPC.

    I'm not that familiar with XP as an operating system. And I personally like to keep my system pretty basic. I've been into computers for about 15 years and have learned on thing. Keep it simple. No matter how capable the operating system. The simpler you keep it the better it runs.
     
  6. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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    I'd make sure that your power supply is a good one. I'd at least want a 350 Watt PSU - I've heard of a lot of people having problems w/ anything less. I've heard this equally from people with AMD's or P4's - especially with that nice video card you are putting in there.

    Seems like a simple thing, but something to definitely make sure you don't skimp on.
     
  7. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    You know, I wasn't a huge overclocking fan either until I did some reasing on it. Basically, the 1.6a that I bought an the 2.0 that I could have bought for $250 more are the same chip-they just have the multipliers hard coded. By changing the Front Side bus though, you can run the chips faster. Also found out about the P4's thermal management, which basically slows the chip down if it gets too hot. This means that you can overclock it and not worry too much about damaging anything, since the CPU will keep itself from overheating. You can even run one of them without the heat sink on (meaning that it won't fry itself in that case).
     
  8. Darrel McBane

    Darrel McBane Second Unit

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    Thanks for all the good information. I'll have to do some thinking on the overclocking thing. In about a year this now screaming machine will probably be "minimum required". So, I do have some time to play with it before over clocking is a must.

    As far as the power supply is concerned. I should be OK. But, time will tell.
     
  9. Pat K

    Pat K Stunt Coordinator

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    Instead of the SB 128, go with the Sound Blaster Live, its only $28 on pricewatch i think.
     
  10. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    You may be thinking of a time, which was quite a long time ago, when AMD CPUs were only 99.999% Intel-compatible. That time is long gone. AMD CPUs have been 100% compatible, in other words, perfectly stable, for a long time now.
    AMD CPUs are being sold and used in server computers, where stability is key.
    But you don't have to take my word for it. I happen to run a computer-oriented website with a message board similar to this one, only it's about computer topics (and also general topics, like cars, entertainment, sports, general chat, etc.). I have lots of members running AMD CPUs, some with several computers with AMD CPUs, and some with both AMD and Intel CPUs. Stability is simply not an issue. You are willing to pay more for an imaginary advantage. Come by and read some of what's been said, and if you like, sign up and ask your own questions. Direct link to my site's message board: http://forums.jjr512.com/
    (BTW, I'm not just some random guy who has come up to you claiming to know a bit about computers and happens to have this website, which we know any seven-year-old kid can make a website these days. No; did you know that I wrote some of the add-ons to vBulletin that are being used here at HTF? I wrote the weather features, and also the Photo Gallery.)
     
  11. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    If you do DV editing it's not recommended to OC. I used to OC too but there are other factors you have to consider, the main one being I use Premiere from time to time. Then you have to buy better cooling fans which cause even more noise pollution. I like having an extra quiet PC, I bet 10 yrs from now we'll look back at how loud and obnoxious computers were.

    Not saying OC'ing a horrible idea, just that it's not for everybody.
     
  12. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    I've got good enough cooling and it's fairly quiet. I know the cooling is good enough because I run a program called [email protected], a distributed computing program that processes chunks of data for a research project. The project has a server that sends data chunks out to thousands of users' computers (with their permission, of course), where it gets processed and returned, for the results to be analyzed, etc. Anyway, this program, like many others of similar type ([email protected]), uses 100% of the CPU power, all the time, unless some other program needs the power. But the point is, at all times my computer is on, the CPU is under 100% full load. It runs steady at 45°C. If I turn [email protected] off, it runs at around 34°C. So I know there's nothing else that would make it any hotter.
     
  13. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    I have a couple comments/suggestions.

    If you are getting one of the new IBM Deskstar drives, don't. They have had major reliability problems. Really fast but has way to high a probability of dying on you. Do a google search and you'll see how bad it is. Slashdot ran several stories on it too. I just got a Seagate Barracuda 4. Really quiet (can hardly hear head access noise) and a little faster than the Maxtor drives. Plus they are cheaper than both the IBM and Maxtor.

    If you are running any sort of home network where you will be doing any file sharing between computers step up to WinXP Pro. I can't find anywhere in Home where you can specify different user types and limit access to resources by them.

    Finally, take a look at the Antec Performance Plus series cases. Just got one, really like it.
     
  14. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    Another reason to turn away from IBM is that they are turning away from the hard drive business. This whole thing with their hard drives being unreliable really hurt them. There's little doubt that IBM as a company will be around for a long time to come, but still, I wouldn't want to buy something that a company was about to stop making.

    My choice would be to go with Western Digital. I have their highest-performance, top-of-the-line hard drive, and it's about two feet away from my head, inside a computer with a window on the side. I hear every little noise my computer makes. So believe me when I tell you that noise is not a problem. True, the Seagates are quieter...but being quieter than barely inaudible doesn't mean that barely inaudible is noisy.
     
  15. AllenD

    AllenD Second Unit

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  16. Darrel McBane

    Darrel McBane Second Unit

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    Just thought I'd do a follow up.

    Been using the new system since Saturday. And it's running like a champ. No issues so far. Been playing Morrowind and it looks and runs great. Only a slight hesitation when it loads up new data. Huge game that will take many many hours to finish. If there is a finish?

    Haven't burned anything yet but I'll try and back up my data this weekend and try a few CDs.
     
  17. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    Go with Athlon. Much cheaper and much faster. Right now I'm on a P3 1 GHZ system You can see what system I got by going to http://members.tdn.com/oldgrump/kcg
    It's an AT case, AT motherboard and an ATX power supply. 300 watts. My AT board is a Gigabyte GA-6VA7+ with both AT and ATX power supply connections. It acts just like any ATX board.
     
  18. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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  19. Jeff D.

    Jeff D. Supporting Actor

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    A couple thoughts. First the HD - I too would stay away from IBM drives. Their stellar reputation seems to be diminishing, and I recently suffered a horrific loss of an IBM drive. I replaced it with a Seagate Barracuda IV and WOW what a difference. SO quiet, runs cool and an excellent performer.
     
  20. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    The main reason why Dell, Gateway, or Micron stopped using AMD chips is because they weren't selling well. They weren't selling well because everybody believes Intel is better. Intel has 20 years of history of being practically the only CPU manufacturer for the PC market, certainly the only one worth speaking of. Everybody's heard of Intel. Intel runs big ads on TV; when's the last time you saw an AMD commercial? (Hint: AMD doesn't run commercials.) Everybody knows "Intel inside".

    AMD is not without its problems, of course. Their chips have a reputation of being rather physically fragile; it's easier to damage an AMD CPU installing a heatsink onto it that it is with an Intel CPU. Their CPUs also run hotter and consume more power.

    In fact, if AMD chips have had any reliability problems lately, it's been due to heat, and not due to compatibility. There simply are no compatibility problems, period. But if not adequately cooled, a CPU will fail, and it is a fact that AMD CPUs do require more cooling. That is one advantage of the P4: thermal overload protection. If a P4 senses it's overheating, it will slow itself down to run cooler, and I don't know this for a fact but I assume it could even turn itself off. An AMD chip, on the other hand, would just sit there and fry, although thermal protection is a feature that should show up in the next major redesign from AMD.
     

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