PC components advice

Andres Munoz

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I'm planning to build a new PC from scratch but I haven't kept up with products and prices for a good while.
In the 1Ghz and below range (the range that I'm interested in), how good are the AMD chips compared to the Intel ones? From what I saw, the 1Ghz AMDs are cheaper than the 1Ghz and even the 933Mhz Pentiums.
And also, which motherboards would you recommend for those chips? Please keep in mind that I'll be getting a black desktop case so that it doesn't look out of place with the rest of the HT equipment.
Thanks.
PS: I'm not planning to go the HTPC route just yet due to the fact that I don't have a projector. I have a 32" WEGA and from what I've heard, there's no advantage in using an HTPC with a direct view set.
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Andres
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[Edited last by Andres Munoz on August 15, 2001 at 09:26 AM]
 

Rob Gillespie

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Intel stopped making the PIII below (I think) 850mhz earlier this year. AMD seem to be selling a lot of Duron processors (which go up to 950mhz I believe) because they are astonishing value for money for someone who doesn't need massive processing power.
The Athlon and PIII were always rivals and both have strengths against the other. The AMD chips are always cheaper (sometimes a lot cheaper!) but it seems you have to pay more for a really good Athlon motherboard and you need an AMD approved power supply.
The latest rage are the DDR-RAM based Athlon systems. This type of memory requires a specific DDR memory slot, but is around the same cost as SDRAM but offers improved performance. The P4 uses RAMBUS memory which is often a lot more expensive. Benchmark tests are still showing the 1.4ghz Athlon to out-perform the P4 1.8ghz in many areas (but not all).
So, as usual, it just depends on how much you want to spend. The 1.4ghz Athlon (266 FSB, a cheaper 200 version is also available) sells for less than the 933mhz PIII over here (US prices may vary but the disparity will be similar), but you do have to spend more to get a great mobo (more than the price of the chip actually). Asus always come out on tops when it comes to quality motherboards, but there are some great ones available from Epox and Soyo. Those three manufacturers seem have cornered the DDR/Athlon mobo market for the time being.
Personally, if I were going to build a new system from scratch now, it be based on an Athlon and DDR mobo foundation. You just get too much bang-for-buck compared to everything else.
 

Matt DeVillier

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I'll second what Rob said. As for specific component recommendations, I just built an Athlon DDR system for a friend so here's a few to start:
motherboard - Epox EP-8KHA ($112 - newegg.com)
CPU - AMD Athlon 1GHz retail ($103 - newegg.com)
RAM - 2x256mb PC2100 DDR - ($90 - crucial.com)
for just over $300 that's an enormous amount of power. Esp when you consider that the CPU can be overclocked to at least 1.3GHz or so.
-Matt
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Rob Gillespie

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Yeah, memory prices are stinkin'stoopid at the moment so buy as much as you can cram in the machine
 

Andres Munoz

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Thanks for replying so soon Rob.
Damn, you're right. The prices for an Athlon 1.4GHz are pretty much the same as the ones for a PIII 933MHz.
Can you recommend a specific ASUS motherboard model for an Athlon 1.4GHz chip?
And also, is an AMD Duron the equivalent of an Intel Celeron chip? Doesn't have all the bells and whistles that their bigger brothers have?
In the meantime, I'll be searching for good prices on the web.
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Andres
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Andres Munoz

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Thanks Matt. I'll keep those recommendations in mind.
By the way, I see an extra number on the AMD chips, for example Athlon 1.4GHz 266 FSB or 1.4GHz 200 FSB. Is that number the bus speed? And what does FSB stand for?
Man, I need to keep up with technology.
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Andres
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Rob Gillespie

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And also, is an AMD Duron the equivalent of an Intel Celeron chip? Doesn't have all the bells and whistles that their bigger brothers have?
Correct. In short, the Celeron and the Duron don't have the same 'guts' as their big brothers. The Durons use the same Socket A motherboards as Athlons (and can use DDR too apparently). I think all Celereons now us the FC-PGA type, same as the newer PIIIs.
 

Parker Clack

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Andres:
The Athalon chipsets are great. The out perform the Pentium IV chipsets in many applications are far cheaper.
I like the Epox and ASUS motherboards. I recently built a a new box using an Athalon 1.2G chipset and the ASUS A7A 266 motherboard with two 128M DDR RAM 266 bus. The other thing to remember is that you are going to have to buy a new 350 watt power supply but they are going pretty cheap now too. Also, you may want to consider getting a new hard drive as the large ones are getting cheaper every day.
So I got the 1.2G Athalon, ASUS MB, RAM, 40G 7200 RPM hard drive and new 350 power supply for around $600 a few months ago. I am sure that you can get them even cheaper today.
Parker
 

Rob Gillespie

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I see an extra number on the AMD chips, for example Athlon 1.4GHz 266 FSB or 1.4GHz 200 FSB. Is that number the bus speed? And what does FSB stand for?
Front Side Bus. It's the speed at which the chip communicates with the rest of the system. Make sure the motherboard you choose supports the FSB number you want. It seems daft to go for the slower model if you're building a new system.
 

Andres Munoz

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Parker, why do I need a new 350 power supply again?
The power supply comes with the case right? What's the standard, 250?
I was checking out the website that Matt provided, newegg.com and between a 1GHz and a 1.4Ghz Athlon, there's only a $20. How much faster is the 1.4Ghz? I'll try to save every penny I can if there isn't going to be much improvement.
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Andres
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[Edited last by Andres Munoz on August 15, 2001 at 10:18 AM]
 

Andres Munoz

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Scratch that. There is actually a $50 difference between the 1GHz and the 1.4GHz Athlon. But still, how much better is the 1.4GHz?
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Andres
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Roy C.

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Andres,
I just upgraded my CPU from a 900 to a 1.2GHz and I can tell you there is noticeable difference so I will assume that there is a big improvement from 1.0 to 1.4GHz. Unless you can not swing the additional $40 I would say go for it.
The question about the power supply: it has to be AMD compliant or certified because the Athlon is very current and voltage sensitive. There are very few 250w ones that are but the mojority of them are 300 or better. It is very advisable that you get a new PS or case with those numbers otherwise you could fry the whole thing. Also, cooling is crucial on these systems because of the speeds so factor in one or two additional case fans and a good CPU cooler/fan.
Good luck,
Roy C.
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Andres Munoz

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Thanks Roy.
Now moving on the other components, what do you guys recommend for video and sound cards?
For video, I'd like the card to have s-video out or at least composite, just in case I want to hook up the PC to my 32" WEGA (although that wouldn't do much good because from what I've heard, direct view sets can't support anything higher than 640x280. Is that true?).
For sound, on my current PC I have the soundblaster live! x-gamer and I like it. But if you guys have any other recommendations, I'm all ears. I'd like the card to have some sort of digital out.
Budget would be $100 or less for each card.
Thanks.
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Andres
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SteveBjr

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I'd go with a Geforce 2 GTS 32MB but you'll pay slightly over $100.
They start out around $110 but for $119 you can pick up an Asus AGP-V7700 .
As for a soundcard. If you don't have the new 5.1 X-gamer you could pick it up here.
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Parker Clack

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Andres:
Roy answered my question on the power supply.
As far as the video card is concerned what are you wanting to really do with it? You already mentioned that you really don't want to hook it up to your WEGA.
If you are happy with the video card and sound card that you have right now why not wait and get them later when you are wanting to use the PC as a HTPC?
I would save the money now, wait a couple of months and then go get a really nice card for a lot less money.
Parker
 

Andres Munoz

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Parker. The video card and sound card that I have now are staying on my first PC. The components I'm asking for here are for a second PC that I want to build.
John. Thanks for the websites. I'll check them out.
Steve. What do you think of the ATI Radeon 32MB DDR. I've heard it's very good and it's almost $50 less. How would this one compare to the Asus you recommended?
As far as the soundcard, I was doing some research at the AVS Forum and the M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 is highly recommended. The thing is that it's a little pricey at $159. The Soundblaster Live! X-Gamer is more than half the price at $70. But again, I'm not sure if there would be so much improvement as to justify the price.
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Andres
http://home.earthlink.net/~coolvirus
[Edited last by Andres Munoz on August 16, 2001 at 07:27 AM]
 

John Thomas

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As far as video cards, you may want to consider Matrox. While researching, I decided on the G400 Max (this was awhile back) and it performs as well as some of the other higher-priced video cards. Just a thought.
 

SteveBjr

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ATI's are good cards. The Geforce 2 GTS 32MB will outperform the ATI Radeon 32MB but not by too much. $50 is alot of cash to save so would be your call. I do alot of 3d gaming so i'd go with the Geforce but for what you're looking the ATI would be a nice choice.
Off the subject: The new ATI card will be giving the GeForce 3 a run for it's money. You can read the article at Toms Hardware .
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Andres Munoz

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Every time I hear the GeForce3 name, Doom 3 comes to mind. That demo they showed on the net looked unbelievable.
Thanks all for the suggestions.
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Andres
http://home.earthlink.net/~coolvirus
 

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