Upgrading my computer.. Help?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by doug zdanivsky, May 21, 2003.

  1. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    I'm currently running a P3 450 with a Geforce 256 video card.. Not up to snuff for the games of today, so... [​IMG]

    But I'm a total dummy when it comes to the actual components that make up the system!

    I'm leary of Celeron or AMD processers..

    I don't know jack about how computers work, but I know THIS from experience.. "You get what you pay for..".

    That said I'm thinking 2.8 gig Intel.

    I don't know what an "L2 Cache" does for you, or how the Celeron can do without it, but it can't be good..

    As for AMD, I don't know why I'm skeptical, but I am. The price is what spooks me.. That and they say they are not the stable work-horses that the Intel's are.

    Opinions??


    BTW, I was looking at retail prices and the 2.4 is almost half the price of the 2.8! Maybe that's the better option? I mean, am I really going to notice the extra .4g of processer speed?

    Then again, by the time I'm ready to buy at the end of the year, there will be 3.6 gig processers out there maybe, and the 2.8 will be where the 2.4 is priced now..

    What is FSB and what does it do for you? For example what is the difference between 800 and 533FSB?

    Also, where do I have to go to get a straight answer as to what kind of motherboard I have to get so it will be compatible with this 800FSB thing, and won't be a bottle-neck?

    Also, also.. What is the difference between DDR Ram and SD Ram, and do you need a different kind of motherboard for each?

    I'm not in a hurry, just doing some recon till the end of the year when I'll hopefully have the scratch to make this happen.. [​IMG]


    Thanks for any and all help you could give!!
     
  2. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    well, I'll take a whack at this.

    your current computer uses older standards that are no longer supported, so you are going to have to look into buyuing a completly new computer.

    with a new computer however you can still use your current hard drive, cd-rom's, floppy drive, etc.

    don't be leary of AMD processors, they are very powerful and currently are part of very economical, yet very powerful, personal computers. in the early days AMD cpus have always been stable workhorses, it's typically the motherbaords that they are ran on that aren't so stable. but in today's market there are excellent solutions for the AMD processor.

    I myself use an AMD cpu and have no problems with it whatsoever.

    L2 cache in the simplest sense is where data goes to before the cpu crunches it. typically the higher the L2 cache the better.

    don't bother asking for reccomendations because prices will change and the best picks will change in the next several months. this is typical of the ever changing computer industry.

    it sounds rough, but when you go to buy, there will be better mainstream computer parts and a company or two may release better solutions for the economically minded person. Like recently nVidia released a new chipset that included onboard sound equivelent to 150$ sound cards, this caused a big change as now people could buy a 100$ motherboard with basically a free 150$ soundcard. in addition this chipset comes with many other features which has caused the vurrent computer to cost a lot less than previous computers did.

    my suggestion to you now is to peruse forums and learn about computers, don't worry about what's hot and what's not but learn the intricacies involved in a computer. understanding is the first step.


    anyway, about FSB:
    your computer has a "backbone" that is called a motherboard, this motherboard has two main chips on it, a northbridge and a southbridge, the northbridge talks to things like your ram and your cpu while your southbridge talks to things like your hard drives and other periphrials.

    now the Front Side Bus is the terminology used for the "interface" between the northbridge and the cpu/ram. Now data is sent during clock cycles in a computer, typically the higher the frequency the more data can be sent through the bus. this isn't always true, AMD processors actually run at a lower frequency than the intel counterparts, yet are just as powerful. for your FSB though the higher the better for the most part. so when you look for a processor, the higher FSB ones will tend to be better.

    if you have any other questions feel free to ask.
     
  3. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for your your comments, Rob!

    Shto ti delayesh v Moskvi!? [​IMG]

    Well, you offered, so here's round 2. [​IMG]

    So you would pick an AMD over a similarily fast Intel?

    Do the different processers require different motherboard, RAM configurations?

    What is the difference between SD-RAM and DDR-RAM, are they specific to a particular processer or motherboard?

    Why the price-descrepency between the Intels and the AMD's? There must be a hitch..

    Do AMD processers possess 512K Caches?

    Can you suggest some forums where I might learn the basics without needing 3 years of programming courses?

    I'm aware I'll need to start from the ground up, the only things I'm keeping are my moniter,HD,CD-ROM,CDRW, and floppy.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. John*Jones

    John*Jones Stunt Coordinator

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    If you're considering a brand new cpu and motherboard, then you'll most likely not have to worry about sdram. ddr-ram is pretty much standard for new AMD motherboards. newer intel motherboards support either ddr or rdram.

    here is a simple explanation of the difference between the two:
    http://www.crucial.com/library/ddr_vs_rdram.asp

    AMD's new Barton CPU's do have 512K Cache.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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  6. Matt DeVillier

    Matt DeVillier Supporting Actor

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    Doug:

     
  7. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Matt and John, that helps alot!

    Last question:

    WHY would you go with AMD over a similarly fast Intel? Just a price issue? Because from what you guys are telling me, the compatable motherboards for the AMD's cannot achieve the faster FSB that the Intel's motherboards can, and you say this FSB is an important consideration and could form a bottleneck.. Also, the AMD's appear to have hit the "speed barrier", while Intel has just kept on chugging..
     
  8. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    doug - yes, most folks choose AMD to save some money. At a similarly rated speed (Intel 2.8 GHz vs. AMD 2800), they are more or less equal. The higher Intels are better workworses, but unless you are doing 3D modeling CAD on your PC, you will never notice it. Even games you can't tell, the video card is or speed of CPU is usually the limiting factor, not AMD or Intel. I use AMD almost exclusively, they are just fine.

    As far as cache, RAM, memory, etc - let me give you a loose alagory. Let's say your CPU is a worker with a woekbench in front of him. He works real fast, but can only do one thing at a time really. So all the tools on the bench in front of him can be considered cache. He can pick em up fast, use em, and put them back down. RAM would be like a set of shelves right next to the bench. If he needed a tool from there, he would have to stop working, go get it, put it on the bench, and use it. So this is a bit slower. Now your harddrive is like an cellar or another room where he keeps even less used tools. If he needs a tool from there, he has to go downstairs, bring it up, and either put it in RAM (on shelves) or in cache (on the workbench). So obviously this is even slower. So the more cache you have, the bigger the workbench area for the CPU. More RAM = more shelf space nearby, and a bigger harddrive = a larger cellar room to put everything in storage. Obviously, this isn't a perfect model, but it gives you an idea of what each does for a CPU.

    SO from fastest to slowest for storage -> Cache > RAM > HDD > CD/DVDROM


    My suggestion to you is to save your money until the end of the year, then look at the systems on sale then (Dell, HP, etc.) The "Deals" section of HTF here has some fantastic buys on Dell systems, I don't even need one and I've been sorely tempted. I suspect that by the end of the year you should be able to get this for ~$900: 3.0 GHz Intel, 512 MB RAM, 100 GB HDD, top video card (Radeon 9800+?), DVD-R, and a 17" LCD display. Plus you'll get WinXP and maybe a printer or camera for free. It'll be much cheaper than getting all the components together and building yourself (and about 10x easier.)
     
  9. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    double post - and I added a bunch of stuff anyway.
     
  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I agree with Joe on his last point. The GotApex link seems to always have great deals on Dell computers and they are great for someone like you who does not want to take the computer apart and build from scratch.

    Recently I ugraded my computer. About 3 months ago. I got an ASUS motherboard (with nVidia chipset and Cemedia audio) and an AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.666GHz) and a tiny bit of RAM. I bought the box with the motherboard installed, chip installed, and RAM installed. I then pulled my old HDDs (one of which was actually pretty new) and CD/DVD drives out of my old machine and put them in the new. It's working great and the upgrade only cost $330 (from an AMD K6-III 450 box) but if you're not comfortable with that you should not DIY.

    Back in the olden days my brother Ange got a hold of an AMD 468-66 clone. It ended up being defective, and AMD replaced it for free, no questions asked (even though he wasn't the original buyer). The replacement chip worked for years in Ange's various PCs. I personally pay back that kind of customer service with brand loyalty.
     
  11. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    I will be waiting till the end of the year, till I get my tax return, so no prob there. Just doing some research ahead of time. Not for specific components, as by the end of the year they'll probably be obselete.. But for some basic knowledge on what has changed since I bought mine 4(?) years ago. I didn't know even then what was going on.. I just knew I wanted one of the fastest videocards (a diamond Viper 770), a good 19" moniter and processer (P3450).. Now there's all this other stuff I had no clue about about.. Mobo's, Ram,etc.. And the more I read, the more confused I get.. [​IMG]

    I'm not going to put it together myself, just hand somebody who kinda knows what he's doing a wantlist. Anything breaks, he fixes it.

    I'm looking at the set-ups they have in the gaming mag's (PC-gamer, etc), trying to figure out how the copmonents fit.. They don't mention much, especially in PC Gamer, on how the other stuff is set-up, is the processer a 533mhzFSB, or an 800mhz FSB (I still don't know what that does for you..), why the RAM used is RDRAM for an Intel Rig, and DDR-SD RAM for an Atahlon config.

    For example, in the latest issue, they have a dream rig and a mid range:

    Mid range: AMD XP 2000+, ASUS A7V333 MOBO, 512mb PC-2700 SD-RAM

    Dream: Intel P-4 3.06Ghz, Intel D850EMVR MOBO, 2x 256MB PC-1066 RDRAM..

    I've been looking at that anandtech.com site, and I just go cross-eyed after a few pages.. [​IMG]. I think I'll be better off leaving it to the experts. I just want to know what kind of components I should be looking at that will be stable, and won't have any bottlenecks anywhere. I don't want to get a AIW Radeon 9700pro and have it a half-capacity because I don't have the right kind of RAM for the MOBO, or the FSB is overkill because the MOBO I wanted wasn't set up for 800mhz FSB..

    I'd go with a Dell, or something, but I think I WOULD save by hanging on to my moniter (19" Optiquest V95), keyboard, optical mouse, HD (I'll keep my old one for backup, and get another one) CD-RW, and CD-ROM. Don't you think?

    Wouldn't I still be ahead having someone build me one from the ground up minus the stuff I already have? Plus they would be giving me a few bucks for my old set-up. AND I'd go to a local biz so if it breaks I'm not shipping the tower accross the country..

    Thanks for your comments, they're really helping!

    PS- Is hyperthreading only neccesary if you plan on running 2 processers or some such nonsense?
     
  12. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The thing to avoid is buying just before they release The Next Big thing. For example, with P4, they just released the "C" version of the P4, in speeds of 2.4, 2.6, and 2.8 GHz, to accompany the already-released high-end 3.0 GHz model. They all have 800MHz FSB, 512KB cache, and HyperThreading. There's also a new 865 chipset with dual-channel memory (for which you always want to install memory modules in pairs instead of singles) to go with the P4-C.

    Of course, it's really more like The Next Incremental Improvement. It's not like it runs twice as fast as last year's model. But if you're not buying at the low end, and not at the ultra-high end, then if you spend all that time researching, you might as well buy the slowest chip using the latest architecture. Ultra-high end would be the fastest chip, but the price difference is probably not worth it, unless you really need to run as fast as possible. Besides, as previously mentioned, other subsystems like the hard disc, RAM (amount and speed), and graphics card probably matter more than pure GHz. And if you're adventurous, you can always try overclocking, and there tends to be more headroom at the low end.

    By the way, here's an overview of Intel CPUs, past, present, and future.

    HyperThreading turns a single physical CPU into 2 "virtual" CPUs. If you actually have two processors, you get "4". It requires support in the OS -- WinXP has it -- and you can always turn it off. No reason not to get it, and if you buy Pentium, eventually you may have no choice [​IMG] Another advantage that Intel has is that they are more successful than AMD in getting programmers to support their proprietary multimedia extensions, which might matter if you're doing any video encoding.

    Speaking of which, the P4 overall better suited for media encoding (audio and video), while the Athlon is better at business apps and scientific number crunching.

    Hopefully the upcoming Athlon 64 will turn things around for AMD. (Their new 64-bit Opteron is targeted for servers and "workstations", not "desktops".) In fact, given your schedule, this might be the chip for you.

    As for recycling components:
    • You can reuse your monitor, as long as it supports the higher resolutions you'll want to use. Plus you'll want your new video card to support DVI, and if you get a new LCD display, with DVI on LCD, the picture is so much sharper. Just make sure you get one with a fast refresh rate, so that you can play first-person shooters, if that's your thing.
    • A keyboard is $10 (if that) one way or the other, it doesn't matter.
    • Since your mouse is optical, it's worth a bit more. But there are some nice cordless opticals now....
    • Of course you'll get a giant hard drive (at least 100GB), so it's not like your existing one matters that much?
    • You'll want to get a DVD-ROM drive (reads DVD and CD), a combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW (reads DVD, writes CD), or even a DVD-RW or DVD+RW (writes DVD and CD), so you don't need to recycle both of the old CD drives.
    Since it's such a huge leap, you might be better off leaving the old computer intact and working and buy a KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) switch so you can use both. Or donate the old box to a local charity. It's still good for surfing the net and doing schoolwork.

    //Ken
     
  13. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the links, Ken.

    I think I'll be all right as far as not buying the next big thing.. If 2.8 is just under the curve right now, imagine what it'll be in a year (I've been told it might be best if I wait until May of next year, rather than Christmas..)! I may even be able to get a 3 gig..

    I've got now desire to screw with stuff like overclocking, etc.. I'm dangerously short of computer know-how as it is.. [​IMG]

     
  14. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    Just reading those articles, Ken. Pretty compelling results for the Intel over the AMD. I'll have to keep this in mind..
     
  15. Masood Ali

    Masood Ali Supporting Actor

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    Just keep in mind that nowadays you can buy it cheaper pre-built than building it yourself.

    Dell

    2.8GHz P4
    i865 motherboard
    Radeon 9800
    60GB
    $680

    Just keep your eyes open because these deals pop up every other week.
     
  16. Brian E

    Brian E Screenwriter

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  17. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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  18. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    onboard in the used to be really bad because everything that was placed onboard the motherboard was cheap. cheap sound solution cheap video, etc.

    Lately onboard audio has start to become popular and quite good. nVidia released their chipset with onboard audio that is equivelent to sound cards that cost more than the motherboard you'd buy with the onboard sound. onboard video is still not that great, even the newest nForce2 chipsets used a GF4 MX440 onboard video controller. While not great, it's still not that bad of a video card for the price you pay.

    dealing over the internet is more of a mental problem than an actual problem, even though a lot of my computer parts were bought locally i still dealt with the manufacturer when I had trouble with them. the manufacturer is always friendlier and more knowledgeable than the local peeps in my dealings.

    I like AMD more currently because they are cheaper, I am an overclocker (I use extreme cooling methods and modifications to make my hardware run faster than spec) and I like the nForce chipset which is only for AMD computers.
     
  19. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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  20. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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