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"Upgrading/future proofing (for a while)"

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Tue 12/02/08 at 21:33
Regular
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Posts: 5,857
I want to build a new computer. Or rather, I need to keep up with current technology in my computer, as well as wanting to play a few newer games. But the problem is that my motherboard doesn't really support many new technologies. It has no PCI-E slots, only two SATA ports and not enough USB ports for my needs even though I already have a 7-port USB hub.

So I want to upgrade my motherboard. Upgrading the motherboard isn't like upgrading other parts where you just remove the part in question and replace it with a newer one. The motherboard governs everything connected to it, especially in my case where new mobos support completely different connectors which aren't supported by pretty much all of my current hardware. I also need a firewire port, seeing as I'm studying Interactive Media.

So, really, multiple graphics cards is just an extra thing which is currently interesting me for the gaming (and perhaps production) side of things. Is it really worth it? How exactly does SLI or CrossFire work? If I set up two cards with, say, 512MB of onboard RAM together, is that like having a 1GB card? What things od I have to consider and how much of a benefit will it be?

I'm currently looking at two motherboards: the GA-MA770-S3 and the GA-MA790FX-DS5.

Also, whilst I'm at it, is AM2+ a better choice than LGA775? I want my computer to be relatively future proof, seeing as the current one only lasted about 3 years before needing this upgrade due to lack of hardware support. I intend to install a quad core processor, but I may not do that straight away. I think, instead of jumping in straight to quad core, I might settle for a dual-core processor and then upgrade when quads become a bit cheaper and more abundant.

Many thanks for any input. :)
Sat 16/02/08 at 21:52
Regular
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Posts: 5,857
I still feel a very strong urge to go for AMD though. I had pretty much decided on the parts for that, as well as the future-proofing part of it. By the time I upgrade to an AM3 processor on what will be an AM2+ mobo, Intel will have released another line of processors which are likely to have a different socket type and I'll have to do this all again.

I know I will eventually. It's just that my current computer is the first one I ever built myself, and 3 years just doesn't seem long enough. I know that's the problem with technology is that it advances too quick, but I'd like to be sure that my computer is set to last, or can be upgraded without a completely new build like this, for a while.

I'd be perfectly happy to buy that board because it satisfies all of my needs, if it weren't for that little bit of uncertainty.
Sat 16/02/08 at 12:11
Staff Moderator
"Aargh! Broken..."
Posts: 1,408
I have an ASUS P5KC that support DDR2 and 3, 2 firewire header, 2 internal USB headers (12 USB in total), no parallel, 1 IDE, 6 SATA including 1 eSATA, 3 fan headers plus the CPU fan header. Seems to fill your requirements apart from it still has a COM port.

Edit: Oops, link might help! Here. Sells for around 70 now.
Sat 16/02/08 at 11:04
Regular
"tinycurve.gif"
Posts: 5,857
Hmm, well now I'm having a different problem: I can't find a motherboard with all the connectors I want with the LGA775 socket. That's another thing that attracted me to those two particular motherboards I mentioned in my original post.

Any suggestions? Here's what I need/want:
- No parallel port, it takes up too much space where USB ports could go. Plus I have no use for it.
- Ditto for VGA. I'll be using a plugin graphics card anyway.
- Ditto for serial. I don't use it.
- Must have as many USB ports as possible on the back panel, and at least one internal header so I can set up the two ports on the top of my case. Most boards have more than one header for USB anyway.
- Must have at least one firewire port; if not o nthe back panel, then as a header for the firewire port that's on the top of my case.
- ATX or MicroATX, I don't mind, although I'd like there to be enough room/expansion slots available for me to change hardware. I do that quite a bit. Maybe three PCI and 3 PCI-E x1 or something. If it has two PCI-E x16 slots, that's also fine. As long as a PCI-E card is small enough to fit the slot, it'll work.
- 3 fan headers; not including CPU fan. That's 4 then.
- I don't mind if the board is compatible with DDR3 or not, but I'd like it to take at least 8GB of DDR2. If it takes DDR3, then good. It's futureproofed a bit more. That's why I like Gigabyte's AM2(+) boards. They support up to 16GB.

And that's about it really. Ideally, 2 PATA connectors would also be good, but boards with two are very difficult to come by now, so one will do. New hard drives or disc drives are hardly expensive.

That's another reason why I like the Gigabyte AM2+ boards - they satisfied all my criteria there that I just listed.
Fri 15/02/08 at 18:33
Staff Moderator
"Aargh! Broken..."
Posts: 1,408
I think you mean Wolfdale, Warfdale make speakers and stuff!
You might want to read this. The Wolfdale CPUs are the next generation in Intels Core2 lineup. They are now using a 45nm (nanometer) manufacturing process, which make the CPU more efficient in terms of power wastage and also offer a whole host of other improvements.
Fri 15/02/08 at 16:36
Regular
"tinycurve.gif"
Posts: 5,857
Okay okay. So I did a bit more digging around and had a read through some of the pages on AMD's and Intel's sites. Intel ARE better. I was attracted by the fact that I could get a 3.2GHz CPU from Overclockers for about 111, but maybe it would be better to go for the 2.66 GHz Intel one instead.

Now, if you don't mind me asking, what's the difference between Conroe and Warfdale?
Thu 14/02/08 at 18:07
Regular
"tinycurve.gif"
Posts: 5,857
Well for the sake of future proofing, I've still got my eye on AMD. I will be able to upgrade the processor to an AM3 one when they are released. Sure, I won't benefit from some of the new technologies included with AM3 CPUs but I'd rather have my computer last longer than have to build a new one in a few years time like I did with this one. In fact the whole reason for upgrading was because my graphics card won't play any newer games. It'll just about play Prey, but I can't stand it. There's too much tearing and the framerate is very slow.

It's confirmed that AMD are working on the AM3 socket which, when released, may see many fixes in the new processors that work with it, but with Intel, s far as I can find, there is no info about the next Intel CPU socket, which probably means it'll be different, so I'll have to change the motherboard again possibly if I want ot upgrade the CPU.

All in all, the main reason is that my old motherboard only supports old connectors which aren't really used anymore: AGP, IDE, socket 478. It also lacks any form of IEEE 1394 connector, which I need for my coursework. There isn't even an internal header for connecting a front-panel firewire port.

So I think, based on that, I'll be sticking with AMD. Please tell me if there's anything else I shoukld consider though.
Thu 14/02/08 at 17:30
Regular
"Devil in disguise"
Posts: 3,151
The only time you should compare clock speeds is when looking at same range. By all means compare the clock speeds of a 6400+ to a 6000+ but comparisons to other brands/architectures are pointless and misleading. Clock speed simply isnt as important as architecture anymore so higher clock speed doesnt necessarily mean better.

And multiple core processors rely on the O/S and programs to take advantage of the extra cores. Its not an automatic process so no a quad core isnt the equivalent of a 8.8GHz single core.
Thu 14/02/08 at 16:50
Regular
"tinycurve.gif"
Posts: 5,857
My obsession with AMDs is driven by my lust for money. :) Also the fact that the last time I ever had to work with a processor was about 4 years ago.

I can get a 3.2GHz AMD Athlon X2 from Overclockers for about 111, but the cheapest Core 2 Quad that I can find is 160.

It's the price which is putting me off the Core 2 Quads, even though the combined price of an Athlon 64 X2 and a Phenom will almost certainly be higher.

So if I was to buy a 2.2GHz quad core, would that actually mean that I get the performance of an 8.8GHz unicore CPU?

I now see that Intel's CPUs have better bus speeds and cache sizes. It just doesn't seem right upgrading from a 3.2GHz unicore to a 2.2GHz quad core.
Thu 14/02/08 at 02:21
Regular
"Devil in disguise"
Posts: 3,151
Twain wrote:
> Really though - would a notice a difference between Intel and
> AMD CPUs of similar spec?

Well thats a purely subjective thing. Really all anybody can do is tell you what the best value for money is. To me personally, it makes no sense to buy a dual core AMD 6400+ when you can buy a E6750 Intel processor for 10 more that runs faster, cooler, and consumes less power. Only you can judge how important that 10 is though. And just for reference, nice comparison table.

> I guess it makes sense to go
> straight for quad, but that's one of my main problems - I know
> AMDs quad cores are bad ... at the moment. That's why I'm
> undecided over whther i should start with dual core and upgrade,
> or just splash out on a quad core straight away.

I think the problem is your obsession with AMD. ;) Does it really matter what the brand of your processor is? I've gone back and forth between buying AMD and Intel processors since the "war" started. I buy the best in my budget, I've not going to miss out on extra performance for the sake of sticking to one brand. And at the high end of the market, intel has better dual cores and quad cores are too.
Thu 14/02/08 at 00:21
Regular
"tinycurve.gif"
Posts: 5,857
I'm not really all that concerned about power consumption. I don't pay the electricity bill and have a 700W PSU. Most particularly demanding ATI cards require 500W or something like that, but I guess I have to take into account my two hard drives which I intend to keep, and two optical disc drives. I might even need to add another hard drive, as my system drive is only 120GB and Vista requires 15GB when I get to that stage. I don't intend to get Vista straight away though. I know XP will complain that too much hardware has changed, but a quick call to Microsoft should hopefully sort that. Though I don't know, having never done that before.

Really though - would a notice a difference between Intel and AMD CPUs of similar spec? I'm still undecided on whether to jump straight in with a quad core, or get myself a decent-enough dual core, then upgrade to quad later. I guess it makes sense to go straight for quad, but that's one of my main problems - I know AMDs quad cores are bad ... at the moment. That's why I'm undecided over whther i should start with dual core and upgrade, or just splash out on a quad core straight away.

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