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New System? (Redux)

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#1
Glenn9999

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I'm to the point of planning out a purchase of a newer system for someone, and I was wondering some things. Most of this is mainly from a bang for the buck perspective - I don't want to suggest more than they really need or would want:

The obvious first question to get out of the way:
1) The system this is replacing is a Athlon XP 2200+. Since I observe that I'm running Windows XP on an Athlon XP 2000+ very acceptably (for me anyhow, it could use improvement in a category or two), would it be an acceptable option for to just suggest them to drop coin on a copy of Windows XP (assuming it can be found) and a matching RAM upgrade and be done with it? Obviously, the machine upgrade would have to happen in the case of Vista or W7, since I can testify for myself that the RC2 of Vista ran rather poorly on the 2000+. I'm asking this one because I can't run either the XP advisor or the Vista advisor on this system (it's a very old copy of Windows they carried over from an older system that's starting to break with some newer web site apps and the like), and would need to figure out something more definite for this system. The real problem is more the OS on this system than it is anything else, assuming something isn't about to break and I'm not aware of it (very old system too, but was a very cheap upgrade from a computer that matched the specs of the OS back when it came out that didn't work well at all). System is only used for web surfing, e-mail, occasional simple gaming, flash games and flash videos - much less than what the 2000+ gets used for.

2) Then for the machine, I looked at a few things and it seemed to suggest that the Core2 Duo, or the AMD at the comparable price point would be good. How do the speeds of these things compare to the CPUs mentioned above? I seem to notice in reading that the focus has been on more cores lately as opposed to increase in processing cycles. True or false?

3) Is it just me or has memory gotten very cheap lately? I looked into it and found 2GB of DDR 2 memory for $60.

4) The biggest thing I'm noticing as a problem is a changeover from standard IDE to SATA. I'd hate to have to suggest that they'd jettison a perfectly acceptable & working (and fast for both XP and Vista, I've found) hard drive because of this (it's a Western Digital 80GB, 8MB cache), so I'm wondering is there a good converter that one can get so this drive would work? Though as far as the parts go, the drive that will accept CDs would be an easier sell than the hard drive. Or would there be no choice in this matter (i.e. most mainboards would require bootup from a SATA device)?

5) Video...they won't be playing Crysis anytime soon, so I don't think they'll need a hot-rod video card. But would just about anything work here (including built-in video), given what I mentioned above, or would there need to be some special consideration in this area?

Thanks for reading smile.gif


Edited by Glenn9999, 25 September 2013 - 02:34 PM.



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#2
CoffeeFiend

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I looked into it and found 2GB of DDR 2 memory for $60

That's a seriously BAD deal! I got a 2x2GB of DDR2 800 kit (Buffalo) for $37 CAD like 2 or 3 weeks ago (that's about ~$30 USD) at ncix. Newegg has many 4GB kits around $40.

SATA is the future. And such an old drive probably not that fast either. Still, you should be able to reuse it (except for a couple boards with non-bootable jmicron controllers and the like).

Video wise, for basic needs like that, some onboard video is just fine. Last couple boxes I built used a AMD 780G chipset, which has a Radeon 3200 onboard. Works great for anything non-gaming (1080p H.264 movies play fine, Aero runs fine and everything else).
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#3
puntoMX

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The AMD Athlon (XP) 2000/2000+ are more than 6 year old so anything that you compare with something you can buy in the shop today would let the AMD far, but really far (even the Intel Atom), behind. Now, I would suggest leaving the computer as it is and sell it, give it away or use it "for the small kids". You could indeed expand the memory but would leave it when it's PC133 or so.

That said, it's time for a fresh system.

The slow, let's say 55MB/s max. read/write speed, hard disk will be no good in a modern system as an average drive will do some 100MB/s. Access times will be about the same but modern technology has a few tricks here and there to make seek times shorter. You should now look for a 250GB and above drive made by Samsung, Hitachi and WD (Seagate would have been here if they didn't mess so much up with their 7200.11 series). You still can use the relatively slow 80GB drive for the system as it will boot also from any modern motherboard but remember that any modern motherboard will not have more than one PATA port, so, if you use the PATA optical drive then you have to hook them together, and that's not advisable.

Like CoffeeFiend said, a system with the AMD 780G/700 chipset would suite a lot, arm it with a Phenon with 2 or 3 cores and you have a cheap but snappy and fast system. Just be aware that you need a motherboard/BIOS that accepts AM3 CPUs. if you go with Intel, look at the equally priced G31 chipset. Although this chipset has a slower onboard video, it is stable as can be, just be aware that it only has a FSB up to 1066MT/s natively. The Southbridge isn't high-tech any more but will suite for the needs. If you go for an Intel based system I would take a look at the E5200 (800 FSB) (and up), the upcoming E6300 (1066MHz) or the E7300 (1066 FSB); all are dual cored CPUs but are based on the 45nm Core2.

If you need help to pick out the parts for a budget system that will enough to use another 5 years or so, we are here to help you out ;).

#4
Glenn9999

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That's a seriously BAD deal! I got a 2x2GB of DDR2 800 kit (Buffalo) for $37 CAD like 2 or 3 weeks ago (that's about ~$30 USD) at ncix. Newegg has many 4GB kits around $40.


This was higher spec stuff on NewEgg (1033 I think, I'm not in the mood to go load it up) that I was trying to match with the motherboards that I was finding when I was spot-checking things.

SATA is the future. And such an old drive probably not that fast either.


Another case of planned obsolescence. Got you. Unless the newer stuff really blows away this drive (I mean 2 to 3X performance, something very impressive and demonstrative upon benchmarks or otherwise), it would be very hard to justify parting with the drive to this person, compared to the optical drive, especially since this drive is about a year old.

The AMD Athlon (XP) 2000/2000+ are more than 6 year old so anything that you compare with something you can buy in the shop today would let the AMD far, but really far (even the Intel Atom), behind.


Okay, back to my original post. What's the difference in performance compared to the Athlon XP 2000+, besides the fact that there are more cores in the newer processor (which does not necessarily provide a benefit in all apps, especially the ones mentioned)? The fact that my XP system has less specs and seems to be doing the tasks mentioned above that this person does very ably (and that they witnessed it in seeing what XP is) is going to put a question out there that needs answered in justifying the new system (as point #1 hopefully made clear). The motherboard and CPU is old and liable to break at any time, yes, but beyond that, what would I argue? Again benefit needs to be demonstrated for money spent, not just "it's old that's new, so it's faster".

If you need help to pick out the parts for a budget system that will enough to use another 5 years or so, we are here to help you out ;).


I definitely would accept that help, and this person might agree to the new system anyway. And I know if I had the money, I'd be replacing that 2000+ as quickly as I could. But since I'm not playing with my own money here, I need to be able to do a little more to justify my decisions in fixing the issue that's leading this person to come to me. At least to help them to feel that they're getting the best thing they can for the money they want to lay out.

Thanks for the responses so far!

#5
Kelsenellenelvian

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I am running a oc'ed e2140 @ 2.6gigs (Dual Core) and it will run GIANT circles around that 2000+.

#6
CoffeeFiend

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Another case of planned obsolescence. Got you. Unless the newer stuff really blows away this drive (I mean 2 to 3X performance, something very impressive and demonstrative upon benchmarks or otherwise), it would be very hard to justify parting with the drive to this person, compared to the optical drive, especially since this drive is about a year old.

It's not planned obsolescence. It's people parting with older crappy tech, for newer stuff. PATA ports are shared between 2 devices so you never get the full speed of both -- especially if you're copying from one to the other unlike SATA (1 cable per drive), and it can make the other slower (like if you plug your DVD writer with a HD on the same cable), they take up a lot of precious real-estate on motherboards (not only the large connectors, but all the traces on the PCB that goes to them as well as the controller chips for it -- they're not part of the chipset anymore), and those old large ribbon cables were a pain to "twist" around sometimes and tend to block airflow significantly. SATA is all-around much better (save perhaps for not always being as sturdy -- locking connectors are better for sure). No more jumpers to fiddle with either.

That being said, like puntoMX said, never drives are all significantly faster than your old drive. And drive speed is pretty much the main bottleneck on any computer (it's so much slower than RAM it's not even funny). A new HD is cheap (my usual place has 1TB drives for as low as $85 this week! That's $0.085/GB). As for the optical drive, it's the inverse. While a new hard drive will be a LOT faster, SATA DVD writers aren't really any faster than the old PATA ones. My current 22x SATA DVD writer is barely faster than my old 16x PATA (can't even notice -- it only seems to be louder). That old writer won't slow down everything you do with your PC like the HD will, it would only make burning DVDs slower by a handful of seconds.


What's the difference in performance compared to the Athlon XP 2000+, besides the fact that there are more cores in the newer processor

Day and night. I'm using an old/discontinued budget CPU, an Intel E2160 (much like Kelsenellenelvian's CPU), and once OC'ed to 3.4GHz, it benches 3x faster than the old P4 3GHz it replaced, and it actually works that much faster too (e.g. encoding XviD in 1/3 of the time the P4 used to take, 3x the frames per second). Anything modern you can buy today (like puntoMX said too) will run circles around that old thing. Also, more cores is definitely a good thing, even if a particular app won't make use of the other core(s), other apps running in the background most certainly can. A new CPU also means a longer lifespan for a box (being useful longer), and being able to "get with the times" i.e. eventually replacing XP (from 2001) with Win7, watching Blu-Ray/H.264 movies or ATSC OTA feeds (free high def!), using it as a DVR/media center and everything else they may want in the next few years.
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#7
puntoMX

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I'm using an old/discontinued budget CPU, an Intel E2160 (much like Kelsenellenelvian's CPU), and once OC'ed to 3.4GHz, it benches 3x faster than the old P4 3GHz it replaced, and it actually works that much faster too (e.g. encoding XviD in 1/3 of the time the P4 used to take, 3x the frames per second).

AMD´s older CPUs are really slow in this, even up to the AMD Athlon X2. The new ones are a lot better but still Intel seems to be faster in coding/decoding of video streams.

let me see if I can get some benchmarks, I think there are some at THG.

For the CPU:

http://www.tomshardw...04-CPU,444.html
http://www.tomshardw...Mark05,339.html

For the harddisk:

Half of 2004:
http://www.xbitlabs....0_11.html#sect1
End of 2007:
http://www.xbitlabs....p_11.html#sect0
End of 2008:
http://www.xbitlabs....up_7.html#sect1

Just make your own conclusions of it, and I'm sure you will agree with us, and so the one for whom you are doing this ;).

#8
pointertovoid

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If you plan to use a dual-core Cpu, don't forget to use an OS that makes use of it. Xp Home doesn't, Xp Pro does.

#9
cluberti

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You can use multi-core CPUs in XP Home, but only on one socket. Since most people's home machines don't have dual-socket motherboards, this isn't a problem. This has been discussed here earlier, and Microsoft has their official statement here.

Again, basically you can cram as many CPU cores on one CPU socket, and Windows XP Home will be able to use all of them. You only run into problems with XP Home when you add a second physical CPU into a second physical CPU socket, XP Home won't "see" or use any CPU cores on the second socket (whereas XP Professional would, as it supports 2 CPU sockets vs 1 for XP Home).
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#10
pointertovoid

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Same mistake again and again, Cluberti.

Xp licence counts cores, not sockets as Vista does.

#11
Zenskas

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Same mistake again and again, Cluberti.

Xp licence counts cores, not sockets as Vista does.

What do you mean by this? I have a dual-core CPU and it will work with any version of XP. XP License counts cores?

EDIT: And if you mean cluberti is making a mistake then you are wrong. My PC will run just as fast with XP Pro as it will with XP Home in any CPU benchmarks.

EDIT 2: So pointertovoid how come I have a PC lying around with two cores on the one socket running Windows XP HOME and can fully use both cores without the need for another license??? Please just believe it. Please. :yes:

Edited by Zenskas, 08 June 2009 - 11:45 PM.

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#12
CoffeeFiend

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What do you mean by this?

That he has no idea what he's talking about (either that, or MS doesn't know how their own OS is licensed and also that he knows better than everybody else). I've long given up trying to argue with him, especially when CPUs are involved.
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#13
cluberti

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Same mistake again and again, Cluberti.

Xp licence counts cores, not sockets as Vista does.

So this, Microsoft's documentation on the subject, is wrong? And my XP Professional install, with 2 dual-core CPUs (not Hyperthreaded, either - 4 real, actual cores on 2 sockets) using all 4 cores is somehow ... wrong? Is this some language barrier thing? I would hope so, because otherwise you're just being argumentative for the sake of argument (and, you're still wrong, for what it's worth). Seriously though, what part of this do you still not understand?

Licensing Microsoft Software on Multicore Processors

On October 19, 2004, Microsoft announced that its server software that is currently licensed on a per-processor model will continue to be licensed on a per-processor, and not on a per-core, model. This policy will allow customers to recognize more performance and power from Microsoft software on a multicore processor system without incurring additional software licensing fees.

Licensing on a per-processor rather than a per-core basis ensures that customers will not face additional software licensing requirements or incur additional licensing fees when they choose to adopt multicore processor technology. Customers who use software from vendors that license by individual core, as other software vendors currently do, may face increased software costs when they upgrade to multicore processor systems. Multicore processor systems licensed on a per-processor basis will also help make this new enterprise computing technology affordable to midsize and small business customers.

Q. How does this licensing policy affect products such as Microsoft Windows XP Professional?

A. Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Microsoft Windows XP Home are not affected by this policy as they are licensed per installation and not per processor. Windows XP Professional can support up to two processors regardless of the number of cores on the processor. Microsoft Windows XP Home supports one processor.

Note the usage of the word processor. It is the actual, physical CPU that goes in the CPU socket, and the separation of the CPU core from the processor - you can use as many cores as Intel, AMD, et. al. can fit onto a single processor socket in Windows XP Home, and as many cores as Intel, AMD, et.al. can fit onto *2* processor sockets in Windows XP Professional. This really shouldn't be that hard to comprehend.
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#14
cluberti

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To get back on track with the OP, I've answered as best I could think:

1) The system this is replacing is a Athlon XP 2200+. Since I observe that I'm running Windows XP on an Athlon XP 2000+ very acceptably (for me anyhow, it could use improvement in a category or two), would it be an acceptable option for to just suggest them to drop coin on a copy of Windows XP (assuming it can be found) and a matching RAM upgrade and be done with it?

It would depend on how much RAM the system can handle (likely 3 or 4GB, even for a mobo for an Athlon XP 2200), and whether or not running a system with older other components (like hard drive, PSU, etc) is something you want to do. However, if the box does everything this person would want already, then perhaps this is the most attractive option if cost is the overriding factor.

2) Then for the machine, I looked at a few things and it seemed to suggest that the Core2 Duo, or the AMD at the comparable price point would be good. How do the speeds of these things compare to the CPUs mentioned above? I seem to notice in reading that the focus has been on more cores lately as opposed to increase in processing cycles. True or false?

Honestly, for XP being circa 2001-era code, anything dual core is more than enough given a decent amount of RAM (again, it's an x86 Windows client OS so max 4GB anyway) for pretty much what you've described it being used for. Even a relatively fast single-core would be fine, although dual-core helps with multitasking and the like.

Something to keep in mind is that the AMD Athlon XP 2200+ was a 1.8GHz part, and single core. If I go back to even the Athlon X2 5600+ (2.9GHz, dual-core) and compare it to an Intel Pentium E2200 (2.2GHz, dual-core), they're about the same price online, and they benchmark approximately the same. Compare either of those against the AMD Athlon X2 4600+ (which is head and shoulders above the AMD Athlon XP 2200+ that is currently in that system - the benchmarks on that site only go back so far ;)), and see what ~$70 will buy you nowadays. Very good CPUs for "good enough" computing as it's been called here at MSFN are quite cheap, and still quite powerful.

3) Is it just me or has memory gotten very cheap lately? I looked into it and found 2GB of DDR 2 memory for $60.

No, DDR2 memory is really very cheap nowadays.

4) The biggest thing I'm noticing as a problem is a changeover from standard IDE to SATA. I'd hate to have to suggest that they'd jettison a perfectly acceptable & working (and fast for both XP and Vista, I've found) hard drive because of this (it's a Western Digital 80GB, 8MB cache), so I'm wondering is there a good converter that one can get so this drive would work? Though as far as the parts go, the drive that will accept CDs would be an easier sell than the hard drive. Or would there be no choice in this matter (i.e. most mainboards would require bootup from a SATA device)?

There are IDE to SATA converters, but it might be better to look for a motherboard that still has an IDE port (at least one) if you really, really need to keep that IDE drive around. However, since you've mentioned this install is a bit old and crufty, it might be wise just to spend a slight bit more on a newer SATA drive and not limit your motherboard choices. However, I don't know what's on this drive, although perhaps getting a USB or Firewire external enclosure to hold this 80GB drive so that the data can be recovered after the new install might also solve that problem, if that is indeed the reason for keeping the drive in the first place.

5) Video...they won't be playing Crysis anytime soon, so I don't think they'll need a hot-rod video card. But would just about anything work here (including built-in video), given what I mentioned above, or would there need to be some special consideration in this area?

Again, it would depend. If we're talking about perhaps HD video or watching movies in the future, getting a GeForce 8xxx/9xxx or an ATI Radeon 3xxx/4xxx card wouldn't be a bad idea. However, if we're talking about more basic needs, onboard should be fine. Again, it depends on what you might expect over the (rest of the) life of this system, so spec accordingly. Think 2 - 3 years down the road, and use that as your guide.
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#15
Glenn9999

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Okay, any thoughts on this would be welcome (I just got the go-ahead to start actually buying stuff from this person - more coming up with a list, but same idea). I'm just sticking to NewEgg so that'll be the easiest for when I sit this list before this person. But if anyone has better ideas on something that's equivalent/cheaper, or something for the same cost that would be better...(would going the AMD route be better, cost-wise for the performance?). Did I miss anything on these parts to not fit spec?

Antec Three Hundred 430 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 430W Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811129065
$99.99

ASUS P5E-VM DO LGA 775 Intel Q35 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131222
$109.99

Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819115206
$119.99

Crucial Ballistix 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model BL12864AA80A - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820148203
$15.99x2

I stuck to 2GB here because of the 32-bit OS. Would it be better to go higher, or go 64-bit with the OS?

Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3 32-bit for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16832116515
$119.99

Should I go to Vista here? Is SP2 better than what I saw of Vista when it came out?

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136319
$74.99

Because of the before-mentioned SATA thing, I might be doing a DVD drive, I'll have to ask them when I go back to them with the list.

#16
puntoMX

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For the motherboard:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813128380

And stick a video card on it:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814140094

If you go with a new OS, and you don't have old 16 bit apps, go with Vista, any Vista 64 bit...

#17
Glenn9999

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Since this post has all the details (namely specs for both computers) for some questions I want to ask, I decided to necro it to save time.

 

The person I built this system for wanted something more portable, so I ended up taking the opportunity offered me and acquired it.  So I have both computers.  But I need to downsize since I don't have any personal need to run both computers.

 

People might remember the video card thread I made regarding the Athlon XP 2000+.  That's still a valid concern, but doubly more so with the new system (specs in #15), since I built it more as an Internet surfer than a general computer capable of games and high-end video, consistent with the needs of this person.  Thirteen year old Deus Ex looks like crap on this system, and that's saying something.  Needless to say, old computer is running that.

 

So...suggestions?  I've been literally completely out of the hardware side of things for the last year and a half or so, so I can't really comment on the new stuff that's out.  I can obviously research and locate a video card for the new system and be okay with that, but is the reasonably priced newer stuff worth enough of my time that I should drop both the systems, especially since getting into Windows 7 would be a consideration in the planning?  Should I go portable myself, would what is reasonably available run about anything I could want?  Again 2-3-5 years down the road?



#18
puntoMX

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The CPU is fast enough for every day use of a PC, but if you step up to windows 7 you might drop in an extra 2GB RAM and install a 64bit OS on it (total of 4GB). Par it with some PCI-E video card and it should even do blu-ray and H.264 video well on it.

 

Can you give me a list of games you would like to run or are there any special apps like Photoshop or ACAD that you would like to use?



#19
Glenn9999

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The CPU is fast enough for every day use of a PC, but if you step up to windows 7 you might drop in an extra 2GB RAM and install a 64bit OS on it (total of 4GB). Par it with some PCI-E video card and it should even do blu-ray and H.264 video well on it.

 

Can you give me a list of games you would like to run or are there any special apps like Photoshop or ACAD that you would like to use?

 

None in particular.  The only thing that would interest me is older games that I took an interest in but couldn't run on the older system for whatever reason that I can get at reasonable prices.  For example, Deus Ex: Human Revolution (if I can get it free of the DRM known as Steam, no active internet connections here for gaming).  But the main projected potential use would be blu-ray and H.264, along with higher-end flash games, which dog on the new system.  Ancillary interests in a new system would involve having features that I could program for and use that I have interests in (for instance, dynamic frequency scaling).


Edited by Glenn9999, 25 September 2013 - 08:57 PM.


#20
puntoMX

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In that case stick with cards around 50USD like the ATI/AMD HD6570 (650MHz GPU) or the 60USD HD6670 (800MHz GPU), both have a 480:24:8 core configuration that would give you enough power for modern games at high settings on a 720p resolution or at low settings on 1080p. It will reproduce blu-ray and H.264 1080p with 5.1 sound trough HDMI without any problem. These cards will do DX 11, but Windows XP will only do DX 9. New, soon to be released, cards will support DX 11.2 but you will need Windows 8.1 for that...



#21
Glenn9999

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Thoughts on the machine question?  If I order the vid card, the order will likely include a copy of Windows 7 as well - will that machine handle Win 7 alright or will I be wishing for an upgrade anyway?  Any ideas on what that should be, at a reasonable price point (main concern being what mainboard).



#22
puntoMX

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The Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 with 2GB that it has now and 2GB extra (28USD *) will work fine with windows 7 64bit, especially when you put in a HD6670 for 60USD * (total 88USD *).

 

Now, you could upgrade to a twice as fast system for less than 171USD, that's 83USD more than a video and RAM upgrade but you get a CPU that uses less power, has new instruction sets, and does a job in about half the time compared to the E7400, plus it will provide USB 3.0, SATA 6gbps. The integrated graphics from intel might be enough for the things you do with the PC, it will have no problems to reproduce 1080p and blueray and will even run older games. Sure it doesn't have the graphics power of an HD6670 but like I said you might not need that power.

 

This is the list op components that would be the heart of your system:

Intel Celeron G1610 Ivy Bridge 2.6GHz LGA 1155 55W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80637G1610

for 50USD *

GIGABYTE GA-B75M-D3H LGA 1155 Intel B75 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

for 75USD *

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9D-4GBXM

for 46USD *

 

You might be able to sell the motherboard, CPU and RAM you have now for 60USD on ebay.

 

* Prices are plus taxes.



#23
Glenn9999

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Thanks for the suggestions.



#24
Glenn9999

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For those that are interested, I ended up with this one.  Basically the Nvidia card in the same class as the ATI one listed (according to my research), because it supports VGA and I'm not ready to spring for a new monitor yet.  The copy of Deus Ex picked it up and ran with it (given it is running DX9 drivers).  The DX10 drivers will have to wait until the OS upgrade gets done.  Running very smoothly now with all the graphics packs installed at the highest resolution. 

 

Quick question #1: I'm not really noticing much of a change for other graphics oriented things (flash games for instance).   Is there stuff I need to reinstall so they'll pick up the GPU?

 

Quick Question #2: I notice the card supports HDMI, which means I could probably plug my flat screen TV into it.  Any experiences in doing that, or even letting your regular TV double as your computer monitor?  Or are TVs generally too crappy to work well as monitors?

 

Basically other than that, my computing is fixed until I can spring for the next set of upgrades.


Edited by Glenn9999, 04 October 2013 - 01:46 PM.


#25
puntoMX

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99.9% Of the video cards that you can buy still support VGA (DVI to VGA adapter will come with 99% of the retail cards) so for 90USD is wasn´t the best pick. Flash uses mostly CPU so you will get some improvement with a videocard but not much indeed.  The HDMI support audio as well, and they can be used as a monitor, you just need to find the real native resolution of the screen; eg. 1366*768 screens might be natively 1280*720 as the downscale, 1080p screens are natively 1920*1080 so no problem there. There are also plasma screens that are 1024*768 in 16:9 format.

 

For 90USD you could have had a HD7750 that has 60% more balls over a a GT640...






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