Staredit Network > Forums > Technology & Computers > Topic: Newish build on a budget
Newish build on a budget
Apr 21 2010, 9:51 pm
By: CaptainWill  

Apr 21 2010, 9:51 pm CaptainWill Post #1



Right, well my current desktop is struggling to play more recent games on decent settings, so I'm considering upgrading the system. Because my processor is the serious bottleneck in performance, this will mean switching to a new motherboard etc. etc.

My current desktop is an old Packard Bell (2004 possibly) which has been upgraded a few times to keep its performance reasonable:

Intel Pentium 4 HT, 3.06 Ghz (Prescott)
2GB RAM (Maximum the mobo allows)
Seagate Barracuda HD
Radeon HD3650 GPU

I'm not a massive whore for graphics, so as far as I'm concerned the rather low-end GPU can stay. The processor is the oldest component and it really struggles with say, Empire Total War. It has aged remarkably well though - games like Far Cry 2 and Red Faction Guerilla play very well on decent settings.

From my current research, it looks like a Core 2 Duo E8400 would be a good choice, on a Gigabyte GA-EG41MFT-US2H mobo.

I have a 450W Corsair PSU which I will probably reuse. I will also be reusing the memory (I have more lying around which I was going to use on the current system until I realised it wouldn't take it) and the HD.

Would it be a good idea to purchase another internal HD anyway as data storage? I want to back up some of my stuff from the current HD before switching over.

Considering that everything is much more expensive in the UK, this setup costs around 250 ($385). I am not prepared to spend over 300. I would like to be able to play Empire Total War without ridiculous loading times.



None.

Apr 21 2010, 10:18 pm Excalibur Post #2

The sword and the faith

DDR1 or DDR2 RAM in there Will? I assume DDR2.

Obviously for DDR2 you'll have to stay with LGA775 which is dead at the moment. However I really dislike G series chipsets and a mATX mobo is out of the question, must be ATX. If you could find me where you'd be buying from in the UK, I'll see what I can do.




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Apr 21 2010, 10:23 pm rockz Post #3

ᴄʜᴇᴇsᴇ ɪᴛ!

If the HDD is older than 4 years, I'd get a new one. Spinpoint f3 or caviar black are the only good choices (unless someone is still improving HDDs instead of SSDs).

e8400 is still pretty expensive. FYI: Denebs decimate wolfdales in anything multithreaded and cost the same. Intel will OC better, though, and in general will play most games better (but not with crap running the the background). If you really want to save money, a Callisto (phenom II x2, also has chance to unlock to deneb, but unlikely) will be around 20% slower than the e8400 and cost half as much. Much better price/performance.

Gigabyte, asus, and msi tend to make good motherboards, and there are many others. Stay away from foxconn and some of the other obviously poor ones. DFI is good, but lacks in the general support department, whereas asus is much better.



"Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman - do we have to call the Gentleman a gentleman if he's not one?"

Apr 21 2010, 11:40 pm CaptainWill Post #4



Yes, my RAM is DDR2.

I would probably be buying from www.ebuyer.com. Newegg doesn't sell to the UK iirc. If they did then I would use them.

Thanks for pointing out the mATX issue - I'm now considering an ASUS P5Q SE PLUS, which is slightly more expensive.
As for HDDs - the current one probably is 4+ years old so maybe I could keep it as a backup drive and install a new WD Caviar drive. I have never considered AMD processors before (because of bad experiences with their mobile versions) but I will look into that. Maybe a Phenom II x2 with this mobo?



None.

Apr 21 2010, 11:52 pm Excalibur Post #5

The sword and the faith

An AMD build works here, and the Phenom II 555 is a good choice, because it can possibly unlock into a quad core. But you need to choose your motherboard carefully to do this.

Because AM3 is compatible with AM2+ and AM3 leans toward DDR3, you're probably going to go with an AM2+ board that supports unlocking. Try this: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/175765

For the HDD, just being a WD caviar isn't enough. It needs to be a Caviar Black. http://www.ebuyer.com/product/150246

If you're unconcerned about unlocking your CPU into an x4 and want an AM3 board instead, I'll look into it, but at current I think this would be a good call if you want to try to unlock the CPU.

The site tells me 187.18 after all charges in cart.




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Apr 22 2010, 12:25 am CaptainWill Post #6



Ah, excellent. That looks pretty good and I may even be able to afford it earlier. Would you recommend getting a new case to fit all this is into? The current one is a little cramped as it is. Maybe this one.

Is there much risk involved with unlocking the CPU?



None.

Apr 22 2010, 12:31 am Excalibur Post #7

The sword and the faith

No, bad case. No no risk in unlocking. If it doesn't work you just reset the CMOS and all is well.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/147113 Good case but not sure if you want a cheaper one. If cheaper, try
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173550
Crossed the first one out, they're both CM 590-based designs, one is just NZXT labeled and has some stuff thrown onto the main body. If you don't mind the look, definitely get this one.




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Apr 22 2010, 1:24 am ShadowFlare Post #8



Is that video card PCI Express?



None.

Apr 22 2010, 1:29 am Excalibur Post #9

The sword and the faith

Good catch SF, I didn't even recall that the 3650 came in AGP.




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Apr 22 2010, 1:46 am CaptainWill Post #10



Yes it is PCIe.

Thanks for the help - the total I've got now, with shipping, is around 240. I'm not overly keen on the look of that particular case but it seems to have a lot of features and doesn't seem to require screwdrivers to fit things, so I will go for it.



None.

Apr 22 2010, 2:03 am Excalibur Post #11

The sword and the faith

I don't much like the look of it either, but that's a great price for a 590 clone. I hope all goes well Will. :)




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Apr 23 2010, 3:24 pm rockz Post #12

ᴄʜᴇᴇsᴇ ɪᴛ!

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/146252
fyi: cheaper, faster (33% on average), 2 years less warranty, non-ex approved, since he doesn't own one.

Also:
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-phenom-athlon-cpu,8012.html
there's probably no danger in unlocking, but it might fail at some point during its life. Much like overclocking, unlocking might cause system instability down the road. Will it kill the processor or kill another component? Probably not--you can just reset the cmos.



"Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman - do we have to call the Gentleman a gentleman if he's not one?"

Apr 23 2010, 4:12 pm Excalibur Post #13

The sword and the faith

The F3s are not non-Ex-Approved because I don't own one, its because of 2 things:
They're Samsung. Enough said.
WD is a better company with a better warranty. When I think of Samsung I do not think of HDDs. This is the same reason I'd buy an EVGA GFX card, but not motherboard.




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Apr 24 2010, 4:10 am Falkoner Post #14



Quote from Excalibur
No, bad case. No no risk in unlocking. If it doesn't work you just reset the CMOS and all is well.

To elaborate, extra processors are typically locked because they somehow failed in testing at the factory or something like that, so with a bit of luck you get one that wasn't locked for any reason that's important to your ability to use it, and you can unlock it. However, if it was truly broken, it's like Ex said, the chances that it'll permanently mess anything up is extremely low, you just turn the extra core off and go on as it was.

Quote from Excalibur
The F3s are not non-Ex-Approved because I don't own one, its because of 2 things:
They're Samsung. Enough said.
WD is a better company with a better warranty. When I think of Samsung I do not think of HDDs. This is the same reason I'd buy an EVGA GFX card, but not motherboard.

If you end up being wrong about the first one, then the second one pretty much becomes null and void, since if it works just fine, the need for a warranty is lowered significantly. Seeing as you've never owned one, you can't really judge it based on its manufacturer, not that I don't do the same thing(I don't like Sony), but you can't deny that there's decent chance it'll be worth it.



None.

Apr 24 2010, 5:09 pm Excalibur Post #15

The sword and the faith

Even if I'm wrong the difference he'd notice between a Caviar Black and an F3 are minimal at best. I think better safe than sorry applies here.




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Apr 25 2010, 2:47 am CaptainWill Post #16



If I was to upgrade my computer to this new build, what would the performance bottleneck be? The RAM is obviously rather low but would the GPU be underpowered in comparison to the rest of the components also?



None.

Apr 25 2010, 3:10 am Excalibur Post #17

The sword and the faith

Your GPU would almost certainly be your limiting factor, followed by your RAM.

However your PSU and such will be good enough that you can effectively drop in a better card / more RAM at a later date with no worries. Perhaps you'll grab an HD 5xxx series card or a 2x2GB kit at some point.




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Apr 26 2010, 4:03 pm rockz Post #18

ᴄʜᴇᴇsᴇ ɪᴛ!

Quote from Excalibur
Even if I'm wrong the difference he'd notice between a Caviar Black and an F3 are minimal at best. I think better safe than sorry applies here.
the difference he'd notice between a caviar blue and caviar black are minimal at best too.



"Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman - do we have to call the Gentleman a gentleman if he's not one?"

May 4 2010, 6:31 pm CaptainWill Post #19



Right, well the components arrived a few days ago (apart from the HDD, which has been delivered to my family home in Southampton for some reason) and I am now reporting back.

I'm using the old Seagate drive with a new partition running Windows 7 Ultimate x64. It took a while to get all the old stuff out of the Packard Bell and into the new case, but the new one is a lot less cramped and has a lot more features. It also looks a lot better in real life than it did on the website, which is a mercy. Compared with the P4 HT the Phenom II incredibly fast and I've noticed it has at least halved loading times in some games. The two built in case fans improve airflow a great deal and the CPU fan appears to be efficient even if it and the heatsink are rather small. I have tested the CPU at full load and the temperature rises from a 32C and stabilises around 50C.

I've upped the RAM to 3GB though the modules are not the same speed, so I'm not getting the most out of them.

I'm guessing this is a reporting error or I'm being foolish, but hardware monitoring software is reporting the CPU is drawing 198W, which doesn't seem right. I was also unable to unlock the disabled cores with the Advanced Clock Calibration and had to reset the CMOS. I may try it again later and see if I can get a tricore out of it.

Overall I'm impressed and want to see what kind of performance I'll get from the new HDD.



None.

May 4 2010, 7:02 pm Excalibur Post #20

The sword and the faith

Glad things are going well Will. If you need any additional help as to unlocking or anything, let us know.




SEN Global Moderator and Resident Zealot
-------------------------
The sword and the faith.

:ex:
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