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Help me spend 3 grand on a new computer

By DjBlasphemy · 10 replies
Feb 7, 2005
  1. What's up guys, as you can probably see, I'm completely new to this forum. As the subject implies I'm going to be spending around 3 grand on a new computer within the next 4-6 weeks. That doesn't include a monitor or speakers which I already have. I haven't really looked at computer components seriously in almost 4 years besides the limited upgrades I've done to this one.

    Now, I'm keeping this computer as my primary sterio you could say (60+ gigs of music running through my dj equip) So the new computer would primarily be used for Gaming (I'm into world of warcraft and farcry) and "TiVO like functionalities" as I'd like to get into recording TV/Movies and burning DVD's. So I'm looking to go pretty big. You can also see, I'm having to make a tough call between AMD and Intel.

    I'm going to list my two moch systems below, an AMD and intel system as well as the cost assembled and tested. Let me know if you would do anything different, see any potential problems or just plain think I'm going about it the wrong way. Any input is appreciated.

    The systems are as follows:

    AMD Cost: $3090
    Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (2.2 GHz) 512KB cache 939-pin
    Motherboard: ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe (chipset nVidia nForce4 SLI)
    DDR Memory: 2 x 1024 MB DDR PC3200 Performance CL2 Memory
    Hard Drive with Serial ATA interface: 400 GB (2 x 200) SATA / 7200 rpm 16MB cache
    Hard Drive #2 with Serial ATA interface: 120 GB Serial ATA 150 / 7200 rpm 8MB cache
    Serial ATA RAID: RAID Level 0 (striping)
    Video Card (PCI Express x16): SLI Ready: 2 x GF6600GT 128MB DDR3 DVI / TV-out
    Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro
    Optical Drive : 52x32x52 CD-RW w/ Software
    Optical Drive : 16x Dual DVD ± RW w/ Software
    Devices with Removable Storage: Internal 8-in-1 Card Reader
    Network Card: Integrated LAN with Gigabit Controller
    Wireless Networking: Wireless PCI card up to 54 Mbps (High Speed 2.4GHz 802.11g)
    PCI card: TV-Tuner PCI Card w/Remote Controller
    Power Supply: 480 Watt ATX 12V Power Supply (24-pin)
    21 Inch Thermaltake Xaser Shark VA7000SWA Silver Aluminium
    Operating Systems (OS): Microsoft Windows XP Media Center 2005 w/Remote
    Xtra Fans, lights Etc...........

    Intel Cost $2980
    Intel Pentium 4 550 3.4GHz HT 800MHz 1MB Cache LGA775
    Asus P5AD2-E Premium (chipset Intel 925XE)
    Dual-channel: 2 x 1024 MB DDR2 533 MHz / PC4200 240-pin
    ATI RADEON X800PRO 256MB GDDR3 [PCI-E x16] DVI / TV-out

    So what do you guys think? Should I essentially make the choice as to what's more important Gaming vs Media apps and go from there? Any feedback is appreciated, Thanks
  2. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    If you are blowing $3k, do NOT get a 512kb l2 cache AMD64... get a 1MB cache.
  3. tbrunt3

    tbrunt3 TS Rookie Posts: 313

    do you plan on building this yourself?? reason I ask youc an get a really nice alienware for less check it out here..Besides you can pick what you like i had a FX53 procrossor on there it came out to 2,391$ with xp professional


    or check out falconnorthwest here


    both top gamming computers

    hope this helps you

    If I had 3000 to spend on a computer i probbly pick the alienware..
  4. DjBlasphemy

    DjBlasphemy TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I hear ya about the 1mb cache. Through the source I'm getting it from the only upgrade to get into that range would be the AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (2.4 GHz) 1024KB cache 939-pin for like $632.83 xtra!

    I'm not building it myself, I will check out that alienware site though.
  5. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    If you have to sacrifice a few marketing performance points for the extra L2, do it. With such beautiful hardware you would have no trouble overclocking, and even if you didn't the machine itself would still dominate. The extra L2 cache helps a ton, especially on the A64.
  6. DjBlasphemy

    DjBlasphemy TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Do you think from a gaming perspective the AMD system would run quicker if I uped the Processor to AMD's Athlon 64 4000+ (2.4 GHz) 1024KB cache 939-pin and dropped the ram to just two 512 sticks, so 1gb of ram rather than 2g's. That's the trade off that I would most likely make.

    I want to stay with a processer with the 939 pin set so I would have to go with the 4000+ one to get the 1mb cache. What trade off would you make?
  7. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    My general reading of test results seems to reflect Intel for Multi-media,movie mastering etc. and AMD for gaming ,so it would appear that you are going to have to make that decision.
    I do wonder though (I am not a Gamer) if you can obviously notice a real speed difference between the top end machines ?

    In terms of what you are building I thought you might want to reduce your Raid array size to maybe 240 Gig total and increase the Storage conversely. My thinking is that if your are going to do alot of Multimedia your want to maximixe the storage.The raid I take it is for Speed in Application/Gaming and the single SATA 120 for Data .
    At any rate I would love to have that budjet for my next machine.
  8. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    Definately. 1GB of ram is a sweet spot. No games out, not even Doom3 or Half Life 2, make use of a full gig of ram, or need to. They are all bigger on VRAM than system ram.

    Plus, as time goes on, it would be easier and probably cheaper to replace/add more ram, then change CPU.
  9. DjBlasphemy

    DjBlasphemy TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I'm definitily leaning towards the AMD system just because I have no problem waiting a few more seconds converting a DivX file vs's my game play getting choppy.

    After more thought I am probably going to keep the raid array to 2x120 and go with a bigger back up drive for media.

    As far as the better CPU vs less Ram, that's what I was thinking....that it would be easier to update the ram down the line. Thanks for the feedback there!

    What do you guys think of the SLI set up with the two GF 6600Gt's. Would it even matter with a game like World of Warcraft? I've heard if the game doesn't program the drivers to use the other card, it would essentially just rely on the one card and in that case I would probably be better off getting a 256mb card? What are your thoughts on that?

    btw, you guys have been awesome with the feedback so far, thanks!
  10. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    When you get your powersupply, make sure it has dual 12v rails.
    The Thermaltake Butterfly 480w e.g. still has only one 12v rail.
    Check for ATX 2.2 compatible spec on that PSU.
  11. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    I would stick with the AMD, up the cache.
    Get the better power supply for sure. Like a 550Watt with the dual 12v.

    Get 2 or even 3 512MB sticks of RAM. Just because 1 or 1.5gigs is good these days. Plus it's tons cheaper then a full gig stick.

    Lastly you could probably improve on the HDD setup. Stick with a RAID 0 stripping but maybe on 120 gig drives. Then have another, say, 200gb for data. Keep in mind that it won't be much of a "backup" drive if that's the only drive data is stored on. So for example you could have your 2 120gb drives and have say a new 400GB drive as a true "backup" drive. But that's debatable.

    I might just mention that the SLI technology may not be staying around that long. Based on some market research, the PCIx is not really gaining popularity. And even a single Radeon card on AGP was overclocked to higher speeds then TWO Nvidias on SLI. Just a thought though.

    Otherwise it's a sweet system, wich I had 3 grand for a new one :)

    P.S. Alienware makes SWEET systems. But you pay a good price for it for sure. You could save money by just copying their specs.

    Good luck
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