Help selecting a motherboard & cpu

By erbridges ยท 6 replies
Apr 8, 2006
  1. I found this forum from's "Knowledge Base." I'm not a hardware techie, and I need some assistance selecting a motherboard and a cpu for my desktop. Current system is 5 years old--motherboard has 2 blown capacitors, and I have SD RAM. I've been told that I need to upgrade to DDR RAM, since that's what most motherboards require these days.

    My main questions...

    1.) What's the difference between SD RAM, DDR RAM, and DDR2 RAM? Why is DDR RAM so much better than SD RAM?

    2.) Current processor is Athlon AMD 1.2 Gig (from 5 years ago). I'm not into gaming, but it would be nice to have a faster processor. Since the motherboard has to be replaced, I might as well upgrade to a faster processor.

    Here's what Tiger Direct has suggested for me...

    The motherboard/CPU combo--->
    The RAM that was suggested--->
    After the rebate, there's only a $10 difference between 512 MB and 1 Gig, so I'm going with the 1 Gig of RAM.

    What do you think of these suggestions? Is Asus a good motherboard brand? I'd like to go with the cheaper Asus/AMD motherboard/cpu combo here: It's cheaper and yet it has a faster processor (2.4 instead of 2.0). Any problems going with this combo instead of the one listed above?

    My current motherboard (from 5 years ago) was a Microstar brand. The 2 capacitors blew out after 4 years, and I don't want a repeat of that with the new motherboard I'm buying. What are the best motherboad options are Asus, Gigabyte, ABIT, Machspeed, and many more. Unfortunately, I know nothing about any of them. For the processor, what's the difference between AMD Sempron and AMD 64?

    I wish there was a hardware class to learn how to choose the best computer parts and how to install them. Everything changes so fast, and it's hard to keep up.
  2. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    The simplest answer is something like this. SD ram sends data only 1-way. DDR ram (double data rate) sends info 2-ways which makes it a much faster option. DDR2 theoretically should be faster than DDR, but in reality it is not. The rule of thumb (currently) is if you are building an AMD system, you want DDR, if you are building an Intel system you want DDR2 (this will all be changing soon).

    Looks like a great system. Don't forget however, that if you will also be needing a graphics card. The motherboard you have selected above has no integrated graphics.

    What are you planning on using from your old system? You are probably going to need at least:

    -graphics card
    -power supply

    Is your current case ATX? The motherboard you are looking at needs an ATX case.

    This second choice here is a very different system. The motherboard/cpu socket type are 754 instead of the first system's 939. 754 based systems are older technology, and this will limit your upgrade options in the future. I'd recommend the 939 based system.

    Asus is a solid motherboard maker, arguably one of the best.

    The sempron version of the AMD cpus are budget level CPUs. Simply, they are slower. Intel has their cheaper/slower "celeron" series. This is AMDs equivilent.
  3. erbridges

    erbridges TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Wow, thanks for the great response. I'm building an AMD system, so I'll stick with the DDR RAM. You're right about the power supply and graphics card. I had to buy a power supply (current power supply was only 300 watt); ended up buying a 450 watt power supply, along with the motherboard/cpu combo, a new graphics card, and a multi-socket CPU fan. Unfortunately, I can't reuse my current fan, since it's not multi-socket. Yes, I have an ATX case, thanks.

    I decided to go with the first motherboard/cpu combo (socket 939) instead of the one using socket 754. The tech guy at Tiger Direct said the same thing you did...that socket 754 was temporary and on it's way out. He also pointed out that the mobo/cpu combo using socket 754 has a slower FSB. Good to know that Asus is one of the best motherboard manufacturers. Thanks.

    Thanks for the info. on Sempron and Celeron. I didn't realize that Sempron was AMD's slower/cheaper brand. Good to know.

    At the risk of sounding dumb/uninformed, what's does the "3200+" stand for in the CPU listed below?

    AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 2.0 GHz
  4. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    the 3200+ means (used to mean although their #s really don't count much anymore) that it runs at least the equivelent of an an Intel 3.2Ghz chip or faster.
  5. erbridges

    erbridges TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks, Tedster. So, the 3200 means it's comparable to Intel 3.2GHz chip, although the "listed" speed is 2.0 GHz?'s no wonder so many people are confused when buying a computer/computer parts...even the way the parts are advertised is confusing!
  6. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,406

    Yep. It really is a mixed up system. I recently bought a new laptop that has the Pentium M 760 processor which is 2.0Ghz. But it performs about the same as an Athlon64 3700+ in games. Still trying to get my head around that one! ;)

    By the way, here is a nice little tool to help you compare various CPUs against each other:
  7. erbridges

    erbridges TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That's messed up (but a nice surprise). Cool comparison tool, thanks.
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