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 Post subject: Time to upgrade and am looking for advice
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 10:57 am 
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My quiet system is in need of an upgrade. What I'm planning to do is take the motherboard/RAM/CPU with Zalman cooler and put it into another case; then get some new gear to go into my GMC case.

I use my system a lot for video and audio editing so it can run a little hot at times if I'm not careful. To that end, I'm looking for a good compromise (as I'm sure is everyone in these here parts!) between performance and heat/noise.

I've been out of the loop for too long and could really do with a few pointers about what combination of motherboard/CPU/RAM I should be researching, and, naturally, a decent HS and fan combo for the CPU.

From the hour of so's reading I've done on the board, I see that a lot of you are going for 64-bit processors. Is there a particular reason for this? What are the advantages of 64-bit processors? Do they run cooler? Would they offer more performance for CPU-intensive tasks, such as audio editing?

I do apologise if I'm asking questions that have been answered a hundred times, but I really do need some advice and I know that this board will come through.

Thanks,
Cams

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:19 am 
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Quote:
From the hour of so's reading I've done on the board, I see that a lot of you are going for 64-bit processors. Is there a particular reason for this? What are the advantages of 64-bit processors? Do they run cooler? Would they offer more performance for CPU-intensive tasks, such as audio editing?


Short answer: No.

Long answer: Yes.


Seriously, AT THE CURRENT MOMENT a good chunk of the advantage to 64-bit processors is not being realized. They have the ability to be more powerful and cooler running, but at the moment a large part of their advantage is that they are much smarter about what they do while idle. By this I mean that as near as I can tell, it's not that the processor is necessary better for the tasks most people use it for, it's that the Quiet n' Cool technology that comes with it is pretty good. While this may go against what people are reporting as far as actual experience, it just goes to show you that details get in the way of a good answer.

Here's how I'd actually answer your questions:

Do they run cooler? With Q'nC in practice they tend to run pretty cool.
Would they offer more performance for cpu intensive tasks? It depends on what you have now and what software you run. We are not fully at the point that the power of that processory is being taken advantage of fully. That day, though, will come. When it does, we'll probably have to rethink the answer to question number one, is my bet.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:00 pm 
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If you look around the web you can find a lot of sites that run synthetic benchmarks on P4 and AMD64 systems. The AMD64 wins most of them. Only in some video encoding benchmarks the P4 wins. If you are a die hard Folding@Home donator, then you are slightly better of with a P4. The question is; do you notice the performance differences during real use? I don’t think so. Would you really notice it if one system encoded a video clip in 10 minutes and 15 seconds and the other one took 10 minutes and 5 seconds to do it? I don’t.

If you look at power consumption, then you see that the AMD64 chips use less juice than the P4 chips. (The older P4 Northwoods, which were cooler than the current P4 Prescott, are hard to find nowadays.) The difference is about 20W at idle to over 50W under full load. This is for the full system, not just the CPU and that is even without AMD’s CoolNQuiet enabled. So the best choice for a silent high performance system is an AMD64 processor.

If you look for a good motherboard to put the AMD64 on, then have a look at Undervoltable Motherboards on the main site and the forum thread that is linked in that article.

The best heatsinks can be found in the Recommended Heatsinks article on the main site. The best are the Thermalright XP-120 or one of the Zalman 7000-AlCu’s. Both have problems to fit on certain motherboards, so check that before you buy.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:50 pm 
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Thank you for the responses! I very much appreciate it.

Now I have some bones to chew on and can start reading in earnest. I read some interesting articles on the P4 socket-775 processors and how Intel is on a campaign to make the 478-socket processors hard to find.

As noise and heat are important criteria for the upgrade, it certainly does seem as if an AMD64 is the way to go. I've got the bug again and shall spend the next month or two reading as much as I can to try and get an idea of how it all works.

Do AMD64s still command an early-adopter premium?

And no, I wouldn't notice a ten-second difference in video rendering speeds. What I will notice, though, is the ten-minute difference between whatever I decide to go for and my present system. Yikes!

Thanks once again for the bones,
Cams

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:00 am 
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Do AMD64s still command an early-adopter premium?


Not a huge one, if you're upgrading anyway. It really depends on what you compare to. That's part of the motivation of AMD64, you'll likely be glad you got it in the long run. AMD64 compare favorably both price and performance wise to P4s. Couple of price points for you, from newegg for 2800 equivs AMD64 - 136, P4 - 169. Compared to a Athlon XP or mobile XP, the 64 will beat it performance wise, but takes a heavy hit in price. ( both ~99 - 109 w/o OC for a 2600+) Motherboards are bit pricier as well, depending on what you buy, but that's always true: Quality costs more.

As I see them here's the pro's and con's of each chip:

AMD64
Pro:
You'll have power in reserve
Quiet n' Cool works reportedly very well
Lower voltage than all but mobiles
Motherboard will be upgradable later (more on this under Athlons)
Decent L2 cache (512)
Priced better than P4

Con:
Price
Not fully taken advantage - No 64 bit Windows, still programs missing for 64 bit Linux


Pentium 4
Pro:
You can cook dinner with the chip
You have the satisfaction of knowing you paid way too much
You can put one of those nifty "Intel Inside" stickers on your case
Solid performance
BIG L2 cache (1MB)
Hyperthreading

Con:
Price
Will need to upgrade when 64 bit programs get more support
Heat


Athlon XP
Pro:
Price
Solid performance
Decent L2 cache (512k)
Some O/C potential

Con:
Will need to upgrade when 64 bit programs get more support
End of Path upgrade - Socket A is being retired so upgrade means new mobo


Athlon XP mobile
Pro:
Price
Cool running, low voltage (VERY low with right board)
Lot's of O/C potential

Con:
Will need to upgrade when 64 bit programs get more support
End of Path upgrade - Socket A is being retired so upgrade means new mobo
Slow FSB (133)



Dollar for dollar, now is still a great time to get Athlons. However, if that isn't your biggest concern, the AMD64 has a lot to offer. I'm not a huge fan of Intel. I hate having to be an AMD fanboy, but right now they are just better in almost every way. Even when Intel beats them, it tends to be marginal in specific types of non-real world testing. Here's to hoping VIA finally makes it to the big boy table in the future and makes things interesting!

** Note, these are just my thoughts, and I'm not even pretending to be unbiased **

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:10 am 
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Thanks for that. Much appreciated. Some meat on the bones ;)

So, now that it's looking as though an AMD64 would be the wise choice, I find yet another minefield to navigate - what socket? Am I right in thinking that the 939-socket AMD64s are the way of the future? I would imagine that these would command the highest premium, both for processor and motherboard. Do they also render AGP video cards and PCI cards obsolete in a similar way to the P4 775 sockets?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:25 am 
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All Athlon 64 motherboards, 754 or 939, are currently AGP & PCI - PCIe chipsets & motherboards for AMD chips are still "just round the corner", might make it onto the market by the end of the year.
Also, high end PCIe graphics cards are still a little hard to come by, especially the 6800 series.

I just went with S939, and that's your only option if you want to get a 90nm Athlon 64. The new S939, 90nm 3000+ and 3200+ are pretty good value, and there's not much of a premium for S939 motherboards.
That said, if budget is an issue, S754 has a lot of value, and the 1MB cache 3400+ is a great buy.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:11 pm 
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yeah, what spod said. the older Clawhammers have 1MB L2 cache but the newer ones make up the difference with a higher clock at the same rating (ie 2.2ghz vs 2.4ghz for the 3400+ i think)... not sure exactly what performance diffs between the two are. if you're getting a new cpu/mb shortly you may as well wait for the 90nm S939 CPUs, price shouldn't be much more at all and you'll pay about the same for the better motherboards for either socket anyways.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:41 pm 
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Okay, from the posts I surmise the following:

1) no 90nm 939-socket AMD64s are presently on the market
2) the 90nm AMD64s that are on the market are all socket 754
3) 90nm is desirable because it will result in lower heat

Does that seem right?

Are there other advantages to a 90nm processor?

When will there be any 90nm S939s available.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:48 am 
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Number 2) is wrong. There are no 90nm AMD64 at all on the market at the moment. The only 90nm AMD chips anounced yet, are socket 939 AMD64 procs. They will appear in the retail channels in the comming weeks.

The 90nm are just a die shrink of the 130nm version, so there are no additional features. The first reports are that the 90nm chips dissipate less heat (in Watts), but because the heat is dissipated in a smaller volume they might be hotter (in °C) and thus harder to cool. Until there are more of them availlable it will be hard to tell which effect will be more important for silencing your computer.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:39 am 
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I've just discovered that there are actually two 90nm S939 AMD64s (Winchesters) shipping now: the 3000+ (1.8Ghz) and the 3200+ (2.0Ghz).

Here is a benchmark review of the 3000+

You make a good point about the heat. I found a link to one review but in Turkish. Still, the graphic still works:

Image

I can't believe how much there is to learn about processors from just one company! I often find I have about 10 browser windows open, all leading down different paths. Crazy!

I'm wondering about the PCI-e thing. Some are saying that only socket-939 motherboards will offer this in the future, and the upgrade path is longer with an S939.

Time to shut down and give the old windows to the soul a rest. I'm reaching overload!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:53 am 
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A couple of points:

Number 1:
Abit already offer a PCI-e socket 939 motherboard. It also has what we should probably start refering to as "legacy PCI" slots by way of having a an onboard PCI-e legacy PCI controller.
To recap, if you use the legacy PCI slots, they then go to the legacy PCI controller, which is a PCI-e device, so it then goes to the PCI-e controller, and then you get linked to the CPU/RAM/whatever.
This may introduce a bit of extra lag, but it's unlikely to be noticeable as legacy PCI goes at a snail's pace compared to PCI-e.
Here it is: http://www.abit-usa.com/products/mb/pro ... &model=215

Nubmer 2:
As has been mentioned, there are now S939 90nm A64's on the market. Availability is still rather limited though, and it's probably worth waiting a while. Why? Firstly demand is way higher than supply at the moment - this pushes the price up. Secondly, AMD are still "creaming the market" with the S939 chips, especially the newer 90mn parts - this means they set high prices, wait for everyone who is willing to pay the higher price to buy, then drop the price to it's final "mainstream consumer" level. Give it a couple of months and I imagine they'll come down.

Number 3:
Be aware that if you get a board that has no legacy PCI support (if and when one becomes available), there are VERY few PCI-e expansion cards around right now. That means it'll be hard for you to find things like firewire cards, sound cards, tv cards, network cards etc in PCI-e format. So if you get a PCI-e board I'd make sure it has a legacy PCI slot or two.

Just some tips.
:)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:44 am 
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Oh one thing I forgot:

Regarding the question of Athlon64 performance and how much of it's potential is or isn't being used - while the 64bit capacity goes to waste at the moment, the IMC (Integrated Memory Controller) doesn't.
A64's have the memory controller in the processor, instead of on the northbridge on the motherboard as with all other desktop class processors. The link from the processor to the memory runs at 2Ghz. The link back from the memory to the processor runs at whatever speed your DDR ram does.

This means that for memory transfer tasks, the A64 tramples all over both the Athlon XP/Sempron and the Pentium 4. For memory intensive tasks people have reported significant differences. One statistic I remember seeing (unfortunately I can't remember where) was a review of an A64 3000+ vs an AXP 3000+. The reviewer compiled a lengthy program in Visual Studio as one of the tests - the A64 reduced compile time by about 20%.
Other reports say that A64 systems seem "snappier" when just using the windows desktop. This is probably because when you switch between windows, the windows kernel has to pass a lot of data about concerning the window being brought to the foreground (the window handle and any associated data structures, the contents of the window bitmap, etc etc). With the A64 IMC, this is significantly faster, so would translate to the "snappy" feel.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:13 am 
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Thanks for the helpful reply. I am planning to wait until the new year to see what kind of price drops come about.

One final question: how about DDR2? Is that worth waiting for?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 6:22 am 
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The short answer is no.

DDR2 is only any good for large block memory transfers - this is why some graphics cards use it now. For system memory it has no real use yet.
While it has a better transfer rate than DDR so moving large chunks is faster, its access times (aka latency) are actually slower. So when used as system memory it can actually translate to a decrease in performance, since the majority of system memory ops involve either fetching instructions, writing back calculation results, or accessing small data items or structures - all of which are small size operations so don't benefit from DDR2.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 7:50 am 
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DDR2 for AMD systems is not gonna happen soon. That'd need a new revision of the memory controller, hence a new revision of the entire CPU.

Also, the latencies for DDR2 are much higher than DDR1, because room has been left for scalability. IIRC when DDR2 hits 800 MHz (currently 533 MHz, and 667 MHz is under development), it'll be as "fast" as DDR1.

Plus, the entire idea of putting the memory controller to the CPU is to lower the latencies. Why lose the gain by using DDR2?

Cheers,

Jan

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 2:01 pm 
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**** Thread hijack ****

Really good read. My question, instead of another thread, pardon the hijack,
would it make much difference to go from an Athlon 1700 to and Athlon 2400?

Then if I overclocked the 2400 I don’t know why, but if I did?

I just overclocked my 1700 and it ran stable at 1.75 v-core but to what end?

I noticed now improved gaming or windows ability, and did not even boot up faster.
Just my psu finally rammed up a bit and became audible.

Why do people overclock? Just for fun?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 3:39 pm 
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frosty wrote:
Why do people overclock? Just for fun?

Benchmarks. FPS. Warm, Fuzzy feeling. Take your pick.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:34 pm 
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frosty wrote:
Why do people overclock? Just for fun?

well, if you buy a new CPU, you can basically get several hundred dollars of capacity for free, because of huge price premiums for the top of the line.
ie, buy a $170 A64 3000+ and a relatively paltry 20-25% oc will effectively get you a CPU worth $650 more. that was why i got a 1.8ghz Northwood when i was putting this PC together - basically every single one could run fine in a 533MHz FSB motherboard = 33% oc with zero tweaking and stock HSF, at like a third of the price of a P4 2.4. not nearly as much of a reason to try for extreme overclocks on older hardware though, of course, unless you absolutely need it for a game or something and can't upgrade.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:26 pm 
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Well, things seem to have moved along since I started my planning. I've done a ton more reading and am better armed to navigate the minefield that awaits sometime in the new year.

My current thinking is that, in terms of value, the 3500+ Winchester is right in the sweet spot, but I'm wondering whether it would be worth waiting for the 4000+ to come down in price. Does a 1MB L2 cache make a big difference? And would it run hotter that a 90nm Winchester?

Another thing that has got me wondering is PCI-e - is this only really worth the wait for those who value top-shelf graphics performance? That's not an issue for me at all - I'm looking for something for audio and video that will cope well with multitasking but I'm thinking of the future - it has been three years, after all, since I got my current system.

Is a 300w PSU enough to power a modern system with AMD64, 1GB RAM, DVD writer, etc.?

Thanks
Cams, still waiting...

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 3:26 pm 
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Cams wrote:

My current thinking is that, in terms of value, the 3500+ Winchester is right in the sweet spot, but I'm wondering whether it would be worth waiting for the 4000+ to come down in price. Does a 1MB L2 cache make a big difference? And would it run hotter that a 90nm Winchester?


Is this the 3500+ you are talking about?

As far as I know, since the memory controller is on the die on 64 athlons, cache makes very little difference. I think the s754 3400+ is THE cpu to go for. It runs at 2.4GHz, the fastest if you don't count the FX-55.

It is just the 4000+ minus 512kb cache and a single channel memory controller instead of dual... At one third the price... I think its a steal!

Just my 2cents...


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 12:55 am 
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cansan wrote:
Is this the 3500+ you are talking about?


No, it's the 90nm one I'm considering. It seems the sensible thing to do would be to wait a little for the Geforce 4 PCI-e motherboards to become more readily available. I've got to take the plunge sometime though!

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