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f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  Gaming  |  Topic: What is the current "best bang for the buck" point for computer stuff? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
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Author Topic: What is the current "best bang for the buck" point for computer stuff?  (Read 10965 times)
Abagadro
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on: June 24, 2005, 03:51:23 PM

I'm in the market for a new system, but haven't been following much of hardware issues, so need some help. My thoery on computers the last decade or so has been to buy componants which are approximately 3 steps down from the top of the line. They usually have the price premium off of them by then but are still new enough not to become obsolete too fast.

So collective gurus (guri?), where is that point right now for:

Chipsets
Ram Speed
Video Cards
Hard Drives


Any comments appreciated.

EDIT: You mean there are other forums on this site? Who knew?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2005, 03:57:53 PM by Abagadro »

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Shockeye
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Reply #1 on: June 24, 2005, 04:00:24 PM

AMD64 3000+ ~$150

NForce4 (not Ultra, not SLI) motherboard ~$80

X800 XL (PCIe) is the best price/performance vid card out there ~$300

Next one down would be the 6600 GT (PCIe) ~$175

Any generic 2.5 CL DDR400 memory will suit ya. ~$40

I'm a fan of Seagate hard drives because of the warranty and low noise.

160GB SATA-150 7200.7 (or .8) w/NCQ ~$100

All prices taken from newegg.com
« Last Edit: June 24, 2005, 04:02:02 PM by Shockeye »
Trippy
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Reply #2 on: June 24, 2005, 11:17:45 PM

All very good suggestions by Shockeye. You can also check out AnandTech's Mid-range buyer's guide for their recommendations.
OcellotJenkins
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Reply #3 on: June 25, 2005, 08:08:14 AM

Shockeye listed almost exactly what I was going to.

2 additonal comments though:

- I find that paying just a tad bit more for good quality memory is usuallly worth it.
     - Corsair Low Latency XMS Series = $95 per 512 MB

- Storage is cheap.  Depending on how much music and video you have, consider at least a 250 GB Sata hard drive.

Tale
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Reply #4 on: June 25, 2005, 10:03:16 PM

I always find the best bang for buck is at about 75% as good as the top item on the market, but within roughly the same technology level. Started with this rule way back when a Pentium 100 cost three times what a Pentium 75 cost. It was exactly the same chip production process and floating point technology, just 75% of the clock, which didn't make much difference within a full system when running games aimed at Pentiums (Quake was the first I think). Another purchase like this was the famously overclockable Celeron 300A.

Same rationale when I bought a 2.4GHz P4 when 3.2GHz was top of the market. Same reason I'd buy a 6600GT at the moment: it's in the same bracket of nVidia's technology as the 6800GT and will always be able to run similar games. If you intend to keep the system for a while, the gap between differently clocked items based on the same technology becomes almost insignificant, and you get to laugh at the people who paid top dollar.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2005, 10:11:13 PM by Tale »
Pococurante
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Reply #5 on: June 27, 2005, 11:44:50 AM

I bought the following from mwave last friday - pricey but it is still one of the cheapest systems I've ever owned.  MWave is assembling it for me at no additional charge, even the dual SLI video cards.  The motherboard and chip are recommended by Anandtech.

Aspire X-Navigator @ 149
DFI LP UT nF4 SLI-DR @ 174
Athalon 64 4000+ San Diego @ 473
MWave 2GB DDR400 (1GBx2) @ 168
NEC 16X DVD+/-RW @ 61
Two eVGA GF6800GT 256MB PCI EXPRESS DDR3 W/TV&DVI @ 650

Barring component failiures this system should easily carry me for the next 5-8 years, which is about how often I upgrade anyway.  Once I pop in a 400Gb drive it's still under $2k, which amortized over five years is cheaper than cable TV and much more rewarding to me.  That board uses the 939 slot I should be good to go on the dual core CPUs when they become affordable next year.

I almost went with the high-end of a middle tier box but the savings seemed artificial, at most $600.  I'm not a big believer in upgrading existing boxes.  But again I don't upgrade very often and nearly always the tech has moved on by the time I do.
Bunk
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Reply #6 on: June 27, 2005, 01:59:41 PM

If you're an Intel guy, the 3.2 is about the current median (~$270 Cdn = $335 US). These days though, everyone is gooing on about the AMD64. Damn AMD hippies.

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Rasix
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Reply #7 on: June 27, 2005, 02:06:42 PM

If you're an Intel guy, the 3.2 is about the current median (~$270 Cdn = $335 US). These days though, everyone is gooing on about the AMD64. Damn AMD hippies.

I probably won't buy another AMD chip, ever.  Nothing but heat problems and I'm not about to buy some fancy schmantzy cooling system to keep it happy.  My chips get stock heatsinks/fans and better like it.

I need to get a new system soon since mine decided to crap out on me and I can't seem to fix it.  I hate hardware. I'm bad at installing it, I'm bad at keeping it maintained, I'm just generally shitty with troubleshooting it. I'll probably just buy a pre-built somewhere.  My Dell I bought my junior year of college never gave me any trouble. 

-Rasix
Pococurante
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Reply #8 on: June 27, 2005, 02:24:44 PM

I probably won't buy another AMD chip, ever. Nothing but heat problems and I'm not about to buy some fancy schmantzy cooling system to keep it happy. My chips get stock heatsinks/fans and better like it.

That's completely counter to every white paper I've read on the current AMDs.  The 90nm like San Diego are cited as particularly superior over Intel.

Did the target move on you?
Roac
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Reply #9 on: June 27, 2005, 03:11:55 PM

Yeah, what Poc said.  AMD >>> Intel, both in terms of performance and price.  Intel has branding going for it; it has stronger partners and overall industry position, and helps keep itself there through good marketing.

-Roac
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Rasix
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Reply #10 on: June 27, 2005, 04:20:16 PM

I probably won't buy another AMD chip, ever.  Nothing but heat problems and I'm not about to buy some fancy schmantzy cooling system to keep it happy.  My chips get stock heatsinks/fans and better like it.

That's completely counter to every white paper I've read on the current AMDs.  The 90nm like San Diego are cited as particularly superior over Intel.


I don't fucking read white papers on chips. I must have accidentally deleted that from my inbox or threw away the Sunday paper insert. I might go as far as take a quick look at Tom's hardware but that's it.  On advice last time here, I bought a Barton 2500+. People did warn of heat problems.  I had to install additional case fans and leave the case door open or the sucker would overheat.  That's more hassle that I care to go through again.  Same reason I'll never dick around with onboard sound again or buy a Value! card from Creative.  Both pains in the ass.  Can you see how much I enjoy computer hardware? 

I actually probably won't buy a computer for months. So this time I'll likely have plenty of time to research, I want to bother. It's surprisingly easier than I thought living without a home PC when you've got a work laptop that doesn't suck.

-Rasix
Shockeye
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Reply #11 on: June 27, 2005, 04:45:34 PM

If you worry at all about heat, stay away from P4's. That is all.

Also, stay away from Tom's.
Alkiera
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Reply #12 on: June 27, 2005, 04:46:23 PM

I probably won't buy another AMD chip, ever.  Nothing but heat problems and I'm not about to buy some fancy schmantzy cooling system to keep it happy.  My chips get stock heatsinks/fans and better like it.

That's completely counter to every white paper I've read on the current AMDs.  The 90nm like San Diego are cited as particularly superior over Intel.

Did the target move on you?

Yeah, the temperature problems were correct with the slot A and socket A athlons, like my 1.4 Ghz Athlon(computer network name?  Fiero)  The more recent AMD chips have become much, much less like space-heaters...  which is why I plan to get one Real Soon Now.  A Tom's Hardware article indicates that max heat loss for my current Athlon is something like 65-70 watts, a current 90nm socket 939 Athlon64 has a max heat loss of 33 watts, or approximately half as much heat.

Alkiera

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Trippy
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Reply #13 on: June 27, 2005, 08:09:14 PM

I probably won't buy another AMD chip, ever.  Nothing but heat problems and I'm not about to buy some fancy schmantzy cooling system to keep it happy.  My chips get stock heatsinks/fans and better like it.
That's completely counter to every white paper I've read on the current AMDs.  The 90nm like San Diego are cited as particularly superior over Intel.
Yeah, the temperature problems were correct with the slot A and socket A athlons, like my 1.4 Ghz Athlon(computer network name?  Fiero)  The more recent AMD chips have become much, much less like space-heaters...  which is why I plan to get one Real Soon Now.  A Tom's Hardware article indicates that max heat loss for my current Athlon is something like 65-70 watts, a current 90nm socket 939 Athlon64 has a max heat loss of 33 watts, or approximately half as much heat.
The Socket A Athlons did run somewhat hotter compared to the Northwood P4s and they were also hampered by the fact that they didn't have a heat spreader built into the chip packaging so there was much less surface area to mate to the heat sink (which was tricky to fit properly on a lot of motherboards as well). The Prescott P4s, on the other hand, run so hot that Intel came out with a new case and motherboard design (BTX) to try and pass off the cooling issues to the case and motherboard vendors (which have so far mostly been resisting the move).

Here's some older data showing CPU temperatures:

http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2026&p=3

and the Athlon 64s have only gotten cooler since that time.
Hoax
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Reply #14 on: June 27, 2005, 11:49:07 PM

I have to say I have always used intel due to fears of the AMD heat and other interweb intel fanboi myths.  I really wish I had gotten the 64 w/ my recent upgrade.

-Abit AA8XE (cheapest of their top tier DDR2 line)
-lowest speed p4 (think 2.8, figuring that when dual core gets going the 3.8 will get pretty cheap pretty fast and I'll be able to buy it for the same price in 1-2yrs when I actually might need it)
-matched 512 pairs of Corsair DDR2 XMS
-36gig SATA western digital drive to run games/apps/os off of w/ my old big slower drive for all my storage
-ATI x700, nvidia pissed me off when my ti5600 ate first its generic fan then managed to somehow fux0r my mobo's agp slot by breaking a perfectly good arctic cooling fan (bastages).  I got a pretty sweet deal for the x700 otherwise I might have gotten the 800.

So far so good, but I haven't really run benchmarks or anything, once I do that I'll want to start f'ing w/ ram timings and overclocking the cpu, I figure I can definately get it to 3.2 w/ the Zalman giant copper flower that is sitting on it.

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Pococurante
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Reply #15 on: June 28, 2005, 09:40:34 AM

I don't fucking read white papers on chips. I must have accidentally deleted that from my inbox or threw away the Sunday paper insert. I might go as far as take a quick look at Tom's hardware but that's it. On advice last time here, I bought a Barton 2500+. People did warn of heat problems.

So you were warned of heat problems, bought it anyway, and had *gasp* heat problems.  Gotcha.  Stick with Anandtech - I'm not the most current guy on hardware but I'm painfully aware Tom's is slapdash on their evaluations.

Oh and your reward for the insults and sarcasm is Kiss my fat white ass.  Your other reward is your stinking stupid chip that performed exactly as you were told.  Genius.
Rasix
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Reply #16 on: June 28, 2005, 12:47:36 PM

Pffft.  The chip I picked was the overwhelming advice from everyone here at the time.  I'm sure others have had better luck with it but with stock heating solutions and some extra case fans it was still problematic.  /shrug

Looked at anandtech today (Einer's link form the land of the eternally grumpy).  I like their presentation style a lot and they don't beat around the bush.  I'm still shit with hardware lingo, but I felt like I got this a bit better.  It's disconcerting to see the gaming benchmarks on the chip I was considering (Pent 650 3.4ghz) and the AMD 64 4000+.  A 20% reduction in performance for just a 100 buck difference in price makes it hard for me to carry on my irrational fears.   Heh, does anyone do pre-built AMD systems? My wife would probably want to avoid the 2 days to a week of me being an extremely angry  and unapproachable human being.

Of course, I do have like 3 months plus to weigh this info out and pick something.  I'm just hoping nothing good for the PC comes out that's a must buy.  I think work won't want me installing a MMORPG on my laptop.   PSP, GC, XBox... maybe I can make it.  Perhaps I'll re-read books 1-6 of WoT to further prolong it.   

-Rasix
Viin
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Reply #17 on: June 28, 2005, 01:06:07 PM

Heck, I'd build it. I like that stuff. Just tell me your budget/requirements and I can map out a system - the suggestions here are a great place to start.

Looking at Falcon Northwest, they do AMD64 computers. Looks like Alienware does them too.

Doing a google search brings up guys like this.

- Viin
Bunk
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Reply #18 on: June 28, 2005, 03:02:27 PM

Alienware: land of $500 cases and $600 "performance tweaks"

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HaemishM
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Reply #19 on: June 28, 2005, 03:06:38 PM

Alienware: land of $500 cases and $600 "performance tweaks"


BUT IT'S GOT DARTH VADER ON IT, DUDE!

Yegolev
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Reply #20 on: June 28, 2005, 03:40:01 PM

I had heard AlienWare was awesome, but it turns out that they don't know how to put a proper cooling solution into a laptop.  Hopes dashed once again.  Heat pipes are great, but useless if you go cheap on the THERMAL PASTE YOU SACKS OF SHIT.

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Glazius
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Reply #21 on: June 29, 2005, 07:25:40 AM

I had heard AlienWare was awesome, but it turns out that they don't know how to put a proper cooling solution into a laptop.  Hopes dashed once again.  Heat pipes are great, but useless if you go cheap on the THERMAL PASTE YOU SACKS OF SHIT.
Isn't thermal paste (I'm thinking Arctic Silver) like 1/10 the cost of a good heatpipe system? And that's for a tube much larger than you'll actually use.

After installing a $35 heatsink that stretched the limits of the form factor, my Athlon XP 2000-something is running at body temperature.


--GF
Mortriden
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Reply #22 on: June 29, 2005, 08:57:15 AM

I wish I could get my temps that low.  My P4 is running at 54 degrees C at load.  It heats up the room quite well in the winter.

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OcellotJenkins
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Reply #23 on: June 29, 2005, 10:01:43 AM

I put THESE in all machines I build for work and home and I've never had a problem with heat ever.  I also use the stock thermal paste that comes with them too.  Another benefit is that these things are virtually silent.  Works with all AMDs and most Pentiums.
Hoax
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Reply #24 on: June 29, 2005, 12:09:08 PM

I use the 7700cu version of that and I concur, very little noise and lots of cooling.  According to the heat sensors in my box temps are around 20-27 degrees depending on where I stick the little buggers.  According to my more scientific touch all the HD's, sound and video card things are running reasonably smooth with the zalman cpu cooler, two 120mm case fans and arctic cooling on the ATI card. 

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Yegolev
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Reply #25 on: June 29, 2005, 01:34:15 PM

I had heard AlienWare was awesome, but it turns out that they don't know how to put a proper cooling solution into a laptop.  Hopes dashed once again.  Heat pipes are great, but useless if you go cheap on the THERMAL PASTE YOU SACKS OF SHIT.
Isn't thermal paste (I'm thinking Arctic Silver) like 1/10 the cost of a good heatpipe system? And that's for a tube much larger than you'll actually use.

After installing a $35 heatsink that stretched the limits of the form factor, my Athlon XP 2000-something is running at body temperature.

Yes, I bought a tube of Silver II on ebay for $1.29, plus some small amount for shipping.  It's not hard to get.  Last I bothered to look, my main rig, XP 3000+ on an ASUS A7N8X-E, runs 95-105 depending on the ambient.  It has a vintage one-pound copper sink with a 80mm Delta, nothing fancy (these days) and sounds like a hair dryer.

I'll be putting some of the ASII inside the Area 51 M once I work up the energy to dismantle it and see if that helps.  Maybe on the GPU as well if that looks doable.  It's not that the laptop can cook an egg with its exhaust that is the problem so much as the heat eventually builds up and the USB ports (located next to the exhaust) start acting erratically, and perhaps a crash or lockup.  It usually causes a problem only with Sims 2 and PhotoShop CS... generally after a long period of not saving.

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MrHat
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Reply #26 on: July 01, 2005, 12:17:55 AM

After much thought, I think I might just save up for a computer that some one else builds for me.

Barebones software, but I want them to make sure all the shit works.

Something with a good gfx card ~$400 (SLI maybe), 1gb of ram, an AMD 64, and that's about it.

But I want that thing to run cool, and I want it to be virtually silent.  Sick of dicking around with hardware stuff.
Trippy
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Reply #27 on: July 01, 2005, 01:22:23 AM

Heck, I'd build it. I like that stuff. Just tell me your budget/requirements and I can map out a system - the suggestions here are a great place to start.

Looking at Falcon Northwest, they do AMD64 computers. Looks like Alienware does them too.

Doing a google search brings up guys like this.
Other people here have recommended both Monarch Computer Systems and Mwave.com if you want somebody to build the computer for you rather than build it yourself. Places like Falcon and Alienware charge a big premium to build you a system compared to places like Monarch and Mwave.

After much thought, I think I might just save up for a computer that some one else builds for me.

Barebones software, but I want them to make sure all the shit works.

Something with a good gfx card ~$400 (SLI maybe), 1gb of ram, an AMD 64, and that's about it.

But I want that thing to run cool, and I want it to be virtually silent.  Sick of dicking around with hardware stuff.
Building a quiet computer requires more knowledge than putting together a run-of-mill computer since you have to be pickier about the components and the case that are used. You may want to visit the Silent PC Review forums to see who people over there recommend for building quiet complete systems.
MrHat
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Reply #28 on: July 01, 2005, 08:56:00 AM

I've had that Silent PC Review book marked for quite a while.

Eric's right though, going to be hard to budget a new computer and the next gen systems.
MrHat
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Reply #29 on: July 10, 2005, 12:39:08 PM

Samsung 213T 21" Desktop LCD, on sale @ Circuit City, $569.99 after rebates.

Not for me, but just saw that in my inbox, and I'm sure someone might get one.  That's an incredible price.
Pococurante
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Reply #30 on: July 11, 2005, 11:48:23 AM

It is a great price but after having owned a widescreen LCD (Sony SDMV72W) for several years I'm holding out for their prices to drop.

It's hard to go back to the "porthole" after using a widescreen.
Sairon
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Reply #31 on: July 19, 2005, 12:56:50 PM

When I'm about to upgrade my hardware I usualy head over to http://www.anandtech.com and read up. Even if I don't understand a lot of what they're talking about atleast it seems like they know their shit.
Pococurante
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Reply #32 on: July 20, 2005, 02:07:59 PM

« Last Edit: July 20, 2005, 02:14:53 PM by Pococurante »
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Reply #33 on: July 20, 2005, 02:14:03 PM


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Reply #34 on: July 20, 2005, 02:24:54 PM

Aww....24"! Isn't that CUUUUUTE  tongue

I shouldn't mock, I don't have a working pc anymore  cry

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