Gaming Buyer's Guide - November 2004

by Jarred Walton on 11/21/2004 5:54 PM EST


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  • spartacvs - Wednesday, January 05, 2005 - link

    I decided to wait and I'll most probably go for nforce4. One thing I reallly like about your guide is the fact that there is many budgets. Most of the guides provides 3 systems (budget, price/performance and power) but more systems is really helpfull. Reply
  • Careless Joe - Tuesday, January 04, 2005 - link

    RE: the "Cheap" psu in the budget case. Its a re-badged fortron. Very reliable. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, December 04, 2004 - link

    Just FYI, I recently upgraded from the integrated audio on my MSI K8N Neo Platinum to an Audigy 2 ZS. My benchmarks in Half-Life 2 (using a measley 9800 Pro) went up a whopping 1 FPS. It might matter more with a faster GPU, but for my setup the sound card didn't matter much. It did, however, eliminate some static/noise from the audio. I couldn't hear it on the speakers, but on headphones it was very noticeable.

    Was it worth $75? That depends on how much disposable income you have and how annoying any extra static is. Since I often use headphones on my PC at night (no need to wake the wife and neighbors), it was annoying enough for me that I went and spent the money. For most people - particularly those using moderate to cheap speakers - you probably wouldn't notice.
  • SDA - Saturday, December 04, 2004 - link

    Jarred, very true.. I've seen people defend PowerStream purchases after being told that they're the same as Tagans (which I don't do, by the way; I hate to even implicitly insult something that someone else owns) by saying that OCZ is a good name and is better-recognized, as if that really has anything to do with PSU performance. If you ask me, I don't think that sort of thing should really be factored into recommendations.. if someone wants to pay more for a brand name (when it has been demonstrated that there's no functional advantage), they're probably in the minority. (If someone wants to pay more for the PowerStream's looks, they need 20ccs of taste, stat. .. kidding, PowerStream owners ;)

    Oh, and spartacvs, just remember that integrated audio (non-SoundStorm integrated audio, anyway) will eat more CPU than a dedicated sound card will. It's not much of a big deal with today's overpowered PCs, if you ask me, and you still get plenty of bang for your buck (infinite bang for your buck, actually, since integrated audio is free).
  • spartacvs - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    JarredWalton, yes, I think I understand your argument: AGPat the end of his life and PCIe is comming in.
    I had bad information about integrated audio. Integrated audio is not fantastic but I'm sure it'll be a majhor improvment over my old sb live!value 4.1... And, as I said, it's a way to save a few dollars. Something I, unfortunately, have to be very cautious these days :(

    Thank you very much for your wise comments.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    SDA - I understand that the internals are the same. For some people, however, the outside (and the brand) will matter. It doesn't bother me much, but convincing others of this is more difficult to do. I always prefer the weight test for PSUs (assuming you're at a store where you can pick up the PSU). All things being apparently equal, always go with the heavier PSU. :)

    Spartacvs - *all* motherboards include integrated audio these days. What Nforce4 doesn't include is the SoundStorm audio that was in Nforce1 and Nforce2 (certain models). NVIDIA is supposed to be working on a high-definition audio solution, but when that will actually arrive is a little difficult to say. The audio that will be on Nforce4 is the same as what is on most Nforce3 boards these days, so don't worry too much about that. If audio is really important to you, pick up a Creative Audigy 2 ZS (for games) or the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 (for more serious audio work).
  • SDA - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    That depends on your definition of close, Jarred ;) The only real differences between them are cosmetic (shell, sticker, brand). The components, layout, and design are nearly identical.

    If you're having trouble with this concept, here's a parallel for you: Alienware's older notebooks (before they switched to Uniwill) and equivalent Sager notebooks (with a comparable configuration, obviously). Same platform, same layouts, same chassis, same components (possible that they used different brands of memory or something, but that's about it), same party assembling them; the differences are almost entirely cosmetic, and the ones that aren't don't apply to functionality.

    Hopefully this is all a little clearer now, the world of computer hardware is really far too convoluted for its own good..
  • spartacvs - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    Ok, thanks for you answer. The place I want to buy have most of the memory brands. It's just muskin, they have only a few models.
    As for the MB. What I don't like about nforce4 is the lack of integrated audio. It increase the price tag a little bit more and I'm tight on money :(
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    SDA - Just pointing out that they're not identical. Close, perhaps, and which you like more is probably more a matter of preference, but they certainly aren't identical.

    Spartcvs - Corsair, GEIL, Kingston, OCZ, and quite a few others are decent RAM. For value RAM, Kingston and Corsair are probably the most widely spread, but I don't really know what other countries are like in terms of availability. The difference between the motherboards is more difficult to quantify. I really like Abit boards, but I'm not as keen on the VIA chipset - NVIDIA just seems more stable in my experience. Either one is still a fine motherboard, and there are several other socket 939 NForce3 250 boards available. Now, though, waiting for NForce4 non-SLI might be a good idea - get one of those for ~$130 and get a 6600GT PCIe card.
  • spartacvs - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    Hey guys, I have a few questions.

    Fisrt, I do not overclock my system and will most probaly go with the Antec 2650 case because it's smaller and still a good case. Will also take the 120 GB HD because 160 is overkill for me (hey I hardly fullfill my actual 40 GB).

    I hesitate between the abit board and the msi one. What do I lose going for the abit rather than the msi? The Abit is a via chipset, right?

    Where I want to buy they don't have much of the mushkin memory. Can you recommand another brand (and model please because there is so many type of memory modules, it's easy to be lost).

  • SDA - Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - link

    Whoops, I'd forgotten all about this thread.
    400W is fine if that's what you want, since it's your system. I wouldn't recommend to others that they spend much more for a 400W PSU (as opposed to spending more to get a higher-quality 350W or 380W PSU) when the average high-end Athlon 64 rig consumes 230W or so under load, though. I'd define 50% more than is necessary under full load "moderate," how about you?

    520W is still overkill for SLI 6800GTs on an A64, although not as bad as 400W is overkill for the average A64. As I recall, SLI 6800Us on a high-end A64 eat something like 350W of power (decked out with HDDs and fans and whatnot, of course). 470W is perfectly fine there (although I'd personally just get a Tagan 480W, which should be the same and cheaper + less gaudy to boot). Again, you're welcome to do what you want, but you have an obligation to research system power consumption before you make recommendations to others.

    As for E-Power/Tagan, the amperages really aren't very different. Furthermore, just because they don't look the same doesn't mean they're not. They use very similar components, have an identical layout, and use the same PCB. Trust me, PCB and components say a lot more than paint job ;) Googling Tagan and PowerStream should give you some nice solid evidence (and juicy internals pics!).

    Again, nothing against the guide in general.. I just ask that you research the subject more in the future.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    "Moderate PSU" in my book means >=400W these days. If a 350W generic PSU isn't sufficient, are you really going to want to spend $25 to $30 (shipped) for something that is the same wattage but more reliable? Maybe, but I wouldn't. If I buy an add-in PSU, I'll get at least a 400W.

    520W *is* overkill for most systems, but if you look at what I said it makes sense. If you want SLI with two 6800 GT or 6800 Ultra cards, you're probably going to have two (or more) hard drives and a lot of other stuff as well. I would spend the extra money for the 520W in that case. Regarding the OCZ = Tagan comment, I would have to see some really concrete evidence of that. Judging by The Egg, they're not the same:

    The E-Power/Tagan has very different amperages than the OCZ. The shells are also different. Both are quality power supplies, of course, but even if they share some common components, that doesn't make them "the same."

    Anyway, the PSU comments are duly noted and I will make sure to mention this item more clearly in the future. Please move on from the PSU comments now... nothing to see here. ;) (If you really want to comment more on the PSUs, you can. I'm only kidding people.)
  • SDA - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    First thing to say: I don't want to sound insulting or condescending in any way. I think this is a good guide, and it's a lot of work to get a guide that a lot of people agree on as being good-- especially one as extensive as this.

    Now then. No, a good PSU will NOT add $50+ to the total for the budget systems. Fortron/Sparkle and TTGI power supplies are known to be solid units, if not amazing, and ones of appropriate wattage (300-350 is fine for a PC like the budget box) can be obtained for a reasonable $20-25 new. Is paying an extra 2.5~3% to avoid seeing a cheap POS PSU fail in an amusing fashion (possibly taking parts with it, I saw a Powmax unit take out an XP and mobo) and/or avoid instability worth it? Well, sure, I think so. Would you be willing to save $20 and go with cheap generic memory? Didn't think so.

    And yeah, I realize the budget systems aren't meant for overclocking. That doesn't matter. I've been to the AMD official processor support forums too, and I've also worked as a tech support (paid and all, although FWIW a lot of the people that help out on those forums know what they're talking about more than pro tech supports), and I can say for certain that the biggest problem with DIY systems is cheap power supplies. They can be problematic even at stock clock speeds, and it's certainly not as if the budget systems are little old P2s that'll barely eat any power at all.

    I'd also like to add, for the sake of balance, that 520W is overkill. Quality > quantity; you don't need a 450W PSU to achieve stability, not even if you're running an insane system. Oh yeah, and OCZ PowerStreams are the same as Tagans, and you can get those for pretty cheap (480W Tagan = ~$80 at the Egg of New).
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    54: The OCZ PowerStream is undoubtedly a good PSU, particularly for overclocking. That wasn't a primary concern with this Guide, so I didn't mention it as we have repeated that recommendation quite a few times. It's about $140 which is quite a lot for a power supply. On the other hand, for those seriously considering SLI with 6800 GT or Ultra cards, a power supply of that quality would be almost required. Reply
  • PseudoKnight - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    Jarred, try the Logitech MX310. It has the Button4 and 5 on opposite sides like you prefer. (as I do, that's why I got one) Reply
  • Precise - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    In your Oct. 1st Athlon 64 Memory: Rewriting the Rules review Wesley Fink stated:

    "We found that replacing a well-respected 465 watt PS with a 520 watt PowerStream allowed even higher memory overclocks. This was true with both the power-hungry nVidia 6800 Ultra as well as the more mainstream ATI 9800 PRO. If top memory overclocks on the Athlon 64 is your goal, don't skimp on the power supply. Putting the best PS that you can find in your system will pay off in higher memory overclocks with greater stability"

    So if you want the fastest memory/system with overclocking you should get a 520 watt PS per Wesley Fink's own recommendation and review.
  • Glassmaster - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    "Part of the problem, of course, is that many generic PSUs might work well for a couple months and then fail, and that's something that is nearly impossible to test."
    That might be a good reason not to recommend them :P. Keep up the good work, I would look forward to a PSU roundup.

  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    blckgrffn - It's $40 now, it looks like, and despite the name "Silent Power" the dual 80mm fans are not at all silent. The Polo12 is quieter, but it's also about $30 more. $40 for the 420W Thermaltake isn't too bad, though.

    As for a PSU roundup, I would have to do a lot more research into that subject before actually doing something like that. There are probably people better qualified to do a PSU roundup than me, of course, but it is an interesting topic. I may run that by some of the others to see if they have any thoughts on the topic. Part of the problem, of course, is that many generic PSUs might work well for a couple months and then fail, and that's something that is nearly impossible to test.
  • Glassmaster - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link


    Thanks for the response. I make a big deal about it because the weak PSU thing is something that lots of people don't know about that ought to be better publicized. Perhaps a future article could be devoted to this topic?

  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    Sigh. And I have personally used 3 and really like them. Man, got to keep myself from hitting the "Post Comment" button for at least five seconds after I think that I am done typing... Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    At Newegg, sorry. Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    $35 shipped, 420W thermaltake silent purepower w/18A on the +12 rail - can't beat that. No sense in not upgrading to it in my opinion. Also has two SATA power connectors. It may not be the best, but it is a good brand for low dough, and it regularly retails for under $40. I see no reason not to reccommend it as an alternative, at least.

    Just my $.02 :-)
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    I was gone for the weekend due to a personal matter, which is why I have not commented much yet. Basically, the budget segment is extremely difficult to target without cutting some corners. The PSU is definitely one of the corners that was cut. I will certainly agree that a cheap PSU is not the best option, but for a moderate system it should do okay. We do not build and test every one of the systems we recommend here, although we do test the majority of the parts. For the budget system, even a moderate PSU is going to add $50 to the price. It might be worth it, but I would go with the generic for a little while if you're on a tight budget.

    The mid-range use of the SLK3700-BQE case and PSU is a different story. The 350W Antec PSUs are actually quite good and when paired with that setup I have yet to experience any issues. If you're going to add in a second hard drive and optical drive and try overclocking, it could present a problem, but for the stock recommendation it will work.

    I thought I made the PSU situation clear in the article, but looking back I guess it was sort of relegated to a few comments made in the high-end and component summary pages. A good PSU is never a bad investment. Trying to convince someone to spend $75 on a name-brand 400W+ PSU instead of upgrading some other component is difficult to do, unfortunately. I'll make sure I don't overlook this in the future - particularly on the mid-range systems.

    Gorion: The component summaries were arranged in order of price, with my suggestion of what budget each component falls into. You'll note that many of the parts do not match up directly with the system we put them in, for example we had to use a "mid-range" priced motherboard for the Intel budget setup. The graphics cards in particular are where we "overspent" - which makes sense for gaming.

    You're right on the mouse: the MX510 is the wired version. My bad. Basically, get what mouse you like. I have tried the MX510 before, and while not bad, it's a personal taste. I like the 4th and 5th buttons on opposite sides like the "cheap" MS mice. For precision, Logitech may be better, but I am definitely not hardcore enough to be able to tell the difference between mouse precision on these models. :)
  • Glassmaster - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    #45: I'm not suggesting that a PSU recommendation should account for overclocking, however, on AMD's offical forums, where I help with Athlon 64 troubleshooting, insufficant PSUs are the most common problem. People are having problems with their PSUs handling stock specifications when they do something demanding, like play a modern game. This is a gaming guide after all...

    That's why I ask if you build and stress test these systems with the latest games before making a recommendation. If you do, and you find that a particular cheap generic PSU (with less than the consensus recommendation of 18-20A on the 12V rail) works well, that would be good to know. However that has not been my experience.

    I wouldn't bother to post at all if I didn't respect this site a lot and enjoy reading it--I would just stop visiting.

  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    RE: The Epox budget board. Jarred had originally selected the Epox budget nf3-250Gb for his budget AMD gamer, but I shared many of the emails I had received re: memory problems with that board. Nothing major, but memory compatibility issues and 4-dimm 333 downclocks not seen with the Chaintech board. While we all agree the Epox has a bit better feature set the Chaintech is known to be rock solid and friendly to just about any memory you feed it. That is the reason for the Chaintech choice for Budget. If you know your memory choice works well with the Epox then by all means choose that board.

    As an overclocker I have learned the hard way how very important the PS is for Athlon 64 and Socket T Intel. However, most gamers are NOT overclockers - they may overclock the video card but they rarely do much with system overclocking. Given that, Jarred's PS choices make more sense, though I do agree budget Power Supplies are the weakest links in most systems. I'm sure those gamers that "system-overclock" will throw some rocks here, and there are exceptions to every generalization.
  • thegreatbernie - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    I haven't been able to find the Albatron GeFORCE 6800 GT 256MB GDDR3 for $374. Newegg has it for $455. Reply
  • Gioron - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    Two nit-picks, the first being the motherboard chart on the component summary page. The third motherboard down threw me for a second, until I realized it was the third budget motherboard, not the mid-range motherboard it was listed as.

    Second, the MX510 is a wired mouse, not wireless. The wireless Ligitech mice are the MX700 and MX1000, the MX510, MX500, and MX300 are all wired mice. I'm guessing you're thinking about the MX700 mouse, which I admit is a bit of an acquired taste, but if you haven't used one before, I'd highly recommend trying out the MX510 before dismissing it.

    Disclaimer: I personally use an MX1000 as a replacement to my MX700, but I freely admit its not for everyone.
  • SDA - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    Damn, I hate to double-post, but I just found something interesting while poking around:

    Might be worth a read for those of you that don't understand what I have against low-quality power supplies.
  • SDA - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    #38, no, I guess it doesn't :( No offense to AT, but I doubt they bother-- after all, the PSU is such a trivial piece of hardware, isn't it? Sigh.. anyway, correct me if I'm wrong, but it'd seem that the PSU in the Athenatech case is an L&C unit. Deer/L&C units aren't exactly.. known for their quality.

    Now, I don't want to seem like I'm sniping, because overall I think this is a pretty good guide. Everyone's going to have their own suggestions and their own favorite parts. A quality PSU isn't something that one would pick just because of their preference, though, it's something one would pick because of their sanity. I've lost count of the number of malfunctioning systems I've seen fixed with replacement PSUs, not to mention how many cheapo power supplies I've seen fail in amusing ways before their time.. picking a cheap PSU to power a solid system is a newbie mistake, it's a shame to see a pro make it.
  • bofkentucky - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    Except it is overpriced, uses an overpriced processor, uses slow ram and is feature limited (No on board SATA). Dothan has potential, but wait until the 915 based dothan boards hit the streets, then you will see a real performance option.
  • Arkali - Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - link

    For Intel gaming you should have picked the new AOPEN socket 479 855GME motherboard and a Dothan processor. Reply
  • Glassmaster - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    #30 Doesn't look like they are going to defend their PSU recommendations. I just want to know if they actually build and stress test these systems with the Generic PSUs to make sure their recommended systems really are reliable.

  • Live - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    I like the format of this guide. I think the guides in general has been a great addition to Anandtech.

    To bad PCI-e motherboards is not out yet. Since the sli previews are not out in force yet I'm still not 100% sure if its something you want on your motherboard for more upgradability but it sure looks like it is not. Too expensive both in terms of motherboard and the 2 cards. But for a gamer, investing in anything else then PCI-e seems like a bad move. Unless you like to buy second-hand. I bet a lot of AGP cards will soon be available on the market as the high end crowd switches to the latest.
  • mldeveloper - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    i like the format of this guide, since i always jumped to the end to see the final price breakdown anyway. Reply
  • nurazlanshah - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    is the a big difference in fps between 128mb and 256mb for a same graphic card? Reply
  • deathwalker - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Jarod...great writeup. Ignore all the sniping. It's a tough job doing a article like this and sometimes there just aren't any absolute rights and wrongs. Somepeople just like to pipe-off and be heard. Reply
  • AaronAxvig - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    #15 I think if you really wanted maximum performance for a LOT of money, you would go with RAIDed SCSI. Very fast, no? Reply
  • Momental - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Fantastic article, Trog......I mean Jarrod. ;)

    I was considering going the SLI route with (2) two 6600GT's, but then realized that the performance is identical to that of one 6800GT. And who wants to take the chance of one of the GPU's defecating the bed? Additionally, the cost of the SLI-capable board ain't gonna be cheap. I will, however, wait for the VIA and nVidia PCI-e boards to become available before finally building a new system.

    The only thing I might change from the mid-range system is to put in the lower latency RAM, such as the OCZ Plat Rev. 2 or the Ballistix. Pop on a good aftermarket HSF on the CPU and we're good to go!!
  • gilkman - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Very nice article. It's been a few years since my last homebuilt but with the new games it's def time to upgrade. I like the format of this article. It gives me a few more options and insight compared to the similar guides they have over at

    I am def looking at high end parts to put together and I was very interested in the Dell 20 inch widescreen LCD - Does anyone have any comments on using a widescreen LCD for games? The Dell widescreen has 16MS refresh and high resolutions, and I know that HL2 will support widescreen play, but what about other modern games like RTS's and RPG's? Is it safer to stick with a 4:3 screen?
  • SDA - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Looks good, but I object to using a cheap PSU for a lot of the systems. It's worth the small amount of extra money you pay to get a better PSU... a TON of the problems I've seen in DIY systems resulted from cheapo PSUs that couldn't deliver enough power or simply couldn't deliver clean enough power. Cheap PSU = false savings, IMHO. There are plenty of good PSUs out there for cheap (TTGI, CWT aka Antec).

    And yeah, sure, the budget rigs don't stress the PSU much. I still hold that you shouldn't go generic. Having looked inside a lot of generic PSUs, I can safely say that I wouldn't ever want to see one in ANY system I build.
  • benk - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    The Dell 2001FP is listed at 799 and is often on sale for well below 700. Reply
  • Swaid - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Illissius -
    I was just about to suggest that. The Epox motherboard is a much better "buy" then the Chaintech now.
  • Illissius - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    I agree with nearly all the choices, which can't be said for most other buying guides I've read :)
    My one suggestion is that the EPoX 8KDA3J costs nearly the same as the Chaintech VNF3-250, and has more functionality -- namely, it uses the 250Gb chipset.
  • kherman - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link


    Anyone wondering aobut when it will be phased out, just look back to old PCI video cards. Took about 1-2 years for manufacturers to drop AGP support altogether. It's a supply demand issue.

    As for mobo's I'd expect to see new mobo's w/AGP for atleast a year more. Some people iwll be using those older video cards after all. Also, multiple PCI-X slots are the goal and if I understand correctly, PCI altogether will be dropped, menaing network and sound cards will also need a PCI-X home. 2 cents.
  • kherman - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    How about RAID 5 for the "fully employed" system? Would be redundant and should give slightly faster load times ;) Reply
  • kherman - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    "Budget Gaming System, Part Two"

    IMHO: Keep the 2800+ part and spend that extra $50 on a better video card. That will give better frame rates, IMO of course.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    I've heard conflicting reports about the quality of gaming on the Dell 2001FP. Some people love it, and others think it's good but perhaps not great. The price on it is also subject to quite a bit of variation. Right now, I believe it's on sale for about the same as the Viewsonic, while "normally" it might be $1000 plus shipping. I have not actually used one in person, so I can't really comment on interpolation quality, but of the LCDs that I have used, I have yet to see one that offers interpolation of such a quality that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Opinions on that, of course, differ.

    The same goes for the wireless mouse. Some people swear by the MX510. I've tried it, and I simply did not like it. The Microsoft wireless mice I've tried were even worse, however. Anyway, the choice of mouse is very personal. I really like the standard MS Optical five button. It's light and accurate enough that I don't have any complaints. Even with an unlimited budget, I would still buy that same mouse for my own use. I *could* go out and try numerous other mice, but I'm just not that concerned with that one peripheral. If you are, more power to you! :)
  • MiLLeRBoY - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Also, for the High-End Gaming, check out the new the Logitech Z-5500 Digital speakers. It's just a revamped version of the Z-680's design as well as adding more power. The subwoofer is noticeably larger than the former though. The retail price is $400. Reply
  • MiLLeRBoY - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    DEMO24 - I have the 20.1" Dell 2001FP and it only has a 16ms response time. However, I don't see ghosting when playing games. I also play my games at 1024x768 with 4xAA when the LCD's native resolution is 1600x1200. The image interpolation is great, it doesn't look horrible even at 1280x1024 or 1024x768. And the price is around the same as the ViewSonic VP912B. However, I probably wouldn't mind using any of those two LCDs, they're both great. Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    ?? min 18A on 12v rail -- crap my PSU doesn't have that... will it not run a AMDs939? (15A -- enhance brand, respectable, heavy) Reply
  • nghtdvl - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    Good guide, thanks.
    I'm still waiting to see some NF4 boards before getting a new system, though. I'm hoping the Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-939 will perform well.
  • Glassmaster - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    #7: The Gigabyte board isn't worth the trouble, if you really want an nForce 3 get the MSI K8N Neo2. There's a good reason why Anandtech isn't recommending the Gigabyte board.

    Jarred: Do you guys actually build and stress test these systems? Over at the offical AMD Athlon 64 troubleshooting forums, the most common problem we see is weak power supplys without enough amps on the 12V rail causing stability issues or even failing to POST. We generally recommend only PSUs with at least 18-20A on the 12V rail for the Athlon 64. I tried to look up the specs on that generic 350W PSU, but was unable to find them. Even the 350W Antec is difficult to find specs for. I know you are trying to save money, but what about the Antec True Power 380W (18A on 12V rail) for low end, and Antec True Power 430W (26A on the 12V rail) for the mid-range?

  • Brian23 - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    I like the fact that the guide reminds people that the price of SLI is too high for anyone but the most hardcore gamer. Reply
  • crazycarl - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    i like the new format for the buyer's guides! Reply
  • bsrealm - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    great guide, but i see there is no mention about RAIDing the SATA drives.. wouldnt that improve performance (atleast while installing and reading the game files)

    i am also a graphic designer and i guess while loading large files RAID would help..

    and i agree with drpepper - video editors' guide please!!!
  • xsilver - Monday, November 22, 2004 - link

    thanks jarred -- im just laughing to see the same situation as pci video cards -- I still see tnt2 pci go for $50 on ebay! -- what a joke.... I don't want to be one of those stuck with something that is going to cost more in the long run :) Reply
  • drpepper1280 - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    Thank you,
    This was the way buyers guiders were meant to be done. Now for one on video editing!
  • ariafrost - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    One thing that bothers me... the keyboards and mice listed are "decent", but if you are wanting the bleeding edge in gaming, WHY would you buy an Intellimouse? Get something better... like an MX510 at least... Reply
  • DEMO24 - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    Im not sure why the VP912b was listed instead of a Dell 2001fp. the 2001 is larger and has a larger resolution. true it costs more but this is a all out system. Reply
  • drifter106 - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    as you indicated it does come off somewhat different from the norm that I have seen in previous guides...but neverless thanks for the time and effort... it makes me consider possible alternatives for my upcoming build

    oh yea... i'll check back tommorrow and see how many winers come thru...hehe
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    Xsilver - We really don't know when AGP will be fully phased out. It could be mostly gone in a year, or it could stick around for four more years. With NVIDIA's HSI bridge chip, they should be able to continue to support AGP as long as it's a reasonable market, and with dramatically faster processors more or less on hold for a year or so, I would expect AGP to continue to get support for at least two years. It might come a little later than the latest PCIe cards, but that's better than nothing.

    Regarding the choice of motherboards, right now I would have to go with the Abit or ASUS boards over the Gigabyte. Some people like Gigabyte a lot, but I'm not really one of them. The boards always seem to have issues - my one Athlon XP system with a Gigabyte board has constant "overheating" problems, even though temps never actually break 60 C. The motherboard *thinks* the CPU is running too hot. I've never been seriously disappointed by Abit or ASUS, so that's what I would take.

    Moletus: the 6800LE is available, mostly in Europe, but short of unlocking the extra pipelines there's no real reason to go with it. The 6600GT is close in performance to the 6800, and the LE is going to have the same number of pipelines with a lower clockspeed. If you can't find the 6600GT, or if you want to take a chance on unlocking the extra pipelines, the 6800LE is worth a shot.
  • xsilver - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    Also some news on WHEN Agp is going to be phased out would be good.... are the next gen nvidia/ati products still going to be availble with AGP? if not, it would make sense to switch now? Reply
  • xsilver - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    I am considering the second AMD option -- want to know more about the choice of motherboards
    Where I am, only the abit, asus a8v and gigabyte "Gigabyte GA-K8NS Ultra-939" are abailable which is nf3 based...
    I've heard good things about the nf3 but bad things about this particular gigabyte board.... is the abit still the way to go? the gigabyte is actually the cheapest though... marginally
    The MSI nf3 is also availble but is $45 more..

    Is the abit going to be the most stable with the best ability for good overclocks?

    And on stock cooling/voltage how much could be extracted out of the 3000+ / 939? is 2.4ghz guaranteed?
  • thebluesgnr - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    This guide bothers to add an option for those who want an Intel processor because there are AT readers that prefer Intel platforms (processor+chipset), even knowing gaming performance is a little better on AMD.

    I'm not one of those readoers though ;)
  • Pollock - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    I assume stock cooling for all processors...

    ...but what about the OEM 3000+? $140 at Monarch...
  • moletus - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    You really cant blame Intel only machines for stability problems. (just finished playing hl2 with p3-800 and ati 8500, and no im not a masochist) And on the long run i think Intel boxes will outlive any Amd counterpart, and yes i would buy Amd too :) Reply
  • MAME - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    oh, the only thing I am curious about is why even bother putting the Intel counterparts in there in the first place? AMD has the clear advantage over Intel in gaming. Since Intel's offerings are more expensive and perform worse, I really don't see a reason to go that route. Reply
  • moletus - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    Hey where is 6800le ? i havent seen a single thing about it, even thou you can buy one.. atleast in europe, no benchies no nuttin :( i woulda bet that beats any price/performance ratio when you get those pixel pipes running (with luck:) Reply
  • MAME - Sunday, November 21, 2004 - link

    prepare to be bombarded by everyone who thinks they can save $2 and build a much better rig

    anyway, looks pretty decent to me

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