October 2007 Midrange Buyer's Guide

by Jarred Walton on 10/15/2007 6:00 PM EST
POST A COMMENT

41 Comments

Back to Article

  • jonp - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    I would like to propose an alternative to both the Cooler Master Centurion 534 and the Lian Li PC-7B plus II: the Thermaltake Swing VB6000BNS/VB6000BWS (both available at Newegg $60/$67). This mid-tower case has:
    4 5.25" ext drive bays
    2 3.5" ext drive bays
    4 3.5" int drive bays (facing the case side for easy access)
    0.8mm SECC steel except for the black plastic case front
    Tool-free design with side cover thumb screws
    12cm rear fan - included
    12cm front fan
    7 expansion slots
    Room for a standard ATX motherboard.
    Plastic fan brackets for easy fan install/removal.
    Washable front dust filter.
    BNS - no side window, BWS - side window
    The case USB, 1394 and audio ports are on the top of case front along with one 3.5" ext drive bay. The is very convenient since all of my systems sit on the floor (noise, weight, desk space, etc).
    Front power and reset buttons.
    No power supply so you can choose your own.
    Also I think the design in Piano black is both professional and attractive.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    We're not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on the rest of the components, as many of them have been discussed in previous Buyers' Guides and/or reviews. We did choose to use some DDR2-1066 memory, which honestly might be overkill considering the price. $114 (after rebate) for 2GB of this type of memory might seem like a steal compared to a year ago, but if you're okay with DDR2-800 you can still pick up 2GB of 4-4-4 memory for a measly $75. In fact, one of the AnandTech editors did exactly that just this last week... twice! If you're thinking about upgrading to a 64-bit operating system, give some serious thought to running a 4GB configuration with DDR2-800 as opposed to 2GB of higher performance DDR2-1066.


    Who says you need a 64BIT OS to use 4GB of RAM ? Until I had to RMA a pair of 1GB sticks, I was using 4GB with WinXP x32. Photoshop ran faster, applications opened and closed much faster, and my system in general operated much smoother. I tried the /3GB switch, and no joy as it would cause random BSoDs, and in the end, I just let the default /NOEXECUTE=optin switch deal with /PAE for me, and I had 3.5GB of RAM availible to applications/processes. Was it a huge performance gain ? No, but it was well worth the ~$80 usd before MiR.

    Remember, your system does not operate in a vacuum, it need memory to be effective. At the same time, programs like Photoshop that can make use of up 2.5GB of RAM just for the executable can benifit from having 2GB dedicated soley for its use. With 3.5GB availible I was able to allow Photoshop to use 100% memory(~2GB without the /3GB switch in use), and had 1.5GB for the system, and anything else I wanted to run at the same time.

    So in short of using a 64BIT OS, it was a perfect solution that gave me plenty of speed increase for the money spent. A much better option that spending ~110 for 2GB of RAM, that is truely too much for the given system.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Apparently there's an abundance of people that feel "think about upgrading to a 64-bit OS" means the same thing as "you absolutely MUST upgrade to a 64-bit OS". See above commentary. Personally, when I finally switch my work system to Vista, it will be for Vista 64-bit. Because if I'm going to take the Vista plunge, I'm going to take the 64-bit plunge as well and hopefully be better prepared for future applications and memory requirements.

    Is it 100% necessary? Nope. But if someone asked me for my opinion on the matter, I'd advise them to give some serious thought to running Vista x64. Maybe in another year or two, we'll even start to truly see a need for it in more applications.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Apparently there's an abundance of people that feel "think about upgrading to a 64-bit OS" means the same thing as "you absolutely MUST upgrade to a 64-bit OS".


    That really has little to do with what I was saying. Mainly, my point has to do with your choice of RAM. You will most likely see a much more noticable performance gain using 4GB of RAM in XP, than using 2GB of high performance RAM(even overclocked). For instance, overclocking my AM2 1210 CPU, and looking for noticable performance gains, I do not notice any without diving into a battery of benchmarks. This also includes having run the memory 100MHZ over spec(900MHZ DDR2). I do agree with your article comments concerning 1066DDR2 memory could help your high overclock possiblities. Since Vista is a resource hog by comparrison, I am sure it would be far more benificial to run as more memory as possible as well.

    quote:

    Personally, when I finally switch my work system to Vista, it will be for Vista 64-bit. Because if I'm going to take the Vista plunge, I'm going to take the 64-bit plunge as well and hopefully be better prepared for future applications and memory requirements.



    Hey, I hear nothing but good things about Vista x64, but when I upgrade to Vista, it will be to Ultimate retail, and I will most probably at least start off with x64. IF it works out good, then I will stay. The problem is not all the ordinary applications I run that I am worried about, its the games that I play in my down time. Also when I make that leap, my costs will probably be higher than the average upgrader, as I plan on running 8GB of RAM.

    Anyhow, for what its worth, Photoshop CS3, Lightroom, Nikon Capture NX, and several other RAW/image editing applications are supposed to run very well, and fast on Vista x64. At least this seems to be the general consensus with every dpreview photographers/image re-touchers that I have spoken to concerning the topic.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    If there were a native 64-bit Photoshop version out, I'd already be running Vista x64 with 8GB of RAM. (Curse you Adobe....) :)

    Isn't what you said what I put in the article, more or less? We selected DDR2-1066, but it might not be necessary depending on what you want to do with the system. 4x1GB DDR2-800 (or 2x2GB) and x64 is a very viable alternative. Which one you take depends on your end goal. Overclockers and tweakers will likely prefer DDR2-1066; more typical users that run a lot of memory intensive apps will be well-served by running 4GB of RAM. People looking for some cost savings that don't intend to push for maximum overclocks can happily run DDR2-800.
    Reply
  • Panther - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Great guide Jarred.

    I've been meaning to build a new workstation so the timing of this article is perfect!

    One question though, is there any Nvidia card you'd recommend in lieu of the 2600XT which provides a similar performance profile? I'm going to run linux and would rather avoid ATi just based on my last experience (granted it's been almost three years ago) trying to use ATi's linux drivers.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    8600 GT and 8600 GTS cards are also reasonable choices. I have one that includes two dual-link DVI outputs, even. I suppose GPU choice is going to be impacted by how you're planning on using it. The 2600 XT is a pretty decent GPU, but in Linux and in games the 8600 GTS probably is a better choice. For video decoding (H.264) I think it beats the 8600 cards, but that's not really a huge concern for most workstations. The only concern is that the 512MB 8600 cards cost quite a bit more than the 512MB 2600 XT listed. So you can give up 256MB of GPU RAM or spend more money.

    I'm going to edit the GPU section on the workstation slightly, though, as you do make a valid point.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    not sure about the 8800 but the 8600 and lower cards i think have some driver support

    i going to be putting k/ubuntu 7.10 onto an 80gb hdd to see if all my hardware works
    Reply
  • Kishkumen - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    "...thinking about upgrading to a 64-bit operating system, give some serious thought to running a 4GB configuration"

    Um, why do you need to upgrade to a 64 bit operating system just to use 4GB of memory? Something is seriously wrong there. My 32bit operating system can use 4GB just fine. Even up 64GB I think. It is Linux... but I know a tech savvy site like Anandtech wouldn't make some sort of generalization that "operating system" automatically means some version of Microsoft's NT operating system would it? I mean we are open to different technologies around here aren't we? I wonder sometimes... Well, that's OK, I still like your hardware recommendations anyway.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    A standard desktop PC can't run let alone address 64GB of memory. Unless you're hiding the unbuffered 16GB DDR2 modules from the rest of us? I take it you're referring to 32-bit servers running PAE in order to access more than 4GB of RAM. Or are you referring to a large swap file (which isn't actually RAM)? Both are possible, but obviously for the general computing market it's not an important topic for discussion.

    I can't say that I run Linux on a regular basis anymore, but there are ways to work around memory limitations. Given the target audience of our Buyer's Guides, running off into tangents about various memory management theories doesn't seem to be particularly useful. For those that prefer to stick with Windows, pretty much the only way you're getting full use of 4GB of memory or more is with a 64-bit version of the OS.

    Generally speaking, however, the BIOS and motherboard will limit your options. 4GB is now usually reasonable - in 32-bit Windows Vista you'll usually get access to around 3GB of memory - but while 8GB is theoretically supported on most modern motherboards, compatibility is still sketchy. I'd look up motherboard compatibility charts from the manufacturer and make sure to get approved modules if you want to do a 4x2GB setup.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    i got an customer that mite be wanting an Quad cpu with 8gb ram soon :) and it ant going to be running vista, it be XP x64 (he uses 3DS)

    so i need to start to look it up but i cant see there been any problem sticing 4x2gb sticks in one pc
    Reply
  • The Boston Dangler - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    "...the abit IP35-E is selling for $102 shipped, plus a $20 mail-in rebate. The quality of that motherboard is a bit suspect, however, with quite a few users reporting compatibility problems and other quirkiness. We haven't had any serious issues with our own test subject, but you might need to exercise a bit more patience if you go with abit."

    i'm considering this board. could you please link me to a description of these issues?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Read the Newegg comments (and take them with a grain of salt, most likely). You can also try googling for reviews, which may are may not result in useful information. Basically, Gary said the board is a good "budget midrange" offering, but the overall quality is definitely lower than what you would find in something like the IP35 Pro (which costs twice as much). Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Better yet, go to the ABIT forums, and READ. Newegg reviews are fairly subjective, with a lot of the reviewers obviously being seriously in-experienced when it comes to building systems.

    You probably will not see a more candid forum than the ABIT forums, or at the very least, they do not censor because of a posters dislike for a product. Incidentally, when buying a new motherboard, and if it is an ABIT board, the first place I go to is ABIT forums, and read.
    Reply
  • n yusef - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    As the owner of a Lian Li PC-7 Plus (a generation older than the 7B Plus II), I have to recommend against it. As a workstation case it is limited at three hard drive bays. This may have been fixed in the new version, but the front panel of my case is no longer attached. The bezel is connected to the case via four quite flimsy plastic pins, two of which have broken off. Although the pins can be replaced, a high end manufacturer like Lian Li should never produce such a poor design, especially on a case as simple as the PC-7 is. Reply
  • Pirks - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    I don't understand this. I got myself 4GB of DDR2-667 RAM at newegg for _ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS ALTOGETHER_, which comes to $25 per 1 GB, and you always sugges this crazy overpriced $50 per 1 GB DDR2-800 memory. What the heck is this shoot?? Why pay almost twice more if you get just 2% of performance increase? Well, maybe 5% is you're really into synthetic Sandra stuff..

    I just don't get ya guys
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    DDR2-667 with an Intel platform and a 1333FSB is going to seriously handicap overclock, for one. AM2 will also suffer a 5-10% performance loss compared to DDR2-800 at stock speeds. If you're happy with cheap DDR2-667, by all means go for it. I've built enough systems over the years that I've learned from painful experience that cheap memory can create unforeseen problems. Basically, I'm not going to stake my reputation on it if I can avoid it. I spent $250 on DDR2 memory that's not as good as the $114 RAM recommended in this article, and that was less than a year ago. (That memory, incidentally, was RMA'ed when one stick failed after five months.) Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    But it's not going to handicap overclock on those 800 MHz FSB Intel Allendales. Hence you can get seriously overclocked CPU with all its 40%-50% system-wide performance increase goodness for _much_ less money, compared to overclocking on duper expensive DDR2-1066 sticks. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Okay, let's take the E4400. 10x333 will put the RAM back to DDR2-667 using 1:1 ratio. The CPU can likely handle that with appropriate $70 cooling. So you've spent $210 or so on your CPU+HSF. How does that compare to an E6750 that sells for $195? I haven't tested, but I'd imagine the OC'ed E4400 wins by a bit. Then you can OC the E6750 and close the gap. But using DDR2-667 with the E6750 (or E6550) means a 1:1 ratio already has the RAM at DDR2-667.

    $15 already has us about half way to the upgraded memory you despise, or we can just stick with the $75 stuff and see about pushing the E6550 to 7*400, or the E6750 to 8x400. Now we've topped out on inexpensive DDR2-800 (which you can probably push to 850-900 MHz if you make an effort, but I've had more than a few DDR2 modules fail after a few months of that). So go with DDR2-1066 and now with the right mobo you can try for as high as 7x533 without taking the RAM out of spec.

    Feel free to disagree on what's more important, but the bottom line is that I would much rather spend a bit more money on quality RAM, especially when looking to overclock. At the top overclocks, I've seen performance differences of 20% with cheap RAM vs. high-end RAM - when trying to push the whole system to the maximum stable speed. With some time and effort, you might get that down to 10%, but for a 3% system cost increase I'm more than happy to eliminate most of that effort.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Okay, I got your point. When you invest $1500 in a new system then you can add another $100 to the cost of the memory, not a large difference compared to the total price. I was looking at this from the point of view of building gaming rig where it's usually better to invest in large high resolution monitor and high performance video card, while saving on CPU and RAM which are much less important for games, compared to video card/monitor combo.

    From the pure CPU overclocking perspective (ignoring games and 3D) your solution is better than mine, it's more expensive tho, but (I have to agree here) not much more expensive, considering total system price.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    And naturally, this is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Some people would rather have 8GB of DDR2-667 than 4GB of DDR2-800 (or whatever). I tried to get this across in the RAM commentary - it really *IS* overkill depending on what you intend to do. For a budget system, yeah, you can skip the DDR2-800 and save $13 if you want; midrange or overclocking? Decent DDR2-800 is as cheap as I'm going. Serious midrange overclocking, I'll go for DDR2-1066, which I'd also use for a high-end system. If you want absolute maximum overclocking and performance and screw the cost? Then I guess we can bring in the DDR3-1800 stuff. LOL Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - link

    Yeah, I'd ratrher go for 4GB of cheap DDR2-667 RAM 'cause I like to keep lots of open apps in Vista x64 and since some games started to hit 2GB barrier - go figure. And 4GB of high quality DDR2-1066 RAM is somewhat a waste for a gaming rig, it's better to invest in 8800GTX and cool 28" LCD screen for this kind of stuff Reply
  • hubajube - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    A ATI card on a workstation machine? Reply
  • sdsdv10 - Thursday, October 18, 2007 - link

    That's not a comment, it's question. Hence the question mark "?". ;-) Reply
  • rallycobra - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    Vostro 200 with 1.6ghz duo, 1gig ram with Vista on eBay $280
    WD 500gb SE16 $115
    2 gigs crucial ram after MIR $45.
    Nvidia 8800GT 256 or 512mb ~$250 at the end of the month. (GTS speed)
    conductive paint to pin mod cpu to 2.67ghz $0 (already have a tube!)

    Not a bad PC for $650!!!

    Pick up a 24" monitor for $300 in the hot deals forum...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    For the record, a modded E2140 overclocked to 2.66GHz is not the same as the E6550. If you're going to go cheap, it's a reasonable option, but 1MB of cache on the Core 2 architecture really does hurt performance quite a bit. I'm not sure about how that will work in a Dell motherboard anyway, but I guess if you know what you're doing with the conductive paint....

    Anyway, this is still meant as a midrange guide, using parts that are available now. I pointed out quite a few changes that could be made to get the price down on the systems - including using cheaper memory and a less expensive motherboard. I'm not going to recommend eBay for a Buyer's Guide for a variety of reasons (just like I don't recommend refurbished/used hardware), but others can use them if they want.

    If I were to try to piece together a Dell-equivalent using parts similar to yours, I'd likely get a final price of around $750 (just eye-balling things). I'd also consider it to be a very budget-oriented gaming system, where many corners are cut and overclocking is used in order to keep costs down. That's fine for some users, but a lot of people do appreciate nicer cases, accessories, and a high quality PSU. We'll hopefully have a budget guide out sometime soon, where you will see prices and components similar to what you've mentioned (though not using eBay or Dell still).
    Reply
  • FrankThoughts - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    Excellent! eBay, MIRs, CPU hacking all in one alternative... Yeah, we should all buy those! If you're going to get a Dell you probably don't want to upgrade the thing right after. A similar Vostro 200 system to what was listed comes to $1300, not including the 8800 GTS, DDR2-800/1066, or a decent motherboard. Then there's the case, power supply, keyboard, and mouse.

    Cheap case and PSU: $50
    2GB DDR2-800 RAM: $75
    320GB HDD: $80
    Cheap mobo (ASUS P5B SE): $95
    E2140: $75
    DVDR: $30
    8800GT: $250
    Vista: $105
    Cheap (Dell equivalent) keyboard and mouse: $15
    Total: $775

    You saved $125 with your MIR, apparently. Congratulations! Personally I'll pass on that budget setup. Have fun with your system, though. Hope it all works properly. I'd be hesitant to try running an 8800GTS or 8800GT when it comes out off of a 300W Dell power supply!
    Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    "$114 (after rebate) for 2GB of this type of memory might seem like a steel compared to a year ago"

    I think it night seem like a copper :)
    Reply
  • Yawgm0th - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    There's plenty to question about the HTPC system.

    IMHO You can basically go one of a couple ways with an HTPC. You go high-def or you don't. You go DVR or you don't. Those choices greatly affect what parts you get.

    If you're going to have an optional BD drive listed, why not list a GeForce 8600 as well? I know you discuss it later on the page, but it would make a lot more sense to put it on the table as "optional". It's practically mandatory IMO if you need HD output. Yeah, you can usually do 1080i and 720p okay without it, but it does help, and it really is necessary IMO for 1080p.

    For a DVR, with HDTV and any digital TV in mind, as well as general quality -- terrible tuner choices. This is accentuated by the recent article on the new AMD TV Wonder cards. Recommending the PCI-E 650 makes the most sense by far.

    If one isn't going HD, then the HTPC changes greatly. MicroATX is overkill unless it's a DVR. At this point you're best of switching to Mini-ITX. Via and Intel both have some great offerings for a DVR in this sector. Noise is important, as you say, and nothing beats mini-ITX when it comes to noise (except maybe SBCs and nano-ITX). A passively cooled mini-ITX can easily handle any mpeg2 or mpeg4 variants while leaving a very small footprint.

    For a non-HD DVR/HTPC a digital tuner and low-end mATX system with an IGP is the way to go. That seems to be where the system in the article is headed, but the inclusion of talk about Blu-Ray and 1080p and whatnot confuses things substantially. Even without that, the price is far higher than one should expect for a system of this sort due to some of the component choices.

    Overall, I find the HTPC system to lack direction or a clear sense of purpose. What is "mid-range" in the HTPC world? What makes an HTPC? The ability to play a variety of media files from a variety of sources, or the inclusion of one or more TV tuners, thus making it a DVR?

    IMO what really needs to happen is a Buyer's Guide specifically for HTPCs. There are a variety of uses for HTPCs specifically just for "home theaters" and not as DVRs, and there are multiple DVR configurations that make sense. Hinting at different possibilities in one "mid-range" guide for an HTPC just doesn't do it.

    Also, I will stress that a good sound card is a must for an HTPC. You don't need to be an audiophile to appreciate good sound quality. Although these days quite a few motherboards come with very nice integrated 5.1 and 7.1, not as many come in mATX flavor, and some of the add-in sound cards do make substantial improvements. Anyone with a decent surround system should notice a decrease in sound quality if they try to run anything through an HTPC that doesn't have a good sound card.
    Reply
  • OrSin - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    I have to disagree with Mini-ITX. Its great platform, but the has some limits.
    First it will never do DVR or HD. I know you stated that, but not being about to upgrade to some basic functions down the road is a killer for me.
    Second most case don't allow for large hard drives. Again it might not be necessary if you storage other places or an external array, but again this basic limitation is akiller for me. You can get a bigger case, but at that piont why not for a M-ATX and limit your future needs. I own a Mini-ATX and had to move it to a second HTPC function. Acutally I own 2, and one is my daughter system. If you have a HTPC that doubles as media server in a closet some where, and a mini-itx as frout end unit in Living room then its a nice set up, but as stand alone its lacking (for me anyway).
    Even using it in a threate room was lacking for me since most projector you want to do 1080p, since on a 110' screen you actually tell the difference from 720p.
    Reply
  • BigLan - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    Thanks for noting that the kworld tuner could be a real POS. Personally, I'd stay far, far away from it if at all possible - pcalchemy have a white box avermedia combo for $80 which would be a better bet. I'd also recommend the hauppauge 1600 or 1800 for the main tuner - they're about $90-100, and can sometimes be found at ~$80 with a rebate at circuitcity or compusa.

    I'd also think about going for 2 500gb drives @ $110 each (total $220) rather than one 750gb one @ $200. It'll give you 33% more capacity for 10% more money, but it is another drive in the case adding to the heat and noise.

    The analog tv situation doesn't really apply to cable-fed viewers either as cable providers will continue offering analog sdtv for a period of time after the ota transmissions are turned off (I think it was 2012 at the earliest.) You can also continue to use the svid input to capture SD channels from a set-top box even after that date. The 2009 switch off only applies if you're using an antenna for your sd channels.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    I can't speak from personal experience about most of the TV tuner cards out there, but I have looked at QAM tuners in the past and they were at best very time consuming to get configured. Still, I also have an AVerMedia dual tuner (non-QAM) installed in my own HTPC that works very well for analog channels (courtesy of a Comcast feed). Quality probably isn't as good as an ATI Theater 550 that I have, but analog TV quality is already lousy anyway.

    I currently use FireWire to capture HDTV content when I feel the need -- for example, I recorded the women's World Cup soccer matches since they were taking place at 3 and 5 a.m. usually. For one-time recordings like that, FireWire was enough. Unfortunately, that doesn't allow you to watch one channel and record another. Setting up recordings is also not nearly as user-friendly as using a Media Center interface.

    One of the problems with using dual hard drives is that Windows Media Center doesn't worked as well in that situation (in my experience) unless you're running a RAID 0 array. All of the recordings are sent to one specific drive/folder, so you would have to manually transfer movies between hard drives. RAID 0 certainly is an option, but I'm pretty much okay with using a single larger hard drive in most situations. Besides, you could then upgrade capacity further in the future if necessary.

    Obviously, there's no correct answer to which choice is best -- I say po-tay-to, you say po-tah-to. LOL
    Reply
  • drpepper128 - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    In your article you said that you would probably receive a lot of criticism for your choices, well I’m hear to make one. Your choice of memory seems to coincide with what you always choose in your systems. You chose a lower capacity, but faster timing for both gaming rigs. I thought it was proven a while ago that those types don’t really add much to performance, at least not as much as capacity does. I know however that you do include over clocking into your considerations, but is using the better timings and faster speeds really not needed? I personally would take the Intel setup and choose a the E4500 with slower higher capacity memory and over clock that way; however, I haven’t had much experience with the new 1333Mhz FSB Intel processors and their over clocking capabilities.

    One problem with using the higher memory capacity I stated above is the windows 64bit problem. I noticed you tackled this in your article on the workstation part, but is it worth it? I’m currently about to build a friend a system and was quite interested in the answer. I do know that a 32bit operating system has a limit around 2 or 3 gigabytes, but doesn’t a 64bit operating system also take up twice as much memory for each application essentially turning your 4GB of memory into only 2? Is it really worth spending the extra money on 4GB of RAM to future proof your system?

    Does anybody know when the HD 2900 Pro will start coming out in mass? I’ve been thinking it will be a good buy when it comes down in price.

    Finally, Anandtech, I miss the old style guides where you listed several parts using your price grabber and then recommended the best parts. I’m currently finding the best motherboards to use for builds through Newegg votes and forum posts. You do make several reviews on these boards, but they have been lacking lately, and it is hard to put all the motherboards in to focus and select the best one.

    Thank you for your great article,
    drpepper128
    Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    I don't think going over 2GB is so important on a budget PC. Anyway, using 2x1GB allows one to buy two other DIMMs to increase the memory - so you buy 2 DIMMs now for 2GB and maybe later another 2GB for a 6GB total Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    most small mother boards Only have 2 slots for ram Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    What reality do you live in? Even most uATX boards now have four DIMM slots. Only the absolute cheapest/smallest mobos have two slots these days. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    It previously seemed like most people would simply read one or two of the pages anyway, focus on the tables, and skip everything else. I figured just cutting to the chase would allow me to write less text and focus on the important stuff. I try to expound on areas that do matter (motherboards, GPU options) and not worry too much about stuff that most people will breeze over (case, keyboard, mouse, speakers).

    For the memory, note also what I said on the AMD setup: "We did choose to use some DDR2-1066 memory, which honestly might be overkill considering the price. $114 (after rebate) for 2GB of this type of memory might seem like a steel compared to a year ago, but if you're okay with DDR2-800 you can still pick up 2GB of 4-4-4 memory for a measly $75. In fact, one of the AnandTech editors did exactly that just this last week... twice! If you're thinking about upgrading to a 64-bit operating system, give some serious thought to running a 4GB configuration with DDR2-800 as opposed to 2GB of higher performance DDR2-1066." I think the Intel side would benefit more (i.e. for overclocking), but having good quality RAM is never a bad thing IMO. I'm not going to bother with DDR3 recommendations, but $40 for more flexibility in overclocking and such is reasonable.

    Those of us who are running Vista 64-bit have now reached the point where compatibility issues are pretty much gone (at least, so I heard from Gary). I'm still running XP on my primary rig, but I keep looking at one of my Vista PCs and thinking it may finally be time to give it a serious shot. If I had a 64-bit version of Photoshop and perhaps some games that benefited, I think I'd make the switch.

    Concerning memory footprints on x64, it's only certain instructions (memory addresses) that are twice as large. Most opcodes are still 32-bit and most data is still 32-bit. 64-bit OS/apps do use more memory overall, but it's nowhere near twice as much. 4GB and 64-bit is still going to be more roomy than 2GB and 32-bit.

    Hope that helps.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    quote:

    $40 for more flexibility in overclocking and such is reasonable
    No, it is not. You pay like 40% more while getting maybe 5% back in terms of performance. How can it be reasonable? RAM overclocking and paying 500% (THAT'S FREAKIN FIVE TIMES!) of a normal price to get those precious 10% in performance gain, when you install exotic duper expensive ddr2-1066? You gottabekiddin'!
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - link

    5% at stock performance. If you push DDR2-800 and DDR2-1066 to their limits with overclocking, stability on the DDR2-1066 modules is better and performance gains generally reach into the 15-20% difference range. Again, I have stated in the text that it isn't required or even necessary. If you have no intention of overclocking, grab DDR2-800 4-4-4 memory and save yourself $40.

    Consider this, however: $40 more on a $1500 system represents a total cost increase of 3% for what you admit is probably a 5% performance increase. $75 will get you an 8800 GTS 640MB, which will add anywhere from 0% to 25% depending on game, resolution, and detail settings. And yet many also question the listing of a 320MB part over a 640MB part as being just as unreasonable. That's why both alternatives are discussed in the article.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, October 19, 2007 - link

    overclocking ram at best is 1% (or 10 FPS thats when thay are at 150FPS range)

    been shown loads of times about ram speeds tested and tryed

    id not pick any thing less then an 8800 640MB GTS but most users do not tweek there in game settings to higher ones so not be an problem still an Very fast card
    Reply
  • cosmotic - Monday, October 15, 2007 - link

    It would be really cool if you guys built the Intel and AMD system's and put them head to head in benchmarks. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now