Phenom II System Buyers' Guide

by Wesley Fink on 3/2/2009 3:00 PM EST


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  • Emessjay - Sunday, March 15, 2009 - link

    I'm having to rebuild much of my system, and I don't have tons of money to throw out doing so. Given that, this article was absolutely ideal for me. I'm not a computer DIY guru by any stretch. I simply needed some good info and recommendations. So, thanks very much for this. You've earned one more reader. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, March 06, 2009 - link

    2 things:

    -The Xigmatek CPU cooler is a great bang for the buck cooler but I severely dislike the push pin design. While not crazy heavy like some other coolers it is still heavy enough that I am not confident that the pushpins will hold for years in a tower system. I just built a C2D system with essentially the same cooler (not called the Dark Knight, but looks identical minus the LED lighting), and it was a frustrating installation experience. They sell a backplate for an extra $10-15 that I would HIGHLY recommend, but then that pushes the price up significantly and you are looking in the realm of the top end air coolers.

    -4850, with the recent price drops and significant performance advantage of the 4870 ove rthe 4850 I would not have recommended the 4850 except as an addition to the low-end system (ie mention as you do with most other component choices that you can upgrade to the 4850 for a very nice entry level gaming system). I think the 4870 512meg would be a perfect fit for the mid-range system and the 4870 1gig would match your recommendation for the "high"-end system.

    Good guide overall, just wanted to give my 2 cents on the cpu cooler and gpu recommendation.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, March 06, 2009 - link

    The Xigmatek for Intel Socket 775 DOES use push pins. That is convenient, but many do not like the pushpin system.

    However, on the AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3 the Xigmatek uses a lever clip for a very secure mounting to the existing AMD CPU cage on the motherboard. This is mentioned and described on the page where the Xigmatek is mentioned. Keep in mind that AMD doesn't have a push-pin system. That is an Intel "innovation" that first appeared on Socket 775.

    I mention the upgrade possibility to 4870 for a relatively low cost in the Phenom II OC recommendation. However, at a net price of $125 and owing to the fact that the 4870 is basically a 4850 clocked higher I think the recommendation of the 4850 as a value OC choice is still valid. Those who want even more graphics power can choose the "pre-overclocked" 4870 with perhaps even more head room.
  • Kinshinlink - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    that 4850 before rebate your paying 155. for 10 bucks more you could get a 4870 from sapphire on newegg. Reply
  • v12v12 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    Hrmm... how do I start this — with a rant? Or with just general observations?

    1) Thank god for the "post a comment" option, or else you guy really did have me thinking that AMD HAD made a real comeback?! Thanks to WHATHEHEY factual breakdown, I now see that so-called "comeback" was merely a glancing blow, but didn't do any real damage to the jaw of WIntel! Makes for a nice highlight article, but fast-forward to the END of the fight and WIntel is getting interviewed and giving out shout-outs, while AMD is getting it's eye's checked by the ring doctor!

    2) I think you've done your readership a HUGE disservice by not keeping the article as succinct as possible: AMD still considerably behind i7 and still behind the soon to be antiquated Penryn. If this were politics, I'd have almost voted for the LOSING candidate. Come guys, get professional and cut the tip-toeing, bias and dancing around the hard facts... as a reader had to point out the spin'n bias to us. Shame on you!

    3) Thank god though AMD did make some kind of showing Vs the drunken party crasher, who thinks he's cool b/c he showed up wasted, while everyone laughs and points in dismay. HAHA! Look at who just rolled in — it's our drunken and unkempt classmate: AMD! Swaggering around touting of a comeback, breath wreaking of bias and hyped numbers, shoes on the wrong feet, stepping on customer's toes...

    ...Well I guess I'm glad that at least our buddy AMD did manage to show up to the party at all? Normally he'd have still been passed out in his own hype and Apple like bias, like before... See you at the party Richter! *Tossing AMD cores off the platform*
    You know it's hard to NOT vote for AMD... it's the whole "vote for a winner" phenomenon (pun intended). Even if people don't like the candidate running, if he/she is in the lead, a large one at that; people will instinctually start to side with the "winner," even though he/she is not the right candidate for them. And this is the case we see with AMD Vs WINtel. I'm on an Turion X2 right now, thinking to myself "wtf how can I trash AMD, when most of my systems are in fact AMD based?!" Guess what, my wallet doesn't give a sh!t about AMD or WINtel. My wallet cares about CASH and cash only. Whomever saves it enough cash, WILL get it's vote. As for me, personally I'd like to still champion AMD, but in the end, the Wallet is what matters at the moment... Come on AMD I KNOW you have it in you to become the former champion you once were! Until then, I'll continue to put off building a new box, but WINtel is sure looking nice with all the belts it holds.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    You might want to check out our Core i7 Buyers Guide at"> In both guides we are VERY clear that the Phenom II now competes in the mid-range with Intel, but that the I7 owns the top performance crown. However, Core i7 starts at around $300 and goes to $1010, while Phenom II is $120-$230.

    There is reason to cheer that AMD can now compete in the area where most systems are sold. That has not been true for almost 2 years. If this was not clear to you in reading the Guide then you must have skipped reading most of the article.
  • v12v12 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    The problem with that, as I said in another comment on this board, is SOCKET LOCK. Who wants to buy into this under performing hardware platform. Yes at this current time it is slightly competitive, but as the above break down shows, it's ONLY because of current pricing. And as minor as that is, I'd still go with the Intel b/c even if it is a smidge ahead, you know that higher end (Penryn) chips that would blow the PH-II away are coming down in price also, thus leaving the PH-II back where they started - behind.

    The keystone for intel is the ROAD MAP. Intel's is much more robust, and certainly deliverable; they already have a working 32nm... Where is AMD is all of this? Still trying to play catch-up with antiquated Penryns. If I had the money right now... I'd still pay ~$150 more for the intel platform. It's PROVEN; solid; reliable; and no socket-lock.
  • Rrcccc - Saturday, March 07, 2009 - link

    Am I to assume that there is a lot of money floating around here?! You have people talking about a $100 bucks as if it is nothing at all. Income wise, I am in the top 1% of the country and I still recognize that’s real money!
    This article is dead on money. For our economy this article shows how you can get close to the top of performance and save money. Very few people will use this guide as a blueprint for a system. Most will use it as a guide to upgrade components or for a system overhaul. Minimum upgrade for I7 systems (realistic upgrade) is way out of most people’s league. $560 is min for cpu, board and memory – that’s an unrealistic setup. Buying an I7 and $185 board is and the cheapest memory is a fool’s errand. And it is still a $120 more than a 940 Phenom, equivalent mb (Asus M4A78T-E vs GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R X58) and memory. A realistic min I7 upgrade is more in the $650 (us) a $200 + increase.
    In the real world that’s a day at Disneyland for 2-3 people. Gas money for a month or 2, ect. Not realistic for 95% of the world (98% if count out the fan boys would sacrifice a decent woman to buy there favorite chip).
    I’m one the few 30+ year gamers (“there is a sword here”) And I have no loyalties to Amd or Intel. I have last years Intel upgrade next to my 2 weeks ago Amd Phenom II upgrade. Loyalties cost you money. Bleeding edge cost you money. Competition saves you money.
    This article is perfect for today. And that’s what really counts. Great job Wesley Fink and Anandtech team. If the situation changes in the next couple of months… then I look forward to hearing that conclusion.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    Well, your Intel socket options are currently either LGA775, which will likely see no more processors released for it; or LGA1366, which may never see what most would consider to be mainstream processors released for it. Reply
  • v12v12 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    GDamn it! Where is the edit button/function when you need it? Christ, tons of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Well it is ~5-6am here, so I'll let it slide, but other's wont. FIX IT PLEASE damn, people constantly complaining about the lack of B/I/U not working, nor edit features. Will SOMEONE PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR READERSHIP? Wtf is wrong with you at Anandtech?! kthxbye. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    1080p monitor? Fail. We need to discourage 16:9 monitors. Reply
  • v12v12 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    HAHA completely agreed on that point... When will people get that 16:9 offers LESS viewable area than the (forced) antiquated 4:3 resolution? Nothing worse than seeing some over priced, LCD on a desk that's as wide as the desk but not even as tall as my old POS (still superior to any LCD out there) 20" CRT! Reply
  • letsgetsilly - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Just thinking about going down the Phenom route because of its value. Thanks so much for this article, great timing! Reply
  • ET - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    The entry level was what I considered getting when I first read about the new Phenoms. Plug in my Radeon 3870 and it's a pretty decent system, and considerably better than my current Athlon X2 3800+ one. Reply
  • ilkhan - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    $150 for DDR2? Are you insane? You can get 6GB of DDR3 for the same price, and it'll be just as good.
    The whole performance machine is screwy, who wants to build that when you can build an i7-920 for the same exact price, with 50% more RAM and at least 20% more performance?
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Notice that $154 is for 8GB, 2 4GB (2x2GB) kits. So the i7 system would be down 2GB.

    But yes, at $2000 for a complete new build, I would be looking at i7, not Phenom II.
  • Kiijibari - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    >But yes, at $2000 for a complete new build, I would be looking at i7, >not Phenom II.

    Depends, as long as you are not using the i7's HTh advantages (i.e. lots of rendering & encoding), I would choose the Phenom2.

    It is fast enough and cheaper, thus you can buy a better video card, monitor, maybe even a SSD ...


  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    The i7 overclocking system in their guide is $47 (2.2%) more expensive than the Phenom II Performance system. Both use the 4870 1GB, the i7 does factor in a discount on the speakers but given the falling prices of DDR3 you could probably jump to 6GB for about the same overall system cost today as when that guide was published. Unless you are quite sure of what your CPU usage needs will be over the life of the system, I don't see much reason to go with the CPU which is significantly slower in most tests. Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    It's strange for me to see the part of the community be excited about AMDs CPUs. It wasn't long ago so many out there didn't even want to give AMD the chance. In any case, it's great to see AMD back in competition again. :) Reply
  • just4U - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Well, you have to remember that while Amd was selling fine in the budget area there wasn't much to be had in (what I believe) the real money making arena.. 9X, 8X, 7X Intel cpu's are pretty damn good and while Amd had competing products it was really hard to justify those purchases. Out of their whole last years line-up I only grabbed 3-4 X2's (4800-5200s) and one X3 8650. Now they've cracked that wide open and are only really shut out from the highest end. (not a big deal for many of us as i7 is still out of many of our wallets reach)
  • Adul - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    The last area to discuss is input devices, where we went with gamer value favorites in the Logitech G11 USB gaming keyboard and the MX518 8-button laser mouse.

    This is an optical mouse. You mean the G5 Laser mouse that is found in a 8 button configuration perhaps?
  • oldscotch - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Did I read that correctly? The DDR3 kit was actually cheaper than the DDR2?

    If that's the case, is there any point in going with DDR2 for a new build? It would seem to me that it's better futureproofing with an AM3/DDR3 setup.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    As sometimes happens after we recommend a product, the etailer stopped the rebate on the Reaper 4GB DDR3-1600 and raised the price substantially. I guess that is supply and demand.

    A very good alternative is the Patriot DDR3-1600 7-7-7 kit at $90 after rebate, which is just $15 more than the Guide shows for the Reaper DDR3-1600 kit. You can find the Patriot Viper at"> and perhaps the great OCZ Reaper DDR3-1600 7-7-7 price will be back in a few days.
  • whatthehey - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    You know, I have some major issues with including mail-in rebates as part of the base system price. It would be a lot better if you removed them from the initial calculation and listed rebates in a separate column. Actually, I could swear you did that before, but it has been a while. There are many reasons for this:

    1) Rebates are always transitory in nature.
    2) Not all companies are great about processing rebates.
    3) Many people forget to send in the rebate (or don't do it quickly enough).

    Just because someone has a "deal of the week" where $130 RAM is selling for $60 doesn't mean that should go into a buyer's guide. People will refer back to this guide for months perhaps, and every time they see that crazy unattainable price they're going ton wonder what they're doing wrong. I get the point that DDR3 on sale may be cheaper than certain performance DDR2 kits, but get real: DDR3 still has a price premium and likely will for the next 6-9 months.

    Incidentally, the best price I could currently find for the OCZ kit you listed is now $122:"> That's a far cry from the $65 you originally quoted. And that really isn't particularly high - the Patriot you mention above is roughly the same price without the rebate. Oh yeah, and I'm pretty sure I saw that OCZ rebate listed as expiring on MARCH 1 2009 last week... so your claim that the "etailer stopped the rebate" is specious at best. Seems more like you picked it based on price last week and didn't bother to verify the duration of the rebate option.

    The guide was pretty good overall, but with some questionable commentary and picks in places. RAM and rebates are my biggest beef, but the "Performance" system still ends up feeling like you're being overly kind to AMD. Phenom II really competes with Core 2 Quad on a clock for clock basis, and even there it loses out based on your own testing:"> You linked that article several times, and yet somehow are still thrilled with the price and performance Phenom II offers. Here's the breakdown. (Sorry to rain on the AMD parade, but someone needs to keep reality in check.)

    Sysmark 2007: Q9550 is 9.3% faster than Phenom II 940
    Photoshop CS4: Q9550 is 19.8% faster.
    DivX 8.5.3: Q9550 is 4.0% faster.
    x264 pass 1: Q9550 is 7.0% slower. (One of the few wins for AMD, but your own text indicates this pass is not as important as the second one below.)
    x264 pass 2: Q9550 is 5.6% faster.
    WME9: Q9550 is 3.1% slower (a small win).
    3dsmax 9: Q9550 is 5.6% faster.
    Cinebench R10: Q9550 is 0.5% slower (a tie in essence).
    POV-Ray 3.73 beta 23: Q9550 is 0.2% faster (another tie).
    PAR2: Q9550 is 8.2% slower. (A "big" win for AMD, though I have to say I've never used PAR2 or similar. Maybe for the warez kiddiez this will matter?)
    Blender 2.48a: Q9550 is 18.7% faster.
    Microsoft Excel 2007: Q9550 is 68.2% faster! (Is this even real-world, or just more of an outlier?)
    Sony Vegas Pro 8: Q9550 is 9.9% slower. (Another largish victory for AMD, but this is in a Sony program and I refuse to touch anything Sony.)
    Sorenson Squeeze: Q9550 is 0.2% slower (tie).
    WinRAR: Q9550 is 5.5% slower (cache limited test perhaps?)
    Fallout 3: Q9550 is 1.1% faster (tie - game engine limited?)
    Left 4 Dead: Q9550 is 5.7% faster.
    Far Cry 2: Q9550 is 23.0% faster! (Wow... that's a huge margin compared to the other games.)
    Crysis Warhead: Q9550 is 5.8% faster.

    AMD also wins on power consumption, but even a difference of 17W (looking at the Q9650, since the Q9550S is a lower power chip that costs more) is pretty negligible for home users. That works out to around $15 per year or less, even if you're running the system 24/7 at idle (best case scenario).

    As for overclocking, I'm far more confident in Intel chips when it comes time to push clock speeds and voltages. Remember that the above results are comparing a 3.0GHz AMD chip to a 2.83GHz Intel chip, and AMD is already losing. The Q9550 can frequently hit 4.0GHz, and even if AMD keeps up in clock speed that would further boost Intel scores by around 6% (i.e. they'd be at the same clock instead of AMD having a 6% advantage).

    So, yeah, AMD is competitive... sort of. If you want to support the underdog, you can do so and not feel like you're giving up much. Personally, there are enough instances where Intel is clearly superior with it's old Penryn chip (Far Cry 2, Sysmark, Photoshop for example), not to mention Core i7 which is completely viable at $2000, as you've already shown. I think this final "performance" system is in there just so AMD doesn't feel bad. :-p

    Note that I'm not accusing you of being biased or fanboys. That shit gets thrown around way too much. I'm just saying you could have been a bit more reserved with your praise of AMD, considering all they're really doing is closing the gap with Intel's outgoing architecture. The truly sad thing is that Core i7 is a similar size chip to Phenom II and is substantially faster (I've seen 263mm^2 vs. 258mm^2 listed), and as you pointed out Penryn is only 164mm^2. AMD is not at all in a pretty position, as Intel could drop prices on Core i7 at any time they feel it's necessary, and likewise for Penryn parts!
  • Kiijibari - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    You might want to check the minimum fps within your games ;-) Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    I agree in concept with the idea that rebates can be confusing when included in the pricing. However, with the economy in sad shape right now we are seeing rebates in almost every product category. To ignore the rebates is to reward those who don't use rebates to reduce price.

    Frankly, I am almost for rewarding those who don't use the rebates, because I truly believe reducing the price is a better way to to create value, but in some categories almost every product is using a rebate to lower the price.

    This time I included the rebated price but I did list the rebate amount in parentheses so readers would know which products had a rebated price. What would you suggest as a better method?

    Last, I have no problem with the rebate ending on an item if that is what happened on the Reaper DDR3-1600 kit. In fact the memory has now reappeared at $99 with a $20 rebate, which makes it the same price as the Patriot, and $15 more than quoted in the guide. Details are at">

  • just4U - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    What excites many of us about the PII's is it adds more options to the table for system builds. It can always be a bit of trial to fit what you want into a budget afterall. Something to consider ...

    Your paying (in the States) I believe 20% more for the 9550 for a mere 2% gain (overall) Here in Canada Your paying 30% more for that gain which could be spent on it, saved, or put into other parts. Those are nice options to have. Plus getting certain parts (for those that by locally) can be a bit of a pain with stock always a issues so having more options to go with is excellent.

    No reason not to cheer on these new cpu's as they open up a closed market that was totally dominated by Intel... Now it's not. What's so bad about that?

  • whatthehey - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Prices I can find right now are $254.50 for the Q9550 and $214.50 for the Phenom II 940, which is indeed a 20% increase. However, it's only an ~2.5% increase in total system cost (not counting peripherals). Both prices for CPUs came from eWiz, a pretty major vendor that I've used and had a good experience with:">">

    Moreover, their own list of parts for a Core i7 system is only $100 more for roughly similar specs, but much higher performance:"> If you're looking at anything close to $1500 for the system, or $2000+ total, you'd have to be pretty stupid (or biased) to stay away from Core i7 right now.
  • just4U - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Oh comeon, that's just a foot in the door price.. If you price out a high end i7 setup with all the bells and whistles it's going to cost substantially more then comparable PII's or Q9x ddr2 solutions. The I7 isn't even a consideration for most and sure as hell isn't the platform that's selling like hotcakes in the desktop market. All Amd's new products have done is offer choices in one of the highest selling areas that was dominated by intel. That's something that's good all around and that's what many of us are pleased about.

    Also last I checked (in reference to the anandtech link) most of us are not buying $300 motherboards, Nor are we buying 3G kits. I don't know about you but If I was of a mind to pay that much for my motherboard I certainly wouldn't be settling for anything less then 6G since anything less then 4 would a downgrade.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Just to throw it out:">3x2GB DDR3-1600 for $100

    With other price corrections and a less expensive X58 motherboard, Core i7 really isn't *that* much more than Phenom II, assuming you're buying the whole setup. If you're reusing some existing components, particularly RAM or motherboard, Phenom II has a lot more going for it. Head to head I have to agree that personally there's no way I'm spending upwards of $1000 without giving a real serious look at Core i7 platforms.

    That said, I'm quite happy with my aging Core 2 Quad systems. I've got a 975X with a QX6700 (@3.2GHz) and an X38 with Q6600 (@3.30GHz). I really have no serious need for anything faster right now.
  • just4U - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    I can only be jealous of those prices as NewEgg Canada sure as hell doesn't offer remotely similiar deals. Best price I can find on 6Gig kit is thru NCIX. A GSkill PC1333 Cas9 Kit @ $135.00+taxes.

    The boards though.. no deals there at $289 for the lowest and the cpu's start at $379.00. So for a total of $803 that gets you into the cheapest I7 build (ram mb cpu) you can find. Plus I'd bet it don't get any better in other countries either.

    I am actually surprised that we were able to get 6gig kits for that price.. it's only been recently that those prices have come down below $200... so that's a bonus. Tuff for most on Motherboards though as some of the really good ones are upward of $400 here and god only knows what they'd sell that recently reviewed Evga one you guys had in the test labs .. Probably around $600.

  • Spacecomber - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Is Western Digital the only manufacture offering 5 year warranties these days (on their Caviar Black and Raptor drives)? Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Seagate continues to offers five year warranties on their enterprise SATA drives but have switched to three years on the rest of their SATA lineup now. So yes, WD is the only one offering a five year warranty on a consumer level (Black Series) SATA drive. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Thanks for listing the "base system" price this time, easier to look at from a system replacement standpoint.

    Regarding the MSI rebates, they are the most picky company I have ever dealt with on rebates, make sure if ordering from Newegg to print the invoice and send that, not the order confirmation you get when you place the order. They might have other dumb restrictions as well.

    Can't wait for the SSD review, that is something I might actually buy soon.
  • poohbear - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    jebus u guys read my mind by coming up w/ this article!!!! now that everyone is considering phenomII as viable upgrade option w/ the release of those fantasticly priced X3 710/720, this is a very timely article indeed! cheers for this.:) Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    You're welcome. We like the new Phenom II CPUs a lot and they provide very good value. Reply
  • mmntech - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Yep, good article. The entry level one would be great for an HTPC. Just a small note though. I don't know where you got the $80 price for the ASRock A780GXE, but it's $95 at Newegg. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    The ASRock A780GXE has been selling fro $79.99 for the past 3 months. While it was up to $95 when this article published on Monday, it is back to $79.99 today as you can see by clicking the link in the Entry Components table or going to"> Reply
  • Goty - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    I don't have time to check all of them, but there are certainly some issues with the pictures and links in the article. First, the link for the M4A79T-E takes you to a DFI X58 motherboard, and secondly, the picture on the Performance System page for the video card of obviously of a Sapphire video card. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    The link and small image are corrected. Thanks for bringing those to our attention. Reply
  • genpat - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    All sorts of messed up links on overclocking page as well Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    The links were added by web editors in the final prep for posting. I have been checking links and correcting them where I find errors. Reply
  • Frallan - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    However only 4-8 Gb Memory. Is this for a reason i.e. does the system perform worse with 16Gb installed?

  • Wesley Fink - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    With 4 dimm slots you would need 4GB dimms to populate the board with 16GB. The only 4GB dimms readily available are the Kingston 8GB DDR2-800 CAS6 kit in DDR2. They sell for over $400 for two dimms (8GB), or $800+ for 16GB.We're not opposed to more memory, but 16GB is really not very practical right now.

    On the Overclocking systems generally the more memory slots filled the more limited the memory overclocking capabilities. Filling two slots with fast 2GB dimms (total 4GB) seemed the best formula for best overclocking potential. We didn't even consider 8GB (4x2GB) as an option for the OC systems. Since the Entry system is about price and value we also did not consider 8GB there.
  • marc1000 - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    honestly, more than 4gb for home use is a waste. I have two rigs at home (one for me, the other for my girl). Mine is 4gb and her is 2gb. With dual-core cpu's and 4gb of memory you will never have a performance-wise problem on your computer. Of course you may always want the "better and fastest", but only a few percent of users are concerned about that. The vast majority only want to use some Word-app and read some emails.

    Also, for these folks 32bit and 64bit OS are exactly the same things. With Windows Vista hard-coded limitation to only 4gb, there really is no need to go beyond 4gb. By the way, my OS is 32bits so I'm "loosing" 700mb to this artificial limit (and I will replace a hidden DLL soon to make it use the full 4gb).
  • DeepBlue1975 - Thursday, March 05, 2009 - link

    So true.
    Had 6gbs on my machine for a while (had 2, then added 4 more), and as soon as I compared the performance delta between that and 4gbs, I ended up selling the old 2gbs so I now have just 4gbs. It is plenty for my usage pattern.

    Also I don't get why the editor seems to implicate that a mid range CPU such as a phenom II will be mostly paired to pretty low end devices for anything.

    I mean, come on, even if you're only an ocassional gamer, an IGP won't cut it. I don't see that even as well fitted enough for watching HD movies.

  • v12v12 - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    "Hidden DLL" you say? Please do explain/expand for those that don't already know. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Only Vista 32-bit has a 4GB limitation; that's the whole point of 64-bit OSes. Of course, only 64-bit apps can access more than 3GB even on Vista 64-bit... perhaps that's what you meant? (I still curse Adobe on a regular basis for their lack of 64-bit applications!) Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Close. 32bit apps that are LargeAddressAware can hit up to 4GB under Vista x64.

    This doesn't include the other benefits of more memory of course, such as additional applications being able to use their own chunk of memory without having to share with other memory-intensive applications.

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