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Old 07-05-2008, 02:31 PM   #1
Mal
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Default CPU/MB combo for new PC

Hi,
I'm planning a media pc (which will be connected to the lounge tv) and I have most of the components sorted but am having trouble with the cpu/mb combination to choose.

I should say that I am a fairly avid AMD fan for the simple reason that their design ideas (in my opinion) are better than Intels - e.g. integrated memory controller and hypertransport bus. This makes it very difficult for me, purely for loyalty reasons (I have always bought AMD cpu's except for a pentium 166 a long time ago), to consider making an Intel purchase but I do not argue that performance-wise Core 2's are far superior at the current time.

As you'll notice from the spec list its a relatively low-medium budget machine (coming in at around £460).

Current specs are (excluding MB and CPU)

GPU
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 3870 - £98.70 (novatech)
512MB GDDR4 TV-Out/Dual DVI/HDMI PCI-Express - Retail

HDD
Samsung Spin Point F1 - £46.94 (novatech)
SATAII NCQ 500GB 16Mb Cache Hard Drive <9.0ms 7200rpm - OEM

RAM
Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX £39.95 (novatech)
2GB DDR2 (2x1GB) 800Mhz Non-ECC

Case/PSU
Antec Fusion - £111.03 (scan)
micro ATX case with 430W PSU

DVD
LiteOn Lightscribe LH-20A1L-14C - £20.56 (novatech)
20X DVD-/+RW - DVD-RAM - Black - Beige And Silver Bezels - SATA - Retail

I should also point out that in times where media isn't being streamed to the TV the GPU will be running folding@home (along with the CPU) - hence the rather over-the-top GPU for a conventional media PC.

The MB and CPU I would LIKE to by is:

CPU
AMD Phenom™ X3 8650 ~£100

MB
Asus M3A78-EMH HDMI - £51.35 (scan)
AMD 780G, S AM2+, PCI-E(x16), DDR2 1066/667/800, SATA II, SATA RAID, HDMI, µATX

but naturally I cannot ignore that a E8400 is a better CPU. However, having never bought intel CPUs I would like suggestions of what micro ATX board would be a good choice (bearing the budget in mind also) - other requirements, pci-e x16, at least 800MHz DDR2 RAM capability, GB LAN. - do not care about SLI, crossfire, RAID.

Many thanks in advance.
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Old 07-05-2008, 04:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: CPU/MB combo for new PC

If you can stretch another £15, the HD 4850 is often twice as fast as the HD 3870, and it's 800 stream processors make it a folding monster.
Here is the cheapest I could find: http://www.pixmania.co.uk/uk/uk/1304...html?srcid=867

You could also save some money going with some of the standard XMS2, the DHX heatsinks don't really make much of a difference. Or get some cheap 1066 RAM that will benefit the Phenom thanks to it's improved integrated memory controller.

And as to whether it would be a good idea to go Intel or not, it depends on what you run. The E8400 is obviously faster in single threaded applications because of the higher clock speed, whereas the three core X3 is often faster in multi-threaded apps.

So basically, you should find out how many threads your apps run or are likely to run in the future.
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: CPU/MB combo for new PC

Nice call on the graphics card, I will definitely have a look at that (although the case only comes with a 430W psu I think it should be ok with that, I don't plan multiple hard drives or anything since I want it to be as economical as it can be for a 24/7 folding PC)

As for the motherboard, what you state about application is what I thought. BUT then I read some reviews, the most thorough of which was this one..
http://www.neoseeker.com/resourcelink.html?rlid=170757
and as shown by most of the benchmarks in this test, applications that do utilise multiple cores were marginally faster than the 8400 (but very marginal at that) and those that are single threaded was substantially faster with the 8400.
The most relevant of these to myself will be divx and avi encoding/decoding which, as shown here http://www.neoseeker.com/resourcelink.html?rlid=170757 (see drop down page list - divx encoding) , is about 80% faster under 8400
But again, as you point out, faster RAM would benefit the Phenom, and I'm sure the AMD chipset present on the specified MB would also sway it somewhat. Either way they are both better than my current spec (4800+ X2) which isn't exactly slow at divx coding so I may just settle for the phenom. I'm not sure whether its idiocy to be this loyal to a company 'just because' but I live in hope one day things will be on par again. AMD64's ruled for 5 years, now its Core 2's turn.
Thanks again.

EDIT: I just realised (rather poorly I know) the reviews CPU is the 8750 not the 8650 which can only mean the 8650 is even lower I shall have to reconsider budgets here as there isn't much point getting anything that isn't going to last at least a couple of years.

As a closure to this post I would like to thank worshipme for his contribution and the final (purchased) spec list is as follows:

CPU
AMD Phenom™ X3 8750 - £123.38 (scan)
Toliman Core, Socket AM2+, 2.4GHz, HT 3600MHz, 3.5MB Total Cache, Retail

MB
Asus M3A78-EMH HDMI - £51.35 (scan)
AMD 780G, S AM2+, PCI-E(x16), DDR2 1066/667/800, SATA II, SATA RAID, HDMI, µATX

GPU
512MB Sapphire HD 4850 - £128.02 (scan)
PCI-E 2.0 (x16), Mem 1986MHz GDDR3, GPU 625MHz, 800 Cores, 2x DL DVI/HDTV

HDD
500 GB Maxtor STM3500320AS DiamondMax 22 - £46.87 (scan)
SATA 300, 7200 rpm, 32MB Cache, 8.5 ms, NCQ

RAM
Corsair TwinX £40.64 (scan)
2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 XMS2 Dominator, PC2-8500 (1066), 240 Pin, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 5

Case/PSU
Antec Fusion - £111.03 (scan)
micro ATX case with 430W PSU

DVD
Lite-ON LH-20A1S-11C - £17.61 (scan)
LiteOn 20x DVDħR, 8x DVDħDL, DVD+RW x8 / -RW x 6, DVD-RAM x12, SATA, Retail

Total = £518.90

Whilst slightly over the 'budget' (pretty much just the lowest amount of money to spend which gives long-term performance, compatability and extendibility) I think this should be a more than competant machine for any task, and certainly media streaming + folding.
For anyone thinking of building for a similar purpose I hope the information in this thread helps. (p.s. anyone looking for media pc cases that hasn't already seen the antec fusion, check it out)
Thanks again.
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