Please help me decide which CPU to buy!

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Nitrofalcon
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Please help me decide which CPU to buy!

Post by Nitrofalcon » Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:58 pm

Hi folks,

I'm a new subscriber and really enjoy the wealth of knowledge available here from all of the users. I need some help from all you gurus to help me decide which AMD Athlon 64 CPU is best for me.

I'm currently ordering parts for my new system and so far have decided on an Antec P180 case with an ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe mobo and 1 gig of memory. I will also get either one Geforce 6600 or 6800 video card for now. This will be my home computer used for web browsing, email, music (MP3 conversion and burning), etc., and gaming. I don't consider myself a hardcore gamer but I do enjoy playing my HL2, FarCry, etc. several times a week and I will be getting Doom3 as well.

Based on my budget I am looking at 3200+, 3500+, and 3700+. The price of the 3800+ is really too high for me but if you think there is a significant advantage perhaps I can look at that. I’ve done a lot of online research and frankly I am more confused now than I was before I started! With all the differences in clock speed, L2 cache size, and platform (Venice, San Diego, etc.) there seems to be no clear front runner! Where is sweet spot or the biggest bang for the buck?

I would appreciate any advice you folks can give me.

mr_plow_king
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Post by mr_plow_king » Wed Oct 05, 2005 7:19 pm

Hi,

The best bang for your buck would be the X2 3800+ but if your applications (games) can't take advantage of the 2 cores, then I don't suggest it.

If you're not a hardcore gamer, I think a 3200+ or even a 3000+ will be more then enough for you. It won't be the fastest computer in the world but it will be easier to cool so quieter and you'll still get decent framerates in most games unless you like to play in 1280x1024 resolutions

regarding the video card, a 6600GT is about the sweet spot for a good performance/price ratio

P.S Look for the Venice core. 90nm instead of 130nm means less heat

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:25 pm

Welcome to SPCR!

The Athlon64 X2 3800+ might give you the most computing power for your dollar, but its generally not worth it for most users. It is really only advantageous if you're really multitasking. Not just running more than one application, but running two or three very CPU intensive apps (i.e. gaming & video encoding, or video encoding and burning a DVD).

If you're only going to be using 1 CPU intensive app at a time, its probably better to save your money and get a A64 Venice chip. If you're willing to overclock a little, its probably better to get the 3000+, if not, you might want to consider the 3200+ or maybe the 3500+ if you've got money to spend.

merlin
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Post by merlin » Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:43 pm

Since it sounds like your budget is important, the 3200+ would definitely be my recommendation. You should be able to pretty easily overclock it to 2400-2600mhz at stock voltage(or even undervolting) and get the same performance or better than what a 3700+ would be. Venice and San Diego are really the only chips to get...and the different in cache between Venice and San Diego isn't worth the price to many people.

Btw in terms of video card, I personally vote for the Sapphire Radeon x800GTO2...it's definitely the best bang for the buck at the moment since it's basically a cut-rate clearance x850 card.

autoboy
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Post by autoboy » Wed Oct 05, 2005 9:46 pm

i second the x800GTO2. Anandtech also rates it best bang for the buck. It is a surplus x850 and they could not call it one becuase it was surplus

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Wed Oct 05, 2005 9:52 pm

The x800GTO2 is very good performance/dollar. I would get one if I were building a system now. But, if its too expensive, the 6600GT is also still good. The jump up to a 6800 generally isn't worth it since the 6600GT can pretty closely match its perfromance at a lower cost.

dan
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Post by dan » Wed Oct 05, 2005 9:53 pm

i wouldn't recommend any intel cpu

qviri
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Post by qviri » Wed Oct 05, 2005 9:54 pm

Not even the Pentium M?

Nitrofalcon
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Post by Nitrofalcon » Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:23 am

Thanks for the replies. You guys are definitely more knowledgeable than on most other forums!

I wonder why you don't hear much at all about the 3700+. There is almost no review of it on the web. Is it because the price/benefit ratio is out of whack? I mean for 50 bucks more than 3500 it wouldn't be too bad if it was worth it. Is it because it is San Diego and not Venice? What's the difference anyway?

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Thu Oct 06, 2005 7:19 am

The difference between the San Diego and Venice cores is that the San Diego has 1MB of L2 Cache, the Venice has 512kB. It helps, but if you overclock a 3200+ up to 3700+ there's probably very little performance difference. It might only be 50 dollars more than a 3500, but its a lot more than a 3200+ or 3000+, which can match it with some careful overclocking.

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Thu Oct 06, 2005 7:19 am

Whoops double post, delete this please.

Nitrofalcon
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Post by Nitrofalcon » Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:07 am

stromgald wrote:
.... if you overclock a 3200+ up to 3700+ there's probably very little performance difference....
Thanks Stromgald.

I am beginning to lean toward the 3500+ at the moment. Since I’ve never overclocked before, I am ignorant of how to do it and a little afraid of damaging the CPU and/or the rest of the system. Also, I understand there could be compatibility problems with the memory. Can you guys offer any insight on these issues too?

Nitrofalcon
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Post by Nitrofalcon » Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:21 am

Nitrofalcon wrote:
I am beginning to lean toward the 3500+ at the moment. Since I’ve never overclocked before, I am ignorant of how to do it and a little afraid of damaging the CPU and/or the rest of the system. Also, I understand there could be compatibility problems with the memory. Can you guys offer any insight on these issues too?

I guess I should have clarified what I meant by compatibility problems with RAM. I've heard in some case you have to tweak/overclock the memory to work with overclocked CPU.

merlin
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Post by merlin » Thu Oct 06, 2005 11:46 am

Yes there could be issues with memory when overclocking, but it's pretty easy to get around that by lowering the speed you run the memory at if needed. However since you've never done it before, it may be a better idea to just buy the processor you want and leave it at that.

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Thu Oct 06, 2005 11:56 am

If you don't want to overclock and want good performance 3500+ is a good choice. There have been some recent articles on overclocking that you might want to read over if you're going that route. Here's a few I'd recommend:
http://forum.overclockersonline.com/php ... php?t=7974
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/sh ... spx?i=2548

Nitrofalcon
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Post by Nitrofalcon » Thu Oct 06, 2005 2:06 pm

To everyone that replied to this post.

Thanks a bunch for all your help and ideas. I've learned quite a bit about my options. I think I'll go with a 3500+ and perhaps 1 gig of matched corsair memory and leave it at that for right now. I can always overclock later if I decide to get adventurous!

Thanks again. This is great forum with lots of knowledgeable and helpful folks.

madd02
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Post by madd02 » Thu Oct 06, 2005 5:58 pm

I am in the exact same position !! =)

I am looking at the AMD 3000+ , 3200+ and 3500+.

I am interested in playing DoD source and will get a 6600 or 6600LE card. Is it a waste pairing a 250nzd cpu with a 200nzd gpu ?? i normally have this thing where i spend like a 1/3 more on the cpu....

Just wondering, i want to ge a venice core is there an easier way to identify one aside from the BP letter way ? eg are all 3500+ venice cores ? Like does the winchester go from 2800 - 3000 then venice from 3200 - 3500...

forgive me if this is completly wrong.


Oh and thants to all who responded, this thread has proved most helpful.

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Thu Oct 06, 2005 7:47 pm

I can't think of an easier way to identify them unless the store tells you which core it is. Winchester cores go from 2800+ up to 3500+ I think. Venice cores range from 3000+ up to 3700+. There's alot of overlap from the 3000+ up to 3700+.

From what I know, there aren't that many Winchester cores out there, at least not with the major US internet suppliers like newegg, zipzoomfly, and mwave, becaused they're priced the same from AMD and AMD has slowed or stopped shipping them. But, this doesn't mean you should just roll the dice, try to contact the distributor you're buying from or something.

flarkit
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Post by flarkit » Thu Oct 06, 2005 9:05 pm

madd02 wrote:I am in the exact same position !! =)

...

I am interested in playing DoD source and will get a 6600 or 6600LE card. Is it a waste pairing a 250nzd cpu with a 200nzd gpu ?? i normally have this thing where i spend like a 1/3 more on the cpu....
And I'm in a similar position too :)

I'm considering the 3500+ vs the 3800+.

Having played HL2 and Vampire: Bloodlines (uses the HL2 engine), I'd say that performance is based on the CPU, GPU and RAM. You'll have good performance at 1024x768, going with a 3200+ and 1Gb of DDR400 RAM, but I strongly suggest getting at least a 128Mb 6600GT. If this is too pricey, rather drop the CPU to a 3000+, but don't go below the 6600GT if you're wanting to play demanding FPS games.

I was pretty impressed too, with the game's improvement after going from 512Mb to 1Gb.

HTH :D

cotdt
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Post by cotdt » Thu Oct 06, 2005 9:39 pm

get the new AMD Stormbolts, they are fast and have low power consumption.

merlin
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Post by merlin » Fri Oct 07, 2005 6:38 am

madd02 wrote:I am in the exact same position !! =)

I am looking at the AMD 3000+ , 3200+ and 3500+.

I am interested in playing DoD source and will get a 6600 or 6600LE card. Is it a waste pairing a 250nzd cpu with a 200nzd gpu ?? i normally have this thing where i spend like a 1/3 more on the cpu....

Just wondering, i want to ge a venice core is there an easier way to identify one aside from the BP letter way ? eg are all 3500+ venice cores ? Like does the winchester go from 2800 - 3000 then venice from 3200 - 3500...

forgive me if this is completly wrong.


Oh and thants to all who responded, this thread has proved most helpful.
Best way to identify is definitely by the BP or BW letter code in the processor identification. BW is better because it's the latest E6 stepping of Venice with some errata fixed. Otherwise it's really up to the store to identify. The main thing is to avoid anything that's Ax or BI since those will be old processors like winchester and before. Of course if you're looking at San Diego, they're identified as BN.

dan
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Post by dan » Fri Oct 07, 2005 6:41 am

u could buy an amd cpu and a water cooling kit for less than a pentium m

Badger
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Post by Badger » Fri Oct 07, 2005 8:01 pm

I have to say this:

get the XFX 6800 from Newegg for $164.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814150106

A lot of 6600GT's are going for $150ish, the 6800 is really a good bang for your buck card.

I've passively cooled mine with the Zalman ZM80D-HP and get acceptable temperatures. The 6800 really starts to outperform the 6600GT's at the higher resolutions with AA/AF, and maybe that might not be too important to you now, but you never know down the road.[/url]

Mar.
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Post by Mar. » Sat Oct 08, 2005 8:38 am

I suggest the X800XL and 3700+ San Diego...

I say that processor because it uses the same core as the FX-55 and FX-57, and can overclock straight up to FX-55 speeds with careful airflow, and probably hit FX-57 territory with some additional cooling, top-notch RAM and a good motherboard.

Also, even if you're not into overclocking, it's damn fast already.

The X800XL, I recommend purely based on price vs. performance. If you have any specific need like having dual monitors, needing to do clone mode on a TV, any of that sort of thing, I'd recommend an nVidia card instead though, because ATI's software isn't exactly stellar.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Mon Oct 10, 2005 7:48 am

It'll be interesting to see when game companies start to make use of dual core cpu abilities..until they do, go with a reasonably priced single core cpu, and a mobo that will allow you to drop in a dual core cpu later when the price drops.

Games are starting to consume a lot of system RAM... WoW, for example, uses up my 1GB of dual channel memory and still grinds the HDD for paged memory. You might consider going with 2GB now.

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