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Old 04-18-2008, 04:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default need advice - upgrading my motherboard

hi, this is my first forum post here so please be gentle

ok my situation is, i built a gaming pc a couple years ago (parts list provided by a friend). now a friend's son is 14 and wants a gaming PC. i was going to give him some of my parts and upgrade my system. but the motherboard market is so complicated that i don't know what to get.

here's my current box:
motherboard: asus p5w dh deluxe
ram: crucial ballistix ddr2-6400
video: ati x1950xtx
cpu: intel e6600 dual-core 2.4GHz

i'm going to give him those and build the rest of his box with spare parts i have.

now here's what i need help with:
my budget will be $800 +/-$200
planning to do this in june/july
so far i plan to get:
8800GT 512MB $250
4GB ram (i have no idea what kind/speed) $150
that leaves about $400 for mobo and CPU both.

for my motherboard i need (at least):
3 sata (for my HDD, non RAID)
1 IDE (for my 2 DVD-RW)
built-in lan
i do NOT need built-in audio, video, scsi, RAID, and i don't overclock because i don't like to mess with stuff i don't fully understand.
i prefer asus only because my last 3 motherboards were asus so i feel comfortable with that brand.
my main priorities for a motherboard are STABILITY, RELIABILITY, QUALITY. i want a board that will never ever give me any kind of trouble.
it would be nice to have a cpu upgrade path. i read about intel's upgrade path and "45nm" and "penryn" are mentioned but i don't understand how that will affect my options for cpu upgrades in the future. how long until they start selling cpu's that won't fit in my motherboard? i don't even know the current intel cpu's would work in my asus p5w.

i'll spend whatever i have left (hopefully about $250) on the best intel cpu i can get.

so now my questions:

a) does my budget plan look ok? ($250 gfx, $150 ram, $150 mobo, $250 cpu). obviously this is an estimate

b) what motherboard should i get?

c) what ram should i get? i don't really understand what DDR2 and DDR3 are or what the various specs mean. i just want some stable name-brand ram that won't be a bottleneck for my system. no overclocking necessary.

d) is the 8800GT 512MB still the best price/performance card to get for a gamer?

e) any other comments welcome please


edit:
i have a creative x-fi xtreme gamer sound card so i don't need onboard sound (and would actually prefer a motherboard without built-in sound)
i don't ever plan to get a 2nd video card for SLI so that's not a requirement. if i ever have the money to burn on a 2nd video card then i'll upgrade the motherboard again if necessary.
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

If you really want to spend that much on an ASUS mobo, here ya go... 120
Newegg.com - ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards

DDR2, nowhere near 150 for good stuff, unless you want or need to spend that much:
Newegg.com - G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Desktop Memory

With the money you save from the 120 dollar mobo and 75 dollar ram, you can step up that proc to this:
Newegg.com - Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 Conroe 3.0GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - CPUs / Processors

If you can milk your budget, here's a 9800GTX for 295
Newegg.com - PNY XLR8 VCG98GTXXPB GeForce 9800 GTX(G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics

I have no idea about future upgradability, but for right now, the LGA775 is it, it's tops, it's ace.

Some people will tell you that the latency on the ram I posted is too high, but I say you'll like the 4 gigs as opposed to lower latency (which only really provides a nominal increase in performence)
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

Since he is not planning on sli there is no reason to get an sli board. In your price range p35 is the best option and supports 45nm processors.

Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards

You can actually get an 8800GTS 512mb for what you are willing to pay for a 8800gt.

Newegg.com - MSI NX8800GTS 512M OC GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics

The P35-DS3L, 8800gts 512mb, and the G.Skill ram posted above are $390 leaving you enough money to get this processor for a total of $635 (before mir).

Newegg.com - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor - CPUs / Processors

Also
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

I was just about to suggest the DS3L. Such a great board. You won't go wrong with it there. The G. Skill RAM is something I have also used.... actually, I've used the Q6600 as well! So, if you'd like information from a first hand user, all these parts are incredible and will be perfect for you. Not to mention well within your price range. At $635 you could probably even step up to the Q6700 2.66GHz processor for $550 or the newer 45nm Q9300 2.5GHz for just $300!.
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Old 04-18-2008, 06:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

thanks for the tips

how much better is the GTS than the GT? i could probably find this somewhere on google but if you know off the top of your head, give me your opinion.

what kind of difference is there between ddr2-6400 and ddr2-800 ram? is it something i would ever notice as a gamer? i don't know exactly what faster ram would help with other than maybe loading times, which are already very fast.

as a gamer i should probably go with the faster 2-core (over a slightly slower quad) because most of the games i play (steam and battlefield 2142) are still single-core, and i've read that even for the next couple years games will be multi-core but not very efficient (e.g. 5% on the 4th core) so i'm not too worried about that. when the moment comes to buy the cpu i'll have to use pricegrabber or something to compare and see what i can get.

again, thanks for the tips
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

Whoops, didn't see two slots when I looked at the board.
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Old 04-19-2008, 01:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

If you want to go with a dual core I recommend the E8400. It uses the new 45nm Wolfdale core so it is faster then the E6850 even though they have the same clock speed.

Newegg.com - Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - CPUs / Processors

Here is a comparison of the 8800gts 512mb and 8800gt





There are more benchmarks here

AnandTech: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512 & GeForce 8800 GT 256MB: Playing with Memory and G92
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Old 04-24-2008, 05:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

thanks very much for all this info. it will definitely help me make a decision.
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Old 04-25-2008, 09:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: need advice - upgrading my motherboard

oh about your confusion between ddr2-6400 and ddr2-800 ram. They are the same thing. PC2-6400 and ddr2-800 are the same.

Here's a few examples:

Corsair 2GB DDR2 XMS2 DHX PC2-6400C4DHX TwinX (2x1GB)

800MHz RAM Speed
, CAS 4-4-4-12 Timings, 1.9-2.3v VDIMM, Lifetime Warranty with Corsair.


Crucial Ballistix 1GB (2x512MB) DDR2 PC2-6400C4 800MHz Dual Channel Kit (BL2KIT6464AA804)

800MHz RAM Speed
, CAS 4-4-4-12 Timings, 2.2v VDIMM, Lifetime Warranty with Crucial.

PC2-6400 is another name for ddr2-800mhz ram, just as PC2-4200 will be 544Mhz ram.
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