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  • NeoGodless - Thursday, March 25, 2004 - link

    I've built a lot of Athlon machines, and so has my co-worker for here at work. I haven't heard of one person complaining about instability or processor failure in all of the time that I have been familiar with computer hardware that couldn't be blamed on software. It's almost amusing to see the reliability argument pulled in when people are trying to decide between AMD and Intel. Anyway, I wanted to say that I personally had two very bad experiences with 9200SE video cards. Perhaps it was just the brand (PowerColor) but the 2D IQ was horrible. Text was barely readable and icons on the desktop had blurred shadows (shadows that didn't belong there). I tried in a few systems, and on a few monitors, and always the same. A regular 9200 (tried both Sapphire and Transcend) did not share those IQ problems. So I always recommend spending the extra $3 for a 9200 and not getting the SE. Reply
  • zortwood - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    Also, that Cooler Master is rated only up to 900MHz Athlons, based on some sites that sell it. Reply
  • zortwood - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    "We suggest the Cooler Master DP5-5G11A, ... If you're looking for something more quiet, we suggest mounting a Panaflo L1A fan to reduce noise. "

    That sounds like a 120mm fan to go on a heatsink that takes 50mm fans? I'm I missing something?

    I'm looking for a inexpensive but quiet way to cool my Athlon 1.4G. My existing fan is too noisy.

    Reply
  • T8000 - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    By realistic I mean testing configurations that are likely to be made with high visual settings, so like I mentioned earlier, testing budget CPU's like Athlon XP and Celeron with $400 GPU's does not make sense, just like adding $300 worth of fast RAM to them.

    For C & C generals, I would not recommend playing it with a budget system, but if you must, you should use equal visual settings when you compare performance. And in my experience, user guessed CPU limits usually vanish with a faster GPU.

    Also, I have seen too many Athlon systems that did not even manage to keep working for three years of normal use, so I say that it is better to play at 60 FPS with Celeron and be able to save your progress, then to have frequent AMD related crashes at a whopping 62 FPS.
    Reply
  • newuser12 - Sunday, March 21, 2004 - link

    sry, for double post, but I had to mention this: I have never had any problems with any processors, so I cannot really vouch for either intel or AMD here. However, We have at least ....4 computers with Athlon XP processors in our house and I know of some other people elseware, and NONE have had problems with them.


    what did you mean by the comment: "
    But generally speaking, a Celeron with dual channel memory will perform close to Athlons rating system when used with realistic benchmarks and settings." Realistic?!? what do you mean?

    Like I mentioned earlier, please read the budget CPU shootout article. AMD will always have an advantage over Intel in these low end CPU's.
    Reply
  • newuser12 - Sunday, March 21, 2004 - link

    "And most benchmarks favor one CPU or the other, making it possible to have a Celeron outperform an Athlon 64 clock for clock, but also to create the results you mentioned, depending on the benchmarks used."

    True, but out of a unch of benchmarks, celerons only did barely OK in media encoding and they got killed in everything else. This is not just a case of benchmarks that favor AMD, this is just a fact: celerons suck. I remeber this comment: "All celerons have to offer is a high clock speed".

    The fact that they are generally more expensive than AMD processors(that are much faster in performance) while this is a budget system is another interesting point.

    You are right that this would not be a real gaming system, but that using Evan's entry level system, you could make a system that could run many games well enough. Just for kicks, lets talk about C and C generals with celerons vs Athlon XP's.

    The celeron I had (2.2) would barely even run C and C. The 1800+ with the same vid card ran it much, much faster. I know I wasn;t GPU limited, so that is not a factor here. The celeron simply could not handle the amount of data it had to process fast enough.
    Reply
  • T8000 - Sunday, March 21, 2004 - link

    It is not the performance that makes Celerons stand out, but their reliablity when paired with Intel mainboards does.

    And most benchmarks favor one CPU or the other, making it possible to have a Celeron outperform an Athlon 64 clock for clock, but also to create the results you mentioned, depending on the benchmarks used.

    Just when you benchmark a $400 GPU with a $75 CPU for games and select settings like 640x480 with no AA and AF, big differences will arise. But those differences are meaningless because nobody would use that CPU with that GPU and nobody with a $400 GPU would ever play with these low settings.

    But generally speaking, a Celeron with dual channel memory will perform close to Athlons rating system when used with realistic benchmarks and settings.

    Not to mention that none of these budget systems will offer serious game performance, but are more likely to be used for home office, Internet and small server appliances, where reliability is much more important then performance.
    Reply
  • newuser12 - Saturday, March 20, 2004 - link

    25, Apparently you never read the CPU budget shootout where only a celeron 2.6 could barely manage to outperform an athlon 1800+ in media encoding and the celerons got raped in everything else. Celerons suck, period. Although they are Intel's budget CPU's they are still priced higher than AMD's processors which can kick their asses badly, ESP. when it comes to games. I once figured that I would try a celeron.........a 2.2 celeron with a geforce4 (with 64 ddr) AGP was outperformed badly by an Athlon XP 1800+ with a geforce4 (once again 64 ddr memory) PCI card. Badly. Reply
  • T8000 - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    For a budget system, I would go for reliability, as most people want a system that actually keeps on going.

    So I would suggest:

    CPU & Cooling Intel Celeron 2400 - $71
    Mainboard Intel D865GBF - $96
    Memory 2 x 128 MB Kingston PC2100 - $52
    Video Card Onboard - $0
    Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 763MB $146
    Computer Case Antec SLK1600 - $46
    Sound Card Onboard sound $0
    Speakers Creative Labs SBS270 2.0 $20
    Networking Onboard 10/100 Ethernet $0
    Hard Drive - Seagate 7200rpm 40gig- $59
    CD-RW Samsung CDR-W/DVD Combo Drive,- $47
    Bottom Line - $537

    I think the extra $33 are very well spend, as this memory comes with lifetime warranty and it is much faster because of the dual channel setup. And this mainboard offers a very nice upgrade path, supporting the fastest CPU's available.

    Not to mention this setup allows you to tell your friends your real CPU speed without being laughed at.
    Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    Yeah Trogdor and mostlyprudent, definitely a lot you can do with such a small budget these days, and with great upgradeability.

    Zebo,

    Yeah, if you compare the two on the same monitor you will probably find the nForce IGP to be inferior. Even though text isn't "blurry" (depending on what your standard is, I suppose), sharpness can varry quite a bit.
    Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    I realize this is on a budget, but since the CPU/motherboard alternative was an extra $40, the graphics an extra $20, the hard drive and extra $18, etc. I would think that suggesting 512 MB of RAM as an alternative might be a good addition.

    It doesn't help in a lot of systems, but if someone is going to add in the 9200 (Pro?) graphics card, the 2500+ CPU, and the NF7-S motherboard all in hopes of making their budget system a more capable gaming system, then the 256 MB of RAM will be a serious problem. There aren't many games coming out that don't use more than 256 MB of RAM now, and several are already using up to 700 MB or so. At the very least, I think it would warrant mention as a *third* alternative in the memory area. Some people aren't going to go and read all of the other guides, after all.

    However, that said, it's pretty impressive what you can put together for $500, especially when the monitor is one third of the price!
    Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Just wanted to take a moment and tell you folks at Anandtech how much I enjoy and appreciate these buyers guides. I recently started a new job (outsie the IT field). My employer wanted me to start ASAP, but the OEM they normally buy their PCs from could not ship a system for over two weeks. I mentioned that I was capable of building my own system in a matter of a day or two, and to my surprise and delight, they took me up on it. I found these guides very helpful, if for nothing else than to ratify my own decisions.
    In case you're interested, here's what I assembled:

    Foxcom Supercase 1150 BK
    Fortron FSP300-60N 300W PSU
    AMD Athlon 2500+ Barton
    ABIT KV7 motherboard
    ASUS 64MB Radeon 9200SE
    1x512MB Corsiar Value Select PC-2700
    Western Digital 40GB HD - 400JB
    Samsung 19'' 955DF Monitor
    Creative Labs SBS230 2.0CH Speakers
    Floppy
    16X-DVD
    WinXP Pro

    While this was far from my first build, it was really nice to have read the buyers guides and have them as a resource for decision making when I had such a short time frame.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link


    Were you using the LCD to compare the 9800 Pro to the Shuttle board's nForce IGP graphics? You're definitely a rare case if there's no noticeable difference between the two in terms of text sharpness.
    ----------
    I did not compare side by side just stating I don't notice blurred text with the on-board graphics. Lucky? perhaps I do notice it's slower than molases at ~2800 3dmark2001.... Need a 9000/9100/9200 to test.
    Reply
  • Ronnie - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Out of some spare parts I built a system almost identical to that. The only difference was I had a 440mx card laying around and some kingston pc3200. I plan on giving it to my brother in-law. Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Thanks guys, corrections made. Reply
  • georgeg - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    On the summary chart, you list the Sapphire 64mb Radeon 9200 for $41.00. At that price, don't you mean the 9200SE? Reply
  • gherald - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    >Agreed guys, I'll change PC2100 to PC2700 next time.
    >Even though it means squat for entry level users, you're right,
    >might as well go with the faster memory if the price is identical.

    Ok, but make the 3200 the "alternative". Because, here's a possible scenario:

    About two years from now this system will start to seem obsolete (cuz it's already entry level). When that happens, you'll have these extra PC2700 DIMMs that no one can use. Whereas if you'd used 3200 for just $5-10 more, you would be able to add that memory to a less-old system, such as once of the current P4 or A64s, and make a nice 2GB RAM file server or somesuch on the cheap...
    Reply
  • Z80 - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Where did you find a new Abit NF7-S motherboard for $82 shipped? Best I've found is about $100 unless you buy a refurb. Maybe you confused the NF7 price with the NF7-S? Reply
  • assemblage - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    I like these series of articles. I've been putting my own system together for years and like playing around with configuring different types of systems for different users. Reply
  • nastyemu25 - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    If you want to be able to watch DVDs, then you can always opt for a combo drive. Its function essentially integrates CD burning and DVD watching into one drive. The burning takes place at a slower 32X speed, but the added benefit is that you're getting a better price for this combo drive versus purchasing an additional drive.


    ^^^^^^^ wtf? the burning takes place at a slower 32x speed?????? ummm, it's 52x32x52x16

    I don't understand how CD burning is taking place at a slower "32x" speed..... there is NO caveat with buying a combo drive....
    Reply
  • Baldurga - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    About second option for GPU, I think a 9600SE 128Mb 128bit for 67 is a great deal. You can find it here:

    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc...

    Ok, is not Tier 1 brand, but with 128bit and 9600 core it is a very good price/perf optio on budget.
    Reply
  • Octoberblue - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    "Western Digital continues to make well priced budget drives that aren't noticeably slower than the 5400RPM variety"

    - Don't understand this comment. Did you mean not noticeably slower than... something else. This is a 7200rmp drive...?
    Reply
  • ehanneken - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    "Motherboard: ASUS A7N8X-X (nForce2 Ultra 400)"

    Minor correction: The A7N8X-X uses the single-channel nForce2 400 chipset, not the dual-channel nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset.
    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Newegg have got the Duron 1.8 at $43 conspicuously missing from your roundup. I'd sooner have MHx than cache anyday and the nearest A-XP is the 2200+ at $62 so youd save a few bucks which could go towards a full dx9 card- cut down 9600 or 5750. As dx9 takes a lot of the computation onto the gpu, a full dx9 card favors a weaker system so that's where the money should be spent.
    The Duron also runs at 1.5v, 0.1v below the A-XP and combined with smaller L2 cache makes it cooler and if desired more overclockable.
    Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    PrinceGaz,

    Bah, changed and properly updated. :)
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    According to the real-time price engine, the XP2000+ is the same price as the recommended XP1800+ ($49) and that the price hasn't changed in the last week. So the XP2000+ would probably have been a better recommendation (I assume the article is under a week old). Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Agreed guys, I'll change PC2100 to PC2700 next time. Even though it means squat for entry level users, you're right, might as well go with the faster memory if the price is identical.

    Originally though, Crucial PC2100 was $35 (Newegg if I remember right), so you would save $5 versus PC2700 and $10 versus PC3200. But Newegg upped their prices after the guide went online. You guys should be wary of those types of things in the future, because vendors will do that on occasion.

    Zebo,

    Were you using the LCD to compare the 9800 Pro to the Shuttle board's nForce IGP graphics? You're definitely a rare case if there's no noticeable difference between the two in terms of text sharpness.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    I have the MN31N and notice zero blurred text on the benQ LCD it runs on.. I also have saphire 9800 ultimate edition and BFG 5900NU so I think I would have noticed by now.

    Here's my rec for overclockers and silent budget system.... Plus you get DVD drive, MCP-T, and better case too.

    CPU & Cooling AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (OEM) - $49
    Cooler Master HSF - $10 $59
    Motherboard Shuttle "MN31N" for $85
    Memory 256MB Buffalo PC3200 - $44
    Video Card Onboard - $0
    Monitor Samsung SyncMaster 763MB $146
    Computer Case Antec SLK1600 - $46
    Sound Card Onboard sound $0
    Speakers Creative Labs SBS270 2.0 $20
    Networking Onboard 10/100 Ethernet $0
    Hard Drive - Seagate 7200rpm 40gig- $59
    CD-RW Samsung CDR-W/DVD Combo Drive,- $47
    Bottom Line - $506

    Then crank it up:)
    Reply
  • gherald - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Text sharpness is definately a concern, good call AT on the R9200.

    But I also think PC3200 should be used instead of 2100. The price difference is small, and it will give you much greater flexibility when it comes time to upgrade, cuz 3200 can actually be used by most modern processors like the P4, A64, and Bartons

    You can even run the 3200 @ 333mhz if you want it synced with a non-OCed 2500.

    I'm kicking myself for having bough a couple PC3000 sticks last year, instead of PC3200. Now I can't use those sticks on new systems...
    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Ya medfly I agree..Imean what the point of buying a 3200 capable chipetted board and crippling it with 2100. Ch-5 buffalo PC3200 is only $44 at newegg.

    I also would have gone on-board graphics.. Probablly the smoking Shuttle "MN31N" for $85!! Has the MCP-T/soundstorm for great sound has GF4 MX for video and plenty of overclockers features.

    Oh well can't please everyone. Other than that I loved it.:)

    Reply
  • medfly - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    for video card for non games, i would of used a radeon 7000, you can save 10-15 bucks there.

    Also pc2700 mushkin or kingston memory from newegg is $39 or $40 with free shipping, theres ZERO reason to use 2100 anymore. If you want 3200, its only 3-5 bucks more for decent brands.
    Reply
  • Evan Lieb - Thursday, March 18, 2004 - link

    Jeff,

    Primary reason we didn't choose onboard video (nForce IGP, SiS, etc.) is because 2D IQ is usually well below a good ATI Radeon 9xxx card, and most entry level users definitely do care about text sharpness.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - link

    I would have chosen a motherboard with onboard video... that would have put it under $500... but oh well :) Reply

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