Buying new computer, advice needed

After much thought I have decided that I need to purchase a new computer. My 2.5 year old 1.3 Ghz AMD is not sufficient for my gaming needs, and lately it’s been making strange sounds and having odd slowdowns in the middle of mundane windows tasks. Because of the current problems I don’t want to upgrade the system, I might be wasting my money if it all crashes and burns in six months anyway, but I think I can save some money by re-using some old components. I would like some recommendations.

What I’m thinking of keeping from the old system:

Hard Drives, I have two, one three months old 120 Gb, and one a year old that’s 80 GB. Possibly I’ll retire the older drive and buy a new one, I do need the extra storage space

Monitor. My old 19" is fully functional.

CD-RW/DVD-Rom. I can keep these, but a DVD-RW +/-/whatever is tempting and could replace them both.

Now here are a couple of things I need some help with.

Processor: I’m looking for a 2,8GHz/2800xp or better. I’ve generally been steering clear of Intel due to their premium pricing, but now I’m wondering if their Hyperthreading is worth it.

Motherboard: I have no clue what’s good/bad when it comes to these babies. I’m thinking of just picking a reliable brand and going with it. The one thing I have considered is the emergence of SATA. The move to SATA has made me think about possibly buying a SATA HDD as a way to ensure future compatability for my data storage, so a motherboard able to do both SATA and IDE is a plus. The downside as far as I can tell from the motherboards I have looked at is that I’ll only have one IDE cable to go along with the SATA cable. This means I can only connect one IDE HDD and one CD/DVD, so that means a DVD-RW is almost a must since I need to have one old HDD and I can’t pick between the CDRW/DVD I already have. This is all speculation on my part, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Graphics cards: I’m looking for a decent card around the 150$ pricepoint. If I really need to lower the price I can re-use my old Geforce Ti4200 64 MB.

Anything else I should keep in mind, let me know. Right now it looks like I’ll be purchasing the computer sometime in March, depending on when I can get the money.

You’re going to need new RAM for your new motherboard and a new power supply to power your new processor.

I would keep the Ti4200 for now and upgrade the motherboard/processor/memory/power supply, and then see what your performance is like.

I would recommend looking at an Nforce based board – the onboard audio on that is rather good and they usually have onboard ethernet, meaning you don’t have to put in an external cards for those things.

For power supplies, I like Fortron – they’re reliable, fairly inexpensive, and rather quiet.

Hmm, so all I need is a motherboard, a processor, some RAM to go with it and a new case. One one hand this makes it extremely affordable. On the other hand, this means that there is no way I can justify not just buying the parts and assembling it all by myself. I’ve never assembled an entire computer before and I’m finding the idea quite daunting.

So, as it looks now I’ll have to install the motherboard, processor and RAM in a new case (with powersupply, of course), yank the hard drives, the disc drives, the HDD’s and the graphics card from my old computer. Then I’ll pray that everything works.

But this still leaves me with the question of picking a motherboard and a processor, and some matching RAM. The Nforce onboard audio sounds enticing, I do want SATA support, and I’m lost in the jungle of abbreviations and technical details.

Ok, I’ve spent several hours looking through more hardware reviews, but I still can’t make up my mind.

I found these two upgrade kits, processor with fan, motherboard and RAM, for the same price. One’s a Pentium, the other one’s an AMD.

  • Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz Boxed PC800. - Socket PGA478, 512kB “Northwood”
  • Abit IS7-E Moderkort för S478/800mhz - I865PE,SATA,ATX Dual-DDR, LAN
  • TwinMOS PC3200 DDR-DIMM 512MB CL2.5 - Minne 184-P (för DDR-PC400MHz) (AMD OK)

  • AMD Athlon XP3000+ 2.167 GHz 333 MHz bus - Socket A (Barton) processor
  • Abit NF7-S V2.0 Moderkort, Socket A SATA - nForce2 Ultra400/MCP2-T, ATX, Firewire
  • Corsair Value S PC3200 DDR-DIMM 512MB Kit w/two matched Value Select 256MB

On one hand I’d take the Pentium processor over the AMD at the same price, on the other hand going with Pentium means that I miss out on the Nforce2 onboard audio.

I wouldn’t buy anything with the 3000+ right now, especially not the 333FSB-version. It’s almost twice as expensive as the 2600+ and not that much faster. If you want to spend a little more then I’d recommend the Athlon64 3000+ which costs almost as much as the “regular” on Buy the MSI K8T NEO there as well, it’s pretty cheap this week. Then get a Zalman 7000A Al-Cu from somewhere and you have a pretty silent system. I agree about keeping the graphics card unless you’re prepared to buy a 5900XT+ / 9800+ because it won’t make much difference otherwise.


I have two rigs, a P4 3.06 and an AMD 2500+. NForce2 audio is nothing to write home about; in fact, until recently the drivers could be somewhat problematic if you did any audio/video recording. You save the cost of an Audigy/etc., but the quality’s nothing to get that excited about. Good, not fantastic.

If the price is the same, go for the Pentium 4. There’s a subtle but noticeable improvement in feel with Hyperthreading, and it really makes the system feel smoother if you ever do any background stuff (video rendering, torrent downloading, etc.) while doing other things.

When the Athlon XP offers better value for the dollar (or Kroner or whatever ;-) ), it’s an excellent choice. But when the cost is the same. IMHO the P4 is a better choice.

Ok, I think the P4 is the way to go then. I just want to make sure, Intel has never produced any 3 Ghz processors without Hyperthreading, have they? Because the specs at the site don’t mention it at all, and I do a lot of stuff at my computer that could definitely benefit from it.

The Athlon 64, while it certainly seems to perform very well, is more expensive and I don’t think I’ll have any use for 64bit processing anytime soon. I’ll put my money on a decent case instead.

Speaking of cases, does anyone know where I can find some information about how I should install case fans to ensure the best airflow?

The P4 3000 is more expensive than the Athlon64 3000+ and slower in most games as well. Hyperthreading might be a benefit though, but it’s also possible that the Athlon will be helped enough by 64-bit software later that it will be faster anyway. You are right that Intel hasn’t made any 3Ghz processor without HT and that you probably won’t have any use of 64 bit processing, but Athon64 is more than just 64 bit so it’s hard to say.

There aren’t that many ways you can install fans. You can probably have a fan in the back to get the hot air out, and maybe also a fan in the front to get the cool air in. Some cases have more possibilities, but if you have one of those you can probably just look at the information that came with the case to see which direction the air should flow,