Convince me to waste money

Visual Studio .NET is sluggish as hell and it’s been a while since my last motherboard upgrade. On the other hand, I’m not sure if any affordable upgrade would make much sense compared to what I already own.

Current system: Pentium IV 2.4 GHz, 1 GB RDRAM-800, Asus P4T-E (Intel 850 chipset)

Now there’s that juicy new Pentium IV line with hyperthreading which Denny Atkin was extolling. VS.NET is heavily threaded and always does something in the background, so a simulated twin CPU system should be perfect. But I’d also need a new motherboard, and new memory since nobody supports Rambus anymore.

Questions: is DDR SDRAM 3200 the new standard? Would the new 64-bit systems, for instance, also use this memory? How does the speed compare to my RDRAM setup?

And has someone benchmarked the P4 2.8 (the most sensibly priced with HT) and 3.2 (the fastest) against the old 2.4? Or against the new AMD64 processors?

There’s also the “Extreme” edition of the P4 line but (a) the name is retarded, and (b) it’s so expensive for some added cache that it should be renamed Sucker’s Edition. I don’t seriously consider that one unless it’s like five times faster than the regular 3.2 model.

Hyperthreading would help a bit, but compiler speed is pretty much lockstep with CPU speed and memory bandwidth. Get that 3.2, I guess.

Well, I got the 3.2 GHz variant, along with an Asus P4C800-E Deluxe and 1 GB DDR SDRAM 400 with ECC. First time in about 10 years I got ECC memory; I had already thought they’d stopped making it. Everytime I tried to get ECC memory for my previous motherboards it was out of stock, expected sometime in the next couple of months but never arrived, etc.

Speaking of the memory, I was surprised to see in the motherboard manual that you can only use two modules of certain types of DDR SDRAM (including mine, sure enough). I only have two right now so it’s not a big deal but it looks like I’ll have to replace those if I need to upgrade memory once again before moving on to a 64-bit platform.

Hyperthreading rawks! I had reinstalled XP, and while the Visual Studio setup program was doing its job (which used to bring the rest of the system to a halt) I could actually install a number of smaller programs simultaneously, with only marginally worse interface response times than usual. Visual Studio itself also runs much more smoothly than the clock speed difference to my old CPU (2.4) would indicate.

However, Intel’s new CPU fan has to be the loudest fan I’ve ever heard, except for vacuum cleaners. Fortunately the Asus board has a nifty feature to keep the fan turned off until the CPU gets too hot (55°C or so), then the fan runs for a few seconds at reduced speed and turns off again when the CPU has cooled down. That happens every couple of minutes in normal desktop operation. Tolerable for now, though I might get another silent fan eventually.

Oh, and the sheer amount of stuff they’re putting on motherboards these days is incredible. Now there’s even Ethernet and Firewire, in addition to 8 USB ports and all the usual connections. There’s also a built-in sound system, name of “ADI AD1985 AC '97 audio codec” driven by “SoundMAX4 XL with Audio ESP” software. Uh, anyone knows what the hell that means? Is this stuff any good for games? DirectX 9.0 seems to recognize it but the manual doesn’t say anything about game compatibility.

Check out the Vantec Aeroflow (VP4-C7040):

Zalman also makes a line of quiet coolers, though some are quite bulky:

SoundMax is just the trade name for ADI (Analog Devices, Inc) software for the AD1985 codec. It’s pretty cool, in that it can actually synthesize sound effects (a few games use it), as opposed to using sampled audio. It’s fairly clean, too, but doesn’t have the features of a good PCI sound card, and does eat a few CPU cycles under heavy load. The control panel is pretty nifty, too. However, it doesn’t support EAX beyond 2.0 (and may not even support that).

I picked up a Vantec Aeroflow to replace the HS/Fan on my P4-2.4 and found it had three benefits.

(1) It was quieter
(2) The noise it did make was at a pleasenter pitch
(3) It cooled better than the stock HS/Fan

Thanks, Loyd. I have an Audigy Platinum installed right now but it takes up a lot of space and has so much stuff that I don’t need – actually, the only extra feature I needed was the separate headphone jack.

But now I have a monitor with built-in speakers, phone jack, and volume control, so theoretically I could rip out the Audigy and use the integrated motherboard sound device instead.

I guess I’ll have to try if the sound is acceptable in games… KotoR should arrive today anyway.