Which is the best bang for buck CPU at the moment?

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Squiggle, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Squiggle

    Squiggle Guest

    Just waiting on a tax refund, which is going into replacing the aging P4
    i'm still using as my main machine.

    I haven't really been paying much attention to PC hardware in the last
    few years, so a bit out of date with what is hot and what is not.

    Looking at CPUs and wondering if I am right in thinking that the C2D
    E8400 is about the best bang for buck at the moment. Other options is to
    go quad core,(Q8200 is about the same price) which may come in handy for
    doing the odd FEA and CFD runs later in the year, but they are likely to
    be fairly rare. i7 cpus are well out of my price range, and nothing i've
    seen suggests that any of the AMD desktop stuff is worth buying.

    Other question is, am I better off going for a motherboard with onboard
    graphics and throw a decent PCI-E 16 card in later when I can afford
    that, or buying a motherboard with onboard graphics and adding a bottom
    of the line PCI-E card now and replacing it with a decent one when the
    bank balance has recovered?

    Budget for replacement hardware is ~$1K, so something along the lines of


    with ram upgraded to 4GB was what I was thinking. Will probably build a
    box myself, but those systems seem like a good baseline to get comments.
    This box will probably be in daily use for the next 4 years at least as
    my main box. Will be used for CAD/FEA and report writing and the
    occasional game of course.

    Anybody that has a _constructive_ comment is welcome to contribute. :)
    Squiggle, Mar 13, 2009
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  2. This second URL does not work.
    Onboard video is OK for normal programs, but not gaming with any
    recent games or for Blu-Ray or DVB-T (H.264) TV program playback
    (unless the motherboard specs specifically say Blu-Ray works). So I
    would think it is probably not good enough for CAD.

    A modern PC can become your main TV recorder with a tuner or dual
    tuner card. I have mine set up like that with a separate 1 Tbyte
    Seagate 7200.11 drive to record DVB-T TV to, and it does not
    significantly impact on the other uses of the PC, except that it has
    to be on to do recordings. Playback is on my laptop connected to my
    TV - the laptop has an Nvidia 8600M GT video card in it to do
    accelerated H.264 playback.

    If you do get a PCIe-16 video card, do not get any GeForce 8 series
    Nvidia cards as those chips die with temperature cycling. So the
    boards are going reasonably cheap now, but do not get sucked into
    getting one. Get one of the newer ones.

    The Gigabyte G31M-ES2L motherboard is a bit low spec. It only has 4
    SATA ports - most have 6 or more. And it is only micro-ATX format, so
    it has few expansion slots. I am finding having an eSATA port is nice
    for backups to an external drive - there are many motherboards with
    that now. And the onboard video only has D-Sub output (analogue). For
    LCD monitors it is preferable to have DVI or HDMI (you can covert one
    to the other with just a cable). It does have a serial port on the
    back though - many motherboards do not have that any more, or only
    have a header somewhere on the motherboard it is impossible to find a
    cable for.

    The RAM specified for the elive-upgrade-box-p1628.php package is too
    slow for the motherboard (800 MHz vs 1066 MHz) and you would really
    suffer from that. RAM speed seem to be a real bottleneck with dual
    and quad core processors.

    4 Gibytes of RAM is good - you will want to be on a 64-bit OS in the
    lifetime of the PC, and you need more RAM for that. But be aware that
    if you are running a 32-bit OS on it, then you will likely get only
    about 3.12 Gibytes available (the rest is masked by the address space
    used for the I/O).

    If your budget is tight, 2 Gibytes of RAM will easily do the job
    initially, and you can add another 2 Gibytes later, but not with that
    particular motherboard as it only has 2 RAM sockets.
    Stephen Worthington, Mar 13, 2009
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  3. Squiggle

    Squiggle Guest

    Stephen Worthington threw some characters down the intarwebs:
    should be http://www.elive.co.nz/elive-computer-system-p1794.php . whoops.
    More than likely not great, but just an interim thing till a real card
    goes in. Its a case of am I better off with onboard graphics or
    something like a 8400GS until I can afford a decent card.
    That would require me to want to watch the crap they call "quality
    programming" in NZ, and be patient enough to wait the 6+ months it takes
    to get from US/UK screens to NZ.. And I'm not a patient person. Thank
    god for torrents :)
    4 should be enough for me, 2 HDDs, one optical drive, and one spare. I
    don't plan on running RAID.
    With sound and network onboard I'm not sure what else I would put in..
    an extra network card for playing with networking stuff. But more slots
    usually means moe room for creativity with cooling solutions...
    Ah, that might be something I need to add to my list. I can see a large
    external drive being useful.
    I think I could live with that until I put a real graphics solution in.
    A real serial port is handy for cisco console cables..I've added that to
    the requirements list. Thanks!
    2 x 2 still equals 4 :)
    Squiggle, Mar 13, 2009
  4. But RAM is normally dual channel now, so you always use pairs of slots
    and two paired DIMMs of RAM. So 2 Gibytes would use 2 slots. I did
    not check if that particular motherboard is dual channel, but they
    almost always are now.
    Stephen Worthington, Mar 13, 2009
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