some AMD build questions - may be slightly OT


J

John

I've been reading up about the new tech since my last build. I've
always gone with Intel but am now looking at AMD because of cost.

I use Win XP Pro, SP3 for my OS and might upgrade to Windows 7 Pro down
the road. I use my pc for very basic things and do not intend to
overclock. I want USB 3, SATA 3.0, and Ultra ATA 133. I'm not
interested in micro ATX size mobos. Last, I want to be able to play
Dragon Age: Origins and maybe Elder Scrolls Oblivion.

I'd like to get your thoughts about choosing between either
1. an Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 mobo (890GX chipset with an onboard ATI
Radeon HD 4290 chip). It comes ready for USB 3.0, SATA 3, Ultra ATA 133
and eSATA connector; or,
2. an 890FX chipset mobo coupled with an ATI Radeon HD 4650 card.
Tom's Hardware listed three possibles
ASRock 890FX Deluxe3
Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7 (but I'm not sure if it would work with
the Antec case)
MSI 890FXA-GD70

TH recommended the ATI Radeon HD 4650, the Radeon 5570 and the
GeForce 9600 GT as video cards priced under $100. I lean towards the
ATI Radeon HD 4650 because I believe it should easily handle the apps
I run and if I'm wrong it should be easy to upgrade. My question mark
is will it handle DAO and Oblivion.

Regardless of which route I go, I would like to build it with the
following eqpt.:

CPU AMD Athlon II X3 440 (TH choice for price/performance)
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper TX3
RAM Crucial 4 GB (2x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333 (PC3 10600)
Hard Drive To be determined - SATA
Case Antec Three Hundred Illusion
Power Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W PSU
Optical To be determined - SATA CD/DVD burner

I already have an LCD monitor and a SATA drive.

DAO recommended graphics requirements (posted at pcgameshardware.com)
were Geforce 8800 GTS or Radeon HD 3850 with 512 MB. The Oblivion FAQ
says ATI X800 series, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, or higher video
card. I'm not familiar with graphics cards to know if the 890GX video
chip (ATI Radeon HD 4290 chip) or the ATI Radeon HD 4650 meet those
recommendations or if the game would be enjoyable.

So,
1. are there any physical issues like video cards blocking other stuff
on the mobo?
2. Would the ATI Radeon HD 4290 chip be able to handle the graphics of
DAO and Oblivion?
3. Would the ATI Radeon HD 4650 card be able to handle the graphics of
DAO and Oblivion?
4. Is the power supply sufficient to handle the load or should I buy
something with more Watts?

TIA,

John
 
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P

Paul

John said:
I've been reading up about the new tech since my last build. I've
always gone with Intel but am now looking at AMD because of cost.

I use Win XP Pro, SP3 for my OS and might upgrade to Windows 7 Pro down
the road. I use my pc for very basic things and do not intend to
overclock. I want USB 3, SATA 3.0, and Ultra ATA 133. I'm not
interested in micro ATX size mobos. Last, I want to be able to play
Dragon Age: Origins and maybe Elder Scrolls Oblivion.

I'd like to get your thoughts about choosing between either
1. an Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 mobo (890GX chipset with an onboard ATI
Radeon HD 4290 chip). It comes ready for USB 3.0, SATA 3, Ultra ATA 133
and eSATA connector; or,
2. an 890FX chipset mobo coupled with an ATI Radeon HD 4650 card.
Tom's Hardware listed three possibles
ASRock 890FX Deluxe3
Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7 (but I'm not sure if it would work with
the Antec case)
MSI 890FXA-GD70

TH recommended the ATI Radeon HD 4650, the Radeon 5570 and the
GeForce 9600 GT as video cards priced under $100. I lean towards the
ATI Radeon HD 4650 because I believe it should easily handle the apps
I run and if I'm wrong it should be easy to upgrade. My question mark
is will it handle DAO and Oblivion.

Regardless of which route I go, I would like to build it with the
following eqpt.:

CPU AMD Athlon II X3 440 (TH choice for price/performance)
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper TX3
RAM Crucial 4 GB (2x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3-1333 (PC3 10600)
Hard Drive To be determined - SATA
Case Antec Three Hundred Illusion
Power Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W PSU
Optical To be determined - SATA CD/DVD burner

I already have an LCD monitor and a SATA drive.

DAO recommended graphics requirements (posted at pcgameshardware.com)
were Geforce 8800 GTS or Radeon HD 3850 with 512 MB. The Oblivion FAQ
says ATI X800 series, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, or higher video
card. I'm not familiar with graphics cards to know if the 890GX video
chip (ATI Radeon HD 4290 chip) or the ATI Radeon HD 4650 meet those
recommendations or if the game would be enjoyable.

So,
1. are there any physical issues like video cards blocking other stuff
on the mobo?
2. Would the ATI Radeon HD 4290 chip be able to handle the graphics of
DAO and Oblivion?
3. Would the ATI Radeon HD 4650 card be able to handle the graphics of
DAO and Oblivion?
4. Is the power supply sufficient to handle the load or should I buy
something with more Watts?

TIA,

John

Motherboards for desktop usage come in two form factors. MicroATX is max
9.6" x 9.6". Regular ATX is 12.0" x 9.6". The cheaper a motherboard gets,
they tend to nibble away at the width. A cheap full sized motherboard might
be 12.0" by 7.0" perhaps. That means removing support holes on the right
edge of the motherboard. Other than that, as long as you aren't trying to
jam a full sized ATX into a microATX case, you should be fine.

The length of the video card, can sometimes be an issue with covering up
SATA ports. Or with bumping into a drive bay. That actually takes more
care and attention, than the motherboard thing. You need to spend significant
time with pictures and the like, checking for stuff that bumps together.

*******

For a master list of video cards, I might start here. The HD 5570 is the most
modern card I can see in the list, for an MSRP of less than $100.
Date of introduction Feb.09/2010, so it should be in stores.

http://www.gpureview.com/videocards.php

I looked at a few benchmarks, and one strange thing for the HD 5570,
is the frame rate drops big time, if you turn on AA (anti-aliasing or
jaggies removal). Anandtech, in their Oblivion article, recommended
turning AA on, as well as HDR (high dynamic range lighting). AA might
benefit from a bit more memory bandwidth in the video card design.

The HD 5770 ($160) uses GDDR5 memory (that is a QDR or quad data rate type
of memory), and has at least three times the memory bandwidth of the HD 5570.
A close competitor for the HD 5770 is the HD 5750, which has the same
kind of memory subsystem, but only turns down the other numbers by a bit.
I'd suggest looking at either of those.

I selected the HD 5000 series, due to reduced idle power consumption,
which means the card should run cooler when not gaming. The HD 5570
is a low power user, no matter what state it is in (6.8W idle, 19W gaming,
24W synthetic 3D benchmark). The HD 5770 is going to have a higher gaming
power dissipation. It gives the performance of a GTX 260, with about
half the power (77 watts gaming).

You could shave off a few watts and dollars on the HD 5770, by
using the HD 5750, with a small loss in performance.

One problem was, I couldn't find a nice article with HD 5000 cards
in it, and benchmarking with Oblivion. So I can't actually give you a
chart, showing the results to expect.

*******

I notice you're spending more on the motherboard than the processor.
You can go cheaper on a motherboard, but it might require dropping
the USB3/SATA3 thing. In exchange, the extra money might go into
something like this for a processor. This has L3 cache on it,
while the $76 processor doesn't.

AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core $140
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103809

If you aren't too concerned about the processor, then using
the more expensive motherboard is fine too.

This is an example of the kind of motherboard slot layout I like. The
PCI Express slot is well to the left, so a double width video card cooler
wouldn't get in the way of the other slots. There are three PCI slots I
could really use. Some of the other motherboard layouts, make it harder
to use more than two slots at any one time. My current motherboard
is like that -- a pain when more than two cards are in it. No
USB3 or SATA3 on this though.

BIOSTAR TA790GXB3 AM3 AMD 790GX ATX AMD Motherboard $80
http://images17.newegg.com/is/image/newegg/13-138-163-Z03?$S640W$

Now, of your two choices of 890GX or 890FX, the FX has more
PCI Express lanes on the chipset. That means less cheating
when it comes to bandwidth on motherboard slots. The integrated
graphics on the 890GX would be more interesting, if the motherboard
was cheaper. As it is, if you're a gamer, and buying a video card
anyway, the integrated graphics don't count for much. So what
we could hope for, on the 890GX boards, is at least one
good, well positioned, video card slot. It seems to me, that
the inclusion of USB3 and SATA3 has something to do with the
price point they've selected.

USB3 and SATA3 don't have to cost a lot. For example, I found this
for $25. Too bad the reviews aren't very good. The USB3 chip on this
card, would be the same as the motherboards you're looking at.

ASUS Model U3S6 USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s Add-on card (PCI Express x4 connector) $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813995004

No integrated graphics to date, have been decent for gaming. You
can use some integrated motherboard graphics solutions for
building HTPC home theater computers, but when it comes to gaming,
you really need to look for a proper video card. A proper video
card draws 70W, which would cook a Northbridge if they tried
to do the same thing. The proper video card also has 70GB/sec
memory bandwidth, which is a slight bit more than is offered
by main memory on the motherboard. If you have any games that
need a bit of extra horsepower, then a video card is the answer.
Integrated graphics are usually all at the bottom of any
3D benchmark charts.

To discuss this further, someone could benefit from knowing
what expansion slots you really need. If you don't typically
use expansion slots, then pick the cheapest motherboard that
has the USB3/SATA3 you want.

Here is another 890GX motherboard for you to look at. Unlike the
Asus one you mentioned, this one doesn't use a paddlecard for
PCI Express signal routing. When two video cards are inserted,
this motherboard switches to x8/x8 mode automatically. When one
video card is in the first PCI Express slot only, it runs at x16.
The four switching chips next to the first slot, do that for you.

"GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX $140"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128435

Block diagram on page 8
ftp://download.gigabyte.ru/manual/mb_manual_ga-890gpa-ud3h_v2.0_e.pdf

890GX/SB850 block diagram (missing sideport memory connection on NB)
Says the 890GX is equivalent to RV620 as a GPU.

http://hothardware.com/articleimages/Item1463/890-block-diagram.jpg

The HD 3450 has an RV620 core, so you can compare it to the HD 5770.
The HD 5770 or 5750, have just a few more resources.

http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=555&card2=615

HTH,
Paul
 
J

John

Paul said:
Motherboards for desktop usage come in two form factors. MicroATX is
max 9.6" x 9.6". Regular ATX is 12.0" x 9.6". The cheaper a
motherboard gets, they tend to nibble away at the width. A cheap full
sized motherboard might be 12.0" by 7.0" perhaps. That means removing
support holes on the right edge of the motherboard. Other than that,
as long as you aren't trying to jam a full sized ATX into a microATX
case, you should be fine.

The length of the video card, can sometimes be an issue with covering
up SATA ports. Or with bumping into a drive bay. That actually takes
more care and attention, than the motherboard thing. You need to
spend significant time with pictures and the like, checking for stuff
that bumps together.

*******

For a master list of video cards, I might start here. The HD 5570 is
the most modern card I can see in the list, for an MSRP of less than
$100. Date of introduction Feb.09/2010, so it should be in stores.

http://www.gpureview.com/videocards.php

I looked at a few benchmarks, and one strange thing for the HD 5570,
is the frame rate drops big time, if you turn on AA (anti-aliasing or
jaggies removal). Anandtech, in their Oblivion article, recommended
turning AA on, as well as HDR (high dynamic range lighting). AA might
benefit from a bit more memory bandwidth in the video card design.

The HD 5770 ($160) uses GDDR5 memory (that is a QDR or quad data rate
type of memory), and has at least three times the memory bandwidth of
the HD 5570. A close competitor for the HD 5770 is the HD 5750,
which has the same kind of memory subsystem, but only turns down the
other numbers by a bit. I'd suggest looking at either of those.

I selected the HD 5000 series, due to reduced idle power consumption,
which means the card should run cooler when not gaming. The HD 5570
is a low power user, no matter what state it is in (6.8W idle, 19W
gaming, 24W synthetic 3D benchmark). The HD 5770 is going to have a
higher gaming power dissipation. It gives the performance of a GTX
260, with about half the power (77 watts gaming).

You could shave off a few watts and dollars on the HD 5770, by
using the HD 5750, with a small loss in performance.

One problem was, I couldn't find a nice article with HD 5000 cards
in it, and benchmarking with Oblivion. So I can't actually give you a
chart, showing the results to expect.

*******

I notice you're spending more on the motherboard than the processor.
You can go cheaper on a motherboard, but it might require dropping
the USB3/SATA3 thing. In exchange, the extra money might go into
something like this for a processor. This has L3 cache on it,
while the $76 processor doesn't.

AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache
Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core $140
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103809

If you aren't too concerned about the processor, then using
the more expensive motherboard is fine too.

This is an example of the kind of motherboard slot layout I like. The
PCI Express slot is well to the left, so a double width video card
cooler wouldn't get in the way of the other slots. There are three
PCI slots I could really use. Some of the other motherboard layouts,
make it harder to use more than two slots at any one time. My current
motherboard is like that -- a pain when more than two cards are in
it. No USB3 or SATA3 on this though.

BIOSTAR TA790GXB3 AM3 AMD 790GX ATX AMD Motherboard $80
http://images17.newegg.com/is/image/newegg/13-138-163-Z03?$S640W$

Now, of your two choices of 890GX or 890FX, the FX has more
PCI Express lanes on the chipset. That means less cheating
when it comes to bandwidth on motherboard slots. The integrated
graphics on the 890GX would be more interesting, if the motherboard
was cheaper. As it is, if you're a gamer, and buying a video card
anyway, the integrated graphics don't count for much. So what
we could hope for, on the 890GX boards, is at least one
good, well positioned, video card slot. It seems to me, that
the inclusion of USB3 and SATA3 has something to do with the
price point they've selected.

USB3 and SATA3 don't have to cost a lot. For example, I found this
for $25. Too bad the reviews aren't very good. The USB3 chip on this
card, would be the same as the motherboards you're looking at.

ASUS Model U3S6 USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s Add-on card (PCI Express x4
connector) $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813995004

No integrated graphics to date, have been decent for gaming. You
can use some integrated motherboard graphics solutions for
building HTPC home theater computers, but when it comes to gaming,
you really need to look for a proper video card. A proper video
card draws 70W, which would cook a Northbridge if they tried
to do the same thing. The proper video card also has 70GB/sec
memory bandwidth, which is a slight bit more than is offered
by main memory on the motherboard. If you have any games that
need a bit of extra horsepower, then a video card is the answer.
Integrated graphics are usually all at the bottom of any
3D benchmark charts.

To discuss this further, someone could benefit from knowing
what expansion slots you really need. If you don't typically
use expansion slots, then pick the cheapest motherboard that
has the USB3/SATA3 you want.

Here is another 890GX motherboard for you to look at. Unlike the
Asus one you mentioned, this one doesn't use a paddlecard for
PCI Express signal routing. When two video cards are inserted,
this motherboard switches to x8/x8 mode automatically. When one
video card is in the first PCI Express slot only, it runs at x16.
The four switching chips next to the first slot, do that for you.

"GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
$140" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128435

Block diagram on page 8
ftp://download.gigabyte.ru/manual/mb_manual_ga-890gpa-ud3h_v2.0_e.pdf

890GX/SB850 block diagram (missing sideport memory connection on NB)
Says the 890GX is equivalent to RV620 as a GPU.

http://hothardware.com/articleimages/Item1463/890-block-diagram.jpg

The HD 3450 has an RV620 core, so you can compare it to the HD 5770.
The HD 5770 or 5750, have just a few more resources.

http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=555&card2=615

HTH,
Paul


I appreciate your help Paul. I'll need to work through the info at the
GPUReview site. It looks fascinating.

I don't consider myself a gamer, and my game collection shows that :)
I have a few favorites - all in the CRPG genre and relatively old.
Those games don't need the newest and best. And I don't see changes
anytime soon :)

However, I do want to play Dragon Age Origins and just maybe Oblivion.
DAO would probably be the most graphics challenging game I would play.
My choice of video will be based on whether or not I can play DAO on it
and enjoy the graphics -- the graphics flow smoothly (no jerkiness),
color palette range is satisfactory and that it run on my monitor. The
few threads I've seen in places like comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg suggest
an FPS between 30 and 40 is sufficient for my needs. I'm not looking
for the fastest FPS or highest resolution (I don't think my monitor
could handle that in any case). And the other apps I run are mundane.

I've relied a lot on the material at Tom's Hardware. From what TH
said, currently the AMD Athlon II X3 440 offers the best performance
for the price and provides a satisfactory gaming experience; I'll trust
that judgment, knowing that it will always be a moving target. My
choice of either the 890GX or 890FX chipset is because they offer
features that I want for future upgrading of my pc - USB 3.0 and SATA
3. PCI-e revisions are in the works but won't be released until later
this year, unfortunately for my timing.

In its June 2010 review of "best PCIe cards", TH listed three cards
priced at or under $100. These fit within my hazy cost parameter for a
video card. Remember, I'm willing to buy the 890GX video chip and skip
the cards if it would satisfactorily play DAO. In this case, lower
cost is better.

Radeon HD 4650
Radeon HD 5570
GeForce 9600 GT

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-geforce-radeon,2646-2.html

Re: your question about expansion slots, I probably only need a slot
(or two) for GPUs, but I'm guessing. My philosophy for mobos has been
to go for quality brands that offer flexibility. Get one with as wide
a range of connectors, ports and features as possible rather than
expand using slots on the mobo and with an adequate number of expansion
slots so that I won't be in a bind if I see something that I need or
just have to have down the line.

That's also why I usually ignore microATX boards. I want to keep my
upgrade/expansion options open and a board with only one or two slots
makes me very nervous. I'd be very upset with myself for choosing
something to save money now but turns out that I have to replace
because I don't have the room on the board.

In hindsight, I can't say that I am building the pc using any formal
"price point". My ideas were based more on taking TH's recommendations
and mixing bits and pieces together to build a system that offers the
most recent USB 3.0 and SATA 3 technology (speed is neat for this), has
a decent onboard sound chip and network device, has an eSATA connector
as well as connectors for Ultra ATA devices and on which I can
enjoyably play DAO :)

That explains the oddities you saw price wise in my ideas of
motherboard, CPU and graphics card. The mobo is what I care about
most. The mobo choices are AMD 3 boards because they can handle DDR3
as well as Athlon II X3 and Phenom CPUs giving me flexibility re: CPU
and RAM upgrades. I limited my choices to those that have USB 3, SATA
3 and eSATA because I expect to use those type of devices and want the
faster throughput.

TH recommended the Athlon II X3 440 CPU as providing good gaming
capability for the price. This works for me because I'm not trying to
build a cutting edge gaming pc here nor a heavy duty workstation. I
figure, if it can handle the games I've got and want, then it should be
able to handle my other s/w without problems.

Similarly, my choice of GPU will be one that lets me play DAO, maybe
Oblivion and the games I already own, not today's games. I believe
more powerful GPUs would be overkill given my current interests.
Unfortunately, the DAO min requirements refer to brand and model
numbers of cards. That works fine for enthusiasts and gamers but is
clear as mud for those of us who are seldom in the market. In my case
the last time I bought a video card was five years ago, and then it was
an AGP :)

Perhaps the site you mention will have a list created from an index
calculated using some combination of features every graphic card would
have so that all the cards could be ranked hierachically :) If the
features comprised in the index were considered important, then the
ranked list could be useful. It would be nice if the game publishers
would at least say what they consider the most important things were in
order for the game to work on a card. I mean, they didn't just pick
their list of cards from a list. They had to have had some criteria,
didn't they? Sorry, that was caddy of me :)

The next concern I have about the build (after choosing the mobo/GPU)is
how closely would a 650W PSU match the power needs of the system. Is
it too little, too much or just right?

Part of me thinks it's overkill because I figure that the peripheral
devices I'd be running would be max two internal SATA, 7,200 RPM hds
(any other hds would be external USB or eSATA, independently powered),
one CD/DVD burner and perhaps an extra case fan. It is conceivable
that one of the internal hds would be an SSD but I haven't decided.

My last pc was a mid-tower, had 2 hds, cd/r, DVD and used a 400W PSU
without trouble, but it did not have PCIe. I have no feel for how much
a PCIe card would increase power consumption.

John
 
P

Paul

John said:
I appreciate your help Paul. I'll need to work through the info at the
GPUReview site. It looks fascinating.

I don't consider myself a gamer, and my game collection shows that :)
I have a few favorites - all in the CRPG genre and relatively old.
Those games don't need the newest and best. And I don't see changes
anytime soon :)

However, I do want to play Dragon Age Origins and just maybe Oblivion.
DAO would probably be the most graphics challenging game I would play.
My choice of video will be based on whether or not I can play DAO on it
and enjoy the graphics -- the graphics flow smoothly (no jerkiness),
color palette range is satisfactory and that it run on my monitor. The
few threads I've seen in places like comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg suggest
an FPS between 30 and 40 is sufficient for my needs. I'm not looking
for the fastest FPS or highest resolution (I don't think my monitor
could handle that in any case). And the other apps I run are mundane.

I've relied a lot on the material at Tom's Hardware. From what TH
said, currently the AMD Athlon II X3 440 offers the best performance
for the price and provides a satisfactory gaming experience; I'll trust
that judgment, knowing that it will always be a moving target. My
choice of either the 890GX or 890FX chipset is because they offer
features that I want for future upgrading of my pc - USB 3.0 and SATA
3. PCI-e revisions are in the works but won't be released until later
this year, unfortunately for my timing.

In its June 2010 review of "best PCIe cards", TH listed three cards
priced at or under $100. These fit within my hazy cost parameter for a
video card. Remember, I'm willing to buy the 890GX video chip and skip
the cards if it would satisfactorily play DAO. In this case, lower
cost is better.

Radeon HD 4650
Radeon HD 5570
GeForce 9600 GT

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/graphics-card-geforce-radeon,2646-2.html

Re: your question about expansion slots, I probably only need a slot
(or two) for GPUs, but I'm guessing. My philosophy for mobos has been
to go for quality brands that offer flexibility. Get one with as wide
a range of connectors, ports and features as possible rather than
expand using slots on the mobo and with an adequate number of expansion
slots so that I won't be in a bind if I see something that I need or
just have to have down the line.

That's also why I usually ignore microATX boards. I want to keep my
upgrade/expansion options open and a board with only one or two slots
makes me very nervous. I'd be very upset with myself for choosing
something to save money now but turns out that I have to replace
because I don't have the room on the board.

In hindsight, I can't say that I am building the pc using any formal
"price point". My ideas were based more on taking TH's recommendations
and mixing bits and pieces together to build a system that offers the
most recent USB 3.0 and SATA 3 technology (speed is neat for this), has
a decent onboard sound chip and network device, has an eSATA connector
as well as connectors for Ultra ATA devices and on which I can
enjoyably play DAO :)

That explains the oddities you saw price wise in my ideas of
motherboard, CPU and graphics card. The mobo is what I care about
most. The mobo choices are AMD 3 boards because they can handle DDR3
as well as Athlon II X3 and Phenom CPUs giving me flexibility re: CPU
and RAM upgrades. I limited my choices to those that have USB 3, SATA
3 and eSATA because I expect to use those type of devices and want the
faster throughput.

TH recommended the Athlon II X3 440 CPU as providing good gaming
capability for the price. This works for me because I'm not trying to
build a cutting edge gaming pc here nor a heavy duty workstation. I
figure, if it can handle the games I've got and want, then it should be
able to handle my other s/w without problems.

Similarly, my choice of GPU will be one that lets me play DAO, maybe
Oblivion and the games I already own, not today's games. I believe
more powerful GPUs would be overkill given my current interests.
Unfortunately, the DAO min requirements refer to brand and model
numbers of cards. That works fine for enthusiasts and gamers but is
clear as mud for those of us who are seldom in the market. In my case
the last time I bought a video card was five years ago, and then it was
an AGP :)

Perhaps the site you mention will have a list created from an index
calculated using some combination of features every graphic card would
have so that all the cards could be ranked hierachically :) If the
features comprised in the index were considered important, then the
ranked list could be useful. It would be nice if the game publishers
would at least say what they consider the most important things were in
order for the game to work on a card. I mean, they didn't just pick
their list of cards from a list. They had to have had some criteria,
didn't they? Sorry, that was caddy of me :)

The next concern I have about the build (after choosing the mobo/GPU)is
how closely would a 650W PSU match the power needs of the system. Is
it too little, too much or just right?

Part of me thinks it's overkill because I figure that the peripheral
devices I'd be running would be max two internal SATA, 7,200 RPM hds
(any other hds would be external USB or eSATA, independently powered),
one CD/DVD burner and perhaps an extra case fan. It is conceivable
that one of the internal hds would be an SSD but I haven't decided.

My last pc was a mid-tower, had 2 hds, cd/r, DVD and used a 400W PSU
without trouble, but it did not have PCIe. I have no feel for how much
a PCIe card would increase power consumption.

John

650W is more than enough. 500W would probably do it. It all
depends on what video card you eventually end up with. For
example, in rough figures, a 95W processor, 70W video card, 50W
motherboard and RAM, 13W hard drive, might get you into the
250W region. The rail split (how many amps are on each rail)
is also important, and when the supply is operating, usually
only one of the multiple rails, has any significant load on it.
Sometimes, the advantage of some of those supplies, is the
quality of the construction, rather than the absolute max
power they can deliver. If a 350W only costs $30, they might
try to cut corners. And yet, a good 350W might even power that
system. A more detailed analysis is necessary to be sure.
And when the system is idle, the power can drop to a much
lower level. Like down to a 60W load at idle. (My current
system is a pig, and doesn't drop down to nearly that level.
My previous system did a bit better on idle power.) But what
you're planning for, is the load present while gaming
or rendering movies or the like.

Reading reviews for the supply, how long it lasts, is also useful
information to have.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015

http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story&reid=110

*******

When I look here, I can see minimum specs and the recommended specs
for DAO and the video card.

http://dragonage.bioware.com/game/faq/

The recommended video card level is VIDEO: ATI 3850 512 MB or greater,
NVIDIA 8800GTS 512 MB or greater.

If we look at the 3850, and compare to the 5770 -

http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=546&card2=615

You can see a 3850 is "320 shader processors", while the 5770 is
"800 shader processors", the 5750 is "720 shader processors".
Using a video card will get you into the "recommended" level,
which means you'll have more options as to how you set the
graphics display quality.

I've played games on computers, where the graphics were a "slide show",
and still enjoyed it. If you want to play with 890GX integrated graphics,
that's fine. I've done the equivalent of that for years. But if you wanted
to turn on some of the options in the display quality settings, you'll need
a slightly better card for that. For example, I don't use AA on my current
video card, because it was only $65, and would "sink under the weight".
I needed a new graphics card on my last motherboard upgrade, because it
doesn't have an AGP slot any more. So I'm quite familiar with playing
with low end video cards. But not everyone can stand that...

One difference with my current PCI Express $65 card, is I no longer
have to set the display quality to "Minimum". I can actually lift it
a notch, without it affecting the frame rate.

If you buy the 890GX based motherboard, you can certainly install
the OS, the games, and test. If the integrated graphics satisfy
your gaming needs, you don't need to buy any hardware, like the
separate video card. So I suppose that is a benefit of the
890GX versus a motherboard without integrated graphics. You
can do an incremental upgrade as you see fit.

Paul
 
J

John

Paul said:
650W is more than enough. 500W would probably do it. It all
---edited---

If you buy the 890GX based motherboard, you can certainly install
the OS, the games, and test. If the integrated graphics satisfy
your gaming needs, you don't need to buy any hardware, like the
separate video card. So I suppose that is a benefit of the
890GX versus a motherboard without integrated graphics. You
can do an incremental upgrade as you see fit.

Paul

Hi Paul,

Just thought I'd let you know that I decided to get this for my build:
AMD Athlon II X3 440
Cooler Master Hyper TX3
Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 (uses the 890GX chipset)
Corsair XMS3 4Gb (2x2Gb) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
Antec Three Hundred Illusion case
Antec BP550 PSU
Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD burner

After price shopping, it seemed like NewEgg had best prices today,
certainly a bunch of specials that dropped my cost about $30 excluding
rebates. I'll see how the on-board graphics chip handles DAO before
committing to a video card. I tried several of the on-line power
calculators and got pretty big variances between them, anywhere between
350W and 480W. The PSU at NewEgg was being offered with a promotional
discount, so that seemed like a good choice on the theory that having
an underused PSU is better than one which the system strains.

Thanks for your help.

John
 
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P

Paul

John said:
Hi Paul,

Just thought I'd let you know that I decided to get this for my build:
AMD Athlon II X3 440
Cooler Master Hyper TX3
Asus M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 (uses the 890GX chipset)
Corsair XMS3 4Gb (2x2Gb) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
Antec Three Hundred Illusion case
Antec BP550 PSU
Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD burner

After price shopping, it seemed like NewEgg had best prices today,
certainly a bunch of specials that dropped my cost about $30 excluding
rebates. I'll see how the on-board graphics chip handles DAO before
committing to a video card. I tried several of the on-line power
calculators and got pretty big variances between them, anywhere between
350W and 480W. The PSU at NewEgg was being offered with a promotional
discount, so that seemed like a good choice on the theory that having
an underused PSU is better than one which the system strains.

Thanks for your help.

John

The post at the bottom of this page, suggests the BP550 is actually
made by Delta. Antec contracts them out.

http://www.jonnyguru.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3774

Enjoy your new system.

Paul
 
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