Thoughts and Q's on this budget upgrade please...


A

asdf

Trying to upgrade my aging computer on the cheap.
Obviously I'm going to keep the case, psu, hard drives and
dvdroms but other stuff like mobo, ram and cpu needs to get upgraded.
Following are the products I've decided upon to upgrade my system.
Please let me know if there is something better that i should purchase,
if any of these parts will cause bottleneck in the system etc.
I have a few questions already:
1. AMD processor below says that its HT is 3600Mhz but the motherboard
is only supporting 1000Mhz, will that cause a great deal of slowness,
because I can't find any mobos with HT bus faster than 2600Mhz.
2. My current PSU is only 350W. Will it be able to handle products below
as well as 2 hard drives and a DVD drive? I also have 480 true power if
350W PSU is too weak.
3. Motherboard page says that it will only handle 1066mhz ram if am2+ proc
is used. So it looks like I'm good there. But any word on how difficult
it is to make this happen or is it all automatic.
4. My current motherboard is ATX standard. the foxconn is microatx. Will
I be able to fit it into my current computer case?

thanks very much


Foxconn A74MX-K AM2+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813186151

mushkin 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146784

AMD Phenom 9600 Agena 2.3GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103244


This is my current mobo:
Biostar m7ivw
http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=M7VIW
 
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J

John Doe

asdf said:
2. My current PSU is only 350W. Will it be able to handle products
below as well as 2 hard drives and a DVD drive?

Some wattage ratings are phony. There is no way to judge a power supply
by wattage alone. A well-respected namebrand power supply will probably
be much more capable than a no-name power supply of the same wattage.
 
P

Paul

asdf said:
Trying to upgrade my aging computer on the cheap.
Obviously I'm going to keep the case, psu, hard drives and
dvdroms but other stuff like mobo, ram and cpu needs to get upgraded.
Following are the products I've decided upon to upgrade my system.
Please let me know if there is something better that i should purchase,
if any of these parts will cause bottleneck in the system etc.
I have a few questions already:
1. AMD processor below says that its HT is 3600Mhz but the motherboard
is only supporting 1000Mhz, will that cause a great deal of slowness,
because I can't find any mobos with HT bus faster than 2600Mhz.
2. My current PSU is only 350W. Will it be able to handle products below
as well as 2 hard drives and a DVD drive? I also have 480 true power if
350W PSU is too weak.
3. Motherboard page says that it will only handle 1066mhz ram if am2+ proc
is used. So it looks like I'm good there. But any word on how difficult
it is to make this happen or is it all automatic.
4. My current motherboard is ATX standard. the foxconn is microatx. Will
I be able to fit it into my current computer case?

thanks very much


Foxconn A74MX-K AM2+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813186151

mushkin 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146784

AMD Phenom 9600 Agena 2.3GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103244


This is my current mobo:
Biostar m7ivw
http://www.biostar-usa.com/mbdetails.asp?model=M7VIW

I would move up to -

ASRock A780FullDisplayPort AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157127

It supports AM2+, and if you look at a picture of the motherboard, it
has 4+1 power phases (5 toroidal coils near processor socket). One
phase is used by the memory interface on Phenom, and the other
four phases power the core. This is better than some of the
cheaper boards that have fewer phases.

If a board implements AM2, then it uses all the phases to power
the processor as one voltage plane. So a board which is AM2 in
design, could have as few as three total phases. And might have
issues with 125W processors. The phases don't have necessarily
the same power level (you can make phases weak or strong, with
a price proportionate to the components used), so counting
phases doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. But it
does indicate the manufacturer did consider power quality a
bit.

I would recommend reading the reviews on the processor. The
9600 had the TLB bug, and a workaround was added to motherboard
BIOS some time back. You might want to download the motherboard
manual, and see if a setting is in there for the bug. The
processor part numbers ending in "50", such as 9650, have
the TLB bug fixed.

(Look for "TLB", which stands for Translation Lookaside Buffer)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N82E16819103244

http://download.asrock.com/manual/A780FullDisplayPort.pdf

Another thing to read in the 9600 reviews, is pay attention to
the comments about "this processor is slower than my old one".
I can think of a couple scenarios for programs -

1) Many older programs have a single thread of execution.
When you run one of those, it uses only one of the four
cores. The processor then feels relatively "sluglike",
and it could be that a higher clock rate processor from
a previous generation, can beat your new purchase.

2) Many newer programs are multithreaded. The tendency is
for mainly multimedia programs, to take advantage of the
four cores. Some DVD shrinking programs, video rendering,
Photoshop and the like, may be able to use more than one
core simultaneously. If you use your stopwatch, and compare
the time to do a batch job on the old computer, versus the
new, a multithreaded program can see a big improvement.
For games, not all games use multiple cores effectively.
There are some, where one core is loaded to 100%, and the
other three average around 30% each, for game execution.
Only multimedia, involving images that can be split into
equal pieces, really allows the best, symmetric loading of
four cores. Otherwise, programmers have trouble balancing
the load well.

Based on the above, consider the software you'll be using
on the computer, and then decide whether a quad core or a
higher clocked dual core, is the better answer.

This dual, for example, runs at 3GHz, so for single threaded
apps, may feel a bit better than the 2.3GHz of the 9600 when
only a single core is usable. It is $93. It all depends
on your usage style, as to which is the better purchase.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103773

When it comes to actual support for Hypertransport at 2600Mhz,
or memory support at DDR2-1066, there can be gotchas. The
DDR2-1066 may only work at that speed with two sticks, and
the option may only be available with the latest steppings
of processors. I don't know if I can remember all the
trivia off hand. You can certainly spend a bit more time
reading up on AMD trivia, before your purchase, so you
won't feel cheated if your DDR2-1066 memory only runs
at DDR2-800. In that regard, maybe the 9650 would be a
better purchase, if you cared about that stuff. Hypertransport
affects the connection of the graphics card slot to the
memory in the processor, and as such, is probably not a
limiting factor for today's video cards.

+----- DIMM1 Four sticks, dual channel
| Linked or unlinked.
Processor ---+----- DIMM2
Cores ---+----- DIMM3
| |
| +----- DIMM4
|
| Hypertransport (point to point)
|
|
Video_Card ---- Northbridge
|
| Hypertransport (point to point)
|
Southbridge
| |
Disk PCI_bus

HTH,
Paul
 
D

Dave

asdf said:
Trying to upgrade my aging computer on the cheap.
Obviously I'm going to keep the case, psu, hard drives and
dvdroms but other stuff like mobo, ram and cpu needs to get upgraded.
Following are the products I've decided upon to upgrade my system.
Please let me know if there is something better that i should purchase,
if any of these parts will cause bottleneck in the system etc.
I have a few questions already:
1. AMD processor below says that its HT is 3600Mhz but the motherboard
is only supporting 1000Mhz, will that cause a great deal of slowness,
because I can't find any mobos with HT bus faster than 2600Mhz.

OK, HT or hyper transport is a bus technology. The "bus" is a data bus that
is used to transfer data from one component of a computer to another. BUT,
the bus or data bus can also be used to transfer data internally between
different areas of the same chip.

The components you are researching, the motherboard uses HT, and the CPU
also uses HT, internally. It's similar technology, but not cooperative.
So, the faster HT inside the CPU is not going to be slowed down by the
slower HT of the motherboard.

Many people are still confused by FSB speed, thinking (incorrectly) that FSB
needs to be matched with a certain processor or a certain RAM speed. Old
computers (the type old enough to have been obsolete decades ago) needed
these speeds matched, as they were all timed with the same clock chip. In
any machine you build TODAY, you do not need to match processor with RAM or
processor with FSB of mainboard.

Your question about HT is just another way of asking if the FSB needs to be
matched to the processor speed. The simple answer is no. Any CPU that your
motherboard will support will work just fine. You don't need to "match" the
CPU to the FSB of the mainboard, and you don't need to "match" the HT spec
of the CPU with the HT spec of the mainboard.

2. My current PSU is only 350W. Will it be able to handle products below
as well as 2 hard drives and a DVD drive? I also have 480 true power if
350W PSU is too weak.

That is the wrong question to ask. The right question is...is it smart to
use an old power supply to power new components? The answer is no. The
power supply is THE single component in the computer system that is most
prone to failure. Probably 90% or more of computer hardware problems are
caused by failing power supplies. Even good power supplies can fail BADLY,
causing damage to other components. Using an old power supply (even one
that's a year old) to power a new system build is not worth the risk. The
tighter your build budget, the MORE IMPORTANT it is to use a good, NEW power
supply for your build. Think of it this way... you think you can't scrape
up $50 for a new power supply...how are you going to feel about having to
fork out hundreds of bucks in a few weeks when the recycled power supply
fails and takes your mainboard, CPU, RAM and hard drive with it????

But if you insist on doing it anyway, it's likely that your 350W will be too
weak. I've run similar systems on 380W power supplies, but those 380W units
were high-end... not antecs or no-names.
3. Motherboard page says that it will only handle 1066mhz ram if am2+ proc
is used. So it looks like I'm good there. But any word on how difficult
it is to make this happen or is it all automatic.

It should be automatic. Most mainboards have the memory controller chip on
the mainboard. But, some AMD systems have a memory controller in the CPU.
I'm not sure about your build, but suspect that your AM2+ processor probably
has the memory controller in the CPU. Otherwise, it makes no sense that it
would require a certain processor type to run a certain type of RAM.
But, regardless of where the memory controller is, it should recognize and
use the RAM at the proper speed. Without help from the end user.

4. My current motherboard is ATX standard. the foxconn is microatx. Will
I be able to fit it into my current computer case?

Not a problem at all. There are just two things you will need to be aware
of. Not a problem, really...just something you need to do to prepare the
case for the new motherboard.
First, CHECK THE STANDOFFS!!! The full-size ATX motherboard will require a
certain number of screws to mount it to the case. Each of these screws will
screw into a metal standoff of some kind that is attached TO the case. The
problem with changing the motherboard, even if you DON'T change the
motherboard size from standard to micro, is that the standoffs for the old
motherboard might not be located where they need to be to mount the new
motherboard. This means you will need to move the standoffs. REMOVE any
extra standoffs. At the same time, make sure there is a standoff located to
match all the mounting holes in the new mainboard. You don't want any extra
(very important) but you don't want to be missing any, and they MUST be
installed in the CORRECT locations. Otherwise, they might short electrical
paths to ground, with really bad results... :(
Moving the standoffs is as simple as unscrewing them and screwing them back
in. Or some are just held in place with a spring clip. Some really cheap
case designs just use plastic friction couplers as standoffs. Hopefully you
don't have those. Regardless, your case should already have mounting
positions for ALL the possible locations that you will need standoffs. You
won't need to "modify" the case, in other words... just move the standoffs
to wherever they need to be.

Also, the ATX case will have rectangular holes in the back to allow the
installation of roughly 7 or 8 expansion cards (video cards, sound cards,
network cards, TV tuner cards, etc.) onto a full-size ATX motherboard.
Depending on how many expansion cards you were using, you might have extra
"holes" in the back of your case after you install the micro-ATX
motherboard. This is not a problem, really...except that it can mess up
airflow through the case, which might mean that the case isn't being cooled
as well as it could be. At worst, if you can't find some extra blank panel
thingies to plug the holes, you could always cover them with duct tape or
electrical tape. If you only have one, you could just leave it open, too.
It's up to you. Just be aware that you might have some extra holes to fill
back there.

But the case will work, and work well. -Dave
 
P

Paul

asdf said:
Well, my plan is to install gentoo on this box. which is what i have
installed right now. Not really sure if it'll be able to use the quad-core
processor effectively. Any ideas?

The answer to that question, may lie in a Gentoo forum.

I don't have enough fancy software for Linux here, to
even guess whether any of it is multicore aware.

Generally speaking, the makers of software do not provide
assistance to their customers, in terms of what computing
platform is best. It means a potential customer for the
software, has to find test results that some other customer
has prepared for them.

My best guess right now, is a dual core may be a better
fit for you. But I have no facts to back that up with.

Paul
 
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D

Don Phillipson

Trying to upgrade my aging computer on the cheap.
Obviously I'm going to keep the case, psu, hard drives and
dvdroms but other stuff like mobo, ram and cpu needs to get upgraded.

Since hard drives are now so cheap, is it wise to avoid
replacing drives that have had (say) five years' hard use?
 

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