View Full Version : Upgrading... Sooner rather than later?

04-21-2006, 03:32 PM
Yawn. I'm sure that these forums have been here on more than one occaision; though unfortunately not with me at the root of the thread. So without further a do...

The power supply gave out on my old machine at the beginning of the week, finally provoking me into investigating an upgrade. Well, I'm currently sat next to a replacement power supply; though I'm due a new machine. My current machine's a 2.8ghz P4 (one of the last pukka P4's without hyperthreading, to my knowledge). It's done a good stint but is about three years old and needs to be put out to pasteur.

The market's changed considerably since I was last looking for hardware, and I need a little run through of what's good to go and what's to be avoided.

What I'm looking for in my next machine, aside from the obvious increase in raw power, is a machine that multi-threaded applications will make good use of. Money's not a problem (within reason), so long as I find a machine that will produce the goods and last me more than five minutes.

I started looking at the Dual-cored Intel 955 and 965 chipsets, which I was quite keen on until I saw that the spec's are much of a muchness across Intel vs AMD, and that the AMD chips cost a bit less. It also seems that AMD environments are a little bit more organized than those of Intel, what with the memory controller appearing on the chip, rather than out on the motherboard. The Intel chips also appear to run very hot, and it seems to me that there's is a technology that is coming to the end of its usefull life, shortly to be replaced by the Conroe chips later this year.

So Not Intel then. Mebe AMD have what I want.

I had a look at X2-4800 chips and FX60 chips. For me, it seems that the X2 chip is the better purchace. The main difference between the two chips seems to be the unlocked clock multiplyer on the FX chip; though I've never been into overclocking and so would not make much use of such a feature.

It was at this point that I looked at about every darn benchmark under the sun. I'm not a fan of benchmark tests, often confusing and with different tests offering conflicting results. All the hunting, searching, filtering and fiddling resulted in my not being confident that either of the above AMD chips would cut the mustard, yielding an under-par improvement over my current aged machine.

I don't like being in this position, not knowing if I've made the right descision or not. So I thought of another plan...

Dual Opteron 280's.

This means a whole four cores, which is bound to produce the goods. This way, rather than feeling nervous about having bought sub-standard gear, I feel guilty about having spunked a mountain of cash - but these feelings will obviously subside when I get the new machine and start to have a play.

So a machine based around dual dual cored Opterons. Done. Or not...

Conroe's on it's way, and it looks jolly interesting from what little I've read. I'd rather get an Intel chip if they're on top of the market, than an AMD chip if AMD are on top, if that makes sense.

I've also heard that AMD's moving toward DDR2 support (though I'm not sure if using DDR is such an issue, given AMD and their memory effiency).

So do I wait until summer? Do I buy now?.. Or do I just face the timeless fact that it doesn't matter when a new machine is bought, it will be out of date within the blink of an eye and I should just shutup and spend some wedge.

So then, I guess that's it. That is, if anyone managed to read this far.

What do I do?

04-21-2006, 09:06 PM

Depends on your needs. Are you really in a hurry to get a new one? Or can you live on the old one for another few months? If the latter, then wait 'till Conroe comes out. If the first option, then just get a S939 or 940 setup and be done with it.

04-21-2006, 09:07 PM
i'd say go with the x2's unless you are so pressed for rendering power you deed the dual opterons. Intel's next quad-core architecture will be nice but it's still six months away, so AMD is the way to go for now. You can put together an asus sli premium 939 motherboard, a 4600+ x2, a 7800gtx graphics card, two gigs of RAM, a 300GB hard drive, and a decent case and PSU for about $1400


04-21-2006, 10:29 PM
I think the line "the grass is always greener..." ;)

I often find myself thinking like you. Should I wait till the next chip comes out. And like you say, it is never a good time to wait. The chips are changing all the time and obselecence is part of the deal. So I would say buy now and go for the X2's.

04-21-2006, 11:36 PM
All valid.

The bottom line is that I looked up and found that my machine is horribly restrictive

It's in my nature to be quite conservative when spending money. I would usually take the modest option and buy a functional machine at a reasonably cost, a machine that will do a turn for a few years in relative comfort. So machine built around an X2. Job done.

I am in the fortunate position of having a little spare money however, and am able to afford machine with less restrictions. If I'm honest, I've also had a tough year and am quite like to buy myself something. A machine capable of massive rendertime reductions would be good mix of productive tool and personal reward.

From the research that I've so far undertaken (including after my first post was made), it seems that the best available option uses two dual core Opterons.

I am not confident that this is the best moment at which to make such a purchace. Intel, and to a lesser extent AMD, both appear to be coming to the close of a developmental line If the summer is going to sport new processors with significant improvements (as opposed to only clock speed increases) then I'm it would be betterthat I hold off a little longer.

This of course is getting into the stock debate that is always resolved with the acceptance that "there is never a good time to buy a computer", and that obsolesence is only ever a few months away.

So to reduce all of the above into something more easily digestible:

The choice is to stop procrastinating, bite the bullet buy a two Opteron 880's or to sit tight and wait to see what arrives in the summer.

04-22-2006, 12:05 AM
If you actually need 4 cores then might as well get the Optes now. DDR2 will not provide much of a performance increase just more savings on RAM as DDR becomes more and more rare and pricier. If you don't need a renderfarm inside a single computer case then a dual core will suit you fine. Conroe might be worth the wait, right now it seems like it'll smoke AMD chips. It's scheduled for July, so now with no competition for AMD dual cores is probably the worst time to be upgrading to dual cores. AMD is production limited and actually raised their prices on dual cores. Come July they'll need to drastically slash their prices to compete with Conroe.

04-22-2006, 06:56 AM
If the chips are scheduled for july, it will take a month or two before we see a decent choice of machines out. They will also be at a price premium. I also don't like buying version 1.0 of anything. So I would say avoid the Conroe chips till the end of the year.

04-22-2006, 08:38 AM
I know what you mean, another off shoot of the argument that there really is no good time buy a new machine. I wouldn't usually go for untried kit until it's had a time to establish itself, it's just the new Intel chips look like offering such an improvement over exsisting technology as to warrent a wait - and at this rate I might never upgrade my computer.

There will come a point at which I will have to commit to a purchace.

Anyway, thank you for the feedback, definite food for thought.


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