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Old 05-16-2006, 02:08 PM   #21
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:50 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bysmitty
You only need a nice motherboard to be on a good upgrade path.
With this in mind, what's a good motherboard choice for someone building a system from scratch? I'd like it to be as future-proof as possible - so PCI-e is a given - but what about CPU socket choice? Is Socket 939 going to remain 'current' for a while, or would I be better to go for something like this AM2 I've been reading about?

Anything else to watch out for when trying to make a system that I can easily upgrade for a few years without throwing out large bigs of it?

Cheers!
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Old 05-26-2006, 03:44 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huz
With this in mind, what's a good motherboard choice for someone building a system from scratch? I'd like it to be as future-proof as possible - so PCI-e is a given - but what about CPU socket choice? Is Socket 939 going to remain 'current' for a while, or would I be better to go for something like this AM2 I've been reading about?

Anything else to watch out for when trying to make a system that I can easily upgrade for a few years without throwing out large bigs of it?

Cheers!
That is kind of a tricky one right now as AMD's socket 939 is current champ but just a few days ago, they released thier new AM2 socket and processors. Also, Intel's very strong looking "conroe" processors are only a few months away. Depending on when you want to make a decision, I would say get a 939 if you are buying within the next few days, AM2 if you are buying within the next few weeks, and in a few months, "conroe" will most likely be the best choice.

939 is an excellent choice but AMD has openly stated that they will stop manufacturing processors based on this design and will only ship AM2 and 774 chips. This still doesn't mean that you can't get a great 3200+ now for $150 and then swap it out with an even better 3800+ x2 later.

AM2 is going to be supported for a while but since it is brand new, all AM2 hardware will come at a cost and has the possibility of not being stable. Also, right now there are no performance differences between 939 and AM2. You are paying more for the same speed chips but have the option of DDR2 memory... which means nothing in real world benchmarks. Right now, the only real benefit of going AM2 is future upgradability.

"Conroe" is still the codename for Intel’s next gen chips. Preliminary benchmarks blow everything AMD has out of the water... brand new FX62 included. Intel is looking very strong with these but they are still a few months off and who knows, we could have just been deceived and they might deliver another dog like the Pentium 4.

Tough call.

As for other options, you are right PCIe is a given. I would recommend going with a board that has SLI or Crossfire (Ati's version of SLI) support so you have the option to double up on the video power at a later point in time. You'll see some of the more expensive boards boasting x16 speed PCIe pipes. This is just a marketing gimmick at the moment. No hardware or software can saturate 8x PCIe and it would get bottlenecked at the memory controller even if it could.

For brands, my trust is in Biostar (cheap but very stable with lots of overclocking (OCing) options), Asus (Has been making solid mobos for years. Usually good assortment of features and OCing options), or DFI (The most hardcore boards on the market. Designed for high-end system and by far the most OCable boards on the market. Boards can be complex and overwhelming to first time builders though).

Even if you haven't though about overclocking, don't rule it out when picking out a board. Some boards have very little OC support, some will let you OC all you want. OCing is basically the practice of telling your hardware to run faster by changing bios settings. With a little bit of guidance, you can take a $150 processor like a 3200+ and run it at speeds of a FX55, a $650 processor. My $500 4400+ x2 currently benchmarks faster than a $1000 stock fx60.

Let me know if you have any more questions man. I can give more specific recommendations later once you know a budget and timeframe.

...bysmitty

*edit: wow, sorry for such a long winded reply. i didn't plan on writing so much.*
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Last edited by bysmitty; 05-26-2006 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 05-26-2006, 05:29 AM   #24
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Fantastic, thanks for such a detailed reply. That's answered my main question for now, but no doubt I'll be back with more questions in the near future. I'll keep an eye on how AM2 is looking as I get closer to buying - I'm unlikely to make any purchases until the middle of June.

Thanks again!
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