Wednesday, November 24, 2004

My New AMD 64 Upgrade Parts

Tonight, my PC upgrade process has officially begun - at least, the buying of parts. I bought the motherboard and memory at my local Tiger Direct outlet shop. Sadly though, their price on the CPU I want was $90 higher than I've seen it on the net, so I didn't buy the CPU there. I ordered it online about 6 seconds ago :)

Here's what I'm getting:

First up, the Asus A8V Deluxe motherboard. gave it a "Must Have Hardware" award, and it looks to be a sweet overclocker. I currently have an Asus board with my Athlon XP 2200+ and I've never had a single problem with it. The one bummer is that it doesn't have built in wireless network access - but I'm currently using a USB wireless NIC anyway, so why am I crying? Here's what it does have:

3 IDE ATA-133 ports; 4 SATA-150 ports; 8 USB 2.0 capable ports (4 in rear panel, and 1 onboard headers supporting 2 ports each); 2 IEEE 1394a capable ports (1 in rear panel, 2 onboard headers supporting 1 port each); 1 Marvell Gigabit Ethernet port; Realtek 8.1 channel audio codec featuring S/PDIF optical and RCA type output ports; and serial, parallel, and PS/2 port support.

It's a socket 939 board for the AMD Athlon 64 or FX based processors. It uses the VIA K8T800Pro chipset and supports dual-channel DDR memory.

Next, the processor. I've ordered the AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU. I discovered that AMD is shipping this chip in 2 different cores: the older Newcastle (130 nanometer) core, and the newer Winchester (90 nanometer) core. Intel had some problems with heat leakage when they shrunk their die to the 90nm core, but from all I'm reading, AMD seems to have pulled it off without any significant heat problems. The 90nm AMD chips are reportedly running at the same temperatures as the 130nm chips at idle, and slightly cooler under load. Nice. Performance benchmarks are nearly identical between the two cores at the same speeds, with the new Winchester performing slightly better in gaming. So, I decided to go with the new Winchester core. The CPU is a retail box edition, and comes with the stock heatsink and fan. I'm holding off on buying a beefier heatsink/fan combo, as I've actually read some good things about the stock setup. Maybe if I get around to overclocking, I'll invest in a more serious cooling solution.

Finally, the memory. I decided to treat myself to some top notch memory - partially because it would be an insult to this sweet hardware to put generic RAM in the box, and partially because I have notions of overclocking this machine. I picked up the "TwinX" pack of 1GB Corsair XMS PC3200 400 MHz CL2 DDR memory. I've seen this exact memory used in several mainboard reviews, and it comes highly recommended from many of the hardware enthusiast sites. The bummer is that I paid $25 more for it at Tiger Direct than I would have if I ordered it online through like I ordered my CPU. Oh, well. My memory (the one in my brain) was failing me in Tiger Direct, and I had erroneously thought it was the same price there as online.

I'm getting free 2-day FedEx shipping from ZipZoomFly on the CPU, so hopefully it will be here early next week. I wish I had the CPU now :( The mobo and memory are taunting me!

I've decided to wipe out Mandrake Linux on my main box and run XP on it exclusively. I have 2 options for Linux boxes now: my backup machine in the basement, which runs an AMD Athlon 650 if I remember correctly (or is it a 1200? I don't remember). Or.... Scenario #2. My main box currently runs an AMD Athlon XP 2200+ with 512MB ram on an Asus A7V8X board. Good board, solid machine. I have to give up my CPU and at least one stick of RAM (probably both, out of the kindness of my heart) to my mom. I'm building her a computer, and she's contributing some $$ to my new board/cpu/ram in exchange for my old CPU/memory/hard drive. We picked her up the cutest little barebones kit from Tiger Direct - it's one of those tiny cube-shaped mini boxes, a Shuttle XPC Sk41G. It supports the Socket A Athlon XP's - so she's getting my old 2200+. It really is damned cute.

So my plan is to buy another cheap XP chip and some cheap memory, and rebuild a box around that board to put upstairs in my 2nd bedroom. Therefore... either the basement machine or the upstairs machine will become a Linux box. The basement machine is a better candidate, since lower-end hardware will probably run Linux better than Windows, but that machine already has all of my software installed (under Win2000). We'll see.

Ahhh.... I can't wait to put this thing together!!!!

[H]ard|OCP - ASUS A8V Deluxe

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