Couple of other hardware related questions

vbimport

#1

What is the difference between e.g. PC3200, PC3700 DDR Memory?

How important is a good motherboard? Will a cheap one (as long as it supports the following) that can support a good processor, lots of memory cut it?

Is it worth getting dual processor motherboards and fitting two processors to effectively double your processing capacity, or are such motherboards only for programs designed to use this feature? (i.e. won’t help me for most applications)

What so special about Intel Xeon processors?

Dee-ehn, if you’re reading this, could you please include a short summary of the advantages/disadvantages of various AMD & Intel CPU architectures in your Intel vs. AMD sticky thread you said you were going to update? E.g. Northwood for Intel and Barton, Thoroughbred, Palomino for AMD. Been Googling around but I’ve found mostly historical information with no clear summary like this is faster, etc.


#2

AFAIK using two processors only helps when a program supports it. Also AFAIK it is most commonly used only for servers and video editing.


#3

Originally posted by Tyro [B]
What is the difference between e.g. PC3200, PC3700 DDR Memory?

[/b]

The main difference is speed. PC3200 is 400Mhz memory, PC3700 is 466Mhz memory. For standard systems, PC3200 is enough (because there’s no CPU/mainboard that officialy supports >PC3200), but to overclockers, >PC3200 is a must, as running the CPU FSB in sync with the memory FSB gives the best performance.

There are, however, some cons to this fast (often non-JEDEC certified) memories:

  1. most of them need a higher voltage (your mainboard has to support it, your mainboard & psu must be able to supply enough energy and it generates some more heat)
  2. some of them run at higher latencies, something that will slightly drain the performance (depending on the rest of the system specs)

Originally posted by Tyro [B]
How important is a good motherboard? Will a cheap one (as long as it supports the following) that can support a good processor, lots of memory cut it?

[/b]

Well, for standard (=office) users, even the cheapest mainboards do their job good enough. Often, cheap mainboards lack features you might want to have, perform a little less, or have less expansion options (less PCI slots, less FSB support, limited overclocking features etc etc).

There are however, some very cheap boards that do their job well (considering the price, they’re the greatest around). Asrock (=Asus) is one of those brands that produce great boards for very little money…

Are there any boards you are considering?

Originally posted by Tyro [B]
Is it worth getting dual processor motherboards and fitting two processors to effectively double your processing capacity, or are such motherboards only for programs designed to use this feature? (i.e. won’t help me for most applications)

[/b]

Maybe, it really depends on your needs. If you use of lot of programs that are hungry for CPU power and have support for more than 1 CPU, a SMT system can be very nice. Especially if you’re into CAD, Photoshop, 3DMAX etc etc, a SMT setup boosts your performance.

Just one problem: it drains your bank account :frowning:

Originally posted by Tyro [B]
What so special about Intel Xeon processors?

[/b]

They’ve got larger caches, support for SMT etc. They are mainly used for heavy workstations or small servers.

Originally posted by Tyro
Dee-ehn, if you’re reading this, could you please include a short summary of the advantages/disadvantages of various AMD & Intel CPU architectures in your Intel vs. AMD sticky thread you said you were going to update? E.g. Northwood for Intel and Barton, Thoroughbred, Palomino for AMD. Been Googling around but I’ve found mostly historical information with no clear summary like this is faster, etc.

[/quote][/b]

I’m working on it… too bad I’m studying hard now (got a couple of exams next week) so it’ll take a little longer… but I’ll mention some things here…

AMD:
Palomino: Athlon 1500+ -> 2200+, 256kb cache, FSB133
Thoroughbred: Athlon 1800+ -> 2700+, 256kb cache, FSB133/166
Barton: Athlon 2500+ -> Athlon 3200+, 512kb cache, FSB166/200

Intel:
P4 wilamette: 1.3 -> 2.0 Ghz (not too sure about this), 256kb cache, FSB100
P4 Northwood-A: 1.6 -> 2.4Ghz, 512kb cache, FSB100
P4 Northwood-B: ~2.0 -> ~3Ghz, 512kb cache, FSB133, HT
P4 Northwood-C: 2.4 -> 3.2Ghz, 512kb cache, FSB200, HT
P4 ExtremeEdition: 3.2Ghz, 512kb cache + 2MB cache (L3), FSB200, HT

If you want info about the new Athlon 64 or FX64, let me know, I’ll put some here… (only good if you got tons of money :))


#4

Originally posted by Tyro What is the difference between e.g. PC3200, PC3700 DDR Memory?

That’s speed. 3200 is 400MHz, 3700 is faster.

How important is a good motherboard?

Very! It’s only what everything else is plugged into!

Will a cheap one (as long as it supports the following) that can support a good processor, lots of memory cut it?

Cut it, sure. You’ll probably lose out in performance or support though. I’d say stick with Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Abit.

Is it worth getting dual processor motherboards and fitting two processors to effectively double your processing capacity, or are such motherboards only for programs designed to use this feature? (i.e. won’t help me for most applications)

Probably not worth it for most.

What so special about Intel Xeon processors?

Work well together, huge cache, and definately not worth the price.


#5

I will be very frank with you guys. The computer I am buying will only be a games machine. If it is for work, then I can always just get the company to buy an overspec’ed one :wink:

With higher end Intel CPU’s having a FSB of 800MHz, does that automatically mean that for optimal performance, you must take RDRAM with their 800MHz FSB to get the most out of it?

I thought DDR memory was (or can be?) dual channeled, which meant that 400MHz is entirely adequate for a 800MHz FSB because it would effectively have a 800MHz FSB as well.

I was thinking about the ASUS motherboard as well. I’ll be posting 2 different custom comp designs (based around an AMD and Intel P4 CPU) up soon, with the same budget. If you have any improvements/suggestions to make it would be much easier to do it then when you have a ‘system’ in front of you to poke at.


#6

You can’t compare the FSBs of the Intel and the AMD CPU’s, since their architectures differ a lot from each other.

Dual channel PC3200 can get you pretty far, but RDRAM will remain faster. Remeber, not only the CPU communicates with the memory, other components do as well. RDRAM is still faster than DDR is, but as Intel is abandoning RDRAM, you will have to buy a mainboard based on SiS chipset supporting RDRAM, and that’s something I’d advice against, as the performance of SiS chipsets ain’t that good…

If you want an ultimate gaming machine, you’d best buy a system based on the AMD Athlon 64 FX51 or the P4 EE… but that’s gonna cost you :slight_smile:


#7

Ever since graduating and getting a job, I decided it would be a bit rude to keep on asking my parents for money. Remember, when you leave university: Starting salaries suck! :Z So yes, money will be a factor.

My budget is GBP£700, or ~1000 euros or ~USD$1166


#8

Originally posted by Tyro
money will be a factor.

In that case you want AMD.