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Old 18th Dec 2003, 05:00 PM   #1
G-Lite
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Smile Just some hardware questions...

Okay, I'm a real software guy and hardly touch the hardware in my beauty. The only things I've done up 'till now is tear apart a comp, install/rip out a cdrom and hd a couple of times, same with pci/agp cards. Not much interesting voodoo there.
So I was going to ask some questions as I might just dare enter teh dark corners in my case.

First of all, I'm not completely satisfied with my motherboard (Gigabyte 8SG667, based on a SiS 648 chipset). It works fine, agp 8x, usb 2.0, yadda yadda bla bla. The thing is, it sortof limits my tweaking abilities and pleasures. For example, the BIOS is very limited, no temp sensors and (somewhat unrelated) it occasionally has a problem shutting down.

So what would I have to watch out for when replacing a motherboard? Probably a simple question. What's on there right now is a P4 2.8 GHz, which I'd like to keep if possible. The memory in right now is 2x 256 DDR at 333 MHz, I wouldn't know if anything else is important, but do tell.
I'd also appreciate it if anyone could recommend me a brand or even specific a model. (in case of a model, I'd like to keep the AGP 8x support, but USB 2.0 isn't that important. Also not sure what the crucial factors are in making that decision)

Second question would be about under-/overclocking. I have not tinkered with my CPU yet but tried underclocking my Radeon 9700 Pro before. Unless the apps I used for that are malfunctioning, I didn't notice much difference.
I set the core and mem clocks from the default (324.0/310.5 MHz) to the lowest it went (290.3/279.0) and forgot to reset it at some point. I didn't really notice much difference while playing XMP at the low clock rates.

So my question is, is overclocking really worth it to get better performance in games?
What do you think would be the best way to gain performance ingame? (including upgrading or overclocking components?)
And last but not least: Are there any good sites to get a hardware n00b like me started?

Thx.
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 05:10 PM   #2
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I don't think you need to overclock with the insane speeds of todays hardware. Just get a top of the line video card, 3+ ghz processor, and the fastest memory out there and when you see how smooth your games run, you won't even think about overclocking.
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 05:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twisted Metal
I don't think you need to overclock with the insane speeds of todays hardware. Just get a top of the line video card, 3+ ghz processor, and the fastest memory out there and when you see how smooth your games run, you won't even think about overclocking.
My rad 9700 pro is pretty close to top of the line, I don't think that's the problem.
The P4, well I guess I just missed out on the hyperthreading, is that really a big speed boost?
333 MHz DDR seems pretty fast to me, what's the fastest out there right now? 400? And how affordable is that?
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 05:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Lite
My rad 9700 pro is pretty close to top of the line, I don't think that's the problem.
The P4, well I guess I just missed out on the hyperthreading, is that really a big speed boost?
333 MHz DDR seems pretty fast to me, what's the fastest out there right now? 400? And how affordable is that?
PC4200 is 533MHz
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 06:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlayerDragon
PC4200 is 533MHz
Sounds impressive.
I have no idea what all the different memory kinds are though. I don't even know exactly what DDR stands for. :S
Edit: Nm, gotta love Wikipedia
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 06:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Lite
Sounds impressive.
I have no idea what all the different memory kinds are though. I don't even know exactly what DDR stands for. :S
DDR = Double Data Rate. It's a type of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory). Basically, it gets to transfer data on the rising and falling edge of a clock cycle - therefore doubling the effective "speed."

There's also RDRAM, but that is, as far as I can tell, losing popularity (probably because it had to be used in pairs and was expensive).
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 08:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
There's also RDRAM, but that is, as far as I can tell, losing popularity (probably because it had to be used in pairs and was expensive).
If I were building a system today I'd go with RDRAM. Sure it's more expensive, but it is a newer technology than ol' SDRAM. And performance wise it's still quicker.
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 09:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeStinkBAD
If I were building a system today I'd go with RDRAM. Sure it's more expensive, but it is a newer technology than ol' SDRAM. And performance wise it's still quicker.
Yeah, I probably would have gone for it as well, but AMD-compatible boards don't use it.
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Old 19th Dec 2003, 05:14 AM   #9
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I like to stick with DDR, since RDRam is only supported by Intel (At least as far as I can tell) and I don't like shelling out more for ram than I have to.
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Old 19th Dec 2003, 05:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeStinkBAD
If I were building a system today I'd go with RDRAM. Sure it's more expensive, but it is a newer technology than ol' SDRAM. And performance wise it's still quicker.
It's probably older actually . I remember talk about Rambus memory in byte and that was in 199x something. Rambus first appeared in the N64 gaming console (that's trivia for you ).
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Old 19th Dec 2003, 07:00 AM   #11
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Okay, before you guys started threadjacking me...

I'm really interested in finding out what the bottlenecks are in my current system's overal performance.
I've just been reading through this and fired up this easytune app I got with my gigabyte motherboard and it says I've got the system bus set to 133 MHz and a CPU Multiplier of 21, which sounds about right. The motherboard manual says it's compatible with an Intel Pentium 4 400/533 MHz FSB. I suppose that means it's quad-channel?
That page also says when overclocking the FSB, you're overclocking the PCI and AGP rates too and some cards might not work with the higher clock rates. So how do you know how far you can overclock anyways?

I was just poking around a bit on alienware's, asus' and intel's motherboard product lists and I bumped into this intel board which looks rather cool. I haven't looked around Asus much though and wouldn't know exactly which brand to trust.
Only thing I'm a bit worried about is that my current board seems to support udma 6 transfer mode while that one goes up to 5. I wouldn't know if my harddrives even support 6 though, they are currently in mode 5, so it probably wouldn't matter much to me. (Especially since everybody seems to be switching to SATA, though I have no idea what advantages it has over PATA)
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