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Temptation, thy name is upgrade

PC Hardware | Thursday, July 13th, 2006 | 10 years, 8 months ago

So yeah, I’m dropping $1300 on crap I really don’t need. But it’s computer crap so I just can’t resist. I’m buying it all from my very favourite computer store PC Village in Markham, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Here’s my shopping list:

Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe
$168

I figured I’d grab an SLI board to help future-proof my purchase, assuming my video card will still be for sale by the time I deem mine outdated. This bad boy has the brand new AMD AM2 940-pin socket, a 2GHz FSB supporting up to 800MHz DDR2 memory, dual gigabit ethernet, 8 channel sound with SPDIF, some new application-specific overclocking engine, and a cool looking copper heat pipe drawing from the chipset. A sturdy backbone for some heavy components!

Unfortunately the board has 6 SATA2 plugs and no IDEs so I have to fill one of the 3 PCI slots with a $30 Promise PCI IDE controller for my 2 optical drives. I briefly considered investing in a $130 Plextor DVD-RW but decided against it.

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AMD Athlon64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+
$379

My first foray into dual-core! I’m a little concerned about gaming performance since I’m coming from an Athlon 64 3400+ at 2.2GHz and each core on the X2 4000+ is only 2.0GHz. Current games that don’t support dual-core CPUs will only run on one core, but upcoming games will start supporting both soon enough and then I’ll be sailing. I originally opted for the 4200+ which was only $35 more, but changed my mind when I saw that it only had 2x512KB L2 cache vs the 4000+’s 2x1MB. I might see a hit in performance in physics-heavy games. Will double the cache make up for 200MHz? Hope so!

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BFG GeFORCE 7900GT OC
$339 ($299 after $40 mail-in rebate)

This beauty has been the apple of my eye ever since I heard about it! The 7800 series blew everyone away at launch, but the 7900 bent over its predecessor and paddled it like Peggy Hill! Not only are 7900’s significantly faster, they also have FEWER transistors which means a shorter data path and less voltage, thus less heat. The 7900GT is the “lite” version of the beefy 7900GTX, but it offers about 80% of the speed for half the price so that’s good enough for me! This thing is actually faster than the 7800GTX! I can’t wait to pop this baby in and play some 16-colour Leisure Suit Larry 3!

The BFG brand came highly recommended as the company features high quality parts, overclocked GPU and RAM out of the box, and an unprecedented lifetime warranty. From what I’ve read there’s a huge overclock ceiling on this card using only the stock cooler (thanks to the low transistor count) but no doubt that will blow the warranty. I’ve had bad luck due to my inexperience in overclocking with my well-loved 9800Pro so I’ll probably dine with this beauty queen sans-makeup.

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Kingston 1Gb ValueRAM DDR2-667 x2
$114

While budgeting this little summer vacation-substitute I incorrectly assumed that DDR2 was backward compatible, so I’m grabbing a pair of 1GB DIMMs of DDR2-667. A friend of mine has 4 gigs but I think that’s overkill. There’s room to expand this way, though my next memory upgrade might replace these sticks with some 800MHz brutes.

My HDD, CD-RW and DVD-RW drives, and my old case and PSU will be all that’s left of my old box by the time I’m done. I’ve got to figure out in advance how to install a fresh copy of XP on my SATA HDD with no floppy drive, but assuming the new nForce chipset has easily copied SATA drivers I should be able to inject them into a custom XP install using the amazing freeware nLite app.

Once I’m up and running and have installed my necessary apps I’ll give Prey another play-through and hopefully write up a review! That game runs great on my current system and I can’t wait to see my new hardware eat it for breakfast!

I’ll post some before and after benchmarks as well.

The parts come in Tuesday! Can’t friggin wait!!!

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