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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess this is the best place to post something like this if I am talking about computer components. This will be a long post because I probably need some serious advice. Thanks for your patience.

First of all, I'm fed up with my Latitude C610 laptop. Running a ~2001 mobile Pentium 3 with a 16MB mobile Radeon just doesn't cut it in today's standards (or any standards in the last 6 years). My mom has a Dell Optiplex GX280 with a Pentium 4 2.8ghz and integrated GPU. I need a new PC. Plus my laptop has a broken hinge and numerous other technical issues.

I basically want to build a decent PC. I had some help choosing components (someone who has built like 20 PC's). I will be buying and assembling this December, but I'm planning in advance. I am pretty poor. I have a budget somewhere in the $500-$600 price range. I would rather NOT spend more than this to get what I need.
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Processor- This is my most controversial component, because I can't quite decide what to get. I decided to go with a quad core CPU. I would like to run Dolphin Wii emulator if possible. It can take advantage of four cores. I realize PCSX2 does NOT use any more than 4 cores. I do not want to spend any more than the $170 range or less. I also realize that the PCSX2 developers do not seem to like AMD processors. Here are some options I had in mind-
* AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6GHz
Newegg.com - AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 4MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Processors - Desktops
* Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 Yorkfield 2.66GHz
Newegg.com - Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 Yorkfield 2.66GHz 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor - Processors - Desktops

Obviously, I appreciate advice about any processors in this price range. I prefer quad cores. Remember that I'd like to use both PCSX2 AND Dolphin, so I need to think about what is best for both emulators.
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Memory- I've got this figured out. I'll be getting 4GB of DDR2 memory. Not much to say here-
* G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Newegg.com - G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Desktop Memory

Again, any advice appreciated, but i'm likely sticking with this memory. The $52 price range is what I'm going to stay at.
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Graphics Card- I've got a couple of choices here. I'll get right to it-
* ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI-e 2.0
Newegg.com - ZOTAC ZT-98GES3G-FSL GeForce 9800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
* MSI OC Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI-e 2.0
Newegg.com - MSI R4850-2D1G OC Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
* POWERCOLOR Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI-e 2.0
Newegg.com - POWERCOLOR AX4850 512MD3-PH Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards

I'm very likely NOT going to spend more than the most expensive card here ($120). I will take any advice or options here. I'm not very familiar with graphics cards though. So any help IS appreciated.
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Computer Case- I've only had one suggestion from someone on this and I will likely stay at it-
* NZXT Beta Series CS-NT-BETA-B Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Newegg.com - NZXT Beta Series CS-NT-BETA-B Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Computer Cases

I'd rather not have to spend more than that $50 there. I don't see why I'd need anything else anyways. Again though, any advice appreciated.
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Motherboard- I was recommended one motherboard by someone should I use an AMD processor. I've not picked out another yet to suit the Intel one. Here's what i've got so far-
* GIGABYTE AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-MA770-UD3 AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - AMD Motherboards

I was originally looking at an AMD II X2 processor, but I decided to opt for a quad core if I can. I was told this SHOULD work for the Phenom II X4 processor, but I'm not sure myself since it's not listed in the specs. Obviously, I'd like to clarify this, ask for your suggestions, and see what advice you can give for the Intel processor's motherboard. I'd prefer to stick within the $75 price range.
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Hard Drive- Not much to say here. I may go with a 500GB, only $10 more-
* Seagate Barracuda 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
Newegg.com - Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - Internal Hard Drives
* Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
Newegg.com - Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - Internal Hard Drives

Advice welcome. In this price range though.
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Power Supply- I was recommended a single PSU and was told it should be sufficient to run a quad core and any of the components above. Here it is-
* CORSAIR 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 (Certified Compatible with Core i7) PSU
Newegg.com - CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Power Supplies

I'm going to take a wild guess and assume this WILL work with pretty much everything listed above. I will hear any advice as always though. Something near the $50-$60 price range would be nice if this isn't enough power.
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That's the most basic equipment. I might just use my external DVD combo drive, since that also wouldn't leech off the psu.

I'm sorry for the long post, but in a way, I have to adapt to a new generation of technology. I've never had a multi core PC or new age graphics card. I'm well behind the technology.

My goal is to run the PC game Crysis for one, and maybe some similar games. And of course PCSX2 and Dolphin if possible. But yeah, I need to stay in the $500-$600 price range if possible. As close to $500 as I can. Thanks for the patience and advice in advance.
 

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If you're planning to buy and assemble it in December, then I think you should hold up a bit and see what the situation is like at the time. Nvidia's new line-up (GT300 series) is expected to be out somewhere around October I think, and that will almost definitely result in a price drop in the older generation cards.

About the PSU, don't compromise on it. 400W probably will do the trick but there's no guarantee. 500W or more would be more suitable for a rig like that.
 

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From Love and Limerence
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Last I heard, Dolphin was in the same boat as PCSX2 in that it uses two cores and no more.
I also realize that the PCSX2 developers do not seem to like AMD processors.
Enough with this entirely false statement, people. I don't know if you're just going on what others have said, or have come to think this yourself, but this is not true, is false, is a fabrication, and is ridiculous. The Athlon is not as fast as a Core 2, period, and because people can't realize and accept that, they think the PCSX2 team has bias against AMD, which is funny, because back when the emulator was started, The Core 2 wasn't out, everyone had AMD PCs, and that's what ran them best. Go figure. If you think there's serious AMD bias, go try it on a Pentium 4, or a Pentium D even. Also, it's not even really true anymore than AMD CPUs perform badly in PCSX2. The Phenom II/Phenom II based CPUs perform just fine (I'd estimate almost as well as the Core 2), so it's nothing along the lines of bias against AMD. If one AMD CPU does well, and another does less so, then what does that say? The Athlon 64/X2, while fine CPUs, are getting older/slower, and like the Pentium 4 timeframe they're from, aren't going to perform as well as a Core 2, Phenom II, or Core i7. Expecting such is foolish. Using such foolishness as an excuse that the PCSX2 team has bias against AMD is just plain stupid.

I'm not directing this at you, but just at the thought of such a thing.

As for your ideas, the build looks pretty decent/okay to me. I'd do it differently myself, but you seem to be going with different wants, so my suggestions wouldn't be worthwhile.
 

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pcsx2 can use 4 cores+ using GSDX software.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
EDIT- I didn't realize it COULD use 4 cores Squall-Leonheart. But that is a software graphics plugin is it not? Meaning it would actually slow the game down tremendously, as most of the game would be depending on the CPU instead of the GPU...

@Lord Zedeck-

I realize that AMD is indeed slower than intel. And I didn't come by this bias on my own. I hear people assume they dislike AMD, and the developers sort of responding in a way that can be take the wrong way. Here's an example-

Is possible to code on PCSX2/GSDX for AMD Features?

I'm sorry for making it sound like I was the one who said this. I've seen youtube videos of people playing many games on AMD's at decent speeds. I assume they are pretty good at the very least. On the other hand, I'm interested to know that Dolphin doesn't use quad cores and now that I think about it, I don't know where I heard that from. Although, I do suppose assigning the program to two separate free CPU's not occupied by the CPU would work... Not sure about that.

If I can get either the Phenom II's or a fast core 2 duo, that would save a lot of money. And it's nice to know that the Phenom II's can hold their own technologically speaking. I'd get a quad core if it performs well and isn't too expensive, but i'd consider dual core now as well. Core 2 duo's are actually quite and inexpensive bang for the buck.

Key question- are quad cores actually used in much computing yet? Or are they just pure untapped potential so far? Basically, is there anything I could do that could benefit from them, assuming Dolphin CANNOT use more than 2 cores?

BTW, some of the games I'd play in PCSX2 include-

- Kingdom Hearts
- Kingdom Hearts 2
- Jak and Daxter
- Jak 2/3 (if they play)
- Ratchet series (if they play)
- Final Fantasy X
- Final Fantasy XII

^Just for reference, since I know not all games work properly. I already got KH1 and Jak and Daxter to run half to full speed on a Pentium 4. Those are games i'd expect to perform nicely on most dual cores.
 

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Yes, there's plenty that benefits from quads...nothing in emulation though.
 

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not at all, GSDX software runs at full speed. on i7 :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Well I appreciate all the information. Especially that I don't absolutely NEED a quad core. I will still seriously consider a quad core, but now I know that if I am strapped for cash, I can get a pretty darn fast dual core for fairly cheap. They run cooler and more efficiently too.

But thanks Lord Zedeck for telling me AMD Phenom II's would work fine with the emulator. I have my eyes on those and it's good to know they aren't entirely worthless. I just have a soft spot for AMD's for some reason.

And in regards to any processor, I would probably be ok with overclocking. I hear it's easier and safer than ever if you know what you're doing and don't go overboard. The Phenom II X4 I had in mind for example, goes at stock speed of 2.6ghz. It can be safely overclocked to 3.1ghz without pushing the voltage far. Do you think I could get significant speed increases by doing this? Emulation speeds for example.
 

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From Love and Limerence
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This is my opinion only, but I don't think quad core CPUs are there just yet.

It goes like this.

One outlook is that there's little out there that takes advantage of them (and I'm not talking small potshot gains, but really taking advantage of them), and for this reason, a cheaper and faster CPU is better. You trade in the two cores you essentially don't need, and get more speed, more left over money, a cooler running CPU, and one that usually overclocks further.

The other outlook is that it's better to buy four slower cores now for the future.

I disagree with the second outlook, and here's why. You're purposely buying slow now, only by time the future really needs your four cores it won't be fast anymore anyway. In other words, you have slow now, slow then (most likely, but today's quad core CPUs in the Phenom II/Core i7 may be fine), and because you payed more for it than you would have a dual core, you lose both ways. Well, it's not an enitrely lose situation, as the dual core CPU will be as slow, if not slower, but by time quad core CPUs are needed that much, the dual core will be slow anyway. All in all, I think the dual core CPU will edge it out in the end as the better choice.

I realize as time wears on, and better and cheaper quad core CPUs come out, my argument against that gets weaker, but if I was building new right now, I'd probably go with what I have now, but the Phenom II and the Core i7 are good too. Outside the Phenom II, which can be a faster quad core CPU qualifier, the rest of the faster quad cores CPUs and Core i7 aren't for people "strapped for cash", and if you're only talking the older/cheaper quad core Intel CPUs, like the Q6x00 and the Q8x00, I think the faster dual cores beat them out. Basically, unless you can go all out on a quad core CPU and get the best Q9x00 CPUs or a Core i7, a faster dual core CPU will be better.

I think at this point, either a Phenom II (not the original Phenom) or Core 2 Duo sound like the best choices, given what you want from this, your budget, etc. I don't think you'd go wrong choosing either.

P.S. The E8400 and above go to at least 4GHz with no problem (motherboard depending, of course). My current CPU does 4GHz at stock voltage (did 4.5GHz acceptably 24/7, but in order to use 8GB of RAM, I had to drop it back), and my older E8400 (C0 stepping, they're all probably the better overclocking E0 ones left now) did 3.6GHz at stock voltage. Honestly, I sometimes laugh at 2.xGHz clock speeds anymore. More cores don't help when they're hardly used. You still have a slower CPU.

Also, the Phenom II is said to overclock about as well, but I see mixed results myself (ala, most people claiming over 4GHz easily, but most sitting in the lower 3.xGHz range, and about 3.8GHz/3.9GHz seem to be the highest realistic 24/7 maximums). If you opt for a Phenom II, I'd be interested in results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This video gave me a lot of info about the Phenom II X4 810- YouTube - Phenom II X4 810 - AM3 Review

I think I would be likely to go with this one. It's actually comparable to many rather fast dual cores (and quite decent if you can overclock over 3.1ghz) and it is a pretty big bang for the buck. It's one of AMD's best series of processors so I hear.

One thing I do hear is that even if PCSX2 and Dolphin aren't designed to use more than 2 cores, you can still get a benefit out of a triple or quad core. You can set the programs' affinities to use whichever cores you specify in the task manager. Even if you don't use more than two cores, you can set PCSX2 and Dolphin to use seperate cores from your CPU and any other programs running in the background. This could probably free up a good couple of hundred megahertz, if not a gigahert. Windows 7 for instance, requires 1ghz to run in the minimum. So assuming I was running a 2.6ghz CPU, only 1.6 of the first core (maybe more granted) would be going to the actual emulator. By setting the emulator to run on the other cores, you can get it to use ALL of that core's speed.

Then again, did I get this info wrong? I've read tutorials about this and heard success when doing it. But not having done this myself, i'm unsure if this helps really.

I'd most likely overclock if I could. Not go overboard all at once. And I'd probably want a decent CPU cooler and such to help it along. The guy in the video above overclocked his from 2.6ghz to 3.1ghz without any hassle. I'm not sure how far you could go, but i definitely don't want to break the CPU or whatever.

The thing about the core 2 duo E8400 is actually MORE expensive than the Phenom II X4 I picked out. I'd consider it, but i'm still heavily considering a quad core. So there's my thing. Some of the better quad cores are comparable to dual cores and actually are cheaper.
 

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Get the best of both world :p go with tri-core phenom II 720 or even 710, it's cheap, overclock better than 810 and actually faster if the app utilizes only two cores (because of the full L3 cache) but certainly not clock-to-clock faster than Intel Core 2
 

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From Love and Limerence
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One thing I do hear is that even if PCSX2 and Dolphin aren't designed to use more than 2 cores, you can still get a benefit out of a triple or quad core. You can set the programs' affinities to use whichever cores you specify in the task manager. Even if you don't use more than two cores, you can set PCSX2 and Dolphin to use seperate cores from your CPU and any other programs running in the background. This could probably free up a good couple of hundred megahertz, if not a gigahert. Windows 7 for instance, requires 1ghz to run in the minimum. So assuming I was running a 2.6ghz CPU, only 1.6 of the first core (maybe more granted) would be going to the actual emulator. By setting the emulator to run on the other cores, you can get it to use ALL of that core's speed.

Then again, did I get this info wrong? I've read tutorials about this and heard success when doing it. But not having done this myself, i'm unsure if this helps really.
It doesn't work like that, at all. While the operating system uses resources, and needs a certain minimum to officially run, it's not like you subtract that from your CPU and have what's left over. You have what you have, and besides the things written to use more than one core, what you have is a CPU at the frequency that it is. That's really all there is to it.

Also, setting affinity won't help. If a program is only programed to use two cores, that's all it'll use. Setting affinity can't force it to use more. Sure, background tasks take resources, but unless you're letting something crazy happen in the background, it's a moot amount.

The thing about the core 2 duo E8400 is actually MORE expensive than the Phenom II X4 I picked out. I'd consider it, but i'm still heavily considering a quad core. So there's my thing. Some of the better quad cores are comparable to dual cores and actually are cheaper.
No, it's more that AMD CPUs are cheaper than Intel CPUs to the point to where that's true. Intel hasn't dropped prices on it's CPUs (at least the dual core ones) for a while, and AMDs Phenom IIs came out afterward, so they're priced well. In that case, it may be good to go with the Phenom II.

Get the best of both world :p go with tri-core phenom II 720 or even 710, it's cheap, overclock better than 810 and actually faster if the app utilizes only two cores (because of the full L3 cache) but certainly not clock-to-clock faster than Intel Core 2
That makes no sense. It's faster because it has an L3 cache? Let's note that L3 cache is often slower than L2 cache. I think CPU vendors are shrinking the L2 cache and instead adding on larger L3 to make it seem better, but they only do it because the slower L3 is probably cheaper (I assume this, but it certainly makes sense). All things being equal, L3 cache is better than no L3 cache, but if the L2 cache is shrunk and the L3 cache is used a replacement for L2 cache, then since L3 cache is slower, then it doesn't really gain you much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@nanaya

Ah I see you have one of those, so you can personally vouch for it! I'd just started looking at the Phenom II X3 720 too. Seems to overclock extremely well if you get the black edition. And I've seen several videos showing fast speeds in both PCSX2 AND Dolphin, not always even using the overclocked speed or even stock speed. I'll assume it would work VERY well. Quite cheap too. You may have just sealed the deal for me!

I hear the X3 chips are actually technically quad cores that have one core disabled. It's even possible in some cases to "reinitialize" the 4th core and get even better speed out of them. At the same time though, they are often disabled for a good reason, like the 4th core didn't work properly or was messed up in some way. Clever scheme on AMD's part actually, being able to disable a core in a "broken" chip and sell it again, working flawlessly! Impressive.

@Lord Zedeck

Sorry for being a noob in this stuff, you explain well. I'm sure I hear a lot of fallacies.
 

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@granville

if you plan getting the phenom II ,better plan a good cooling, at overclocked this chip loves cold than ridiculus voltage ,u will surprised what will u get @default voltage at cold temp (IMO it lot more safer than other chip when overclocked need pulling voltage like maniac for stability)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I figured. I already have a 550watt power supply just in case for a decent price, so that won't be an issue likely-
Newegg.com - Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Power Supplies

^I ASSUME that will work with everything I'd want to get for my PC.

And since I was told the stock heatsink of the Phenom II is garbage, can you recommend me a good but affordable (as under $50 as possible) heatsink? I'd use the stock one at stock speeds (since I assume they wouldn't package something that wouldn't possibly work), but I DO intend to overclock. Hopefully to 3.4ghz (above from the 2.8ghz stock). And to test it out, maybe see if the 4th core can be unlocked as well.
 

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Here's the cooling setup I'm using. It may not be the absolute best, but it's definitely one of them, and does not cost as much as RAM, a hard drive, or so on.

Newegg.com - XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - CPU Fans & Heatsinks

I'm also using the backplate which is sold separately. I think they should just include it with the cooler and add the cost together (save some shipping), but whatever. It may not even make that much of a difference. unfortunately, it's socket LGA775 only (there is one for LGA775/LGA1366, but there doesn't seem to be any for AMD, which is a shame).

Newegg.com - XIGMATEK ACK-I7753 Retention Bracket For 4 heatpipes model only - CPU Fans & Heatsinks
 
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