It was slow first week after the New Year, but after that everything seems to get clog up with heavy rush hour traffic; customers request for speedy delivery of goods, unreasonable demands from work sure bogs you down.
Fortunately a New Year also brings new cheer and I got myself a new computer system freshly assembled from the local All IT Hypermart. Took me a few days to research a proper system and comparing cost vs. performance to finally getting a brand new system.
Technology is moving very fast and there are such a myriad variety of components available that for the uninitiated would just give up and simply grab any cheapest system available. That’s ok if your requirement is not very high, for a power user on a budget; I need to extract the best performance at a reasonable cost.
One of the most important aspects of choosing a system is the motherboard. Most people start with the CPU processing power before simply choosing the motherboard component, but that is a bad way to start. Though the CPU is the “brain” behind all the computational power and usually the most expensive component but it is your motherboard that is going to do all the grunt work ferrying all those data around amongst the various components.
Generally in terms of benchmark of similar models, Asus motherboard is the fastest, while others like Gigabyte, Abit, MSI, Intel, VIA do not perform as fast. However, base on general experience, Asus though fast seems less stable. While MSI is the most unstable with much complaint from my brother and brother-in-law. Intel motherboard was fine and went very well with Intel CPU and generally most branded PC like Dell uses Intel motherboard, but I was looking into AMD which seems to have more processing power at a lower cost. AMD systems are also favoured amongst gamers and quite suitable for manipulating graphic and videos.
Checking with the sales guy at the IT center, it seems Gigabyte is very stable using AMD CPU and they have a lot of advances in features. It got me interested in it, and I decided to do some research about it. The initial board introduced by the sales guy ended up with a higher budget than I could accept. So I went back home together with a price list from the IT center and browse around the Gigabyte website to find out which board would give me what I want without going overboard on pricing.
I figured that by using an integrated graphic chipset onboard that would bring down the cost. I found that those boards that uses NVidia chipset did not have build in graphic, while those that uses AMD chipset will have the ATI graphic chipset embedded. I guess that should be ok since I’m going for an AMD CPU which should work very well with AMD chipset and ATI graphic chipset. I narrowed down my search to 3 available models namely GA-MA69GM-S2H, GA-MA69VM-S2 and GA-MA69G-S3H.
Gigabyte is promoting their solid capacitors which make their product more durable. The higher the S series, unfortunately means higher price. The S5 are the latest and best they have to offer, but for integrated graphic chipset, I guess S3 is still good enough for me. Going back to the All IT Hypermart on the weekend, I was really lucky that they had the GA-MA69G-S3H board as it was very popular and it was the last one on the shelf! They have a lot of S2, but the S3 are the ones most people go for as the price difference wasn’t too much and the S3 series features more advance technology than the S2 series. They were retailing the GA-MA69G-S3H for RM$310 which seems like a good deal.
The GA-MA69G-S3H board also boasts other features like easy overclocking, ATI crossfire support, HDMI, IEEE1394 Firewire. Though I won’t be using most of the features currently, but it is nice to have it should I ever need to use it. One thing about new motherboards, the number of PCI slots given is much less, with this board, I only have 2 slots available. However it does have quite a number of PCI-Express slots for upgrading of video capability especially the dual PCI-Express slot for upgrading to the ATI crossfire graphic cards. As for me, the onboard ATI was already quite enough for my needs with its ability to handle Windows Vista aero graphics and able to share up to 1.5GB of main memory makes it quite a powerful integrated graphic chipset.
After selecting the GA-MA69G-S3H motherboard, choosing the rest of the components was just a breeze. I went for AMD AM2 5600+ 2.8GHz CPU with FSB of 2000, 2MB cache, 1GB DDR2-667MHz RAM (the 800MHz was a little costlier, besides I was going to salvage some DDR2-667 RAM from my other PC and bump it up to 4GB), 160GB Western Digital HDD, a simple DVD-ROM, a floppy drive (yeah, still use that occasionally) and a good and steady power supply ATX casing to house them all in.
All in it cost about RM$1300, not including other parts salvage and slotted in from my other Intel D915GEV PC, which was not too bad for a total system upgrade.