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Thread: New Computer Outlook for 2008, What should I get?

  1. #1

    Default New Computer Outlook for 2008, What should I get?

    Since this topic comes up a lot here I though a little review/tip sheet was in order for those looking at a new computer or have some extra cash to spend.
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    AMD – not a good year for their product line, maybe next year (Intel processors will beat them in all values this year.)

    Intel - 2008 is shrink & tweak year, 2009 will bring a completely new line of processors (Nehalem). For 2008 the CPU is going from 65nm to 45nm. What they bring is about a bump up in real world speed at the same core speed while lowering cooling/power. The new 45nm also has more built in cache and some other redesign/optimization. Celeron / Budget versions will be here in June/July.

    Memory – Real-world nothing new. DDR2 will be the best value as DDR3 is still too expensive (2-3x cost) with no real-world gains. 2GB of DDR2 should be the standard in new computers with the 4GB gaining ground fast. x64 is still troublesome for too many programs but hardware drivers are much improved.

    Hard drives – well nothing new here except higher capacity. IDE is all but dead in fact new mainboards and systems are coming with no IDE connectors now. Expect to see capacitors 1.5TB drives by year’s end and more "green" drives to lower powers usage. Solid State (Flash) drives are still too expensive and have a much lower capacity. Right now the very small 64GB SSD model is the biggest on the street and they run in the $1100 range.

    Video – Integrated video is ok if you are in the office otherwise forget them for modern games. Currently Nvidia holds a slight edge in the power/performance area so video wise this year it is mostly a religious argument. Both have single card with dual GPUs but they are not really the best bang / buck. By the end of the summer/year the next generation GPUs should be announced (FYI the 9xxx series from Nvidia is not a new generation).

    OS – If video is a religious argument then this area is a full-blown jihad. Like it or not games are starting to move toward Directx10. Personally the only problems I have encountered with Vista are due to poor third-party programming (as in they crash under XP too or demand admin rights). Yes there is a little bit more demand in memory but one can get 4GB of memory for under $100 today (yes I remember the days of computers only having 64K.)

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    So what does this all mean for someone looking for a new computer for games and what should they look for?

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 or E8300, quad cores are nice if funds are there but not required for decent gaming today. By next year or 2010 quads should be more useful in average gaming.

    Memory: 2GB of DDR2 PC-6400, 4GB is even better – just be aware that all of it will not be “visible” to 32-bit software.

    Hard Drive: Well SATA of course other than that how much stuff do you have? One suggestion is to get an external hard drive that you can use to backup the one in your computer - that way if the one dies or you need to do a recovery you do not loss things as easy.

    Video: At least a GeForce 9600GT or Radeon HD 2600 XT on the low end. For higher end a GeForce 8800GT or Radeon 3870. Anything more is over kill (same goes for SLI/Crossfire multiples.)

    OS – Vista of 32-bit flavor, (64-bit still too new for the home user)
    Last edited by mttcrlsn; 03-26-2008 at 06:47 PM.
    Matt Carlson
    La Crosse, WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by mttcrlsn View Post
    x64 is still troublesome for too many programs but hardware drivers are much improved.

    For higher end a GeForce 8800GT or Radeon 3870. Anything more is over kill (same goes for SLI/Crossfire multiples.)

    OS – Vista of 32-bit flavor, (64-bit still too new for the home user)
    Like many others I’ve been using Vista 64 Bit for the last six months along with the SP1 RC releases and now the official SP1. With the 12-15 games and programs I have tried none have given me any problems so far and I have noticed a slight performance increase in some of my applications/games.

    On the subject of video cards, the 8800GT and the ATI 3870 are not high end cards but offer very good performance in relation to their cost. The ATI 3870x2 and the new 9800 GX2 / 9800 GTX are the “high end” parts. As you can see in Crysis performance results the 8800 GT and the 3870 are far from “overkill”. The 8800 Ultra from 9 months ago will still out perform an 8800 GT; the ATI 3870 can’t keep up with either.

    Here is an interesting discussion about the future of PC gaming and future changes to CPU/GPU architecture.

    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...2277871,00.asp

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    In all honesty there's no video card available that can even come close to "overkill" for Crysis. Even the 3870x2 and 9800GX2 have trouble running it at it's highest settings on DX10.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by djt1 View Post
    Like many others I’ve been using Vista 64 Bit for the last six months along with the SP1 RC releases and now the official SP1. With the 12-15 games and programs I have tried none have given me any problems so far and I have noticed a slight performance increase in some of my applications/games.

    On the subject of video cards, the 8800GT and the ATI 3870 are not high end cards but offer very good performance in relation to their cost. The ATI 3870x2 and the new 9800 GX2 / 9800 GTX are the “high end” parts. As you can see in Crysis performance results the 8800 GT and the 3870 are far from “overkill”. The 8800 Ultra from 9 months ago will still out perform an 8800 GT; the ATI 3870 can’t keep up with either.

    Here is an interesting discussion about the future of PC gaming and future changes to CPU/GPU architecture.

    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...2277871,00.asp
    I also use Vista x64 on my main computer - however I was looking at this from the point of view of the average home user that will not know how to troubleshoot or avoid the x64 issues like installers or programs that will not run because they are 16-bit. Give it a few more years for thrid-party developers to wake-up (look how long it it taking them to wake-up to security now that Vista is pushing it more.)

    As for the video I was also looking at this from the real-world performance-cost point. Yes there are faster cards but they cost way more than one gains in realworld performance, most users do not care what the "benchmark number" is only that things look good and run smooth. Right now the PC video industy is in the "muscle car era" with high cost, high heat production and energy guzzling cards. One does not need a Ferrari video card when a Chevy will do just as well.

    Edit: I just checked the link to the and see that it is from Alex St. John - lets just say many of his articles have been a joke, just read some of the comments on this and a few of this other tabloid articles. He does have good points at times but misses the mark more than often. Funny thing is about a 2 years ago he said the PC was dead and the console is the future because of Vista - this year he has done a 180 and now thinks the console is dead because of Microsoft. Anyone see a pattern here?
    Last edited by mttcrlsn; 03-27-2008 at 04:31 PM.
    Matt Carlson
    La Crosse, WI
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by BNSF4723 View Post
    In all honesty there's no video card available that can even come close to "overkill" for Crysis. Even the 3870x2 and 9800GX2 have trouble running it at it's highest settings on DX10.
    And it does not help that Crysis was rushed out the door and has some major bugs with objects toward the end (aka both final bad guys.) I have played Crysis with a SLI 8800GTX and a single 8800GT - and I could not tell a difference in real-world play.
    Last edited by mttcrlsn; 03-27-2008 at 04:39 PM.
    Matt Carlson
    La Crosse, WI
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    Quote Originally Posted by mttcrlsn View Post
    Edit: I just checked the link to the and see that it is from Alex St. John - lets just say many of his articles have been a joke, just read some of the comments on this and a few of this other tabloid articles. He does have good points at times but misses the mark more than often. Funny thing is about a 2 years ago he said the PC was dead and the console is the future because of Vista - this year he has done a 180 and now thinks the console is dead because of Microsoft. Anyone see a pattern here?
    I have noticed this also, if I remember correctly he also has a column in a magazine called CPU. He seems to have some bitterness toward Microsoft stemming from the days when he worked for them. The information about the CPU/GPU integration has been talked about on and off over the last couple of years. The console is far from dead right now and PC game sales have declined dramatically in the last two years with the second generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony. At this point I have to admit my interest in PC games has also diminished. I have a XBOX 360 and I’m about to pickup a PS3. Even with my two PC’s, one equipped with a QX9650/8800 Ultra (soon to be 9800GTX SLI) most of my XBOX 360 games look and perform better compared to the PC.

    Nothing beats a game/sim that is designed for a specific hardware spec. The PC has become too much of a “jack of all trades” to ever become a really good gaming platform. Let’s not even get into cost differences; I can buy a XBOX 360, a PS3 and a 1080P LCD HDTV for less money than I spent on just one of my PC’s.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by djt1 View Post
    Nothing beats a game/sim that is designed for a specific hardware spec. The PC has become too much of a “jack of all trades” to ever become a really good gaming platform. Let’s not even get into cost differences; I can buy a XBOX 360, a PS3 and a 1080P LCD HDTV for less money than I spent on just one of my PC’s.
    If one was just playing games then a console makes more sense. Here I use my PC for email, word processing, spreadsheets, photo editing, video editing and games. If one was to design a console to do that guess what you have - a PC. In fact a console uses many of the same parts as a computer and there has been talk of making a card to put in the computer to do the functions of a console so that games for a consol can be played on a computer thus saving having to port it to the computer or the other way around.
    Matt Carlson
    La Crosse, WI
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