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Useful Upgrade Info for ya!!!

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This information is to help those who are thinking about upgrading their CPU in the near future. My new Athlon 2800+ processor just came in the mail at $409.00. I even came home from work early to install it because I could not get it off my mind. You talk about Flight Sim addicted!!! I find myself continually thinking about new upgrades to make in hopes of getting that ever increasing framerate boost. Well, like others before me, I'm here to tell you that frames don't come cheap. Also, I think we need to create a support group for people like us who continually obsess about hardware upgrades and how the upgrades we make are never quite enough, and thus we continually need just extra mhz or can't keep the newest videocard specs off their minds. The heck with drugs (I don't do them) and the heck with alcohol. I rarely drink anyway... I just don't have time to mess with that stuff anyway. I'm too busy flightsimming... Anyway, on to the good stuff!My general system specs:CPU Athlon 2100+ (1733 mhz 266bus) vs. Athlon 2800+ (2225 mhz 333bus)512 PC 2700 (333mhz) SDRAMASUS A7V8X (top rated KT-400 board)GeForce4 4200 128Mb (41.09 drivers)WD 80Gb HD (8mb cache)TL 8Mip MappingAnti-aliasing offMultitexturingBi-Linear FilteringAll airport and aircraft sceneray maxdefault weather which includes clear and unlimited visability FRAMERATES:Meigs default C-172 cockpit view = 23-25 vs. 29-30 Meigs default PIC w/POSKY cockpit view 767-300 = 14-2 to 15.2 vs. 17.8 to 19.1Simflyers LAX World Airports 7L PIC w/POSKY 767-300 6.6 to 7.8 vs. 8.3 to 10.2Man, that was a let down!!!! But, I will take every frame I can get.My next upgrade the new ATI R350 card (I believe its called the RV350, the ones that's supposed to take the place of the ATI9700 when released in April).HOPE THIS INFO WAS HELPFUL!!! (and let me know if I left something out)SIM ON!!!!!ROBB

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So where can I sign up for this "support group"? :-lol Well, maybe it isn't that much of a laughing matter, because when I look at the upgrades I've made over the last 3 years, I really have spent too much money on this computer hardware hobby as well. otoh, I do recoup a lot of the money I spend, because my policy is that 1 month after I install a replacement component, I sell the old one that it replaced on eBay. I usually end up getting good prices for them because the old hardware is always very well looked after, cosmetically mint and never overclocked.And the thing is, it has always been the purchase of a Microsoft Flight Sim that has prompted all my upgrades. When I bought my first flight sims (CFS1 and FS98), I couldn't afford to upgrade at the time, but my machine really couldn't handle them particularly well. Then I upgraded when FS2000 came out (not that it helped). Then I upgraded again when CFS2 came out (that helped a lot). And again after FS2002 came out. And again, a major re-build 4 months ago, just because I wanted to run high res terrain mesh and enjoy the visual benefits of a faster graphics card. And through all these upgrades, all my other sims / games always ran quite well on my existing hardware, without a need for upgrading.Perhaps where I am different to you is that I don't buy the fastest stuff available. Instead I buy the second or third fastest stuff available, so I save some money there as well. That said, I am trying very hard not to replace anything for quite a while, as believe it or not I am now actually happy with all aspects of my machine's performance, even though much faster hardware has come out over the last 4 months.All I can hope is that FS9 runs just as well on my machine as does FS2002 now (excluding the more sophisticated weather which I am guessing will require more grunt than the FS2002 weather engine). If FS9 turns out not to run too well, I'll either shelve it until I upgrade again, or turn the sliders down a bit. One option I will NOT pursue is to buy any new hardware this time around. I just have to call it quits at some stage, and that stage is now!!!!

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Robb,Thanks for that, I have nearly an identical setup, using a Radeon 9700 Pro and am ready to get a new CPU as well. What resolution did you test in?Was AI enabled?Mine:Athlon XP 2100Asus A7V8X512MB DDR 3200ATI Radeon 9700 Pro40GB WD w/8MB CacheWinXPMeigs at 1152x864x32, 4X AA, 16X AF, and NO AI:C172 cockpit: 35FPS767 PIC: 20-21FPScheers,Greg G

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I hear ya buddy! I started this upgrading thing back with FS5.1 when I had a Pentium 75Mhz and I plopped down a couple of hundred bucks for the Intel Overdrive processor (125Mhz). Just after I did that and my machine seemed to run fine with FS5.1, they released FS95 and my obsession (or $ spending) has not stopped since. You seem more sensible though. I, like you, absolutely will not take on FS2004 if it requires substantially more power to run. I mean, FS2002 really needs about 4 to 5Ghz to run smoothly!!

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>I hear ya buddy! I started this upgrading thing back with >FS5.1 when I had a Pentium 75Mhz and I plopped down a couple >of hundred bucks for the Intel Overdrive processor (125Mhz). > Just after I did that and my machine seemed to run fine >with FS5.1, they released FS95 and my obsession (or $ >spending) has not stopped since. You seem more sensible >though. I, like you, absolutely will not take on FS2004 if >it requires substantially more power to run. I mean, FS2002 >really needs about 4 to 5Ghz to run smoothly!! I agree it needs that much power (maybe even more) if you want to get absolutely everything from the sim that it is capable of delivering, but at least on my humble Athlon XP 2400 + I can still get lots of enjoyment on account of FS2002's scalability. So long as FS9 is just as scalable as FS2002 (and CFS2 before that), we should be OK for a while yet. I've usually been more than happy to drop a slider here and there in lieu of upgrading hardware. It's just that often each new MSFS release is such a quantum leap over it's predecessor, that upgrading is almost mandatory if you are to get the same level of satisfaction and utility from the new product as you did the old.And the thing with FS9 is that I can't remember ever being so tempted by pre-release screenshots. I don't think even the early FS2002 screenshots impressed me as much as the FS9 shots I have seen. Let's face it, those shots showing the 2D cockpits and weather are nothing short of stunning. So I really hope I can enjoy the new sim on my current hardware as much as I enjoy FS2002 now.

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in that case; MEIGS C172 25-26FPS, NO AA, AI enabled at 75%767 PIC 16-17FPSAnyway, yeah I've been battling that addiction for years now. Finally gave up and just let myself indulge until I burn out...heh...who knows how long that will take. :-) :-beerchugThanks again! Greg GAlmost forgot, was that a Barton core CPU with 512KB L2 cache?

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LOL! I am not using the Barton core. The Barton core has a lot less mhz but an increase in L2 cache as you mentioned. Mhz is for FS frames via floating point operations and cache is generally for integer operations (word processors). I mean, who cares whether or not your word processor opens .2 seconds faster with everything being equal with more L2 cache?Robb

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Because you don't mind easing up on the sliders a bit, you will probably save a lot of money over the years. I tend to want to be able to max out most options and use real world weather. Supposedly, with FS9, they are going to make an extra effort to optimize performance in terms of framerates. I read that either on this site or at Flightsim.com. They said something to the effect that they will spend more time doing the performance optimization than they have ever done before. Let's cross our fingers. If we can get about the same performance out of FS9 as we have with FS2002 using the same hardware, we should be in great shape!!! My pocketbook will be happier too. Either way, those FS9 shots are enticing though!!!Robb

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Right, I knew that, I just lost a brain circuit or something...MHZ rules FS. FS rules me.GG

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>And the thing with FS9 is that I can't remember ever being >so tempted by pre-release screenshots. I don't think even >the early FS2002 screenshots impressed me as much as the FS9 >shots I have seen. Let's face it, those shots showing the 2D >cockpits and weather are nothing short of stunning. Agree on all counts except those 2D cockpits. In my opinion they lack the 3D aspect (a good compare would be a very recent P-51 cockpit for FLY!) - they look too much like flat photographs. But I agree about the clouds - very good looking stuff indeed.Michael J.

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It sure would be nice to have dual processor support. I don't expect it will ever happen though. It's surely not worth the trouble since few of their customers will take advantage of it. No return on investment. (Face it, even if you'd buy a dual CPU machine, you'll be lining up for FS9 regardless.)

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would a dual cpu machine be useful when running the secondary programs like wxre etc. ?Floyd

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Greg,The 2800+ (Thoroughbred) is the best that you and I can do for awhile. The 2800+ (Thoroughbred) is a limited edition chip. The Barton 2800+ will be out soon if it is not out already. For FS2002, the Barton is inferior due to it's lower mhz rating. It utilizes extra L2 cache to boost it up to 2800+. Even the 3000+ runs slower in terms of mhz than the 2800+ Thoroughbred, the Barton 3000+ running at 2170Mhz vs the 2250 for the 2800+ Thoroughbred. The Thoroughbred won't officially be released as a 3000+ chip. The great thing about the Thoroughbred is that it is a very overclockable chip!! ANd, out board is a very overclockable board!!!Best of luck!!RobbExcuse my rambling if you already know this.

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Robb,I guess the 2800 is next in line for me, though I doubt I will do much overclocking with this board; my particular mobo just does not have what it takes to run with any stability beyond default speeds. Even at 136MHz FSB it crashes flight sim after a while. Memory tweaks? Forget it. I purchased 2 Mushkin 3200 (400MHz) modules and have to run them at the slowest timings. Memory bandwidth stinks. Guess I got a 'lemon' of a motherboard, but hey, it's almost 6 months old now, time to retire it! :-)Just another FS freak,Greg G

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I'm going the cheap route here...I'm soon getting a XP2400+ and Epox 8RDA+. I'm hoping to hit at least 2.4 GHz with the XP chip, though nothing can be taken for granted when overclocking. That would give it a performance rating of well over 3000+, not bad for a $140 chip. I'm not expecting miracles over my XP1900+/8KHA+ combo but things should be a bit better around detailed airports.

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Not a bad idea Jimmi, keep us posted. I just might take that route if overclocking is succesful. I have never had such a struggle bumping up a cpu as with this system. Default speeds are rock solid though.G

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I would retire that MBoard. Get ya a new NForce2 board or the one I am using for a little less money for about the same performance using FS2002. Both boards are very similar as far as performance goes. FS2002 is a CPU hog, and that is an understatement!Best of luck bud!Robb

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That is probably something I should have done actually. The TBred CPUs are pretty overclockable. I am going to take my 2225 CPU up to at least 2.4Ghz by increasing my bus frequency. AMD has locked the multiplier. I am not familiar with your MB, but at $140.00 a pop, you should have no problem. One thing I was thinking about is that with World Airports and scenery such as LAX, you would need about 6Ghz to get smooth framerates. That is why I probably won't try and increase my current CPU much beyond 2.4Ghz. I will throw in an R350 when it comes out to enjoy all the options with no loss in framerates.Moving up from a 2100+ (266DDRbus) to a 2800+ (333DDRbus) got me an average of about 4 frames per second, so that was a 100 bucks per frame. I think boosting it up to 2.4Ghz will give me another frame. I am not sure how high I can boost up the 2800+ using a good air cooled fan- which you will need a copper-based one for any AMD processor 2200+ and above.Best of luck!Robb

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Robb,I'm joining the discussion late, so I hope this doesn't get buried. I just set up my FS2002 to match yours (same display and hardware settings, weather, everything. The only scenario I can replicate is Meigs, because I don't have the scenery or a/c used in your other scenarios. At Meigs, I'm seeing52 - 58 FPS (~55 mostly)This is better than double what you posted for the 2100+. Guess what my CPU is? A 2100+! Now, I'm overclocking it to 2600+ specs, and pushing the FSB along at 192 Mhz with memory sync'd at this speed (e.g. 384 Mhz), so that accounts for things somewhat. But after doing some tests, it doesn't seem to account for as much as I would have thought. To see the effect of overclocking, I reset to the default FSB and multiplier for the 2100+, and in the same scenario I'm seeing:45 - 50 FPSIt doesn't look to me like the FSB and memory speed is in play here, only the CPU speed. Going from 1733 Mhz to 2112 Mhz is an increase of 22 percent. Going from 47 FPS to 55 FPS is an increase of 17 percent. We're probably seeing some nonlinearity in the increase in FPS per increase in Mhz as Mhz increases (e.g. it is going to be less than 1 to 1). If your CPU's are running at stock speed, you gained 22 percent in FPS (24 to 29, at Meigs) for a 30 percent increase in Mhz (from 1.73 Ghz to 2.25 Ghz), again less than 1 to 1. And while your simflyers scenario has very poor frame rates, percentage-wise the increase from ~7 to ~9 -- 28 percent -- is pretty good, and all you could expect from the increase in Mhz.Now, all that said, just a couple of more things. I still seem to be getting nearly twice the frame rates "out of the box" compared to your experience, and the only major differences between my 2100+ setup and yours (at default speeds) would be the chipset and video card. My mobo (Abit N7) uses the nForce2 chipset, and my video card is a Radeon 9500 successfully hacked with Soft9700. If YOU were to tell ME that just changing the mobo and video card could nearly double my frame rates, I'd be skeptical. But I cannot deny the numbers I'm seeing.Despite having what seems on all accounts to be a system others would die for (over 16000 on 3dmark2001se, and over 5000 on 3dmark2003), I don't keep all sliders maxed. I did max them for comparison to your results. But then I gradually restored them to the settings I use. Here are the results -- at stock 2100+ speed:45 - 50 : Maxed52 - 58 : Terrain mesh detail backed off to 80 percent52 - 58 : Max visibility 9058 - 71 : Ground scenery cast shadows off66 - 77 : Scenery Complexity backed off to Dense77 - 100 : Water effects backed off to Detail77 - 100 : A/C Reflections Off77 - 100 : A/C Cast Shadows OffThen I restored my overclock to 192 x 11 (2112 Mhz) and get100 - 125This increase in FPS -- ~25 percent -- is pretty good considering that I'm only increasing the Mhz 22 percent. But the FPS fluctuates pretty wildly at this level, so without an average counter it is hard to say for sure exactly what the increase is.FWIW.-Basil

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WOW! Basil!!!Let me contemplate what you have typed here. You must have the thoroughbred 2100+ which is supposed the be the best overclockable chip there is in terms of potential increase in mhz speed. I am not sure if my old one is the Tbred or the Tbird. I thinks is a Tbird which would not have been that overclockable...Either way, you specs are impressive!!!I see that your overclocking did about what mine did in terms of percentages. The other stuff you have here is blowing me away!!!!!I read the following article which is a direct comparison of my K-T400 (A7V8X) board and the ASUS NForce2 (A7N8X) board, and there does not seem to be that much difference between the two. http://www.legionhardware.com/html/doc.php?id=220I wonder what could account for that much of a difference between what I am seein and what you are seeing? If what you have posted is true, I'll run out tomorrow and purchase me a NForce2 board.I'd like to hear more about what you feel the reason for the difference is. Also, take a read at the article and let me know what you think. You may just be on a gold mine here!!!Also, why do you use the setting less than max if your machine obviously can do more than the max without difficulties?I feel like I am in one of those dreams where you have been given super great news, but then are awaken to find the same old stuff!!!Could it be your card? I'm guessing, if anything, it's your NForce2 MBoard.Here's looking forward to your reply!Robb

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>WOW! Basil!!! >>Let me contemplate what you have typed here. >>You must have the thoroughbred 2100+ which is supposed the >be the best overclockable chip there is in terms of >potential increase in mhz speed. Right, Robbie. It is a T-bred B. Actually, my o'clock of it at 2112 Mhz is pretty modest. A lot of people claim to get 2.2-2.4 Ghz with this chip, but when I go much higher, I have stability problems with Prime95. But hey, for $95, and with the performance I'm seeing in FS2002, I'm happy as lark.>The other stuff you have here is blowing me away!!!!! >Me, too.>I read the following article which is a direct comparison of >my K-T400 (A7V8X) board and the ASUS NForce2 (A7N8X) board, >and there does not seem to be that much difference between >the two. >>http://www.legionhardware.com/html/doc.php?id=220 >I read it, and focusing on the gaming benchmarks, the differences seem about like what are indicated in this review:http://www.anandtech.com/chipsets/showdoc.html?i=1719&p=9>I wonder what could account for that much of a difference >between what I am seein and what you are seeing? If what >you have posted is true, I'll run out tomorrow and purchase >me a NForce2 board. While I think there is no question that the nForce2 chipset is the better chipset for XP processors, those reviews would not indicate that the difference is sufficient to account for what we are seeing.>You may just be on a gold mine here!!! >This is the first time I've done a major upgrade where the results have exceeded my expectations. To me, the "gold mine" sits on a three-legged stool: the performance of the 2100+ XP, the nForce2 mobo, and the 9700 Pro (well it is almost a 9700 Pro, technically speaking).>Also, why do you use the setting less than max if your >machine obviously can do more than the max without >difficulties? >Well, I don't sit on the runway at Meigs watching 100-125 FPS very often. I do all my virtual flying in Alaska, with Merrill Field in Anchorage as a home base. Just to see what difference it makes, I just jumped from Meigs, where I was still getting 100-125 FPS, to Merrill Field, and the FPS dropped to 45-50 FPS. Then I jumped from the 172 to the Dreamfleet Cardinal that I do most of my flying in, and the FPS dropped to 41-46 FPS. Then I turned on ActiveSky, and the FPS fell a bit more to ~33-35 FPS -- oh, wait, some AI traffic is now waiting for me to get moving. I have a very rich AI environment in the Anchorage area, and I'll see the FPS dip down to 20 FPS at some point, though usually it stays at 30 or above.>I feel like I am in one of those dreams where you have been >given super great news, but then are awaken to find the same >old stuff!!! >Hey, don't wake me up!>Could it be your card? I'm guessing, if anything, it's your >NForce2 MBoard. >Well, like I said, there's three legs to the stool I'm sitting on, and I think they all play a part. But I do love the nForce2!There is one last thing we haven't talked about, though: memory. I have PC3200 DDR memory, set to run in sync with the FSB. Both the syncing of the memory speed to the FSB, and the level to which I can push the FSB because of the 400 Mhz memory (I have it at 384 Mhz with the FSB at 192 Mhz), adds importantly to the overall performance of the system.-Basil

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