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O/T -- what new NON-UPGRADEABLE computer to buy ?

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Firstly , let me explain a little. I belong to the school of thought that believes that the "Upgrade path" in computer purchasing is a myth. The reason for this involves money and value for money. It has always seemed to me that most computer systems are upgradeable for about 12 months before a new socket system, etc is introduced . So this means that , after purchasing the latest and greatest , you only have 12 months to upgrade -- far too early for me with my limited funds. After, I spend a lot of money on a computer system, I am not looking to upgrade after such a short time -- by the time I believe that I have got my moneys' worth out of the machine, it is virtually impossible to upgrade so I buy/build a new system.So for somebody who now has (and has had for about 3 years)a P3-500 with 256 meg SDRAM and a TNT2 video card -- what system should I be looking at within the next 6 months.? And why? I suspect that the answer is going to be to wait until the AMD XP completely reaches the end of its' design life and the new AMD is produced, wait a little while longer for the old XP price to fall and then pounce . This would give a considerable performance increase over what I have now plus value for my money. The only problem I have is that I have only ever built Intel machines and found them very easy to build -- I have read about all sorts of problems building AMDs - usually associated with overheating probs, noise, power supplies and drivers.Any ideas much appreciated.Thanks Barry

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Hi Barry,Indeed, I'd be waiting for the fall to make any new computer purchase as a package. The Athlon64 (or whatever it shall be called) should provide compatibility for any possible 64-bit programs/OS's to run on your system for the next few years. As well as the changing of the guard in CPU platforms, the fall will also finally have in place the next generation of AGP interface (8x), memory (DDR400), standardized USB 2.0 and Firewire on motherboards and a completely new generation of video cards (redesigned from the ground up as opposed to another GeForce generation). With those five platform shifts all falling in place this fall, it couldn't be a better time to upgrade a system to last for quite a while. The only pieces missing in any upcoming platform shifts are Serial-ATA for internal storage (harddrives, etc) and a settlement on a DVD writable standard (if ever :-(). Both of those are outside the scope of this fall, but they won't be major shifts for a few years anyway.I wouldn't hesitate to upgrade to these things in the fall. Since you're the type who doesn't upgrade for long stretches at a time, it makes much more sense to buy at the beginning of large platforms shifts and wait for the next round to begin a few years down the line. In that regard, you have perfect timing. Pricing today is so low (comparatively speaking) what with online competition that buying the best there is to offer at any specific point is the only way to go: you'll never spend more than three grand for a brand new top of the line system completely decked out anymore in this day and age (if, that is, you comparison shop and don't buy Dell's and such).Good luck,http://members.rogers.com/eelvish/elrondlogo.gifhttp://members.rogers.com/eelvish/flyurl.gif

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Hi Barry,It really depends on how much money your willing to spend. I recently set up an AMD system for US $800 (sans Ti4600) that runs great. Socket A has been around for quite some time, so if you go with DDR memory and a lower end Athlon (XP1600+), when the new AMD series is out, I would think that you could upgrade to an XP2100 or better for very little extra cash and still see a significant performance boost. Not all things will necessarily get cheaper. At present, memory prices are starting to rise (Although one would think the prices will go down with the release of PC400, but maybe not). Of course all such things depend on your needs at the present, and in the future. I will say that the AMD rig runs FS2K2 much better than the Intel rig.Edit - Of course you can't go wrong with Elronds advice. What little I know I've learned from him.Good luck.

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I thought I'd make this a secondary post since I don't really recommend buying a new system until the fall. But I also realize that many can't wait until the fall for a wide variety of reasons, so I'll post my recommendation for a complete system if forced to buy today (it seems to be asked quite a lot the past few weeks). This is fairly close to one of our current higher-end systems we sell to our customers (with a few changes more focused to an FS gaming market). All prices are the second to lowest as available this evening on Pricewatch and fully include shipping straight to your door. Availability and pricing should not be a problem for any of these components and pricing should not be too much higher (most likely lower) at purchase. These are of course US prices.---Motherboard: 1x Gigabyte GA-7VRXP KT333$114Processor: 1x ATHLON XP 2100+$228Memory: 1x Corsair CMX512A-3000C2 DDR 512MB PC3000 CL2$210Heatsink: 1x Thermaltake Volcano 7+ w/Speed Control Fan (3000-6000RPM) 1x Artic Silver 3 Thermal Compound$41$5Video Card: 1x Gainward GeForce4 Ultra/700XP Golden Sample Ti4400 128MB$275Sound Card: 1x SoundBlaster Audigy X-Gamer (or OEM w/1394 for less)$89NIC Card: 1x DLink DFE-538TX (if required)$16Hard Drives: 2x Maxtor D740X-6L 80GB 7200RPM ATA133 (quiet versions)$240 ($120x2)DVD Drive: 1x LiteOn 16X DVD$48CDRW Drive: 1x LiteOn 40x12x48 w/Smart Burn$93Floppy Drive: 1x Panasonic 1.44 (if needed)$17Case: 1x Antec PLUS660 (or PLUS660B for Black) w/330w$105Keyboard/Mouse: 1x Logitech Cordless Freedom Optical package$67Monitor: 1x Samsung 900IFT Flat 19" (1600x1200@75)$330Speakers: 1x Logitech Z560 400w 5-piece$151Cable Router: 1x LinkSys EtherFast Cable/DSL Router w/4-Ports (if required)$79----$2108 Total Delivered----The above could still have a bit better equipment if desired (such as a Ti4600 instead of the Ti4400, a set of Klipsch ProMedia 5.1's instead of the Z560 and a LianLi case with 430+ watt power supply, etc) but the configuration above is extremely well outfitted for a lower price - any higher end would just be fluff or personal preference (and some of the above equipment may not be needed such as the Nic and Router, etc). Against my own preference I did bypass PC2100 at CL2 for PC3000 at CL2 since PC2700 is what the motherboard was made for: this increases the price by about $50 - it seems to be falling every day in the states.The above system is configured for some of the highest end. Prices can be much, much lower for middle and lower end configurations.Hope that helps some people,http://members.rogers.com/eelvish/elrondlogo.gifhttp://members.rogers.com/eelvish/flyurl.gif

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Dan, Sledgehammer AKA Opteron is coming out in the first quarter of 2003, barring any delays, of course. As far as we know, AMD is on schedule with both the Clawhammer (Athlon "insert-branding here") to be released in Ocotber of this year, and the Opteron to be released early next year.Max Cowgill

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