Tech Support banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a (Gigabyte) GA-7N400 Pro (Rev. 2) M/B and am having trouble deciding whether I should upgrade the CPU from an Athlon 1300 or just buy a whole new M/B & CPU combination.

This is my "dream machine", the one I have dreamt about every time all my other inferior machines annoyed and frustrated me. So I want to do it right so I only have to do it once.

For a while.

Money is an issue. But not to the extent that I am willing to settle for sub-standard or inadequate performance.

The primary purpose for this machine (other than high-speed internet browsing) will be for working with DVDs. (A good graphics card is also on the "wish list", but that is another conversation for another thread.)

I've done some research and it appears the GA-7N400 Pro is a pretty good board, despite it's age, at least in that it will take CPUs at 400 FSB. However, other things I have read seem to indicate that the Socket "A" CPUs seem to be more uncommon at the higher speed levels. But that is just my (uneducated) perception.

And someone else mentioned that I would need to buy PC3200 (?) memory in order to achieve the 400 FSB, and since I am running DDR memory now, that would be an additional expense. So I am wondering how much faster does a CPU with a 400 FSB and PC3200 memory run compared to what I can do with my 7N400, DDR memory and a new CPU that maximizes this boards capabilities?

Can I run the board at FSB 333 with DDR memory ? What's the limit for DDR ?

This is the general nature of my questions. Any help, advice or opinions are welcome, and thanks in advance.

Barney
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
91 Posts
I currently have that board being RMAed to gigabyte. I had a billion issues with it. But anyways lets see.

First let me explain one warning to ya. This may have only been a fluke with my board of that model, but it absolutely hates high end CPU's on it. It was constantly crashing windows whenever I used a cpu with a bus speed higher then 300. 400 would have been out of the question. I always had to underclock my cpu to make things stable. And I was using arctic silver 5 and a high quality all copper heatsink/fan.

But yes. If you get a cpu with a bus of 166/333, then you need at least PC2700 DDR333 ram. If you get a cpu with a bus of 200/400, then you need PC3200 DDR400 ram. If your ram doesn't meet the bus requirement of the CPU, it will severely hold you back. On the other hand, if your ram has a much higher clock rate then the bus speed of your CPU, you will gain no performance at all. However PC2700 and PC3200 ram are basically the same price, so just go for 3200.

But again, be warned about maxing out that board's abilities. I'll hopefully soon find out whether I had a faulty board, or if the entire series is like that.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Lemme Know...

I had a fairly long conversation with one of the Tech's at Altex (a computer retail store here in Texas) and he explained to me the difference between 32 and 64-bit processors.

Bottom line is that I am not going to purchase an entirely new system to go to 64-bit processing; so I am going to try to squeeze as much performance out of my GA-7N400 as I can.

Given that it has been limping along with an Athlon 1300, anything I do should be a dramatic improvement...

The tenative plan right now is to purchase a AMD 3200+ and 2 sticks of 1 Gbyte memory (matched pair) and 2 sticks of 512 Mbyte memory (also matched) so as to fill all four of my available dual-channel DDR slots and stay within the Board's 3 Gigabyte RAM limit.

All of this and a high-power Antec 550 Watt PSU (or better maybe, haven't even started the research yet) should be the end-point of this system's evolutionary existance.

Any thought/opinions or advice ?

Next I am going to post a question on my other Thread about "matched pairs" for memories, and would appreciate any help on that question also. Thanks in advance.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
91 Posts
Barney Rubble said:
I had a fairly long conversation with one of the Tech's at Altex (a computer retail store here in Texas) and he explained to me the difference between 32 and 64-bit processors.

Bottom line is that I am not going to purchase an entirely new system to go to 64-bit processing; so I am going to try to squeeze as much performance out of my GA-7N400 as I can.

Given that it has been limping along with an Athlon 1300, anything I do should be a dramatic improvement...

The tenative plan right now is to purchase a AMD 3200+ and 2 sticks of 1 Gbyte memory (matched pair) and 2 sticks of 512 Mbyte memory (also matched) so as to fill all four of my available dual-channel DDR slots and stay within the Board's 3 Gigabyte RAM limit.

All of this and a high-power Antec 550 Watt PSU (or better maybe, haven't even started the research yet) should be the end-point of this system's evolutionary existance.

Any thought/opinions or advice ?

Next I am going to post a question on my other Thread about "matched pairs" for memories, and would appreciate any help on that question also. Thanks in advance.
The basic Athlon 64bit cpu's do not offer that much of an improvement over the 32bit, when compared to each other. (Like the Athlon XP 3200+ compared to Athlon 64 3200+). It will stay this way until we get a stable Windows in 64bit, with all our drivers and apps in 64 bit. That's still a long ways off.

Your 3 gigabyte idea is a SEVERE overkill. I would highly recommend you do not waste your money on that. 1gb remains as the most ideal size to do just about anything one could want, in the realm of 32bit PC's. Also, filling all your rams slots is a bad idea. Ram sticks often have issues, and you may find yourself wondering why your comp is always crashing. They are like christmas lights. When one is faulty, the whole string is bad. Please try to stick with just 1 or 2 slots. Your board can do dual channel memory as well. I seriously say you should just buy two high quality matching sticks of 512MB DDR. Install them in the slots your manual tells you to, in order to activate dual channel. If you put them in the wrong slots, the board won't use dual channel.

That 550 watt is an overkill as well. Let me spread along this fantastic link:
http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply/
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
195 Posts
An Upgrade Solution (of sorts...)

When exploring the entirety of the situation, I learned many things that may be of use to other Athlon Socket A Users.

First, There are now a bizzillion "Athlon" CPUs & Motherboards out there, and a User interested in performing their own upgrade (from the old, 32-bit system) is going to have to learn what is 32-bit and what is not.


For my GA-7N400 Pro, the Sempron is the only "new" CPU that will work on the 7N400, and only up to a clock speed of 3000 Mhz.

http://www.giga-byte.com/Motherboard/Support/CPUSupportList/CPUSupportList_GA-7N400%20Pro.htm

At least that is the limit as I read the chart. The upper clock-speed limit for the Barton is 3200 Mhz. The problem with the Sempron is not clock speed, but the FSB, which is limited to 333 Mhz. When weighing all the various factors, I decided the most important thing was to make sure to avoid making a large investment in high-end PC2700 memory (which may become obsolete, given advances in FSB speeds) in order to fully-support an old Motherboard AND CPU, both of which are already obsolete.

So retaining the value of the memory I need to purchase became the first priority, and all my decisions redounded from that point.

Since PC3200 is capable of 400 FSB, and the Sempron 3000 has a maximum of 333, I decided (ultimately) not to purchase a new Sempron.

LOL, then I went shopping for an Athlon 3200+ (aka "Barton") 400 FSB processor. Which are selling USED for @ 160.00 - $200.00 on e-Bay. New Retail sells for as high as $279.00, if you can find one in stock. And OEMs are RARE and hard-to-find.

But I found some here:
http://www.spartantech.com/product.asp?PID=AMDXP3200400OEM&m1=pg

Yesterday they had 18 in stock, selling for about $167.00. This morning they had 16, and I decided I had better get one fast before the price goes even higher. So I did. The quanity-in-stock counter immediately ratcheted down to "15". (Although 3 hours later, it is back up to 16, in case that means something.)

So my reasoning (at least this is what I tell myself when the pain of dropping $160.00 on an OEM CPU that is already obsolete) is that this CPU maximizes the board's computing power (3200 is still fairly respectible for a non-gaming machine) while I decide which Motherboard I want to purchase on a completely-new, from-the-ground-up system. The value of the PC3200 should be retained for a while (since I should be able to use it on the next system), at least, unless DDR2 completely takes over. And who knows when that will happen. (I had to limit my endeavor to learning about CPUs & Motherboards; I have NO idea what is (or could) be happening to memory.)

But if anyone else is like me, has an (AMD) obsolete system, knows they are going to continue to own a computer in a couple of years, I would strongly advise them to start learning and making decisions ASAP, unless you want to simply blindly follow the recommendations of someone that knows more.

Cause this (AMD) stuff is very, very complicated. So complicated that I considered throwing everything I used to think I knew about AMD and find out if Intel is any easier to understand.

Tried that for a couple days, until my head started spinning. Kept in mind that every review I have ever read indicates that AMD is a superior CPU, and should continue to remain so. This kept me with AMD, despite the fact that I know little more about AMD than that.

What AMD SHOULD be doing

Maybe it exists somewhere and I just didn't see it. What AMD SHOULD have is a graphic designed in a "flow chart" style. It should show all the different words that apply to AMD (words such as Duron, Athlon, Thoroughbred, Thunderbird, Sempron, Barton etc... including ALL of the suffixes such as "XP", "FX", "X2" so that people can see what these words apply to, what they mean and how they inter-relate.

Cause honestly, this is a mess.

I wonder if perhaps the mess is not by design. Given the predicted, long-term superiority of AMD products, and also the possiblity that CPU technology may be approaching a plateau (in terms of performance AND cost, factored together), is it possible that the complicated "naming scheme" may be an attempt to exclude all but computer professionals from making "nuts & bolts" decisions about what kind of hardware gets stuck in the box ?

The more complicated it is, the greater the need for retail "intermediary" service technicians. And I wonder what practical (meaning profitable for AMD) reason might be behind limiting aftermarket competition for parts and upgrades, by complicating the naming protocals beyond the ability for normal humans to understand.

A "Dell style" hardware community, where access to (and ability to provide) service, support and hardware is limited and therefore controlled ?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
You said that 3gb is severe overkill? I'm thinking about adding some RAM to my system, as I use After Effects and its a killer, as it RAM renders while I'm working and sometimes i have to wait for 20 minutes after making the smallest change to my animation. At the moment I only have one 512 stick, i was thinking about getting another 1gig, or just maxing out the board, as the graphics programs i use are really memory intensive (Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash MX and After Effects) Would I be hindered if I filled my slots up? Ahhh, I dont know what to do!!! should I upgrade my CPU, graphics card or just add RAM? at the moment these are my specs:
AMD XP 2600+ 333 FSB BOX
512MB DDR400
GA-7N400-L
ATI 9600XT 128M AGP CARD
and a crappy 400watt (I think, mayb be 350watt) PSU


Also...(I've been studying graphics hard and have been out of the hardware loop for 2 years! so dont look down on my stupidity now please... haha) the 64bit pc's, are they Dual Cores? Because I was thinking about upgrading to one aswell, as they are supposed to be good graphics and desktop applications... but appreantly they dont offer much for games at the moment as they're not written to support the dual cores? As I'm also an avid gamer, I would prefer to get a CPU that can do both...
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top