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 Guide, Dual Power for under $2000
By: Steffen Scheibler, September 18, 2002  Print this article


At the end of the day

This system packs a mighty punch for a comparatively small price. Competing OEM products, equivalent with this rig, cost in the range of €3250 to €7300, and other dual-CPU products (dual P3-1.4GHz) are in the same price-range but have less power and no upgrade path available to them. By building the system yourself, waiting maybe 3 - 10 days for all the components to arrive via mail and then investing a few hours to assemble it yourself, you are going to be saving at least €1000 and end up with a stronger system.

The performance of this system lends itself very well to intensive graphical work and even gamers will be satisfied with the performance. Hardcore gamers can also invest €200 - €400 more and purchase a GeForce4 Ti 4600, or other high-end video cards, instead of the MX-440 with 64MB DDR and still have a very cost-effective high-performance system. People who really value doing a lot of desktop work can get themselves a decent Matrox dual-head card instead, which adds around €100 to the price.

The AMD CPUs are particularly strong when it comes to rendering 3D, audio compression and business applications. Their weakness is encoding ripped DVDs to DivX, and that is due to most programs being heavily optimised for the Pentium 4 and also in part the memory bandwidth being less than a Pentium 4 with RDRAM.

The base-components of this system are flexible enough to allow the system to be used as pretty much anything –- the only component that needs changing depending on the use would be the video card. Whatever you wish to use this system for, for €2000 you can make this a powerful workstation, video editing machine or a gaming machine.

- Low Price
- High Performance
- Good upgrade path for future CPUs

- Picky about RAM and some peripherals.
- Overclocking is difficult
- Might have to mod newer XP CPUs to work in SMP mode.

At the end of the day, this is a server mainboard, and as such is quite strict with compliance to various standards. Quite a bit of hardware on the market doesn't quite stick to these, and you may experience problems if you add an "incompatible" PCI card. I advise you to stick to hardware that you would find in servers and high-end workstations from OEMs, such as 3Com for NICs, Matrox for VGA, etc, if you have any doubts yourself.

Finally, this is what you can expect ending up with. The sleek and stylish casing hides the monstrous power that resides within the beast:

The Rig

The Rig

Guts & Glory

Guts, Glory and 3200MHz of Power

In case anyone was clever enough to notice the 4th HDD - thats the HDD from his old system.

I hope this has helped illustrating that you can purchase an extremely powerful system for under $2000, and that if you are an enthusiast or a prospective enthusiast, this may have helped you make up your mind to give it a go.

Steffen Scheibler

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