Future-proofing suggestions

Tarrosion

Weaksauce
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
110
Good afternoon,

It's been about two years now since I've upgraded my PC, and I'm looking to upgrade and future-proof a bit. The PC is used for both gaming and graphics applications (Blender, 3ds Max) as well as pretty serious multitasking. Also, this will likely be my last upgrade for a solid 4 years, so I'm looking to do it right.

Current specifications:

Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe
AMD 6400+ BE
Zalman 9500 fan
eVGA Geforce 7950 GX2
2x1GB Corsair DDR2 800
Creative X-fi extremeMusic soundcard
Enermax Liberty 620W
Seagate 160GB
Seagate 250GB
Win XP 32 bit SP3

My first question is whether the processor is 64-bit capable. I was pretty sure it was, but on the Microsoft website it said to check the PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE variable, and it was x86. (Yes, I apologize for the newb-ish question).

Assuming the processor is 64-bit capable, I was planning to buy the following:

Windows Vista 64-bit Home Premium (OEM)
8 GB DDR2-800 RAM
ATI 4870

Of course, since I'm pretty inexperienced, I have a few questions:

1) For the sake of future-proofing for several years, do I need to invest in a new motherboard and processor?
2) Since I won't be upgrading for several years, should I consider more than 8GB of RAM (especially considering this will see some rendering use)?
3) Is it better to go for 4x2GB or 2x4GB?
4) Should I consider a different version of Vista?
5) Finally, do these make sense as upgrade choices, and if not, what does?

Of course I'm looking to spend as little as possible, but I don't think I'll be able to get out for less than $450 and would much rather not exceed $850.

Thank you for your help and wisdom,
Tarrosion

Edit: Sorry, I left this out but I'm not sure if it's important: I'm interested in gaming, but I don't care about cranking games up to highest settings on huge resolutions. I have a 1680x1050 monitor and am usually quite satisfied with medium graphics. The vast majority of my computer usage is not gaming-related.
 

Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
46,062
1) When it comes to CPU and motherboards, there is no future proofing. Rather than just release BIOs updates for their older chipsets to support newer CPUs, Intel just releases new chipsets just about whenever they release new CPUs. AMD's CPU upgrade path is poor as well judging from their history of switching sockets often (S754, S939, AM2, AM2+) and their claims of backwards compatibility with their AM2+ CPUs working with socket AM2 CPUs didn't pan out well (only 17 confirmed motherboards would actually work with AM2+ CPUs despite the availability of hundreds of AM2 motherboards).

So in other words, you can't do a thing. In less than six months, any CPU and motherboard you choose today will be totally incompatible with newer CPUs and motherboards.

2) Well that motherboard can't support more than 8GB of RAM so no considering is needed.

3) 4x2GB due to the better prices. 2x4GB sets are horribly expensive at the moment.

4) No. Home Premium is a good choice.

5) Good upgrade choices.
 

tiraides

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 8, 2004
Messages
11,066
Nehalem, aka Intel Core i7, will be arriving within the next few months, and it will eventually make all Socket 775 processors and motherboards obsolete. (Core i7-based boards will also be using DDR3 RAM.) However, it will take several months after its initial release for the more mainstream (read: cheaper) components to arrive, so it really depends on how long you're willing to wait to build this system.

For right now, though, a P43/P45-based motherboard, a quad-core Yorkfield processor (either the Q9450 or the Q9550), and 4GB-8GB of DDR2 800/1000 RAM would last you several years with proper maintenance and periodic upgrading (of, say, the video card) as needed. The HD4870 is a good video card for your resolution, and it will allow you to play just about any of today's games.

As for which Vista version you should get, check out Microsoft's Vista page and determine which features you feel like you need. For most users, though, Vista Home Premium is more than enough.

All of Intel's Core 2 (and Pentium Dual Core) series processors support 64-bit computing.

Check out some of the other "help me build" threads to get ideas on which components you may want. Come up with a list, and we'll critique it here. Believe it or not, now is actually a very good time to buy parts, as you could get a lot for $1500 today that you would have spent twice as much on a year or two ago.
 

Tarrosion

Weaksauce
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
110
I must apologize. I think I was a bit unclear with my meaning of future proofing. I don't mean that I expect to be able to stick a new processor in my motherboard 3 years from now; nor do I expect to be able to play tomorrow's games at high settings with today's hardware. What I mean by future proofing is having a system that can keep up with the more basic needs for a few years down the road. For example, a system built 4 years ago likely would have trouble running Vista smoothly; I want to avoid that.

And if need be, I could buy a new board for more RAM, if it's necessary.

Thanks,
Tarrosion
 

engiNURD

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,828
You built a system 2 yrs ago and it wasn't Intel? tsk tsk. FYI, the name of your CPU is "AMD Athlon64 X2," and the "64" in there indicates that your CPU is 64-bit. ;)

If most of what you do is play games, you'll just need periodic vidcard upgrades for the next couple of years, IMO. If you find yourself rendering more than gaming, upgrade in about 6 months. Always wait as long as you can between upgrades, since that will yeild the most noticeable performance difference.

... For example, a system built 4 years ago likely would have trouble running Vista smoothly; I want to avoid that. ...

It depends on the system, but yes, it would likely have trouble, since dual-core, mainstream CPUs weren't out by then (but dual cpu boards were somewhat still common ;)). If you tend to change your OS when a new one comes out, you can base your hardware purchases on MS' OS roadmap if you like. :p
 
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