Showing posts from 2009

Fryday deals (or lack thereof)

For a weekend-before-black-friday, today's Fry's Ads have been particularly unappetizing. Even their budget offering of Sempron 140 and Motherboard at $59.99 ($49.99 after Rebate) pales in comparison with last week's Celeron E3200 deals. While a 2.7GHz single-core Sempron with 1MB Cache is pretty fast and energy effecient at 45W, it surely cannot match a 2.4GHz dual-core Celeron with 1MB Cache and the tests DO attest to that fact. HOWEVER, there are reports around the net which indicate that this chip can be unlocked to be a dual-core. Also, it seems to be seriously overclockable with some enthusiasts reports speeds comfortably above 3.6GHz. Note that this kind of unlocking or overclocking requires a much better board than that included in this deal.

The Mid-range offering of of Intel Core2Quad Q9550 and Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P for $270 ($250 after rebate) would be VERY interesting except for 2 factoids: First, Intel Q9xxx (or Q8xxx) series is now superceded by Core i7 and i…

Fryday Deals: CPU/Motherboard Combo

Intel Celeron E3200 and G31 Motherboard at $59.99 ($49.99 after Rebate)

This makes for a really good value machine, with plenty of overclocking potential. The processor E3200 is one of the very first value- and mid-range processors from Intel with Virtual Technology (the other one being Pentium Dual-core E6500, a 2.93MHz beast!). Historically Intel used Virtual Technology as a major differentiator between premium-range and rest of the chips - one of my pet peeves. Virtualization is important for running virtual machines AND for running virtual XP mode in Windows 7. E3200 runs at 2.4GHz, x64 capable and every bit as good as an E8xxx chip except for rather anemic L2 Cache. It sells for $52.99 at NewEgg making this - effectively - a Buy-the-processor-and-the-motherboard-is-free deal.

The Motherboard, G31-M7 TE is, admittedly, a cheap motherboard, the main disadvantage being only 2 RAM slots instead of 4. Once you get past that, it has pretty much everything a user wants: 4 SATA ports, one …

HP G61-320US Notebook at $549.99

What is so special about a 16" HP laptop? Well...this is among the first wave of laptops based on Phenom II based mobile chips from AMD. And since there were no Phenom based mobile chips, these chips should make a great advance from already impressive Turion and Athlon Mobile chips like ZM-, RM- and QL- series.

AMD based laptops

For serious and semi-professional users, there is one major factor that makes AMD based laptops (or desktops) more attractive than Intel based ones: As a differentiating factor between their premium range chips and rest of the line (i.e. medium and value chips), Intel removes support for Virtualization Technology from all but the premium range chips. The result is that very few Intel based laptops below about $900 have Virtualization. In contrast, the only differences between premium range AMD chips and their rest of the line are the speed and (sometimes) size of the cache. You get ALL the functionality but at reduced speed.

Till the days of XP and Vista, th…

CPU Heatsinks - OCZ Vendetta 2

Keeping one's computer quiet has become more important than ever, now that computers have invaded all corners of our homes. A quiet computer is important to one's sanity when it is in your bedroom, and is important to the total entertainment experience when used as a HTPC (Home Theater PC).

You need to attack computer noise on a number of fronts: The chief sources of noise in a computer are (to put it simply) FANS. The fan on the CPU heatsink, the fan in the power supply unit, the case fans and (if present) the fan on the graphics card. The secondary sources of noise (and vibration) are the hard disks and sometimes the DVD drive. A very important attack vector in the War Against Noise and Vibration in Computers (WANVIC?) is also the computer case. A strong, sturdy case with good insulation reduces the noise and vibrations considerably.

In the coming weeks, I will try and present recommendations on all the components mentioned above. Let us start with CPU heat-sink.

In terms of WA…

Fryday deals: cases and coolers

There is not much in the way of great deals at Fry's this Friday. Here are a couple of minor ones, though.

Cooler Master Elite 360 for $24.99

This case can be used as a tower or a desktop. It is also relatively skinny, as the cases go. That makes it ideal for a Home Theatre PC (HTPC). It is one of the very few cases that can be used for HTPC AND accept full ATX boards. There is a price to pay for it though! Assembling it is a bit of a hassle, but not too much. It is well built for its price and is reasonably quiet. It usually sells for $35 - $40, which itself is a good price. At $25, it is a really-good-price. For more information on this product, as well as reviews, trust NewEgg.

KingWin XT-964 CPU HeatSink for $19.99 ($4.99 after rebate)

This has to be one of the shortest heat-sinks with lateral (or upright) fan. There are two factors responsible for this: First, it uses a 92mm fan instead of an 120mm one. Second, the grilled body sits very low. It needs only about 5" clearance…
Best Performance Rig

Quick disclaimer: This recommendation applies only if you are building a new system from scratch. If you are planning to re-use any of your old setup, lookout for ‘Best Upgrade of the Week’ series in ‘Bay Area Computing’, which will spell out the best ‘value for money’ upgrade options that week.

Also, the prices that I mention are good for today, Nov. 4th 2009. Prices of computer components generally only head downwards, but it is not always guaranteed. For instance, DDR2 and DDR3 prices are on upwards trend recently. Micro-center may decide to end their processor price differential and either of our processors-of-choice may end up costing up to $50 more.Processor

As of today, there are only two processors of choice for a top notch performance rig: Core i5 750 and Core i7 860. Here is an excellent analysis including benchmarks of 750 and 870, which is the same as 860, but runs 4% faster. Both of these processors run on Socket LGA-1156. Stay with me as I set out to ex…