Gamer?EUR(TM)s Delight

Published Date
01 - Jul - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Jul - 2005
Gamer’s Delight
It's been almost two years since I assembled my AMD machine with an Athlon XP 2400 on an MSI K7N2G motherboard. All these days, I have been avoiding playing games-a complete waste of time once you get hooked, if you ask me. But, despite my best efforts, I couldn't resist the temptation-and joined our Skoar! team members for some 'fragging' sessions.

PCI-Express is the technology of tomorrow, and is the way to go

From then on, a daily adrenalin rush was a must to facilitate sound sleep! Back home, the onboard nVidia2 Graphic chip could hardly deliver when it came to Doom 3 or Far Cry. This was reason enough for me to upgrade and shift to the next level of performance.

The problem, though, was that upgrading just the graphics card was not enough. Also, I would end up with an AGP card, a breed with one foot in the grave. So, a complete platform overhaul was called for.

Join me on the journey, which saw me upgrading my PC to something that will last long-very long-and will allow me to play most of the games out there. Before asking "AMD or Intel," ask which platform offers upgrading headroom. To cut a long story short, ask "PCI-Express or AGP?"

When you're talking about a gaming machine, a lot will depend on which of these standards your motherboard supports. PCI-Express is the technology of tomorrow, and is the way to go.

Choosing between Intel and AMD is something better left for you to decide (read Digit's Processor Performance Test in the January 2005 issue for more).

I have always been an AMD fan, so it was decided that an AMD platform based on PCI-Express would be it.

My first stop at Lamington Road was a small shop. For some reason, the salesman was insistent on selling me a Sempron processor on an Asus board. "No thank you," I told him as I moved on.

The salesman in the next shop was better at tech, and offered me some insights. According to him, you can have a 754-pin or a 939-pin AMD Athlon 64 processor, the latter offering dual-channel memory support and hence, better performance at the same clock speed.

Hmm… what about clock speeds, I asked? "It starts from as low as 2800 and goes up to 3800 , but we generally stock processors up to 3200 , because there is hardly any demand for other clock speeds," he replied.

Next, what about PCI-Express? Can I use it with a 915 chipset? I could see the salesman was about to break into a bout of hysterical laughter, but he controlled himself admirably and explained that although the 915 chipset supports PCI-Express, it is for Intel processors and not AMD. I was impressed, and decided to lend him my ears a little longer.

On an AMD platform, nVidia and ATi have some good motherboards that support PCI-Express, I was told. Motherboards based on ATi's RS480 chipset and nVidia's nForce4 are selling like hotcakes, especially boards based on the former chipset. These boards retail for around Rs 6K.

What if I wanted to put together two graphics cards for the ultimate gaming experience? Motherboards based on nVidia's nForce4 chipset offer this functionality, and this is called SLI (Scalable Link Interface), but these motherboards are really expensive, I was informed. How much? More than Rs 15K, and they require a pair of special graphics cards. A pair of 6800 GTs should set you back by Rs 60K! Well, that's a lot of money, and I skipped the idea. I had no plans of settling for the ATi chipset, so I opted for a Gigabyte board based on the nForce4 chipset for around Rs 5.5K.

The salesman was a little upset when I asked him about Intel solutions, but he replied that 915 chipset boards are the best bet for PCI-Express platforms from Intel. He also cautioned me that a new replacement chipset for the 915 is due in a month, and that it boasts of support for dual- core Intel processors. Dual-core! What about AMD dual-core processors? They are to be launched somewhere in late October or November, and will be compatible with existing motherboards.

Nevertheless, I had to settle for a graphics card, and, in my opinion, nothing offers better value for money than cards based on nVidia's 6600 GT. The shop had a Leadtek 6600GT for Rs 12.5K, and I was only happy to buy one!

So, finally, my gaming rig looks like this: an AMD Athlon 64 3200 939-pin, a Gigabyte nForce4 motherboard and a Leadtek 6600GT graphics card. A steal of a deal for Rs 25K. Not bad, eh? 

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.