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Kyle_K_ski

Potential PC build--need advice...

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I spent the past two days looking HARD at what it might cost me to purchase parts on my own, and then have a friend help me put it together.

Please feel free to look over the following information, and if you detect any systemic bottlenecks, or where I could get the listed part for less, or if there's a part that's likely to be defective, don't hesitate to let me know. Most of the following prices expire on Mar. 31.

Also, if someone could help me figure out with greater accuracy how large a Power Supply Unit I would need for this system. I think that I would need to go with a 600 W unit. If that seems a little high, it's because I've been told to "add 100 W" to whatever the initial estimate is, because it's far better to go with a larger figure than a smaller one.

MOTHERBOARD

-------------------

ASRock Socket AM3/AMD 870/Hybrid CrossFireX/SATA3&USB 3.0/A&GbE/ATX Motherboard 870 Extreme3

$89.99

------$13.99 for 3 yr. warranty

Motherboard link

============================

PROCESSOR

---------

AMD Phenom II X4 840 Edition Deneb 3.2 GHz 4x512 KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail HDX840WFGMBOX (Black)

$109.99

-------no warranty desired

---Buy with Corsair RAM & save $25 (see below)

Processor link

============================

RAM

---

Corsair Vengeance 8 GB ( 2 x 4 GB ) DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) 240-Pin DDR3 Memory Kit for Intel Core i3, i5, i7 and AMD Platforms SDRAM CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9

$99.99

-------no warranty desired

---Buy with AMD Phenom II X4 480 and save $25 (see above)

RAM link

============================

GRAPHICS CARD

-------------

EVGA 01G-P3-1467-AR GeForce GTX 465 (Fermi) Superclocked 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

$179.99 after mail-in rebate card

-------no warranty desired as it has a LIFETIME warranty by default

---Size & power concerns:

Width: 9.5"

Height: 4.376"

Minimum of a 550 Watt power supply. (Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 38 Amps.)

Graphics card link

============================

HEATSINK (unnecessary?)

--------

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler, RR-B10-212P-G1

$29.99

Heatsink link

============================

HARD DRIVE

----------

OCZ Technology Vertex 2 Series 90 GB SATA II 3.5-Inch Solid State Drive (SSD) OCZSSD3-2VTX90G

$169.99

NOTE:

Drives should be shipped with the latest firmware but make sure you double check. Upgrading the firmware of the drive is not supposed to cause any data loss however it is possible. The best thing to do if your planning to upgrade would be to install the drive as a secondary drive, use the OCZ utility to upgrade the firmware, and then (re)install the operating system and move everything over to the new drive.

SSD link

QUESTIONS:

Why isn't there an option to purchase the 3 year warranty through Amazon.com?

If purchased through Newegg.com, then...

$169.99

-------$19.99 one year extended warranty.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-227-601&SortField=0&SummaryType=1&Pagesize=10&PurchaseMark=&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&VendorMark=&IsFeedbackTab=true&Keywords=%28keywords%29&Page=1#SnetMark_120

*****ALTERNATE HARD DRIVE*****

- - - - - - - - - - -

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

$39.99

------$11.99 with 2 year extended warrranty

---do NOT buy from Amazon.com as they're having SERIOUS issues with how they ship their hard drives!

NOTE:

It not only has no instructions or software, it also does not have a connector cable, an IDE four-pin to SATA power adapter, or mounting screws.

A jumper has to be setup when utilizing this hard drive with Windows XP.

* The jumper must be installed prior to drive installation and partitioning.

* After partitioning the jumper must not be removed.

See here for more information!

http://www.wdc.com/global/products/features/?id=7&language=1

ALTERNATE hard drive link

============================

CD/DVD DRIVE

-------------

Asus 24x DVD±RW Drive DVD-RAM/±R/±RW 24x 8x 16x (DVD) 48x 32x 48x (CD) Serial ATA Internal OEM DRW-24B1ST (Black)

$19.99

------$7.99 warranty for two year including accidents (Liam!)

CD/DVD Drive link

============================

SOUND CARD

-----------

ASUS XONAR_DG 5.1 Channels PCI Interface Xonar DG Sound Card

$19.99 after mail-in rebate card

2.99 shipping and handling

Sound card link

============================

SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

$74.99

9.65 shipping and handling

520 W Seasonic link

Need 600 W supply?

OCZ ModXStream Pro Power Supply (600 W)

$68.94

6.95 shipping and handling

600 W OCZ Power Supply link

I'm debating if even the heatsink is necessary, but it's important that I build a system that's going to LAST for five years or more. Few things are harder on a computer than heat, so...

Some might wonder why I'm going with a Solid State Drive rather than a typical hard drive. The reason for that is pretty simple: our computer is centrally located in our home, out in the open. It's important to my wife and I that our two little children see that "computer time" is "public time." What we do can be scrutinized by all. That said, these two little kids are bumping into things all of the time, including our desktop's tower. Having a SSD will make it far less likely that a bump will ruin it. Plus, I want my programs to load up super-fast. I'm in the process of getting a (hopefully very low) estimate on purchasing Windows 7, and it's my understanding that SSD's work very well with the new OS.

Again, any timely input on this would be highly valued. I had wanted to not exceed $500, but I'm over that amount by about $240. Roughly $40 of that could be eliminated by getting rid of the warranties that I would like to have to cover my butt. Yet, if there are any warranties that I've listed that you feel would be highly unnecessary to have on an item, let me know about that as well.

Thank you!

Kyle

Mar. 27, 2011

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awesome build you have going there, i would go for the 600W PSU, or if you can 750W, it allows you to swap out the GFX card for a more powerful one at a later date, you'll see the little edited bar on soon i can imagine, as i read through it for the 2nd time and whatnot.

i would definately get an SSD in there for the reasons you stated, Win 7 loves them.

as for the CD drive, if you do allot of CD burning, you might want to look into a Lightscribe CD drive, then you can burn the disk, then flip it over and burn an image onto the title side to make it more asthetically pleasing.

you could go for just a normal drive, which minus all those (to me quite pointless) warranties would save you allot of money. all the WD drives are quite solid and they haven't broken on me yet, even with my clumsiness, that's the whole idea of OEM though, and your motherboard, if the makers have sense, should provide you with the sata cables and mouting screws anyway.

the heatsink is very much necessary, the AMD phenom build i did had heat issues with the stock fan, so i would definately go with that cooler you picked out

processor now i think, you could go with a Phenom II X2 black edition and once you are a little mor literate with your BIOS you could ATTEMPT an unlock to quad core. saving you either heaps of money, or it will refuse to unlock in which case said CPU stay dual core, or it will break, which is quite rare if you know what you are doing

uuuhh, and it is fantastic having all those parts but, you need a case. :rofl:

i had a Jeantech Phantom Case when i built my AMD one but i'm not sure they ship to america, worth searching though.

the power supply thing is because, after the first 6 months the power supply starts to lose the power it originally supplies due to the capacitor aging, so 300W seems more like 200W i learned the hard way what happens when you only just pass the requirment for a GFX card.

and if you have to, go with AMD for a graphic card in their HD 5XXX series, you could save piles of money, any one above the 5450 will do. AND you get better streaming quality because it is paired up with an AMD processor. neato!

windows 7 big Yes, then if you want, dual boot it with Ubuntu :P

Oh! quick tip if you build it yourself, build the PC from the case to the graphic card, seems stupid advice but other ameteurs like my dad, built the PC from the MOTHERBOARD to the graphic card, then he had to dissasemble it to fit it in the case.

so it goes Case open, PSU in, Motherboard in secured and whatnot, then the proccessor, then Cooler, then the hard drive, then the RAM, then the CD drive, then any miscalleneous parts that need to go in, then finally the GPU, don't forget to plug the PSU up to the components, or it wont turn on :P then wire the case up to the motherboard, so the power button actually powers the PC on, then close and test! and hopefully Voila!

oh about warranties, i dont think you need them to be honest, if they dont work, you can send them back.

Edited by Zeealex

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Zeealex,

Thank you for your nicely detailed response. That's what I'm looking for! :yes:

I'm happy to see that it looks like I avoided any systemic bottlenecks. Not bad for a first try at this type of thing, eh?

I did overlook a couple of concerns that I have. Needless to say, I want to incorporate whatever I can from my old system into the new one. So, here are my questions regarding that:

I have four sticks of Crucial 1 GB DDR, 184-POIN Unbuff Dimm 128MX6 RAM sitting in my old motherboard. Can I integrate any of this RAM into the new system? I see constant references to newer RAM and system specs by the term "DDR3." Is the technology divide now so great, that DDR3-based systems won't recognize/utilize regular DDR-based RAM, or...?

Also, my old hard drive is a 200 GB Maxtor unit, that uses an Ultra ATA/100 connection. Will I need a special converter/connection to supply power to it, and to get its data to be processed by a newer motherboard, or...?

While my Dell Dimension XPS desktop tower is no longer a "trendy" color, I feel that it's still possible to use it with all of the new components. It has 3 bays that are 5.25" wide across, and 4 bays that are 3.5" wide across. It's interior dimensions are 10 1/4" long and 6 3/4" wide. I was careful to measure from the innermost edge of the bays, and from the inside lip of the access panel. The width dimension is from wall to wall, as if a motherboard wasn't yet mounted.

I'm assuming that my 56K PCI Data FAX modem card can be integrated into a newer motherboard. As "old" as this tech is, I like to have it in case I end up in a part of the country without a coaxial-based service. Is it safe for me to assume that it won't be an issue to connect the modem to the new motherboard, or...? Does the new motherboard have to supply a special type of slot for it, or...?

Unfortunately, my power supply is 460 W. So, it'll have to go, Are PSU designed to fit a universal size, so if I take out the old PSU the new one will fit where it used to be at?

How confident can I be that a 600 W power supply unit will be adequate for this system? I know that you're advising a 700 W one, but my concern is, being completely ignorant as to how PSU's work, is that it'll needlessly draw more power than what is needed for the system that I have. Is this something I should be concerned with?

And I don't want to start a Nvidia v. ATI battle here, but I have only ever used ATI products. Most of the time, the Catalyst Control Center did very little to affect the appearance of the older games that I'm playing. Maybe that was due to expecting too much from it? For example, I wanted Ghost Recon to have x4 antialiasing, but in spite of using the .exe CCC generated, antialiasing was never applied. This holds true for most of the titles I wanted CCC to alter. And while there aren't a lot of titles that use Nvidia's PhysX system, I have to admit that when it's on, its impact on the sense of immersion is pretty enormous. Part of my wanting to try a Nvidia-based card is out of the fact that I've never owned one to begin with. And in regards to there being "better streaming" with an ATI card in combo with an AMD-based processor, does that mostly apply to watching videos? While I don't have the silky-smooth video framerates now, I certainly don't feel like I have to have something better than what I've experienced yet either. I don't need to see crystal clear clarity on an actress' face so that if I wanted to, I could zoom in far enough to fall into the pores on the skin of her nose. I want solid performance in a game, and since the human eye is already tricked into seeing fluid motion at 24 frames per second, I'm pretty sure that I'd be happy if my system can maintain 30 frames a second with PhysX turned all the way on.

On the other side, if I get higher framerates and less power consumption from an ATI-based card, then that's something that I'm willing to entertain right now since most titles don't have PhysX incorporated into them anyway.

Initially, I was looking at ATI cards. Here are my top three choices, in order from the one I liked the most to the least. Let me know what you think of the selections, and I might back out of my Nvidia-selection.

ATI

---

MSI R6850 Cyclone PE/OC Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

$174.99 after mail-in rebate

MSI R6850 link

MSI R5770 Hawk Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

$129.99 after mail-in rebate

MSI R5770 Hawk Radeon link

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1 GB GDDR5 VGA/DL-DVI-I/SL-DVI-D/HDMI/Display Port PCI-Express Video Card 100315L

$160

Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 3.5 x 11.5 inches

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 link

In regards to burning CD's or DVD's... In all of the years of owning my system, I bet that I didn't burn more than a dozen discs. I don't see much point inf creating a data-plate that will be oxidized and useless in 3-5 years anyway. I decided to invest in a few external hard drives, and with thumbdrives being so cheap, that's probably my future choice for storing data externally.

I don't think I'd have enough courage to try and fool around with a Phenom II X2 black edition's BIOS, which is something I've never done before. A costly mistake there would likely result in my not being able to replace said part. Unless you convinced me otherwise. :D

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thanks! glad i could help.

it seems you are have a good eye being able to match things up to compatability of the components

same story about the editing thing :P

first question, unfortunately not, the DDR RAM won't fit in the DDR3 slot for a start, and the PC will fail to boot if you do manage to get it in there.

as for the adapter, Ultra ATA i think is just a name to make it seem "cooler" and is actually IDE in which case there are thousands of power adapters going for almost nothing on amazon.

the case, is a tricky one, as usually the boards made for said cases are generic sizes and dont go on the ATX/MATX form factors, you could certainly fit the drives, but the motherboard is the larger problem, does the motherboard have a product number like GA-MA770-UD3 (not exact, i got that off my old AMD motherboard, by guess who? but like a similar definition?)

again, PSU's for big brands can have their own generic size, my Packard Bell Imedia 1559 (well, my mums old one) had a 250W one and when i went to swap it out for 300W the PSU would only fit at the top and it held on with 2 screws, it didn't fall out thank god but it made one hell of a racket.

the 600W PSU will be okay as far as i know, usually PSUs are rather stable and dont give you hassle i recommended 750W simply so you had more breathing room when it came to upgrades in the near future.

but if you begin to get louder than usual noises from the back of the PC, Random BSODs or shutdowns, send it back (if you can) and up the wattage.

GPUs now, i have never been an Nvidia freak or an AMD freak (but ALWAYS a Gigafreak) but i have experienced a fantastic difference when i swapped out an Nvidia 9400GT (i think) for a HD 4550 in an old AMD build, my Youtube videos suddenly loaded allot faster and the picture quality from VGA is spot on.

in games i had an issue here, my PSU died due to the power the 4550 was drawing during FFOW, it was an old 300W PSU from the packard bell mentioned earlier. so it was working more along the lines of 200W so i had to quickly swap it out for a more powerful 550W PSU which i found dirt cheap from the internet. as soon as i replaced the PSU, framerates improved i got the framerate up to 64 FPS average rather than the 10 it rolled out before the replacement. so i can't really comment, incase the PSU had something to do with it. but overall for more bang for the buck, AMD is one to go for. the CCC anti aliasing in GR is very subtle, you will notice hardly any difference unless you are on a better card. nvidia is the best if you dont mind spending more to get more, like PhysX but whts wrong with picking up an Ageia one from Ebay and running it with the AMD card?

as for what AMD card to go for, the third one, it has a VGA socket if you are using an older screen.

plus although i love gigabyte, i have used Sapphire before, and they are great!

now the modem, so long as it is removable in a PCI slot, i dont see it being an issue with moving it.

oh one more tip, earth yourself or wear latex gloves to prevent damage to the parts of you newly built PC

i see where you are coming from with the Phenom there, if i remember clearly, i went through was it 6 CPU's before finally unlocking one? but none broke, i ended up using them in other PCs and selling those PCs on as multimedia PCs rather than gaming ones, with a distinct DO NOT UNLOCK warning.

Edited by Zeealex

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as for the adapter, is this what you are looking for?

I just want to make sure that if I internally mount my old 200 GB Maxtor hard drive that it'll be able to be easily slaved to the new 90GB solid state drive, since I want the SSD to be the master, and from which Windows 7 and all of my other office/game programs launch. I'm just planning on using the old Maxtor for storing the documents that I create from the programs that are stored on the SSD.

Sorry to hear that the DDR RAM won't be any good. It's less than two years old. :(

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:P sorry, i edited it, but in that case you can use those adapters and make it external rather than slave it.

RAM is RAM i think it is the only non backwards compatable part of a PC i know of.

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Time's draining fast on my being able to get parts at the prices listed. Here's my "final" list of parts (I think). If anyone sees anything glaringly bad, please let me know as soon as possible!

Thanks for all of your input.

I decided to go with an ATI graphics card in the end. What cinched it for me were all of the mods/hacks that will enable Nvidia's PhysX to work on an ATI graphics card---no additional Nvidia card needed! I'll look into this a LOT more carefully later.

MOTHERBOARD

-----------

ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

$89.99

---Free Shipping

My link

============================

PROCESSOR

---------

AMD Phenom II X4 840 Edition Deneb 3.2 GHz 4x512 KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail HDX840WFGMBOX (Black)

$109.99

---FREE Super Saver Shipping via Amazon.com

My link

============================

RAM

---

A-DATA XPG Gaming Series v2.0 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model AX3U1600GB2G9-DG2

$49.99 after mail-in rebate

---Free Shipping

---it has a LIFETIME guarantee

---needs BIOS adjustment to get full speed, but this is typical for RAM

My link

============================

GRAPHICS CARD

-------------

HIS Radeon HD 6850 1 GB (256bit) GDDR5 Eyefinity Display Port HDMI 2x DVI (HDCP) Retail (RoHS) PCI Express X16 2.1 Video Card H685F1GD

$149.99 Price after rebate

---FREE Super Saver Shipping via Amazon.com

My link

============================

HEATSINK

--------

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler, RR-B10-212P-G1

$21.49

8.96 Shipping and Handling

My link

============================

HARD DRIVE

----------

300 GB from Jack!!!

============================

CD/DVD DRIVE

-------------

LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD Writer LightScribe Support

$22.99

---FREE shipping with promo code EMCKGHA62, ends 4/4

My link

============================

DESKTOP TOWER

--------------

Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, option Fans-2x Side 120mm Fan

$54.99

---FREE shipping

My link

============================

POWER SUPPLY UNIT

-------------------

600W Cool Master from Jack!!!

============================

TOTAL COST WITHOUT TOWER TOTAL COST WITH TOWER

$453.10 $508.09

CONSULT THESE WEBISTES AFTER PURCHASING TO OPTIMIZE NEW PARTS

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ram-memory-upgrade,2778-4.html

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awesome! looking like a pretty stable PC there.

the GPU may require you to use a power adapter but hopefully the box should contain one.

oh the very last link leads to a not found page :P

right, advice advice advice now, i'll burn it into your head.

ALWAYS know the instruction manuals for all parts left right back to front and sideways before you start, the hardest part for me on my first build was wiring up the case to the motherboard, i had lost the user's manual for the case so i didnt know the difference between the posative and negative wires so trial and error was my only way out of the tiny mess. also write down BIOS POST beep codes on a post it note and keep it on hand at all times so you know where to look if it beeps abnormally and doesnt boot. and if no beeps are heard and it doesnt boot, look at the RAM, take it all out, boot it up again and if it beeps to tell you the RAM is gone, there is your issue right away. most probably too high frequency.

Never force something in that doesnt want to budge, the least you want to do is break it. be careful of the graphic card if it is anything like a 6970 it is a MONSTER

oh and ALWAYS use logic and common sense, "what ifs" arent for a PC like this.

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Looking good there. Pretty similar to my own new game & family pc I've just built, which I'm happy with. Although I had to go with a much cheaper Athlon X3, you'll have plenty of power with your choice.

I also had a new 870 motherboard with IGP (Alex, you be pleased to hear it is Gigabyte though). The IGP is pretty useless, you'll know you will not Crossfire X it with the 6850. Presumably it is the same as when I was shopping around, the non-IGP equivalents are just as dear. It does mean you have an emergency video source if you are having problems with your graphics card.

Glad to see you've got a good case. Will give you the ability to do some over-clocking if you want some extra juice :rocky: I got the standard Sapphire 6850, which doesn't have any fancy vapo-chambers etc. but a game case with variable fans lets me pull the temp back down when in moderate OC. I would recommend MSI Afterburner if you do want to give it a go, very easy to use, has graphs, own bench-mark, On Screen Displays and works fine with the 6850 (and yes it doesn't matter that it is not MSI, works well with all manufacturers, and free how nice of them :D).

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Zeealex and Scott,

Thanks for your input. Again, it encourages me, and honestly, my knees are a bit wobbly contemplating all of the "wonderfully fun" things that could happen putting my very first computer together.

The little ones will NOT be in the room with me at the time, needless to say.

Your words, Scott, are causing me to reconsider giving overclocking another go. I'll try the program that you're advising after I run the card under its own design specifics for a while. Let it "stretch its legs" a bit.

One thing I almost ordered more of, in spite of my budget constraints, is more RAM. Do you think that I'll have enough to be able to run the STALKER series at its highest settings and still maintain a decent framerate? Keep in mind that my definition of "decent framerate" is the same as the industry standard for cinema: 24 frames per second. It amazes me how often I come across people complaining about having framerates that dipped into the 80's. What the...?

And now, one more request for help in regards to the operating system. If you can, please comment on it here: Win. 7 discussion thread

Thank you!

Kyle

Mar. 31, 2011

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(Alex, you be pleased to hear it is Gigabyte though).

you just made my day :D

One thing I almost ordered more of, in spite of my budget constraints, is more RAM. Do you think that I'll have enough to be able to run the STALKER series at its highest settings and still maintain a decent framerate? Keep in mind that my definition of "decent framerate" is the same as the industry standard for cinema: 24 frames per second. It amazes me how often I come across people complaining about having framerates that dipped into the 80's. What the...?

more RAM always helps, but just make sure nothing goes wrong with the current build when you build it first, and if you find it works okay, go for it! 4GB is still sufficient

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See my post in the other thread. 4gb might not do you any good with the upgrade. Verify with the college buy im betting it's 32bit which won't use above the 2gb of ram level.

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See my post in the other thread. 4gb might not do you any good with the upgrade. Verify with the college buy im betting it's 32bit which won't use above the 2gb of ram level.

32 bit accepts up to 3gb :P only uses about 2gb like you said. and like single core processors better than multicore

64bit accepts 4gb and above :D and loves multicore processors

Edited by Zeealex

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