Sunday, May 24, 2009

Modern hardware

Before 1-2 weeks I purchased a bit more modern PC hardware for home use. This time it's ASUS M4A78 PRO motherboard, AMD Athlon X2 5050e processor and a pair of Corsair DDR2 memory modules, model CM2X1024-6400C4.

Tom's Hardware articles/reviews/charts were very helpfull during hardware selection (I was not tracking PC hardware evolution for many months), so may be this is the right place to say "Thanks guys!" to Tom's Hardware staff.

So, about the hardware. This particular box was projected not to be "top-of-the-line" one, but more like "energy-efficient developer's & gamer's enthusiast box". According to the "energy-efficiency" part, I've made small setup and was able to measure the power consumption of this computer, but more on this later...

First, the platform. During last 2-3 years some of the machines I worked with were AMD-based. I liked them very much - powerfull, efficient, not overpriced. So I intentionally went AMD CPU, but looked for power-efficient one (45W TDP!), because I don't wanted to worry how to cool some 4-core 3-4GHz beast (and nor to listen the cooling system, breaking my nerves)...

So, the "e" series of Athlon X2 is now obvious, and the model I chose was 5050e - the fastest "e"-model CPU currently produced. Here are some links with usefull info:,review-31544-2.html

So, time for little CPU specs (this is part of cpu-z dump):

CPU-Z 1.51 report file

Number of processors: 1
Number of cores: 2 per processor
Number of threads: 2 per processor
Name: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000B
Code Name:
Specification: AMD Athlon(tm) Dual Core Processor 5050e
Package: Socket AM2 (940)
Family/Model/Stepping: F.B.2
Extended Family/Model: F.6B
Brand ID: 7
Core Stepping: DH-G2
Technology: 65 nm
Core Speed: 2635.0 MHz
Multiplier x Bus speed: 13.0 x 202.7 MHz
HT Link speed: 1013.5 MHz
Stock frequency: 2600 MHz
Instruction sets: MMX (+), 3DNow! (+), SSE, SSE2, SSE3, x86-64
L1 Data cache (per processor): 2 x 64 KBytes, 2-way set associative, 64-byte line size
L1 Instruction cache (per processor): 2 x 64 KBytes, 2-way set associative, 64-byte line size
L2 cache (per processor): 2 x 512 KBytes, 16-way set associative, 64-byte line size

AM2 socket is IMHO a good choice for users wanting to have a viable platform, capable of upgrading.

The part is the motherboard. ASUS had a big-enough portfolio with AM2-based products to attract my attention. One major point in my search for motherboard was the availability of the famous AMD780G chipset with integrated ATI Radeon HD3200. I didn't wanted to install discrete graphics (at least for now), but to be able to play my solid collection of PC games (some of them a bit more demanding these days). I think for an IGP HD3200 does it's job suprisingly well - I must confess that I expected much worse results with integrated graphics... I wanted one more thing from the new motherboard - to have all 3 types of monitor video-output:D-SUB15, DVI and HDMI. I move my machinery a lot at home and wanted to be sure this box will be able to connect with all my monitors (covering the whole mentioned range of connectors).

Here is a link to ASUS web site with some specs of the board:

And several words for the choice of memory - according to most reviews for high-performance home machines, looks like Corsair is highly recognized for providing very good quality/performance/price combination. So it was not hard to choose a pair of decent 800MHz DDR2 memory. Currently the memory timings are (automatically set to) 5-5-5-18, but the memory documentation states that it could run on 4-4-4-12. I'll try some new settings when I find some more spare time...

Software compatibility - works OK with Windows XP SP2, KUbuntu 9.04 and Debian Lenny (my OS of choice).

Hardware stability - everything worked nicely and stable. CPU temperature is around 34-35°C, the integrated chipset is 34-40°C, depending on the system/graphics load. There is only one fan, cooling the CPU. The fan has some auto-speed feature integrated into the ASUS BIOS, so when set to "silent" is good enough for everyday usage, even at late night.

This whole beauty is powered from a nice 400W Fortron PSU. I initially thought that I'll need a more powerfull supply for the new system, but it turned out that my components choice has payed-off very well in terms of low power consumption.

So, enough for today. Regards.