Day 1


    I started the preliminary research today.  At this moment the only knowledge I have is that I want to go with an AMD processor because of what I have heard about the performance and the good price.  So, this will start me off on my motherboard and processor research.  I want to go with the top of the line processor and motherboard so that this computer will last me a while before I need to upgrade it.  There are many motherboards out there for AMD processors, so the research may take a while.  I will start researching the processor.

    On first look at some of the comparisons between Pentium and AMD processors it seems as though Pentium processors outclass AMD.  However, there are many factors that go into how a processor performs.  You have to take into account the FSB (Front Side Bus) and the processor speed.  After reading some articles, it becomes apparent that the Intel processors cannot make use of their full potential.  So, even though the processors are clocked at a high speed, they are not actually performing at that speed, because their processor architecture is not as good as AMD's.  In some tests, an AMD processor clocked at (or over-clocked, I should say) 2.3 GHz outperformed and Intel processor over-clocked to 3.0 GHz.  This has strengthened my belief that AMD processors are great quality and are just as good as Intel processors.  AMD's processors do not necessarily have the clock speed of the Intel processors, but they do cost about $300 less.  This is important in my project because I need to stay on budget.  So, even though Intel may have a little edge on AMD, the cost for performance for AMD is much less that for Intel.

Sites used for reference:

    In searching for a motherboard, I found that there are many different ones that perform about the same.  So an in-depth look at the features helps to narrow the field.  After looking at 18 different mobo's, I narrowed it down to two: the Soyo SY-KT333 Dragon Ultra and the Gigabyte GA-7VRXP.  Both of these boards performed about the same, with the Gigabyte board a little above on performance.  Both boards have similar features including onboard sound, ethernet, and USB 2.0 ports.  Considering that their features are almost identical, I had to look at the extras that come with the boards.  The Gigabyte board does not come with many extras (not really any at all), but the Soyo board comes with two bonus components, bonus software, and a bunch of other stuff.  The cost difference is not too much.  The Soyo board only costs about $30 more.

Sites used for reference:

Memory is very important in order for a computer to fun well.  The more memory, the more programs you can run at once.  Because of my choice of motherboard I will be going with 512 megabytes of DDR (Double Data Rate) SD-RAM.  This is the fastest memory out right now, but because of the price I am going with 512 megs instead of 1 gigabyte as I was thinking of going with before I started my research.  This memory will help with complex, intense graphics programs such as CAD, which I will be using in college for my major in mechanical engineering.


    Today I learned that features on different component are not always what they seem.  Some processors may seem fast when you look at their specs on a site, but you really need to look at the research tests to find out which ones perform well.  In combination with that, you need to find out if a certain component is worth the price that the company is asking.  In Intel's case, I figured that they are asking too much for processors that outperform AMD's by only a little bit.  Therefore, AMD has a better price/performance ratio for their processors.  Also, motherboards tend to be almost identical.  This is another case where it helps to look at the performance data and comparisons and then take into consideration the extras that come with the board.  I have also talked to some people online who have put together computers before, and their advice has also helped a lot.  The advice people give you can be invaluable, I have found.