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Arguments For And Against Quot Older Tech Quot

Recently I'd been involved in, how shall we say, a minor dust-up regarding a thread on OCN, where a member was asking for upgrade advice for his S939 rig. Normally, it's not the kind of thread I chime in on; truth be told, these kinds of threads are somewhat annoying to me because, unless you really haven't done any kind of first-hand research yourself, the only thing I think you're looking for with a thread like this is some kind of validation for your intended purpose. I could go into more depth about this particular personal pet-peeve, but that would be a digression from this entry's intended agenda.

Anyway, the original poster had sought opinions for his Socket 939 system. One of his options was a change of CPU and/or RAM; at any rate, this pretty much means that he had intentions of keeping all his kit and upgrading within that specification. As I recall, he didn't state nor imply that he was considering changing platforms (i.e., a DDR2-spec machine).

Nevertheless, inevitably you have people who recommend jumping platforms, to either AM2 or C2D. To be perfectly honest, it makes much more sense to go to Intel, but to recommend AM2 is just a bit foolish, in my opinion. Why? Well, considering that AM2 is not that much faster than S939, why recommend this move? Why change from a perfectly functional and still-potent package?

Sure, S939 doesn't run DDR2; sure, new S939 parts are no longer being made; sure, DDR is a little more expensive than DDR2. However, can it really be cheaper to build a whole new system based on AM2 instead of a component upgrade in S939?

Modern overclockers being what we are, we would prefer to have certain components to be as good as we can afford. I would say that motherboards certainly fall in this category, as does RAM. CPUs and graphics cards we can afford to skimp a bit on, as these are what we actually overclock (well, we overclock RAM as well, but the attempt to boost a system's performance isn't dead in the water even if you use budget RAM).

Consequently, if you already have a good S939 motherboard, why contemplate spending money on a good AM2 board and CPU and DDR2, when the combination will not be significantly faster than what a good S939 setup can be? The argument is that AM2 CPUs are getting cheaper all the time, and DDR2 is dirt cheap, but a good motherboard for the platform is still not cheap. But tell me: Will a good RAM + CPU + motherboard all be cheaper than, say, a dual-core Opteron these days? Or even premium RAM (which really isn't necessary, in my opinion, to get a solid boost in performance from stock)?

Clearly, if you're only looking to upgrade one subsystem on S939, it's much smarter to spend just over a hundred dollars for an Opteron dual-core or 2GB of decent-to-good RAM (especially if you know how and when to buy such things). You spend more money on AM2 if you want to start over, and for what? Less than 15% or so of performance improvement (if that)?

Don't forget: Unless you've got a retail version of WinXP/Vista, you've also got to spend on an operating system.

Socket 939 is emphatically not dead, despite what certain zealots might want to claim. It is still a viable performer, especially given the state of software and applications today. Sure, it's no longer the top of the heap, but to all the people who ask, "Why buy into a dead platform?," I ask the same of AM2. AM2 is a mere bridge to bigger and better things to come for AMD fans and users. Once K10 has begun to mature, AM2 will be considered as dead as the dodo. My point is: Don't be so short-sighted when you shout to the high heavens that S939 is obsolete today, because it simply is not. On the other hand, AM2 will also be obsolete; what's more, I'll boldly go on the record and say that AM2 will have a shorter viable presence in the market than Socket 939.

It's like Poker, actually: Sometimes it's just simply smarter to stand pat and wait for a better hand to present itself. Play your cards smart, and you'll make more money than you lose.


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