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Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 2:27 pm

Ultra-cheap SFF, please critique my choices

Fri Aug 11, 2006 7:24 pm

With the recent CPU price drops, I've got it in my head to build my first SFF system ultra-cheap by reusing AGP, DDR, DVD and HD (IDE or SATA is fine) and spending only $200-250 on SFF+CPU. I've done plenty of research, but I need some info on power/heat/cooling and thumbs up/down for the specific chipsets and cases below.

My criteria in descending order: cheap(reuse DDR/AGP), older games, quiet/cool dvd/xvid playback on a projector, pretty, oc or dual-core for occasional use as a render node, cf reader, firewire. Everything lists 200-250w ps, but these are conservative numbers compared to a desktop? (I heard that about Shuttle at least.) Do all of these have enough power/space/cooling for cpu, dvd, 1 hd, and one of my spare AGP cards? (6800gt, 5900fx, 9700pro/firegl)

CPU: At a minimum, I need roughly p4 2.6ish perf in older games (like hl2, sw bf2, rc tycoon, sims2.) For rendering, I would love a $150 a64 x2 (but I didn't find any s939+AGP SFF) or a $200 conroe (no SFF compat because of voltage, and newer SFF won't have AGP, right?) But, compared to the perf/value of those chips, I don't want to spend over ~$100 on my cpu. The $99 a64 3400+ 2.4ghz is more than enough cpu, but is it cool enough? Are the celD/p4 prescotts too hot? What about pentium D 8xx or 9xx? Which intel cpus have SpeedStep? Do SS/C&Q work while overclocking? Do they actually matter for heat/noise under low/mid load (like divx decode?)

LOOKS: I don't like the sliding panel on the Ideqs. The AOpen has a drive cover, but does the Shuttle have a faceplate/flap/door that I can use to hide my miscolored dvd drive? The S-Presso looks cheap/gaudy online, have you seen one in person?

I've settled on newegg prices below because they had the best SFF deals (vs mwave, zff, monarch), and are competitive on cpu. Things are divided up by socket to keep the cpu shopping sane, and I've marked my first choice for cpu.

intel lga775 (pent d too hot/loud?, via p4m800 ok?)
$155 biostar ideq c1
via p4m800, lga775, 220w, no fw, pent d 805 ok and cool per user review, only 2 reviews

$47 Intel Celeron D 326 2.53ghz Prescott 533MHz FSB LGA 775 EM64T Processor w/ Execute Disable Bit Model BX80547RE2533CN - Retail
$65 Intel Celeron D 351 3.2ghz Prescott 533MHz FSB LGA 775 EM64T Processor Model BX80547RE3200CN - Retail
$74 Intel Pentium 4 520 2.8ghz Prescott 800MHz FSB LGA 775 Processor Model JM80547PG0721M - OEM
>>>$96 Intel Pentium D 805 2.66ghz Smithfield 533MHz FSB LGA 775 Dual Core,EM64T Processor Model BX80551PE2666FN - Retail
$116 Intel Pentium D 820 2.8ghz Smithfield 800MHz FSB LGA 775 Processor Model BX80551PG2800FN - Retail
$137 Intel Pentium D 915 2.8ghz Presler 800MHz FSB LGA 775 Processor Model BX80553915 - Retail

amd s754 (via k8m800 ok?, 200w?)
$225 biostar ideq 220K
via k8m800, s754, 250w, fw, free semp64 2800 1.6ghz, decent oc

$160 shuttle sk21g1
via k8m800, s754, 200w, looks nice - can hide dvd?, limited oc

$54 AMD Sempron 64 2800+ Palermo 1600MHz HT Socket 754 Processor Model SDA2800BXBOX - Retail 1.6ghz (no c&q)
$62 AMD Sempron 64 3000+ Palermo 1600MHz HT 128KB L2 Cache Socket 754 Processor - Retail 1.8ghz (cheapest c&q)
$76 AMD Sempron 64 3400+ Palermo 1600MHz HT Socket 754 Processor Model SDA3400BXBOX - Retail 2.0ghz
>>>$99 AMD Athlon 64 3400+ 1600MHz HT Socket 754 Processor Model ADA3400AIK4BO - OEM 2.4ghz
venice, stepping E3 = bios issues?, free nf3 mobo

intel s478 (cheap!!!, sis661fx ok? cel not enough cpu?, too hot?)
$135 AOpen XC Cube EX661L
sis 661fx, s478, 220w, 4pin and 6pin fw, bios was/is flaky?

$120 ASUS S-presso S1-P112
intel 865g s478 220w, prescott too hot?, no oc, no fw, cf reader!, 2in wider

$44 Intel Celeron D 325 2.53ghz Prescott 533MHz FSB 256KB L2 Cache Socket 478 Processor - OEM
>>>$57 Intel Celeron D 340 2.93ghz Prescott 533MHz FSB 256KB L2 Cache Socket 478 Processor - Retail
$85 Intel Pentium 4 2.8B Northwood 533MHz FSB 512KB L2 Cache Socket 478 Processor - OEM no HT?

Thanks for taking the time to read all this!

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