Well, how do you do it? What is there to consider other than price and speed? And why do the companies that make them seem to make more than one series under different names, if they're all supposed to run the same operating systems and programs?
I highly recommend both for CPU and MB reviews. These days, there is not a big price/performance gap between the two major players. I usually go Intel based on past luck and since there are more MBs to choose from. However, you can't go wrong with a GeForce board and an AMD.
I didn't realize that was an issue... but I don't have a motherboard yet, and was sorto planning to get a "motherboard combo" which already has the CPU and memory, so that a decision about CPU and memory would just come with the appropriate motherboard...
Since you have no motherboard yet, my experience might be helpful.
AMD Barton xp2500+ is always my best choice with nforce2 chip-sets come into view. Its fabrication process is same with xp3200+ and easy to run at 200X10.5=2100MHz which equals to xp3000+. The fan selection is important to get low noise. Do a search for it.
My first setup 3 months ago was with Asus A7N8X-L. I was fairly disappointed with Asus setup because the picture noise of cable TV with DScaler was worse than the ancestor: PIII + Asus P3BF. Others and I assumed that's because of higher working frequency. It proves to be wrong.
Recently I had a chance to test a second nforce2 motherboard, Epox 8RDA3G. I bought Epox because newsgroup ppl's recommendation and because I wanted to compare two different motherboards.
Epox amazes me a great deal! The best of it is that it outputs a much cleaner picture you can tell right away. No noise. To control the variables, only the motherboard had been switched for at least two times to compare. Display card (ATI 7500), TV-Card (Philips SAA1371) and TV channel remained the same.
It also ran the CPU at 200x11 instantly, which A7N8X can't.
I remembered there was a comment about on-board power regulation circuit design. I took a close look and found Epox employs 3-stage DC power regulation rather than 2 that is seen on A7N8X-L. I think this is exactly the reason that differs these two boards.
The non-htpc case+power was fine with Epox boards and DVD/CD-R combo functions at the first place. And because the experiment results, I decided to swapped the Epox into my htpc, and put Asus into this non-htpc case+power. Everything seemed working fine except the DVD/CD-R combo would read only pressed CD-ROM, not CD-R no more. Problem solved with swapping a better power supply to this Asus board.
Asus board costs about US$30 more, with one less network and 3 less 1394 interfaces. But it's not the worst.
It will reduce noise and drop up to 10c off your cpu temps with the fresh air it secures for the heatsink.
I'm a big fan of the AMD Athlon XP. newegg has the best service for pc parts. In my opinion the best board is the Abit NF7-S (rev 2). It is IMHO the most stable board in the nForce2 platform. It also has built-in spdif-out with Soundstorm.
For the HTPC, I would lean towards the Athlon 2700+ (2.17ghz) for $127. Most HTPC applications prefer mhz over cache. Get Corsair XMS PC3200 and OC the 2700 slightly to 2.2ghz with a 400mhz FSB and you'll have a quiet but extremely powerful and affordable setup.
2) Wait a month and go with the nearby current TOP technology.
3) In both cases you can use ffdshow but will certainly need it in case of any projector (pj).
In case you use a monitor or TV stay with current technology 'and make it easy on your self moneywise by buying a second hand motherboard (many available on the internet) and CPU. In this case I would choose for the highest INTEL CPU you can get for a nice price as INTEL bypasses AMD XP cpu's on processing video data. I would not by an Intel less than a P4 2.66 .
If you need the BEST possible image you have to use ffdshow and ffdshow will ask for the highest CPU, technology can provide for the probably the next 3 or more years.
Then I would wait a month at least and buy the AMD 64 with 2,0 or 2,2 Gig MHz. This is an 64 bit cpu and surpasses the Intel (the 2,0 gig equals the 3.2 gig of Intel) But you are future ready and can overclock the 2.0 to 2.2 or buy the next 64 bit AMD and keep your hardware the same.
Remember in this case (best possible image) you follow the holy grail that make the PC such a nice road, because it can provide the best possible image with the lowest cost.
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