Double Size

What kind of system specs will a new computer need?

Assume I'm going to be running XP, doing some light gaming (of the Gametap, not Crysis variety), and running some statistical analysis software (SAS, R, that sort of thing).

I'm concerned mainly of what kind of processor speed and how much RAM I will need.

Also, a couple of subquestions because I'm not a hardware person: is it worth it to sacrifice a couple hundred MHz of processor speed in exchange for a double sized L2 cache? And what's the performance difference between 2 DIMMs and 4 DIMMs?

Excellent question.

1st you gonna want an Intel (core 2 dual) processor, unfortunatley Intel out performs AMD in the mathmatecial calculations

2nd. Amd is more for gaming, but you'll be fine with Intel for light gaming But I would recomend getting a Directx 10 compliant card, just in case you want to buy something newer.
So that would be the 8 series (Geforce) cards

3. Try for Intel Core 2 dual@ speeds between 2.5 -3.0GHz, descent speeds + you can always overclock in the future, if you build the system. Cannot overclock OEM systems.

4. Better to have a mother board that runs dual channel memory, than one with out. I would go for 2gb of dual channel memory, I wouldn't go any further cause windows XP can only support 3Gb of system memory.

5. Yes it would be worth doubling the L2, it will set you up for future applications that need it.

To the last question: Man that can be a good benchmarker issue. Not an easy answer. Usually 2 dimms that run in dual channel can out perform 4 Dimms in the same situation. Usually the timings of the memory can be different if not set by the user (default). + remember the OS can only support 3 GB of it. So the 4th slot could be usless if you upgraded to 4GB. If you want 4 dimms to be efficent you'll have a situation like this:

2Gb (2x 1gb Pc 3200) memory
with 1Gb (2X512mb Pc 3200)
Both sets will be dual channel kits

Or you could just get 2 sets of dual channel memory @ 512mb to equal 2Gb to fill all the slots. Always better to have allot of memory, but 2Gb is fine. Plus if you want good speeds on the memory, you can always go to the new DDR3 type instead of DDR2.

Most Motherboads have 4 dimms, but some have 2, some can support up to 16Gb of Ram (only imagine anything that could require that), just look at each boards specs to see what they can support.

Hope this helped.

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