TechSpot

first time building comp, need suggestions on hardware

By Saurion
Jun 21, 2006
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Not open for further replies.
  1. For about a year now i have been reconsidering my decision to get a laptop prior to going off to college, thinking that the portability of it will be more important to me considering my degree plan and the need to take it to classes and the library. Well i will admit that it is handy to take it and write papers in the library, but thats about it. I have never taken it to class, and i find myself wishing that i had gone with a desktop pc instead. Mainly due to its higher power and "umpf" factor. So this year i have been looking around on all the big computer sites building computers trying to get an idea of what i want/needed. i ended up seriously considering a dell xps system, but then experimented in the barebones kit area on tigerdirect.com. I ended up building(or choosing parts) that wound up being about 600 dollars cheaper than the dell, with about the same performance (atleast what i could tell). Now my big concern is really if this rig that i have "assembled" will do what i need it to do.

    What im looking for is a computer that will be able to handle most of the games out there with very decent graphics, speed, effeciency. I will also need it to be able to do all the other school related stuff.

    With that being said, here is the rig:

    Barebones Kit: Ultra Blue Aluminus ATX Full-Tower Case with the Intel D975XBXLKR Motherboard, 600 Watt X-Finity PS & (2 x 512MB) Ultra DDR2 PC4200 Memory

    CPU: Intel Pentium D 820 2.80GHz / 2MB Cache / 800 FSB / OEM / Socket 775 / Dual-Core / Processor

    Hard Drive: Maxtor / DiamondMax 10 / 160GB / 7200 / 8MB / SATA-300 / RoHS / OEM / Hard Drive

    GPU: EVGA GeForce 7300 GT / 512MB GDDR2 / SLI / PCI Express / DVI / VGA / TV Out / Video Card

    CDROM: Liteon 52x Black CD-ROM OEM Drive
    DVDROM: Lite-on SHD-16P1S / 16x DVD-ROM / 48x CD-ROM / Black / Internal / Drive

    Other Drive: YE Data USB 2.0 All-In-One Internal Floppy Drive (7in1 card reader and floppy disk)

    CPU Fan: Cooler Master / Hyper 48 / Socket 754/939/940/478/775 / Copper / Heatpipe / CPU Cooling Fan

    Case Fan: Ultra Blue/Titanium 120mm Ball Bearing Fan

    all for the low low price of: 889.91!!! buy today!

    With that, here are some questions about this equipment i have.

    Processors: AMD or Intel? From my searching it seems as though Intel has got a hold on the Multicore Processors market. Atleast theirs seem to be more affordable, and more engineered towards household computing. AMD seems to be more towards high performance gaming and more expensive? is this a correct assumption?

    Motherboards: while the barebone kit site doesnt have a direct link to the mobo, its not hard to find it on the website. what are the main things to look for in a motherboard? i know to look for one that will match up with the case form factor, enough ram slots to expand into, making sure that the mobo supports the cpu, making sure that the video card slot lines up with the actual card (agp vs pciE). but is there anything else that i need to pay special attention to?

    VC's: big question is ATI vs Nvidia. I have talked to many people in stores like circuit city and best buy and they say that its really a personal tast issue. The one that ive got right now works in the mobo, and hopefully will be able to support most of the games that im looking at playing. BF2, Black hawk down, Halo, Half Life, etc. Now im not looking for mind blowing, 1000 dollar graphics. Im more interested in a card that will run these games with great grapgics, and not cost me an arm and a leg. If i could put it on a 1-10 scale (one lowest) it'd be just above mid range, about 6-8. Im looking to spend no more than..275$, but anywhere from 178/180-250 would be great. any suggestions?

    power supply's: i just read a thread concerning PS's made by ultra. aparently its not a very reliable supply. whats strange however is that ultra is one of tigerdirects (where i build this rig) most popular sellers. must be doing somethig right?

    The hard drive im not worried about right now, 160 gig oughta do me for quite awhile seeing as i dont keep many games on my hard drive as it is (albeit its only a 40gig)

    another area is cooling. the fan ive got works with the cpu and has very good ratings. will it be enough? is there anything extra that i need to look at, like heat sinks extra fans etc? ive already got one case fan, and probably going to go ahead and get two. what about drive fans for the hard drive? or are those really for when your running high RPM drives?

    If the barebones kit doest seem like it would meet what my needs are, would you suggest a different one? or go about it differently and purchase each item individually?

    I know that this is alot of information to cover in a single thread, however i need to get this cleared up before i make any big decisions on a computer that will hopefully last me quite awhile. Thanks for any and all help/advice/suggestions!

    Saurion
  2. eazy_duz_em

    eazy_duz_em Newcomer, in training Posts: 170

    for now you should certanly stick with AMD on a socket AM2(Fx-62?)
    and stay away from that video card it uses only GDDR2(not really high end card,cant handle full detail games) memory it's a 512mb but you can get better FPS with a 256mb GDDR3 card.
    7800GT 256MB ; ATI X1800XTX ; 7900GTX ; ATI X1900XT
    It's like the best you can get. Oh...and 7950 GT <- the dual card.
    Of course only if you have enough money for the hardware i just mentioned.
  3. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,573   +9

    wait for the Conroe... its in 2 days :D

    Even if you can't wait for the Conroe, wait an extra day (in 3 days) for AMD to drop their prices dramatically. Or at least watch them do it. Then come back :D
  4. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,573   +9

    wait... release is June or July? :p
  5. mod-newbie

    mod-newbie Newcomer, in training Posts: 31

    conroe is in 2 days? where can they be purchased? i heard that for the first several months only oem computers will have them.
  6. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter


    so by the 7800GT are you meaning a Nvidia based card? as well as the 7900GTX and the 7950 GT?
    Im also assuming that the ATI X1800XTX and 1900XT are ati radeon (no brainer)

    the 7950GT im also assuming is one of the more expensive cards as well. remember also that im really only willing to spend about 250 on a card. depending really on how my total changes once i change the mobo and processor if need be. if ive got a total of around 700 then ill more than likely be willing to splurge a little more on a video card.
  7. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Also, the AMD FX and X2 socket kits are really expensive. Would the AMD Athlon 64's work well? or would i be better off with the intel pent D's?
  8. JMMD

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,177

    AMD and Intel have price cuts coming. Intel may already be really cheap. You can get an AMD 3500+ for around $112. It's a single core but that's pretty damn cheap.
  9. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Of course i remember this now, but i dont plan on buying this computer right away, ive got about 500 saved up right now and still need the other..400ish. so ive got about a month or two of paychecks to come in before i can purchase this comp. so right now im just trying to get an idea of what im going to need once i have the money to spend. also, the single core amd athlon 3500+, will that be able to run most of the games out there? cause if it can, i can worry about upgrading my cpu later and just stick with something thats a little less expensive.
  10. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    One of the things i was concerned with was PSU's. Ultra seems to have gotten a bad rap, but people seem to love them on tigerdirect. others im looking at are enermax, zalman or thermaltake. Does anyone have suggestions on PSU's to STAY AWAY from? ive read and believe that this is the most important investment for the PC so i dont want to buy a POS and ruin a good computer. Thanks!
  11. KingCody

    KingCody TechSpot Guru Posts: 1,568   +7

    You are very right, the power supply is indeed the most important component in your system, but that doesn't mean that it has to be expensive.

    as far as the "ultra" PSUs are concerned, all Ultras are rebranded power supplies made by other companies. you really cannot go by customer reviews (either on tigerdirect or newegg) when it comes to power supplies. most people that buy them just hook it up and if their computer turns on then they write a great review about it (if it dies a few months down the road, they can't take back the good review)

    the plain "ultra" brand power supplies are made by a generic garbage producing company called "youngyear".

    the "Ultra X-Finity" models are made by wintech and are ok. they are nothing spectacular, but they should be OK. the main thing they have going for them is the cool looks and modular flat cabe system, not superior quality.

    I personally wouldn't buy one. if you compare same wattage models spec for spec with a brand like antec you will see that the antec models are actually more powerful.

    Thermaltake's high end models are good, but the cheap ones are garbage. and zalman is known for their cooling products, not their power supplies ;)

    The most respected brands of PSUs are Antec, Enermax, Fortron, and PC Power & Cooling. these companies make there own PSUs and they are good quality. they may not always look the coolest, but they will give you stable voltage, consistent amperage, and reliable protection circuitry.
     
  12. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thank you VERY much KingCody. I cant tell you how long i was looking around for some good solid advice on which ones to stay away from and which ones to consider. I cant thank you and the other great people for helping me with this computer. :grinthumb
  13. KingCody

    KingCody TechSpot Guru Posts: 1,568   +7

  14. mod-newbie

    mod-newbie Newcomer, in training Posts: 31

    AMD already dropped prices alot already for the soket939 models. i guess they want people to buy them now before conroe comes out cause they know they wont buy again for a while. thats my theory neways :D

    i would get a socket939 setup if i were you saurion cause they perform awesome and they are cheap to build now that am2 is out.

    and i agree with king buy a good psu, or you will be sorry later
  15. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Alrighty. After a few long nights of debating over new hardware, heres the new stuff:

    Case: Ultra black Aluminus ATX Full Tower clear side

    CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3500+ with fan (box deal)

    MOBO: Asus A8N SLI Delux NVIDIA Socket 939

    GPU: EVGA GeForce 7900 GT CO 256 MB GDDR3 PCI-E

    PSU: Enermax 535W SLI Ready

    HDD:Maxtor Dimond Max 10 160GB 7200RPM

    CD-ROM: Liteon 52x Black

    DVD-ROM: Liteon Super Allwrite DVD+- RW/ DVD RAM/ DVD +-R DL/ CD-RW

    Card Reader: Aerocool Cool Panel II Fan controller w/ 20 in 1 flash card reader

    RAM: Corsair Dual Channel 1024MB PC2700 (2 x 512MB)

    CPU Fan: Cooler Master Hyper 48

    Case Fans: 2 X Ultra Black/Blue Titanium 120mm ball bearing fans

    Chipset Fans: Zalman Northbridge Chipset Heatsink

    1092.87 subtotal, 90 in rebates, 102.87 final total.

    The fan controler, is that more something for high end/ high heat producing computers? Because if it is that kind of thing, i guess i could just go find a all in one card reader and floppy disk reader like i had up there and save a couple bucks. Although it sure would be cool to know just how hot it gets in there, is there software for that? or cheaper fan controllers/ temp readouts?

    Thanks alot!

    ~Saurion
  16. eazy_duz_em

    eazy_duz_em Newcomer, in training Posts: 170

    why did you get PC2700 ram Chips? :O
  17. KingCody

    KingCody TechSpot Guru Posts: 1,568   +7

    a fan controller is used to quiet your PC down by lowering fan speeds. since you will be using two 120mm fans, they are much quieter than 80mm fans (although they would still be too loud for me at full speed). a fan controller is nice because in many cases you do not need the fans running at full speed to cool effectively. I would recommend getting one, but it is in no way a neccessity. hardware based solutions are always better than software based for things like fans.

    if you're looking to save money, why the chipset cooler? is it quieter?

    like eazy said, you need faster memory. PC3200 minimum (maybe faster speeds if you want to overclock)
  18. Saurion

    Saurion Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks for the info on fan controllers. Also the chipset sink, I read multiple reviews on the specific mobo and many people had problems with the included chipset fan, i figured id go ahed and do some preventative maintenance and get it fixed now, instead of running the potential risk of damaging the system with a faulty fan. plus its only 7 dollars. just looking ahead...

    RAM, that seems to be the most expensive part of this deal other than the GPU, will look into some faster ram and see where i stand on cost. like i said earlier, im not buying this beast now, ive got some time to save up.

    One of the other things mentioned is to check the FSB before installing anything over 1k MHz. the cpu ive got is 2k Mhz, is this going to be a problem?
  19. KingCody

    KingCody TechSpot Guru Posts: 1,568   +7

    good idea i suppose. although most good mobos will shut the system down (selectable BIOS setting) if the NB fan fails, so there's really no risk of damage. but if would be a pain once the board was installed. so I can't argue with your logic :)

    there is very little difference pricewise from PC3200 to PC2700, so cost shouldn't really be an issue. your CPU's BUS speed is 200MHz, your RAM should run the same speed or you'll create a bottleneck in your system. (just in case you didn't know PC3200/DDR400 = 200MHz)

    there is no FSB on an AMD64 system. if you are refering to the hypertransport speed... your CPU is 1GHz. DDR brings it's effective speed up to 2GHz, but the actual HTT is 1GHz. your CPU and mobo will not have any problems working together
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