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First time PC build

By bigredmachine ยท 41 replies
Oct 14, 2010
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  1. My HP DV9500 notebook is on its last leg so I've decided to start buying some parts and hopefully have a pc all put together before this thing finally dies. I was hoping my notebook would last me until I graduate so I'm trying to make it as cheap as possible for the specs I'm looking for, but I also want quality parts. I'd rather pay more for a pc that will last me longer than go super budget and have to replace it in a year.
    So far I have a case and a power supply. The case is a Thermaltake V3 and the PSU is a 500w OCZ ModXstream Pro. (I plan on buying the cheaper and "future proof" parts first and wait on the more expensive parts for when I have some more money)
    Here is what I'm thinking so far..
    -Motherboard: I need help with this!
    -Processor: AMD Phenom X4 955 3.2 ghz
    -HD: 500 gb minimum with sata 3gb..unless I get a good deal on something better.
    -Graphics: dedicated graphics..1 gb memory..need suggestions
    -Memory 2gb DDR3 (for now..upgrade later)
    -DVD-RW drive..whatevers cheapest..they're pretty much all the same these days
    -Wireless-N card..again whatever is cheapest at micro center
    -Windows 7 Home Premium

    So pretty much the two things that I need help deciding on are the mobo and graphics card. As far as the mobo goes..this seems to be the most confusing part of the whole system. I don't want onboard video because I want to be able to easily upgrade in the future and I want something a little more powerful. I want something that can support RAID so that I can add more HDD space later on. I'm not interested in overclocking or other mods so this isn't a deciding factor. Other than that there seems to be a zillion other features..I just don't know which boards are the best brands, models, etc. For graphics, I want something with for everyday use, and some occasional gaming but nothing crazy..full HD support at minimum. From my research it seems that 1 gig of ram is pretty standard these days.

    So this is where I'm at right now...let me know if I'm making a stupid processor choice or whatever could be improved while staying in the "cheap" price range..but again I'm looking for quality components too. Can anyone help??
  2. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    In the short term, I suggest you sign up for Email from Newegg; http://uh.urlgalleries.net/blog_gallery.php?id=2672047&t=3&g=medialink-79+(x20) Right now a Sony SATA DVD burner is on sale for 19 bucks, w/ free shipping.

    Also, see if there's a "Microcenter" store in your area; http://www.microcenter.com/index.html

    I guessing the the AMD 955 is a fine choice for the CPU. A quick look through Gigabyte's AMD motherboard should yield something with the features you need; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...007625 50001314 600007943&IsNodeId=1&name=AM3

    There are others here with better insight on AMD's product, they'll be along shortly.
  3. bigredmachine

    bigredmachine TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    I'm definitely familiar with the microcenter near me, but the wall of hundred of mobos with asian designed packaging doesn't help my confusion.:eek: Plus I never know what kind of reviews each board gets when standing in front of it at the store. Newegg is definitely easier to handle at this point.
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    If you know what you want before you walk in, Microcenter will many times beat mail order pricing on CPUs and boards. They're especially good on Intel CPU prices, the few that they carry are sold at loss leader pricing! (IE: Core i3-540 @$99.95)! @Newegg, about a buck and a quarter.

    It would behoove you to cross check the pricing on AMD also.
  5. Busterface

    Busterface TS Rookie

    AMD Phenom X4 955 3.2 and 2gb DDR3 is kind of overkill if you are going cheep. especially if the computer is used for everyday use and the occasional gaming. I have AMD 6000+ 3.0 GHz dual core with 2 gig DDR2 800MHz and it runs all the higher graphics games just fine. Just make sure you have a decent graphics card. Stick with the name brands like Nvidia GeForce or ATI Radeon.

    Picking the Motherboard is probably the most important part of the computer. Just make sure to read all the specs and that all the components you buy are compatible. Do your homework on these things. I'd also stick with name brand if you want quality.
  6. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Hi, could you post a budget along with the PC's ideal function. You mention a graphics card, but it sounds to me like you won't do much gaming.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    Buster, it pretty much a given that anybody ordering a board tomorrow, will be getting a board that the memory standard is DDR3.

    I have 5 computers, every one of which is different. Point being, If I wanted to recommend a system based on one of them, I have to hurt one of the others feelings. Better we should stick to making our suggestions based one the original poster's concept, and simply giving guidance on a part by part basis, and then only if it's needed.

    As HK pointed out, we don't really know the budget, or the intended usage of this machine.

    As to running on about 2GBs of RAM, that's really a wonderful amount for 32 bit XP, but 4GB is the sweet spot for Windows 7 64 bit. Windows 7 64 bit, is really the OS a builder today should consider, XP is pretty much over.

    And Buster, I have a final question, exactly who makes desktop add in video card chipsets, other than Nvidia or ATI?
  8. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Please don't read newegg reviews...

    You know that "higher graphics" games are dependant on the graphics card right?
    No? Ah, well, they are.
    On the other hand, I'd get on of the phenom II's depending on what you're looking for.

    Don't by one of the USB dongles, PCI cards are much better.
  9. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    lmao, I was going to ask that as well.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    HK, if I could make a small suggestion, please quote back to the originator of the statement to which you are responding.

    It does ramble a bit when you quote two different people in the same post, without their names being present.

    Just as an example:
    We can all probably help.
    I think a gamer would have said so already, but let's ask.
  11. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Wow, I never noticed that function. I suppose I should have known.
    A lot of my posts seem to ramble on...
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    You're probably being facetious about the quote function, so let me also apprise you of the fact you have to open the thread in another tab, then copy and paste the second (or whichever poster's comments) back into the original reply.

    AMD forever...! (just wanted to stay on topic)...:rolleyes:
  13. bigredmachine

    bigredmachine TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    I dont plan on using the pc for gaming but i dont want to rule it out. Im wary of onboard graphics because the last time i bought a pc intel "extreme" was the standard onboard video..has that improved since? Also i want to be able to upgrade easily later if needed, without having to install a new mobo. I was looking at graphics cards in the $50-70 range...GT 220?
  14. JyMz

    JyMz TS Rookie

    Hye...Im New Here... Can Somebody help me... I have problem with my pc :(
  15. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,102   +419

    Welcome to Techspot, JyMz. Please start your own separate thread rather than hijacking this one. Trying to answer two different problems in the same thread creates confusion and is a bit rude the the original poster.

    When posting your question, be sure to actually state your problem.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    You're speaking of Intel "integrated graphics", and yes, they've improved dramatically. The newest Intel graphics are built into the CPU itself, with the Core i3 & i5 series of processors. They're fairly good, but are most suitable for home theater, not any serious gaming.Since you're looking to build an AMD system, this is tantamount to a philosophical discussion anyway.

    The GT-220 isn't a whole lot better than Intel integrated ATM, and for some reserve power, you'd need to step up to a GT-240 or GT-250. They can be found rather cheaply on occasion. (This assumes an Nvidia purchase)

    Since you'll be buying a retail boxed motherboard, at least one PCI-E lane will be available for an add in video card. "Performance" motherboards normally don't have integrated graphics. With Intel chipsets, a "G", (now "H") precedes the numerical designation for onboard graphics, while a "P" indicates "performance", a video card must be purchased with these.

    However, many boards with onboard graphics perform plenty well enough in the rest of their paramaters, to allow you to wait to purchase a potent video card at a later date.

    As HK said earlier, it might be good for you to supply us with a budget, and also to read up on those motherboards I linked for you.

    I'm going to say that I think you should opt in for 64 bit Windows, and 4 GB of RAM. This is where computing is going nowadays, or that it has arrived, may even be closer to the truth
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    Probably, but only if you start your own thread, and try to tell us what's wrong with it.
  18. JyMz

    JyMz TS Rookie

    Im sorry... i dont know...

    My problem is.. When I restart or shut down... my pc will crash and it says Stop : 0x000000F4 ..

    why? Any solution?

    My Pc Spec :

    Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
    Intel i7 920
    Ati 4850 x2 Crossfire
    Psu 750w
    4Gb ram Cosair 1333mhz

  19. bigredmachine

    bigredmachine TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Thanks for the 64 bit suggestion..ill spring for 4 gigs of memory. For budget..im looking at sub $90 for a mobo and sub $70 for graphics..if discreet graphics is worth my while. I decided on the amd chip because i was looking at the sub $140ish range and it seems to be the best bang for the buck. Ill look at that mobo list when i get home..is gigabyte the only brand i should consider? Also..sincle im planning on using a pci wireless card, dont i need a board with regular pci slots?
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    I use Gigabyte, I'm fairly familiar with it, it works for me, and their boards are quite popular ATM. I suppose I'm a bit of a fanboi. They have me sold on their "Ultra Durable" construction. Whether that's hype or not, I suppose we'll have to find out in a few years.

    There a many good boards available from Asus as well, but sometimes Asus is a bit quirky. Or at least they used to be, with respect to memory compatibility.

    Also, you've stated that you're already "confused". I'm certain that Gigabyte has a board to meet your needs, (Which are fairly "mainstream"). So, if I limit your choices a bit, then the decision making process should go along more smoothly.

    As to Newegg reviews, they have some limited value. But, you have to get inside the reviewer's heads. Most people that buy an item and are happy with it, don't bother to review it. The malcontents are much more vocal, this is whether they know what they're talking about or not.

    So, review the reviewer, before you give any credence to what they say.
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    I tried to explain this to you in my last post, it seems I was not successful >>>> PLEASE START YOUR OWN THREAD <<<< Go to the correct forum, in this case let's say, "General Hardware", push the "New Topic" button, (near the top left of the screen), and complain to your little heart's content. Someone will be along to help you, promise. In the mean time, just Google the error number, and see what you find.
  22. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I really had no idea...but I did realize that I'd need to click quote for all quotes.

    Now without knowing a budget (you posted an outline, but I'm not so sure that's the best way of dividing your money; a total budget would be best) and without knowing exactly what the PC is for (you've still neglected to say anything other than the tidbit concerning gaming), I'd recommend these as a rough draft:

    MSI 880GM-E41 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1333LV4GK
    AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX445WFGMBOX
  23. bigredmachine

    bigredmachine TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Captain..Thanks for the Gigabyte recommendation. I had actually been looking at these in the store the other day. I think I might hit microcenter while im off work today and see how their prices compare to newegg.
    To answer the questions above..its not that I need a super fast cpu..but since I'm making such a big purchase anyway I'd rather get as much bang for my buck as possible. When I bought my notebook I went with the higher specs because I knew it would still be fairly competitive throughout my college years. If the video card wasn't constantly melting I would keep it a couple more years and still be happy with performance. Meanwhile, my friends who bought cheaper computers with low end specs 4 years ago are wanting to upgrade now. See what I mean?
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,499   +2,295

    Gigabyte offers 4 boards with HDMI onboard graphics;http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128444



    This last one, although expensive, has the most potent video; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128435

    If you are purchasing a board with the thought in mind of installing a better video card when funds permit, it might be a bit of overkill, @ 135 dollars

    You need to consider whether you need ATX or Matx form factor. This would depend on what will be your potential need for expansion slots.

    The CPU is the same price @ Newegg, or walk in @ Microcenter, ($139.95)
    Free shipping @ the Egg, or pay the tax and walk out with it at Microcenter. I always have trouble with this decision. Usually immediate infantile gratification wins out.

    The less expensive boards probably do not have RAID. To my way of thinking, RAID is just a problem waiting to occur anyway.

    If you do decide to temporarily use onboard video, remember that the memory standard speed is slower under this configuration.

    I'm linking this EVGA video card as an example of opportunistic shopping; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130533 This card is entry point "gameable", EVGA will absolutely send you the rebate, and it's 30 dollars under your projected outlay for a lesser card.

    The CPU is the same price at Newegg or Microcenter. ($139.95) Although you get free shipping from Newegg or, you can pay the sales tax, have it in your hand, and walk out with it at Microcenter. I always have trouble with this decision. Usually immediate infantile gratification wins out, and Microcenter gets the win.
  25. bigredmachine

    bigredmachine TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Thanks guys..For now I've decided on the Gigabyte GA-770T..its got USB 3.0, Digital audio, RAID, and plenty of PCI slots for expansion. It seems like this is the best bang for the buck for my price range. $69 with mail in rebate until the end of the month.

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