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Help on buying a new PC

By Matt Harris · 15 replies
Feb 22, 2005
  1. Hi everyone

    I hope i have posted this in the right place.

    Ok well from the title we know what this is about.

    I am going to buy a new computer at Easter time and that is just the case an all of its components as i already have a monitor, printer etc. I have a budget of a grand, so i want to get something that will have some potential for the future as i am a poor student and cannot keep buying them.

    My brother is an IT manager, his mate is a technical suport guy for a company and i have a mate who works at IBM, so i have had much advice from them that is all different. It is very confusing, so i was hoping for some more confusion here.

    I use the PC for computer games and software such as Maya, so i am in a difficult situation where i need something that will work well as a workstation and can play top games. I have been told that AMD are better for games on the whole, but if you want something for both Intel is the better option. I do not know what to get out of a PCI-Express Ati or Nividia card over a workstation graphics card, as i don't know how they run games. My mate at IBM said that it is no point going for DDR2 as some good Kingston or Crosshair DDR ram are just as good and cheaper, but i wonder what would be better in the future. I was even told not to bother with 64 bit Processors as when the new windows does come out it still wont make much difference.

    I know i am throwing a lot at you all, but it is just very confusing, so if you could give me some of your input to help me build a PC with potential to be upgraded in the future to last for a fair few years then that will be good. I know you can never keep up with the technology, but something that can still run the latest games and software for a while. That is where i need a good motherboard, but i don't know what to get. I was thinking about the Asus P5AD2 Premium.

    If you managed to read through this boring mess then any help would be much appreciated.


  2. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 766

    Hey Matt and welcome to Techspot!

    Ignore the rumors about 64-bit CPU. You can get AMD 64 (either socket 754 or 939) you will get best games out of it BUT Intel Pentium 4 2.8C ghz with HT (1mb L2 cache) perform better for multi-tasking and games too. (both socket 478 and 775). If you want a budget gaming pc for under a grand. My suggestion is get Intel Celeron 540. Use a stick or two of 512MB or more Dual-Channel PC3700. <still cheap but strong> CPU and ram should cost you close to between of $275 to $400.

  3. Matt Harris

    Matt Harris TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Cheers for replying Lucan.

    I don't want to go for a Celeron that is what i have at the moment and although they are cheaper i know they are bottom end and do not perform aswell. With a grand budget that can get me quite a lot so i don't need the cheapist.

    If anyone could make me a PC from a grand budget that is good for software and games also having some good potential for the future to last me a fair few years before upgrading again then that would be good help.

    Ta anyway Lucan i only want opinions and that is what u gave me.
  4. bushwhacker

    bushwhacker TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 766

    no you munderstood me.

    Celeron is great for budget business or gaming. even they pack small amount of cache, they still works fine. if you want to have a first person shooting... consider a better video card. if you want RPG or simulation games, you can have this celeron, pentiun 4 or AMD.

    Bear in mind... Celeron generate much less heat than all cpu (except VIA c3 processor)


    P.S. For the bang of buck, get ATI Radeom 9600XT or nVIDIA GeForce FX5700 Ultra
  5. Matt Harris

    Matt Harris TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The thing is Celeron processors are not very good and i need a good processor, becasue when you are rendering out a detailed animation scene it is the processing power it needs.

    I was thinking that maybe one of the new prescott pentium 4 processors would be good for what i want to do.

    The information you gave me is good for games, but i need something for both. I have a lot of expensive software you see.
  6. pizzada

    pizzada TS Booster Posts: 65

    I would stay far away from Celerons...they are not very good for gaming, even with a decent graphics card.

    I don't know everything you would need, but I threw together this set-up at NewEgg.com:


    I went 10 cents over your budget,((including shipping-I sent it to Kansas, 'cause it's in the middle)) but it has a complete, working system (( minus a monitor, as per your post)).

    You could go with a Radeon 9600XT (instead of the 9800) and drop $60 dollars off the total.

    I left off a speaker system, because you are better off buying those in person, so you can objectively test sound quality. Something workable for under $100 can easily be found at BestBuy or whatever local Computer super-store is in your area. Same with keyboard & mouse, which, in a pinch, can be had for $20 for both...if not less.

    I've been scouring the web for 2 months in putting my system together, and I only can spend $600 total. :D I gave you a black 'LianLi' case, (which are great quality), but you could drop another $25 off that and get something that will work just as well.

    Also gave you an Athlon64 (future-proof) socket939, on an Asus(good quality) motherboard. It has built-in LAN for internet connection, and an 8 Channel stereo sound.

    Anyway, it should give you some ballpark ideas to play around with.

  7. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,360


    I'm not sure about your specific needs, but it sounds like a pentium 4 with ht and 2mb cache would be good. Here is my "cheap" computer specs.
    That's the basics, I don't know what type of graphics are good for workstations, but a 6600gt is good for a budget minded gamer.
    Price for basics =~$700 You would still need a case, hard drive, cd/dvd drive, etc. Those items should total less than $300 if you look for good deals.
    Guessing from your English, I would guess your not in the us, so you probably can't order from Newegg. Choose the store you like, it doesn't really matter. Hope this helps.
  8. pizzada

    pizzada TS Booster Posts: 65

    hey vnf..,

    That GeForce 6600GT you linked to, is that about the equivalent to the Ati 9800 ?

    And, if you don't mind, what is the basic equivalent to the Ati 9600 pro ?

    I don't know enough about GeForce -vs- ATI to favor one over the other, but I'm buying tommorrow, and any input would be useful.

    all due...

    PS, hey Matt ! the video card on that list was for AGP and not PCIexpress, so, whatever you do...make sure the MoBoard and graphics card make a mat ch!!!
  9. aurelien.guth

    aurelien.guth TS Rookie

    Matt, If i was you for a grand you can have a fairly good computer if you play your cards right. I would probebly buy the parts and get your brother to put the computer together or at least check if all parts are compatible. Now regarding the parts you would probebly recomend getting a P4 processor between 2.4 - 3 Ghertz that should be just fine for any game or anything else you want to do. Motherboard wise, a good brand is gigabyte or at least make sure you dont get a crapy brand. Memory you have a lot of choice, for a gaming computer you need at least 512 RAM or higher i would get two stics of 256 or two or 512.(corsair is a good brand for memory. As video card goes i would get a ati All in wonder. you probebly also want to get a better then stock heatsink for your cpu. When you figure out all these parts i would then see how much is left in your budget and then look for the case, hard drive, soundcard?, cd/dvd drive, mice/keyboard. Anyways i hope i helped.
  10. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,360


    a 6600gt is a little better than a 9800pro, and about equivalent to a 9800xt, but it depends on the game. That's for the pci e version, the agp is a little slower, but I don't know how much slower.
    This compares agp 6600gt to 9800pro + xt. 6600gt beats both by a little.

    9600pro is similar to a 5700 or 5600 ultra.
  11. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,360

  12. Matt Harris

    Matt Harris TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you to all of you for replying to most post it is very helpful.

    Yes you are correct vnf4ultra I am English. I have never heard of the website newegg.com. I use Overclockers, Ebuyer, Savastore and Novatech.

    I defiantly do not want to go for a Celeron. I have always been swaying towards Intel over Athlon, because it is good for both software and games and now hearing it from you guys has also confirmed that. I do not want to go for any dual stick ram as it will take up an extra port that will prevent me from getting the full potential in the future. Yes it may be cheaper, but not in the long run. The question I need to be answered is should I get DDR2 or DDR ram? What is the difference?

    One of my friends has a LianLi case that is worth about eighty pound and he said he would sell it for forty, so that’s a good deal. vnf4ultra the information you gave me about the processor is very useful, so thanks a lot that really is good. I do have a question however about cache. What is the difference between L1, L2 and L3?

    The workstation cards are much pricier than gaming cards and from what you tell me Pizzada about certain workstation cards being the equivalent of certain gaming cards it probably seems that the best option is to get a good gaming card that can still run software like Maya adequately. Although when playing back high detailed animations it will be laggy. I am not sure about ATI or NVIDIA. ATI do seem to have shot up a lot looking stronger over all, but certain cards play better with Connect3d and OpenGL. NVIDIA run better on games that use OpenGL like Quakes. I do however know it will be PCI-Express over AGP, because they must run smother.

    The motherboard is still a tricky one, but I think I will go for socket LGA775. It is just knowing which board is the best out with a lot of options that I will use, so I will not be buying something that is more expensive just to have something else although I won’t use it. I need quite a big hard drive as when I am editing it takes up a lot of space. What is better out of SATA or IDE?

    For speakers I will not be buying any as I have a phono lead hooked up to my cd player, which gives some great sound when you are playing games. It really feels like being at the cinema. And that is without a good soundcard. I save a little bit of money on stuff like cd drives and keyboards etc, because I will be using some parts from my current PC.

    The input you have all gave me so far has been very useful to help me draw closer to a conclusion. It is much harder and complicated building a PC than I ever really imagined. I have had two PC's in my life time. The first was bought from a company when they were very expensive. The second I got online. I was not too bothered about the spec as I did not have a big budget and I just wanted to get something a lot better then the ****ty old Pentium 2. It is only recently that I have started looking in to them that I can see how complicated it is to find something that will last a fair few years doing everything you want.

    Cheers guys
  13. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,360


    About cache, look at this site, I think it's helpful.

    About ddr or ddr2. Ddr runs at speed of up to about 400mhz, ddr2 starts at 400mhz and goes up from there. Ddr is cheaper, and I've read that ddr2 doesn't make much differece now(they perform similarly in todays systems), but with future technology ddr2 will be better suited.

    Dual channel does take two slots, but gives better performance(makes the system faster). If your board has 4 slots, then that leaves 2 free for future expansion. Some boards have 6 slots.

    I don't think a celeron is a good idea, the new 6xx intel p4s would work great, but they are somewhat expensive as they are new.

    Sata is a little faster than ide (150mb/s vs. 133mb/s), but most drives don't even fully use 133mb/s. Ide's are cheaper, and sometimes easier to install, as some sata drives need special drivers to be recognized, while ide you just plug them in and they work.

    Hope this is useful, mate(I've never said that before lol).
  14. Matt Harris

    Matt Harris TS Rookie Topic Starter

    LoL, yes we use the word mate a lot.

    And by the way it is mum not mom lol.

    About the dual sticks of ram being faster i never knew that. That is good news as they are cheaper. Is the difference in speed quite a bit?

    So SATA is a bit faster then. The prices between the two are not much difference, so i will go with SATA then.

    That has helped me out some more so thanks. Still uncertain about the motherboard, graphics card and processor though.

    cheers mate
  15. pizzada

    pizzada TS Booster Posts: 65

    Memory packaged as 'DUAL Channel' are just normal memory sticks, but they are matched at the factory to be equal size/speed/etc..

    If you buy any 'normal' memory sticks...they can still work in DUAL channel MotherBoards, as long as the specs are the same.

    DUAL Channel has to do with the MotherBoard more than the actual memory sticks. The DUAL Channel motherboard simply speaking, has 2 pathways for the memory to access the processor/memory controller instead of the normal one. But you need two sticks of matching memory to take advantage of this.

    You could either buy 2 individule sticks of 'normal' memory to do this (as long as they're same size/speed/etc.....or a 'DUAL' package, where they guarantee the sticks match at the factory.

    There is very little cost difference, overall, so it's only sensible to get a 'DUAL' package when buying.

    Hope that helps..
  16. Matt Harris

    Matt Harris TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh right so that means it is still the best option to go for a dual pack of ram as it is a lot cheaper.

    I have been looking at this motherboard Gigabyte GA-8AENXP-D , which has 8 ram ports, so there is no problem there for future upgrade.

    What do you guys make of that motherboard compared to the ones on the market today?
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