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I would like some advice for a build I'm doing. Thanks

By BigRedRacer ยท 19 replies
Oct 12, 2005
    I had some ebay trouble when I decided to build a HTPC out of a Compaq EVO 510 SFF PC. The first one of these I got didn't power on. So I sent to back to the seller and bought another one. But then the seller said it did work and so he sent it back to me. It still didn't work, but for some unexplained reason the computer he sent back had more RAM and a better processor. I tested the RAM and CPU in the other computer and they work fine so since the Compaq only cost $150, I decided just to keep the Gig of PC2100 RAM and P4 2.4 Northwood.

    Anyway I'm stuck with:
    P4 2.4GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512 L2 Cache
    1 Gig PC2100 RAM

    What I need:
    a case
    a psu
    a mb
    a cpu hsf
    a gpu

    The other stuff I have laying around.

    I have been messing around at Newegg and I have some decisions to make. So finally here is the dillema. Do I buy a good setup that will allow me to upgrade in the future, but still be limited since I'm starting with a socket 478 chip, or do I go cheap just to run the stuff and not worry about the future? oh yeah $400 is the most I can spend and I'm tight for it. the computer im using now is a P3 500, so I'm in desperate need of a new machine.

    the following links are to Newegg
    good setup
    case : antec ~$50
    psu : seasonic 330 watt ~$60
    mb : intel 865PE chipset from asus or MSI or abit etc. ~$90
    hsf : ~$30
    gpu : geforce 6800 agp ~$170
    total: ~$400

    cheap setup
    case : case+psu ~$65
    mb : SiS or VIA chipset from same manufatures as above ~$50
    hsf : ~$10
    gpu : Geforce 6600GT ~$145
    total: ~$270.

    I haven't built a computer with "new" parts in about 5 years so I'm a bit out of touch. I think the good setup will probably OC better than the cheap setup. I don't really see the point in getting something in between since the prices are so close anyway. so is it worth the extra $130 dollars for a machine that might not be worth upgrading anyway but still will perform a little better now? Will I see the benefit of Dual Channel memory. I want to be able to play games on it like HL2, Q4 and the upcomming Elder Scrolls game, will the cheap setup be able to make these games playable?. Will the cheaper setup be as stable as the more expensive one? can i go even cheaper on the cheap setup? Do any of you have any advice?

    Thanks, I just found this place today so I hope I posted this in the right place and made my topic as easy to respond to as possible.
  2. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,404

    First thing to point out is that your power supplies are not adequate in either of your two options.

    Take a look at this one. The case is similar to the one you have listed in your upper option (same maker), but also includes a high quality 450w PSU for about $100.

  3. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

  4. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,404

    Up to you of course. I'm basing mine on the countless threads of the extremely hard to diagnose problems people have with underpowered systems.

    That said, 350 will probably run your system, and officially it is probably enough. So you will probably be fine.

    Still, I'd suggest getting a real power supply to save yourself headaches. Especially if you are going for that 6800 video card. Yeesh. Especially as the price of the package I linked you to is the SAME price as the PSU/case you were considering.
  5. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I noticed that. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the advice.

    If someone is having trouble with their generic 350 Watt PSU that came with their system, I don't doubt that they would have power issues.

    look at this 550 Watt PSU

    I don't need to tell you that this thing is only good for a hammer throw

    but do you know about any of these?
  6. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,404

    Here is really the only thread you'll ever need about what brand of PSU to get. Excellent information here:


    That 330w seasonic you are looking at is not listed, but it's big brothers are. And they are all listed as high quality so at least you are looking at a good company.

    (PS, love the hammer throw guy. So many bad PSUs out there)
  7. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I'm a little surprised its not listed in the bargain section. I like the Seasonic for a variey of reasons, I may go with one of the bigger ones or a Fortron.

    I think this got a bit off-topic. Really I was wondering if Dual Channel is something I will notice and if the Intel chipset offers any better stability or some other features i'm not quite aware of. Are the cheaper chipset MBs just as good?

    also will these systems be worth it to upgrade over the course of the next 1-2 years? better memory, a processor, SATA HDDs.
  8. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    Just a thought, if you went with a rig similar to your cheap rig, but got a newer motherboard(like a 775 socket one), and a cheaper 775 cpu, it would probably still be under/around $400, and then you'd be more future ready, having pci-e, more features, etc.

    Like maybe this combo.

    With a 6600gt
    And the 1650 case/psu
    (and since the cpu is retail, you wouldn't need a hsf).

    Total ~$380 w/ shipping

    Or for $13 overbudget you could get a x800gto instead of a 6600gt, which would be even faster than a 6800.
  9. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That is a good idea. What that just means to me though is to just build out the cheap one and in a 1-2 years build another one (especialy since I got impatient and already ordered the stuff before I read your post). I feel kind of silly though not looking into something like that. I was so fixated on using the cpu.
  10. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    So what did you order?
  11. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Everything from the good setup except the psu. I opted for this psu which I hadn't seen before. I think its brand new, which makes me a bit nervous. It should be good, I read a nice review of it at SilentPCReview. This all put me over so I purchased the psu with credit.

    I still think 430watts is overkill. But its silly to not spend the extra $25.
  12. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    If you care, this is the HTPC I got setup.

    I got a similar pc from ebay for $150. its a 2.4GHz with 512MB RAM.

    HDD - 300GB Seagate $100 after rebate, from Circuit City
    gpu - 9600se $60 the actual one is from Powercolor, they include a low profile bracket.
    tv tuner - theater pro 550 $80
    RAM - 1gig of Crucial $110

    I already had a wireless keyboard and mouse.

    so for about $500 I got a HTPC running quite well. Its also remarkably quiet since it only has two fans. better than a TiVo since I also use it to play emulator games on it. the only thing I need for it is a sound card since I only have stereo now. I'm going to get an external, so that i don't push the 175watt psu even further to its limit.
  13. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    I kind of don't understand what you're saying, are the parts you got going in the compaq case, or is the compaq htpc a separate pc.
    I assume they're separate(since you got an antec case), but I don't understand how the compaq fits in the picture.

    Btw, that psu looks nice, wow triple 12v rails, it should be a nice one.
    Hope you like the rig.
  14. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry, the last post was pointless and off topic. To clarify, the reason I'm stuck with the P4 and the ram is because of that HTPC I built. If you read the asterisked section of the original post, i quickly tried to explain why i have a p4 and a gig of ram laying around without a way to use them.

    what happed was that I bought the first compaq. It wouldn't post, so I sent it back. I bought another from someone else. This second one worked and I built the HTPC. The first seller said the pc did work when he got it back and then shipped it back to me. But inexplicably the pc he sent back had p4 2.4 and a gig of ram, instead of a p4 2.0 and 256mb of ram. However it still wouldn't post. So I tested the processor and ram in the good compaq and they work. So thats when I decided to build this brand new machine.
  15. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

  16. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,404

    Yep. It looks like a killer power supply for low end machines!

    Keep in mind though...

    they did also say "At the same time we need to underline that it won't be good enough if you plan on upgrading to a fast dual core Athlon 64 X2 processor and a high performance graphics card. Should this be a direction you might upgrade at some point, there is no option to going for at least 400 W"
  17. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thats true, but I figured my system was pretty low powered setup. But I took your advice since I didn't want to end up limiting myself later.

    I have another question though. My motherboard already arrived and I was reading the manual. The manual has the following table

    Memory frequency/CPU FSB synchronization

    CPU FSB.......DDR DIMM Type.....................Memory Frequency

    800mhz........PC3000/PC2700/PC2100..........400/333/266 mhz

    533mhz........PC2700/PC2100.....................333/266 mhz

    400mhz........PC2100................................266 mhz

    Right now I have a 533mhz FSB CPU and PC2100 RAM but in a few weeks I want to buy some PC3200 RAM and then sometime in the future I'll buy a new processor. But what I want to know is will I be able to run the 533mhz FSB CPU with the PC3200 ram? Obviously I won't be running the FSB at 200mhz but I still will be OCing the CPU somewhat by running a FSB somewhere between 133 and 200.
  18. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    Yes, your pc3200 ram will downclock to ddr333 speed, but it will work.
  19. BigRedRacer

    BigRedRacer TS Rookie Topic Starter

    will I then be able to lower the ram timings if I downclock it?
  20. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    You should be able to. For example, my ram is rated at 2.5-3-3-8, but if I run it at 350mhz(or lower), I can run it as timings 2-3-3-8. So you should be able to adjust the cas down a notch if you have downclocked ram, (like cas 3 ram should be able to do 2.5, and cas 2.5 should do 2 at the slower speed).
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