My 1st Build - Need Suggestions & new to TechSpot

By judicious ยท 83 replies
Nov 27, 2007
  1. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Gigabyte, its a lot cheaper, and a Winner of a Newegg Customer Choice Award. Plus it is just a solid board overall, I've got the older version of it and its fantastic.
  2. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The Abit board is an excellent overclocker but since you won't be doing much (if any) of that, get the cheaper Gigabyte one instead.
  3. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    As you're on a budget, I'd say stick with the Gigabyte. It may not have as flexible BIOS settings as the Abit, but it's fine for most people especially if you don't plan to overclock or tweak your memory for better performance. Just be sure to check-up with proposed memory as the reduced BIOS settings could be tricky depending on what memory and what memory speeds you wish to run (ddr2-800 or ddr2-1066).

    Another budget consideration would be to consider the Core 2 Duo 6550. Honestly, there isn't too much difference in performance between the 6750 and 6550, and for what you are doing there will likely be 0 difference. It only comes down to a slight improvement in framerate for very, very modern/heavy games and only if the videocard you purchase is also crankin'.

    I've built two similar systems, including one for my SO for xmas on a budget which was:
    Asus P5K - $126

    Core 2 Duo 6550 - $169.99

    2GB (2x1gig) Mushkin DDR2-1066 - $99 ($69 after rebate)

    Sapphire Radeon 3850 512MB - $199

    The above setup is very good bang for the buck if you want premium parts. The P5K has tons of settings for memory, voltages, timings, runs at DDR2-1066 speeds for the new 1333mhz Core 2 processor, and just works solid.

    The 3850 is fast and smooth, get's just shy of 16K 3dmarks 05, Vista 32-bit runs great. It's a good card of similar price bracket to the 8800GT.
  4. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    thanks for the advice...very cool video card...:grinthumb
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    I don't know how great that Abit board is, but that Gigabyte board is known for its fantastic overclocking abilities.
  6. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    CPU overclocking, yes. Memory, not so much (speaking strictly of the BIOS settings- it doesn't have very accurate or comprehensive voltage settings or memory sub-timings.. AT ALL).

    So it all comes down specifically to what memory you plan to run. Good memories (Mushkin, OCZ, Geil, g.skill, etc.etc.) shouldn't be a problem. Value memories? May have some initial setup problems... moreso if going DDR2-1066.

    EasyTune is needed for this on the Gigabyte, so as long as you have memories that are happy at 1.8V, or can withstand short overvolting, as well as stable enough to boot without sub-timing tweaks, EasyTune works great. Cheaper/generic memories.. not so much, so the Abit and Asus boards win here as you can dial all this in with the BIOS.

    Like all P35 boards, getting DDR2-1066 speeds or above with 4-sticks with a 333mhz CPU is difficult. Tuning this is even more difficult on the Gigabyte as you have to get to Windows in order to tune/set.

    All this is a moot point though if only 2-sticks, good name brand memory and/or plans to run ddr2-800's.
  7. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    do you mean 1333mhz? What do you mean by 333mhz? Is there a reason why DDR2 1066 cost way more than DDR2 800? Speed right and efficiency?

    In that case, how about the MSI P6N SLI Platinum LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail ?

    I was lookin at the GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3P Rev 2.0 LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Ultra Durable 2, Ultra Cooling Intel Motherboard - Retail because of the USBs...but I guess I can just buy a card for that....

    Seems like I'm better off with MOBO that takes DDR2 800...I'm also guessing that DDR3 will come out soon, but won't get rid of DDR2 800 anytime I should be good...
  8. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Core 2 Duo 6300/6400/6600 = 1066mhz FSB CPU's, which is 266mhz bus speeds.
    Core 2 Duo 6550/6750/6850 = 1333mhz FSB CPU's, which is 333mhz bus speeds.

    It's kinda like this with a 6550:

    1333mhz FSB
    (to cache)
    (to northbridge)
    then either
    400 or 533
    (to memory)

    DDR2-800's run at 400mhz speed, DDR2-1066's run at 533mhz speed.

    DDR3 is actually out and the P35 chipset can support DDR3 memory, but it's very high latency and very expensive at this point in time, plus you'd need a specific DDR3 motherboard. Maybe in a year or so they'll get latency down but for now DDR2's perform similarly to DDR3's, but DDR3's being too early technology to leverage cost effectively right now (IMO) and have room to improve with future tweaks, lower latency and hopefully lower cost!

    As you can probably imagine, 533mhz memory speed feeding the 333mhz pipeline can yield improvements to bandwidth feeding the cache, which in turn feeds the cores of the CPU. 400 -> 333 is still good (ddr2-800's), but you can usually squeek about 5-9% more bandwidth by using a higher multiplier of mem -> northbridge. Realize though that the P35 chipset is only certified for DDR2-800 memories, so Abit, Asus and Gigabyte are slightly overclocking the northbridge to pull-off DDR2-1066 speed + memory. This means compatibility can be a bit rough as well as difficulties getting 4 total sticks to run at 1066 (533mhz) speeds. Two sticks is no problem though.

    You might want to look at that P5K plain. It has a bunch of USB ports, but lacks ICH9R for RAID, but includes a semi-crummy JMicron RAID controller... but this is only a consideration if you want to run your disks in RAID configuration. It has 6xUSB's on the back, and connectors for 4 more on your case or external for a total of 10xUSB. It's BIOS has every timing, sub-timing for memories, runs just about *any* pair of DDR2-1066's reliably (4-sticks is a pain though as with most for that speed), and voltage increments in 0.05 volts up or down. So whether you wind up with 1.8V memory or 2.35V memories, you can time them and volt them in the BIOS easily. Great overclocker too with vdroop circuitry and all.
  9. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Since I am totally new to computer hardware, I'm guessing RAID is a way to configure how people want to set up their hard disk? Is it a way to combine hard disks together? It's normally used for big servers right?

    As for the volts on memory..the higher voltage the hotter it gets right? :confused:

    I know I'm asking a lot of questions...I'm trying to learn...:eek:

    So if it's better for just 2 sticks..I can always just buy two 2gb sticks or two 4gb sticks...right?

    You also mentioned that P35 chipsets is only certified with DDR2 800...but what if the MOBO said that it can take DDR3 and DDR2 1066? Does this mean that the northbridge will only take 400mhz and the rest will be to waste?:dead:

    Thanks again!
  10. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Home users use RAID these days as well. For example, a high-end gaming rig might use RAID-0 to stripe two or more drives to double or triple drive speed.

    RAID can also be used for redundancy- i.e. mirror a pair of disks so that if one fails, the system still works and all your data is still secure; you just have to replace the mirror disk.

    Generally, yes, but use this only when comparing the same memories together. Example- Brand X memory might run cooler at 2.0V compared to Generic Brand Y memory at 1.8V. In both cases, increasing the individual voltage will increase the heat the memory generates.

    Voltage increases are necessary depending on the memory you are buying. If you look at the specs for your memory, it will tell you what voltage they need. Intel/P35's and most BIOS's default to 1.8V, so if the memory you are buying needs 2.2V to run, you may have a tough time getting the system to POST, get in the BIOS or get to Windows to use memory adjustment software depending on the motherboard.

    Yes and no. If you want DDR2-1066 memories, good look finding 2gb sticks! I think Geil has some but they are $$$ and hard to come by. Mushkin used to have some too but they are no longer available. Finding 2gb sticks is hard.

    Also, if you are planning to run a 32-bit OS, the system will only be able to use/see a total of 4gb of memory, so a pair of 2gb sticks = 4gb. And at that, you wont be able to use all 4gbs of RAM as some of that address space will be reserved for your hardware (videocard, i/o expansion addresses, etc.etc.)- so with 4gb of memory on-board, a 32bit OS will only have available 3.0gb -> 3.8gb depending on your installed hardware/devices.

    It means the motherboard manufacturer is slightly overclocking the P35 Northbridge to run at 533mhz vs. the factory 400mhz.

    Intel northbridge chips are fairly robust and other people run them @ 600mhz or higher just by cranking up the voltage and making sure they have good cooling on them.

    Hope this helps!
  11. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    thank u sooooo much............definitely cleared things up......

    i notice that most people say that 4 sticks on a MOBO will be tough to have an efficent your u think it's better for me to get a DDR2 800 MOBO if I wanted to have 4 sticks? Or two 2gb sticks?

    What is more ideal...MOBO with FSB 1333mhz supporting DDR2 800 and having me put 4gb of ram....or MOBO with FSB1333 mhz supporting DDR2 1066 and having me put 2gb of ram?

    Any final thoughts on this board?

    GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3P Rev 2.0 LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Ultra Durable 2, Ultra Cooling Intel Motherboard - Retail

    thanks again!
  12. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    There is really no difference between the P35 chipset motherboards that support DDR2-1066 or DDR2-800. Just the one's that claim they support DDR2-1066 memory slightly overvolt the northbridge and overclock them from 400 to 533 mhz speeds.

    You wont be able to fully use 4gig of RAM unless you install a 64 bit OS. You'll wind up with 3.Xgigs of your 4 gigs usable.

    2gig DDR2-1066 sticks of memory are difficult to find and rare. 2gig DDR2-800 sticks are much easier to come by.

    So in a nutshell, I'd opt for any motherboard that has DDR2-1066 support, and use DDR2-1066 speeds as long as you have only 2-sticks. When you go to 4-sticks, just simply set the BIOS to DDR2-800 speeds (DDR2-1066 memories run at any lower speed flawlessly.. they are the same memories as well).

    The Gigabyte you linked is a great unit. All the mobo's you've linked are good as they are P35 chipset, so basically the same but with different southbridge (USB and RAID support will vary) and different BIOS options. Initial setup can be trickier if the BIOS doesn't support memory sub-timings and voltage IF the corresponding memory you choose is unstable at lower/default voltages.

    I only mention the Abit's and Asus mainboards since these have all this in the BIOS, so you only need get this far to set memory sub-timings and voltages. This is a non-issue if you get memory that runs well at lower voltages (i.e. 1.9V or below). That first boot- your memory will likely boot-up at DDR2-667 or DDR2-800 speed at 1.8V. How stable that memory is at those speeds depends on the memory you buy.

    The new Gigabyte you have linked I believe has sub-timings and accurate voltage adjustments in the BIOS. The previous/cheaper does not and requires a tool in Windows to be installed to set these properly. This is a problem if you go with memories rated at 2.2-2.4V, as they wont make it to Windows boot at 1.8V reliably for the setting to take effect. :D You can set some voltages in the BIOS, but they are unreliable on that model as well (i.e. set mem @ 2.2V, they actually wind up at 2.4-2.5V until they hit Windows and the tool loads- properly setting them at 2.2V). This is also fine with more robust/quality memory... but never desirable if avoidable.

    Hope this helps!
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    If you want good RAM that will easily overclock to 1066MHz, get a Crucial Ballistix kit. Otherwise, methinks you're ready to go.
  14. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    thanks for the feedback...

    does everyone have to set voltages when buying new DDR2 for their PC? Or only if their MOBO doesn't have that feature of sub-timing....also when I'm looking for memory sticks..i see in the specifications area it had a section called timing with numbers like 5-5-5-15....I don't have to pay attention to this if I'm not OCing right?
  15. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    This is an Intel chipset specific issue. Intel i9xx and P3x Northbridges are only rated for 1.8V memory voltages.. period. It's companies like Abit, Asus, Gigabyte and others that bring the "better than standard" numbers and allow for achieving better performance.

    If you look at all the properly JDEC rated memories for DDR2-800, they are all rated at 1.8V operation. 3rd party and performance memories generally use higher-performance, lower latency chips as well as can clock much higher for performance. These usually require more than 1.8V to do this. If you buy better quality memory, they will offer JDEC compliant 1.8V operation at lower speeds, but then only need 2.0V or more at higher speeds/latencies. Cheaper memories do not- they are designed to run at 2.1-2.4V at any speed and are unstable otherwise.

    For example, most Crucial or Mushkin memories have a DDR2-800 @ 1.8V setting, but also can run at DDR2-1066 @ 2.2V kind of thing. Most can endure up to 2.5V with proper cooling, which means some folks even clock these higher (like DDR2-1200 or more speeds), but then also have to tweak the Northbridge voltage/speed to match.

    The above is also why OEM memories are so expensive. Say, if you bought a Dell- many lock the BIOS at 1.8V memories so you have to hunt down specific 1.8V DDR2-800 memories. With aftermarket, you can put just about anything in them and use the BIOS to adjust based on your combination you have bought- or go past the Intel rated speeds/latency/voltages with a few adjustments. This is primarily for gamers or performance enthusiasts. You can get a LOT more bang out of a C2D 6550/6750 with better memories, lower latency or at higher speeds.
  16. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    correct me if I'm wrong, so basically it doesn't really matter what memory the board can just buy one and OC it to the proper standard memory the board takes as long as you have proper cooling and have the right settings on the BIOS.

    so even though newegg said the board takes DDR2 1066, when I checked the Memory Support List for the MOBO it listed DDR2 800, I should be fine with buying those, correct?

    when you mentioned the term that referring to the speed at which the chip is able to process memory?

    I also have a processor question. Why is the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 Conroe 2.66GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor cheaper than the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor when the speed is much higher?

    Thanks again!
  17. Myzz617

    Myzz617 TS Maniac Posts: 369

    If i were you i would go with the 6750..I honestly cannot tell you why the 6750 is cheaper and you could OC either Processor for better performance. I just ordered the 6750 2day and you will save 50$ easy.

    Edit: The Front Side Bus on the E6750 is better (1333) than the E6600 FSB @ 1066...The reason for the higher price I dont understand Either.
  18. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    That is where the brand of memories comes into play.

    As mentioned prior, the actual CHIPS on the memory sticks vary and some can run better, cooler or tolerate more voltage than others. Crucial Ballastics have been known to handle 2.5V and 1200mhz speeds from their DDR2-800 memories with complete stability. Mushkins have similar in their High Performance line.

    Correct. DDR2's are all pretty much standard. So even DDR2-667's will work. But the faster the memory, the more bandwidth your processor has for moving lots of data.

    Memory performance comes in two forms:
    Latency- this is the pause or delay it takes for a given operation to begin/complete.
    Bandwidth- the capacity of data that can "flow"

    DDR2 (and DDR3) memories are high latency (i.e. slow on response), but have great bandwidth. So if your CPU does a whole ton of smaller operations, but without a ton of data needed from them, it will be slower. But for single operations that require large amounts of data, it will be faster.

    Think of it kinda like files. If you have 2000 tiny, tiny files to copy around- you'd want lower latency. Each file would be a copy operation, but the data from them is small so bandwidth isn't really needed. Alternatively, if you had one HUGE file to copy, latency wouldn't be a big deal (the operation would get executed quickly), but then you'd want big bandwidth to move the huge amount of data.

    On the new G0 revision processors- these are using a newer, cheaper process to manufacture, so they are cheaper to produce. The older, 1066mhz FSB CPU's use an older process and more expensive to produce. There is really little gain though from the higher FSB speed, which as you've now seen- are still connected to 400 (or 533mhz) memory bus. As the data fed to them is fixed/reduced in size, it doesn't really matter much how fast the FSB speed is if the flow of data is only so much.
  19. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    thanks for all the great feedback and info! Learning a lot! :D
  20. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    I want to start purchasing my parts.

    Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

    Has a Voltage of 2.2, I do not have to worry about this with the GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3P Rev 2.0 LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Ultra Durable 2, Ultra Cooling Intel Motherboard right? I checked the memory list for the MOBO and it says its compatible. I'm just curious about the voltage thing again. :confused:

    All I have to do is go into the BIOS and set the volt to 2.2 right? Or how do I know if the MOBO will automatically adjust the DDR Ram to its correct voltage?

  21. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    As you are going with 2.2V memories, I would assume if it's listed on the motherboard compatibility list then it should post at the default ddr2-667 @ 1.8V setting. This will allow you to go in the BIOS and properly set speed and voltage.

    When you get your system built, that first boot-up/post, you should go into the BIOS and setup DDR2-800 speed, as well as visit the dram voltage setting and ensure to put this at 2.2V. Save/Exit, reset.. and it should then boot-up at full DDR2-800 speed.

    I strong recommend making a Memtest86+ floppy or burn a bootable cd. This is a really good way to test a brand new system for stability prior to installing the OS. If you can get a few runs of this to work with 0 errors, chances of problems installing the OS and instabilities are greatly reduced.
  22. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Sine I never built a computer before, if there are errors, does it tell you? And make you reboot again and again until the errors or gone?

    What is the Memtest86+ for? Do I just burn the Pre-Compile Bootable ISO onto a CD and on the FIRST boot, I boot from disc?

    What happens if I don't use Memtest86+?

    Thanks again for your prompt response!
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,971   +2,527

    This may be marketing, or manufacturing considerations on Intels part.
    Intel knows that you would have to buy a new board if you buy a CPU with the 1333 FSB. Whereas, the E6600 is a retrofit part. They might be gambling you'll buy the new board from them!

    They are gearing their production facilities toward the newer units and probably have more production set up for the later CD2s and the new Penryn 45 NM CPUs. If I can (and do) make more faster, then I can sell it cheaper.
  24. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

  25. judicious

    judicious TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    im searching for 8600GT 512mb...but there's so many sub EVGA, XFX, PNY, etc...which one is better? Or what is the best way to pick one of those out?
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