Need Advice on System

I'm planning a new system and I respectfully ask for your opinions, advice and suggestions.

Me: a computer programmer to whom things like "memory" and "CPU" are conceptual terms that I can make do wonderful things, but wouldn't know if they were taking a whiz on my hush puppies. I don't play games at all right now nor do I do any heavy duty graphics work, but I'd like to. I have no interest in overclocking the system. I'm looking for a cutting edge, yet solid, system that will last a while. I've done alot of research and this is what I have do far:

MB: Shuttle AS45GTR; I read the THG article and I'm sold.

CPU: Intel P4 at 2.53Ghz (533 FSB); seems to hit the right price/speed point

RAM: 1.5 gigs (512 x3; I need some help here; I'd like to max the board out in terms of speed/amount, but it seems like 1Gb memory is WAY expensive);Suggestions on the PCXXXX thing greatly appeciated. I know it will sound odd to you but the whole PCXXXX, FSB, double pumping thing just leaves me swimming. I don't even want to talk about that whole CL thing. :) )

VidCrd: ATI Radeon Pro 9700 - AGP 8x; I might go with the comparable All-In-Wonder if I can use it like a Tivo. Can I?

SndCrd: On board for right now...

HD: Maxtor Diamond Max 9 : 120Gb, 7200 rpm, UDMA 133, SATA(maybe 2 if I can "Tivo" with the All-In-Wonder)

Case/PS/Cooling: No clue. I could really use your help here. I prefer a full tower, since, though I don't open my machine on a regular basis, I don't want to spend half my time in the machine fighting to get things seated correctly or wedging cables into the machine. Air flow, air temp, and quietness are key. Nifty mods are not; plain is fine. Its only sitting under my desk afterall.

Monitor: Keeping my Viewsonic G790. Love it. Never give it up.

CDRW: Keeping my HP9300; works well enough. Nero rules.

DVDROM: Here suggestions are welcomed. One question though: When I first looked at these a long time a ago, when it came to watching DVD video there was a distinction between "software" DVD and "Hardware" DVD. I think Creative had a hardware version (in the Vid card), while others used software to decode the DVD and send it to your vidcard. Is this an issue anymore?

NIC: The AS45GTR doesn't come with one, so I'll get a new one. But I'd like to get one that will allow me to connect to my old machine without having to go through a router/hub (?; remember I'm a programmer). I picture the machines "in series" not in a "star"). Suggestions?

KVM: I'm also toying with the idea of getting a KVM switch so that not only can the machines "see" each other I can "sit" at each. Again suggestions are welcomed.

That's about it, I think. I'm sure that I'm missing lots, but that's why I'm posting this.

Also, if I were to put this together myself would my pool table be a good place to do it? Its all wood with a slate/felt top. I know that sounds REALLY stupid, but hey..

And where can I buy the stuff? I know Pricewatch is a good place to start if I wanted to buy it all in pieces, but it'd be nice to buy a system that been put together. I've heard that Newegg is good. Any other suggestions?

I thank you all for your indulgence and help.
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  1. Mwave and googlegear are also good places to shop. I get memory from memory speciality stores listed in pricewatch. Be sure the vender will let you return memory if there's a problem. Some memory isn't compatable with specific mobos. Some mobo websites list recommended memory for your mobo. For memory, 512 megs is plenty, but since it's so cheap right now, 1 gig may be a good investment. I suggest samsung, crucial (same as micron), or corsair, either pc2700 or pc3200. For the motherboard, I suggest you consider the new sis 655 boards coming out quickly. The gigabyte 8sq800 sold out at newegg quickly, but more should arrive soon. Fry's has a black enermax case with 350 watt power supply for only $59.95, but it probably sold out the first day. Check out the dual fan 400 watt power supplies from antec, enermax, or sparkle (for single fan units). If you need raid, you may want to buy a separate raid controller card to give you more flexibility in choosing the mobo. Good luck.
  2. Maxtor Diamond Max 9 is fine as long as it's an 8MB cache version. You may also consider those Western Digital HDs with 8MB cache which have received many positive reviews.

    For DVD-ROM drive, I recommend Lite-On 16x drives which are good and inexpensive. Hardware DVD decoders are history now, as today's CPUs are fast enough to decode MPEG2 video in DVDs using only software.
  3. A lot of people were sold by that advertisement written by THG staff. It's still as system where you'll never have room for expansion. And even if you did, you'd have not enough power for it. I'm telling everyone who will listen that they'd be far better off with a Micro ATX system, using STANDARD components, and only a hair larger in size.

    We have mATX cases that look like everything from a slightly enlarged book-sized PC to a VCR to a stereo aplifier. Of course the desktop (aka, lays down) styles would be far more appropriate for a home theater, as they match the visual style of existing audio components. And the mATX slim towers would be better for a desk, because they have a SMALLER footprint than the Shuttle MiniPC.

    mATX gives you 3 PCI slots. Say you wanted to add a TV tuner card, because the video cards with built in tuners don't have hardware compression. Well, that would take up your ONE SLOT on a Shuttle. Say you want home theater audio. Oops, no more slots! Say you want to put a modem in the thing. Oops, no more slots! Say you want to put another hard drive in there. Ooops, no more bays!

    A lot of guys are defending this solution as being practicle, because external devices are available. Well, USBTV doesn't work right. USB sound doesn't match up to soundcards. USB 2.0 hard drives still aren't as fast as IDE onboard. And you have all the "practicality" of all these parts and pieces strung out all over your desk, with cables running everywhere, of course :smile:

    <font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
  4. DESTROY USB!!! I hate USB. I have disabled USB in my BIOS. USB messes things up. USB uses your processor and slows everything down. If you plug anything into USB with the computer on, it usually freezes your computer. USB has crappy power ratings. It would be better if you could run external components without the need for an external PSU.

    Just my view on USB :smile:

    <A HREF=" " target="_new">Almost Breaking 12k!!</A>
  5. LOL, USB is a practicle replacement for a parallel port, as long as your chipset runs it with stability. USB 2.0 is nice for portable devices.

    <font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
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