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Newbie Seeking Advice (1st non-Gateway Custom job)

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August 1, 2005 12:47:21 PM

I am looking to get a new computer. I have never had a custom made computer outside of the customizable Gateways which have in the past been really good to me.

I am looking for more power than Gateways can really provide. Part of this is do to passing my good Gateway system to my girlfriend (for whom I was stupid enough to buy a celeron based PC several years back!)

I have done a lot of research on the CPU's and decided that if I am gonna spend the dough, and am not planning a major comp purchase in the future, that I might as well go with the Athlon 64x2 4800. I plan on doing a lot of video/dvd editing and gaming as well.

My budget is about $2400. I am overwhelmed with the motherboard, power supply, fans, etc... info out there. With many of the configurers out there they don't notice mistakes in setups that I would be likely to make. ;-) I want something I can upgrade in the future without scapping the beast.

Your insights and advice would be greatly appreciated!
PS: I have two Ultra ATA drives that I want to keep in the new system!
August 1, 2005 12:52:41 PM

LOL! Since it is your girlfriend and you are young, you are excused since you probally aren't interested in a long term relationship! To keep it on track, you should build your lady the bomb, and yourself what you can scrap together! Then keep that attitude and you will have the most affectionate caring SWMBO evar! :) 

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
August 1, 2005 1:02:26 PM

Actually, I get the new system, and she get's the older, but still much better than her "newer" celeron POS. She programs comps for Target Corp, but doesn't know a thing about them at home, hehe. She works from home sometimes, but the celeron keeps here eternally frustrated!
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August 2, 2005 3:12:51 PM

Here is a proposed setup (mostly via Monarch w/ graphics card purchased through AJump.com ($60 bucks cheaper)

Please note I know nothing about overclocking, but am looking for performance now and in the future. My needs are gaming and DVD/Video editing and creating.

$182 Asus GeForce EN6600GT/TD 128MB DDR PCIe TV-Out and DVI (SLI Ready)
$85 Thermaltake Soprano Mid Tower Case w/NO PS Black
(VB1000BWS)
$117 Thermaltake W0057 PurePower 2xPCI-E ATX 12V 500W Power
Supply (Black)
$170 DFI Lan Party UT nForce4 SLI-DR Audio/GB-LAN/IEEE/
PCI-E/SATA/DDR/ATX 939
$950 Athlon64 X2 +4800
$49 Thermaltake A1772 AMD Recommended for Athlon 64
(Socket 754/939/940) (OEM)
$281 2GB (2x1GB) Corsair (TWINX2048-3200PT)
$119 Western Digital 250GB SATA 8 MB Cache 7200 RPM
(WD2500JD)
$58 Pioneer DVR-109BK Dual-Layer DVD±RW 16x4x16x-DVD+RW/
32x24x40x-CD-RW (Black) (OEM)*Max. 6x writing speed
for DVD-R Dual Layer and +R Double Layer Discs!
$37 Sony DDU1615 16X DVD-ROM (Black) (OEM)
$23 Round Cables Kit 24" IDE, 18" FDD, 2 x 18" SATA(CLEAR)
$89 WinXP Home w/ SP2
$49 3 Years part and labor plus
$38 Logitech Cordless Desktop EX100 Keyboard and Mouse
Combo (Black) (967499-0403)
$59 Build Fee
$45.5 Fed Ex Shipping
------
2351.50 TOTAL

Is there anything missing or incompatible? Is anything beyond what I really need (besides the mem and processor)? Anything not beefy enough?

Thanks!
August 2, 2005 3:26:04 PM

I would try to get the lowest latency RAM (2-2-2-5) offered by them or at least see what they are including.

But you will have a nice rig for sure.

Since you are under budget, what about upgrading to 6800 video card?

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
August 2, 2005 3:40:29 PM

Thanks!

The other 2GB ram in the same price area ($276) has a latency of 2-3-2-5 (OCZ EL DDR PC-3200 / 400MHz / Platinum / Dual Channel)

The corsair had 3-3-3-8. As I am a techinical idiot with some of this stuff, I really don't know what latency is and how it affects performance. Hence my post here trying to get insight and opinions! :-)
August 2, 2005 3:41:18 PM

Okay, if you want comments, I have some (ignoring the girlkfriend situation for now :)  ).

First off, I would suggest that you save money and build it yourself. I haven't gone to see current prices, but I'd estmate it at $250, at least.

Next, I'm not super-excited about that video card. If you're a hardcore gamer, as you claim, then you want an nVidia 6800GT card and certainly NOT by ASUS. Check around this site for the latest video card reviews. Yes, it will cost you an extra $100, but the increase in performance is major.

I guess the DFI motherboard is okay, though I haven't read many reports on it. I'd check in the motherboard forum for posts on it. I admit that I'm biased in favor of Gigabyte mobo's. There's something comforting about a motherboard that fires up the first time and every time and never, ever gives any problems that makes it easier to sleep at night. The dual BIOS doesn't hurt, either. You're never going to find yourself with a dead BIOS from a worm attack and no way to boot up to download a new flash.

Corsair memory is good. OCZ is also a good choice. Be sure to pick memory that your motherboard maker is willing to list on its web site. @ gigs is a fair choice, but it's always more is better. XP supports 4 gigs, so don't be cheap about it.

When we get to the CD-RW, I would suggest strongly that you get a combo drive [DVD-reader/CD-RW] instead. That saves you power to one drive, a controller spot, and a drive slot in the case (not to mention some money). I have a perfectly good Lite-On drive and it cost me about what you're intending to spend on the DVD-ROM drive alone. It lets you do a DVD copy without worrying about free disk space. Speaking of which, I hope you have plenty of space. Planning on video editing, you need all you can get. I'm planning a system a lot like yours and I don't expect to hang any less than 750 GB's in there. In fact, I'll probably go for The Big T (terrabyte). A couple of ATA133 200 gig or so for a boot and a backup drive, respectively, then a pair of 300 GB or larger SATA drives with NCQ. No RAID, becaude I really don't need the hassles that go with it and on a desktop system they just don't pay, according to all the tests I've seen.

But then you want to go and buy a cheap-ass keyboard and mouse? For a kick-ass system??? Buddy, go out and spend the $50 or $60 and get at least the Logitech MX700 desktop pair, if not the MX1000 laser set.

And for god's sake, don't be so lame as to try to push all this through XP HOME edition! XP Pro, at least. It might almost be better to think in terms of XP MCE, but I don't know if you want the extra baggage that MCE carries.

Last, but not least, look around at other sources for the hardware. Go see Newegg.com, NCIX.com (be sure to click their American site for accurate prices here), or ZipZoomFly.com. Compare prices to Monarch before you buy.

You asked for the opinion and you've got it. I hope it was worth what you paid for it :) 

<font color=green>****</font color=green> Never Assume <font color=red>ANYTHING</font color=red> <font color=green>****</font color=green>
August 2, 2005 5:31:43 PM

Here is an updated config based on comments here and at other sites. It removes the SLI but upgrades the graphics card to an x800xl.

80311 Monarch Furia Custom Desktop w/PCI-E 1 $59.00 $59.00
Case: 100551 - No PS - Thermaltake VB1000BWS Soprano ATX $85.00 $85.00
Power Supply: 100241 - PS 550W - Antec True Power 2 SLI ATX 12V $135.00 $135.00
Case Fan: None
Motherboard: 110224 - DFI Lan Party UT NForce4 Ultra-D Audio/GB $129.00 $129.00
Processor: 120231 - AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Dual-Core 1MB Per $950.00 $950.00
Thermal Grease: None
Heat Sink Fan: 130099 - Zalman CNPS7000B-AlCu Silent CPU Cooling $42.00 $42.00
Memory: 140226 - DDR (400) 3200 - 2 GB (2 pcs 1GB) OCZ Dua $273.00 $273.00
2nd Memory: None
Hard Drive: 150938 - SATA - Western Digital (WD2500JD) 250 GB/ $119.00 $119.00
2nd Hard Drive: None
RAID Setup: None
RAID Controller: None
CD-ROM/DVD-ROM/CD-RW: 160324 - DVD-ROM - Sony DDU1615 16X DVD-ROM (Black $37.00 $37.00
CD-RW/DVD-RW: 160527 - DVD-RW - Pioneer DVR-109BK Dual-Layer DVD $58.00 $58.00
CD-RW Software: 210613 - Ahead Nero 6.3 Suite DVD+-RW Software (OE $6.99 $6.99
DVD-ROM Software: 210601 - Cyberlink PowerDVD 6.0 (OEM) $6.99 $6.99
Floppy Drive: 170110 - Mitsumi 1.44 MB 3.5" Floppy Drive (Black) $20.00 $20.00
More Storage: None
Sound Card: None
Video Card: 190527 - ATI (Connect3D) Radeon X800 XL 256MB DDR/ $279.00 $279.00
Modem: None
Network Card: None
Wireless Network Card: None
Add-On Card: None
Case Function Add-On: None
Round Cables: 270152 - Round Cables Kit 2-24" IDE 1-18" FDD 1-18 $23.95 $23.95
Operating System: 210112 - Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition w/SP2 $89.00 $89.00
Additional Software: None
Antivirus: None
Warranty: 800009 - 3 Year - Parts & Labor - Plus $49.00 $49.00 $49.00
Hot Rush: None - Standard Order ( ships within 8-13 business
Far Cry Promotion: 270332 - FREE Full DVD Version of Far Cry 64/32 -
Napster Promotion: 270136 - FREE Napster Music Download for 4 Months
Half Life 2 Promotion: 27F854 - FREE Half Life 2 Full Version Coupon with
Molex Connector: None
Video Capture: None
TV Tuner: None
220235 Logitech Cordless Desktop EX100 Keyboard and Mouse Combo (Black) (967499-0403) 1 $38.00 $38.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Estimated Shipping: $0.00
Total: $2,399.93
August 2, 2005 6:27:36 PM

I admit to being curious about droping the SLI feature. That's going to feel like a dumb move when you get done. And for my money, an ATI card is going to give you plenty of trouble with drivers, but you may get lucky. All I can say is "Look at the reviews on Tom's web site showing you the benchmarks for video cards!".

Not only that, but you'll get much better use out of an nVidia video card on an nVidia-chipset motherboard.

Oh, and unless you're getting a Retail CPU, you DO need to include thermal grease! In which case, you don't need a new cooler. AMD Retail CPU's come with a fan and cooler that work just fine. You're not going to do anything like overclocking, are you?

And you still want XP Home. Well, don't say I didn't warn you. It will keep you from upgrading to XP x64 without buying the full price OS, too, but that's your problem. Well, hey, we might all be using Vista and it won't matter.

If you can't spend more than $2400 and you don't want to do the job yourself, then I guess Monarch is what you live with.

<font color=green>****</font color=green> Never Assume <font color=red>ANYTHING</font color=red> <font color=green>****</font color=green>
August 2, 2005 6:39:39 PM

I think that is a pretty good system, but looks like you do need some Artic Silver 5 unless it is included with the Zalman Cooler, which it prolly is.
Do you have a specific need for the DVD-rom? The DVD burner will read and write to DVD's and CD's, and also copy a DVD to DVD by inserting original, then inserting the media afterwards using same drive. FTR, If you drop the DVD-rom and get a Plextor 716 DVD burner, I think that would be better.

I have an Intel 875P chipset using the ATI X800XT-PE with driver version 5.7 (latest) and doubt you will have any video/motherboard problems due to chipsets. ATI has solid drivers, and are continuosly improving.


Anyway, sweet looking system coming together there, no doubt.

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
August 2, 2005 6:42:20 PM

Also, reconsider, XP Pro (free upgrade to 64-bit) or if your software is compatable (looks like your hardware is, (including video card), 64-bit XP now.

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
August 2, 2005 6:56:00 PM

Thanks for the input. It is really helping me think about this and fine tune things.

As far as the SLI drop, that was a suggestion by many at anandtech. Basically drop the SLI and the 6600GT and upgrade with a better graphics card now. I am not a "power gamer" in the sense that I am playing all the 3d first person shooters. I am actually a Civilization for 15 hours straight kind of guy, but those and the new role playing games are becoming increasingly graphics intense. While SLI offers expansion in the future, upon contemplation I doubt I will ever get to "that" stage if I got a decent single vid card.

As far as WinXP Prof. It's a money thing. In terms of the free upgrade, I doubt I will jump to the 64 Win right away until the bugs are worked out, which will mean that the "free upgrade" will have passed.

In terms of Thermal Grease, don't know a thing about it. I will see what others are saying over at Anandtech as well. I have gotten a lot of replies there and nobody has mentioned it. They actually said the Zalman isn't needed and I can downgrade it.

Thanks again and keep the info flowin'!
August 2, 2005 7:20:06 PM

I would not downgrade cooling, but your decision. Artic Silver 5 is good stuff, and a tube is about $7 and will be at least as good as whatever if any is supplied, and probably better. Instructions for how to application of Artic Silver is on thier website, fyi.
You get XP Pro now, accept upgrade when available and you do not need to install it then, hang on till ready, then you won't have to rebuy it.
SLI in my opinion is not worth the cost. Video cards are fast enough that single top cards will give you plenty of graphic power so that makes it an enthusiast item, which is a lot of bucks for a little gain (it ain't worth it).


<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
August 3, 2005 8:28:53 PM

You might wanna trade that A64 4800 with a lower dual core to get the 7800gtx. If you know nothing about OCing then dont waste your money with the DFI Lanpart NF4 for you wont be able to handle it. Just get the ASUS A8N-SLI. If you plan to get the DFI, you could get the cheaper CPUs and easily OC them to the higher ones, just gotta know the basics. I got my cheap-a$$ a64 3200 running at 4000+ right now with the reference cooler right now. Just an FYI..

<i><font color=red>Only an overclocker can make a computer into a convectional oven.</i></font color=red>
August 4, 2005 12:42:20 AM

Here is what appears to be the final configuration. I sticking with the processor, mem, and mobo.

Is there anything physically wrong with this set up? If not, I will submit my order in case the processor gets in early.

220136 Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700 Keyboard and Mouse Combo (967418-0403) 1 $69.00 $69.00
250125 Creative Labs SBS 5.1 560 Speaker RT 6W per sat/5" Subwoofer Black (51MF4005AA001) 1 $59.00 $59.00
80311 Monarch Furia Custom Desktop w/PCI-E 1 $59.00 $59.00
Case: 100551 - No PS - Thermaltake VB1000BWS Soprano ATX $85.00 $85.00
Power Supply: 100162 - PS 520W - OCZ OCZ52012U ModStream ATX 2.0 $94.00 $94.00
Case Fan: None
Motherboard: 110224 - DFI Lan Party UT NForce4 Ultra-D Audio/GB $129.00 $129.00
Processor: 120231 - AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Dual-Core 1MB Per $999.00 $999.00
Thermal Grease: None
Heat Sink Fan: 130099 - Zalman CNPS7000B-AlCu Silent CPU Cooling $42.00 $42.00
Memory: 140226 - DDR (400) 3200 - 2 GB (2 pcs 1GB) OCZ Dua $273.00 $273.00
2nd Memory: None
Hard Drive: 150939 - SATAII - Western Digital Caviar SE 250 GB $127.00 $127.00
2nd Hard Drive: None
RAID Setup: None
RAID Controller: None
CD-ROM/DVD-ROM/CD-RW: 160324 - DVD-ROM - Sony DDU1615 16X DVD-ROM (Black $37.00 $37.00
CD-RW Software: 210613 - Ahead Nero 6.3 Suite DVD+-RW Software (OE $6.99 $6.99
DVD-ROM Software: 210601 - Cyberlink PowerDVD 6.0 (OEM) $6.99 $6.99
Floppy Drive: 170110 - Mitsumi 1.44 MB 3.5" Floppy Drive (Black) $20.00 $20.00
More Storage: None
Sound Card: None
Video Card: 190527 - ATI (Connect3D) Radeon X800 XL 256MB DDR/ $279.00 $279.00
Modem: None
Network Card: None
Wireless Network Card: None
Add-On Card: None
Case Function Add-On: None
Round Cables: 270156 - Round Cables UV Kit 2-24" IDE 1-18" FDD 1 $22.00 $22.00
Operating System: 210112 - Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition w/SP2 $89.00 $89.00
Additional Software: None
Antivirus: None
Warranty: 800009 - 3 Year - Parts & Labor - Plus $49.00 $49.00 $49.00
Hot Rush: None - Standard Order ( ships within 8-13 business
Far Cry Promotion: 270332 - FREE Full DVD Version of Far Cry 64/32 -
Napster Promotion: 270136 - FREE Napster Music Download for 4 Months
Half Life 2 Promotion: 27F854 - FREE Half Life 2 Full Version Coupon with
Molex Connector: None
Video Capture: None
TV Tuner: None
Sales Tax: $0.00
Estimated Shipping: $0.00
Total: $2,445.98
August 4, 2005 1:33:50 AM

Hint, get XP Pro NOW, or regret it LATER!

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
August 4, 2005 1:47:17 AM

Looks good to me. Dual cores will provide a benefit when encoding video. If you do a great deal of it then yeah go for it. If you were more of a gammer then I would have dropped the cpu to get a better VGA card.

<i><font color=red>Only an overclocker can make a computer into a convectional oven.</i></font color=red>
!