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First Custom Build - 1250 Budget, Opinions Suggestions =)

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December 26, 2005 2:21:41 AM

I want a great gaming system, dont need everything on high res maxed options just want smooth performance, framerate and still great graphics to play =), Also future video editing. But video stuff is really upgrade add later, save money now, but prepare for it as well. Here's my rig as of now...
EDITED: (add my monitor): NEC Multisync P750 (ancient... save money for CPU get new monitor few months later hopefully)
OS: Windows XP Pro sp2
MOBO: ASUS A8N-SLI Premium Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
SLI because have plans future both video and gaming. Could save some $ for ASRock's, but may not be best for future upgrades... and more OC but I never OC too much. Never could really this machine anyways... =)
EDITED: Hardrive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E16822148065
(bad exp. with OEM HDD in past) I plan on getting a 2nd drive later. For seperate video editing, may be a bit steep now, this be apps, games, OS, minmal vid stuff. This is just a random drive actually, need Suggestions appreciated.
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Venice 1GHz FSB 512KB L2 Cache Socket 939 Processor - Retail
Would like higher, just too expensive. Thinking 3700 for a few extra dough but really, not sure worth may well go for dual core AMDs. But cant afford those now, this will definitely suffice I believe for gaming for now.
Video Card: Ahh the question. eVGA geforce 6800 GS or two geforce 6600 256mb pci ex. Now, if get 2 may well look at 7800, or really 6800 GS is good enough probably for me anyways. Atm... need stay within budget. 6800 GS?
Memory: CORSAIR XMS 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Dual Channel Kit System Memory - Retail
Want more than valueselect, but not so much as higher OCZ. Corsair seems be reliable and very well recieved and quality... unless others have their opinions =)
Optical Drive: LITE-ON Black IDE Combo Drive Model SOHC-5236V BK OEM
Get DVD burner later or different combo guess. Actually can find DVD burner, CD ROM, and RW drive all in one but thats expensive (for a quality one, over 100 ive seen) so suggestions or link appreciated.
Floppy: SONY Black Internal Floppy Drive Model MPF920 Black - OEM
10 bucks. Good enough =)
Sound Card: URL Creative Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit 30SB041000000 Sound Card - OEM
Okay its just cheap only reason really, I WILL upgrade first thing, for now save some money.
Power Supply: FSP Group (Fortron Source) AX500-A 500W Power Supply - Retail
Cooling Fans: ZALMAN CNPS9500 LED 92mm 2 Ball Blue LED Light Cooling Fan with Heatsink - Retail

Fan also Depends also case I get... may not even need it, which...

CASE wise no idea honestly, so many choices. Want something big enough, cheap enough, COOL enough, upgradable for future HDDs and plenty room. Maybe Temp display be nice too.

So basically it. Opinions on stuff I have, and fits needs. Dont need play BF2 on highest settings imaginable, (yet) nice play great setting and great fps and performance and cooled cpu. Anyways, sorta ranting sorry.
Total so far minus a case: 1111. give take a few. Also need keep in mind network card =) 1200 be best but can churn out 50 more if need be...
December 26, 2005 3:07:33 AM

Ok - here goes - and remember, this is my $.02.

Comments on your configuration:

First and foremost - if you're not hyperventilating over framerate then skip the SLI configuration - SLI ONLY benefits game framrate, does little for video editing, and is extremely pricey.

HDD - Western digital is all brand name and little performance edge for the higher price - I would reccomend Hitatchi dekstar (best HDD out there IMO) or a maxtor. Also I would stick with SATA 150 for now as the SATA II/SATA 300 spec is still iffy and you would not likely see a huge performance difference for the extra money at this point. (Besides you've selected a SATA 300 disk for a mobo with SATA II interface - not EXACTLY the same thing)

CPU - I would cough up the extra 75 bucks for the 3700+ as long as you get the SanDiego core. That will give you a big improvement in the video editing area.

Video card - I would defintely stick with the single card solution. 6800GS is good choice. . . if you can manage it, a 7800GT can be found for only about 100 more and is well worth the upgrade.

Memory - I've never been that convinced that the higher performance/lower latency memories provide earth shattering performance differences, and have always gone with Corsair or OCZ value solutions - much less money and (IMO) not a serious performance sacrifice.

Optical Drive - why skimp on the DVD burner when a very good BENQ dual layer DVD/RW can be had for 46$

Sound - skip the SB live and see if you can dig up an original Audigy or an Audigy 2 value. Much better sound and you can skip the glitchiness of the SB live series cards.

PSU - DON'T SKIMP HERE - especially for a rig with this kind of equipment in it. I would recommend someting like an ultra or an antec trupower if you can afford it. Wattage should be at least 450W or higher.

Cooler - nice choice - and I would suggest the following: Get yourself a case with a 120mm fan in the back and permanently set the Zalmann to silent mode - that will keep things cool and quiet.

With that: Here is my recommendation

Mobo - MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum - 123$

HDD - Maxtor Maxline Plus III 250 Gb (SATA 150, 7800 RPM 16MB cache) - 105$

Processor - AMD Athlon 64 3700+ SanDiego Core (90nm, 1Ghz FSB, 1Mb L2 Socket 939) - 228$

Video Card - eVGA 7800GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI-e - 299$ - option for
XFX 6800GS 256 GDDR3 (better for higher engine clock) - $205

Ram - keep what you have unless you want to save 30bucks - 100$

Optical Drive - BenQ Black IDE DVD burner model DQ60-BK 42$

Floppy - whatever works here 15$

Sound Card - Soundblaster Audigy2 Value 45$

Power - Antec Smartpower 2 500W - 69$

Cooling - Same as you've got 63$

OS - WinXP Pro SP2 - 147$

For a grand total of $1236 for the 7800GT without shipping (and of course, no monitor since you didn't list one yourself) - or 1142 for the 6800GS, and the MSI has built in gigabit ethernet, so no need for xtra cash on a NIC.

A little on the high side from what you mentioned (for the 7800), but I think this would be a better balance for what you want to do (gaming/video editing) in the near term. The 6800GS would be a respectable choice in a budget crunch, just be sure to get the XFX since it is inherently overclocked from the factory.

All prices taken from newegg.com as of tonight - sorry, I didn't do the neat link-thingy you did but you should be able to find what i've reference from the descriptions.

my $.02

J. Keller

AMD Athlon64 3700+ with eVGA 7800GT and 1Gb DDR400
- AND LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!
December 26, 2005 3:36:23 AM

your .02 is worth much more! Trust me. I do want high framerate for smoother gameplay. SLI only choose in prep for future cards, etc. Know cheaper out there and for vid editing, purely not needed, dual cards will come in handy later. Look at your suggestions though on newegg. Changing HD, look into ones you suggested =).

Anyways, more input from anyone willing do need. Also CASES suggestions I really have no idea. Thanks!
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December 26, 2005 12:42:39 PM

First: Well formated and thought out post - great job.

Slightly different suggestions:
1. Mobo: Abit AN8 Ultraor Epox Ep-9NPA+ Ultra. Less expensive and I believe both are better boards than MSI from a quality standpoint.
2. PSU: The PSU you listed is a great PSU. FSP is a quality mfr who has good prices. You don't have to buy Antec, OCZ, Enermax, etc to get good quality. It's actually better than the Antec Smartpower that was listed...it's competitor from Antec would be the Truepower series of PSUs.
3. HSF: Go with the stock cooler in the retail box from AMD. Unless you're doing some serious OCing you won't need more cooling then that. Save that $63.
4. Sound card: Use onboard sound and upgrade to an Audigy 2ZS or X-Fi later if you think you need the extra sound quality. I think you might be surprised by the quality of onboard sound...
5. GPU: Agree with the eVGA 7800GT recommendation. SLI is only for unlimited budgets that must game at the highest res with high detail settings. It does little to nothing for framerate at lower resolutions without aa/af...or even low res with aa/af.
6. HDD: Stick with a 16MB cache SATA drive. I personally think Seagate are some of the best drives on the market, but not necessarily the fastest. Excellent build quality, QUIET drives and the 5yr warranty to back them up. Modern HDD cannot even saturate ATA133 bandwidth. The primary advantage of SATA right now is the smaller cabling. Don't worry about the differences between SATA 1.5Gbps and SATA 3Gbps.
December 26, 2005 11:02:36 PM

Wow Rugger real helpful. Both convinced me go for 7800GT and MOBO most likely not SLI to save some change. I was just thinking of future upgrades in years to come.

And thanks for telling me about fan, I know its one of the best, but just have bad experience from overheating PC, and can always buy later if cpu heats more than want I plan on OCing but not intensly.

Now... if one of you or anyone could reccomend a great CASE for all this too and any other suggestions =) (trust me every posts been huge help) Ive been looking at a few...

COOLER MASTER Centurion 531 RC-531-SSN1 Silver Computer Case

or more expensive:

Antec Performance I P160 Silver Case

I just want enough room, easy installation, temp display and durable and lasting and COOLING... and not over 100.
(also still comment on other setups)
!