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Building a Multimedia and Gaming PC

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December 30, 2005 1:08:31 PM

Hello everyone.

This is my first post in the forumz here at Tomshardware.
I have been looking and can't decide on what to choose to
build my first computer.
I have some knowledge of where to mount everything, but I don't
know which parts will suffice in the performance I seek for my first computer.

I have a budget of $1300 which will not include speakers, mouse, keyboard, and monitor.

$1300 for the box. Also i would like the case to have a window on the side to display my killer system.
I know the best place to buy from, and that is where I will be purchasing all of the hardware; Newegg!!!
All help and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

FishingforAMD
December 30, 2005 4:27:07 PM

Let the learning begin! :D 

First however, I need to know what the system will be used for... (you gave the budget but I may build you a mack truck and you really wanted a Ferrarri...) Games? Just general use - internet, letters, email? Photoshop & digital photos? Video captureing and editing/encoding? Will you be overclocking? Are you experienced in OC?

I'll give you a few things to point you in the right direction, then I'll let you go make up a system. How's that?

Here's ideas for games, if something else it will need to be adjusted:

AMD Athlon 64 3500+ Venice core (~$200)
nForce4 Chipset motherboard (~$100) (see below for comments)
7800GT 256MB video card (~$300)
2GB PC3200 RAM (~$200)
PSU - 450w or so (~$50) (see below for comments)
Case - your choice, I like cheap so you choose (???)
DVD burner (~$50)
HDD 250g 7200RPM SATA (~$100)

That gets you under your budget easily so you can upgrade some things when you get some details. Maybe dual core ($350 for X2 3800+ instead of the 3500+), or even more powerful video, or less video because you're not gaming, or...

About the mobo: For stock speeds with no OC, just about any mfg's board will work as long as you stick to the quality mfgs. Gigabyte, Epox, Asus, ABit, DFI, and others. For beginner overclocking ABit & Epox (though Gigabyte, Asus, etc still are good options too). For advanced OC, any of them and add DFI - it's the monster OCer of all of them, but needs a little extra work to configure it right to get the most out of it.

About the PSU: 400w or more (preferrably 450w or more to be safe) if you're not overclocking - more if you want to really OC. Fortron has a good 450w one for $50 at newegg. Also look at Antec (the Truepower series), Enermax, OCZ, Seasonic, and a couple others - but pricing starts to climb... I think Fortron is the best for the price right now (I have 2 Forton's in systems at home & both have been running for about a year so far)

If you're not OCing, or only want to OC a little get a boxed or 'retail' CPU. It comes with a heatsink & fan that works well. If you want a large OC get an aftermarket HSF - Thermalright, Zalman, etc.

Hmmm, I think that's about it - oh, if you OC you'll want extra good ram, but in any case don't skimp on quality and get 2x1gig sticks, not 4x512meg.

Mike.
December 31, 2005 2:11:27 AM

What Mike said =) And trust me, learn a lot on Tom's and from these guys, helped me plenty. Just list some uses your comp be used for, will change things and money to move around, especially OCing. (If no OC, go ValueSelect RAM all the way with a reliable brand like corsair or OCZ and save your wallet some burn)

And I like FSP, had one before for psu. Im building a comp too, budget 1300 =) not including all you listed. Anyways, fisherman said really helpful things so listen =)
Related resources
January 1, 2006 11:50:21 AM

Sorry to reply so late, anyways, I will be using the computer for editing my digital photos, playing video games, and possibly recording live tv.
This system would most likely be a multimedia PC with some gaming.

If you list parts, please include windows xp. I don't have a copy.

Thanks to everyone so far.

FishingforAMD
January 1, 2006 11:53:43 AM

Hello.

I know that I should get a PCI-E Video Card, But is SLI really worth it for my needs above? I think the best choice would be to get a 7800GT.

Thanks.

CLuchetti
January 1, 2006 1:14:12 PM

A 7800GT is a good pick and you don't need SLI but you could pick a SLI motherboard for future upgrades.
January 1, 2006 6:19:13 PM

For your needs, SLI wont help really video or anything. Definitely any encoding or recording dual core processor make things much quicker. But expensive...

Windows XP Pro what you'd want. Newegg can get for 147. OEM... retail a bit more than that heh... dont think most ppl pay 300-400 for it though which is retail cost.
January 5, 2006 7:52:07 AM

TV Viewing? I have an excellent settup for you!

Motherboard: Pick one, I like nForce4 motherboards, nearly all the brand name boards are good, even the cheaper brands. Epox has a good one, the EP-9NPA+Ultra, which includes handy things like IEEE1394 FireWire support.

Processor: I'd go with the A64 3500+ Venice core

Hard Drive: How extreme do you want? Speed? Space? Seagate has some nice drives in the 250GB to 300GB range that are fast and relatively inexpensive.

Power Supply: Fortron Source 500W. That's just a high-quality midpriced unit with "more than enough power"

DVD+/- RW: LG makes some nice stuff for a good price

Case: For the price and quality, I really can't go better than the Cooler Master RC-531. It's available in two versions, $60 for the base version, $100 with a cheap power supply and side window. You could use the cheap power supply for something else.

RAM: Corsair XMS, not the pro, something with CAS 2.5-3-3-8 or lower. Higher speeds allow for overclocking, PC3200 is the base speed. I'd go with 2GB since you have the budget for it!

Here's where I'm going to diverge from popular opinion!

For you, the ATI All-In-Wonder X1800 XL for the video card. It's great with TV and has more than enough power for casual gaming on the latest games.

I'd also add the ATI TV-Wonder Elite tuner card, OR the Sapphire or Power Color Theater 550 Pro. These are all the same card, but come with different remotes/software. Because the All-In-Wonder includes a remote, you can go with the cheapest Theater 550 card and end up with the same system.

Now, something most people don't know: The version of ATI MultiMedia Center that comes with the All-In-Wonder X1800 XL also supports the Theater 550 cards. That means you can DITCH the crappy software that comes with Theater 550 cards and use ATI MMC for both the on-card tuner AND the tuner card, giving you TWO tuners from ONE GOOD program.

Having two tuners is very handy, for things like picture-in-picture and recording one show while viewing another.
!