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$1200 Build, what can I improve?

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Last response: in Systems
February 11, 2006 10:31:15 PM

Hey guys, I've checked out Tom's off and on for awhile but never posted in the forums. After about 4 years I'm finally building a new system but I'm trying to keep it under $1200 though $1100 would be better if I could cut costs without hurting performance i.e. maybe I picked a part that has a less expensive but equally performing alternative.

Here's what I have so far (skipping parts that I will recycle from old system. Basically Monitor, DVD, maybe my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz if it'll work and actually be better than the on board sound):

MB - ASUS A8N-E ATX AMD Motherboard
ASUS A8N-E
I'd originally been looking at the DFI's (both SLI and non) but eventually decided that I really don't need SLI and the DFI forums basically scared me off :lol:  in that they made them sound extremely picky for RAM, PSU and getting the thing to run properly at setup as far as BIOS goes. As far as OC'n, I'm not that worried about it. It'd be nice to do down the road but from what I read on the DFI boards it takes days and days to do properly. And really I just want my games to run smoothly, past that I care not what my bench scores are. All in all however, the MB is one of the areas I'm second guessing myself the most on.

CPU- AMD 64 3700+ San Diego
AMD 64 3700+
This was a fairly easy choice other than whether to go with the X2's instead or not. In the end, the bench scores I looked at all pretty much agreed that until there is more software support to take advantage of the two cores I'm better off with one. I'm a little worried about games patching support in along with future games having it standard, but I'm betting on a real difference taking at least 2 years and by then I could buy a new processor, hopefully keeping the MB but not betting on that either. This CPU has what seemed to be one of the better AMD cores, and has the 1mb L2 Cache.

RAM - 2 GB Corsair XMS PC3200
Corsair XMS 2GB
This is another area I'm not sure about. There are alot of different brands but this seemed to have a good balance of performance/price/reputation. From what the comments said on it, I'd have to change the timings in the Bios otherwise they'd be set higher by default. This doesnt sound too difficult.
2 GB might be overkill but I figured better safe than sorry if games start utilizing this more in a year or 2.

PSU - Antec TruePower 2.0 550W
Antec TruePower 2.0 550W
Yet again, so many power supplies, so many specs and price differences. I knew only that I wanted a brand with a good rep, I wanted at least 500W, and I wanted it for $100 or less if I could, $130 tops. This is what I came up with.

Video Card - EVGA 7800GT w/ copper Heatsink
EVGA 7800GT
NewEgg doesn't list this as having the copper heatsink from what I could tell, though Zipzoomfly does for this model number. Basically the new ATI's and the GTX's are too expensive. This card at just under $300 seemed to be about the best choice if not willing to shell out $450+

HD - WD 250GB SATA II
WD 250GB SATA II
This might be taken out. Basically I have a HD, it's older but it works. The new MB has SATA II support so I figured I might as well take advantage. I could also not get this right away, use the old one and get this later on if I think it'd be worth it.

CASE - NZXT Lexa
NZXT Lexa
I looked at alot of cases and this is the one I liked the look/sound/price of the most. Also sorta thinkin of the Thermaltake Shark which is about $20 cheaper from Zipzoomfly than New Egg.

Total from Newegg was $1200.78 :D 
So that's it. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

More about : 1200 build improve

February 11, 2006 10:46:07 PM

Shaving $ without a performance hit is tough to do. Let me try a few ideas:
1) FSP Group AX450-PN 450w non-SLI Power Supply $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104954
Since you don't have SLI planned this should be all the reliable power you need.
2) EpoX EP-9NPA3Ultra $85.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Equal performance at a lower price. It's a good board but the power connectors are in odd spots (not a problem though).
3) Use the HDD you have. You can always add later, and the performance difference is not huge. It's SIZE that counts, (sorry :oops:  ).
4) RAM: Once you decide on the exact motherboard, go to memory OEM websites and use the configurator to choose ValueRam. Either get 2x1GB or 2x512MB. No overclocking makes valueram the no-brainer choice.
BTW, these are only cheaper alternatives to what you listed. I can find nothing wrong or incompatible with the choices you made. Just trying to save some green. :) 
February 11, 2006 10:57:20 PM

Thanks alot for the suggestions. I'd seen that board recommended favorably in other threads as well and the PSU is certainly alot cheaper. I'd honestly not considered value ram as everyone seems to trash it. But if that is only an OC bias then that'd be a pretty good savings as well.

Thanks very much Newf, hard for me to consider the more generic stuff since so many people like to make it sound like trash and that's why I posted this, I figured there was probably some stuff here I could do without and not really notice.
Related resources
February 11, 2006 11:06:10 PM

Thanks Prozac. That pretty much settles me on the Epox. Only thing keeping me from ordering all this is reading more on the value select stuff...if only they would give it a snappier name :D  lame as that may be. If the performance boost of the better stuff is only there for when you want to push the clock speeds up and the timings down, then like Newf said I will go with the value.

The tempting part was paying a bit more to get ram I could OC and then have the performance of much more expensive stuff. Though at the same time, I've not played around with that to see the benefits myself and most articles I've read seem to suggest that with games, the fps boost would be negligible.
February 11, 2006 11:11:06 PM

If I bought value it'd be either OCZ or Corsair....though it's tempting to just buy the Corsair I picked out and then not worry about it. Only hitch to that would be if I paid for something that wasn't living up to what I paid for, that is, that RAM investment wouldn't be there until I actually OC'd it. But if that were a matter of just setting the timings it specifies then no biggie, providing it had a noticable effect vs the value stuff. I'm gonna have to go read some more benchmarks hehe.
February 11, 2006 11:39:59 PM

Well I took a look at the ram articles I'd bookmarked and then went to Newegg and poked around.

This is $45 cheaper but is still decent ram 2GB Corsair XMS not quite as fancy as my first pick but also didn't see any folks complaining about getting a bad stick. Also only $25 more than the Value ram from Corsair and OCZ. Thinking this is a good compromise. Still might not be any better than the value but I'll sleep better at night :lol: 

So with the Epox MB at $13 cheaper, the ram at $45, the PSU at roughly $45 cheaper, and skipping the HD ($98) that brings me in $201 less!! Which is fantastic.

Thanks a ton guys.
February 11, 2006 11:44:00 PM

Quote:
Well, sometimes Value stuff is total crap. OCZ make good Value RAM. It's cheaper, it probably doesn't overclock well, but it works good. If it's value, make sure it's a brand name that makes the cheaper version. Like OCZ Value RAM it's better than some Generic no-name shit.
Absolutely true! I should have specified not only to find valueram at the OEM websites, but added that Corsair, Mushkin, Kingston, OCZ and Crucial all have memory configurators. I just assumed that abominos wouldn't just go to Best Buy and get their UltraPow Smokin' Ram! What valueram really means is:
No heat spreaders.
Low overvoltage tolerance.
Limited overclock tolerance (due to above).
Usually 3,3,3,8 timings at DDR400.
Works at stock speeds on every system I've seen.
Very reasonable price.
February 11, 2006 11:48:29 PM

And for a little perspective (and because I'm ecstatic about finally moving up) my old system was basically:

Pent IV 1.7 (w/ the 400mhz FSB and no HyperThreading)
768MB RDRam
and the real kicker...

the badass GeForce 3 64mb baby!!

Which I proudly got to run EQ2 reasonably well, Halflife 2 (CS: Source was playable but borderline, I'd frequently dip into the low teens and sometimes single digit fps realm, turned off alot of stuff obviously), and a few others. WoW of course runs perfectly heh, even with alot going on ie raids.
February 11, 2006 11:51:37 PM

Quote:
This is $45 cheaper but is still decent ram 2GB Corsair XMS not quite as fancy as my first pick but also didn't see any folks complaining about getting a bad stick. Also only $25 more than the Value ram from Corsair and OCZ. Thinking this is a good compromise..
That's because it's value ram with heat spreaders on it. I've got that exact ram in my X2 system and it works great. I also spent $25 more than I had to... :oops:  Just remember that it will not overclock well. If that's OK then go for it.
February 11, 2006 11:59:41 PM

Ah, kk Newf heh. I'd kinda wondered if that was the only difference but thought maybe the timings were a lil lower. Didn't see them listed on the cheapest value one from Corsair, I must have missed it. Heat spreader I dont really need, so might as well go with the Value.
February 12, 2006 2:02:37 AM

Quote:
...The tempting part was paying a bit more to get ram I could OC and then have the performance of much more expensive stuff. Though at the same time, I've not played around with that to see the benefits myself and most articles I've read seem to suggest that with games, the fps boost would be negligible.
For gaming the big fps boost always comes from a faster videocard. You've already fixed that with a 7800GT.
February 12, 2006 2:28:34 AM

you could also save a large hunk of cash by going with a cheaper case.

i never spen more then $50 on a case and still can find good qulity ones. although they may not be as stylish it still saves you money. so i suggest you look at some cases in the $50 range and then slowly work your way up in price until you see something you really like
February 12, 2006 3:23:57 AM

Quote:
Well I took a look at the ram articles I'd bookmarked and then went to Newegg and poked around.

This is $45 cheaper but is still decent ram 2GB Corsair XMS not quite as fancy as my first pick but also didn't see any folks complaining about getting a bad stick. Also only $25 more than the Value ram from Corsair and OCZ. Thinking this is a good compromise. Still might not be any better than the value but I'll sleep better at night :lol: 

So with the Epox MB at $13 cheaper, the ram at $45, the PSU at roughly $45 cheaper, and skipping the HD ($98) that brings me in $201 less!! Which is fantastic.

Thanks a ton guys.


Well you get what you pay for!

I do not believe that you really want to save a couple bucks by getting cheap power supply, cheaper MoBo or not as good memory.

I built recently the rig with ASUS A8N SLI Premium and I will not recommend anything less!'

What you get with this MoBo can not be replaced by a cheaper MoBO.

At 175.00 U$ it is worth every penny!

Quote:
Good choices, I would also recommend the Epox mobo, I'd say they're much better than Asus mobos.


A penny for penny I might disagree!

It takes one to know one!

The futures on A8N SLI Premium might save you a bunch! (i.e. nVidia firewall)

Hard disk drives buy ONLY with rebate.

i.e. I got brand new RETAIL Hitachi 160 GB SATA I for 40.00 U$ bucks!

check eWiz and Monarch.


Noisetaker 701AX (600W) 142.00 U$
ASUS A8N SLI Premium 170.00 U$
RAM 1 GB OCZ pair of Gold 135.00 (2 GB x 2) OCZ4001024ELDGCGE-K
AMD Athlon 64 x2 3800 +Toledo (300.00)
Asus PCIe (ATi) X-700X U$ 99.00 (not worth anything costlier)
than other accessories as needed, when needed, if needed!

You do not cut corners on components which should be the PC foundation and last, others you can upgrade as desired when can afford.


Hitachi 160 GB Sata I 40.00 U$
February 12, 2006 10:24:11 PM

Quote:
...Well you get what you pay for!
I do not believe that you really want to save a couple bucks by getting cheap power supply, cheaper MoBo or not as good memory.
I built recently the rig with ASUS A8N SLI Premium and I will not recommend anything less!' ...You do not cut corners on components which should be the PC foundation and last, others you can upgrade as desired when can afford.
You've got to be kidding. This is a shining example of "My way is the only way"! To recommend one of the best motherboards as a MINIMUM requirement for everyone is ludicrous. A properly balanced system that will use that mobo is not $1200. All the components I recommended above will work well over the long haul and provide excellent service for reasonable money. They are also well matched to each other. If you read this thread carefully before posting another response maybe you'll understand.