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PC Hardware Recommendations (for gaming/video-editing/etc)

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February 15, 2006 1:25:36 PM

Hi, I'm new here.

I'm basically looking for some opinions and advice on what hardware would best fulfill my specific needs. I used to build PCs for a living, but I've been out of the business for 5+ years and want to make sure I put the best parts my budget will allow into my new system.

The PC will be used for:

[*:b3c070b356]3D Gaming (Quake 4, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, etc)
[*:b3c070b356]Video Editing and Encoding
[*:b3c070b356]3D Modeling and Game Modding
[*:b3c070b356]Watching DVDs and playing MP3s
[*:b3c070b356]Intense Multi-Tasking (e.g. Photoshop, Premiere, Firefox (several windows/tabs), WinAmp, Flash MX, several code editors, and several windows explorer windows...all running together)


What I THINK I want (based on my own research):

[*:b3c070b356]Mirrored 250GB SATA drive
[*:b3c070b356]1-2GB RAM
[*:b3c070b356]AMD Processor (dual core maybe?)
[*:b3c070b356]nVidia GeForce 6800
[*:b3c070b356]SoundBlaster X-Fi


I'd like your opinions on what hardware you think would best suit my needs, and also to know if what I THINK I want would serve my needs well or if something else would fit better.

My budget is around $1,500, and could go up to around $1,750 if the performance gained is worthwhile. I don't need peripherals, just the box.

Thanks in advance for any help!
February 15, 2006 1:37:06 PM

Definitly 2 gigs of ram
By all means, go dual core if you're multi-tasking that much. Many will recommend Opterons i'm sure. Opty or X2 would suit your fancy.
As for the video card... you can get a 7800GT for almost the same price as the 6800, maybe ~40-50 bucks more and you'll be happier

Just some suggestions for ye!
February 15, 2006 2:27:28 PM

You are definitely on the right lines with the set up you suggested. I would similarly sway with the 2GB of RAM. One factor is how much video editing you really plan to do......with the option of SATA II (check the mobo specs - more on that in a mo) or 10,000RPM Raptors you could opt for a separate higher speed HDD for your OS (prices on these have dropped a lot in the last few months and are definitely now affordable in your price bracket). You could still run a mirrored array for all your additional storage then. The 3GB/s SATA II is now showing some of its promise but a lot of people seem to be missing out on the need for bios updates to ensure they get the full benefits of this.....NCQ is another catch word too.
A 6800 will give you enough performance I am sure but yes, the 7800GT can be obtained for well under $300 now and that will last you a little longer I suspect.
The X2 is probably your best bang for buck option right now but I've not been that impressed with performance boosts of these over the higher single core 939 CPUs so far (but that is likely software related more than hardware).
I think X-Fi drivers are still problematic, you'll not see much difference over the Audigy 4 pro anyway (which includes break out box and currently has a $100 rebate at NewEgg - a great deal at $177). If you opt for an nforce4 mobo just check that it includes firewire (some even have firewire 800 - 1394b) as there aren't as many extra PCI slots these days as you might be used to. Don't skimp on your PSU and opt for a slightly bigger case than you might first need.....you'll be amazed how fast you can fill even the biggest HDDs these days when you get cracking on the video editing.
Good luck with whatever you decide!
Related resources
February 15, 2006 2:34:53 PM

the opty 165 is good and you can oc it like crazy get two gigs of ram and also buy a 7800gt or gtx if you plan to game.
February 15, 2006 2:35:37 PM

You need to go with a 7800GT 256 meg pci express card. I use XFX because of the games inclueded. get a separate video capture/tv tuner card so you can take it to your next system after this. A athalon 64x2 4200 is not a bad buy right now. I'd use two 300 gig sata drives instead of 250. and two 1 gig sticks of cas 2.5 ram is fine. You should make budget with this as long as you don't go wild with the power supply and case. Don't need an sli motherboard if you want to save a few bucks.

This system should last a while and keep you happy. Not sure what components you already have (ie) monitor etc..
February 15, 2006 3:52:38 PM

Thanks for all the info, everyone!

You've definitely answered my more pressing questions.

As far as where to buy the components, I keep seeing and hearing of newegg.com. Are they are pretty good supplier? Are there other good ones I should check out?
February 15, 2006 4:08:57 PM

Newegg normally offers good prices on a wide range of items, no evidence of bait and switch that some vendors try. I have bought all my major PC upgrades from them over the last couple of years and I am reasonably satisfied with them - but I do always now upgrade to FedEx shipping. I don't know why but UPS shipping with them is awful, Amazon and UPS always seems smooth as clockwork.
Another good site is Zipzoomfly. TigerDirect is also worth a look, their prices are typically nearer retail levels so I wouldn't recommend anything other than sale purchases from them. Sometimes good stuff can come up on their daily deal and they do have some decent combo deals too.
Mwave is the only other etailer out there that I have consistently read good things about but have never dealt with them. Newegg is a safe place to start though as they have the most extensive customer reviews and the better search engine for products. One bad habit they have is random price jumps, particularly on fashionable video cards - I bought a BFG 6800GS on the day of release for $190 but since then their price has fluctuated almost hourly between $195 and 230 on the same card.
February 15, 2006 5:41:47 PM

Okay, I threw together a list of components on NewEgg.com. If someone has a few minutes, would you mind telling me if there are any major pitfalls or incompatibilities with the components I selected?

http://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/Wishlist/WishShareShow.asp?ID=1900229&WishListTitle=EVILTECHIE+PC

Summary of the above system:

[*:ffd502c6ca]ATX Case w/ 450 watt PSU and two case fans
[*:ffd502c6ca]ASUS Socket 939 MB, SATA+RAID, PATA, SLI, 1Gbit NIC, USB 2, Firewire, 3 PCI slots
[*:ffd502c6ca]AMD Athlon X2 4200 CPU
[*:ffd502c6ca]2GB (2x 1GB) OCZ RAM
[*:ffd502c6ca]eVGA GeForce 7800GT Video
[*:ffd502c6ca]SB Audigy Sound
[*:ffd502c6ca]DVD Burner
[*:ffd502c6ca]DVD Player
[*:ffd502c6ca]2x WD Raptor 10K RPM 36GB Drives (RAID 0, System)
[*:ffd502c6ca]2x Seagate Barracuda 7.2K RPM 300GB Drives (RAID 1, Storage)
[*:ffd502c6ca]Price (before tax, shipping, and rebates): $1,707.45
February 15, 2006 8:47:05 PM

That is a good looking setup Eviltechie.
I have a couple of recommendations, but they are more opinion than based on any scientific substantion.
Firstly, don't cheap on the case w/ PSU. A 450W should be fine but check on the 20/24 pin of the PSU (you'll likely find the mobo you have chosen is on the newer spec)....also a cheap 450W these days is rarely equal to a good quality 350W - check the amps per rail (you'll likely want a minimum of 18A for the 7800GT).

I would be hesitant to get the two small raptors in a RAID 0 setup.....call me chicken but I would probably instead go for a single 74GB Raptor (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...) which is currently rebated down to $135 - a sweet price. I would just worry that one of those puppies fails and your whole OS is gone that's all.....but your PC would be the envy of all around otherwise. Of course the saving right there would keep your total a little under $1700!
February 15, 2006 8:56:33 PM

I agree with dekkard on a couple points. Get a good PSU. That setup looks good though!

Are you sure you need the soundcard? The ASUS board comes with 7.1 integrated sound that's pretty damn good. I used to own that board before ditched it for a Non-SLI board. The sound is actually really great.
February 15, 2006 9:12:51 PM

I didn't even spot you'd gone for the SLI option. I can't say I am an advocate of SLI, unless you are a relentless upgrader I suspect you'll be more inclined to replace your existing card than add another 7800GT to your setup. If you are looking to trim a few bucks you could switch to the single PCI-E version mobo - it'll leave you a few more later upgrade options too. Pure is right about the onboard sound but for the needs you described you'll probably appreciate the extra stuff offered by a separate soundcard - besides, less load on your CPU too.
February 18, 2006 4:22:23 AM

Alrighty, I've taken everyone's advice, my experience/needs, and my budget into consideration...and this is what I've come up with. I'll likely be putting in the order tomorrow. Assuming the case I want comes into stock, and assuming no one spots any glaring problems with my configuration. ;-)

NewEgg.com Parts:
http://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.asp?ID=1900229

System Specs:

[*:03c94591b9]AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (dual core)
[*:03c94591b9]2GB Corsair Memory
[*:03c94591b9]DFI LanParty 939 MB (Audio/Lan/SATAII+RAID)
[*:03c94591b9]eVGA GeForce 7800GT
[*:03c94591b9]WD Raptor 74GB 10K RPM SATA HDD
[*:03c94591b9]2x WD Caviar 320GB 7.2K PRM SATAII HDD (RAID 1)
[*:03c94591b9]Floppy Drive + Card Reader
[*:03c94591b9]DVD Burner
[*:03c94591b9]RAIDMAX 530 Watt PSU
[*:03c94591b9]Logisys Red Acrylic Case
[*:03c94591b9]Price (before rebates and shipping): $1,569


Any final thoughts, warnings, or advice before I purchase this beast?
February 18, 2006 4:53:11 AM

a raidmax psu is hardly quality, i suggest a antec or enermax, also you can get a nice alumin case for that budget look into it. acrlic cases look cool but im sure you will get annoyed of it after a while, trust me i had one.
February 20, 2006 10:04:40 AM

Well, I ordered it!

Thanks to all for the advice and help. It's been much appreciated.

Final Specs (for anyone who's curious):

[*:b792860c5d]CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+
[*:b792860c5d]Memory: 2GB Corsair Memory
[*:b792860c5d]Motherboard: LanParty 939 MB (Audio/Lan/SATAII+RAID)
[*:b792860c5d]Video: eVGA GeForce 7800GT
[*:b792860c5d]System HDD: WD Raptor 74GB 10K RPM
[*:b792860c5d]Storage HDDs: 2x WD Caviar 250GB 7.2K RPM 16MB Cache (RAID 1)
[*:b792860c5d]Disc Drive: ASUS DVD Burner
[*:b792860c5d]Floppy Drive: Card Reader + Floppy
[*:b792860c5d]Case: Red/Orange UV Acrylic (4 ext. 5.25", 2 ext. 3.5", 6 int. 3.5")
[*:b792860c5d]Power Supply: 550 Watt w/ UV Sleeving (plenty of amps)
[*:b792860c5d]Special FX: Two CCFL blacklights, and two sound-sensitive CCFL red/orange lights.
[*:b792860c5d]Misc: Power splitters for future use and SATA power adaptor for my third drive.
[*:b792860c5d]Price (after shipping and rebates): $1,498


Most of the stuff bought from NewEgg.com, with the exception of the case and lights.

Should look pretty interesting when finished. I'll try to remember to post pics. :-)
February 20, 2006 10:08:54 AM

yes post some pics. is anyone else dooling?
February 20, 2006 11:16:56 AM

Quote:
Well, I ordered it!

Thanks to all for the advice and help. It's been much appreciated.

Final Specs (for anyone who's curious):

[*:7522e1eb1c]CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+
[*:7522e1eb1c]Memory: 2GB Corsair Memory
[*:7522e1eb1c]Motherboard: LanParty 939 MB (Audio/Lan/SATAII+RAID)
[*:7522e1eb1c]Video: eVGA GeForce 7800GT
[*:7522e1eb1c]System HDD: WD Raptor 74GB 10K RPM
[*:7522e1eb1c]Storage HDDs: 2x WD Caviar 250GB 7.2K RPM 16MB Cache (RAID 1)
[*:7522e1eb1c]Disc Drive: ASUS DVD Burner
[*:7522e1eb1c]Floppy Drive: Card Reader + Floppy
[*:7522e1eb1c]Case: Red/Orange UV Acrylic (4 ext. 5.25", 2 ext. 3.5", 6 int. 3.5")
[*:7522e1eb1c]Power Supply: 550 Watt w/ UV Sleeving (plenty of amps)
[*:7522e1eb1c]Special FX: Two CCFL blacklights, and two sound-sensitive CCFL red/orange lights.
[*:7522e1eb1c]Misc: Power splitters for future use and SATA power adaptor for my third drive.
[*:7522e1eb1c]Price (after shipping and rebates): $1,498


Most of the stuff bought from NewEgg.com, with the exception of the case and lights.

Should look pretty interesting when finished. I'll try to remember to post pics. :-)


man I wish I would have saw this sooner... dfi boards are great but u they dont like crosair memory @ all... should have gotten the ocz 2x1gb 2-3-2-5 memory... check dfi-street.com/forum/ they have tons of info and setup guides and what 2 buy on ur dfi board...
February 20, 2006 2:43:31 PM

I found a setup guide on dfi-street for the memory I ordered. According to the people who made the guide it runs stable.

Is the performance of Corsair much worse than the OCZ memory? Or, more specifically, is the performance difference great enough to warrant sending the Corsair stuff back and getting OCZ instead?
February 20, 2006 3:12:08 PM

well this is my setup...


opty 165 dualcore oced to 2.6ghz on air and stock cooler/voltage
dfi landparty ultra d
ocz 2-3-2-5 2x1gb oced 2-2-2-5 stock voltage
x1900xtx sapphire stock not oced
maxtor 250gig 16mb buffer
nec 3550a
ocz powerstream 520w

3dmark05 11.8k
3dmark06 6.1k

I like tight memory vs looser memory
February 21, 2006 5:20:01 PM

Let us know how the DFI Ultra-D works?
I'm interested in a 939 board for video.
I've never used DFI, only Asus and Shuttle.
I don't need as SLI board as someone noted.
February 21, 2006 6:08:55 PM

Quote:
Let us know how the DFI Ultra-D works?
I'm interested in a 939 board for video.
I've never used DFI, only Asus and Shuttle.
I don't need as SLI board as someone noted.


I dont understand what u mean how it works its the best overclocking mobo out for athlon 64/opteron cpus with 939 pins based on the nforce 4 chipset
March 1, 2006 10:35:17 AM

Well, all my parts arrived and I built the system last night. Works great and I got WinXP Pro SP2 installed without any issues.

The only problem I ran into was that the 1/4" thick acrylic case can't mount drives using standard case screws. It needs special 1/2" long screws. So, I'll hopefully be picking up some of those today so I can mount the remaining four hard drives.

At some point in the future I also want to replace all the fans that came with the case. They all run on 4-pin molex connectors, and I'd much rather have 3-pin fans I can hook to a fan controller.

Other than that, I just need to do some cable management and install a bunch of drivers.

Thanks again to all who gave advice!

I'll post pics as soon as I get the rest of the drives mounted.
!