Very glad I came across this site -- I've been researching PCs for the past month or so trying to build a dream system within my budget ($2000-2500) and tailored to my needs (in order of priority: 1. audio creation/production; 2. video production; 3. web design; 4. games).
I was about to go with a custom built PC from Puget Systems -- their customer support and business record were outstanding -- when I began to realize how much I could save if I built it myself. They quoted the rig I've detailed below at $2680, and when I priced out each component myself on NewEgg, it came out to $1996. That $684 savings can go a long way, and after reading some posts here I do have concerns, but I'm pretty confident I can build my own system.
To the point: my questions are 1) How does the below setup look? Anything stand out as a potential problem? Anywhere I can upgrade for little or no price difference? 2) Is there is a single best resource for building my own PC, or is looking at the documentation with my motherboard the best way to go? I found this site recommended in another post, but most of the "How-To's" I've come across seem outdated, and I want to make sure I know exactly what I'm doing before I start fooling around with high tech. Thank you SO much for any help, I really appreciate it. My rig is below:
ASUS A8N-SLI Premium ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM
eVGA Geforce 6800GS CO SE 256-P2-N389-AX Video Card
Creative SOUND BLASTER X-Fi Platinum Sound Card
Western Digital Raptor 74GB 3.5" Serial ATA150 Hard Drive (for OS and programs)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 300GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (for storage)
Lite On 16X Lightscribe DVD+RW/-RW
MITSUMI Black Internal 8 in 1 Floppy Drive Model FA404A/404M BLK - OEM
Lian Li V COOL PC-V1000B Black Computer Case
SeaSonic S12-500 500W Power Supply
ARCTIC COOLING AVC-NV5R3 NV Silencer Rev.3
THERMALRIGHT XP-120 CPU Cooling Heatsink
Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
Microsoft RF Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo
In most cases I would recommend against the Platinum version of Creativfe Sound Blaster products, since you can save some money by just getting the regular version and foresaking the 5.25" panel that comes with it. But for your purposes (audio creation), it might be useful. Just in case, double-check to see if you really need those ports on the front panel rather than just using the ports on the card itself.
You could save money on that CPU by getting an Opteron 165 or 170 and overclocking them. The 165 is your best deal--I'm getting 2.3Ghz right now and could easily go higher--but the 170 is also cheaper than the x2 4400+ and is even easier to overclock to that level. Such minor overclocks are pretty easy to do, so consider an Opteron and save yourself a ton of money.
DFI and EPoX boards are often mentioned as better-priced alternatives to the ASUS A8N SLI. Personally, I use the EPoX 9NPA+ SLI board and have nothing but good things to say about it. No heatpipe, but otherwise it's got almost every feature you'd want on that ASUS board for significantly cheaper. Same goes for the 9NPA+ Ultra, which is even cheaper.
An Antec TPII 550W is about $40 cheaper than that Seasonic 500 (actually more so after rebates on NewEgg, which rates the Antec higher) and works great for me. I also use that Raptor, and I'm happy with it.
Your motherboard instructions SHOULD be sufficient, though some motherboards have better documentation than others. But frankly, most of it's pretty self-evident once you have all the parts out. That web guide is probably a good primer, but you probably won't have any problems. If you have questions while building, just ask them in these forums.
Looks like a strong setup to me. If you plan on doing any overclocking then i agree with what HumbleGod said, get an opteron dual core. If you dont plan on any OC'ing then just stay with the 4400+, it should serve you well. Also, which of the 2gb XMS kits are you getting? Because there is the cheaper one with 3-3-3-8 timings i think cost about $180, and then there's the more expensive kit with 2-3-3-6 timings that goes for $220. The tighter the timings the better, especially if you plan on an overclock.
I myself have ordered the Xfi platinum, and it should be coming in a few days (I'm so excited I'm about to piss my pants), so I think I'll let you know how that is.
And one more thing: do you plan on getting another 6800GS or something? Because you could save a lot of cash by not getting an SLI mobo. If you want a good non-SLI ASUS board I might recommend this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Someone correct me if I'm wrong about this mobo. That is a big leap in price of around $70, so something else to consider. And correct me if I'm wrong but there doesnt appear to be any real big difference between the mobo's except the SLI.
Looks like a solid build, let me know how that goes.
If you plan on doing any overclocking...get an opteron dual core. If you dont plan on any OC'ing then just stay with the 4400+, it should serve you well.
True. Frankly, though, I'd still recommend going for an Opteron 165, even without overclocking. True, you're getting a 20% drop in operating frequency, but you're saving about $130 in the process. Depending on the level of use, you may not even notice the difference in performance, and you'd still have the option to close or eliminate that performance gap with minor tweaks. Same with an Opty 170--a 9% performance drop but a $60 savings, and again you have the option to OC later.
I guess it comes down to which option appeals to you more:
A) being satisfied with having put all this stuff together to make a kick-ass system, or
B) saving a lot of money and putting together a great system, then maybe learning a tad bit more and making it a kick-ass system on the cheap.
If you like Option A, stick with the 4400+, otherwise an Opty is your best friend.