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PLZ Help Building PC, $1500 Budget

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March 21, 2006 10:54:22 PM

Noob here, building my first PC and I can really use some help. From what I have seen here so far suggest I cam to the right place. I have about $1500 to build the box excluding monitor and software. I am really struggling selecting and matching components. I fear I have really made some noob blunders and need some guidance.

Here is the deal; the PC will be used for:

Gaming
BF2
MS Flight Simulator
Doom 4
Sims 2 (my wife’s thing, not mine).

Other
MS office suit
Surfing the web.

Will not be used for video editing, sound mixing, storing MP3. Mostly used for business and play time.

Here is what I am thinking about so far. Any and everything is open for suggestions.

* Case: Antec Solution SLK3000-B, Black steel ATX Mid Tower
* PSU: Antec Truepower TPII-550 ATX12V 550 Watt
* MoBo: Asus A8N-SLI Premium, Socket 939, NVIDIA nForce4 SLI (may be a waist of $$).
* CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Manchester 1GHz HT
* Memory: Corsair XMS 2GB (2 x 1 GB) mod Twinx2048-3200c2pt
* Graphic: Radeon X850 XT, or GeForce 7800 GT. (head is spinning over this one)
* Sound Card: ?? Do I really need one since the MoBo has chip set?
* HDD: WD Caviar SE16 WD3200KS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA
* DVD/CD Burner: NEC 16X DVD+/-R DVD Burner IDE/ATAPI Mod ND-3550A OEM (clueless if this will burn both CD and DVD’s.

That is it for the major components. MoBo and Video Graphic is really confusing the heck out of me. Does this sound right? I really want a system that I can easily expand for the next five or so years. Any comments or suggestion welcomed, especially an education.

THX
March 21, 2006 11:16:29 PM

It looks OK, but here's what I'd change, IMHO:

I'd change the case to the Cooler Master Cavalier. I'm biased because I have one, but it's big, attractive looking, and has plenty of airflow. Here's the link:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Newegg also has it in silver.

For the video card, I'd get a 7900GT. It'll run outperform, run cooler than, and use less power than the 7800GT. It's faster than a 7800GTX, and barely more expensive than the 7800GT. Here's the link:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

A sound card has its own audio processor, whereas integrated sound uses the CPU to process the audio. Plus, music and game audio will sound a lot better with a sound card. Creative makes the best sound cards. Here's the link:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

The motherboard is a good one, but you could save money with a non-SLI board. Other than that, your build looks good. Quack.
March 22, 2006 12:05:49 AM

Which is what I just said, BTW
Related resources
March 22, 2006 1:05:06 AM

Thanks so far. I am mistified by the SLI MoBo. If I were to go to the 7900 GT, do I need a SLI MoBo. Or in other words what does the SLI do and does it buy me anything. Would love to trim back on MoBo, but do not know the pros and cons of doing so.
March 22, 2006 1:11:55 AM

Which X2 Manchester? 3800+, 4200+, 4600+? Either way, if you must have a dual-core, check out an Opteron instead--similar pricing, server grade, better OC potential.

SLI is technology where you can use two graphics cards to boost graphics performance. In other words, to use SLI you'd need two of those cards. Don't bother; SLI is just another way to pry money from rich fools. Get one great card instead (the 7900GT is a good choice).

That NEC burner should be fine. Any DVD+R drive will burn CD-Rs as well these days, including the one you mention.

Honestly, it sounds like you might need to research things a bit more before committing yourself to components. Read these forums for a few more weeks to better understand what you'll need for your build.
March 22, 2006 1:18:24 AM

Another thing--since this is mostly a gaming PC, and you probably won't be doing a lot of multitasking, you may not benefit much from a dual-core CPU. Few games these days are optimized for dual core CPUs, although this may change in coming years. Consider an Athlon 64 3700+ or an Opteron 148 instead--you'll save money and still have enough processing power for the tasks you have in mind.
March 22, 2006 1:23:33 AM

I was about to say that
March 22, 2006 1:26:21 AM

It looks good, please specify which processor your going to use. I'd go with the nVidia, but that's just because most of my positive experiences have been with them.
March 22, 2006 1:46:59 AM

Processor I am considering is Anthlon 64 X2 3800+. Sorry for leaving that out.

Humble, I am researching, that is why I am here. Like I said I am a newbie and need help matching components.

I am willing to change any component like the MoBo and Processor. What do you suggets?
March 22, 2006 9:36:18 AM

You most definately DO NOT need an SLI mobo to have a 7900GT. You need to have an SLI mobo if you want to have TWO 7900GT's. Which is kind of a waste.
March 22, 2006 7:28:22 PM

OK after some advice here and doing some research here is my revised configuration. Please tell me what you think and if I screwed up.

Case: Coolermaster CAC-T05-UW
PSU: Antec TPII-550ATX
MoBo: ASUS A8N5X NF4 939
CPU: Anthlon 64 4000+ 2.4G
V-Card: EVGA GF 7900GT 256-P2-N563
S-Card: Creative X-FI Extreme
MEMORY: Corsair Twin2048-3200c2pt
H-Drive: WD 7K 8M SATA2 WD3200JS 320GB
DVD Burner HP DVD740R1 16X

Well this all work together?
March 22, 2006 7:45:04 PM

I'd go with the Dual core CPU. Don't let people convince you that one processor is better, you'll be sorry if you do. You could save money buy just buying cheaper Soundblaster sound card.

And will these new gadgets such as Physics cards make use of the second PCI express slots, if so I would go with an SLI motherboard.
March 22, 2006 7:49:32 PM

I agree on the dual-core CPU also. I'm going to one-up that though and make a very good recommendation:

Socket 939 Opteron 165 (or 170)

Fantastic processor that you can overclock quite a lot. (I'd recommend overclocking it) It comes with a great stock heatsink too (albeit you should use your own termal goo, Arctic Silver 5 is best right now)
March 22, 2006 7:50:22 PM

Quote:
OK after some advice here and doing some research here is my revised configuration. Please tell me what you think and if I screwed up.

Case: Coolermaster CAC-T05-UW
PSU: Antec TPII-550ATX
MoBo: ASUS A8N5X NF4 939
CPU: Anthlon 64 4000+ 2.4G
V-Card: EVGA GF 7900GT 256-P2-N563
S-Card: Creative X-FI Extreme
MEMORY: Corsair Twin2048-3200c2pt
H-Drive: WD 7K 8M SATA2 WD3200JS 320GB
DVD Burner HP DVD740R1 16X

Well this all work together?


3800 x2 (oc it to 2.4ghz) instead of 4000+ (same speed but dual core)
if you stay with the 4000+ u dont need 2 gigs of ram 1 gig is enough
nec 3550a vs that hp dvd burner
Caviar SE16 WD3200KS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA2
March 22, 2006 8:26:07 PM

did he even say hed liek to overclock? if not id get the first amd x2 with 1mb cache percore... as for video card, like every1 said, 7900gt... id get an sli board because if u plan to have this for 5 years, maybe adding another 7900gt in a year or 2 wont be too bad of an idea. id stick with the dual core since newer games are becomming multi threaded and u want to own this comp for up to 5 years... if anyone has said to "wait for vista" advise = delete there post. vista has already been delayed until 07 and microsoft seems to be taking its sweet ass time in getting it to us... i think the amd x2 4400 is the first dual core with 1mb cache... id say to not buy an opteron if ur not gonna overclock since an x2 will be just as stable at stock speeds as any other processor.
March 22, 2006 9:30:11 PM

I agree with parlee. It's the guys first PC, don't confuse him with overclocking now. He's going to be sweatin balls just worrying about everything working after he puts it together anyway, much less worrying about toasting his new system. We all know that within the next two or three years you will want to build another one, so SLI is a pointless money waster, and the dual core is really up to you. If you plan on multi tasking, internet, DVD watching, word processing, then you will see little to no performance loss with an X2. Think of it this way, in two years when there are actually games to take advantage of the SLI and the video cards are cheaper, upgrade your mobo and buy another 7900 and it'll actually be worth the money. The sound card seems a little steep, don't go too overboard now, b/c unless you plan on spending another $300+ on good speakers, get a nice base model that will definetly sound better than your onboard. Why the DVD change to an HP? Just wondering... What about monitors.....???

IMO - No SLI No Overclock and go with the x2, everyone multitasks, stop denying it.
March 22, 2006 9:59:54 PM

If a guy is planning to use the same computer for 5 years, it hardly matters splitting hairs over details of his build, assuming he establishes a good solid match of parts.

Any of the suggestions made here (except sli) strike me as a fair matching of parts.

In a couple years, his equipment will be quite obsolete, no matter what.
March 22, 2006 10:26:37 PM

To answer a few questions.

Monitor and Speakers, I already have from a previos PC. I have 4- Altec Lansing satelites and Sub-woofer that contains the amplifiers.

S-Card selection was out of ignorance. What is a good match?

Over clocking, I know what it is, but do not know how. Assume it it is the BIOS settings, never tinkered with it.

Beats me why I changed DVD from NEC to HP, guess I thought the HP had more features. Am I wrong?

Mega dittos to the hard drive catch, just a few bucks more for a lot more performance.

As for the Dual Core and SLI debate, keep it coming, I am learning.
March 23, 2006 1:03:21 AM

Quote:

As for the Dual Core and SLI debate, keep it coming, I am learning.


Have a read of the thread that i started....has been along similar lines to yours here...some interesting insights on SLI....
http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/help-build-SLI-box-lt-1200-good-upgrade-path-ftopict179286.html

I am same as you ...unsure about the benifits of SLI....I was looking at it from an upgrade perspective, not for now....but general advice seems to suggest that it is propably not worth it.

I am interested reading your thread, as you are looking at a similar system to me.....however i have a tighter budget so will be getting a cheaper cpu and graphics card
March 23, 2006 1:36:11 PM

In my opinion, think of SLi this way, software and hardware manufactuers haven't even had enough time to take full advantage of PCI express, much less two PCI express cards. Wasted money
March 23, 2006 2:45:07 PM

Here's a system I would get:

Cooler Master Centurion 5 Blue - $45
edit: or get the Cooler Master Wavemaster - $130 Very beautiful case :) 
Antec TRUEPOWERII TPII-550 ATX12V 550W Power Supply - $90
AMD Opteron 144 or 146: $130/$170 respectively (single core)
2GB Corsair XMS or Kingston HyperMemory $250-300
Min: ATI X850XT - $160
250GB Western Digital 7200RPM SATA 150 - $89
ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 Socket 939 ULi M1695 ATX AMD Motherboard - $65
[They have an add on card that supports AM2 and DDR2 on a certain slot...great upgradibility!]
Logitech G5 Laser Mouse - $50
any $30 Keyboard
or Splurge on this: Logitech diNovo™ Media Desktop - $150
Sony or any other company 16X DVD burner - $50

Base price: $1008 - $1310

Then spend the rest on a high quality 19" Monitor!

Hope that didn't confuse you even more LOL!
March 23, 2006 3:05:57 PM

im also planning to build a new pc with some of my old parts and geting new parts, so far im planning to do it during summer, and i have been researching the parts ...since i think october 2005( i know the technology changes, but then i wanted to crate a new rig in december....just didnt have time) and as well as You i wanted my system to last me that 5 years ( now im still using a pc which i got in 2001) so for now i decided to use the folowing:

-MOTHERBOARD: ASUS P5wd2E -Premium ( a lot of future upgradespossible on it)
-PROCESSOR: Pentium 4 3.2 640 (or the 641 series)
-RAM: 2 gigs of ddr2 ram 667
-GRAPHIC CARD: ATI Radeon x1900 AIW
-HSF: Zalman CuAl 7700 or the 7000 series (the lighter one)

and i wanted to use parts that i m using now
-CASE: Thermaltake Xaser III series case
-PSU: Thermaltake Purepower 480W psu
-HD: 2 hardrives (240 gb total)
-Sony DVD drive
-Yamaha F1 series CD-RW drive


total cost $$ 1268 ( including a nwe windows XP...2 bad i cant use myold OEM)
to be honest im the most woried just about the power suplpy but i made a post here and 20 out of 24 people said that it wil have planty of power to power this system (im just woried about the amperage of the 12v rail), ati mentioned that the minimum for its gcard is 30A and i have only 18A, so it might be insufficient there, or maby ati overstated it by alot, any thinughts on that???
March 23, 2006 7:31:08 PM

Don't cheap out on the PSU. If you don't plan on adding 4 HD's or lots of pci slots later on than the Antec true is good. If you want to upgrade go with PC Power and Cooling 510. It's twice as much but about 40% more power. Do NOT use your current PSU for this new pc. People don't realize the PSU is the heart of your computer. It's just as important as the CPU; it's connected to everything.

Nothing beats the NEC 3500 series speed and reliability and only $38:
NEC 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE/ATAPI Model ND-3550A - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
DVD-RW and CD-RW all in one. Can't beat it guranteed.

Sorry but I would reccomend AMD since you get 64bit proc+dual core and better performance for less as of right now. 6months from now it may be different, but AMD is way ahead right now.
I'd reccomend the Opterson 165/170 model for it's dual core and 2mb cache. You can over clock the 170 to 2.6ghz(fx-60 speed) for only $349 vs. $1200.
Don't skip out on dual core, you will regret it later. Dual core is only 2% less performance in single core gaming compared to their FX equivalent in Ghz. But wayyy ahead in everyday application performance.

XP90 HSF currently best air cooler out right now for soc 939. It can help you get opty 170 2.6+ghz OC(fx-60) easily.

A good mobo will get you a long way with OC'ing. Stick to ASUS EPoX, DFI. DFI has been the leader for awhile now, with a heatsink/fan already installed on the northbridge. You can get the DFI LanParty UT nF4 Ultra-D for $119 @ monarch.

Don't waste your money on an ATI X1800. It's almost $300. The eVGA 7900GT smokes it easily, and it's only $319. OC'ing your eVGA does not void your warranty unlike ANY other maker. You will regret not getting the cooler running, bigger pipelined, and higher OC'ing possibilities.
March 23, 2006 8:29:18 PM

Don't waste your money on an ATI X1900. It's almost $300. The eVGA 7900GT smokes it easily, and it's only $319. OC'ing your eVGA does not void your warranty unlike ANY other maker. You will regret not getting the cooler running, bigger pipelined, and higher OC'ing possibilities.


the x1900xt is far faster than a 7900gt, I agree with the rest of your post.
March 24, 2006 12:02:59 AM

Quote:
Don't waste your money on an ATI X1900. It's almost $300. The eVGA 7900GT smokes it easily, and it's only $319. OC'ing your eVGA does not void your warranty unlike ANY other maker. You will regret not getting the cooler running, bigger pipelined, and higher OC'ing possibilities.


the x1900xt is far faster than a 7900gt, I agree with the rest of your post.


Guess you didn't see where he said 1800, not 1900.
March 24, 2006 1:22:26 AM

The mobo maybe a little much since your not going to be going SLI. I would recommend getting the Asus A8N5x, its like 80 bucks and is the same as the A8N-SLI except withou the extra PCI-E x16 socket. Unless you plan to go SLI in the near future. Also, IMO, I would get the 7900gt as it is like $300 and way better than than the X850...
March 24, 2006 1:26:22 AM

lol to be honest i dont need new cd combos(thx for the advice thou), im planing to use the old ones which work just fine, and the psu , why would it be weak? wouldnt 480W be enough?

btw the 1900 aiw i think is beter thatn the 7800 seriesnvidia card, and to be honest iv never been a nvidia fan (since i got one of their cards, and it didnt work, i want for ati and im happy,

I already picked the mobo that i like for now, thats why im going with pentium, and so far it never did let me down
btw is a dualcore 2.6 really beter than a single core 3.2?? its slower isnt it? (atleast for now) and it heats up more, and uses more energy,
March 24, 2006 1:46:37 AM

I built my system a week ago and i had close to the same budget, here's what i put together

-AMD Opteron 144 $160 shipped (1.8 stock running 2.7 stable)
-Ultra X-connect 500w modular power supply $50 shipped(ebay)
-DFI Lanparty NF4 ultra-d $92 shipped
-2x512 Crucial Balistix PC500 $87 shipped (i luv ebay)
-XFX 7900 GT Extreme 520/1500 $320 shipped
-Custom Airbrushed Case $180
-WD 250 gig Sata 16meg cache HD $100 shipped
-X-fi Platinum sound card $200 (bought at circuit had a gift card i know i overpaid but nother else there i wanted)
-Lite ON 16x dvd $20
-Samsung Dual layer Lightscribe DVD+/-/Ram burner $54 shipped
-Thermaltake Typhoon heatsink $50 shipped
-Viewsonic 19" widecreen LCD $235 shipped
-Microsoft wirless keyboard/mouse $50

Total $1598 after shipping/taxes
in 3dmark05 i get 8853 marks
in 3dmark06 4537 marks
probably should have went with an opty 165 instead of the custom airbrushed case, but we all must have our vices.
March 24, 2006 2:20:59 AM

Bloodstorm THX for the feedback. I have reconsidered, I will be getting the Opteron 165 and going with a A8N5X Mobo. Doesn't sound like SLI is worth the extra so it was a nice tradeoff upgrading the CPU and down grade the mobo.
March 24, 2006 2:35:25 AM

everything looks good I would go with the 7900GT as well.
March 24, 2006 2:50:59 AM

Unfortunately your generic PSU is not going to cut it. The older the generic PSU's the more likely they are going to fail and cause severe damage to the components. For new computers 450-500w is reccomended. IF you don't get a PC Power & Cooling, Antec or FSB psu, then that 450w is more like a 320w. You really do get what you pay for in PSU's. Graphics cards consume more watts than the cpu's nowadays. Unless you're going for the power hungry intels. The latest graphics cards use about 90-95w compared to AMD's 85w cpu. :oops:  PSU's are a lot more important than most people think.

SLI isn't worth it unless you plan on spending $2500+ on a system. And besides, SLI doesn't even double your performance, they both run at PCIex8 and it's usually only a 10% performance increase. Certainly not worth it to me.

If you really like ATI then the x1900XTX is the latest. But be warned, in some benchmarks it's only 1-2% better than the little 7900GT that's $200 less. You can overclock nvidia's a lot further than ATI, and especially the new 7900 series run a lot cooler=more OC.

I'd reccomend the XP90 HSF to OC your opty 165 to fx-60 speeds :p  And yes, dual core is almost exactly the same performance in games as the overpriced FX single cores.
March 24, 2006 3:15:40 AM

PSU: Antec Truepower TPII-550 ATX12V 550 Watt
I think you overlooked it.
March 24, 2006 3:18:25 AM

Go get a X1900XT at newegg for 450, its OEM but it sure runs faster than a 7800GT, i got a X850XT and it works great
March 24, 2006 7:07:08 AM

Quote:

Here is what I am thinking about so far. Any and everything is open for suggestions.

* Case: Antec Solution SLK3000-B, Black steel ATX Mid Tower
* PSU: Antec Truepower TPII-550 ATX12V 550 Watt
* Sound Card: ?? Do I really need one since the MoBo has chip set?


Get a cheap X-Fi sound card if gaming: http://www.creative.com/products/welcome.asp?category=1 ; as you specified 5 years life. eg: The X-Fi XtremeMusic is not that expensive (compared to the other cards in the X-Fi series): http://www.creative.com/products/product.asp?category=1...

If you are looking to get the "Antec Truepower TPII-550 ATX12V 550 Watt" then why not just get a case which comes with a decent PSU from the word go ?, vs buying PSU + Case seperately.

Antec have heaps of choice: Such as the Performance TX line or the Performance One line. The Antec 'Solution series' case is really skimping for no reason. :p 

Frankly, I'd be looking at their higher end Performance TX line to match your other parts. The TX1088AMG (Antec Metallic Grey SOHO Tower Case) is very nice. I actually have one sitting in the card board box near me, waiting for a more 'game' oriented system... AMD Socket AM2 or Intel Conroe/Woodcrest based most likely (See Wiki). :p  (Bit big for a 'boring' PC, and I've got a Compaq Presario laptop for less CPU heavy tasks 8) ).

It doesn't have the TruePower II 550 watt (are you looking at the EPS12V model ?), but if you are not looking at SLI, or even if you are, the TruePower II (480 watt) is a more economical choice, with more than enough juice for SLI setups, let alone just one (smatter IMHO) high end card that is more power efficient, and also faster, than 2 x mid-range ones anyway. :p  - Bearing in mind you can get it paired with a decent case and reduce cost overheads.

SLi is up in the air, you may need the 2nd slot within 5 years for a Physics processor or 2nd video card. However a single powerful card is better than two mid-range cards in SLI. You thus save on board, space and power consumption, and the foolish temptation to install 2 'lesser' video cards instead of just selling and replacing with whatever is going to offer max lifespan for the dollar (Currently the GeForce 7900 GTX, or Radeon X1900 XT).

In computing lifespan per dollar is more important than performance per dollar. Peformance per watt per cubic inch of space is also important.


Sorry for not using more short links btw. (Takes too long)
March 24, 2006 2:06:42 PM

NO, no, no.. Don't confuse him with gibberish. There is no need for the x-fi sound card. Even the audigy series would work great. It's 5.1 with EAX enhanced at around $15-$20. I'm still using my audigy platinum from 4 1/2 years ago.


If he is going to overclock at all, do NOT reccomend the performance TX or Performance One lines. Antec's quality on psu's has dropped tremendously. The only PSU worth getting from antec that won't short out your components is the truepower. Antec is not what they used to be in quality with their newer models. Especially with dual cores, it is reccomended to get a higher amp single 12vrail(antec true power) vs multiple 12rails. Check out the PSU thread discusions. There is no AMD socket AM2 out yet except for the opteron 200, 800 series. They are for multiple processor servers. The 100 series is perfect for desktops with it's dual core. The opteron 165 overclocked to 2.6(fx60 speed) will last him a long time.


What's important is the 2mb cache, dual core, 64bit processing, and at LEAST 2gb of system memory. Windows Vista will take full advantage of multiple cores soon, and it already uses 800-900 MB of ram on bootup. The opteron 165 wil last you better than anything else out there right now.

Unfortuneately SLI will NOT last him for 5 years. SLI is going to be replaced by a more efficient way of using dual GPU's soon. Right now SLI only offers a 5-10% performance boost at best. SLI makes both GPU's run at only x8 speed. You won't need SLI. A simple $100 video card upgrade in 3 years will be sufficient. Video cards aren't even using the full PCIe x16 speeds yet. The Geforce 7900 GT is the best bet for money/performance. He can overclock it to GTX speeds easily with an artic cooler addon for the gpu. Video card MB size has NOTHING to do with game performance. 256 is sufficient. You will be able to download an update to use system RAM as video memory soon on the 7900 GT.
March 24, 2006 2:50:44 PM

"Video card MB has NOTHING to do with game performance. 256 is sufficient. You will be able to download an update to use system RAM as video memory soon on the 7900 GT."

do You know if maby ATI will do the same thing?
!