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Virgin builder seeking experienced advice

Last response: in Systems
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March 23, 2006 4:16:02 PM

So I've finally decided to take a crack at building my own gaming system. I've spent no less than 60 hours shopping for components and reading up on different manufacturers and brands. (I'm very green at this, so I was trying to be thorough)

I will mainly be using this system for MMORPGs, FPS and running some chess engines (that's why I need the dual core).

I don't really intend to overclock or push this system too much, as I'm too scared to make a mistake, but I may decide to play around after a year or two, when I won't be heartbroken if I blow up my system by mistake.

About pricing, I'm willing to fluctuate ~$500 up or down, if there's a convincing argument that I could gain very significant performance boosts just by getting "that extra component."

Several things I would love to know: Am I making any newbie mistakes? Am I getting components I don't need if I'm not a heavy OCer?

Please critique it as harshly as possible, I want to hear your opinions!

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
Motherboard: Asus A8R32-MVP
Video Card: ATI Radeon X1900XT
Memory: OCZ EL DDR PC-3200 Gold GX XTC Dual Channel (2GB Kit) [Pretty sure it is compatible, but not at all sure that I'm getting the biggest bang for my buck if I don't intend to OC]
Hard Drive: WD Raptor WD1500ADFD (150GB Raptor w/o clear cover)
Sound Card: Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty
Optical Drive: Plextor PX-760A
Optical Drive 2: Generic 16X DVD ROM
Case: Antec P150 (430W PSU included) [Is 430W enough?]

Thank you in advance!

Mike
Quebec, Canada
March 23, 2006 5:05:01 PM

Quote:
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
Motherboard: Asus A8R32-MVP
Video Card: ATI Radeon X1900XT
Memory: OCZ EL DDR PC-3200 Gold GX XTC Dual Channel (2GB Kit) [Pretty sure it is compatible, but not at all sure that I'm getting the biggest bang for my buck if I don't intend to OC]
Hard Drive: WD Raptor WD1500ADFD (150GB Raptor w/o clear cover)
Sound Card: Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty
Optical Drive: Plextor PX-760A
Optical Drive 2: Generic 16X DVD ROM
Case: Antec P150 (430W PSU included) [Is 430W enough?]


MVP MB with no 2nd X1900? Do you plan on using Crossfire tech? You could save money by going with a different board.

Also that PSU that comes with the case, is it made for Antec or Mr. Generic Company? An Antec Truepower 550w, seems to be the sweet spot for PSU atm. Good quality/price/wattage. Don't ever skimp on a PSU, especially since your building a really nice system.

Everything else seems pretty L337.
March 23, 2006 5:29:44 PM

I think your system is terrific, but I'd suggest you go with a nForce4 equipped Mobo, and combo is with a nVidia card. Although the ATI X1900 is an incredible video card, ATI equipped Northbridge Mobo's still suck, and could form a bottleneck and slow you down. Go with a nVidia 7900GT, as the 7800GTX is a huge waste of money. Finally, and most importantly, 400W is DEFINITELY NOT ENOUGH. If you're going to use either an X1900 or a nVidia equivalent, get at least 530W. My suggestion is go for a 600W beast, as you can make more adjustments in the future without having to buy a new PSU.
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March 23, 2006 5:54:05 PM

The 430W PSU is made by Antec.

If it is the case that I need more power in my system, then I would probably get the Antec P180 instead, and buy a stronger PSU (550W or higher.)

*

Steveos - I chose the ATI mobo based on the review of the Asus A8R32-MVP on Anandtech. Your suggestion to go with a 7900GT is very interesting, as the benchmarks seem to show only a negligible difference between the 1900XT and the 7900GT in terms of FPS performance. But what of image quality? From the different places I've been digging around, I understand that ATI cards have a slight advantage in image quality. But in reality, I haven't the technical knowhow to make an educated opinion on this.

Also, why do you feel that there would be a bottleneck if I went with the ATI solution?
March 23, 2006 6:06:08 PM

it looks nice. get the p180 and a TP550.
March 23, 2006 6:08:27 PM

Their isn't, its called fanboyism. It's obvious that AMD is better for gaming computers, but IMO when it comes to the video card aspect, its really a matter of what you want, if you want ATI, go ATI, or vise versa.

Not that i'm calling you a fanboy or anything steveO, because I have a 7900GTX myself, but the X1900 is = to that card, and its a matter personal choice when it comes to that. Between a 7900 & a X1900, Do you want to play at 85FPS or 82FPS... seriously you can't notice 3FPS :p  Maybe you could notice a 10 or 15 drop is FPS, but 3... nah.. But if you want to go with steve's idea and get a 7900 also, then we could get together and bask in the glory of Nvidia graphics cards...

My 2cents achoo, either card 7900 or X1900, will perform just the same, and you will be amazed by the graphic quality or both :) 

My love go out to all the Nvidia / AMD fanboys, raise your glasses, and lets have a toast to the glory of these companies that steal our money for fun!

flame on* 8)
March 23, 2006 6:13:19 PM

What about my selection of memory?

If O/Cing is not my goal, is that OCZ kit right for me? I am looking for high performance, but I'm hoping not to pay extra for overclockability.
March 23, 2006 6:18:07 PM

You could go with value ram if you aren't overclocking. The OCZ does have lower latency and would perform slightly better but I doubt you would notice the difference.
March 23, 2006 6:25:39 PM

Quote:
The OCZ does have lower latency and would perform slightly better but I doubt you would notice the difference.


Well put :) 

And like they said you could go with Value ram, but I'm not a big fan of it, but you could save $ that way, but newegg right now has that ram you have listed at 175 with a MIR.

Plus when you learn more about ram stuff, you'll have that nice ram to mess with.
March 23, 2006 6:31:41 PM

Quote:


My love go out to all the Nvidia / AMD fanboys, raise your glasses, and lets have a toast to the glory of these companies that steal our money for fun!

flame on* 8)


i'll drink to that
March 23, 2006 6:35:57 PM

That's what I was hoping to do with this system - leave enough flexibility that if I do decide to try my hand at tweaking, I won't have to shell out tons of extra cash just to do it.

The same philosophy goes for my mobo selection. I purposely chose a Crossfire compatible mobo, in case I want to get that extra card one day. Is this a bad idea? Would I be better served upgrading my mobo at that time and getting a set of two new cards?
March 23, 2006 6:46:52 PM

Quote:
I purposely chose a Crossfire compatible mobo, in case I want to get that extra card one day. Is this a bad idea? Would I be better served upgrading my mobo at that time and getting a set of two new cards?


Single card solution now is good, Crossfire/SLI right now is Overkill. But if you wait to long to put a 2nd card in crossfire mode, then you might be better off buying the new single card solution as by the time you get a 2nd card the single card will perform on par with an SLI/Crossfire solution. That's my 2cents on SLI/Crossfire, If you want crossfire, do it now, if not waiting for later will result in another single card performance solution.
March 23, 2006 6:49:11 PM

Hmm, good point, Maxiius. Knowing myself, I think I probably would want to get a new card if I waited too long.

If I decide to go for single slot solution only, would you guys recommend a different mobo then?

Quote:
it looks nice. get the p180 and a TP550.


Also, I just remembered why I had to decide against the P180. I can't fit it under my desk properly. I'm trying to find a decent mid-tower case which is silent, but doesn't sacrifice cooling too much. That's what attracted me to the P150. But if I have to buy a new PSU to replace against the Antec 430W unit included with the P150, I might as well invest in a different case and a better PSU, right?
March 23, 2006 7:01:29 PM

Quote:
If I decide to go for single slot solution only, would you guys recommend a different mobo then?


Epox, DFI, foxconn, make some good single board solutions, don't have time to flip threw them atm, (at work :p  ) but i'm sure proz will chime in here for ya :) 
March 23, 2006 7:08:10 PM

If you want to leave the flexibility stick with the OCZ. You have made a decent choice with the mobo, it is supposed to perform very well and is decent to overclock if you choose to down the road. If you are thinking of the crossfire for upgrade in a month or 2 its a good idea, if you are thinking to upgrade to 2 cards in 6-8 months not a good idea because it is very likely that a new single card will be available that is better than 2 of you current card. You will need more than the 430 watt psu for sure to run crossfire, I would look at the 600w enermax Noisetaker or the 660w enermax Liberty. both are good psu's a little pricey i know but are the top rate psu from toms.
March 23, 2006 7:09:57 PM

A good quality case that will fit under your desk is the PC-60 Lian Li flat out best quality case on the market.
March 23, 2006 8:27:25 PM

Hey Achoo,

You seem just like me, I just ordered all of my parts, and will start building my comp this weekend.

I might make a few suggestions, based on my research, and I will explain why for each one.

Change the Processor to the Opteron 170. $60 cheaper, with only a .2 ghz difference in speed, but add the reliability of a server processor. QC checks on the Opterons are much more stringent. And even though you don't plan on overclocking yet, most reviewers say this is THE cpu to overclock.

Motherboard, switch from ATI to NVIDIA based. As everyone was saying, the features of the ATI bridges are sadly lacking. For around the same money, go with the A8N32-SLI Deluxe. Some additional pros of this board is that it comes with an 8 Phase Power design, which reduces input ripple into the CPU. This makes it a far more steady board, and much cooler! Read the following review: http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2589
As an added bonus, read the speed gains at the end of the article, as much as 17fps over other Motherboards.... GAK!
This board does have one major setback though, look at the placement of the PCI slots. If you use a dual slot video card in SLI you will not have any PCI slots available for a sound card.

If you don't plan on using SLI, you can still use the x1900xt, but personally went with a 7900gt, as the performance difference was minimal, the cost difference extreme, and with the 7900gt I have the option of SLI, which is much more attractive now that they can offload some physics calculations to the GPUs.

Drop the Creative Fatality sound card, unless you are doing music composition, that is overkill. I went with the X-Fi Extreme for $120.

Upgrade the case to the P-180. Make it work with your desk. This is one of the top rated cases, and has been designed to reduce noise. Most users say it is very quiet, but that is not even the main reason.
Check out this review: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article251-page5.html
That page you are looking at is the Scythe Ninja cooler in a P-180 case, I don't think I have ever seen a better match for cooling.

Just be aware that you need a PSU with really long connectors of the P-180.

The Lian Li cases are also great, but be careful, as choosing some Lian Li cases, that have a completely upside-down motherboard tray, are not ideal for motherboards that use heatpipes.

Dont skimp on your PSU, I went with the PC Power and Cooling 510 sli.
http://www.pcpowercooling.com/products/viewproduct.php?...

Lots of reviewers place this PSU as having such little voltage fluctuation that they thought their equipment was broken. :-)

Anyways, good luck with whatever you choose!

Dark Spider
a b B Homebuilt system
March 23, 2006 10:09:45 PM

"I went with the X-Fi Extreme for $120. "

And then there is onboard 8 ch sound for....free! :-)

(Doesnt the top Asus SLI board come with integrated SB Live?)
March 24, 2006 12:17:27 PM

No, it does not. It comes with built in AC97 sound, but you will almost always want to go with a 3rd party sound card to offload the work of audio processing from the CPU.

Dark Spider
!