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Comments on proposed first homebouilt spec please

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April 16, 2006 2:51:26 PM

Hello

This is my first posting here and the first time I have tryed to put a full PC config together so I appologise for any howlers in advance.

I have had my Pentium 150!!! based machine since about 1997 and have decided it is high time for a change.

I would like something that will cope easily with all the things that are passing me by with the old rig eg. digital photos, CD burning etc etc. I am not particularly interested in gaming but might be tempted occassionaly if I had the means

Baring in mind I don't want to overclock (a processor is enough cash to me not to risk the warenty) and would like the machine to last me some years to come, any feedback on the following spec would be welcome.


MOTHERBOARD
Asus A8N-E

PROCESSOR
Athlon 64 X2 3800+

RAM
Corsair Value Select 2 X 512 MB kit

GRAPHICS
ATi X700Pro 128MB from Abit, MSI or Saphire depending on availability

HARD DRIVE
Seagate Baracuda 80GB SATA 2 and my existing 30GB 7200rpm drive for extra storage

DVD
LG GSA-4167B This handles DVD RAM which I understand is best for backups

FLOPPY
Sony-- I've still got some stuff on floppy that I want to keep

CASE AND PSU
Asus TA-2xx series with 360w PSU

OS
Win WP Media Centre or XP pro


Things I would realy like some help with are

1) Will that PSU be enough and if not what would be a good minimum output to look for?

2) The RAM comes in two versions, DDR400 and CL3 or DDR333 and CL2.5. Which would be best with that motherboard

3) Will XP Media Centre really be just as good with the Athlon duel core as XP Pro as I have been told elsewere?

Thanks in advace to anyone who has read this far :D  and I look forward to any help you can give me.
April 16, 2006 5:28:45 PM

Just to make it a little more scaleable for the future you might want to consider a bigger PSU so you don't have to buy one next time you upgrade, but that's about it.
April 16, 2006 6:44:26 PM

If stability is at all important, get a more robust and high quality PSU. (eg one of the Antec TruePower series @ 400watts or better.)

If stability is very important, look at server motherboards that support EEC memory.
Related resources
April 17, 2006 4:25:59 PM

Thanks to all so far.

I was thinking that 400+W might be better so perhaps I should look for one of Antec's basic cases with a TruePower PSU included?

I have been reading some user reviews of the A8N-E and someone mentioned a limit to the max capacity for the primary (boot) hard disk on the SATA controler of, I think, 120GB but then another user said that with XP SP2 there was no problem. Can anyone comment on this?

I don't need a primary drive larger than that at the moment but might need to fit one in future.

Thanks again
April 17, 2006 5:05:01 PM

Here's my take on this one:

-You'll need a better PSU, at least 480 watts for a dual-core rig. Don't cheap out on this part!! Spend at least $60-$70.

-Get your memory as a single 1Gb stick, this will give you the best performance and allow more headroom up the road if you ever decide to overclock, or simply upgrade to more memory.

-Get a video card with at least 256mb. Since you aren't gaming much, any cheaper version will do.

-Dump the old case, if that is what you planned on using. Older cases weren't designed for the amount of heat generated for today's more powerful systems. You don't have to break the bank here, just get something new, without a PSU, since you should be purchasing one separately :roll:


Good Luck!!!
April 17, 2006 6:31:30 PM

Quote:
Hello

This is my first posting here and the first time I have tryed to put a full PC config together so I appologise for any howlers in advance.

I have had my Pentium 150!!! based machine since about 1997 and have decided it is high time for a change.

I would like something that will cope easily with all the things that are passing me by with the old rig eg. digital photos, CD burning etc etc. I am not particularly interested in gaming but might be tempted occassionaly if I had the means

Baring in mind I don't want to overclock (a processor is enough cash to me not to risk the warenty) and would like the machine to last me some years to come, any feedback on the following spec would be welcome.


MOTHERBOARD
Asus A8N-E

PROCESSOR
Athlon 64 X2 3800+

RAM
Corsair Value Select 2 X 512 MB kit

GRAPHICS
ATi X700Pro 128MB from Abit, MSI or Saphire depending on availability

HARD DRIVE
Seagate Baracuda 80GB SATA 2 and my existing 30GB 7200rpm drive for extra storage

DVD
LG GSA-4167B This handles DVD RAM which I understand is best for backups

FLOPPY
Sony-- I've still got some stuff on floppy that I want to keep

CASE AND PSU
Asus TA-2xx series with 360w PSU

OS
Win WP Media Centre or XP pro


Things I would realy like some help with are

1) Will that PSU be enough and if not what would be a good minimum output to look for?

2) The RAM comes in two versions, DDR400 and CL3 or DDR333 and CL2.5. Which would be best with that motherboard

3) Will XP Media Centre really be just as good with the Athlon duel core as XP Pro as I have been told elsewere?

Thanks in advace to anyone who has read this far :D  and I look forward to any help you can give me.


Few notes:

1) Agree with Prozac on the video card.

2) RAM you want DDR-400. Try to get 2GB if you want swing for it.

3) Consider spending $27 to get an Opteron 165 for your CPU. You double your L2 cache and it will overclock nicely to 4200+ and beyond.

4) XP Media Centre is basically XP Pro (its not the home code base) with more Media features, and no networking features (cannot join a domain). If you want to watch TV on your system, get Media Center. Otherwise, Pro.
April 18, 2006 10:26:13 AM

Thanks guys for the help - I will have to look at pricig some of those parts when I get a mo.

Quote:

I have been reading some user reviews of the A8N-E and someone mentioned a limit to the max capacity for the primary (boot) hard disk on the SATA controler of, I think, 120GB but then another user said that with XP SP2 there was no problem. Can anyone comment on this?



Has anyone heard of this drive size limit? I don't want a board that can't take the only drives that will probably be available in year or two!!
April 18, 2006 2:30:07 PM

Quote:
Thanks guys for the help - I will have to look at pricig some of those parts when I get a mo.


I have been reading some user reviews of the A8N-E and someone mentioned a limit to the max capacity for the primary (boot) hard disk on the SATA controler of, I think, 120GB but then another user said that with XP SP2 there was no problem. Can anyone comment on this?



Has anyone heard of this drive size limit? I don't want a board that can't take the only drives that will probably be available in year or two!!

That has nothing to do with the motherboard, it has to be with the way Windows handles the addressing of drives. Pre XP SP1 Windows could not access a drive over 127GB without a registry fix to turn on 48-bit addressing. Larger drives would display the first 127GB with the rest being wasted. Now with SP1/SP2 this is not a problem. Your system will work just fine no matter how large your drive it. I think the new limit it something like 5PB (5,000 TB)
April 18, 2006 2:44:10 PM

looks pretty good but If you want to play games...or just thinking about it you may want a better graphics card and it wouldnt hurt for vista either
April 19, 2006 3:38:02 PM

Thanks, that's all helpful. Just to recap in my mind would you reccomend the following changes to my first spec.

1) PSU 450W min.

2) Graphics. X1600pro 256MB. What about the X1300 - it sems to be more widely available?

3) RAM 2GB if possible. How much advantage does using duel channel mode (eg 2 matched modules) give on a system like this? I only ask as bweir sugested getting one larger stick to leave more slots free.

I probably will 'pass' on the Opteron as I don't want to overclock and like the idea of a retail pack proccessor with a full warentee.


BTW I will have to put this project on hold for a little bit as a job has come up with work (as in making the cash to pay for this lot :)  ) that I'll need to get on with

Thanks again and I'll be back.
April 19, 2006 7:31:12 PM

Get a card with 256mb of memory which supports DX9, it shouldn't cost much more than the 128mb versions for a low-end card.

Also get 2Gb of memory, as one poster noted, it will let Vista breathe easier if you decide to upgrade.
April 19, 2006 8:13:23 PM

Quote:
Hello

This is my first posting here and the first time I have tryed to put a full PC config together so I appologise for any howlers in advance.



A few questions for you.

Will this PC be powered up all the time?

Where will this PC be and how far away from it will you be when you watch a movie or TV program or when you listen to music?

Have you ever considered converting your DVD movies to DivX so that you can simply watch movies directly of the hard drive and keep your DVDs in prestine condition? You know similar to ripping your music collection.

How adverse are to noise? Do you want to listen to soft music and hear your PC at the same time?

Since you do not play games have you considered just using a motherboard with integrated video?
April 19, 2006 8:44:54 PM

Quote:
Here's my take on this one:

-You'll need a better PSU, at least 480 watts for a dual-core rig. Don't cheap out on this part!! Spend at least $60-$70.



The trend in power consumption is going down not up. 480 watts is an overkill.

Based on your current configuration the following is a break down of each component's power requirement if they were stressed at 100% load.

Asus A8N-E Mobo =====> 20w Estimated
Athlon 64 X2 3800+ ===> 65w Actual
ATI X700Pro ========> 33w Actual
RAM 2 Sticks ========> 9w Estimated
80GB Hard Drive =====> 16w Estimated
DVD Drive =========> 16w Estimated
Floppy ============> 8w Best Guess

Total Power Consumption = 167w

Note that assumes every single component is being stressed (used) at 100%. Add 15% as a safety measure and that bring the total max wattage possible at 192 watt. Also be aware that it is nearly impossible for every single component to be stressed to the limit at the same time.

In case you are thinking about the Radeon X1600, the X1600XT (fastest of this series) uses 42 watts (Actual).

I recommend an efficient, reliable, and quiet power supply. Get the Seasonic S12 330 (330 watts), you will barely hear it.

Quote:


-Get your memory as a single 1Gb stick, this will give you the best performance and allow more headroom up the road if you ever decide to overclock, or simply upgrade to more memory.



Incorrect.

Socket 939 Athlon 64 have dual channel memory controllers. That means they are able to read and write faster when two sticks of memory are used.

Socket 754 Athlon 64 has single channel memory contollers. In this case have 1 stick of RAM is better.
April 19, 2006 8:48:27 PM

When you factor in wear and tear, and also the fact that good branded PSUs don't generally come that small it's not really so much overkill. If you get a decent PSU with high wattage now, you're likely to be able to use it in your next build as well, and also have the safety of knowing that it's not going to be your PSU breaking down. Even with those calculations, I'd still go for the larger PSU.
April 19, 2006 9:09:13 PM

Quote:
When you factor in wear and tear, and also the fact that good branded PSUs don't generally come that small it's not really so much overkill. If you get a decent PSU with high wattage now, you're likely to be able to use it in your next build as well, and also have the safety of knowing that it's not going to be your PSU breaking down. Even with those calculations, I'd still go for the larger PSU.


Well the Seasonic S12 series covers the spectrum from 330w to 600w so I guess that they may be one of the premium brands that offers something that low.

CPUs are shrinking in die size. Intel is coming out with 45nm Conroes next year, AMD is finally going to release 65nm Athlons next summer.

GPUs will also be shrinkin in die size as well, but not as quickly as CPUs. ATI and nVidia both gave GPUs made using the 90nm process. That will be dropping down to 80nm by the end of next year I believe. At the moment the fast ATI GPU uses more power than nVidia's latest and greatest.

Since the OP has no intention of overclocking or even putting in a Radeon X1900XTX into his system the Seasonic S12 330 will do fine, even for when he decides to do another upgrade.

Here a review of Seasonic's more powerful S12 PSU.
April 19, 2006 9:18:33 PM

Yup yup, but I was saying noones going to make say, a 250w or less PSU.
April 20, 2006 3:09:55 PM

Quote:
A few questions for you.

Will this PC be powered up all the time?


No. most often it will get 2/3 hours continueus and certainly shut down over night.


Quote:
Where will this PC be and how far away from it will you be when you watch a movie or TV program or when you listen to music?


I wasn't expecting to use it for TV or movies except maybe once in a long while if the big-screen family TV is busy.


Quote:
Have you ever considered converting your DVD movies to DivX so that you can simply watch movies directly of the hard drive and keep your DVDs in prestine condition? You know similar to ripping your music collection
.

I haven't but it is an interesting idea. Were you thiking of the hard drive capacity I was quoting? If so, I feel thats probably the easyest to upgrade if I need to and large drives seem to get cheaper all the time.

Quote:
How adverse are to noise? Do you want to listen to soft music and hear your PC at the same time?


Not a big issue -- I don't want something that sounds like a washing machine 8O but it's not top priority.

Quote:
Since you do not play games have you considered just using a motherboard with integrated video?


Main reason for no gaming is that my old rig just can't take it so I thought it would be nice to at least better most minimum specs to give the option. Another thing is that I don't like the idea of shared memory that most integrated solutions seem to use -- it sound like an ivitation for instibility to me.
April 20, 2006 4:09:52 PM

Based on your answers to my questions and your original post, you don't really need an Athlon 64 X2 3800+. Dual core is all the rage, but you don't seem to be doing anything that is very CPU demanding except perhaps digital photo editing. I think an Athlon 64 3200+ will more than suit your needs and will save you about $140.

In fact you could probably get by with just a Sempron 64 3400+ (or slower) and will be about $180 cheaper than the X2 3800+, of course that's socket 754 so you will need to use another motherboard.

The reason for asking about converting your DVDs to DivX was because I thought you may have wanted to connect it to your TV.
April 21, 2006 4:12:29 PM

Quote:
Based on your answers to my questions and your original post, you don't really need an Athlon 64 X2 3800+. Dual core is all the rage, but you don't seem to be doing anything that is very CPU demanding except perhaps digital photo editing. I think an Athlon 64 3200+ will more than suit your needs and will save you about $140.

In fact you could probably get by with just a Sempron 64 3400+ (or slower) and will be about $180 cheaper than the X2 3800+, of course that's socket 754 so you will need to use another motherboard.

The reason for asking about converting your DVDs to DivX was because I thought you may have wanted to connect it to your TV.


Yes that is the sensible solution :wink: but I have looked at the multi-tasking results and just thought that a duel-core would give better value for longer. My pentium 150 was over powered for the college word proccessing that I had in mind when I got it but I have squeezed more from it than i ever thought so like the idea of having plenty of breathing space.

Thanks all the same for all the input - I realy appreciate it.
!