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Advice on building a non-gaming computer

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May 4, 2006 6:37:17 PM

My current computer is about 3 years old and I am looking to build a new one and give my current one to my parents. I want to use my new computer mainly for software development. I want to run Visual Studio .NET, a DBMS and a webserver for testing. I also want to run some virtual machines and maybe do some 3d programming using directx or opengl. I am looking to spend around $1000. I already have a monitor.
For the cpu I was thinking about getting an AMD operton 165 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
So I was hoping I could get some advice on what motherboard, ram, hard drive, power supply and videocard to get. Thanks for any help.
May 4, 2006 10:18:47 PM

Why Opteron? Do you intend on overclocking it? This answer will affect what components some people may recommend.

If gaming is not a priority then a m-ATX motherboard with integrate graphics may be good enough for you.
May 4, 2006 10:31:40 PM

I would get a dule core AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Manchester for the same money. I have two boxes that are running Vmware for applications servers and Citrix AAC (running a beta for work) that are have at cpu. As for the motherboad, its all preffrence, I suggest that you take on a mid priced mobo and pipe 2gigs of corisar ram or more into your system. And of you have the clams the shell out then get an x1900 or something within that scope.
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May 4, 2006 10:45:27 PM

Quote:
Why Opteron? Do you intend on overclocking it? This answer will affect what components some people may recommend.

If gaming is not a priority then a m-ATX motherboard with integrate graphics may be good enough for you.


No I don't plan on overclocking anything. Even though gaming isn't a high priority I would like to run some of my older games. I was thinking about getting a videocard that costs about $200 but I don't know which is best.
May 4, 2006 11:49:59 PM

Seems like an X2 3800 would fit the bill perfectly. If you don't overclock, I'd suggest an MSI K8n Neo4F (around $75), 2GB (Corsair Twinx2048 perhaps) and a 7600GT. How much disk space do you think you might need? The MSI MB above only supports SATA150 but can handle 4 of them as well as 4 IDE devices. Disk space is relatively inexpensive. I prefer Seagate for their 5 year warranty but Western Digital is my second choice. A good case (you simply can't beat Lian Li for drive capacity, cooling and quality of build). Take a look at the PC-60 at Cooler Guys (great service and great prices and no, I'm not affiliated with them at all). PSU at or above 500 watt capacity. Antec TruePowerII is really good. Enermax Liberty 500 or 600 is really good too though not as quiet. All this and you're still under budget. Games, work and if you REALLY want to get some work done, Linux!
May 5, 2006 2:09:55 AM

You should go with an AMD 64 X2 4400+, paired with 2GB of RAM, with a 7800GT or 7900GT, depending on how much money you have left. Any ASUS or Abit mobo should do fine, since you most likely won't do any OCing. A 500W PSU will suffice, but you want to make sure you get at least a 300GB drive, they're pretty cheap now.
May 5, 2006 3:10:35 AM

Quote:
You should go with an AMD 64 X2 4400+, paired with 2GB of RAM, with a 7800GT or 7900GT, depending on how much money you have left. Any ASUS or Abit mobo should do fine, since you most likely won't do any OCing. A 500W PSU will suffice, but you want to make sure you get at least a 300GB drive, they're pretty cheap now.


Recall that he said he wasn't much of a gamer who alo doesn't overclock... some games (older ones) and mostly work. That's why I recommended less (though plenty adequate) power at more reasonable cost. 2GHz dual CPU should be more than sufficient as well as the 7600GT. We agree on the RAM.

One doesn't need to buy a Ferrari to commute two blocks.
May 5, 2006 3:48:54 AM

ASUS A8N-VM CSM Socket 939 NVIDIA GeForce 6150 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Venice 2000MHz HT 512KB L2 Cache Socket 939 Processor
1 gig stick of corsair value select
Memory

Cheap, easy to setup, integrated video, and i can play games like Battlefield 2, Battlefield 1942, Quake 3 w/mods, Warcraft 3, all half-life stuff(including half-life 2 stuff), and all are playing quite well. I would agree with jaguarskx and get the integrated graphics. If it isn't enough for you, you can always upgrade to a pci-e video card later and disable your onboard video. I've been happy with my motherboard soo far and i game all the time...but if your playing future/newer games...then you'll likely want to get independent video card. But try it out and see if you need it.[/quote]
May 5, 2006 3:54:56 AM

Thanks everyone for your advice. It has been very helpful.

Quote:
REALLY want to get some work done, Linux!


I have been using Linux a lot lately and its starting to grow on me but I don't think it will take over as my main o/s.
May 5, 2006 4:01:51 AM

Quote:
Why Opteron? Do you intend on overclocking it? This answer will affect what components some people may recommend.

If gaming is not a priority then a m-ATX motherboard with integrate graphics may be good enough for you.


No I don't plan on overclocking anything. Even though gaming isn't a high priority I would like to run some of my older games. I was thinking about getting a videocard that costs about $200 but I don't know which is best.

Don't bother with the Opteron 165, people like it 'cause it can be overclocked, and because it has 2MB of L2 cache. Cache is nice, but speed is more important.


CPU:

X2 3800+ - $297

or

X2 4200+ - $357


GPU:

XFX Geforce 7600GT for $169 after a $15 rebate and a free copy of Ghost Recon

or

Connect3D Radeon X1800GTO for $179 after a $60 rebate

Motherboard:

Asus A8N5X - $79 + $5 shipping

RAM:

CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) CAS2.5 - $80 + $5 shipping.

This will be fast enough. The difference in performance between CAS3 and CAS2 RAM is 3% - 4% at best. This is CAS2.5 RAM.

or

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR CAS2.5 - $170 + $5 shipping - $20 instant savings

If you feel you need 2GB of RAM.

Powersupply:

SeaSonic S12-430 430W Power Supply[/b] - $97 + $9 shipping
Efficient, quiet and reliable PSU.

Too expensive?

Antec TRUEPOWERII TPII-480 480W Power Supply - $85 + $7 shipping - $8 Instant Savings
Not as efficient, or quiet.

Hard Drive:

Seagate NL35 ST3250623NS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache - $95 + $5 shipping

=============================

Cheapest Configuration Cost = $827 (Including shipping and rebates)

Most Expensive Configuration = $981 (Including shipping and rebates)
May 5, 2006 4:03:28 AM

Just playing devil's advocate here, but have you considered a Dell?
May 5, 2006 4:09:45 AM

Quote:
Just playing devil's advocate here, but have you considered a Dell?


Uses hot Pentium 4 CPUs.

Quality is medicore at best.

Very little customization.

Uses some proprietary parts, unless they changed their policy.

It's a Dell.
May 5, 2006 5:12:44 AM

why get an opteron? you're not doing any overclocking or any gaming are you? why don't you look at a pentium 4 640-660, or if you think you need it, i would recommend a pentium d 950. if anyone says crap about the pentium 4, especially with what it is you're planning on doing on it, don't listen to them, they're just sad no-life amd fans. because i assume you're not doing gaming, you're not going to see any advantage in buying an athlon 64 and definitely not opteron. if you really must buy amd for some obscure reason, then get an X2 4400 or 4800 - which mind you, is much more expensive than the intel 950.

for hard drive, either SATA or SATA2 is fine, because you're likely not going to see any real increases between the two interfaces. western digital and seagate are the two top brands. there is also maxtor and seagate. i personally prefer seagates, because they come with a 5 year warranty, and are marginally cheaper than most of the other brands. the size is up to your preference - 80GB is the bottom of the stack, 250 is the mid-range but certainly more than you'd need, and through to 750GB which is currently the top of the range.

getting a board with integrated graphics will save you the dosh to spend on a better processor, or something else.
on the other hand, i see you're wanting to do some 3d programming, so depending on how visually demanding that will be, the card i'd get would be a 6600GT for good measure.

motherboard is dependent on what cpu you choose to have, get the best chipset possible.

for memory i would recommend Corsair value select range (i don't do generic), in either 1GB or 2GB, whatever is your flavour.

now enermax make great PSUs, as do antec. i would get either Enermax noisetaker 485W, or if you plan on putting in 2 high-end video cards with several hard drives and other devices, the 600W version would give you more headroom for the future if you ever plan on upgrading to SLI or 15HDDs. but honestly i think the 485 noistaker should definitely see you through.
May 5, 2006 6:29:14 AM

Quote:
Just playing devil's advocate here, but have you considered a Dell?


Uses hot Pentium 4 CPUs.

Quality is medicore at best.

Very little customization.

Uses some proprietary parts, unless they changed their policy.

It's a Dell.

Maybe that's all true; Still, we're talking about a sub-$1000 non-gaming computer... That's sort of Dell's specialty. $1000 will go a long way on a mid-range Dell desktop; One tends to get more bang for their buck from a company such as Dell in the three-figure range compared to building a similar rig on their own. Plus, Pentium Ds have performed as well, if not better than, X2s when it comes to non-gaming tasks such as video encoding... I wouldn't recommend a Dell for someone interested in gaming for the reasons you mentioned above, but for these purposes, it almost seems appropriate... Though I know "Dell" is a 4-letter word around here...
May 5, 2006 6:57:53 AM

Quote:
Just playing devil's advocate here, but have you considered a Dell?


Uses hot Pentium 4 CPUs.

Quality is medicore at best.

Very little customization.

Uses some proprietary parts, unless they changed their policy.

It's a Dell.

Maybe that's all true; Still, we're talking about a sub-$1000 non-gaming computer... That's sort of Dell's specialty. $1000 will go a long way on a mid-range Dell desktop; One tends to get more bang for their buck from a company such as Dell in the three-figure range compared to building a similar rig on their own. Plus, Pentium Ds have performed as well, if not better than, X2s when it comes to non-gaming tasks such as video encoding... I wouldn't recommend a Dell for someone interested in gaming for the reasons you mentioned above, but for these purposes, it almost seems appropriate... Though I know "Dell" is a 4-letter word around here...

their systems really aren't good value at all over here. i worked out that on average per system Dell takes 35-40% profit (used to pay the delivery guy, the system builder guy and all the others i know..). But still its too much for me to not go about building my own identical system (with or without a service warranty) for 35% less.
May 5, 2006 7:02:28 AM

Quote:
Just playing devil's advocate here, but have you considered a Dell?


Uses hot Pentium 4 CPUs.

Quality is medicore at best.

Very little customization.

Uses some proprietary parts, unless they changed their policy.

It's a Dell.

pentium 4's being hot has become too much of a stereotype, as they aren't nearly as hot as a lot of people will believe.

yes, dells totally suck, but no - i don't believe dell has used their proprietary stuff since after somewhere in '03, although i believe IBM also likes to play that game.
May 5, 2006 7:41:49 AM

Quote:


Don't bother with the Opteron 165, people like it 'cause it can be overclocked, and because it has 2MB of L2 cache. Cache is nice, but speed is more important.


CPU:

X2 3800+ - $297

or

X2 4200+ - $357


GPU:

XFX Geforce 7600GT for $169 after a $15 rebate and a free copy of Ghost Recon

or

Connect3D Radeon X1800GTO for $179 after a $60 rebate

Motherboard:

Asus A8N5X - $79 + $5 shipping

RAM:

CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) CAS2.5 - $80 + $5 shipping.

This will be fast enough. The difference in performance between CAS3 and CAS2 RAM is 3% - 4% at best. This is CAS2.5 RAM.

or

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR CAS2.5 - $170 + $5 shipping - $20 instant savings

If you feel you need 2GB of RAM.

Powersupply:

SeaSonic S12-430 430W Power Supply - $97 + $9 shipping
Efficient, quiet and reliable PSU.

Too expensive?

Antec TRUEPOWERII TPII-480 480W Power Supply - $85 + $7 shipping - $8 Instant Savings
Not as efficient, or quiet.

Hard Drive:

Seagate NL35 ST3250623NS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache - $95 + $5 shipping

=============================

Cheapest Configuration Cost = $827 (Including shipping and rebates)

Most Expensive Configuration = $981 (Including shipping and rebates)
[/b]

Dont forget an OS...
May 5, 2006 1:35:55 PM

Quote:
Just playing devil's advocate here, but have you considered a Dell?


Uses hot Pentium 4 CPUs.

Quality is medicore at best.

Very little customization.

Uses some proprietary parts, unless they changed their policy.

It's a Dell.

Maybe that's all true; Still, we're talking about a sub-$1000 non-gaming computer... That's sort of Dell's specialty. $1000 will go a long way on a mid-range Dell desktop; One tends to get more bang for their buck from a company such as Dell in the three-figure range compared to building a similar rig on their own. Plus, Pentium Ds have performed as well, if not better than, X2s when it comes to non-gaming tasks such as video encoding... I wouldn't recommend a Dell for someone interested in gaming for the reasons you mentioned above, but for these purposes, it almost seems appropriate... Though I know "Dell" is a 4-letter word around here...

their systems really aren't good value at all over here. i worked out that on average per system Dell takes 35-40% profit (used to pay the delivery guy, the system builder guy and all the others i know..). But still its too much for me to not go about building my own identical system (with or without a service warranty) for 35% less.

Ok, but all I'm saying is that he could build his own system with a:

Pentium D 820 ($190)
Mobo (~$90)
1GB DDR2 (~$90)
Seagate 250GB ($95)
DVD +/- RW (~$50)
Radeon X600PRO ($125)
Case/PSU ($50)
Windows XP ($200)

All for $890 (and that includes some pretty cheap parts) or he could get a Dell Dimension E510 for $854 configured exactly the same way. Even if Dell uses cheaper parts, I don't really see how you could build this system yourself for $555.10 (or 35% less than the cost of the Dell).
May 5, 2006 2:41:15 PM

Quote:

yes, dells totally suck, but no - i don't believe dell has used their proprietary stuff since after somewhere in '03, although i believe IBM also likes to play that game.


All Dell desktop PCs use proprietary Power Supplies, Motherboards, and in many cases cooling systems (usually a duct leading to an 80mm exhaust fan on the back of the case).

-J
!