Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

I havent built a rig in a long time.. help me out?

Last response: in Systems
Share
May 15, 2006 2:34:20 PM

Hello there,

Long time reader, first time poster. I used to build my gaming machine back in the days of the Ti500 cards. A year ago it died and I just never had time or money to put into a new one. It worked ok for what I wanted to play at the time.

But the time has come for me to try to build another machine. This time however I have been out of the scene for some time. So I thought I would throw what I had planned up on the board and see if I can engage the Vets on my favorite hardware site.

Give me a hand?

CASE: Antec P150
My number one reason for this case is its silent. I hate noise. I don’t overclock generally so keep that in mind. I also don’t need lights and whistles. I just like a classic looking rig with some muscule.

PSU: The Antec comes with a 430W nice quiet one. Is this enough and good enough for what I am planning?

MB: This is a tossup. The goal of the machine is to build it with one video card and one stick of 2GB memory, so when the time comes where its not cutting it. I can add another card and stick to keep it playable. Read futureproofing. I am very loyal to ASUS. I generally am a snob and love the boards. The heat piping tech has me intrigued. I believe I am going to go for an SLI. Whats the top ASUS board for SLI now?

VIDEO: 7900GTX.. I am leaning for the ASUS one.. whats your opinion? Can you just put one of these in and add up to 3 later in an SLI config? That’s the goal to stretch the life of the computer in the long run. Do they need to be a certain special kind of 7900GTX to be able to be paired?

CPU: Athlon 64 FX57 – I figured I would get a good processor that would last. I plan to slowly build the rig and buy the processor and video card last so they go down in price by the end build date of Nov06. Any suggestions on this?

MEMORY: What would be the best 2GB stick? This is a area I am a little grey on. I heard Cosair XMS is good?

DVDR – NO idea whats good here.

HARD DRIVES: I am thinking of doing a RAID 0. Pair of Western Digital Raptor 10000 RPM drives. Does the RPM really matter that much or should I stick with 7600 to save money. Also how bad does mirroring actually slow down your game if I wanted to do a different raid to keep the data safe?

What if I did 2 small 10000 rpm drives on a raid 0 and did a USB external for data so I could move it to other computers etc.. would I take a pretty bad hit?

Also with a pair of these 10000 rpms (in theory if the 7600 isnt a better call) produce to much heat for my P150 case? Would I need to install more cooling.. and noise?

SOUND: I hear never go with the MB sound.. so X-Fi SB card pretty much the new Live?

HSF: This is pretty much the biggest stumbling block I have. What is a quiet cooler that will keep my CPU cool. Every time I made a PC I always got something that sounds like a fighter jet and makes me frown. I am not going to plan on overclocking.

Monitor: Whats a good 19-20 inch flat panel that’s not going to break my wallet and will be a good pairing for my 7900GTX?

NETWORK: I live with my soon to be wife and am not sure I want to put a cat5 jack in her wall.. is wireless an option without taking a nasty hit on online gaming?


I know this was a nasty read.. long and very n00bish. But help me out? I really need some good feedback.

Thank you

Ghost of War.
May 15, 2006 3:40:22 PM

Well the case is ok - might want to upgrade to an P 180 (or is it 170?)

PSU: bit on the low side

Mobo: Well Asus ones are good, DFI ones are for the enthusiast community (i prefer them) and have great overclockability

RAM: i havent really seen any ddr 2Gb sticks. DDR2 is different i think. OCZ is a good make for AMD. Corsair seems to be good too

SLI: FORGET IT. very bad price/performance ratio. Dont do it.

Video: the 7900gtxs are nice, the ATI X1900XT tend to be slightly better.

CPU: FX? you crazy? take a nice athlon 64 or a Opteron and overclock them

DVD: dont know; use the best price/features you want

HD: do you really want a raid array? Here we have the famous 3 people 4 oppinions thing.

Sound: I am happy with the onboard but many people like extra pci ones.

HSF: thermaltake big typhoon or Zalman 7900 are the current big cooling for small noise (and big price) leaders

Monitor: Viewsonic and Samsung are the leaders in the field.

Network: i am a big friend of wired networks but everyone to their own likeing.

Conclusion: Opty 165 or 170 overclocked, DFI Lanparty ut nf4 ultra d, ocz ddr 500, ATI x1900xt is the current performance way.

EDIT: AM2 (AMD) and Conroe (intel; core 2 duo) will be soon out
May 15, 2006 3:46:21 PM

I'll take a shot at some of those.

Case: you've already decided.

PSU: I'd suggest going for more, if you are thinking of SLI then you should have at least 500W for a good safety net.

MB: If you like ASUS the top right now is the A8N32-deluxe which has 2 - x16 PCI-e slots.

Video: Asus is fine but I understand the BFG and Evga are better. You can get some overclocked stock and with warrenty. You need to have the same GPU, not necessarily the same manufacturer but I'd suggest you do. You cannot at present use 4 GPUs they are only being released to system builders so you are stuck with only 2 in SLI for now (may change in future?).

CPU: Again fine not sure what the cost increase to a FX-60 is but you seem to have money so if you want the best...

RAM: You will be hard pressed to find a 2gb stick of ram and it will probably be special order. I've been on Corsairs website and couldn't find one. I do know that Kingston makes them though. Might be easier (and cheaper as one 2gb stick is around $400), to go with a 2 x 1gb kit.

DVD-R: Doesn't really matter to me, they all cost the same anyway.

Hard Drives: I'd suggest one 10,000 rpm drive for OS and programs then a large 7200 rpm drive for storage.

Sound: X-fi is currently king of the hill but I've heard of issues with the Nforce4 Ultra chipset.

HSF: Lots of choices I'd like around and read some review but the 9500 from zalman is a choice of many for cooling and low sound.

Monitor: Either Samsung or Viewsonic, 940BF or VX922.

Network: DGL 4300 from D-Link, great wireless and has game fuel which prioritizes gaming packets.
Related resources
May 15, 2006 4:07:53 PM

o well, let me give it a try as well... i am not an expert myself tho...

casing: u practically have decided on it and i have not much to suggest either

psu: u might wanna get somethin like 550 watts since u wan to make it sort of futureproof. cos dual gfx card and such a huge ram plus dual core processor definitely consumes lots of power. of course i heard that antec is a good choice.

mobo: yeah, if u are intent on making ur system with dual g card, then u can go for asus. not sure of the model tho.

for the gfx card, u can go for 7900 but u can also consider x900xt. but then again, u will have to get a CF mobo.

cpu: i might consider somethin like 4400 X2 dual core. real good cpu.

memory: no personal choice since all memory comes with lifetime warranty, there shouldnt be any faulty issues.

optical drive: get one which can burn dual dvd layer and burn dvd ram (up to 8.5 gig of data). they are avail in many brands such as samsung and pioneer. in fact, im using the pioneer one myself and it has performed up to my satisfaction.

hdd: not very sure about the raid thingy.

sound card: definitely never use the on-board sound card. my on-board sound card produced too much echoic-kind of sound. so i ended up getting an audigy 7.1ch. try to opt for creative brand, they are famous for sound card.

u can also use a water-cooling system from cooler master. heard they are quite good and very effective in keeping the heat down.

about the n/w setup, wireless connection has server me very well on online gaming. my room is like 3 rooms away from the main wireless router and i played with relatively pretty low pings. get a g-band wireless router tho. mayb an SMC wireless ieee802.11g.
May 15, 2006 4:09:08 PM

Well its not that I have MONEY per say.. its just i wanted to build something that lasts.. I dont want to go SLI right now. I want the option to expand into it to make the rig last longer shelf life wise.

I am not an overclocker.. whats a good CPU for this rig if not an FX?
May 15, 2006 4:15:04 PM

Quote:
(many snips) PSU: bit on the low side. SLI: FORGET IT. very bad price/performance ratio. Dont do it.


Total agreement on the PS. If there's any chance of going to SLI or XFire of high current cards like the 7900GTX or X1900XT, get a PS with big balls. WRT SLI, rather than a blanket "don't do it", etc., I think it's kind of like buying a cae - one of the more personal decisions. There are plenty of reviews out there that show the performance gains - they are real in many benchmarks, no doubt about it. A single 7900GTX is a sizable investment. Two is huge. But it's like beauty. And it's a hassle too.
May 15, 2006 4:20:47 PM

Quote:

Total agreement on the PS. If there's any chance of going to SLI or XFire of high current cards like the 7900GTX or X1900XT, get a PS with big balls. WRT SLI, rather than a blanket "don't do it", etc., I think it's kind of like buying a cae - one of the more personal decisions. There are plenty of reviews out there that show the performance gains - they are real in many benchmarks, no doubt about it. A single 7900GTX is a sizable investment. Two is huge. But it's like beauty. And it's a hassle too.


yea, i kinda agree too... because the performance improvement on sli/cf is never worth the money. not at all. it;s just a hype, like most ppl say. so personally, i am not for it. but if u got the cash, y not? of course 2 of x1900xt would still be better than 1 of x1900xt. just that it;s not worth the money.
May 15, 2006 4:23:18 PM

Quote:

Total agreement on the PS. If there's any chance of going to SLI or XFire of high current cards like the 7900GTX or X1900XT, get a PS with big balls. WRT SLI, rather than a blanket "don't do it", etc., I think it's kind of like buying a cae - one of the more personal decisions. There are plenty of reviews out there that show the performance gains - they are real in many benchmarks, no doubt about it. A single 7900GTX is a sizable investment. Two is huge. But it's like beauty. And it's a hassle too.


yea, i kinda agree too... because the performance improvement on sli/cf is never worth the money. not at all. it;s just a hype, like most ppl say. so personally, i am not for it. but if u got the cash, y not? of course 2 of x1900xt would still be better than 1 of x1900xt. just that it;s not worth the money.
May 15, 2006 4:26:27 PM

The rig will only be build with 1 at first.. is that possible or does it need to pair them from the getgo? Is that a stip on the board? I wouldnt mind a budget alternative. The rig will only have one XTX card in it till it gets old and I need to boost its power up (read a couple years) and then I will add another XTX (by then it will cost like 200 bucks... maybe).. thats the goal.

So what processor + HSF would you guys go? And what is a good power supply.

*I am not an OVERCLOCKER* So the overclockablity of a chip etc isnt what I am after. I just want a solid reliable machine that can churn out kickass games for years to come while at the same time be a machine that is reliable enough for my wife to keep her small business stuff on.
May 15, 2006 4:33:51 PM

i understand wat u are trying to do... yes, it is possible to get 1 card first the insert another one after a few yrs or so. BUT, just so u know, the improvement of the second card might only be 40-60%. so ultimately, it will still be a waste of money to even own sli or cf mobo.

get antec psu. it;s one of the known and reliable psu.
May 15, 2006 5:27:13 PM

youv'e got some good advice so far so I'll just chime in on one or two things.

first and most importantly, raid0 is not mirroring, it's striping. I'm not just quibbling with semantics here. Raid 0 is the performance option but it has no redundancy, no backup. If you have a HDD failure, ALL your info is lost and you have to replace the bad drive and start over with a fresh install. That stated, the asus machine in my sig has been running raid 0 for 5 years with no problems, but your mileage may vary.


Raid 1 will mirror your data on both drives.and is a good safe option but it offers no performance increase. Though I haven't heard that it degrades performance either.


10,000 rpm drives are pretty nice but I don't see the bump in performance as worth the price increase (just my 2 cents), they also require active cooling as they get really hot. If you don't have good airflow on them it will seriously reduce their lifespan. But if you can afford it and are willng to cool them, they are a fine option.

As far as the CPU, If you are not going to overclock, then decide on a price limit that fits your budget and get the best one you can for the money. My only criteria would be that it's dual core.


On the subject of the HSF, I like Zalman products. the build quality is good, the finish on the cpu interface is very good out of the box, and they are quiet. I'm running Zalman on all my machines, I've tried Thermaltakes stuff but in my personal experience they weren't as good as far as temps go. The same rig at the same settings runs about 10c cooler with the zalman.


hope this helps a bit :D 
May 15, 2006 5:43:06 PM

In terms of SLI, yes you can run one card then add a second. Asus has a utility that allows you to change from one to dual in windows or you can change it in the bios. Any SLI motherboard should come with a "bridge" that will connect the two video cards together for SLI so if you get a second card, install it, put the bridge in to connect the two cards and set it to dual using the asus tool or in bios. As to performance gain, it's like many things in life, once you reach 80% of maximum performance the cost/benefit ratio starts to decline (get worse) but some ppl want the best and if you can afford it then it's up to you whether YOU consider the benefit worth the cost, most don't.

For PSU's do a search, I know that toms did a review of PSU's last year and it should still be fairly current but ocz and enermax are good brands.

If you aren't an Overclocker then the FX-57 is great for you. Like i said before the 9500 from zalman is a good quiet cooler.

And quite frankly it is not a waste of time to own a SLI or cf MB because even if you don't get the second card you don't know what else will become available for a PCI-e x16 slot, a physix card for example.

I'm also getting tired of hearing that SLI / CF is a waste of money. Quite frankly if you look at any of the bench marks you will see that there is a performance increase, ofcourse it's not 2x what one card gets but everyone knows that. It's up to every individual to determine whether the cost is worth the increase. Kind of like cars, are BMW's and Mercedes worth it compared to an Acura, Infiniti or Lexus? Some think so some don't...
May 15, 2006 6:39:48 PM

PSU: As mentioned, 430W is a bit weak, especially if you plan to upgrade to SLI at some point. I use an Enermax which is very quiet (it's in a dorm room and I sleep five feet from the back of the computer), but Antec is also very good in the 500-600W range.

MB: The ASUS heat pipe technology is indeed quite nice. I have an A8N-SLI Premium, which seems like a good compromise between features and performance (I don't think the Deluxe model really adds anything useful).

VIDEO: 7900GTX and X1900XT are both ridiculously fast, but since you mention futureproofing as a primary goal, I'd wait to decide until DirectX10 cards start coming out later this year and then get one of those.

CPU: For futureproofing, you MUST buy a dual-core CPU. They make general use of the computer far more responsive right now, and as time goes on, more and more programs (esp. games) will start taking advantage of both cores. Since you don't want to overclock, I'd recommend the X2 4800+ as a near-top-of-the-line model that doesn't cost over $1000 like the FX-60 does. Of course, if you're buying the CPU later this year, you should probably wait on a decision at least until Conroe and AM2 are available.

MEMORY: For modern motherboards, you MUST have either two or four sticks of memory. The reason for this is that they run RAM is dual-channel mode, where you get twice the bandwidth of a single stick. Your performance will suffer considerably if you get a single 2GB stick, so I'd recommend two 1GB sticks from Corsair. They make the best memory in general, although OCZ is usually considered better for overclocking.

DVD: Plextor makes the best DVD burners (lowest error rates, high speeds, etc.). The only time you might buy something else is if you're a big fan of HP's LightScribe technology. Unfortunately, the disks are comparatively expensive, so LightScribe is mostly just a gimmick.

HDD: The Raptors are much faster than 7200 RPM drives, but they make a lot more noise (this seems to be a big issue with you). I'd recommend trying one from a place with a good return policy, and if you don't mind the noise, keep it as a system drive. Going RAID 0 with these probably isn't worth the money. Otherwise, get a couple of large-capacity 7200 RPM drives and use one for the OS and one for data (or, if you don't need all that capacity, set them up in RAID 1 mode for data security).

SOUND: I'm happy with the motherboard sound on the A8N-SLI Premium (which is the same sound used on essentially every motherboard), but I only use the digital output to a home theater system. For output to analog speakers, you'll get much better performance from an X-Fi.

HSF: I use the stock cooler that came with my X2 4400+ and it's plenty quiet, even when the CPU is overclocked. You shouldn't have noise problems with an AMD processor.

Monitor: I don't know much about which monitors are good. Viewsonic or Samsung is probably the way to go.

NETWORK: Wireless networking adds a couple of milliseconds of latency to your connection in general. If you have superfast (at least 10Mbps) broadband internet, you might notice a difference...otherwise you'll probably be fine. Online games certainly don't require the extra bandwidth provided by wired Ethernet.

Good luck with your build.
May 15, 2006 7:21:26 PM

Damn you guys rock!

the case comes with a 430W included.. I might just use that till I duel out cards (in a couple years) and then put a new PSU in it.

Very cool stuff guys.. thanks a million
May 15, 2006 7:29:05 PM

Unless you get a deal on Raptors like I did, they're not worth the money. I found a guy at working with two 74GB Raptors that were 2 years old(still had NCQ support though and still have 3 years left on warranty) that he sold me for $75 each. No way would I have paid $150 for brand new ones though. $2/GB is ridiculous for a minor performance increase. Just do 2 x 80GB SATA 3.0GB/s drives in RAID0 if you want fast drives for games.

Currently I have 2 x 160GB SATA1.5 drives in RAID 0 I play games off and in Oblivion where often times your hard drives can slow you down, I don't have any problems. Always better to pull from 2 drives than 1.
May 15, 2006 7:35:42 PM

Quote:
The rig will only be build with 1 at first.. is that possible or does it need to pair them from the getgo? Is that a stip on the board? I wouldnt mind a budget alternative. The rig will only have one XTX card in it till it gets old and I need to boost its power up (read a couple years) and then I will add another XTX (by then it will cost like 200 bucks... maybe).. thats the goal.


You can go with one card now, then add the master XFire board later, no problem. Thing is, by the time you want to upgrade, if it really is 2 years, you might be able to sell your XTX for a couple hundred, then just buy the current champ card for 4 to 500 and not have to deal with the XFire or SLI setup, heat, PS demands, etc.

Quote:
So what processor + HSF would you guys go? And what is a good power supply.


Right now, I'd go with an Opteron X2 even if you're not OCing. They run cool and at low voltage and just cost something like $40 more than the corresponding X2 Athlon. I'm partial to the Zalman 9500 because that's what I've been using lately. From reviews I've read here and there, you can get ~the same performance for less - but I watched for sales and got my 9500s fairly cheap. WRT the PS, I've been spending too much time shopping them, researching them, making tech service phone calls about them and this has been going on for over a month! And I'm still not resolved on it. Beause of the current loads I'm seeing published for the X1900XTX and 7900GTX (which range from 300 to 400 watts just for one card under high load) I think one has to kind of divorce themselves from previous PC power supply beliefs. For example, at work we added some HD capacity and a more powerful GPU to an old instrument controller computer a couple of months ago. It had been running on a 300 watt PS and all the sudden it got flaky. On a hunch, I tossed in a 400 watt PS and bingo, it worked. So what, 400 watts ain't that beefy for a system with 4 HDs and a bunch of other peripherals - but this thing had to operate in a pretty high temperature environment which I know makes life tougher for a PS.

So how does this relate to your question? Well, assume you want to be able to support a CPU load of 100 to 200 watts and another 100 or so for HDs, opticals, fans, etc., then you add on even just 300 for the VGA and all the sudden you're looking at a big, expensive PS. And they are not at all the same in their approach to current delivery. I chose to try the 700 watt OCZ for 2 reasons: first, my son's 520 watt OCZ could run the 7900GTX when my 620 watt Enermax Liberty could not and second, because when I talked to the OCZ tech guy about all this, I felt that I was getting straight, no BS answers. And he GUARANTEED that I could run XFired X1900XTs on that PS.

Quote:
*I am not an OVERCLOCKER* So the overclockablity of a chip etc isnt what I am after. I just want a solid reliable machine that can churn out kickass games for years to come while at the same time be a machine that is reliable enough for my wife to keep her small business stuff on.


That's not too much to ask. Good luck!
May 15, 2006 8:01:46 PM

I would listen to what Waylander said. He seems to know his stuff. IMO I'd go with 2 sticks of 1gb ddr2 memory. I've heard NEC makes great DVD Burners. Also i would go with the FX-60 or perhaps the X2 4600+ or higher.
May 15, 2006 8:18:39 PM

Quote:
I would listen to what Waylander said. He seems to know his stuff. IMO I'd go with 2 sticks of 1gb ddr2 memory. I've heard NEC makes great DVD Burners. Also i would go with the FX-60 or perhaps the X2 4600+ or higher.


You're gonna have fun trying to get that DDR2 running with an FX60.
May 15, 2006 8:49:47 PM

Quote:


CASE: Antec P150
My number one reason for this case is its silent. I hate noise. I don’t overclock generally so keep that in mind. I also don’t need lights and whistles. I just like a classic looking rig with some muscule.

PSU: The Antec comes with a 430W nice quiet one. Is this enough and good enough for what I am planning?


A good case and PSU, provided you get the updated version. Prior to Feb. 2006, older Neo HE PSUs had issues with Asus mobos. Hopefully you will get the revised version. Good enough for SLI barely, but also depends on the rest of your components. The Seasonic S12 500 will be good for SLI.
If you are going Crossfire then definitely up grade to the Seasonic S12 600 because the Radeons suck more juice than nVidias.

The case is good, but if you want your system to be as quiet as possible then you need to plan accordingly. The Seasonic S12s I've mentioned are one of the most quiet PSUs with 120mm around. I have one and I will testify to that.

Quote:

MB: This is a tossup. The goal of the machine is to build it with one video card and one stick of 2GB memory, so when the time comes where its not cutting it. I can add another card and stick to keep it playable. Read futureproofing. I am very loyal to ASUS. I generally am a snob and love the boards. The heat piping tech has me intrigued. I believe I am going to go for an SLI. Whats the top ASUS board for SLI now?


The Asus A8N32 SLI is the board that you want if you want SLI. I don't really recommend SLI because it doesn't make sense. You pay the cost for another identical card and only get 15% - 50% (maybe) boost in performance. But the board is quiet, before I decided to postpone my new rig for Conroe, I was looking at the A8N SLI Premium. It is cheaper than the A8N32 SLI and it comes with heatpipes. I looked at the Premium for it's silent operation, not SLI.

Forget Quad SLI altogether. Waste of money. And you need a special motherboard that can support 4 PCI-e cards. They are not out yet. You will also need to upgrade your PSU to at least 800w.

Quote:

VIDEO: 7900GTX.. I am leaning for the ASUS one.. whats your opinion? Can you just put one of these in and add up to 3 later in an SLI config? That’s the goal to stretch the life of the computer in the long run. Do they need to be a certain special kind of 7900GTX to be able to be paired?


A good card. As I stated before, SLI is a waste for lower end GPUs, but makes better sense for the best performing GPUs because there is not other way to currently improve performance without adding anther card. However, you should realise that you will be spending 100% more money for an extra 15% - 50% boost in performance depending on the game.

Quote:

CPU: Athlon 64 FX57 – I figured I would get a good processor that would last. I plan to slowly build the rig and buy the processor and video card last so they go down in price by the end build date of Nov06. Any suggestions on this?


Since you are not going to overclock, simply get the fastest Athlon 64 X2 that you can afford. The X2 4800+ is around $654. Yes it's dual core. Games will be coming to take advantage of dual core CPUs, not all of them but a good number of games. Also helps with multi-threaded applications.

AMD and Intel are phasing out most of the single core production, and they will soon be considered the value end of the CPU segment. Also, if Nov. 2006 is your estimated build date, then that gives you plenty of time so determine if AMD's socket AM2 Athlon 64s or Intel's Conroe CPU will be the way to go.


Quote:

MEMORY: What would be the best 2GB stick? This is a area I am a little grey on. I heard Cosair XMS is good?


You're not overclockign so why get the Cosair XMS? The difference in performance between CAS3 and CAS2 RAM is about 2% - 4% under the best circumstances. Simply get CAS2.5 RAM like Cosair Value Select, the difference in performance should narrow down to 2%. The extra 2% - 4% performance is great for benchmarks, but if you are playing Quake at 60FPS using CAS2.5 and you upgrade CAS2 giving you a 2% increase, or 62FPS, do you think you'll be able to see the difference without benchmarks?

Quote:

DVDR – NO idea whats good here.


Supposedly, Samsung makes quieter Burners.

Quote:

HARD DRIVES: I am thinking of doing a RAID 0. Pair of Western Digital Raptor 10000 RPM drives. Does the RPM really matter that much or should I stick with 7600 to save money. Also how bad does mirroring actually slow down your game if I wanted to do a different raid to keep the data safe?

What if I did 2 small 10000 rpm drives on a raid 0 and did a USB external for data so I could move it to other computers etc.. would I take a pretty bad hit?

Also with a pair of these 10000 rpms (in theory if the 7600 isnt a better call) produce to much heat for my P150 case? Would I need to install more cooling.. and noise?


I don't use RAID 0 or 1. The negative of RAID 1 during gameplay will only happen when you save your game because the data has to be written twice. So very little performance loss.

External drives are slower than internal drive, though Firewire drives are faster than USB 2.0 drives.

If you want your PC to be quiet as possible then don't go for the Raptors. The case is just one component that will make your PC quiet, but everything else also matters as well. The faster the hard drive the noiser and hotter it will get. Stick with 7200RPM drives. The quietests are made by Samsung which are about 1dBA - 2 dBA quieter than thier nearest competitor; Seagate I think. But performance is a bit slow. The next best would be Seagate to are quiet as well, but faster than Samsungs.

The number of platter a drive has also affects noise. The more platters the more heads will be reading. Try to stick to a max of 300GB, those drives typically have only 2 platter, if they are recent. There 500GB drives with 3 or 4 platters depending on the brand, but they are also hot.

Quote:

SOUND: I hear never go with the MB sound.. so X-Fi SB card pretty much the new Live?


Yeah, more or less. I generally recommend the Audigy 2 over X-Fi, unless you are using a full fledged audio rack system and good quality floor standing speakers. But that's just me, I'm sure other will tell you to get the X-Fi.

Quote:

HSF: This is pretty much the biggest stumbling block I have. What is a quiet cooler that will keep my CPU cool. Every time I made a PC I always got something that sounds like a fighter jet and makes me frown. I am not going to plan on overclocking.


Scythe Ninja with 120mm fan. You can passively cool a X2 3800+ if your other components are not giving off too much heat.

Quote:

Monitor: Whats a good 19-20 inch flat panel that’s not going to break my wallet and will be a good pairing for my 7900GTX?


If you really want the 7900GTX or 7900GTX SLI, then seriously look at a 20" or larger LCD. Don't waste your time with a 19" LCD. Why? Except for 1 or at most 2 19" LCD all of them have a max resolution of 1280 x 1024. That is considered low resolution for such a powerful card, not to mention two of them in SLI mode.

Rule of Thumb:
1. Less than 1600 x 1200 = 7900GT
2. Equal to or greater than 1600 x 1200 = 7900GTX or 7900GTX SLI

Quote:

NETWORK: I live with my soon to be wife and am not sure I want to put a cat5 jack in her wall.. is wireless an option without taking a nasty hit on online gaming?


Sorry, no experience with wireless. I prefer wired for my PCs because of faster throughput.

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

Other things to consider:

1. The stock HSF on any power video card will be loud like a leaf blower. Strap a Zalman VF900 HSF onto it.

2. Replace the 120mm fans in your case wth a Nexus 120mm, Yate Loon, Papst, TriCool, Silverstone that are quieter than any generic or other typical fan brands.

3. The P150 has two brackets for 92mm intake fans. Get at least one from one of the brandname listed above.

4. Get a Zalman Fan Mate 2 for each fan to control the RPMs and make them quieter.

5. Suspend your hard drives, 2 is the limit in the P150.
May 16, 2006 1:41:43 AM

u see, different ppl have different opinions on sli/cf. so ultimately, it;s all up to u to think if it is worth the money at all...
May 16, 2006 1:56:37 PM

Good info all around. What would you recommend for a good value 20" LCD panel? I am saving money just reading this thread.. Skip raptors.. go Seagate.. 2 sticks of non XMS Corsair.. since I dont overclock..

So lets say I got with a AthlonX64 4400 dual core.. would a scythe cool that quietly? Or should I go with the other sinks mentioned?
May 16, 2006 2:22:19 PM

Go with Zalman. The source of computer noise is mainly in vibration, and Zalman coolers and fans produce little to none because of lower RPMs on a larger fan. Since the fan is larger and the copper is heavier, it'll be tougher to get it to fit, but if you have one of the newer Zalman 7900-Cu coolers and some Arctic Silver V, you'll be fine. Almost any chip you get will idle in the low to mid 30's Celsius.

Scythes are even larger than the Zalmans, and there may be some compatibility issues with the case. Get an Antec P180 and a better power supply.

On RAID, RAID 0 is generally the most common, but RAID 1 is nice. Mirroring will increase your read transfer rates, though not to the level of RAID 0, because you're reading the data from two drives simultaneously. I'ts like downloading from BitTorrent, the more sources you have, the faster everything downloads. If you want the best of both worlds, get 4 large 16 MB cache hard drives and put them in either RAID 0+1 or RAID 10. 0+1 mirrors two striped arrays, so you get the performance of RAID 0 with the redundancy of RAID 1. Best of both worlds.

Nice build, I'm thinking of something similar.
May 16, 2006 2:37:43 PM

Why the P180? Isnt it a little large? The powersupply is pretty low on the case.. will it reach to the mainboard bracket?

Its a little large for a low profile machine in my wifes office is all..
May 16, 2006 4:07:45 PM

The Scythe Ninja will fit in the Antec P150. The P150 is also considered better than the P180 for silencing purposes since it can suspend 2 drives. The P180 mounts HDDs in the traditional manner, but they do provide rubber grommets.

Since the PSU is very low in the P180, there have been issues where the PSU cables are not long enough.
May 16, 2006 5:57:46 PM

So what would be the recommendation for a good SATA 16MB cache 7200 rpm drive? Do you guys have a model number I can look up prices on?
May 16, 2006 6:18:51 PM

Other things you might want to look at would be a 165, 170 , 175, or 180 opteron for a CPU. Better heatsink, all have a lower voltage core than a regular athlon, and are easy to overclock when you want to. Look at a SLI rated power supply when your ready to do that SLI upgrade, 600watt or greater. The Ultra i have is nice, and a good price to boot. Good luck and happy hunting......
May 16, 2006 6:40:41 PM

Maxtor, Seagate, WD they all have their ups and downs. Basically look for 7200rpm, SATA II (3.0 GB) and 16mb cache in the description. Everyone has had good and bad experiences with HDDs and you may have any or all of the brands fail on you and hate them for life.

Next pick your size depending on how much you want to spend. Like I suggested before I'd choose a smaller one for OS and programs and a larger one for data. Or you can raid 2 smalls ones, which ever you like.

As to RAM, even if you aren't going to OC just make sure they are a good brand like Corsair, Mushkin, OCZ... etc. I find Corsair is a bit over priced for performance but that is more of a personal choice.

If your case comes with a PSU definitely try it out and see if it is stable, just make sure you check and make sure it has enough amps on the 12v rail (at least 20, probably want more than 24).

Good choice on the processor but if you aren't OC'ing then try the stock HSF before you spend money on an after market one. It's fine unless you want a quieter one.

On the MB issue, the A8N SLI Premium like I have only has 2 PCI-e x 8 slots in SLI mode. If you are only using one slot then it is x16 but if you fill both they go to x8. The A8N32 SLI Deluxe will run both in x16 even when both are used (therefore the 32 in the name, 2 x 16 = 32). :) 
May 18, 2006 2:07:06 PM

Ok I picked out my drives! 1 Raptor for OS and a couple games.. 36.7GB And a pair of 16Mbyte 7200 RPM drives in a raid config for storage.

So my questions are.

1. When I build a rig last it used ribbon cables. So I had a master and a slave on one cable etc. I havent ever setup Raid. But I know most boards have 2 SATA cables. Can you do 3 drives on 2 SATA cables? How does it hook up?

2. I am looking on the Zalman page for the model you guys listed and cant find it? Whats the best model to cool an Athlon64 4400 dual core?

3. I need a good flat panel that will compliment my 7900GTX.. Can anyone recommend a good model that wont break my pocketbook?

4. Is there a place to get Artic Silver5 on the net without eating alot of shipping? I refuse to pay 6 bucks for shipping on an ounce of material

5. Do you think I should add a fan for those hard drives? I will have the base fans for the PSU, and the intake, exhaust from the P150 Antec case. Plus the fan on the GPU. Is that enough? I want to limit the noise.

6. Any thoughts on those sweet Razer mice? I was looking at the Copperhead and it sounds pretty nice.

I think since I wont be adding the 2nd video card for a while.. I will try to see how the rig runs on the supplied 430W power supply. When I upgrade I will put in a new PSU. Thoughts?

Thanks again :) 

GOW
May 18, 2006 3:10:23 PM

I'm just pointing out something everyone else here has... an FX-57 is most definitely NOT an ideal gaming CPU any more... and it still sells for around $800... insanity!!! If you're dying to get an FX CPU, get the FX-60 or wait a few weeks for an FX-62... if you're a little more open-minded consider an AMD Opteron/X2 or perhaps even a Pentium 900 series if you don't mind overclocking.
May 18, 2006 3:28:43 PM

Quote:
1. When I build a rig last it used ribbon cables. So I had a master and a slave on one cable etc. I havent ever setup Raid. But I know most boards have 2 SATA cables. Can you do 3 drives on 2 SATA cables? How does it hook up?


Each SATA device requires its own port and cable. If your mobo does not have enough SATA ports, you could consider a PCI card with SATA ports. But you can still use the IDE ports on the mobo. Most optical drives are still IDE.

Quote:
2. I am looking on the Zalman page for the model you guys listed and cant find it? Whats the best model to cool an Athlon64 4400 dual core?


The 9500LED is what many people use. I think the other model is the 7700, which costs less and does not cool quite as well.

Quote:
3. I need a good flat panel that will compliment my 7900GTX.. Can anyone recommend a good model that wont break my pocketbook?


Budget for this item?

Quote:
5. Do you think I should add a fan for those hard drives? I will have the base fans for the PSU, and the intake, exhaust from the P150 Antec case. Plus the fan on the GPU. Is that enough? I want to limit the noise.


One reason I like the TT Armor is that the inlet fan blows over the HDs. I've used the single bay HD fan units and they work OK. Kinda pricey, kinda loud, but they keep the HD pretty cool, like ambient plus a couple of degrees C.

Quote:
I think since I wont be adding the 2nd video card for a while.. I will try to see how the rig runs on the supplied 430W power supply. When I upgrade I will put in a new PSU. Thoughts?


I read a review on the mushkin 650 that looks real strong, so I gave mushkin a call and talked to the engineer that spec'ed the unit. It is built in Tiawan, which is pretty common, but what is cool is that it can automatically combine its four 12V rails. For example if a video card pegged it's rail, it can effectively borrow from another rail that is not pegged. Each rail is rated to 20A and I seem to remember the total 12V current rating to be 44A. The mobo 24 pin connecter is on rail 1, the 2x4pin CPU power plug is on rail 2, the two PCI-e plugs are on rail 3 and the 4th rail drives the typical Molex and floppy cables. The mushkin engineer told me that they were looking to provide the enthusiast an option to the PCP&C units. He told me he has run QuadSLI with the mushkin 650. So I'm going to give it a try. Not cheap, like $220, but that's still 1/2 the price of a PCP&C. I was particularly impressed with the attitude of the mushkin folks I talked to.
May 18, 2006 4:58:20 PM

How long are looking to make this rig last?
May 18, 2006 5:54:59 PM

Well.. as long as I can.

I can add another card and engage the SLI mode to stretch the lif eof the rig before I need to update in a year or two..

I can add another 2GB of memory to the rig to stretch its life.. and the Asus board can upgrade to a better CPU..

So it should last a while..

Case/PSU
Antec P150/430W Neo HE PSU
*** It comes with the PSU.. I will upgrade the PSU when its time to go SLI down the road

CPU
Athlon x64 4400 Mhz Dual Core
HSF
Zalman HSF (ask Toms for model number Artic Silver5?)

Motherboard
Asus A8N-SLI Premium

Hard Drive
Western Digital Raptor 36.7MB 10000 RPM 8MB Cache
Western Digital - Caviar RE2 160GB
Western Digital - Caviar RE2 160GB

*** Raptor for the OS.. the rest is RAID1 for my wifes files and redunancy.. games played on the Raptor

DVD+R
Plextor PX-716A

GPU
Asus EN7900 GTX

SOUND
CREATIVE LABS X-FI XTREMEMUSIC

MEMORY
Corsair Memory.. not sure if its DDR2 or needs to be paired yet..

MOUSE
Razer Plasma Blue Diamondback

NETWORK
Linksys WMP54G

SPEAKERS
Look at Best Buy

LCD DISPLAY
ViewSonic VP930b Black 19'

KEYBOARD
Standard Keyboard
May 18, 2006 5:59:03 PM

I think you've received a lot of good advice here. However, there is one item that has been overlooked.

If you truely hate noise, you are going to need to replace the stock cooler on your 7900. Depending on the mfg., they can range from noticable to drowning out your lawnmower. An aftermarket cooler, such as Arctic Cooling, will serve you well.
May 18, 2006 6:40:26 PM

The eVGA 7900 GT KO has a special cooler that is much quieter than the other stock coolers. $289 from newegg.com.

Or you could liquid cool everything...('8)')
May 18, 2006 7:08:31 PM

I think he was looking at the GTX, which has a more robust (read noisy) cooler.
May 18, 2006 7:15:02 PM

So looking at my above choices. Will that Antec 430 be enough? I really hope so as I dont want to spend more on a PSU :p 
May 18, 2006 7:30:23 PM

My two cents: the PSU is a very critical, but grossly underappreciated, part of the computer. Remember, the 430 watt rating is PEAK rating. I think you're boderline with your setting using a 430W PSU. Go with a 500W.

The problems that can be caused by an inferior PSU (speaking in wattage terms) are not worth saving a few bucks.
May 18, 2006 7:34:59 PM

Try this:

500W PSU

or:

480W PSU

Both are around $55. I have 650W version of the CoolMax and think its a great PSU (well built, accurate ratings, etc).
May 18, 2006 7:44:23 PM

So your sure that a 500W is going to be enough for my above rig.. even when I put in another card?

Also, is it quiet?

Any word on a kick butt LCD panel? 500ish budget? that will pair well with my GTX
May 18, 2006 7:53:29 PM

Quote:
So your sure that a 500W is going to be enough for my above rig.. even when I put in another card?

Also, is it quiet?

Any word on a kick butt LCD panel? 500ish budget? that will pair well with my GTX


Did you read my earlier reply? Some folks have gotten 500 watt PS's to work on a 7900GTX/SLI setup but it seems that most of them got 7900s from the first batch released. If you look at this and other forums, you'll see that the second batch of cards (evga especially) are having loads of problems. Being somewhat bullheaded, I have been the evga RMA champ lately, as if to be on a quest to see if there's a single 7900 out there that will work on my rig. Good luck to you getting two of them running at once!
May 18, 2006 8:13:23 PM

No, I perfectly agree with you that 500W is grossly inadequate for TWO 7900s. However, a good 500W PSU (read: conservatively rated) should be sufficent. The problems I have read relating to the 7900s are generally not PSU related.
May 18, 2006 9:51:05 PM

if you want something to really last you wait for conroe or am2 at least. if you cant wait 18 days til am2 is released the, you should get 2gb (2*1). the 2gb are no good unless your using dual channel and the dual channel gives more overclockability. and the video card you should think of getting the x1900xt because it performs a bit better than the gtx and is much cheaper, you can get one for 430 if you look on pricegrabber.
May 18, 2006 9:52:10 PM

if you want something to really last you wait for conroe or am2 at least. if you cant wait 18 days til am2 is released the, you should get 2gb (2*1). the 2gb are no good unless your using dual channel and the dual channel gives more overclockability. and the video card you should think of getting the x1900xt because it performs a bit better than the gtx and is much cheaper, you can get one for 430 if you look on pricegrabber. you should also suggest getting a dual core cpu like a opteron 180 or x2 4800. for the mem. look into ocz or crucial ballistix
May 19, 2006 1:34:25 PM

Future proofing seems to be your primary concern so I would wait 110% because you seem to have a large budget. At the moment all AMD mobo's use DDR not DDR2 and when the new AM2 comes out the socket will be slightly different. By waiting the 18 days you gain extra lifespan for your MOBO as well as your RAM. I only say this because I am going through the same thought processes as yourself.

Also again in terms of future proofing, if you absolutely have to buy a new machine when AM2 comes out I still would not buy a top end card like a 7900GTX or a X1900XT. DX10 is not so far away and if you like to upgrade you will take a huge hit on your cards.

You seem to have a decent budget and I am going for the same case as yourself but really unless you are a power gamer surely a 7900GT or a X1800XT would be sufficient. In terms of power, both of these would be easily manageable with the NeoHE 430W that comes with the P150.

That way when the DX10 cards come out you can get upgrade without taking such a huge hit on cards bought in the last 6-9 months. Incidentaly if you are worried about power consumption the 7900 uses less power and runs cooler than the X1800 but I believe the X1800 can in certain situations be a stronger preformer(namely oblivion).

The aftermarket fan for the GPU that you should be looking at is the zalman VF-900 I believe off the top of my head, however.....

If silence is a thing you really appreciate then Arctic Cooling are bringing out passive coolers(ie no fans=no noise) for the 7900 GT and GTX range. These should be out roughly the same time as AM2(hint hint wait 2 more weeks). It is in their acelero range just fyi...

Final point I would make concerning noise is to possibly look for an Asus MOBO that uses passive cooling for its Northbridge. The A8R32-MVP comes to mind. It is very highly rated and I imagine very quiet, however this means nothing if you are waiting for the AM2 MOBOs with the new socket. Asus have released details of their's but you will have to google it as I am at work and on dial up :( .

Finally search through these forums as much as you can, there is such a wealth of knowledge here it is unbleievable and many people have had the discussion you are having now, the only other forum which I find nearly as good is the forum over at silent pc review, but that is only because reading the forums here slowly and subtelty turned me into someone who wanted a damn quiet pc, before these forums I barely gave a thought to PC noise hehe

PS If silence is your primary concern and you want to do SLI for sure it would be a waste to get a P150 just to throw away the PSU in 6 months, get a P180, suspend the drives yourself and get yourself a seasonic s12 500w+ or antec phantom silent PSU that will def have long enough cables for the P180....
May 19, 2006 1:37:49 PM

Well said. However, if he is going to wait for the next-gen of cards, and is thinking of going SLI, and wants to keep the same PSU (did I put enough qualifiers in here?), 500W is inadequate. Considering the history of graphics cards and power consumption, each successive model has eaten up more and more power. 500W is good for today, but not for tomarrow.
May 19, 2006 1:56:38 PM

I would have to agree, when I wrote 500w+ I meant over 500W. For 2 graphics cards I would imagine 530 or 550 would be the lowest you would want to mess around with, if he is using 3 hard drives as well, well maybe stretch towards a 600W.

My ideology is that I can not afford the latest and greatest, I see the P150 as a steal if you get 1 with a working PSU. However a 430 for me is only suitable for a single graphics card setup of up to 7900GT or 1800XT, for the GTX or 1900XT I would go more powerful.

Still my original, and rather lengthy post, still stands in terms of general advice. In truth I am not such a seasoned machine builder but I have been pouring over forums non stop recently and the opinions I am relating seem to be a good general consensus among people who know far more than I do.
May 19, 2006 2:37:21 PM

Well if the AM2 boards and new ram and cards are comming (which there ALWAYS is a wealth of in this industry)..

Wont that make all my listed components that much cheaper?
!