Dazed and confused (new rig help)

Well, after 3 years my poor old machine is starting to get flaky. The problems have all been fixable so far, but they are starting to add up and my computer is showing its age. Specs:

Athlon XP 2600+
Soyo KT400 mobo
1 GB pc3200 (2x512 MB)
Ati Radeon 9800 Pro
100 GB 7200 RPM IDE hard drive
Sound Blaster Live

Upon receiving my tax return last week (yay! :lol: ) I've decided that I want to buy a new computer and turn my old one into an enterainment center machine for playing some nostalgic games on my TV. My old computer was my first home built and I stopped researching and reading up on the latest and greatest shortly after buying it to prevent buyer's remorse. When I decided to look into a new one, I was overwhelmed with all the new technology out there that makes my machine look like an abacus :cry:

So, I've researched a bit and read Tom's Hardwares forums a bunch and still don't have all the answers I need. Mostly I need opinions and reassurance that what I have selected is compatable and I've covered all my bases, etc. but every bit helps. Here's what I have selected (shamelessly copy/pasted from Newegg):

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Model #: CAC-T05-UW
Item #: N82E16811119068
In Stock
$49.99 -$6.00 Instant $43.99

Link Depot 19" UV Blue Serial ATA Cable Model SATA-UV-19-BU - Retail
Model #: SATA-UV-19-BU
Item #: N82E16812104051
In Stock
$2.99 $2.99

ASUS A8N-E Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #: A8N-E
Item #: N82E16813131530
** This item is warranted through the product manufacturer only.
In Stock
$92.99 $92.99

DFI nF4-DAGF Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #: nF4-DAGF
Item #: N82E16813136160
In Stock
$82.00 $82.00

eVGA 256-P2-N564 Geforce 7900GT KO 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Model #: 256-P2-N564
Item #: N82E16814130015
In Stock
$289.00 $289.00

eVGA 256-P2-N563-AX Geforce 7900GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Model #: 256-P2-N563-AX
Item #: N82E16814130281
In Stock
$289.00 $289.00

XFX PV-T71G-UDE7 GeForce 7900 GT EXTREME (520MHz) 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Model #: PV-T71G-UDE7
Item #: N82E16814150139
In Stock
$294.99 $294.99

COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power RS-430-PMSR/P ATX12V Max: 400W, Peak: 430W Power Supply - Retail
Model #: RS-430PMSR/P
Item #: N82E16817171007
In Stock
$33.99 $33.99

Rosewill RV450 ATX12V 450W Power Supply - Retail
Model #: RV450
Item #: N82E16817182008
** This item may only be returned for a replacement of the same make/model within 30 days only.
In Stock
$36.99 -$7.00 Instant $29.99

Rosewill RV450-2 ATX 2.01 450W Power Supply - Retail
Model #: RV450-2
Item #: N82E16817182015
In Stock
$39.99 -$5.00 Instant $34.99

AMD Opteron 165 Denmark 1000MHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model OSA165CDBOX - Retail
Model #: OSA165CDBOX
Item #: N82E16819103588
** This item is warranted through the product manufacturer only.
In Stock
$327.00 $327.00

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model F1-3200PHU2-2GBNS - Retail
Model #: F1-3200PHU2-2GBNS
Item #: N82E16820231047
In Stock
$169.99 -$18.00 Instant $151.99

NEC Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive - OEM
Model #: FD1231H-302
Item #: N82E16821152005
In Stock
$5.99 $5.99

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #: WD2500KS
Item #: N82E16822144701
** This item may only be returned for a replacement of the same make/model within 30 days only.
In Stock
Mail-in Rebate
$89.99 $89.99

NEC 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model ND-3550A - Retail
Model #: ND-3550A BK RT
Item #: N82E16827152055
In Stock
$41.99 $41.99

Creative Sound Blaster SB0570 Audigy SE 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail
Model #: 70SB057000000
Item #: N82E16829102002
** This item is warranted through the product manufacturer only.
In Stock
$35.00 $35.00

Note that there are multiple video cards, power supplies and motherboards on that list. Worst case price (picking the most expensive of my chosen options) is a little over $1100. So here's my concerns and questions - any help is greatly appreciated!

1. Video cards seem a toss-up. I've read the eVGA is a good video card brand, but don't know anything about XFX. And I couldn't tell what the difference was between the two eVGA cards on the list. Should I just go with the eVGA card model # 256-P2-N564? Since I don't upgrade often (obviously) I've come to realize that I need to buy quality up front if I want it to last. I bought a budget video card once and it burnt out awful quick :(

2. Motherboards. I'm leaning towards the DFI board, because I want to tinker with overclocking. I've heard good things about the ASUS board as well, but everyone seems to be either love or hate ASUS, not much middle ground.

3. Power supplies. Couple questions here. First, will a 430W supply power all this? I'm pretty sure it will, but I've read that the 7900GT is pretty power hungry. Of the 3 I've listed, which would be the best choice? Maybe another brand I didn't see is cost comparable?

4. Probably a stupid question, but will I need to buy the SATA cable I have listed? I looked at the motherboards but neither specifically say it comes with a SATA cable. Maybe I just missed it.

5. Will extra cooling be necessary? The case comes with a 120mm and an 80mm. I've also read that the heat sink that comes with Opterons is pretty good. Maybe need a better/quieter fan for the video card?

6. Lastly, I was aiming for a budget around $1000 and came out a little high. Without downgrading the video card or processor, I don't see much I can do. Any suggestions?

I'm quite a gamer, but not too snobbish about it. I don't mind running at 1024/768 video settings or waiting a few extra seconds to load a level. I do want this pc to last without too many costly upgrades though. I figure I'll OC this machine a bit to start with and maybe buy better cooling and OC farther later as the machine starts to show its age. Sorry for the novel, but please help!
11 answers Last reply
More about dazed confused help
  1. Kudos on all the writing, I am willing to help you because nobody has yet.
  2. To Begin, evga is a very good company. They are probably the best company when you are looking for a good Nvidia card. They would definitely be of high quality and are easy to deal with when you have problems(warranties and their new upgrading offers). XFX on the other hand is decent(self proclaimed as the gamer's gpu company), but they generally overclock their cards to higher than stock specs, which may put strain on the cards and lead to more problems. Recently they have had good deals. but I would go with evga in your case, for the quality and service.
  3. As for motherboards, I personally like ASUS, I know many people who have ASUS mobos and haven't had any problems with them. I know little about DFI, other than their Lanparty series which are pretty good. This is a preference thing, and it all depends on the individual product. Generally, newegg reviews are helpful, if people have a lot of problems with a board, avoid it.
  4. Ok here it goes:

    Get the DFI lanparty Ultra-D for 122 dollars and it is the best overclocker on the market PERIOD.

    Change your RAM from that to the G.SKILL EXTREAM 2GIG kit because it is PC4000 and will give you some headroom. It is 171 bucks.

    Get the eVGA 7900GT KO because it has a newer and better heatsink on it. Also eVGA has a step up program so if something bigger and badder comes out withing 90 days of your purchase you can pay the difference and get the better one. Plus eVGA has great customer support.

    Your PSU will come with the SATA cable. I would also suggest a PSU. The antec Smartpower 500Watt PSU. Antec is a great brand and it is only 68 bucks

    Make these changes and you have a great rig that will OC a lot too. You will prolly be a little over budget so to help I would drop that piece of crap soundcard and use onboard for a while because it will be close to that soundcard. You can upgrade later.

  5. 430W should be enough as long as you are not going to have that many hard drives and optical drives and if that particular PSU is reliable, but I would suggest a 450W or 500W, even though the 7900gt isn't really that power hungry (the GTX is) the more power the better. I don't know much about Rosewill PSU's but I don't here good things about them. Another brand? I like Antec for PSU's and cases.
  6. The G skill RAM is on sale now too, I believe, but OCZ and Corsair are awesome too. The DFI is going to have the most options for overclocking, so if you are serious about it, go for it.
  7. I'd have to suggest at least a 500w power supply, and a much better brand than Rosewill. Look to Antec, Seasonic, Thermaltake, Forton, OCZ or Silverstone. Better safe than sorry, it's a bad day when a cheap PSU fries your $300 video card.

    Also, consider getting the Audigy 2 series sound card instead of the original, at least to avoid the "first generation" problems and limits. The $110 X-Fi would be even better, but funds might be limited and only a really nice set of speakers or headphones will show the difference, so the choice is yours. If you really have to, maybe use onboard for a month or so then upgrade to a good card when you can save an extra hundred clams.

    And someone here mentioned that a PSU comes with a SATA Cable, which is probably incorrect. They come with SATA power connectors (the newer ones), but that won't link the HDD to the motherboard, it links the HDD to it's power source. Get a SATA cable to be safe, but a 19" cable is gonna be HUGE 8O Most well designed cases will leave the HDD within 10 inches of the appropriate connection on the motherboard. And shorter cables=better airflow=lower case temps and longer lasting system!
  8. The last thing I have to say is that the PSU will have a SATA power connector and the motherboard will likely come with a SATA connector(to attach to the motherboard). Also, if you want more performance, get two identical and smaller hard drives and run them in raid 0......I heart raid 0.
  9. Wow... pretty quick responses!

    I only really have the audigy card on the list for the EAX. I don't think on board audios have that feature. It's not too important to me, so maybe it's worth dropping and putting that $35 somewhere else.

    I wasn't sure about the Rosewill PSU's either, but they seem to be getting solid reviews at Newegg. I only put any of those supplies on the list because they got decent reviews and were fairly inexpensive. Guess I'll check the prices on an Antec.

    Thanks for the help so far!
  10. Not a bad machine for the cost.

    I would also suggest getting a good PSU, it's the power behind the unit, getting a crappy one is like putting a lawn mower engine in a civic. You don't need a V8 though, 400 - 430W is fine for your system (if its a good one) BUT if you want to start adding components in later you may want to go higher but you don't have to.

    Video card: If you are going to OC your rig then get the XTX or BFG OC from factory as they will cover them with warranty, if you OC yourself you void your warranty. evga is nice for the step up program though...

    Like others have said you don't need a SATA cable as your MB should come with all the cables required for a start up system including 2 SATA cables.

    Case, if you want a decent power supply in the 400W range, I would suggest the Antec Sonata II as the PSU with that case should meet your needs and save you some money.

    If you are getting the opteron in order to OC then I'd suggest DDR500 (PC4000) as it will not limit you.
  11. It appears that you plan to go with SLI. If I may be so bold, you are better off getting a since GTX card than two GTs. It will be less money to boot (i.e. Newegg has the 570 version for about $460 after rebate).

    BTW, I say this as a builder who went with SLI. SLI only improves performance on most applications by 10-40%.

    eVga makes great cards and has solid support. The CoolerMaster case you have selected is great. If you decide to overclock, you may want to get an aftermarket cooler (say, the Zalman 9500 - top notch).

    I agree with other posters on getting a more powerful PSU. Remember, the wattage is usually PEAK wattage. Don't want to constantly be overtaking the poor thing...
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