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First timer thinking about building my own PC

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May 28, 2006 6:27:38 PM

Hey guys. Always hear great things about Tomshardware.com, so I decided who better to ask than the community? The reason why I am thinking about attempting to build my own PC is because of my limited amount of options. Dell is overpriced, HP and Gateway don't have what I am looking for, I've heard terrible things about Cyberpowerpc.com, and I frankly don't know any other websites.

So, I have heard great things about ZipZoomFly.com and NewEgg.com. I have never overclocked anything before, and I know jack squat about motherboards. I think I may want an Asus though to leave the option open if I wanted to get a PhysX.

Here is what I am looking for/
Video Card: NVIDIA 7900GTX 512mb
MEMORY: 2 gigabytes*
CPU: DUAL-CORE 3.4 Gigahertz**
MOTHERBOARD: I am clueless, please help me here! Oh, it needs firewire support though.
POWER SUPPLY: I am thinking mabye 500. Should I go with something higher to be safe?
COOLING FANS: I don't know how many seperate fans I need, but all I know is that I need to keep my PC seriously cool, as I plan to overclock (read the **).
SOUND CARD: Sound Blaster® X-Fi
SPEAKERS: LOGITECH Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Speakers
HARD DRIVE: 160 gigabytes of space or more
OPTICAL DRIVE: Something that is capable of burning DVDs.
MONITER: 20", probably flatscreen.
CASE: No clue, if someone could fill me in here that would be great.
- Is there anything else I need?

* - I have seen so many variations of memory it makes my head explode. Corsiar, DDR2/667, etcetera. Does one kind "bottleneck" my system? What is "bottlenecking" anyways?

** - I have read the article about overclocking the $130 dual-core processor to 4.1 GHZ. That is amazing. If I can get this done almost hassle-free, then I'd rather take that option over the expensive Dual-Core 3.4 GHZ. Has anyone from the forums done it? What Power supply would I need? What cooling fan would I need? I'd want to keep my system as cool as it can be.

So a basic overview of what I'm aiming at. Please tell me what I'd need to accomplish this. It would run firewire, have a wireless connection, run a dual core processor (INTEL), XiFi sound card with 5.1 speakers, 20" moniter (probably widescreen, recommendations?), a nice cooling setup, 500 power supply, 512mb 7900GTX graphics card, and I might add in a PhysX card. I probably missed ten things, though.

And finally, cables! I have NO idea what I need. Here is a little excerpt I found from snooping around the internet. I have almost no idea what most of these components are.
Quote:
Cables and Miscellaneous

* Drive cables
* Motherboard spacers (usually come with the motherboard, but are used to space the motherboard up off the mounting plate)
* Screws (usually a whole pile of screws will come with your PC's case, but if you are using a case you happened to have around, you will need to collect some screws)
* Power cords (for both your PC and your monitor. They usually come with the hardware when you buy it, of course)
* CPU Cooling Compound


Thanks, and please critique everything I chose and let me know what I am missing!
May 28, 2006 6:50:51 PM

Now take note, if your system is going to be primarily for gaming, I'd suggest getting an AMD Athlon X2 or Opteron. If you're going to wait another month or two, the Intel Conroe will be out, making the current Pentium D 950 you plan on getting look like crap.

For your GPU, I'd suggest an X1900 XTX, unless you're set on Nvidia. In most games the X1900 should perform just as well, and in very shader intense titles, it will outperform the 7900GTX. A few other features the X1900 has over the 7900GTX include OpenEXR HDR antialiasing support, high quality anisotropic filtering, and some other nice AVIVIO features. The X1900 XTX is usually cheaper than the 7900GTX.
May 28, 2006 9:04:24 PM

Noted on the ATI card. I think that definately is the better choice. On the CPUs, I have never had an Athlon. What advantages does that one have over the Intel?

(100 views and 1 reply? Can I please get some more info on what I need/if I chose anything wrong?)
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May 28, 2006 9:46:01 PM

Quote:
I am clueless


Don't mock me.
May 29, 2006 12:17:27 AM



?! Thats a server CPU. That is not what you want at all.

AMD smacks Intel around in about every benchmark possible. For gaming its not even a close contest. Look at the X2-4200 or the Opteron 165.

Overclocking of the 805 is NOT hassle free, if you don't anything about building, overclocking is not going to be an easy thing.
May 29, 2006 12:29:53 AM

I honestly don't know enough about AMD and what mobo I would need to get one. Could you point me in the right direction for a Dual core 3.2 (or 3.4!) ghz processor? What does hyperthreading do?
May 29, 2006 12:37:09 AM

Quote:
I honestly don't know enough about AMD and what mobo I would need to get one. Could you point me in the right direction for a Dual core 3.2 (or 3.4!) ghz processor? What does hyperthreading do?


Hypertreading is an useless ploy by Intel that splits a CPU into 2 logical units and was the software answer before dual core was available.

Speed is not everything, AMD does not make processors in the 3.2 or 3.4GHz range, they make CPUs that run faster at lower clock speeds with less heat and less noise.

For a nice AMD system- look at Socket 939 X2-4400 and 2GB of DDR-400 RAM. For a motherboard look at the Asus A8N-E.

If you want to overclock, look at the Opteron 165, 2GB of DDR-533 RAM and a DFI Lanparty Ultra D motherboard.

Either option makes for a very nice system that will be faster in most tasks then anything Intel offers.
May 29, 2006 12:55:09 AM

Is the 4400 64 bit or 32 bit? Can I run things in 32 bit even if I have a 64 bit processor? I keep hearing that 64 bit isn't supported. What does the 4400 compare to, Intel wise? Is it Dual Core? Does the Asus A8N-E support firewire?

Sorry for so many questions. And also thanks for your reponse earlier :) 
May 29, 2006 1:00:52 AM

Quote:
Is the 4400 64 bit or 32 bit? Can I run things in 32 bit even if I have a 64 bit processor? I keep hearing that 64 bit isn't supported. What does the 4400 compare to, Intel wise? Is it Dual Core? Does the Asus A8N-E support firewire?

Sorry for so many questions. And also thanks for your reponse earlier :) 


All AMD CPUs are now 64-bit. X2 means dual core. It runs all 32-bit applications without issue. Depending on the benchmark it compared anywhere from D 930 to being faster than any CPU Intel offers.

Alas, no the Asus A8N-E does not support firewire on board. You can add a PCI firewire card, or get the DFI board which does have firewire.
May 29, 2006 2:17:25 AM

GFX: x1900 xt

PSU: any BRAND name psu with 550+ W, its better wen its higher if you gonna try SLI or CROSSFIRE or even overclock

CASE: well, im thinking that you want a case with good airflow, ANTEC P180 is great, so is the full tower Thermaltake ARMOR

COOLING: best you can do to cool your cpu, ZALMAN fans... unless you're up to liquid cooling. The rest of the fans, it will depend on what kind of case you are getting, usually, they have most of the fans, except for the front ones. get thermal paste if you gonna try building a system on your own... ie... arctic 5. or zalman thermal paste

CPU: overclocking a 3.4 is a waste, get 805 or opty 165...

MOBO: Depends on what you want... SLI, Crossfire, NONE... also, they should all support firewire... its disgustingly disgraceful if they dont.

RAM: since ur overclocking... OCZ is the way to go! esp if you wanna game hard with it... gold edition is nice. make sure ur using right ram... ddr2 for intel, ddr for amd

CABLES: dont worry about them... if you dont buy OEM, then you dont have to worry, all of your retail items would include the cables inside the box.
May 29, 2006 4:16:46 AM

Thanks so much for all of the replies. Anyways, I don't plan on overclocking the CPU if I buy a 3.4 or 3.2 ghz processor. It was mainly in relation to if I should buy a less expensive processor and clock it, and if it was worth the trouble or not (I just recently read the article about the $130 CPU being overclocked to 4.1 gigahertz).

I'm trying to keep the price below $2100, hardware wise (including moniter). Shadowduck, the Asus A8N-E motherboard cost significantly less than the one that I posted. Besides the lack of firewire support, is it lacking anything else? Also, what is the difference between DDR2/675 and DDR-400 ram? I remember reading something about a new line of Athlon or AMD products supporting DDR2. Beyond that I don't know much more.

Also, the 4400 costs about $100 more than the $3.2 ghz dual core processor I was looking at. Could the 4400 be compared to a dual core 3.4, or mabye even a 3.6?

About the case. The one I have listed has room (I think) for more fans to be put it and has one installed already. It also has a side air duct, which the case that you posted does not. How much does that side air duct help with cooling?

Thanks for the responses!

*EDIT* Also, where would I attatch this fan to?
May 29, 2006 2:36:58 PM

AMD's numbering scheme is basically rating it against a Pentium if it existed at that speed. SO the 4400+ would basically perform equal with a Pentium 4 4.4 if one existed. Anyway, study the benchmarks on Tom's site, the 4400+ is a solid performer that will go head to head with anything Intel has to offer and often beating everything they have.

Don't fall for the Intel hype of yesteryear that higher clock speed instantly means better performance. It doesn't and that is why Intel stopped numbering their CPUs my clock speed. Also don't fall for the D 805 hype. If you are new to building, I wouldn't want to watch you try and get water cooling working correctly (which adds $300-400 to the cost). If you the 805 to 4.1 you are not building a budget system. Besides, even at 4.1 the 805 does not smash everything AMD has due to its pathetic FSB (133).

The A8N-E basically lacks firewire and a second PCI-E x16 slot and does not overclock as well as the DFI board I mentioned. Other than that, they are basically the same and use the same chipset.

DDR 400 has much lower latency and most times performs better than DDR2-667. You need DDR2-800 or more to take advantange of DDR2.
May 29, 2006 2:53:39 PM

Ok, I won't be using two Video cards anyways, so I should be A OK with that. I guess my main concern now is the amount of PCI slots. How many would I be taking up and how many is available?
May 29, 2006 2:56:11 PM

you would be only taking up 1 slot with your sound card on the DFI board, or 2 on the Asus board (sound card and firewire).

The DFI has 2 PCI slots, the Asus has 3.
May 29, 2006 3:03:09 PM

Oh, thanks. Also, I tried doing a search on the main page and I couldn't find any articles and benchmarks/comparisons with the 64 X2 4400+.

Oh, is the wireless network card I listed ( this one ) needed for high speeds over a wireless connection? I chose a linksys one because I have a Linksys Wireless G with speed booster router. It's a PCI card if that makes any difference.
May 29, 2006 7:35:22 PM

Does the mobo you supplied have enough room to have a 1900XT video card, a PCI network card, a sound card, and a pci to firewire card? If it can't hold all of them, could you redirect me to another AMD mobo that can and is hopefully under or around $100? Firewire support isn't necesary, but if there is a good one with firewire support that is around $100 and can only hold three of them, that's fine too.
May 29, 2006 10:17:02 PM

The 1900XT will go into the PCI-E x16 slot. You don't need a Network card, the motherboard provides you with 2 onboard network interfaces. Firewire and sound will occupy 2 of the 3 PCI slots, leaving you with 1 left.
May 29, 2006 10:34:03 PM

So, in total, there are four PCI type slots, right? Also thanks for the help. Also, can the mobo handle a DX10 card when they come out? If not, when and how much money will the new asus AMD mobo cost?
May 30, 2006 3:12:55 AM

Quote:
So, in total, there are four PCI type slots, right? Also thanks for the help. Also, can the mobo handle a DX10 card when they come out? If not, when and how much money will the new asus AMD mobo cost?


3 PCI slots
1 PCI-E x16
1 PCI-E x4

Yes it will handle a DX10 card without issue.
!