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Building a new system

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June 15, 2006 1:14:51 AM

I'm planning on building a system for around $1500. I have a general idea about the performance of my system, but I need help in the specific areas. Furthermore, I want my system to be able to play the latest graphic intensive game; not at the highest resolution though. This will at least ensure that the system will be good for 2-3 years.

Anyways, this is what I have so far:

CPS: not sure...
RAM: 2GB, but don't know which one...
VIDEO CARD: x1900xtx definitely .. this seems like the best card out there.
MOBO: not a clue...
CASE: ???
PS: 500w name brand?

So there you have it... I don't mind the mocking for my ignorance as long as it is accompanied by a sound advice. Thanks :D 

More about : building system

June 15, 2006 2:42:26 AM

Oh to have $1500 to play with! All the upgrades I would buy....but alas, its just a dream for now. *wipes tears from eyes*
I shall have to experience computer heaven vicariously through the hands of consumers such as yourself, so lets get to work.

First off, do you have any preference for AMD or Intel? I happen to be partial to AMD myself (and this is where my expertise lies primarily), but I'm not a fanboy, and would love the opportunity to delve into the ins and outs of an Intel build. Up to you though.

A few things to help you along:

For AMD systems:

AMD just released a new socket (AM2) to replace socket 939. This means that there is no longer an upgrade path for 939 parts, but the platform is mature (the bugs have all been worked out of it), and components have a greater availability and are generally cheaper. Socket AM2 will host the current and next generation of AMD's product line (and maybe even the generation after that), but the platform is only a few weeks old, so there are probably bugs yet to be fixed, components are not as widely available, and they are generally more expensive (especially ram - 1 gb of DDR2-800 ram is more than twice as expensive as 1 gb of DDR1-400).

Single core AMD CPU's just dropped in price to awesomely low levels. Athlon 3000+ is $90-100, while the 3800+ is $140-150. Dual core CPU's are due for a price cut on July 24th, which should put the X2 3800+ in the $150-160 range. Sweet.

On the Intel side:

Intel is due to release the Core 2 (codenamed "Conroe") at the end of July. These are likely to take the performance crown away from AMD, in terms of both raw performance and performance per watt. The Conroes likely will hit the retail channels in September, so it is a bit of a wait to acquire one, although you can purchase a Conroe compatible mainboard now, and upgrade to Conroe when it comes out (then hawk the temporary CPU on Ebay to offset the cost of Conroe).

Intel just instituted massive price cuts across the board for their cpu lineup. Dual core Pentium D's start around $110 (you can hardly find the single core Pentium 4's anymore). Conroe will likely debut with the low end CPU at ~$300.

Your mainboard and ram will be determined after you choose your platform.

Cases are a matter of personal preference for the most part. They all pretty much do the same thing, the major differences being in the quality of construction and materials used. Low quality cases tend to have sharp edges inside, which can cut your fingers as you install components. Poor material quality causes things to break off (primarily applies to cases with doors covering the cd/dvd drive bays, with covers for the audio/USB/firewire ports, or other gizmos - temp gauges, fan controllers, fans that look like jet turbines, etc.). Some cases come with power supplies preinstalled, and these PS's are generally low quality, and should be removed and replaced. If you are going to tuck your case under your desk and never look at it, I would suggest that you avoid paying extra for a flashy case. On the other hand, if you want to show off your PC to everyone, then go ahead and buy a cool looking case. Silverstone, Lian Li, Antec, CoolerMaster, and Thermaltake all make good quality cases.

Power supplies you need to be careful with. A good quality PS is one of the most critical components of your build. Enermax, Antec, and Rosewill are generally good quality. I doubt you will need a 500W PS, but there is no harm in getting more than you need (other than to your wallet).

With $1500 to spend on a new system, I'm pretty sure we can cook you up a gaming rig that'll have you kickin' @ss and takin' names in no time >;o)


PS. I would hope that no one on this forum would mock you for not knowing all there is to know about components. I spend several hours ever day just reading tech articles and the THG forums, and helping out people such as yourself, and I still have a lot to learn (especially on the Intel side of things).
June 15, 2006 3:22:13 AM

Here is an example socket AM2 setup that would kick some serious @ss:

Athlon 64 3800..................................$149.00
Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe nForce 590......$227.99
GeIL GX21GB4300UDC 1 GB Kit x2....$238.98
EVGA 7900GT CO x2..........................$593.10
Seagate ST3250824AS 250GB..........$88.98
NEC ND-4750A 16x DL DVD...............$44.99
Coolmax CW-580 (case)...................$19.99
Enermax Liberty 500W......................$94.99

Total..................................................$1,458.02

This is just from picking prices off of ZipZoomFly.com (free shipping), shopping around could shave off a chunk of cash from that total. Assuming that you have a monitor, speakers, mouse, and keyboard you can use, this would be an awesome way to spend that money.
Related resources
June 15, 2006 9:45:58 AM

First, I want to thank you for your sincerity as well as your words of wisdom. I realized that I should have done some research(THG provides more than plenty) before I posted such an ambiguous SOS; intel? amd? dual core? ati? nvidia? and so forth. I now know what I have to do. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.
June 15, 2006 10:17:41 AM

Quote:
Here is an example socket AM2 setup that would kick some serious @ss:

Athlon 64 3800..................................$149.00
Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe nForce 590......$227.99
GeIL GX21GB4300UDC 1 GB Kit x2....$238.98
EVGA 7900GT CO x2..........................$593.10
Seagate ST3250824AS 250GB..........$88.98
NEC ND-4750A 16x DL DVD...............$44.99
Coolmax CW-580 (case)...................$19.99
Enermax Liberty 500W......................$94.99

Total..................................................$1,458.02

This is just from picking prices off of ZipZoomFly.com (free shipping), shopping around could shave off a chunk of cash from that total. Assuming that you have a monitor, speakers, mouse, and keyboard you can use, this would be an awesome way to spend that money.
The RAM you picked isn't a great choice for an AM2 system, as they NEED high frequency, and tight timings.This would work much better, and is cheaper to boot.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
June 15, 2006 11:38:04 AM

Quote:
The RAM you picked isn't a great choice for an AM2 system, as they NEED high frequency, and tight timings.This would work much better, and is cheaper to boot.


HAH! You said "to boot." I find it funny when we're discussing computers and someone says "boot." It's a quirk, indulge me.

Yeah, good system - the current AM2 CPUs (Orleans and Windsor) are pretty much Venice single cores and Manchester/San Diego dual cores with a DDR2 memory controller. This means...that they have the potential to overclock really really well, assuming your motherboard is up to it.

Asus motherboards (at least on the AMD side of things) were never good at overclocking, at least not to the level of EPoX and DFI, until recently. I didn't see good results until the A8N32-SLI came out for 939 - that had an 8-phase conductor, so it could overclock and remain stable at high speeds. I guess the AM2 Asus (ATX, not micro ATX) boards are about the same.

Since you don't plan on SLI, get the M2N-SLI. You don't need the SLI32 chipset, and the 570 is every bit as good as the 590 if neither is using SLI.

Good choice on the RAM - get DDR2-800 at timings 4-4-4-12 for maximum performance. Corsair has CAS3 DDR2-800, but it costs around $450 for 2 GB - beyond just about everyone's budget, I think...

Go for it!
June 15, 2006 12:23:21 PM

How about this system:

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

ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #: M2N-SLI Deluxe
Item #: N82E16813131013 In Stock $146.99

MSI RX1900XTX-VT2D512E Radeon X1900XTX 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card With Full Version Game King Kong - Retail
Model #: RX1900XTX-VT2D512E
Item #: N82E16814127205 In Stock $449.99

Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 ATX12V 500W Power Supply - Retail
Model #: SP-500
Item #: N82E16817103937 In Stock $69.99

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Manchester 2000MHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model ADA4200BVBOX - Retail
Model #: ADA4200BVBOX
Item #: N82E16819103547 In Stock $357.00

Patriot Dual Channel 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Unbuffered Dual Channel KIt System Memory Model PDC22G6400LLK - Retail
Model #: PDC22G6400LLK
Item #: N82E16820220144 In Stock $225.99

SAMSUNG Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ XP - OEM
Model #: SFD321B/LBL1
Item #: N82E16821103203 In Stock $7.99

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #: WD2500KS
Item #: N82E16822144701 In Stock $89.99

SAMSUNG 16X DVD±R DVD Burner With 5X DVD-RAM Write and LightScribe Black ATA/ATAPI Model SH-S162L/BEBN - OEM
Model #: SH-S162L/BEBN
Item #: N82E16827151118 In Stock $38.99

Subtotal: $1,436.92
$70 Mail in rebates
$1366.92 + S&H via Newegg.com
June 15, 2006 2:19:19 PM

If you plan on doing anything with Linux, go with nVidia. ATI has terrible *nix support and drivers.

If you insist on ATI, don't get the XTX. It's just more money for a minimal gain. You don't have Crossfire, so don't feel any pressure to get a Crossfire-capable card.

It's no gain for you.
June 15, 2006 2:58:45 PM

The ram I chose is DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12), unless ZipZoomFly labled it wrong. I also included 2 EVGA GeForce 7900 GT's for SLIing, so a SLI board would be appropriate. I know he wanted the X1900, but I couldn't find any Crossfire capable AM2 boards in my quick search.

Besides, the selection was more of an intellectual exercise to show that it can be done, and you can get an awesome system for $1500.
June 15, 2006 7:20:45 PM

Quote:
The ram I chose is DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12), unless ZipZoomFly labled it wrong. I also included 2 EVGA GeForce 7900 GT's for SLIing, so a SLI board would be appropriate. I know he wanted the X1900, but I couldn't find any Crossfire capable AM2 boards in my quick search.

Besides, the selection was more of an intellectual exercise to show that it can be done, and you can get an awesome system for $1500.
OK....np. In your list it showed as PC4300. :) 
!