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Yet another "advice on a new build" thread

Last response: in Systems
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July 31, 2006 2:58:06 AM

You guys must have incredible patience to keep reading these. Let me add another such post, with an exceedingly long intro.

I'm putting together a system that'll be one of the focal points of my universe. I'll run typical office stuff, msn (windows live! messenger, whatever it is now), and movies on it, as well as games (Strategy, Roleplaying, and such as it still exists as a genre, Adventure -- not so much First Person Shooters and the like, and mostly single player, certainly no MMOs), and software development -- all kinds, all languages; personal, not production. That's partly for University and partly because I'm a big geek. When it comes to software, anyway, not so much on hardware, hence the questions. A lot of my choices here are defaults for "gaming system" on some site or another.

It might be simpler to start listing things I won't be doing. I'm not somebody who listens to music all the time (so I'm questioning whether I need a sound card, but I've heard it can take a load off the processor anyway), I'm not going to be video editing or doing more than the barest of red-eye correction on any still image.

I already have the operating system, keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, etc. figured out.

The old system that my mother will inherit after this is a bit over 4 years old, and this is what I can recall of the stats (it's not with me right now to check more thoroughly):

P4 2.4 GHz
Geforce Ti4200
512 Mb RAM
80 Gb hard drive
ASUS motherboard

The parts served me well, but some limitations are basically getting on my nerves and my mom wants the hand-me-down and the stars are aligned just so, so I can get a new one.

I'm willing to spend a bit more than is typical. That doesn't mean money isn't an object -- if something is a waste, please tell me so. But it might be less of an object here than is typical.

I'm Canadian, so I'm quoting in Canadian dollars (~0.88 USD right now) and buying from a Canadian website or physical store -- www.ncix.com looks like it right now, since that means I don't have to pay an 8% tax.

And I'm kind of hoping to end up with this in my hands before September 7th. It won't be the end of the world if I don't, and I know there's some questions about Core 2 Duo availability, but there it is. It definitely means I'm not waiting a month for DirectX 10 or some new motherboard, considering shipping time.

*deep breath* finally, I'm not really planning on overclocking this.

--

1 x Antec P180 ATX Advanced Mid Tower Aluminum Case 4X5.25 1X3.5 6X3.5INT No PS W/ USB & Audio Ports
$141.42

1 x Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 Dual Core Processor LGA775 Conroe 2.67GHZ 1066FSB 4MB Cache Retail Box
$709.98

(I'm torn between this and the E6600. The 6800 certainly isn't worth it. It doesn't slip my notice that E6600 might be in higher demand and so make me get the computer later than September 7)

1 x ASUS P5WD2 ATX LGA775 955X DDR2 PCI-E16 PCI-E 3PCI SATA RAID Sound GBLAN Motherboard
$198.36

(GBLAN on the motherboard means I don't need a separate network card?)

2 x Corsair Value Select PC2-5300 2X1GB DDR2-667 240PIN Dual Channel Memory Kit
$208.62 x 2

(Will 4Gb actually go on the motherboard? I hear DDR2-800 is better, but negligibly so unless you overclock. I know some might be nervous about gobs of memory, and I'm certainly considering only 2. I am going to end up with Vista eventually though.)

2 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA2 3GB/S 7200RPM 16MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive
$129.40 x 2

(Planning on RAID 0. I've never had a hard drive die on me. Still, I can be talked out of it. But...is there anything I have to do or buy to make this RAID? This really is my first build, can you tell?)

1 x 1.44MB Black 3.5IN Floppy Drive
$9.38

1 x ASUS GeForce 7900 GT 450MHZ 256MB 256BIT 1.3GHZ DDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I HDTV Video Card
$378.55

1 x Fortron FSP Epsilon FX600-GLN 600W ATXV2 20/24PIN Power Supply SLI Ready W/ 120MM Fan Retail
$158.90

1 x Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Music 24BIT Sound Card
$139.50

(do I need this? I'm not much of an audiophile, just doing this to give the processor some slack during games or whatever. Although having speakers all around me could be cool -- would necessitate me buying speakers, though)

1 x BenQ DW1655 Lightscribe DVD+RW16X16X8 DVD-RW16X16X4 CDRW48X48X32 OEM DVD Burner Black W/ SW
$63.21

(for an order this size they will assemble free and do 1 Year Parts & 1 Years Labour Limited Warranty On System Components)

TOTAL:

~$2474

+~$80 shipping
+6% tax

$2707 CAD

--

Anything I should change? Anything I might be forgetting? I'm willing to range a bit up but wouldn't mind saving some money, either. If one part is limiting another, I'd rather upgrade the poorer one than downgrade the higher, though.

More about : advice build thread

July 31, 2006 3:37:51 AM

Couple things:

1) 4GB RAM is no go with XP Pro. Unless you want to run Vista Beta 2 I would only get 2GB now and 2GB more when Vista comes out. I would also not get ValueRAM. Really try for XMS RAM.

2) So you are willing to spend $300 more for a chance you get it sooner? Sounds like a bad deal to me. Get a 6600 and overclock it with that XMS RAM I told you to get.

3) Thats right- you dont need a NIC card.

4) RAID will marginally improve load times for games and booting. Up to you, not really worth it to me.

5) Onboard does not really kill the CPU that much- if you dont care that much about the sound- onboard is fine.

6) Consider one of these options:
a) Get a 7950 or 1950XTX now and not worry about upgrading with DX10 cards +Vista appear
b) Consider dropping to a 7600GT and picking up a mid-range to high-end DX Card at the end of the year.

Memory Link:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820145015
$181 before MIR.
July 31, 2006 7:46:31 AM

Suggested Changes:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 <--- The only difference between the E6600 and 6700 is the stock frequency. These chips will run so fast you probably won't even want to OC them. Save yourself the money.

RAM: OCZ Platinum XTC 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2-800 <--- There's no point in getting 4GB yet. XP doesn't really like 4GB anyway. Stick with 2GB until you get Vista, then make the move to 4.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 <--- The Asus P5WD2 does not support Conroe, not even with a BIOS flash. You HAVE to have a board using either:
1. The 965P chipset
2. The 975X chipset, but with a certain board revision. For example, the Intel D975XBX rev 304 is the only rev of that board which supports Conroe. Rev 302 and 303 do not.

Power Supply: Antec Truepower 550W <--- If you don't see SLI in your future, 550W is all you should need.

Video Card: eVGA Geforce 7900GT KO Superclocked <--- If you don't want to wait for the DX 10 cards to arrive, get this instead of the Asus card. Unless the price you quoted on the Asus was a typo, this card is $100 cheaper. The specs are MUCH better regardless.

Sound Card: If you're not crazy about sound quality, drop the Creative X-Fi card. The load reduction on the CPU only makes a difference of 1-2 FPS in games. The onboard sound chip for the Asus P5B provides 8 channel audio.

DVD Burner: Lightscribe is pointless. Stop being lazy and label your disks with a Sharpie.... NEC ND-3550A (Price match here)
July 31, 2006 8:34:58 PM

Thank you for your thoughts.

The $300 isn't just to get it sooner, I was just pointing that out. You have to consider everything together, and hypothetically, if the E6700 was worth $295 to me, getting it two weeks sooner might be worth the remaining $5, you know? Still, I appreciate your point.

There wouldn't be a problem with me just dropping 2GB more down the line? As in, I won't have to get rid of 2x1Gb for 2x2Gb? Considering I switched motherboards and RAM per The_Prophecy's suggestion.

I'm not sure how the video card you quoted is $100 cheaper, your link shows a $375.95 card compared to my first choice listed $378.55? I'll switch anyway since you say the specs are better.

Also, you mentioned the 8-channel audio on ASUS P5B. I'm probably not going to get multi-channel audio, but this P5B isn't the motherboard you recommended. I do see a couple of boards labelled ASUS P5B on the configuration (ASUS P5B ATX LGA775 Conroe 965P DDR2 PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 3PCI 6 SATA2 Sound RAID and ASUS P5B Deluxe / WIFI-AP ATX LGA775 Conroe 965P DDR2 PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 3PCI 8).

Lightscribe: huh. I actually had to look up what that was.

Let me clarify something, too. I am not totally opposed to getting a lesser card now and DirectX 10 sometime in the future, if you think that a lesser card now can last. But I'm not going to change something in just a half a year either. Even if I have sufficient the money saved. There is more at play here than you could possibly care about. :wink:

I didn't go SLI, because I'm under the impression that SLI would just be pretty much a waste.

I was also under the impression that the motherboard would work, from NCIX forum discussions. I probably confused P5W with P5B though.

I went along with the Prophecy's suggestions over shadowduck's, mostly, because he linked to specific parts at NCIX, but I appreciate shadowduck's input.

--

Case Antec P180 ATX Advanced Mid Tower Aluminum Case 4X5.25 1X3.5 6X3.5INT No PS W/ USB & Audio Ports
$141.42

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Dual Core Processor LGA775 Conroe 2.40GHZ 1066FSB 4MB Cache Retail Box
$419.98

Motherboard Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 ATX LGA775 Conroe P965 DDR2 PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 3PCI SATA2 GBLAN Audio Motherboard
(GA-965P-DS3) (sku: 19635) In Stock
$188.10

Memory OCZ Platinum XTC PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL4-5-4-15 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit
(OCZ2P8002GK) (sku: 18494) In Stock
$258.29

IDE Hard Drives Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA2 3GB/S 7200RPM 16MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive
$129.40 x 2 = $258.80

Floppy Mitsumi FA404A-BK 7-IN-1 Floppy Drive & Flash Reader CF/SM/SD/MMC/MS Black
$30.20

Video Card EVGA E-GEFORCE 7900 GT KO Superclocked 580MHZ 256MB 256BIT 1.58GHZ PCI-E Dual DVI-I Video Card
$375.95

Power Supply Antec True Power II 550W EPS12V 24PIN SLI Ready Power Supply W/ 120MM Fan
$115.53

DVD Writer NEC ND-3550A DVD+RW 16X8X16X DVD-RW 16X6X16X DL 8X/6X IDE 2MB Burner Black OEM W/ SW
$54.83

YOUR TOTAL
All quoted prices are in CANADIAN DOLLARS $1,843.09
--

That certainly is a significant amount of money saved (though this price is before tax and shipping). Anything else I should consider, or that I missed? Or dissenting opinions?

If I were to otherwise leave it like this, I would actually probably throw something else in. I save $50 if it hits 2000 pre-tax, so essentially it's a marginal cost of $110 for a $160 part (or several, or an upgraded video card or something). Even an otherwise bad purchase could be good. Any ideas on that? If none, I might just toss in some peripherals like a racy keyboard and a speaker set and tell myself "happy birthday". Though I could get my 4Gb RAM for that... (and I am aware of XP's RAM limitations...in the worst case, it would be a matter of whether or not the same RAM will be $50 cheaper when I get Vista, which for very boring but very valid reasons will not be long after Vista comes out).
!