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Building rig from scratch - advice?

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August 21, 2006 7:17:16 PM

I've been out of the hardware loop for about three years now, so I'm a little unsure about the quality, stability and compatibility of newer products. I've compiled a list of major components I'm hoping to order sometime soon in order to build a new rig from scratch.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
EDIT: Specs updated to most current build!

ASUS M2N-E Socket AM2 Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Windsor 2000MHz HT 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM Unbuffered DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
BFG Tech BFGR650PSU ATX 12v 2.0 and EPS 12V 650Watts Power Supply
MSI RX1900XT-VT2D512E Radeon X1900XT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16

COOLER MASTER Centurion 532 RC-532-SKN1 Black Computer Case
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB
SAMSUNG 16X DVD±R DVD Burner With 5X DVD-RAM Write and LightScribe Black
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 4 SB0610 Sound Card



My primary goal for this system is to run Neverwinter Nights 2 and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes at 40+ FPS in 1280x1024 with 4x+ AA (AF not too important).

I'm really most worried about known defects in the parts I've chosen, or compatibility issues, etc. I'm also not sure what kind of power supply to pick up. I've heard COOLMAX is fine for that case - but will I need as much as 600W for these newer video cards?

Thanks in advance! :) 

(And yes, I like NewEgg.com 8O)
August 21, 2006 7:20:49 PM

get the AM2 socket not the 939 cause its a dead end for upgrading
as for ram youll need DDR2 with the AM2 and youll probably want 2 gigs instead of 1
August 21, 2006 8:31:14 PM

CPU: Skip socket 939 as mentioned by muffins and get AM2. The 4200+ is fine. And it overclocks well if you're into that.

Video Card: I recommend MSI X1900XT. It's not much slower than the X1900XTX and you'll save 80 bucks compared to the Sapphire card you mentioned after the mail-in-rebate. Or get the retail MSI X1900XTX as it'll be still be cheaper than the Sapphire card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

With DX10 coming out soon, I'd save the money and then get a DX10 compatible card.

Memory: If it's in your budget, I'd get 2GB. Some applications do better using 2GB but some don't though I'm sure more applications will benefit from 2GB in the future.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
Related resources
August 21, 2006 9:39:57 PM

Quote:
CPU: Skip socket 939 as mentioned by muffins and get AM2. The 4200+ is fine. And it overclocks well if you're into that.


How does this board look?

EPoX EP-MF4-J Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce4 4X ATX

I've heard good things about EPoX, but I haven't heard much about this board. I'd like to keep the mobo cost under $100 - is that reasonable, or am I hamstringing myself? For the record, I'm not worried about SLI.

Quote:
Video Card: I recommend MSI X1900XT. It's not much slower than the X1900XTX and you'll save 80 bucks compared to the Sapphire card you mentioned after the mail-in-rebate. Or get the retail MSI X1900XTX as it'll be still be cheaper than the Sapphire card.


Well, I'd honestly prefer to use an nVidia card, just because I'm most familiar with their software and drivers. (I've had bad experiences with both ATI and nVidia, but ATI's drivers frustrate me worse)

Looking at benchmarks, it seems as if the 7900 GT runs about the same as the X1900XT in most tests. I dunno - I'm kind of conflicted about this, but my main concern is really the mobo. I'll get a quality video card either way.

Quote:
With DX10 coming out soon, I'd save the money and then get a DX10 compatible card.


I'm not worried about DX10 just yet. I'll worry about that when most games are using it. My current card is long past obsolete; I just wanna get back in the game.

Quote:
Memory: If it's in your budget, I'd get 2GB. Some applications do better using 2GB but some don't though I'm sure more applications will benefit from 2GB in the future.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


Hmm, I'll have to consider that once I have the rest of my parts worked out.
August 22, 2006 4:35:28 AM

Okay, I decided to get the MSI RX1900XT-VT2D512E Radeon X1900XT 512MB. I can't ignore that price, and I've had firm word that the card will run the games I want at amazing speeds.

I noticed that the RAM I listed previously was incompatible with the mobo. So here's my current mobo/cpu/ram setup.

EPoX EP-MF4-J Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce4 4X ATX AMD
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Windsor 2000MHz HT Socket AM2 Dual Core
CORSAIR XMS2 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM Unbuffered DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

These all seem to be compatible - glad I caught that mistake. Can someone double-check and verify that I'm not still overlooking something?

And here is the power supply that I've selected:
Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 ATX12V 500W

Think 500W will be enough? The X1900XT specifies 450W+.

Thanks again!
August 22, 2006 5:43:44 AM

If money is not a problem, get a PC Power & Cooling(did i type that right?) PSU, high end model...it'll cost you a lot but remember the power supply is giving power to all your components. PSU goes, the rest goes :) 
August 22, 2006 6:00:17 AM

PCP&C is a bar none the best power supply you can buy . . . but a top end PSU from them is going to be north of $400, for the 510 you're looking at about $200. Unless you are running dual graphics and overclocking like mad, and running a peltier cooler I would never recommend a top end PCP&C to anyone unless they really had a use for it. There are far too many other quality brands out there with more reasonable prices (eg around $100) not to recommend one of them.

That said, don't get that Antec smart-power. If you are going to go with Antec at least get the truepower series 2 or 3.
August 22, 2006 7:29:12 AM

OK. I dont think 500W would be powerful enough, try 650W supplies. The extra power will let you expand your system further down the road.

If you're on a budget get this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817702003 BFG is a great company with great tech support, plus it has a lifetime warranty, and its cheap too!

This is the power supply that I recommend: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817163108 I have this power supply and its great, nice and heavy! It is a little big though, but all 650W power supplies are. Also I have had no problems at all. Forgot to mention 650W continuous power 720W peak power. You need to watch out for that, usually the companies only post peak power not continuous.

Consider changing your hard drive to this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822144701 $10.00 mail in rebate, very fast, 16MB cache, and check out the reviews! Very good buy.

Hope I helped, and happy building!
August 22, 2006 12:16:38 PM

The 7900GT is the sweet spot for nvidia video cards right now. Definetly worth. I think this MSI 7900GT card to be extremely good. It has the fastest core and memory clock speeds. There are a bunch of 7900GTs for ~$140 after rebates in newegg right now.

As for the motherboard, ild strongly recommend you the ASUS M2N-E. Its non-sli but you dont need it. Its great for overclocking and it has the 550 chipset wich is really good. And its within your less than $100 budget.

You may want to go for the Corsair DDR2 675 (PC2 5400). Its cheaper and it very easily overclocks to DDR 800 and its CAS4! You should get the two gigs, it a little more future proof than one.

As far as power supply goes ild recommend you the OCZ GameXStream 600W. I know its definetly overkill for your system but if you want a really really good PSU this is the one. It was FOUR 12v rails, PFC protection and 80% efficiency.
You could find something to fit your needs for ~$90, just make sure it has two or more dual 12v rails, high efficiency and good reviews.

Let me know how the specs are going =]
August 22, 2006 1:12:17 PM

Quote:
If you're on a budget get this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817702003 BFG is a great company with great tech support, plus it has a lifetime warranty, and its cheap too!


I was worried about the PSU, so I guess I'll get this one. It looks very sturdy. I doubt I'll need more than this anytime soon - I don't plan on running SLI or overclocking.

Quote:
Consider changing your hard drive to this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822144701 $10.00 mail in rebate, very fast, 16MB cache, and check out the reviews! Very good buy.


A lot of the reviews mention that drive being defective or dying early, so I'm a little afraid to use it. Is there a big difference between SATA 3.0g/s and Ultra ADA100?
August 22, 2006 1:44:53 PM

Quote:
As for the motherboard, ild strongly recommend you the ASUS M2N-E. Its non-sli but you dont need it. Its great for overclocking and it has the 550 chipset wich is really good. And its within your less than $100 budget.


You're right, I looked over the features of the Epox versus this board, and I think this one is more future proof, so I've switched to it.

So, again.. here is my current build:

ASUS M2N-E Socket AM2 Motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Windsor 2000MHz HT 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2
CORSAIR XMS2 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM Unbuffered DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
BFG Tech BFGR650PSU ATX 12v 2.0 and EPS 12V 650Watts Power Supply
MSI RX1900XT-VT2D512E Radeon X1900XT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16

I still need to double check everything to make sure it's compatible, but I'm pretty sure it is.

I'm still going with the Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JB 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA100 Hard Drive unless I can find a better HDD for a similar price. The Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive looks like it might be faulty, so I'm a little afraid to try it.

Thanks for the help so far. Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :) 
August 22, 2006 2:25:31 PM

You can easily downgrade to an X2-3800+ on the CPU as the difference between the 3800 and 4200 are very miminal. You will save around $40 by doing this. I would do that, and then upgrade to a 65nm CPU in December for a nice performance increase.
August 22, 2006 3:11:10 PM

I've heard that the 4200 performs better than the 3800 in the games I'll be playing, so I might stick with it.

On another note, I've upgraded to CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM Unbuffered DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

And also, I noticed that the mobo I'm buying only has a single IDE - meaning I have to get a SATA HDD. So I'm going to get the one mentioned above - Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB. I just hope it ain't broken.

I'm really worried that I'll make a similar mistake elsewhere - not having the right kind of pins, etc. Can anyone double-check for me?
August 22, 2006 9:13:46 PM

Quote:
I've heard that the 4200 performs better than the 3800 in the games I'll be playing, so I might stick with it.

On another note, I've upgraded to CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM Unbuffered DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

And also, I noticed that the mobo I'm buying only has a single IDE - meaning I have to get a SATA HDD. So I'm going to get the one mentioned above - Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB. I just hope it ain't broken.

I'm really worried that I'll make a similar mistake elsewhere - not having the right kind of pins, etc. Can anyone double-check for me?


nice choice with the ATI card, it seems to outperform drastically the 7900GT at times o_o

Some guys recommend the Barracuda over the Caviar, but I wouldnt worry because youll get a WD HD wich is nice quality.

As for the sound card goes, for like $10 more you can get a X-Fi XtremeMusic wich is top of the line, or for $10 less an Audigy 2 ZS that seems to have roughly the same gaming performance as the XtremeMusic.

If you need to skimp on anything ild go for the ram the 5400 corsair is CAS4 and can be easily overclocked to 800. But with the 800 yould be getting that warranty of course lol
!