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First Build Attempt, Critiques Please

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August 30, 2006 8:41:32 PM

I'm considering my first ever PC build instead of going my usual Dell route. My current PC is P4 1.5 GHz and it is pretty fine except for transcoding TivoToGo to DVD. Then it takes hours, during which time I can barely use the PC. I don't really play any games on the PC.

Here's what I have put together at ZipZoomFly:
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 $238
Motherboard ASUS P5B $155
Memory OCZ Gold 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 (5-5-5-12) $205
Graphics Asus EN7600GT/2DHT GeForce 7600 GT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 $194
Sound card Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (OEM) $68
Hard drives Seagate 7200.10 250 GB SATA $84
Optical drive Lite-On SHM-165H6S Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer $41
Case Antec P150 $150
Floppy drive/media reader Mitsumi FA404M 7-in-1 combo $20
CPU cooler Included with CPU 0
Power supply 430Watt SmartPower 2.0 (with case) 0
Operating system Windows XP MCE 2005 $120
$1,275

I have read that the E6400 overclocks easily. I have no experience with this, but I might like to do a modest overclock to get some speed improvement during transcoding video. Most importantly, it needs to be stable!

I seem to recall an issue with Asus MB & OCZ RAM. Is this a real concern?

Comments and constructive criticism welcome!

Thanks!
August 30, 2006 9:23:37 PM

well there are some incompatibility issures with some ASUS mobos and some OCZ ram.....i dont know about that particular mobo but if you wanna be sure just switch it for some corsair ram then you wont have to worry
August 30, 2006 10:38:03 PM

Quote:
I'm considering my first ever PC build instead of going my usual Dell route. My current PC is P4 1.5 GHz and it is pretty fine except for transcoding TivoToGo to DVD. Then it takes hours, during which time I can barely use the PC. I don't really play any games on the PC.

Here's what I have put together at ZipZoomFly:
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 $238
Motherboard ASUS P5B $155
Memory OCZ Gold 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 (5-5-5-12) $205
Graphics Asus EN7600GT/2DHT GeForce 7600 GT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 $194
Sound card Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (OEM) $68
Hard drives Seagate 7200.10 250 GB SATA $84
Optical drive Lite-On SHM-165H6S Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer $41
Case Antec P150 $150
Floppy drive/media reader Mitsumi FA404M 7-in-1 combo $20
CPU cooler Included with CPU 0
Power supply 430Watt SmartPower 2.0 (with case) 0
Operating system Windows XP MCE 2005 $120
$1,275

I have read that the E6400 overclocks easily. I have no experience with this, but I might like to do a modest overclock to get some speed improvement during transcoding video. Most importantly, it needs to be stable!

I seem to recall an issue with Asus MB & OCZ RAM. Is this a real concern?

Comments and constructive criticism welcome!

Thanks!


Use a DFI MB.
Use a better PSU (PC P&C is all I use now)
Teh 8 cnl sound "modual" on the DFI boards are really good...you might hold off on the soundcard and get it later.

Cousair just came out with some DDR2 PC8888 ram.

What about a case?
I like Coolermaster myself but whatever the case I always remove the rear fans grill (with a nibbler!) for improved airflow.

GFX...how about a XFX 7900gt?
Related resources
August 30, 2006 11:18:31 PM

Buy a 7900GT for gaming...Tom's Hardware themselves say that its the best gfx card in terms of price/performance ratio. (the VGA Summer 06 roundup article on the main page)

However, the 7600 is supposed to be a damn good value card.

But for gaming, I would recommend the 7900...I have an evga 7900GT and I have definitely NOT looked back.
August 30, 2006 11:56:05 PM

All in all, it looks pretty nice. I have no issues with OCZ and Asus on my rig.
I would look at waiting on the soundcard for now and putting the money into the video card. You can always use onboard sound for a while and get a better card later. You can't always un-buy a video card you aren't tickled with.
Good luck
August 31, 2006 12:43:19 AM

PSU: 430W might be good for now, but I'd get a 500W minimum for future upgrades. I bought a 350W PSU 5 years ago when 250W/300W were standard. It can still serve me with some of the mid range GPU cards even today. An Enermax will be better. GPU's are getting more power hungry.

Though, I'd recommend Hiper 580W PSU. There is an issue with the P180 case so check to make sure the P150 will work with it.

Video Card. Until tomorrow the X1900XT has a $100 mail-in-rebate making it ~$280 from Newegg. This is the best bang for the buck.

Otherwise for ~200, then the X1800XT is your card.

Video Card Benchmarks

It cleans house with the 7900GT with Aniso 16x on at higher resolutions.

Memory. Corsair XMS2
August 31, 2006 2:30:50 AM

If you like the Antec P150 but are going for another PSU, check out the Antec SOLO : it's almost the same case, but with no PSU and the front bays aren't stealthed. On the plus side, it's silver and black, which looks pretty good, and the material the HDD suspension is made of is rubber and fabric instead of just rubber for increased durability (though the P150 is supposed to ship with that too now). But more importantly, it's 50$ cheaper.
August 31, 2006 3:05:05 AM

Quote:
I'm considering my first ever PC build instead of going my usual Dell route. My current PC is P4 1.5 GHz and it is pretty fine except for transcoding TivoToGo to DVD. Then it takes hours, during which time I can barely use the PC. I don't really play any games on the PC.

Note that he says he doesn't game much, so why not get a better multipedia card like those with AVivo?


Quote:
Use a better PSU (PC P&C is all I use now)

PC P&C may be the best, but the price premium you pay is not worth it IMO. IF you want a better PSU, some FSP Epsilon or OCZ GamerXtream will do.
August 31, 2006 12:08:52 PM

I'll look again, but I am trying to get everything from one place to minimize shipping & frustration.

As I mentioned, I am not at all a gamer and other than adding one or two more hard drives, I can't see myself adding any more components. So I am wondering why the power supply listed won't be up to the task?

It sounds like I should go with Corsair to avoid any POTENTIAL issues between Asus & OCZ.

Thanks to all!
August 31, 2006 12:44:33 PM

I'm now considering a different GPU based on a new review at AnandTech:

We keep coming back to a single card that strikes the best balance of price and performance. Coming in as the third fastest silent GPU overall and with a price of only $110, we are pleased to award the Gigabyte 7600 GS our Gold Editors Choice Award for Silent GPUs.

This sounds like something I may want because my computer is in the family room.
August 31, 2006 12:54:26 PM

Quote:
I'll look again, but I am trying to get everything from one place to minimize shipping & frustration.

As I mentioned, I am not at all a gamer and other than adding one or two more hard drives, I can't see myself adding any more components. So I am wondering why the power supply listed won't be up to the task?

It sounds like I should go with Corsair to avoid any POTENTIAL issues between Asus & OCZ.

Thanks to all!


The reasoning for getting a better power supply instead of a 430W one is because if you max out that power supply without knowing it you will be plagued with strange instability problems and lockups that don't make sense. It's better to have excess power for a PC than not enough. As suggested above I'd not go below 500W because today's processors are power hungry, some graphics cards even more so!
August 31, 2006 1:08:08 PM

Quote:
I'm considering my first ever PC build instead of going my usual Dell route. My current PC is P4 1.5 GHz and it is pretty fine except for transcoding TivoToGo to DVD. Then it takes hours, during which time I can barely use the PC. I don't really play any games on the PC.

Here's what I have put together at ZipZoomFly:
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 $238
Motherboard ASUS P5B $155
Memory OCZ Gold 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 (5-5-5-12) $205
Graphics Asus EN7600GT/2DHT GeForce 7600 GT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 $194
Sound card Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (OEM) $68
Hard drives Seagate 7200.10 250 GB SATA $84
Optical drive Lite-On SHM-165H6S Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer $41
Case Antec P150 $150
Floppy drive/media reader Mitsumi FA404M 7-in-1 combo $20
CPU cooler Included with CPU 0
Power supply 430Watt SmartPower 2.0 (with case) 0
Operating system Windows XP MCE 2005 $120
$1,275

I have read that the E6400 overclocks easily. I have no experience with this, but I might like to do a modest overclock to get some speed improvement during transcoding video. Most importantly, it needs to be stable!

I seem to recall an issue with Asus MB & OCZ RAM. Is this a real concern?

Comments and constructive criticism welcome!

Thanks!


It seems that nobody has asked what you intend on doing with this PC. What is your goal to use this PC for? If you're after video and sound editing/playing, which it sounds like from your description, you may want to go for a mid-range graphics card (which you are) and a better sound card like Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic Sound Card.
August 31, 2006 3:10:18 PM

The only demanding task is taking TivoToGo television shows and transcoding them with Sonic MyDVD onto DVDs. Sometimes I take the time to edit the commercials out of the shows. Otherwise, I sometimes stream my MP3s and pictures over to my Tivo to my stereo or TV. Beyond that, it's e-mail and web surfing with some basic things like MS Money, Word, etc. Maybe touch up a photo, but even with that, I'm using basic tools like PaperPort or Picasa.

That makes me think I can go mid-range video and somewhat basic sound. My current Dell Dimension 8100 has a SPDIF connector so I can connect my digital speakers, but I don't even recall if the sound is integrated or an add-in card. If it's an add-in card, I'm sure I didn't spring for anything fancy. And I haven't noticed any need for anything fancy. Maybe I should just stick with the on-board audio on the Asus Motherboard? I think it has a SPDIF output?

Thanks again!
August 31, 2006 3:22:17 PM

More or less the route for sound that you choose depends on which kind of speakers you use or want. Once you have that down, then go for the sound quality you want. What I use is a 5.1 $350 500W sound system from Klipsch, the best sound system I've had. If you have your basic sound system (2 speaker setup) you'll notice less difference with a nice Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic Sound Card vs built-in sound on your motherboard.

The advantage of a sound card instead of built-in motherboard audio is because it lets your CPU do other things instead of processing the sound, which a sound card will do for you. One additional thing is depending on how the motherboard is designed it can introduce noise into your sound if you use built-in sound, with a sound card that won't happen.

Today's built-in sound is decent, but not better than a sound card. Built-in sound used to be horrible, but manufacturers got their act together somewhat. Most computer hardware decisions can be based off of how much do you want to spend. If you're cheap and don't care use built-in. If you want mid-range sound get a cheap sound card like you selected yourself. If you want high quality sound, get the Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic Sound Card.
August 31, 2006 3:32:19 PM

Quote:
The only demanding task is taking TivoToGo television shows and transcoding them with Sonic MyDVD onto DVDs. Sometimes I take the time to edit the commercials out of the shows. Otherwise, I sometimes stream my MP3s and pictures over to my Tivo to my stereo or TV. Beyond that, it's e-mail and web surfing with some basic things like MS Money, Word, etc. Maybe touch up a photo, but even with that, I'm using basic tools like PaperPort or Picasa.

That makes me think I can go mid-range video and somewhat basic sound. My current Dell Dimension 8100 has a SPDIF connector so I can connect my digital speakers, but I don't even recall if the sound is integrated or an add-in card. If it's an add-in card, I'm sure I didn't spring for anything fancy. And I haven't noticed any need for anything fancy. Maybe I should just stick with the on-board audio on the Asus Motherboard? I think it has a SPDIF output?

Thanks again!

You're Transcoding? I hope you realise your usage is far into ATi territory. The things you wish to do with your PC can be done more efficiantly with an ATi x1x00 series card. Wether it's the x1600 Pro/XT or an x1800GTO/XT it's the better buy for TRanscoding and Encoding. This is of course mainly due to the features found within ATi's AVIVO technology.
ATi's Catalyst driver suite comes with an AVIVO VPU assisted Transcoding/Encoding utility. It's primary usage is to cut down on the time it takes to encode/transcode while not reducing quality. Take a Transcode that would normally take you 3 hrs on a CPU would take you approx 1hr when using an ATi x1x00 series card. It's generally 300% faster.

Also ATi's TV Out is of higher quality.. particularly on the ATi All In Wonder series cards then anything nVIDIA can offer.

Think about it ;) 




August 31, 2006 5:22:56 PM

Thank you! You're the first one to tell me that ATI is so much better than nVidia for video transcoding! I guess I'll have to look into this a bit and post back. Much appreciated!!
August 31, 2006 6:42:04 PM

I checked in on the TivoToGo forum at tivocommunity.com and was told this:

Your video card won't make a difference in your video transcoding. The AIW cards are tv capture cards, and that's where their transcoding takes place. Also, unless you're an audiophile, I wouldn't bother with a seperate sound card an' would jus' use onboard sound.


It sounds to me like this ATI card won't help me in transcoding my TivoToGo files to DVD since I am not actually capturing the TV stream directly on the PC from cable TV. The .TIVO files generated by the Tivo have audio and video in a single file already. An article I read on AVIVO gave me the impression that ATI transcoding had to be on video-only stream. Thoughts?
September 1, 2006 1:06:02 PM

Well, I now have only two replies on this topic. Yours and one from TivoCommunity.com. The responder there said that the transcoding speed of AVIVO does not come into play with TivoToGo files, but only transcoding TV recorded by the All-in-Wonder TV tuner. I did see a comment that AVIVO works with video-only streams, while the TivoToGo files are combined A/V. Have you seen anything else that might be relevant to my decision?

Thank you for your time!
September 1, 2006 11:28:25 PM

I may be getting cold feet on this whole DIY thing. It seems like if I don't want BUILDING your computer to be its own FULL HOBBY, I should just go with Dell.

I started my build based largely off of ExtremeTech's Bang-for-your-buck PC, http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1825693,00.a....

I downgraded the CPU, figuring I could overclock a bit and still have really good performance. I swapped out OCZ RAM with Corsair based on potential problems between OCZ & Asus. I am considering going with an ATI video card.

I stayed with the Antec P150 because it claims to be very quiet. It seems like 430W should be enough. At Extremetech, they say, "And finally, the included 430W power supply is plenty, now that we're using a more power-efficient Core 2 Duo CPU."

As recommended in this thread, I've changed my video card to an ATI x1xxx base: MSI RX1600PRO-TD256E Radeon X1600 PRO PCI Express 256MB GDDR2 Video Card w/TV-Out & DVI Retail, $109.

Of course, I try to read a bit in various forums and I see plenty of things like "System won't boot", "memory problems", etc., and I really wonder if I've actually put together a computer or creating something that will have to be tinkered with for weeks or months. Is DIY something where I can spend a day and have a fully stable computer that "just works" for several years? Am I expecting too much for it to be like my 5 year old Dell that has given me few problems?
September 2, 2006 12:27:41 AM

Get the 256MB X1800XT; it's faster than both the 7600GT and 7900GT, while only costing around $200. ($184 if you don't mind Open Box)
September 2, 2006 7:28:29 AM

Avoid open box stuff from Newegg. They are returned items that are NOT refurbished. It's better to get a new one to avoid the hassle.

The X1600 series suck in general, especially the Pro. Notice how MSI cripples the card even more with GDDR2 memory? If you just want the Avivo then go with the X1300Pro.
September 2, 2006 10:38:59 AM

Hi,

Since you do mainly video editing/conversion the CPU will be the most important part in your system, it'll affect editing/conversion speed the most.

this is what I would build with your budget:

Core2Duo E6600 - you'll need a real powerful CPU.

Motherboard - not that important if you're aren't into serious overclocking, you can save a little here - performance between different chipsets is ~3% at stock speeds which is negligible.

e.g.
a 945P chipset board
a cheaper 965P board (from ECS or Biostar)
will save you the first 50$ for the E6600

Memory: isn't that important, Core2Duo isn't dependant on high speed memory, DRR 667 is sufficient - performance drop ~2% - save another ~50$.

So you'll lose ~5% performance, but E6600 will give you +~10% cause of bigger cache of 4MB, + another ~10% cause of higher clockspeed.

~ = approximately :) 

Graphics card.
Since you don't game, save money here. If you don't game at all, a motherboard with integrated graphics will save you alot of money,
have a look @ some boards with G965 chipset, it even has video acceleration functions build in (for video playblack) - would save you almost 100$.

Quote:
Sound card Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (OEM) $68

Which soundcard to get depends mostly on your speaker system, doesn't make much sense to buy a X-Fi to hook it up to 20$ speakers. I would go with onboard sound first, which really isn't that bad for multimedia usage, and if you don't like it you can still buy a card later.

Quote:

Case Antec P150 $150
Power supply 430Watt SmartPower 2.0 (with case) 0

nice case and the included PSU is fine, your PC won't draw more than ~170W anyway (Core2Duo consumes only about 65W at maximum), post 500W supplys are only needed for two types of PC's - overloaded multiple GPU high end gaming rigs and servers - nothing else.
And power draw won't go up much in the future, we can even expect that it'll be lower in the future (Core2Duo is just the beginning of high performance per watt CPU's).

I don't know exactly but i think these Avivo stuff only accelerates video playback (MPEG4 H.264 streams).
You may want to email the producer of your video software if their software can utilize video cards to speed up the program, but i doubt it supports that.

I encourage you to build it yourself, you can get exactly what you need,
and save on things you won't utitilize anyway, giving you a much better value for your money in the end.

Hope to be of some help.

Christian
September 2, 2006 2:27:44 PM

I see Best Buy has a Visiontek Radeon X1300 512 MB Xtreme Gamer Edition PCI-Express card for $129.99 starting tomorrow. Would this be a reasonable card for a non-gamer? Do I need to look for something in particular if I want to overclock a little? (Not so much I can't use stock air cooling.)
September 2, 2006 7:23:46 PM

Well, a 128-bit X1300 with 512mb of memory is pointless. Just search newegg for X1300Pro, the word pro is important. You can even find some passively cooled ones for silence. I think all the X1300Pro can OC a little.
September 2, 2006 8:07:53 PM

if you are going to overclock and if youd rather hear your sound than the fan, its best to buy a cpu cooler, even if its not passive or water cooled, a big quite fan is great
September 4, 2006 8:46:30 PM

Can you recommend a specific model? Is this needed even for a "moderate" overclock? Thanks.
September 4, 2006 9:20:27 PM

Get a 7900GT instead but everything else is fine.
September 5, 2006 1:36:48 PM

Here's my revised list from ZipZoomFly.com:
Product Description Quantity UnitPrice ExtPrice
80859 Quantity Limit: 20
Intel® Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe Processor 2.13GHz, 1066FSB, LGA775, 2MB Cache Retail ***Free Shipping***
Remove $234.90 $234.90
247083 Quantity Limit: 20
Asus P5B P965 Pentium Extreme/Pentium D/P4/Celeron D 1066FSB LGA775 DDR2 ATX Motherboard w/Audio, Gigabit LAN, RAID/Serial ATA Retail ***Free Shipping***
Remove $154.99 $154.99
85025-5 Quantity Limit: 20
Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400 2GB Kit DDR2-800 XMS2-6400 Xtreme Performance Memory Retail ***Free Shipping***
Remove $249.00 $249.00
101465 Quantity Limit: 20
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250820AS 250GB Serial ATA (3.0Gb/s) 7200RPM Hard Drive w/8MB Buffer ***Free Shipping***
Remove $83.99 $83.99
170676 Quantity Limit: 20
Liteon SHM-165H6S 16X Dual Layer DVD±RW Drive w/LightScribe (Beige) ***Free Shipping***
Remove $40.99 $40.99
140123 Quantity Limit: 20
Antec P150 Quiet PC Mid Tower Case Retail ***Free Shipping***
Remove $149.99 $149.99
110409 Quantity Limit: 20
Mitsumi FA405M 13-in-1 Internal USB 2.0 Card Reader (Beige) Retail ***Free Shipping***
Remove $18.50 $18.50
For more information about tax, please click here. Subtotal: $932.36

I'm going to wait and see if I need a sound card or if I can use the on-board. I'm also going to buy a video card locally to make it easier to return if I am not satisfied. I may start with the ATI Radeo X1300 Pro and go from there.

As I said before, the one "intense" thing I do is transcode .Tivo (TivoToGo) files to DVD using Sonic MyDVD. It was suggested that ATI's AVIVO would do this better than nVidia, but at TivoCommunity.com I was told that converting .tivo files won't take advantage of AVIVO. I cannot be certain what is correct.

I'm also not ordering an OS right now. I think I'm going to move XP Pro from my current PC and load Linux on the current PC.

OK, so last chance to jump in before I order. Final words?

Thanks to all for taking time to read/post!

Regards
September 6, 2006 2:19:23 PM

OK, if I don't overclock at all, is there a good chance the system I "built" on this thread will run well--cool, quiet, stable--in other words "just work" like my current Dell?
September 6, 2006 3:02:04 PM

Hi,

Quote:

As I said before, the one "intense" thing I do is transcode .Tivo (TivoToGo) files to DVD using Sonic MyDVD. It was suggested that ATI's AVIVO would do this better than nVidia, but at TivoCommunity.com I was told that converting .tivo files won't take advantage of AVIVO. I cannot be certain what is correct.


You can be 99.9% certain that Avivo will NOT give you any advantage on transcoding files. Avivo unloads processing from the CPU to the GPU for certain types of video files (e.g. MPEG4) while watching them, not more not less.

Quote:

OK, if I don't overclock at all, is there a good chance the system I "built" on this thread will run well--cool, quiet, stable--in other words "just work" like my current Dell?


Cool and stable, yes it will. Quiet - you may want to invest into a third party CPU cooler, the stock cooler is probably not "really" quiet.
e.g. Scythe Mine/Ninja with the shipped fan undervolted (Zalman Fanmate)
is definitly quiet (near inaudible) - if you're interested in making it almost silent you may have a look here -> SilentPCReview Forums

Btw. The memory is probably a little overkill, the difference between DDR2 667 and DDR2 800 is not really worth the price premimum, and value ram is fine .. since Core2Duo has such a large L2 Cache - memory speed & latency has almost no impact on performance.

Christian
September 6, 2006 4:20:29 PM

A third party CPU cooler would require me to remove Intel's CPU cooler and use thermal paste, right? As a complete novice to systsem building, I'm not sure I trust myself to get it spread evenly and yet not too thickly. I am hoping my P150 case will absorb some of the noise.

As for the RAM being overkill, I am hoping that as I build up some nerve, I may try to overclock a little at a time. That's why I thought the premium RAM would benefit me. Is this an incorrect assumption?

Thanks for your time. I appreciate your assistance!
September 6, 2006 4:45:10 PM

Hello,

Quote:
A third party CPU cooler would require me to remove Intel's CPU cooler and use thermal paste, right?


Do you let your system build by ZipZoomFly?
If not you'll have to mount the stock heatsink yourself too.
If you don't feel comfortable mounting CPU heatsinks, i can recommend the Scythe Mine cooler. It has a clip design which makes it very easy to mount it, just clip it into the socket retention module and you're done.
Putting thermal paste isn't that complicated, since the new processors use heat spreaders anyway you can just put a blot (hope this translates)
on the middle of the CPU and then mount the cooler, the pressure of the cooler on the CPU will distribute the thermal paste evenly on the CPU.

Quote:
I am hoping my P150 case will absorb some of the noise.

Yes it will, it's a very good case - especially the harddrive mounting system - but it can't do wonders, high RPM fans will always be loud - no matter how much dampening is built into a case.

Quote:

As for the RAM being overkill, I am hoping that as I build up some nerve, I may try to overclock a little at a time. That's why I thought the premium RAM would benefit me. Is this an incorrect assumption?


No. I assumed you didn't want to overclock since you've written that in an earlier post. It'll will more benefical for extreme overclocks. But you can also use memory dividers to keep memory speed at a stable level.
Anything past 333Mhz FSB will overclock DDR2 667, but memory is very overclockable these days.

You may wanna read this
Core2Duo Value memory - Overclockabilty
and this
Core2Duo - memory performance

The second article includes a benchmark of NeroRecode with different memory speeds, which should interest you since this is a video encoding benchmark.

Edit:
Changes you might consider:
Asus P5B-V G965
The integrated graphics is fine for multimedia usage, the only drawback would be that it has no DVI ouput, but there isn't a visible difference between VGA and DVI anyway. Would save you 50$ on the motherboard + xx$ for the extra graphics card. If you then also opt for less pricey RAM you can get a E6600 instead :) 

Christian
September 6, 2006 5:44:07 PM

Sorry for my seemingly contradictory posts. What I was getting at is this: If I try to overclock and it becomes too difficult to get a stable system, can I simply run non-overclocked and have a stable, quiet PC? I'm buying/building a PC to get things done, not to spend lots of time tweaking settings and praying it doesn't crash! I'm willing to try overclocking just for the experience, but when all is done, I just want a stable machine--the same as if I just bought a Dell.

As for the memory, ZipZoomFly wasn't much cheaper on the value RAM listed in the article you referred to. Also, I don't think ZipZoomFly will assemble my components, unless you know otherwise.

I'll look into the CPU cooler you recommend. Thanks again.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 6, 2006 5:50:07 PM

Quote:
the one "intense" thing I do is transcode .Tivo (TivoToGo) files to DVD using Sonic MyDVD. It was suggested that ATI's AVIVO would do this better than nVidia, but at TivoCommunity.com I was told that converting .tivo files won't take advantage of AVIVO.


This is correct. AVIVO can't currently be used on .Tivo files. I have an x1800xt with AVIVO installed and working. With it, I can use it to transcode a .mp4, .mpg, or .wmv file into a Ipod video, Divx, .mpg, Svcd, PSP, VCD, DVD, or .wmv file. As you can see, .Tivo isn't supported.

.Tivo files might be supported in the future, theres no way to know. I agree with the others however that going ATI is best for what you want. Compared to Nvidia, multimedia use like transcoding and TV viewing has always been a priority. I have my x1800xt hooked up to my TV, and I can assure you it looks wonderful. If your still looking for a quiet ATI card, this will probably be your best bet. http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
Slower then a 7600GS, but you don't game anyways so its fast enough for you.

On a side note,
Quote:
You can be 99.9% certain that Avivo will NOT give you any advantage on transcoding files. Avivo unloads processing from the CPU to the GPU for certain types of video files (e.g. MPEG4) while watching them, not more not less.


This is completly false, not even close to correct. AVIVO is used to transcode one type of video file to another. Thats a big "more".
September 6, 2006 6:06:07 PM

I liked the card, but I'm a bit scared off by the "non-refundable" statement! Would http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product... be essentially the same card? It seems so, but doesn't have "Ultimate" in its name: Connect3D Radeon X1600 XT PCI Express 256MB DDR3 Video Card w/VGA, DVI-I & TV Retail. If the cards are essentially the same, the latter appears to be refundable if I am not satisfied, less a 15% restock fee.

Many thanks on your first-hand account of AVIVO. I suppose it is possible that ATI could eventually support .TIVO files, so long as I don't hold my breath!

Regards.
September 6, 2006 6:26:34 PM

Ah, it looks like "Ultimate" in the name means it is a quiet model. I suppose if I want that one, I'll have to order from somewhere else. I do not want a "non refundable" card!

Thanks again!
September 6, 2006 6:32:05 PM

I would switch the mother board to an Intel 975x chipset, upgrade your graphics card and you are paying way to much for a 7600. If you get a Asus board with the 975x chipset you'll have good onboard sound but i never get a sound card anymore too many issues conflicting with onboard sound. Also power supply could be better but it will definetly work until you get a new one.
September 6, 2006 6:52:56 PM

If you are not playing games:

1. Do not buy Audigy 2 ZS, use integrated HD Audio, it is completely up to the task

2. Do not get anything but Corsair for Asus, I would go for TWIN2X2048-6400.

3. Video card doesn't make difference for transcoding. Get some passive cooled 7300GT and use the extra money to get faster CPU.

4. Get Core 2 Duo E6600, just the move from 2MB L2 to 4MB L2 can speed up DivX and WMV9 encoding by 10% (source: anandtech benches), not to mention 2.4GHz.

5. Finally, since you aren't overclocking and gaming and you are getting low power components do not buy more than 350W-450W PSU, you won't need it anyway. Better get real 350W one that is silent and 80+.

Moreover, if you want small, cool and quiet media box you should also check if you can use some Conroe Ready mATX board and low profile video card and use some good quality SFF case to build it.

Good luck.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 6, 2006 6:55:09 PM

Correct, the ultimate is the fact it is mostly passively cooled. If this is the card I'm thinking of, there is a small slow spinning fan on the back. So while its not a true passively cooled card, it is very close. I only posted a link to this one because you said it would be in the family room, and you wanted it to be quiet. If noise isn't a concern, then just buy any x1600pro/XT card you want. For the record, all three of my computers, and my SCSI harddrive tower are in the family room. A little noisey yes, but Im bothered more by the SCSI tower and three monitors turning the room into a sweat box then the noise problem...
September 6, 2006 7:09:43 PM

The X1600 series has been a disaster from the start, don't buy it.

Conroe's stock fan is good enough for moderate OC, you don't need an aftermarket HSF

350W-400W is not enough, get at least 500W. In a year when the efficiency of the PSU drops your components are gonna die slowly. SO get mor ejuice
a b B Homebuilt system
September 6, 2006 7:47:48 PM

I wouldn't call it a disaster, its just a slower migrange card. They are as fast as a 9800pro, but with better support for current technology. If gaming isn't a priority, as bmgoodman has claimed, then they are perfect for casual use. Throw in AVIVO, and VIVO, then the x1600pro cards are better then the 7600 series.
September 6, 2006 8:03:00 PM

Quote:
I wouldn't call it a disaster, its just a slower migrange card. They are as fast as a 9800pro, but with better support for current technology. If gaming isn't a priority, as bmgoodman has claimed, then they are perfect for casual use. Throw in AVIVO, and VIVO, then the x1600pro cards are better then the 7600 series.


This sounds like a good card, but i awaiting godlyathiest's explanation of "disaster" before I decide.

One more question for you--can this card overclock a bit? I am asking in anticipation of wanting to modestly overclock eventually when I learn more about the pros and cons. I don't need anything extreme, but I don't want anything that automatially precules me from any overclocking.

Thanks for your patience and explanations!
a b B Homebuilt system
September 6, 2006 8:14:10 PM

First, all cards, CPUs, etc can overclock. If it has a frequency, that frequency can be changed to make it run faster. The issue is whether it can be overclocked enough to make a difference you can see/feel. Back in the day, the CPU to overclock was the Celeron 300A. Standard clock was 300MHz (66Mhz bus x 4.5 multiplier.) What people discovered was that you could plug this chip into a P2 board, and now run it at 450MHz. (100MHz bus x 4.5 multiplier.) Way back then, this was a large boost that you would notice. The same could be said for the Barton core 2500+. By moving the bus from 166Mhz to 200MHz, you would take that 2500+, and end up with a 3200+.

What I'm trying to say is that while the x1600 series can be overclocked, I don't know of any that might be worth it. There are no pipe to unlock, only frequencies to increase. (be careful, some of these cards are using DDR2, if you buy one for the purpose of overclocking, try to get one with DDR3.) When people want to overclock ATI cards, they get an x800 or x1800 GTO/XL. These are worth bios flashing/overclocking, as they are cut down x800/x1800XTs. (in plain english, it can be overclocked, but it probably isn't worth trying.)
September 6, 2006 8:40:36 PM

When AnandTech says "Our E6400 was a bit more successful, reaching 2.88GHz using a 360MHz FSB at 1.350V (up from 1.300V stock)", would this be an "extreme" overclock? Would this require a special CPU cooler? Would the components I have listed, to include the Sapphire X1600 XT Ultimate DDR3 card, still seem acceptable if I wanted to overclock like this?

Sorry for the obvious ignorance, since I'm trying to make sense of all this by reading various items and having no opportunity for "hands on".

Thanks.

XRef AnandTech article: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=280...
a b B Homebuilt system
September 6, 2006 8:53:56 PM

Quote:
Would this require a special CPU cooler?


You just needed to back up one page.
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=280...
Quote:
Our goal wasn't to reach the absolute highest overclocks using high end cooling, but rather the maximum stable overclocks easily attainable with a stock Intel heatsink/fan


When I was talking about overclocking, I was referring to only the GPU. You should be able to overclock the 6400 no matter what GPU your using. Lock the PCIe bus, and overclock the FSB. It won't matter what video card is in there.
September 7, 2006 1:22:30 AM

This is good news! I think I have a decent enough system to go ahead and order parts!

Thanks so much! :) 
September 7, 2006 6:39:22 PM

Quote:
The X1600 series has been a disaster from the start, don't buy it.


Could you elaborate on "disaster from the start"? I found that ExtremeTech.com had a very positive review of this card, http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1983448,00.a....

Also, HardwareSecrets.com thought it was a good deal at $140, http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/355/10.

So I am trying to determine what makes it a card to avoid. Thanks!

Well, the X1600 was designed to counter the 6800GS since that particular Nvidia card caused ATi a lot of headache. It had more raw power than the 6800GS but its 128-bit bus crippled it. Since then ATi made hundreds of different model for that card and lowered the price. I call it a disaster because if you need AVIVO, get a X1300Pro. If you need gaming+AVIVO, get X1800XT 256MB or X1900GT.
September 8, 2006 1:14:58 PM

[/quote]
Well, the X1600 was designed to counter the 6800GS since that particular Nvidia card caused ATi a lot of headache. It had more raw power than the 6800GS but its 128-bit bus crippled it. Since then ATi made hundreds of different model for that card and lowered the price. I call it a disaster because if you need AVIVO, get a X1300Pro. If you need gaming+AVIVO, get X1800XT 256MB or X1900GT.[/quote]

From HardwareSecrets.com:
Chip Core Clock Memory Clock Memory Interface Memory Transfer Rate Pixels per clock DirectX
Radeon X1300 Pro 600 MHz 800 MHz (128-bit or 64-bit or 32-bit) (16 GB/s or 8 GB/s or 4 GB/s) 4 9.0c
Radeon X1300 XT 500 MHz 800 MHz 128-bit 16 GB/s 12 9.0c
Radeon X1600 Pro 500 MHz 780 MHz 128-bit 12.48 GB/s 12 9.0c
Radeon X1600 XT 590 MHz 1.38 GHz 128-bit 22.08 GB/s 12 9.0c
Radeon X1800 GTO 500 MHz 1 GHz 256-bit 32 GB/s 12 9.0c
Radeon X1800 XT 625 MHz 1.5 GHz 256-bit 48 GB/s 16 9.0c

I don't understand how the X1300 Pro is better than the X1600 XT? I have no use for gaming, so I really don't see spending the money on X1800 or X1900. In fact, if it gives you any indication, I can't tell you off the top of my head what video card I have in my 5 year old Dell Dimension 8100. It's not really been an issue.

Thanks again!
a b B Homebuilt system
September 8, 2006 4:42:22 PM

Quote:
I have no use for gaming, so I really don't see spending the money on X1800 or X1900. In fact, if it gives you any indication, I can't tell you off the top of my head what video card I have in my 5 year old Dell Dimension 8100. It's not really been an issue.
Quote:


If this is the case, he might be right. I was trying to make sure you get a video card that can handle at least a bit of gaming, when you choose to. This rules out any x1300. If you really don't care, and just want ATI IQ and AVIVO, then grab a x1300. Try to get one with a 128bit memory bus, and one without hypermemory, or whatever they call that.
!