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Buying a new computer, need help with components

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September 29, 2006 6:13:28 PM

Hi

I'm planning on buying a new computer but I haven't been following the hardware market for quite some time, and I'm not an expert on hardware anyway. So I need some assistance with the components I'm buying: compatibility issues, performance etc.

I was thinking of spending around 900 euros (~1140 USD) on it but I'm not getting every component since I will be using some of my current parts (monitor, keyboard, mouse...). The computer will be used for playing games too so it has to be quite efficient, but I don't want to spend my money on the latest hardware because it's expensive, so I need parts with a good price/performance ratio. Also, I'm not planning to overclock it.

So, I'm going to buy the following components: motherboard, graphics card, memory modules, processor, case, hard drive, DVD drive. I'll go through the list component by component, I'd appreciate if you'd tell me if you have any thoughts on the parts, suggestions for better ones or anything.


Processor:
I still haven't decided whether I should get an AMD or an Intel. A friend told me that Intel has better price/performance ratio at the moment, despite of AMD dropping their prices.
Anyway, I should probably go for a 64-bit processor, but do you think it should be a dual core? Intel's Core 2 Duo E6300 and E6400 (Socket 775's?) seem quite good, but not very cheap. Some of AMD's Athlon 64's are a bit cheaper, 3800+ and 4200+ seem reasonable. Also, if I get an AMD I should probably go for Socket AM2 since there's really no point getting a 939, right?
A friend of mine told me that the boxed AMD processors contain a fan for the processor but he said that it's not very good and that I should buy one separately, is this so?
Oh, and does the model (Venice, Clawhammer, Orleans etc.) make a lot of difference?

Graphics card:
A friend recommended Radeon X1900 GT, and another one told me GeForce 7800 GT was better, but it seems quite a lot more expensive.

Memory:
I was thinking of DDR2 and dual channel. DDR isn't much cheaper anymore so I probably shouldn't buy that, right? I'm still not sure if I want to get 2 * 512MB or 2 * 1GB modules, what do you think?
What about the frequencies, is 667MHz good? It seems a bit cheaper than the others. Also, EEC is probably unnecessary, isn't it?

Motherboard:
Naturally, I have to decide on other components before I know which mobo to get, but I thought it should at least support dual channel memory and have an integrated sound card (because I'm not putting one in the new computer yet). An integrated network adapter wouldn't hurt but it doesn't cost much to get one separately, so that's not a must-have. The motherboard should also support NMI (non-masking interrupt) because SBLive's SB16 emulation requires that to work, I think.
Also, what's the deal with ATX and MicroATX? Any thoughts on which motherboards are good and which are not?

Hard drive:
I'd like to have a reliable hard drive, naturally. Any recommendations? Should it be SATA or SATA2? I'm under the impression that IDE is getting old.

DVD drive:
I don't have many requirements for this, I just want to be able to write DVD's. Which are good DVD drive makes?

Case:
Any recommendations? I understand the power source comes with the case. How do I know how much power I need?


Phew, a long post, I hope it doesn't scare people away. Any help will be appreciated.
October 3, 2006 12:52:47 PM

Thank you for taking the time to read through my post and answer to it. I've been digging around some more and things have come a bit clearer. I still have some questions, so I'll make a new list.

Processor:
Thanks for the advice, I'll probably get an E6300 or possibly an E6400.

Graphics card:
I haven't decided yet but X1900 GT still seems good. Any ideas for better cards that don't cost much more?

Memory:
DDR2 it is. But I still don't know if I want 2*512MB or 2*1GB, I might get a 1GB module first and buy another one later.
The frequencies still confuse me. If I get DDR2 memory that operates at 667MHz, then what should the FSB of the motherboard be? What if I get 533MHz DDR2? The Wikipedia article about FSB confuses me even more.

Case:
I've read good things about Antec's P-150. You told me not to use a PSU that comes with a case but P-150 comes with an Antec Neo HE which to my understanding is a rather good PSU. On the other hand, I read that there have been problems with some Neo HE's that come with P-150's (they should be sorted by now, though), so another option would be to get Antec Solo and a separate Neo HE, which results in the same setup with the exception that the case is black. Anyway, thanks for the link, the PSU calculator was really helpful.
October 3, 2006 3:09:39 PM

After a lot of debate and research, this is what I decided to go for. Will be ordering from Newegg shortly.

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

Memory Corsair 2 GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Main Board and Chip set Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...

For hard disks go for the Seagate SATA II 7200.10 drives with 16M cache. Other things to watch out will be the PSU.

Hope this helps.
Related resources
October 3, 2006 3:12:51 PM

Definitely go with Mpich's advice especially on the processor. Check out Tom's CPU charts. Although they don't have the E6300 available for comparison, the E6400 is close enough and it blows away the X2 3800.

Newegg: E6300 $180, X2 3800 $159

$21 difference for alot more performance.
October 3, 2006 3:52:17 PM

That motherboard you have is socket AM2. You will need a socket LGA775 for the E6300 or E6400 CPU. I suggest spending more on the motherboard and getting a good one like this: GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3. If you are not going to overclock or overclock mildly, then I suggest dropping down to this for memory: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667. I would also suggest dropping your video card to a 7600GT and going DX10 later on down the road.
October 3, 2006 4:18:14 PM

I was implying that Kreisi change the CPU to an AMD X2 :wink:

But I guess such a suggestion would trigger off a war of words.

Personally, I felt that the AMD X2 with ULI 1697 chipset is more than enough for the average gamer. Looking at the chipset options, I think that this combination will be give me the best price / performance ratio. The extra money can be will spent on better memory or graphics.

And it might be more than a year before DX10 becomes a reality for the mass market.
October 12, 2006 5:40:41 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I've been looking around a bit and I'll probably still go for the E6300 and X1900 GT. Here's what I've been planning, any thoughts on this?

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300
ASRock ConRoeXFire-eSATA2
Club 3D Radeon X1900 GT 256 Mt PCI-E
Antec P150 (comes with Antec NeoHE 430W)
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS (250 Gt, 7200 RPM, SATA II)
2 * 1 Gt, 667 MHz DDR2


The HDD doesn't necessarily have to be a Western Digital but there don't seem to be great differences in prices between manufacturers anyway. I'll also get a DVD drive but don't know which one yet.

Will the processor work with the motherboard? The mobo takes Conroes and E6300 should be a Conroe but it is often called Allendale. Any thoughts on the motherboard? It seems quite cheap considering all the features it has.

And about the memory, should I just get the cheapest I can find or are they completely rubbish?

To mpilchfamily: The PSU should provide 16A on three 12V rails so that should be ok.

And thanks again guys, you've helped me a lot!
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 12, 2006 6:01:20 PM

The MB and CPU will work together.
Allendale is the version of Conroe with just 2MB cache (E3600/E6400) as opposed to 4MB cache (E6600, E6700 & X6800).
The motherboard is less expensive since its based on the older 945 chipset, not the more usual 965 or 975X chipset. It doesnt support DDR2 800 memory - it tops out at 667. For all that its much less expensive its reported to be a decent performer. Except in overclocking performance it seems a good value for the price. You can find motherboard reviews here:
VR Zone review OC Workbench review Hardwarezone review
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