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$500-$700 Budget! Help me build!

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October 8, 2006 3:30:40 PM

What I've got:

Case w/430W power supply
Keyboard/Mouse
Monitor
Speakers

What I need:

Motherboard
CPU (I'm used to AMD but not opposed to Intel)
HDD
Video Card
Memory

My system took a dump on me and I'm running a Frankenstein comp. temporarily. I'll be doing a little gaming and mostly the usual internet surfing, email stuff. I've always had a computer buddy help me out with picking the parts but he's since gotten married and is not up on all the new technology. Any help is apprecaited!

More about : 500 700 budget build

October 8, 2006 4:34:08 PM

I'm a newb so wait until the Pro's here modify my build but i put this together on newegg. Also assumed you won't bother with OC'ing or SLI since you stated 'light gaming'.

Foxconn P9657AA-8KS2H Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
In Stock
$99.99 $99.99

BIOSTAR VP7603GT21 Geforce 7600GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Mail-in Rebate
$158.99 $158.99

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Conroe 1.86GHz LGA 775 Processor
$180.00 $180.00

Patriot 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model PSD21G533K - Retail
$119.99 -$8.00 Instant $111.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3250620AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
$79.99 -$5.00 Instant $74.99

Subtotal: $626 I left you some room for taxes and shipping. If you can afford a little more, one of the gigabyte or asus boards might be worth spending that extra on. Also notice only 1 GB of ram. 2 GB would add about another $100 or so.
October 8, 2006 6:42:02 PM

Quote:
I'm a newb so wait until the Pro's here modify my build but i put this together on newegg. Also assumed you won't bother with OC'ing or SLI since you stated 'light gaming'.

Foxconn P9657AA-8KS2H Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
In Stock
$99.99 $99.99

BIOSTAR VP7603GT21 Geforce 7600GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
Mail-in Rebate
$158.99 $158.99

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Conroe 1.86GHz LGA 775 Processor
$180.00 $180.00

Patriot 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model PSD21G533K - Retail
$119.99 -$8.00 Instant $111.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3250620AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
$79.99 -$5.00 Instant $74.99

Subtotal: $626 I left you some room for taxes and shipping. If you can afford a little more, one of the gigabyte or asus boards might be worth spending that extra on. Also notice only 1 GB of ram. 2 GB would add about another $100 or so.


Change the video card to THIS.
Related resources
October 8, 2006 6:43:37 PM

To the OP: What is the make and model of that PSU, and what are the amps on the +12V rail(s).
October 8, 2006 7:06:11 PM

What about optical drives? You got those?

X2 3800+ EE

XFX 7600GT (590/1600)

DFI Infinity M2

Seagate 7200.10 250GB

OCZ 2GB 667Mhz

CPU: Good, cheap, OC's like hell, 65W version
GPU: Fast as he!!, OC's like mad, it'll hit 7900GTX clocks with some tweaking
Motherboard: One of the best overclockers an AMD CPU has ever seen
HDD:Big, Perpendicular, cheap
Memory: Overclocks rather well, 1.9V, CAS4, 2GB

Total is around $660
October 8, 2006 8:19:19 PM

Quote:
What about optical drives? You got those?

X2 3800+ EE

XFX 7600GT (590/1600)

DFI Infinity M2

Seagate 7200.10 250GB

OCZ 2GB 667Mhz

CPU: Good, cheap, OC's like hell, 65W version
GPU: Fast as he!!, OC's like mad, it'll hit 7900GTX clocks with some tweaking
Motherboard: One of the best overclockers an AMD CPU has ever seen
HDD:Big, Perpendicular, cheap
Memory: Overclocks rather well, 1.9V, CAS4, 2GB

Total is around $660


The 7600GT might hit 7900GTX clocks, but it won't come close to the performance. Nonetheless, it's a good card for the money. I'd take the Core 2 Duo over the Athlon 64 X2 because the OP probably isn't planning on overclocking.
October 8, 2006 8:32:28 PM

Quote:

The 7600GT might hit 7900GTX clocks, but it won't come close to the performance. Nonetheless, it's a good card for the money. I'd take the Core 2 Duo over the Athlon 64 X2 because the OP probably isn't planning on overclocking.


Yeah, thats why I made sure I said clocks. Fish is right, though.

AMD is good for those on a budget, but I'm not that good at C2D builds. I'm learning, though.

True, C2D is a completely better CPU if you aren't OC'ing your AMD.

~Ibrahim~
October 9, 2006 12:18:52 AM

I'm not looking to overclock. I never have because I'm afraid I would fry something. I'm looking at AM2 processors. Is it possible to get a low end one on my budget? I know I'll need DDR2 memory. Another question. Will I be able to upgrade without having to get all new components in 1 year if I get the AM2? I've been reading where the AM2's haven't been performing as well as they thought. Will they get better and having the AM2 board be worth buying now?
October 9, 2006 1:08:40 AM

Well, OC'ing is not that bad, as long as you do a little research and have a lot of patientence.

Low end? Sure, we could step down to a 3500+. Or a 3200+ at the least. (These are single-core, versus the X2 3800+ which is dual-core_

DDR2 memory is a must for AM2.

What will you be upgrading? A new AM3 CPU will work, but a few features may be disabled, namely HT3. Can't think of an upgrade that would not work, maybe a GPU might not. Will your 430W PSU be able to hold up against some beefy GPUs?

The only reason you could say AM2 isn't performing as well as expected is because of Core 2 Duo, completey relative. AM2 is just as fast S939, maybe a shade faster.

AM2 will get much better. AM2 will be here for the new 65nm CPUs and Quad-Core/K8L.

One thing about Intel is how they use sockets and FSB changes, either can disqualify a processor from being used on a particular motherboard. Right now they are on Socket 775, FSB 1066. Rumours of moving to FSB 1333Mhz middle of next year. If they do, a majority of motherboards now cannot support the latest processors using 1333Mhz. Enough rant on Intel. Core 2 Duo is a great processor, no doubt. Tad pricey, though. Cheapest one is around $185.

~Ibrahim~
October 9, 2006 1:32:02 AM

Quote:
Well, OC'ing is not that bad, as long as you do a little research and have a lot of patientence.


For a newb's first build, there's no way in hell that I would advocate overclocking.

IMO, you should overclock if you can afford to replace what you're overclocking. Having a knowledgable friend around couldn't hurt.
October 9, 2006 1:43:22 AM

I don't know. I think maybe sit this one out on OC'ing, but on the next, go for it.

If you do your research, it should be OK. Unless you go mad and try to boot it at 1.8V....

~Ibrahim~

P.S. For the love of God, please do your research if you plan to OC. Don't mean to be rude, but you can't blame anyone but yourself for a burnt processor...
October 9, 2006 2:21:49 AM

Quote:
I don't know. I think maybe sit this one out on OC'ing, but on the next, go for it.

If you do your research, it should be OK. Unless you go mad and try to boot it at 1.8V....

~Ibrahim~

P.S. For the love of God, please do your research if you plan to OC. Don't mean to be rude, but you can't blame anyone but yourself for a burnt processor...


LOL; you have 1337 post; you're so l33t.
October 9, 2006 2:35:18 AM

So I won't be wasting my $ if I go with the AM2 and will be able to easily upgrade a little bit down the road. Right? Also the last time I upgraded, the Athlon 64 processors were the newest thing.

I was looking at this processor:

http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

Then saw this one:

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

Is that second, more expensive processor worth it? Is it past the "sweet spot"?

I've read where the first thing to do when building a new system is to pick the processor then the motherboard chipset etc.

After I figure out which CPU, I'll move onto the mobo, and then graphics card. Ugh, I've already got a HUGE amount of other things on my plate at home to deal with. At least I'm learning something.
October 9, 2006 3:45:01 AM

Even n00bs can Overclock! (not the stupid ones of course but I dont think thats our case here).
Im practically a noob, ive never built a comp in my life and im going for a top OCing setup in december. Why am I up for it? Because im done alot of research (mostly on parts) on how to do it. I know which safety measures to take etc. Its all about researching. And cooling, never forget cooling.

These guys have made good recommendations for memory and HDD.

But its been proven that the EE version of the X2s dont overclock as far as the regular one. The energy you save its nothing so theres no reason to pick it instead of a regular one. The 4200+ would be a better choice if youve got a few more bucks around.

The DFI is a great mobo for OCing even if it isnt in the LanParty series. But the top Mhx/$ crown goes to the EPoX EP-MF570SLI amazing board for the price if you ask me.

As for a cheap yet very performance HSF, the Artic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro takes the price. The Scythe Infinity would be at the top end of the air cooling.
October 9, 2006 4:37:56 PM

Quote:
But its been proven that the EE version of the X2s dont overclock as far as the regular one.


I agree with everything he said.

Wait, I thought they overclocked just as well??? Linky?

~Ibrahim~
October 9, 2006 6:28:14 PM

The problem with an AMD build is that AM2 needs DDR2 800 memory, which at the moment is selling at a premium than what it was a month or two ago.

On top of that, the AMD AM2 that I would recommend is the 4200+ as it's a phenomenal overclocker but for as good as it is, the E6300 is better.

Here's a CPU benchmark that includes the stock E6300 and E6400 alongside it's OC'd bretheren. The "lowly" E6300 wipes the floor with AMD's offering. And since the E6300 is 3 bucks less than a 4200+ and DOES NOT require the faster memory, the C2D is the best bang for the buck.

Known: 949C1Novice wants to spend $500-$700.

Intel C2D system:

CPU: E6300 - $180
Mobo: ASUS P5N SLI - $127
Memory: PQI Turbo - $175
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB Perpendicular Drive - $95
Video Card: eVGA 7600GT - $119

Total Cost: $696

Now, you could go with a cheaper mobo, the 250GB HDD and only 1 GB of Ram. This might save you around $150 which you can then either save and then get a DX10 card down the road or use it to get a X1900GT - $203.

Though with Vista around the corner, get the 2x1GB sticks of memory since it's only around 70 bucks more than getting a 1GB stick. I would then get a DX10 card sometime in the middle of next year to give it time to "break-in".
October 9, 2006 6:43:23 PM

for $170, you'd be much better off putting the extra $10 towards the e6300. As far as single core, you can get an AMD 3000+ and out of the boxk set the FSB to 250 and beat out the 3500+, that'll save you some doe. I recommend the 3000+ highly for budget builds, its price per performace ratio is hard to beat! (Its actually number on toms bang per buck chart)
October 10, 2006 1:58:48 AM

If I go Intel, will I be able to use my regular DDR memory I have? I've got 2 512 Corsair DDR sticks.
October 10, 2006 2:05:00 AM

You would have to get the ASRock 775Dual-VSTA mobo here.

The problem is that it does not have a PCI-Express x16 slot. It only has x4. Therefore I wouldn't recommend it.

So, other than that board, the answer would be no. I'd just sell that DDR memory on Ebay or to anyone that you know that could use the extra memory.
October 10, 2006 3:01:08 AM

I'm just being a complete idiot. What's so special about the AM2 sockets? I'm reading where you can run dual core processors on a 939? Why is this stuff so difficult to understand? I know there are A LOT of variables but sheesh!
October 10, 2006 4:49:12 AM

Quote:
But its been proven that the EE version of the X2s dont overclock as far as the regular one.


I agree with everything he said.

Wait, I thought they overclocked just as well??? Linky?

~Ibrahim~

Cant recall anyone at the time but simple facts proove it. A 4200+ 89W will reach 2.66Ghz on stock voltages while a 65W will only go to 2.4Ghz. They respond alot less to voltage increases too.
It seems like AMD simply did some weird silicon manufacturing process that cut down on potential.
October 10, 2006 2:46:21 PM

Yes, there are dual-cores for both socket types.

Socket 939 CPU's have support for DDR memory while Socket AM2 CPU's have support for DDR2 memory. Socket AM2 chips are only going to get better. The best socket 939 chip that you can get is the FX-60 dual-core which is insanely overpriced for the price/perf compared to the Core 2 Duo.

Rumor has it that FX-72 or FX-74 will be coming out soon. This will only be available for Socket AM2.
October 10, 2006 3:10:02 PM

Yeah, computers can drown you with information.

So, about the memory question. All new processors use DDR2. Only really old P4 sockets use DDR, and Socket 939 uses DDR.

Socket AM2 is the new socket for the jump from DDR to DDR2. Socket 939 used DDR. Socket AM2 uses DDR2. It provides minimal speed increases.

Yes, you can have a dual-core on a 939 build or a AM2 build. Both have dual-core processors.

~Ibrahim~
October 13, 2006 2:58:54 AM

Ok, I've nailed down a processor which, I've read is the first thing to pick out before looking at other components. I'm going off the suggestion of another member. Thanks! :wink:

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

The mobo I'm looking at is this one. I noticed some of the other ones had a massive amount of SATA connectors. Why would anyone need anymore than 2 or 4? Also the chipset that comes with it is Nvidia. Would it be better to get an nVidia graphics card rather than an ATi? What other specs should I be looking at?

http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_techspecs_full.php/m...

After I make a decision on the mobo, I'll look into graphics card based on feedback from you guys. Next would be the HDD then power supply. I don't think my 430w is going to cut it.

My budget seems to be growing! 8O
October 13, 2006 7:02:10 AM

As I said, if you arent an OCer, then go for it!

That mobo has the NF4 chipsets. Since youre going with AM2 you better find something from the new generation of 500 ones. Dont buy Asus for AMD (too many problems too explain).

HDD = Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
It doesnt get any better than that.

Check out the "Best cards for the money" and the "ghrapics cards for beginners" (er something like that) articles in Tomshardware. Theyll come in handy. Check toms VGA charts too.
October 13, 2006 8:37:10 PM

Why would it be bad if OC'ed?

@Novice

There is some disagreement whether the 65W OC just as good or worse than their 89W counterparts. It shouldn't hamper you unduly, though. It is a great CPU and should prove to be a great OC'er.

Well, some people have many hard drives for many files. Hey, 4 is better than 1!

Another pitfall many computer new to computers come across: You do *not* need an ATI card with an ATI chipset. You do *not* need a nVidia GPU with a nVidia chipset. They are cross-compatible.

You should be looking at reviews, they'll sum up boards for you. What to look for is ports on the I/O panel (Keyboard, Mouse, USB, etc.), slots on the motherboard, placement of parts on the motherboard, overclockability, quality.

If you are going nForce4 with AM2, I can overheartily recommend the DFI Infinity NF ULTRAII-M2. It is best board for AM2 under $100. Check out DFI Street, this board fricking rocks.

Also, nForce 4 was primarily made for S939 instead of AM2, but a few makers have "ported" it over to AM2. It makes great boards at a resonable price.

nForce5 versus nForce 4 only adds a few features. NO to LITTLE performance increase. What you get more is more SATA ports and uhh...some more useless features.

ASUS+AMD=Problems. This is slightly biased, but there are better boards for the money.

Yeah, do check out the VGA articles. I recommend the XFX 590/1600 7600GT.

~Ibrahim~
October 13, 2006 9:03:05 PM

Yeah, that board is good. Get it, I'm getting it for my next build. Link
October 13, 2006 9:16:21 PM

The Ghz cap on a 89W is at 3.4Ghz, but on those 65W seems to be alot lower maybe 2.9Ghz or 3Ghz. Everyone whos tried to OC them as reported to have bad expiriences, they simply arent as OCable as the regular version.
AMD simply doped the silicon er something, its not higher binning like we wish it was.

Quote:
Also, nForce 4 was primarily made for S939 instead of AM2, but a few makers have "ported" it over to AM2. It makes great boards at a resonable price.

Very true. And this DFI is the best of them all. Im just recommending newest chipsets due to upcoming AM2+, the one we know so little about. But it might have some issues with older boards. All speculations.

Quote:
ASUS+AMD=Problems. This is slightly biased, but there are better boards for the money.

I dont give a sh!t if its biased, its the truth. Hehe ill take down every marketing hype filled brand that doesnt live it to their ads (like Corsair as you can see in ym sig :D  ).

Quote:
I recommend the XFX 590/1600 7600GT.

And I recommend the cheapest 7600GT you can get, and OC it. If youve got the money that one is a real good card actually.

@ikjadoon
hehe :wink:
October 13, 2006 11:00:53 PM

Got it on the 65W. But how many X2 3800+ you seen @ 3.4Ghz? lol, but most of them conk out at 2.9/3.0Ghz. I can live with a GGG AMD.

haha, I was trying to be nice. Guess we sometimes need the blunt truth.

Well, the XFX isn't too much more. 590 and a 1.6Ghz clock?

~Ibrahim~
October 13, 2006 11:23:59 PM

Very few, but its because its the TOP speed you could reach. Most likely to be reached by a 4600+ even a 4200+ for their higher binning. But ive seen lots of 3.1Ghz though :lol: 

lol im jk about the card. Its one of the best OCed cards for the price. Worth it if youve got the cash. Even that im intrigued on its OCing potential. If they guys at XFX did a good job it should have some instead of selling something cocked out.
October 13, 2006 11:50:19 PM

Yeah, so that is why I think the 65W is just as good. The 89W versions, then, would only be beneficial with extreme cooling. I'd still like a good, solid review to confirm this. Not that I don't trust you, but at least then I can back it up.

~Ibrahim~
October 14, 2006 4:10:42 AM

Ok guys, I've got the CPU and mobo picked out.

As for the graphics card, keep in mind I have NEVER overclocked in my life. Are there any options for 512 mb cards? Would one work well with the DFI board? I saw some cheap ones for less than $140. I just want to make the right choices since I won't be upgrading anytime soon after this build. Thanks!
October 14, 2006 6:35:32 AM

What do you mean when you say "light gaming?" What games did you have in mind? REGARDLESS, I'd go ahead and get the cheapest AM2 or C2D board you can find and maybe the cheapest ram. Run it until the middle of next year and get a Direct 10X vid card and do your upgrades then. Sell your chip and ram on eBay or PriceGrabber (I buy and sell stuff there) then. Someone will be glad to have it. Also, go ahead and wait for Windows Vista rather than buying XP. I'd say get a motherboard without SLI, as a newer graphics card can give you the performance increase as buying an older one, just put yours up for sale on ebay at that time. Again, someone out there will be looking to upgrade I'm sure. We all live within our means, but if you can spend a little extra on the mobo, you will have much better future upgradeability. With this however, you may want to get a better PSU. I would recommend three higher end key parts when building a new computer. Case, PSU, and Mobo. Get these and you can use them for awhile. Get a more powerful PSU than u need too, who knows what tomorrow's requirements might be. 700 watts or higher is a fantastic idea. And a durable, sexy, nice big case can last you for several builds, 15 years maybe if we stay with ATX. On the other hand, I imagine computers may get smaller, we're already seeing tech shrink considerably. Even if it does you'll have a kick-ass relic. I'll be selling my fairly high end parts from time to time, so if anyone ever wonders what I have available feel free to ask. In fact, I might even sell a 3000+ chip to you if you want.
October 14, 2006 8:24:42 AM

It has been proven that 512mb over 256mb only gives a max of 4% increase in performance in the same card. Go for the one ikjadoon suggested, its a very good card that wont need to be OCed.

@ikjadoon
Its not only the cap thats reduced. Its also the ease of wich you will OC every single Mhz. Ive been looking around for a pro review too but nobody has bothered. What im telling its from experiences gathered all around (plus wusys opnion) about ppl that has got them.
October 14, 2006 10:08:22 AM

You mind showing me where? Increase in what exactly? Overall? I'm sure certain applications (games mostly, let's face it, we're all here for that and porn mostly) will use 512mb's more than others. Besides, that's largely in part due to how fast your CPU and RAM and BUS are. If they can feed numbers to the card fast enough, it'll use that cache more.
October 14, 2006 1:34:58 PM

It's kind of common knowledge that 512MB has minimal increases, but if you really want a review:

Video Card Memory Analysis

~Ibrahim~
October 15, 2006 3:33:00 AM

Basically, the article said that if you only have 256mb card and it needs more it'll use your system memory...It's like I said, it all depends on whether or not your system is capable. It also said that "inefficient memory management in many game engines guarantees the stuttering issue a common one." Which means that depending on how well an app's code is written will determine how much memory is required. Such as: "It seems HL2 likes to set around 13MB to system memory regardless of how much VRAM you have. This doesn’t mean anything negative, its just the way this particular game manages it's memory allocation." So 512mb's WILL come in handy at certain times more than others. The idea behind a cache is to store things for future use as they become required. If it isn't waiting on information from the system, it will store up information so that it has it when it's required and free up system resources. In a slower system the graphics card will just be waiting on the system for information, and it will empty it's memory more. The faster your computer the less likely you'll need the extra memory on your card, but a lot of it still dependent on the apps you're intending to run. I'm kinda talking out my ass, but does it make sense? You're right though, when it comes down to it you probably won't see a huge difference. You're better off getting a faster GPU than more graphics memory.
October 15, 2006 4:41:22 AM

Items taken care of:

CPU
MOBO
GRAPHICS CARD

How about memory and power supply? What kind of wattage should I be looking at?
October 15, 2006 5:34:15 AM

Who better to talk to then a guy who had little prior knowledge months ago, researched, built a couple of pretty high end PC's and looked at upgrading a Dell... and was fairly successful? More than anything I've learned what I should've done differently, and I learned a couple of important things while watching the tech prices.

1) Make a decision and buy. One day you buy a chip for $300 and the next day it's $250. Just how it goes. Don't kick yourself.

2) While it's a great idea to try and get a few higher end parts so you can upgrade...sometimes it's better not to, because by the time you spend money on upgrades you could be back in the same place again with much faster base parts.

Following that second point, what I would aim to do is layout a complete system, and eliminate certain bottlenecks. For instance, don't buy a slow processor intending to buy a faster one later....just buy an average speed one at a good price and OC a tad if you know how or have a friend that can help you. Your key components are important, such as fast hard drives, a good PSU, and a decent case, as these things are less likely to see huge advances in the future. Hard drives may be going flash in a couple of years, Samsung just came out with a 30 gig hard drive that is supposed to be faster, cooler, and use less power. However it's not cheap and they are aiming it towards laptop use for now as that's were it will be most appreciated.

What's your budget like? For a PSU I'd read reviews, and get something above 500W's at least. What graphics and CPU are you using? There are numerous links online pointing to a couple of different PSU calculators to determine how big of a PSU you need. I'd recommend going ahead and getting 100w larger, or maybe even going ahead and splurging. Modular cabling is the latest rave, because it allows for less clutter. I just wish more companies would include different lengths of cables, to me it's worth an extra $15-20 bucks. I bought a couple of Enermax Liberty PSU's. One of them is 620w and it had some good reviews and was a decent value. If you can though, you might prefer a modular PSU that has molex connectors to plug into the PSU itself. This makes for easier modding if you decide to switch out colors. Maybe down the road once you get more familiar with things if you're not already, you can attempt a mod. I modded out my other 500w Liberty and the 6pin's are a bit more of a pain. As far as hard drives go, some people prefer speed to space for their first hard drive, because you can always add more storage. I've heard that having a drive just for windows, such as the smaller Raptor drives works well. Raptors are a bit noisy, regardless of what anyone says. I have a raid-0 using one of each of the available 150 gig raptors (clear case allows one visable). They make a lot of ticking noises so if you plan on speed and getting a raptor, make sure your system goes on the floor. (Mine's a micro system for LAN parties, thus, the modded PSU and fast hard drive setup) If you want decent speed, good storage space, and can figure out raid-0 (It can be a tad tricky and you may need a floppy drive) then get two 7200rpm Sata2 (300g/s) drives. Make sure your motherboard can support Sata2, and check the jumper settings on the drives, as sometimes they come set limited to Sata1 speeds. This is probably the best speed/storage/price setup. I like the WD Caviars myself, and they have some with both 8mb and 16mb buffers. I'm not sure there's a huge or noticeable performance, especially if you run them in Raid-0. Keep in mind that Raid-0 does have some involved risks, in essence, a higher chance of data loss. So don't go backing up your CD's and then think you can throw them out. You may want to buy another drive and backup any files you want to for sure keep. There are programs that will automatically do this for you, or you could get 4 drives total and do Raid0+1. Raid1 makes a copy of your current drives, so should one of the 2 drives fail, it'll simply revert to the other set of drives. This however, means you buy 4 drives and lose a bay and a Sata port. If money is a huge factor and you prefer to wait for future drives or decreases in price, one drive will work just fine. In this case I'd recommend getting a 7200rpm Sata2 drive (again, if mobo supports it) with a 16mb buffer.

CASES-

A case choice is really up to you. Some people trust Antec, others trust Thermaltake, and others find no fault in brands like RaidMax. Aluminum has it's advantages when it comes to heat dissipitation, however SECC steel is often lighter and cheaper. Some will use a combination of both. Steel is more likely to dent unless it's good and thick, and aluminum is more likely to get scratched by something hard and sharp. Silver and black are among the favorites, although some people do prefer color. I think that black goes with about anything, but depending on things like any printers you might have or keyboards, or a brand new TV in the room you'll be using, you may want to even consider white. Again, read reviews, some have great pictures. Thermaltake doesn't include PSU's with most of their cases, which was actually a selling point for me. Most PSU's included with cases are not up to the task of providing good steady power, although if you have an old computer that isn't working, hell; give it a try.

Memory. Again, if you know how to OC you can sometimes find cheaper than top of the line memory cable of higher speeds. The amount of memory (I think most would agree) takes precedence over speed. Some memory speeds are limited by the motherboard, but some motherboards will allow you to change the readable speed. If you're really shooting for a middle of the line PC so as to get good performance but not waste money, I'd recommend going with 4 sticks of 512 mb's ram and get something without heatsinks. Heatsinked ram (not value ram) is more expensive and if you have good airflow in your case isn't always required. Saving money for future computers or that IPOD for your sister for Xmas (or other hard to spell holidays) is a good idea as tech changes so quickly. Most people besides rich enthusiasts will tell you to buy what is at good cost and meets your needs. I figure if your system can play Oblivion at a decent frame rate (30+) then you're doing fine.

Disk Drives, Keyboards, Mice

Disk drives are about to see a change, however a good cost/performance drive today has dual layer and can write DVD's. I use PriceGrabber a good deal to compare prices, and I check Froogle too.

For keyboards, it really depends on how you like your keys to feel, if you want one that is backlit with LED's or not, and if you want special keys for FPS's and the like. A couple I've tried are the Logitech G15, which I like but I wish the back raised up a bit more and the LED screen isn't really as great as I'd hoped. It comes with a switch to turn off the windows start button key, which is great when I'm playing a game. It has a few buttons like mute, and a volume knob, and play/pause, stop and forward and reverse that can be used with WinMediaPlayer etc. The keys are backlight pretty darn well, and it has programmable macro keys. It's big, and the buttons have a nice feel. Also comes with two USB ports on it (I think they run at 1.1, keyboard connects with USB itself) although I have USB 2.0 on the top of my Kandalf case, so I don't even use them. I also bought an Ideazon ZBoard, but I can't recommend that for a few reasons. The keys are touchy, not real responsive. I won't bother mentioning the other reasons. That's enough reason not to buy it.

For Mice, I can recommend Logitech's laser mice. The G7 however has poor battery life. You might be better off with the corded G5 for gaming. One thing I don't like about the G7 and G5 though is the one button on the left side at your thumb. I accidently bump it when I'm looking at the internet, and it takes me back a page. Many mice have two thumb buttons and if you click one by accident, you just click the other to go back. I don't like the placement, or that there's only one, but depending how you grip it, it may not be an issue for you. Razer has good feeling mice, although I did have an issue with an older one in which the software couldn't find it while it was attached to my back ports. I had updated the firmware while it was connected to a front port, and now it will only find it and adjust my settings while it's plugged into the front.

That's it for now, open to responses or additional ideas for 949C1 Novice. Just trying to be helpful.
October 15, 2006 2:04:41 PM

A few things:

I would not recommend getting RAID 0 or any RAID for that matter in this kind of budget. The money used on the second hard drive can be spent much better on other parts, like the GPU. I would say money is rather large factor with this budget. If he was going for a $1500 build or above, I'd say go with RAID 0.

Also, SATA 3Gbps doesn't hardly an increase of speed over SATA 1.5. Preferable to get 3Gbps, but 1.5Gbps is perfectly fine. A good example? The old Raptors (74GB) were 1.5Gbps, yet they are still one of the fastest drives ever.

4 sticks of 512MB has a slight degrade in performance. Easier to OC and cheaper just to get 2x1GB. Leaves you open for 4GB down the line.

I recommend the Samsung 18x burner. Great price and fast.

Nice post, btw.

~Ibrahim~
October 15, 2006 10:41:32 PM

While it's true he doesn't need Raid-0, his game load times would benefit from having two smaller harddrives in Raid-0 than one big one. It'll take a few seconds longer to boot his computer though. I believe all raptors are 1.5. I have two of the 150 gigs in Raid. I agree with getting 1 gig sticks, but not if you only need 2gigs max before you build a new PC. That said, if he's going Vista, he should probably stick with some decently priced 1 gig sticks. 512's are a tad cheaper though. You might be right, can you show me where you read that they're slower? I thought that with all 4 slots filled the mem controller would access the ram faster? Since memory controllers are still not the fastest thing in the computer, maybe it depends on the speed of the ram? I also have a couple of pioneer dvd burners I've been satisified with. They're less than $40 on pricegrabber. In fact, I can sell you a 110D for a decent price (with updated firmware) if you'd like. There's barely any difference between that and the 111D.

http://www.pricegrabber.com/p__Pioneer_DVR_111D_Dual_La...

I love Samsung monitors, if you have to buy a monitor there are tons of opinions on them. I don't know how solid their other products like burners are, but I doubt they're anything but quality. Lightscribe is generally a waste. Back to monitors: If you own an Xbox or something, get one that has extra component AV jacks if you can afford it. They come in handy. I usually try to buy monitors without speakers as the speakers on monitors tend to really suck and you just pay extra for them. Also be sure to get one that is 8 ms response time for gaming. Read reviews and find one you like the look of that has all the features you want for the price you want. Remember to consider only half the value of any rebates when considering pricing since more than half of rebates are never fullfilled.
October 16, 2006 1:55:10 AM

Don't have a solid performance analysis on hand right now.....

I'm pretty sure that you can only use 2T with 4 sticks, but 1T is hard to get anyways. At least it gives you some head room.

To me, it's just logic for the OC potential. You've got four sticks. All of them have different highest clocks and remember: You're memory is only as fast as the slowest chip. So the more chips you have, the higher the chance that your highest clock wil be lower.

There might be a slight decrease, but I'd take 2x1GB for the OC potential alone. I do know for a fact, however, that on some older chipsets/motherboards, if you run 4 sticks it'd default to 333Mhz. Not sure if that is still a problem nowadays.

Yeah, I would love RAID and there is a significant increase, but not something justifable on this budget, IMO.

"Lightscribe is a useless feature we all love to have. So if you ever need a light imprint of some vague letters, Lightscribe can do it."

Lightscribe is just a perk. It is actually one of the cheapest 18X DVD+/- burners...Samsung 18X DVD Burner: $30.99!

On rebates: I still haven't got mine from Ultra from a few months ago, lol.

~Ibrahim~

P.S. Never mind, found an article X-Bit Labs
October 16, 2006 2:53:16 AM

AWESOME info! I just have to say that you guys are the bomb! I really apprecaite all the help.

I can't get over how cheap DVD R+-'s are. Hell, when I bought my Ricoh CDRW DVD player, the thing was over $150. 8O

My case is an Antec which is a few years old. The only thing I will need to upgrade is the PSU. The case itself is nice. Full tower with lots of space and slide rails.

Casey
October 16, 2006 3:15:41 AM

If you wait, things come down in price. :-P The blu-ray, HD DVD formats will soon be going down in price and a regular old DVD burner should go for $18 or less in under a year. My implication on the ram was to get 4 IDENTICAL sticks of 512mb ram. Sure it might be a tad slower running at 2T but it's barely noticeable, and you'll save $ over 2-1gig sticks. Cool that you have a case already, companies are getting better at making PSU's and there are so many decent ones to pick from now. The best ones (supposedly) seem to be made by PC Power & Cooling. They're powerful, and stable-but not cheap either. They also don't have modular cabling. OCZ and Enermax make some good ones, and the Thermaltake ToughPower line seems good too. Check out Seasonic too. Some of theirs can be found for a good price, while others are more costly. My experience is limited to the Enermax brand, and I know the Liberty's are good.

I'd stick with one of these companies if I were you...and there may be other decent makers out there, but these are some of the best known ones. In no particular order...
OCZ, MGE, FSP Group, Seasonic, Cooler Master, PC Power and Cooling, Enermax, Thermaltake, Silverstone, Antec, Ultra, Victory Seasonic. Corsair and Asus recently entered the market as well, you'll have to check them out I have no idea. I'd steer clear of a couple of companies like PowMax and Logisys. Logisys makes some ok stuff, but PSU's? Hmm. Apex makes a 500w worth looking at perhaps too.

http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_attrib.php/page_id=3...

Check that out, and you can do a sort by price, or use filters. The site isn't perfect but it lists a lot of companies like NewEgg and what not. Get an idea of what companies make good PSU's and check out their homepages and reviews for more info on a specific one. Go ahead and go 750w if you can afford it (and the electric bill) :-) I'd try typing the PSU u want into froogle too. Rarely, but sometimes you can find it cheaper from Amazon or elsewhere. There are certain risks anytime you buy online, so use your head. If a site looks too shoddy, don't buy from it. Sometimes ugly sites can produce good results though.

Whatever PSU you decide to get, AIM for something quiet. PC's are loud enough, especially with today's graphics cards. Get one with a 12 cm fan (120mm) or larger fan. They make some w/ 14 cm fans as well. Most should be super quiet. I've heard recommendations against silent fanless PSU's as they don't suck any air out of your PC and actually ADD heat to it. My enermax has a 12cm fan is nearly silent, I can barely hear it with my ear right next to it. Also, you want something with around 80% efficiency or better. Don't get anything less than 75%. Dual 12V rails offers more stability, which can mean less crashes and bigger load. If you want SLI, check out the SliZone.com or Nvidia.com for recommended supplies. ATI should have the same for X-fire if you go that route. You should be all set to choose your own now I hope.
October 19, 2006 9:20:50 PM

I think FSP and OCZ has the same manufacturer or something that makes their PSUs. Tagan, I think. Not sure, but quite a few of PSU makers use identical parts...

~Ibrahim~
October 19, 2006 9:39:37 PM

Quote:
I think FSP and OCZ has the same manufacturer or something that makes their PSUs. Tagan, I think. Not sure, but quite a few of PSU makers use identical parts...

~Ibrahim~


OCZ uses FSP hardware in their GameXstream (and probably others) PSUs.
October 20, 2006 1:14:56 AM

That's it. Thanks!

~Ibrahim~
October 20, 2006 5:13:48 AM

A new PSU that has won me over are the Xclio GreatPower series. Theyre similar to the GameXstream in price and specs but theyre modular.
Their hardware is made by Channel Well Technologies whos a very respected (as much or more than FSP) PSU producer.
Something new to consider in the recommendations :wink:
October 21, 2006 12:54:59 PM

I've heard of them, I'll have to check out some reviews before I start recommending, but it looks promising!

~Ibrahim~
October 21, 2006 6:17:49 PM

Quote:
I've heard of them, I'll have to check out some reviews before I start recommending, but it looks promising!

~Ibrahim~

Oh thats because they arent a manufacturer. They only produce and sell the hardware to the manufacturers. I believe you can find their hardware in PC P&C PSUs too.
!