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Researching my first build

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October 12, 2006 1:13:18 AM

I'm building my first system, and I would mostly like someone to look over what I've chosen and tell me if there's something dreadfully wrong with me. I have a couple other questions I'll end with, too

Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+

Motherboard: ASRock 939Dual-VSTA ATX AMD Motherboard

Case: basic Antec black

PSU: Antec 380W

RAM: Corsair 2x512

Video Card: (This I already have): ATI Radeon 9550 256mb (AGP)

So, there are three things not on that list: HD, DVD drive, monitor. These I hopefully have, and leads me to my first question:

Can I drop my old HD and DVD-ROM drive in the new machine and be good to go? I have a 140 gb hard drive, and don't really need more than that, so I would like to just keep it. Ditto the DVD drive. Don't have a need for RW Also, if I keep the HD, I don't need to buy Windows, as what I have is a factory-install, and of course I don't have a disc. I know the monitor is fine, it's about a month old, a Samsung 19" widescreen LCD flat-panel.

Second, and final, question: are there good instructions that come with these things? I'm fairly tech-knowledgeable, if I know what I'm doing, I'm fine. I've installed hardware before, but obviously nothing this big. Alternately, is there a good site around with a good guide?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

More about : researching build

a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 12, 2006 2:01:36 AM

Im guessing you went with that CPU, motherboard and RAM so you could keep using that ATI Radeon 9550 AGP video card?
What types of things do you plan on doing with this computer?

Did you know that the AM2 version of that CPU is less expensive than the 939 version?

You can also get 1GB of DDR2 800 RAM for about the same price of that 1GB DDR you picked above.
And a decent AM2 motherboard for about $75 that has on-board video chip.
October 12, 2006 2:05:45 AM

Quote:
Im guessing you went with that CPU, motherboard and RAM so you could keep using that ATI Radeon 9550 AGP video card?
What types of things do you plan on doing with this computer?


Yup, pretty much. The machine is for everything: heavy word processing and surfing the 'net and some gaming. Not a hard-core gamer, but I enjoy playing what I play and my old computer was beginning to struggle with some games and fail to play some other completely.

And yes, the AM2 socket version of the same processor is cheaper, but I couldn't find a motherboard with socket AM2 and an AGP slot.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 12, 2006 2:14:50 AM

The Geforce 6100 integrated video on that AM2 motherboard above is fine for internet surfing and office suite programs. It will even run some games OK.

Want to list the games you use for us? And what your old system had for a CPU?
It might be that the 9550 video card is what is holding you back.
October 12, 2006 2:30:09 AM

old CPU: AMD Athlon XP 3000+
Games: pretty much just Star Wars Battlefront 2 and EA Sports games
and to clarify a bit, the card was purchased recently when it was on clearance. Prior to that I had on-board graphics.
October 12, 2006 2:34:10 AM

You're having trouble playing games with your Athlon XP 3000+

That's strange, because my comp runs CS:S, HL2, and other games fine. (See sig for Details)
Despite this comp working, I'm going to upgrade soon too. I'm getting a X2 4200+, so good choice there. Here's what I'm getting: http://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/wishlist/PublicWish...
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 12, 2006 3:04:06 AM

Can you borrow a friends more powerful AGP video card to test the theory its the 9550 video card that is holding your gaming back? Something in the 9800Pro or Geforce 6600GT class of video cards?

I'd hate to see you spend almost $600 (with a copy of WinXP) to support what is a $50 video card when that video card might be the reason for poor performance.
October 12, 2006 3:26:53 AM

Comment: The link to the mobo reduntantly goes to the CPU again.

Your Athlon XP 3000+ isn't what's holding you back at the moment for doing heavy word processing and surfing the net. I have a 2400+ and I'm fine. The only thing really "lacking" at the moment is my 6600GT for gaming.

Are you planning on playing any new games in the next year? If so, you'll need a much better card.

I personally would not upgrade your machine unless you also upgrade that 9550 even though you just got it on clearance. There was a reason for it being on clearance. Here's an article on mid-level cards written over a year ago.

Your upgrade costs $594 in which I think the money could be better well spent.

CPU: E6300 - $180
Mobo: ASUS P5NSLI - $127
Memory: PQI Turbo 1GB - $105. The reason I suggest getting only 1 stick is that if you decide to upgrade to VISTA, you'll need 2GB. That way, it'll be an easy upgrade. Sure dual channel is nice but it doesn't perform magic compared to a single slot stick of the same amount of memory.
Case & PSU Grant it the P180B is a nice case, but the case & PSU you have is over 200 bucks. This is mainly where I think it'd be better to put your money someplace else. Take a look at this Antec Sonata II with Smart Power 450W PSU - $100.50. Sure it doesn't have 3 +12V outputs but it has 2 and that's what you need.

Now with the money you just saved, get yourself a much better video card and PCI-Express to boot. Maybe you can sell your 9550 on Ebay or to someone you know that might use it to recoup some of your cost.

Video Card: PowerColor X800GTO - $93. This is a much, much better video card than the 9550.

My system costs $609. That's only 15 bucks more. I think a lot of people would agree with this. If not, let the voice of the people at Tom's Hardware Forum be heard.

Memory: I have a question. If you have a 3000+, don't you already have some DDR 400 memory to transfer to your new system? I could understand you wanting an AMD system to salvage memory.
October 12, 2006 3:35:03 AM

Quote:
I'd hate to see you spend almost $600 (with a copy of WinXP) to support what is a $50 video card when that video card might be the reason for poor performance.
[/b]

It IS the reason for yancy's poor performance, not might.

As stated above, I have a 2400+ and a 6600GT.

I recently talked with another user who has a 2500+ and an X800XL and he gets much better performance out of his system than I do and I even have my 2400+ OC'd to 2.225GHz and the 6600GT OC'd from 500MHz core to 580MHz and the memory from 900MHz to 1180MHz.

Yancy, here's the cheapest solution. Get the X850Pro 256MB AGP - $137.

With this card you won't need to touch your system for awhile if those are the only games you play.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 12, 2006 3:35:29 AM

Quote:
a Samsung 19" widescreen LCD flat-panel.
It just occured to me that the 1440x900 native resolution of the monitor might be part of the poor game performance you're seeing.
Do you have the games "stretched" to fill the screen? Or do the games play in a window (for example 1024x768)? Usually that option is Fullscreen = No.
If you can set the games to run in a window vs having them stretched to fill the 1440x900 monitor. The calculations by the video card of which pixels to use to best match a 1024x768 game with a 1440x900 monitor could slow performance. See if you get any better performance in windowed mode.
October 12, 2006 3:53:20 AM

Nice catch. That could be a problem.
!