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1st build non oc c2d mid range system

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October 19, 2006 6:25:51 AM

I would like to build a new system and be able to play games (currently playing WoW) without any lag and running cool and stable. I've put together a list of parts after some research and would like suggestions and advice since I have limited knowledge of computer building. Here is what I have so far..
Intel BOXD975XBXLKR Socket T (LGA 775) Intel 975X ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz 2M sharing L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor
XFX PVT73GUGD3 Geforce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card
HIPER 4M480 ATX 480W Power Supply 100
mushkin 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Dual Channel Kit System Memory
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500KS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE SB0570LPVP 5.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card

I haven't seen very many recommendations for Intel boards but the reviews for this one seem to indicate that it's very stable and good for non overclockers. The front side bus runs at 800mhz I believe although 667 memory is what was listed as the standard ram I think not sure. Also this board also might be better and is less expensive GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 Socket T (LGA 775) Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard

I haven't decided on a monitor so any recommendations for a cheap 17 inch or 19 inch gaming monitor would be appreciated. Am also using my current mid tower aluminum atx case along with an LG dvd burner and cd rom drive. Also I read about some issues on after market HS fans fitting on the intel board and although I am not overclocking I would like to run the cpu as cool as possible since I sometimes play for long hours. So would this work ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler? I will probably run a cheap logitech 2.1 speaker system or 2.1 Klipsch so I don't really need a 5.1 sound card but I want to offload some of the work of the cpu with onboard sound and install a sound card.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2006 4:30:17 PM

It's a good list and should do all you want your PC to do for you. As you noted the motherboard you picked is at premium price. In a recent 975X motherboard review (that also included the 975XBX) MSI 975X Platinum @ $170 got the THG Editors Choice Award The 965P-DS3 alternative you mention is a favorite of overclockers, a well regarded all around choice and will save you $100.

With the money you'd save picking either of those alternate MBs you could upgrade your video card from the 7600GT @ $145 to XFX Geforce 7900GT @ $220 after $50 rebate or the SAPPHIRE 100189L Radeon X1900GT @ $198

For $2 more you can get the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) 250GB SATA 3.0Gb/s @ $80 which is the "hot" hard drive of the moment.

The stock Intel HSF should do a good job keeping your CPU cool. There is no real need for an aftermarket HSF fan although the one you picked is a good choice and an easy install. Yes, it will keep the CPU cooler than the stock HSF (and be quieter while doing so) but you can easily skip the upgrade. A review of the AC Freeze 7 Pro

If your main interest is gaming you can easily skip the audio card as well. The onboard audio chip won't overtax the E6400 in the slightest.

Picking an LCD monitor is made a lot easier if you've visited your local PC superstore and looked over the choices there. Always compare the store prices with the added shipping costs from the online stores. Some budget monitor recommendations
October 19, 2006 6:02:32 PM

Here's my suggestions:

Mobo: The MSI 975X Platium is a very nice board. Also, take a look at the ASUS P5B-E, the ABIT AB9-Pro, and the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3. Anandtech and Tom's have reviews of these boards when OC'ing C2D.

If you don't need RAID, then the Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 will save you a ton of money. Pick the cheapest one that will meet your needs.

Video Card: I would wait until the week after the DX10 cards come out from NVidia. Mainly just to see if current high-end cards come down in price. Also, the X1950Pro is due out soon. If this card ends up being $199 like I've read, it'll be the best bang for the buck.

HDD: I'd spend another 15 bucks and get the 320GB version of the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 Perpendicular Drive.

PSU: I'd get the 580W version of the Hiper.

Memory: PQI Turbo 2x1GB DDR2 667 - $183. Save nearly 60 bucks over the Mushkin.

Heatsink/Fan: I like the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro. It's 23 bucks at Monarch but it you plan on not OC'ing, I really wouldn't worry about getting a 3rd party heatsink, but it's your call.

Case: You never mentioned a case. If you need one, the B-20B from Lian Li is a nice case. But any Lian Li is nice. Find one within your budget. Another popular case is the Antec P-180B.

Sound Card: Default sound on mobo's is pretty good nowadays as that's all I use. If you want a separate sound card with more channels, Creative is the gold standard but Turtle Beach is pretty good also for the price.

CPU: I saved this one for last because with the money saved on the mobo and memory, you can get the E6600 instead of the E6400. If you were OC'ing, then the E6400 would be the one I would recommend and getting DDR2 800 instead of the 667 ones.
Related resources
October 19, 2006 10:39:04 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. Let me post a revised part list and see how this build will work...
Mobo MSI 975X Platinum Socket T (LGA 775) Intel 975X ATX Intel Motherboard $169.99
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz 2M sharing L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor $220.00
Memory mushkin 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit System Memory $259.99
or
Crucial Technology Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $299.99
Hard drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3250620AS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $79.99
Graphics XFX PVT73GUGD3 Geforce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card $159.99
PSU HIPER 4M480 ATX 480W Power Supply 100 $55.99

Total - about $950

The standard memory for the MSI board is 800Mhz which costs considerably more than the 667Mhz I had chosen on the original build. Are the faster 800Mhz chips worth the extra money or should I just install the 667? Also, would I be better off saving some money and just get two 1g sticks of memory that aren't dual channel? Also, will 480W of power be enough for this build or should I upgrade and get more? I have a dvd burner, cd rom, and floppy drive already that require ide connections I think but didn't see any ide slots on the MSI board specs but I'm not sure.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2006 11:17:17 PM

DDR2-667, 800, 1066, etc. is really for overclocking. You can run the RAM at those speeds by either running asynchronous with the FSB using a ratio, or you can set them to run synchronously (DDR2-533 speed) but by increasing the FSB you end up with DDR2-667, 800 etc. By synchronous, I mean that the RAM is transmitting info along with the CPU clock cycles.

Let's see if I can make this clearer...

Stock Conroe FSB is 266MHz. For the CPU, it gets quad pumped to 1066MHz and then multiplied to get the final clock speed. RAM is double pumped (DDR) so a FSB of 266MHz runs synchonously at 533MHz. If you OC the FSB to 333MHz, the CPU goes to 1333MHz and the RAM goes to 667MHz. Buying DDR2-667 RAM ensures that the memory can handle the OC.

Now, most RAM that you buy can be run at faster than stock speeds without touching the FSB by way of the memory ratio. A 1:1 ratio means that you are running in sync with the CPU FSB (533MHz at stock 266MHz FSB). In the BIOS you can set the memory ratio to 2:3 for example and end up with (266MHz x 3)/2 = 400MHz or DDR2-800 speed. Or, you can run 1:1 with an OC FSB of 400MHz and your RAM will be at the same DDR2-800 speed. Make sense?

In short, you can buy DDR2-667 RAM and run it at DDR2-800 speed without paying the premium. I have DDR2-667 RAM and run it at DDR2-800 speed. My advice is to buy good DDR2-667 RAM so you don't have to pay the premium for the DDR2-800.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2006 2:03:18 AM

Quote:
I have a dvd burner, cd rom, and floppy drive already that require ide connections I think but didn't see any ide slots on the MSI board specs but I'm not sure.
IDE = PATA (Parallel ATA) Most 965 chipsets only have 1 PATA channel (2 devices) but the 975 chipsets like the MSI 975X Platinum still have 2 PATA channels that support 4 IDE devices. MSI 975X Platinum photo

The 480w PSU should be plenty for what you need with room for some future growth. If you were considering a future Crossfire (2x ATI video setup) - which this motherboard supports - then we'd probably recommend something in the 550-650w range.

You can safely purchase any quality DDR2 - 533/667/800.
That PQI 667 memory that purdueguy pointed out would be fine. Even the DDR2 533 PC2 4200 RAM would get the job done.
-> Do not let the FSB 1066/800 ability of the motherboard cloud the RAM discussion. Any C2D CPU will run at 1066 FSB in that motherboard just as any Pentium D would run at 800 FSB in the same motherboard. Justs check the FSB rating of a Pentium D 945 Presler to the Conroe E6400 for example.
October 20, 2006 6:16:29 AM

Ok I'm gonna need an after market HSF for my brain after reading all that technical jargon 8O :lol:  Seriously though thanks for the feedback it really helps a lot. If I understand correctly if I buy the 667Mhz memory I will have to set the bios to a 2:3 ratio but if I buy 533Mhz memory it will run synchronously with the FSB at 1:1? I will not be overclocking so I think I should just go with the 533Mhz chips. I don't know I think I'm still confused.
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2006 7:39:42 AM

-> The short answer is don't worry about it. The computer will take care of the little details without you having to mess with BIOS settings.

The rest of the FSB story:
As rwpritchett said earlier the stock FSB runs @ 266Mhz (quad pumped 266*4=1066Mhz).
The E6400 has a CPU multiplier of 8 so that 266Mhz (FSB) * 8 (CPU multi) gets you the 2128Mhz or the 2.13Ghz (rounded up from 2.128Ghz) speed of the E6400.
If I told you the E6300 had a multi of 7, the E6600 had a multi of 9 and the E6700 had 10 you could use the FSB speed of 266Mhz to figure out the CPU speed without looking it up.

The rest of the DDR2 RAM story:
DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) is actually running at 266Mhz but transfering two data blocks per clock cycle so it's called (266*2) 533. (OK the math is a bit off but thats the way DDR2 rating works out). Thats how you get the ideal ideal 1:1 RAM/FSB ratio (266/266)
So what happens when you have 667DDR2 or 800DDR2 in a 266Mhz FSB?
667DDR2 (333MHz) RAM would need a 5:4 ratio (266*5/4=333)
800DDR2 (400MHz) RAM would need a 3:2 ratio (266*3/2=400)
Again - the PC usually figures that stuff out on its own without you having to mess in the BIOS.
Having the ideal 1:1 ratio is nice but using a different RAM/FSB ratio usually has very small performance differences that are only measureable in benchmarking programs.

All that FSB, CPU multi and RAM knowledge starts coming in handy when you start to think about overclocking. Then you'll be working with the BIOS to push the FSB higher and adjust the RAM (if necessary).
a b B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2006 12:44:16 PM

I know benchmarks don't equate to real life, but to help you out here's a little experiment I tried. I ran one of the 3DMark benchmarks (can't remember which one) with everything the same except for RAM settings. Results were:

*DDR2-533 @ 4-4-4-12: 5525
DDR2-667 @ 4-4-4-12) 5524
DDR2-800 @ 4-4-4-12) 5524
*DDR2-533 @ 3-3-3-8: 5600

*In sync with FSB

So, as you can see from the benchmarks, with a C2D you don't get a big increase in performance from the RAM frequency, but the timings will have an impact. I run at DDR2-800 speeds still because in 'real life' apps my system feels more peppy.

Read this article to get an idea of how the different RAM speeds affect performance: Intel Core 2: Is high speed memory worth its price?

So, I guess what you can take from this is that if you don't plan on OC'ing, go ahead and get DDR2-533 with good timings. Since DDR2-667 costs about the same as 533, you would be fine with that too, but you may want to underclock it to 533 speeds.
October 21, 2006 4:02:42 AM

Can you link me some 533 ram with 3-3-3-8 timings? cuz I could only find 4-4-4-12 on newegg
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
October 21, 2006 4:27:26 AM

pqi TURBO 2GB DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) CL3 $196 after rebate

Although I'm guessing that rwpritchett had some DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 that he underclocked and adjusted the BIOS timings to do that test of his 8)

This chart gives you a big of an idea what the tech stuff means.

But note the low 1024x768 resolution. As you move up in graphics resolution the differences tend to disappear as the GPU starts to become the limiting factor in the system.


Very small gains for the higher priced RAM
Which is why the best upgrade is probably a better video card instead of the more pricey RAM.
October 21, 2006 7:57:55 AM

Tom's hardware should be paying you guys $$$ for the great tech support you provide on these forums. I noticed the pqi TURBO 2GB DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) CL3 is 2.0 volt memory will that be fine for the MSI board or will I have to change bios settings? Thanks for the help guys I'm going to be ordering parts soon.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 21, 2006 10:36:33 PM

Quote:
Although I'm guessing that rwpritchett had some DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 that he underclocked and adjusted the BIOS timings to do that test of his 8)


You are partially correct. I underclocked my DDR2-<b>667</b> 4-4-4-12 RAM and then tightened the timings in the BIOS.

That's another lesson to be learned here, when you OC the RAM, you (usually) need to loosen timings and when you UC the RAM you can tighten the timings easier.
October 21, 2006 10:54:38 PM

Here is the final parts list ordered today all from newegg...
Mobo MSI 975X Platinum Socket T (LGA 775) Intel 975X ATX Intel Motherboard $169.99
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz 2M sharing L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor $220
RAM pqi TURBO 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $235.99 ($195.99 after $40.00 Mail-In Rebate)
HD Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3250620AS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $74.99
PSU HIPER 4M480 ATX 480W Power Supply 100 $55.99
Video Card XFX PVT73GUGD3 GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card $149.99 ($139.99 after $10.00 Mail-In Rebate)
Monitor ViewSonic VX922 Black/Silver 19" 2ms DVI LCD Monitor 270 cd/m2 650:1 $254.99
Keyboard Saitek PZ30AU-RED RED 104 Normal Keys 4 Function Keys USB Wired Slim Eclipse Keyboard $39.99
Speakers Logitech X-230 32 Watts 2.1 Black Speakers $31.99

Total with shipping (before rebates) $1,278.32

I think the board comes with software for automatic bios updates so hopefully I can figure it out since I never updated my bios on previous systems. (I'm a newb) Do bios updates require fresh windows installations or does the bios update work before you install windows? Also, what is the best order to install software after windows? Should you install all the mobo drivers 1st then graphics then windows updates then anti-virus and firewall or which order is best?
a b B Homebuilt system
October 21, 2006 11:58:52 PM

You are going to be very happy with this system.

For a BIOS update, it used to be that you did it from a floppy drive outside of Windows. Nowadays, most motherboards come with a utility that will flash the BIOS from within Windows. For MSI, it's called 'Live Update' I think.

The order that I like to install items is:

I. Drivers
-a. Chipset
-b. Controllers
-c. Graphics
-d. Any remaining onboard items (NIC, Audio, etc.)
II. Protection Apps.
-a. Anti-Virus
-b. Firewall
-c. Anti-Spyware
III. Windows Updates
IV. Plugins/Codecs (java, DirectX, Flash, etc.)
V. Other Software (office suites, games, etc.)

These are just my preferences, others may do it differently.

Do you have a case picked out?
October 22, 2006 12:12:55 AM

I was planning on using my current aluminum atx mid tower case. It's about 10 years old but still looks nice and is in good condition. This case looks tempting though Lian Li PC-7B plus II Black Computer Case .
My debit card was denied because I didn't notify my bank of the large amount to withdraw and will have to wait til Monday when my bank reopens.
November 4, 2006 5:00:22 AM

All the parts came in 4 days from the order date from newegg. All the hardware is great and couldn't be happier. MSI board, Hiper PSU, pqi ram and Viewsonic monitor are highly recommended. The speaker subwoofer was broken upon arrival so I sent it back for a replacement. With the Freezer Pro the cpu temp is registering at 40 degrees C while idle which is not that great but other than that everything is fantastic.
!