Hello. I have often browsed these forums trying to stay up to date on products and feedback and considering I am about to build a new system for my father I felt it would be good to get some knowledgeable feedback. However, I must state that I live in the USA, and my father is in the UK and this will be built during a trip back to the UK in the coming weeks.
The Components I am planning to use are as follows:
Core 2 Duo E6600
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
Corsair 2Gb DDR2 XMS2 6400-C4
EVGA Geforce 7900 GS
WD Raptor 74Gb 16mb cache
WD 160Gb Sata II 16mb cache
Creative SB X-Fi
NEC AD7170 A 18x18 DVD +-RW x2
Seasonic M-12 600W
Antec (Sonata 2 or 3800)
Below is my reasoning:
CPU: Overclocking is unlikely as if something goes wrong it will be hard to fix when in the USA and he is in the UK. Therefore, E6600 offers good clock and the important 4mb L2 cache.
Mobo: Hard decision, but the P5W DH Del seems about the best mobo to date for the Core 2 Duo. I think that the mobo is one of, if not the most important part of a computer from past experiences so I did not want to save on this area. However, I anticipate comments that this board is overkill for a small or no overclock setup. I would have liked to wait for the new Nvidia chipset boards, but time constraints rule this out.
Mem: 2Gb essential nowadays. Corsair has always been reliable for me in the past. C4 latency helps, but is this much of a difference over the C5?
GFX: He loves Flight Sim, especially the new one which needs a fair amount of power. This card has 256mb onboard and is good price to performance. However, this card is a stop gap until the DX10 cards come out which he will want for Flight Sim X to be in all its glory. I figured the 7900GS is inexpensive, good performance and I have always preferred Nvidia GFX cards.
HD: Two drives. One for Windows and programs, the other for documents. The Raptor will offer speed which everyone wants. Whether it is necessary over a standard SataII I am unsure. 74Gb is enough space too. The 2nd HD, at 160Gb is purely for Documents. This is ample space as he only has about 10Gb of documents now (after 3 years).
Sound: I gave him some really good Cambridge Soundworks speakers when I left for the US. His current onboard sound ruined them! I remember how good they sound on my Audigy 2ZS, so I figured might as well put in a current generation sound card that is also reasonably priced. Front panel is not necessary.
Optical Drive: Had to be black to match case. Many positive reviews of these drives on Newegg. Cheap. From my experience Optical drives normally break anyway, so I am not overly concerned here. I've had 3 pioneers break in the same time my NEC is still going strong. Buying 2 just so you don;'t have to chop and change discs all the time.
PSU: Very hard to know what to buy. Seasonic seems to be quality. Modular is important as excess cables in a Sonata II are tight. 600W is overkill for specs above, but I am building in anticipation of a hungry DX10 card. Furthermore, better to have more power than less? I just don't know if the next step down, at 500W would be enough for future use.
Case: Has to be black; aesthetics are important. Sonata II is smart, mid sized, 120mm fans for quietness. Thew plastic door is a little cheap and annoying, but so far I am very pleased with my Sonata II. I hope it won't be too tight for a DX10 card. I managed to fit a first generation 6800Ultra in mine, and those were very big cards.
Fans: I did not state any above, but would be looking for very quiet 120mms that shift a reasonable amount of air.
So there we go. The computer will have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years and is being built with an upgrade to Vista in mind in a years time. The majority of use will be office work or internet use; however as mentioned before this has to play flight sims, in particular Flight Sim X. The budget was around £1100GBP, at which my father didn't seem to bothered about. He wanted plenty of performance for when he needs it.
I'd like to extend my appreciation to anyone who offers feedback on this build. I look forward to your comments and will take them on board.
Oh well, maybe folks are gritting their teeth because you posted within an Overclocking category but mention you have no intent to OC?
My first thought is to price out some of the big dollar items between the US and UK. In my experience even with the US dollar being in the crapper, goods are still cheaper here. In fact, I can get Korean made stuff cheaper in the US than in Korea, after bargaining! Small computer bits will go unnoticed by customs especially if the retail packaging is removed.
Now onto the bits...
I'm not gonna go anywhere near your case choice. Too personal. Fans should be easy, just hop over to the cooling category and do some reading. And no need to harp over funny aftermarket heat sinks if you're not going to overclock. Do remember one thing about the fans, which is that ignoring blade radius, noise and airflow are directly related, no matter what. Some fans can get the same airflow with slightly less noise using quieter (and generally, less reliable) bearings, more efficient motors and better blade or grille designs. Compare carefully.
The E6600 is a performance vs price compromise that Dad'll have to be happy with. The good news is, OC is just a better cooler away if he's not happy with FS-X' frame rates.
The Asus DH Dlx is supposed to be a nice board in spite of THG's lousy experience with it. Other folks in the forums here report good results. Yes, the motherboard is the single most important piece, which is why I personally am choosing Intel's Bad Axe 2 (just hitting the streets this week I think).
The memory choice (PC-6400) is excessive if you don't intend to OC. The money spent trying to hammer more performance out of the memory's timings is better spent on a faster CPU like the 6700. Or buy 533MHz RAM and get 4GB instead of 2GB, which will give FS-X lots of elbow room.
You know what you're doing re the graphics card, no need to twist your arm. It's a pretty good bet that FS-X will show great improvements both in appearance and performance when you drop in a DX-10 card. Get what's cheap for now.
Everyone seems to like Seasonic's power supplies. Take a stab at the power supply calculator web site (link are in stickies in one of the forums here) for sizing. Remember that the DX-10 cards will draw somewhere around 140 Watts by themselves. Yes, that's almost double the drain of the CPU itself.
You might want to think about buying two different optical drives. since each brand and model has varying strengths and weaknesses and no one drive seems to do everything perfectly. Try http://www.cdrinfo.com for better shopping and information in that area.
SB is easy to support and are finally paying some proper attention to audiophile sampling rates and s/n ratios, thank heavens. No problem there although some may wish to argue.
Choose hard drive size so that it's never going to be more than half full. Don't forget how much space current software hogs now. Vista RTM is over 11GB, FS-X is another 15GB, and a full install of Office Pro is another GB. Put Windows' swap file on the second HD for snappier performance, and crank down the default setting for IE's cache size to something reasonable.
I just purchased a bunch of components for my build and, what can I say, they look just like yours except I intend OC. My guess is, therefore, that you might be going a bit over the top in some areas as mentioned by bberson. For example, why get the DH Deluxe? You probably could get by on something costing $100 less if you aren't planning on OC.
coming soon: e6600, P5W DH-Deluxe, x1900xtx, 2gb A-Data DDR2 667, Seasonic S12 550w, 250gb Spinpoint, Zalman CNSP 9500.
I don't know about $100, but definitely you could save $30 easily.
Not wanting to skimp is one thing. But paying more for function that is never going to be used is just making money disappear for the sake of getting rid of it.
Here's a link to a newegg.com comparison of three Asus P5B boards. If you went with the P5B-E you'd loose a SATA port, one PCIe x16 slot, and one PCIe x1 slot and potentially gain 2 more USB ports if I read the comparison correctly.
Oh ... the ASUS P5B Deluxe has a COM port, the P5B-E an LPT. (Is your dad likely to use either of them?