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Need System Pre-Purchase Advice

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January 20, 2007 3:34:03 AM

OK, I need some good advice about building/buying a new system. I have a person that may be willing to buy my current rig and if I do that, I need to immediately build/buy a new one. I want a pretty high-powered rig, but need to keep a budget. I will show what I have right now and note what my goals are. I have not kept up on the newest stuff, so thats why I need help. I also do not hardcore overclock, but will tweak my system up a little bit. I do a lot of high powered programming and a lot of gaming, so I need a powerful system.

MB: DFI NF4 SLI-DR
CPU: AMD 64 x2 4400+ (thermalright xp90 cooler, arctic silver compound)
MEM: OCZ Gold EL VX DDR500 4x512 (set 3.2v)
VID: Asus Nvidia 7800GTX
HD: (2) SATA II Hitachi 180GB (RAID 0)
PSU: OCZ GamerXtreme 600w
SOUND: Audigy 2 ZS Gamer
CASE: Antec P180 (4x120mm panaflo fans, 2xmb fans, 90mm vid card blower, dust filters, etc)

Ok, so lemme break down my opinion/goals of each major piece:

CPU: I want AMD. I do not know if I should be going for an AM2 X2, AM2 FX, or some sort of opteron. I want speed and stability. I like dual-core. What do you suggest? I want a speed of what I have or faster. Also, is it a much better option to go with the new conroe core2duo?

MB: I have DFI now and although I had to replace it, I do like the board. I want something thats stable and reliable, but fast and flexible. I know this will depend on the CPU/MEM also.

MEM: I have the OCZ Gold now and think its great. I have it at 3.3v since its the vx series. I have heard that high priced memory is not worth it. I do not know for sure, but I want something that will not overheat and will run at high performance. Also, I need NO less than 4GB. 4GB is a requirement.

VID: My 7800GTX Asus is pretty good, but I want an upgrade. Should I do SLI or not? I do alot of video stuff and tons of gaming. I thought about like 1 8800GTX or like (2)7950's. I want a setup that is reliable and doesnt have problems. For example, I run RAID0 with my SATAII's and I have bootup problems from time to time. I dont want problems from SLI if it is known to be an issue. I want a brand that is reliable and wont burn up also. I got Asus on my last 2 cards because it was reliable. I am open to anything.

HD: I want high-speed and high storage. I have (2) Hitachi 160GB in RAID0 now, but like I said I have boot problems form time to time. Sometimes it does not find the drives or it blue-screens for some reason. It doesnt happen often but it has happened 2-3 times. I want something reliable and fast. I would say that I want like maybe 300GB+ for storage total. I want the fastest SATA, which I think is SATAII. Should I do RAID0, RAID1, or no RAID at all? I am not sure if RAID0 makes that much difference on a desktop. I want to be able to backup my data, so I need either a RAID 1, or at least 2 drives so I can manually backup data to a second drive.

PSU: One thing I have learned is that PSU is everything. I want something that will never give me worries to run my systems. Enough power and stability is what I want.

SOUND: I dont really know much about sound. I want something that sounds decent, but I dont need the highest end $300 card or whatever.

CASE: I really like the Antec P180. It has room and stays cool. I am also debating if I should go liquid cool or stay fans. I want my system to run cool so if I decide to OC, it will be fine. I am VERY nervous about liquid because I do NOT want to fool with a bunch of maintenance. I want to buy/build it once and do nothing but keep it clean and run it. I would consider liquid, but I am nervous about maintenance and the potential of something breaking and leaking.


Now I know thats quite a list, but I need some help. If I can buy a custom system built, thats great. I looked at www.cyberpowerinc.com and they are good, but have limited choices on hardware. I can build it myself as well. I know computers, but I do not like constantly having to work on it.

Anyway, please give me some good current advice. I have a ballpark budget of about $2000. I do NOT need a monitor or speakers.

Any help is appreciated.
January 20, 2007 11:28:11 AM

I recommend you go for socket AM2 mobo & CPU as opposed to 939. You'll be able to use 240-pin DDR2 memory that i. If you have the cash, go for an 8800, that should do you fine, plus you'll be all set for DX10 when that rolls around. Everything else looks good.
January 20, 2007 1:13:18 PM

What about the cpu type? I have various people telling me that the intel core2duo conroe is killing the AMD x2's.
Related resources
January 20, 2007 1:26:05 PM

For the money you want to spend, Intel is the way to go.
Only someone on a really tight budget should be looking at AMD at the moment.
Also, for the money you want to spend, a pre-built system will be a poor value.
January 20, 2007 2:19:50 PM

I didn't mention anything about Intel C2D because you said under your CPU category "I want AMD".
January 20, 2007 2:29:27 PM

Quote:

...
MEM: OCZ Gold EL VX DDR500 4x512 (set 3.2v)
...
MEM: I have the OCZ Gold now and think its great. I have it at 3.3v since its the vx series. I have heard that high priced memory is not worth it. I do not know for sure, but I want something that will not overheat and will run at high performance. Also, I need NO less than 4GB. 4GB is a requirement.


4x512mb = 2gigs, but you want 4x1gig = 4 gig. right?

also im confused on what parts you currently have, and what you need to buy
January 20, 2007 2:47:38 PM

Quote:

...
MEM: OCZ Gold EL VX DDR500 4x512 (set 3.2v)
...
MEM: I have the OCZ Gold now and think its great. I have it at 3.3v since its the vx series. I have heard that high priced memory is not worth it. I do not know for sure, but I want something that will not overheat and will run at high performance. Also, I need NO less than 4GB. 4GB is a requirement.


4x512mb = 2gigs, but you want 4x1gig = 4 gig. right?

also im confused on what parts you currently have, and what you need to buy

If you use 4GB on windows XP, good chance you'll slow it down more than anything. 2GB is more than enough for multitasking, and intense gaming.
January 20, 2007 8:24:20 PM

Quote:
OK, I need some good advice about building/buying a new system...I also do not hardcore overclock, but will tweak my system up a little bit. I do a lot of high powered programming and a lot of gaming, so I need a powerful system...
CPU: I want AMD. I do not know if I should be going for an AM2 X2, AM2 FX, or some sort of opteron. I want speed and stability. I like dual-core. What do you suggest? I want a speed of what I have or faster. Also, is it a much better option to go with the new conroe core2duo?

Forget AMD for now. Waste of money.

Quote:
...Anyway, please give me some good current advice. I have a ballpark budget of about $2000. I do NOT need a monitor or speakers.
Any help is appreciated.


Compare this with any Pre-build and you will gladly put this together yourself:

Gaming Box $2000:

Conroe E6600 2.4GHz 4MB Boxed $316+0 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 LGA775 965 Conroe $149+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Kingston value DDR2 2G 800 1.8v KVR800D2NK2/2G $279+5 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
OR
No plans to overclock? Then use this:
Kingston value DDR2 2G 533 KVR533D2N4K2/2G $218+5 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

EVGA 640-P2-N821-AR 8800GTS Retail $400-30+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Creative X-Fi Gamer Retail $90+7 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

WD Raptor 150GB 10Krpm/16MB $220-30+0 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

WD WD500AAKS 500GB/16MB 7200 SATA $160+0 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Lite-on SHD-16P2S IDE Retail DVD-ROM $20+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
Set up as Boot Drive for OS...

Lite-on SH-16A7S-06 SATA DVD RW $36+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

NEC 1.44MB Black Floppy $6+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Antec P180 Silver $120+16 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
OR
Chenming CMUI-P-601AEB-0 Blk SOHO Tower w/o PSU $60+16 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
(Few here at Tom's like this case, but it's a goodie.)
AND add these fans:
(2) Scythe 3110KL-04W-B19-EB1 80mm 1400rpm Fan $9+5 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...
one for HDD, one for side door (both intakes)

Antec TruePowerTrio TP3-550 PSU Active $100+8 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Targus 104 USB Keyboard $20+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Logitech G5 931376-0403 Mouse $43+6 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

If my math is right, total w/shipping = $2,005
January 20, 2007 8:39:23 PM

Quote:
Kingston value DDR2 2G 800 1.8v KVR800D2NK2/2G $279+5 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
OR
No plans to overclock? Then use this:
Kingston value DDR2 2G 533 KVR533D2N4K2/2G $218+5 1/19/07
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
Seems worth also suggesting the CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2-800 because at the moment (through Jan 23) there's a $40 rebate for it. ~$215 after the rebate. The specs seem to me to be the same as the $280 Kingston Valueram, but maybe I'm missing something.

-john
January 20, 2007 8:50:55 PM

OK, thanks.

As of now, I have the 4x512mb of the OCZ EL VX Gold. I am selling my entire system and going to build/buy a new one.

I do want 4GB of ram because I will upgrade to vista in the near future plus I do a LOT of memory heavy applications.

So if the conroe C2D that much better than the X2's?

Also, is it really worth it to buy the very expensive RAM? Like I said, I need 4GB and I may OC it a bit, but I wont be pushing extremes. I have the VX series now, thats why I am using 3.3v. OCZ recommends using 3.3v with the memory I have now. Also, the memory I have now is DDR500, even though since I am using socket 939 its built for 400mhz. Should I definitely be buying 800mhz DDR2 or should I buy something above?

Does anyone have any suggestions for a specific chipset for the Intel C2D? I know that if I buy AMD, I am definitely using Nvidia and most likely a DFI board. Does DFI make a nice board for C2D as well?

I have not owned anything Intel for many years, so most of my knowledge is with AMD.

I will review all of the parts you mentioned above.
January 20, 2007 8:56:24 PM

Another thing, with the RAM, is it worth it to get 4x1GB or 2x2GB? I know when I bought my OCZ that I use now, I was told 4x512mb was bad because it would have to run at 2T and that would be much slower. Does that matter now?

I only see that G.Skill has 2x2GB. Is it any good or is it worth it?
January 20, 2007 9:13:19 PM

Quote:
Another thing, with the RAM, is it worth it to get 4x1GB or 2x2GB? I know when I bought my OCZ that I use now, I was told 4x512mb was bad because it would have to run at 2T and that would be much slower. Does that matter now?
I only see that G.Skill has 2x2GB. Is it any good or is it worth it?

Quote:
...I can build it myself as well. I know computers, but I do not like constantly having to work on it.

The Kingston ram is 1.8v and WILL boot and run with no problems. The Corsair SHOULD be fine @ 1.9v since it can boot up at the stock 533 speed.
I would be amazed if you actually use >2GB of ram in an XP system.
Open Task Manager and click on the Performance tab. Normal commit charge will range from 250MB upwards to 800 or so. Check out your Peak Commit. Are you exceeding 2GB?
The system I mentioned will blow away any currently available AMD setup you can build. It will boot and run without conflicts if you assemble it properly. Play with higher voltage ram at your own risk.
January 20, 2007 11:47:08 PM

Well, I will be going to 64bit Vista pretty soon, so thats also why I want 4GB. I also plan to try not to use a page file for speed. Disk caching is a source of slowness as well.

Like I said, I am not the type to set settings 1000x and try settings 1000x. I normally like to boost my performance a bit, but do not want to tweak it 1000x and try to "burn" it in. I do not need to push the RAM to the edge. I just dont want to have it be bottleneck either.
January 21, 2007 12:01:35 AM

Also, I will be bringing a 160GB SATAII Hitachi HD with me. I am debating if I should buy 2 more SATAII drives for a RAID1 or just do a single SATAII for the OS and a second SATAII for storage.

In the post above, I like the 10k RPM drive, but its only SATA150. Aren't I better off with SATAII?

So should I worry about RAID 1? I use (2) Hitachi 160GB in RAID0 right now, but I dont want RAID0 again. I will be keeping 1 of the Hitachi's, so I figured I could use it in my new system.
January 21, 2007 12:15:26 AM

Quote:
...

In the post above, I like the 10k RPM drive, but its only SATA150. Aren't I better off with SATAII?

...


there is no performance difference, thats nothing to worry about
you have three options with your 2 drives
1- raid 0
2- raid 1
3- install everything on one disk, and just backup on to the other disk to avoid using raid altogether
January 21, 2007 12:47:13 AM

Quote:
Also, I will be bringing a 160GB SATAII Hitachi HD with me. I am debating if I should buy 2 more SATAII drives for a RAID1 or just do a single SATAII for the OS and a second SATAII for storage.

In the post above, I like the 10k RPM drive, but its only SATA150. Aren't I better off with SATAII?

So should I worry about RAID 1? I use (2) Hitachi 160GB in RAID0 right now, but I dont want RAID0 again. I will be keeping 1 of the Hitachi's, so I figured I could use it in my new system.
I would use the Raptor for the OS, and install programs on the second drive (it may be easier for file maintenance if you partition the 2nd drive F:\Programs, and G:\Storage). This way you get excellent speed and don't need RAID 0. Raid 1 is for safety, not speed. You may also want to save $40 and just get the 74GB Raptor for the OS. It's plenty big enough. There are lots of strategies you can use depending on how much time/trouble you want.
Ignore SATA150 vs SATA2 vs ...etc. Hard drives are not fast enough to make any difference. Best speed would be to use a pair of 150GB Raptors in RAID 0, second best is to split out the OS and programs to separate drives.
BTW, if you really want 4GB of ram, then just buy it. I just don't believe you need it (see my earlier post).
January 21, 2007 11:02:11 PM

With the HD's is there any difference between the Raptor and the Raptor X? I see the X is black, but is there any functional difference?
January 22, 2007 12:45:19 AM

nope, one has a fancy window, the other doesnt
!