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noob with a few parts needs help

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March 18, 2007 6:48:23 AM

Hello all,

First, me. I am literally just a construction laborer in the Detroit area. I work my tail off year round in the cold and heat digging holes for a company that drives it's employees into the ground...no pun intended. I live a pretty spartan life, the little money I earn is precious to me...so is the time I spend on my one and only personal luxury...gaming.

Being poor, I have only owned 2 computers in my 47 years, each one lasted about 5 or 6 years and was used almost exclusively for gaming. I just got my tax return and my wife understands how important this part of life is to me. It's time for an upgrade.

My old computer is a Dell with 256 MB RAM. I hadn't considered purchasing a whole new system...until I looked at the obscene prices for RDRAM and considered how little benefit it was worth. I hope to avoid making such a dead end purchase again...which is why I am asking for advice from the good people of this community.

This is where I am right now, I bought these items at a local CompUSA store closing. The prices I paid are before 6% Michigan sales tax and a couple gallons of gas:



Cooler Master CM Stacker 830 ATX Tower Case, No Power Supply 174.99

Thermaltake ToughPower 750 Watt ATX Internal Power Supply Unit 139.99

BFG Technologies Nvidia nForce 680i SLI Socket 775 Intel ATX Motherboard 230.99

Gateway FPD2485W 24-inch LCD Monitor 611.99




I have never built a computer before and I know next to nothing about over clocking or messing with the bios, but I want to give home building a shot and if that goes well maybe try the over clocking at some distant point in the future...perhaps to extend the usable life of this build? I have been reading this forum and looking at user reviews of various products. The purchases I made above were based on some of your opinions and a rough idea I have for my needs...plus the store closing was just an opportunity for me. I wish I would have heard about it before most of the good stuff was sold out though.

I play strategy games mostly, but I have two children 8 and 10 who love to play the fps games. We have purchased several games that are collecting dust because they would not play on my current cumputer. I won't have time to keep up with the latest and greatest advances, so my goal is to build a good rig now that I can add a few things here and there in the future to extend it's life. I haven't set a spending cap, I just want bang for the buck and longevity with as little fooling around with tweaks as possible...at least to start with.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the sli board I purchased can be upgraded to a quad core proccessor at some point? Not sure what that would do for me? And a second video card can be added to improve graphics later as well? Or does this have to be done now?

What I have in mind is getting a single EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS card that bundles a free Dark Messiah game, which I have been eying to purchase anyway. What is the difference between these versions? The KO is quite expensive in relation to the others.

e-GeForce 8800GTS 640MB KO ACS3
e-GeForce 8800GTS 640MB Superclocked
e-GeForce 8800GTS 640MB

The proccessor I am not sure what to get. This one seems popular.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115004

RAM I am completely mystified at the amount of choices, no idea what to get or why I would be getting a certain type. I hear there is issues with certain mother boards and with Vista? I know it has something to do with over clocking, but I am clueless why you guys like those low numbers. And I doubt I would be overclocking any time soon anyway, if ever. But I am interested in learning more and leaving my options open now in my initial purchase.

For hard drives I was thinking of getting two 500 gig drives. WD is supposed to be quiet.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16822136073


What is raid? Do I need to purchase a seperate part for it? Is 2 hard drives a good set up? The cost per gig looked better with the larger drive, but do those large drives slow gaming down?

As far as cooling goes, I read in the reviews that the board I bought is hard to install an after market cpu cooler on. Do I need a cpu cooler? And which one would fit? I like the idea of having a quiet computer so I am curious about those heat pipe or heat sink things. And I haven't opened the box to the case yet, but it looks like it has 3 or 4 mounts for fans on the side, one in the front, and one in the rear. It is frivolous, but I also like the idea of having blue lights shining through the grill, is there a lighted fan I can mount? Suggestions for fans and cooling on that case?

Did I miss anything? Arctic 5 paste? Is that needed? I have a creative labs audigy sound card, floppy drive, keyboard, mouse, speakers, either net card, and a wireless modem thing that is supposed to let my other older computer use the internet (it hasn't worked in months since my friend set it up and left...I'll be moving this Dell to the other room where it will be used for my wife to play Mahjong, some music, a few games for the kids that actually work, and surfing the internet). I'll probably get a new DVD burner with the lite scribe as well.

I have Windows XP right now. What would I gain by getting Windows Pro? And is it too late to get an upgrade coupon for Vista with a Windows XP purchase? I'm only supposed to have one Windows program per computer, right? Or is it one per owner?

Thanks in advance for patience and help for a noob.

More about : noob parts

March 18, 2007 7:21:00 AM

So many questions :o  Good you know enough to be dangerous 8O . You choices so far are the most expensive things you can choose. I am hearing you want a great system but not go in debt doing it. Let me throw out a list and you think about things
Case. You want some bright things with lights and windows? I didn't think so.
COOLER MASTER CAVALIER 3 CAV-T03-UW Silver Aluminum Bezel or
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel
Graphic Card This 8800 will be a good one for some time.
EVGA 320-P2-N815-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB
MB one of the forum favorites
GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX
PSU, good power and quiet fans
SILVERSTONE SST-ST56F ATX12V / EPS12V 560W
Core2Duo, good stock speeds, still could overclock in future
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Conroe
Hard Drive Speed and quality
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB
Value RAM 2 Sticks
Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory
DVD with Light scribe
SAMSUNG Black 18X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X Burner With LightScribe Technology
Then some odds and ends, cables and thermal paste.
March 18, 2007 9:04:58 AM

Agreed with 'alcattle'.

I wouldn't bother with RAID if I were you, it doesn't sound like you will really notice the performance increase and the chances of errors or data loss are too great. You won't see much difference in gaming except for games which need to load textures while you are playing such as Flight Simulator. If you put your operating system on a RAID array (which is difficult in the first place) and you aren't prepared for disaster, Murphy will get you.

There is no benefit for you to upgrade to XP pro, last I looked it was actually more expensive than some versions of Vista. The average home user won't use anything extra XP pro has to offer. You should think about getting Vista Home Premium OEM for this machine, it's fine for most users now IMO. And it's cheap.
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March 18, 2007 10:42:05 AM

U might want to wait for the new ATI Cards and AMD CPU coming out next month. They already tested a pre ATI R600 vs NVIDIA 8800 GTX and ATI won in bench marks (by alot) and reproduces better graphics than nvidia in all games. For now, u might want to stick with WIN XP for gaming. Vista its not stable at all for gaming (maybe one of the worst OS ever created).. game crashes often and games runs much slower wish forces u to lower down the screen resolution and game detail level.
March 18, 2007 11:23:33 AM

Quote:
U might want to wait for the new ATI Cards and AMD CPU coming out next month. They already tested a pre ATI R600 vs NVIDIA 8800 GTX and ATI won in bench marks (by alot) and reproduces better graphics than nvidia in all games. For now, u might want to stick with WIN XP for gaming. Vista its not stable at all for gaming (maybe one of the worst OS ever created).. game crashes often and games runs much slower wish forces u to lower down the screen resolution and game detail level.


Seems stable for my gaming, I've never had a game crash. They do get a few less fps in Vista, but some optimized drivers will fix that eventually. It was the same when XP came out, do you still think you should be using Windows 98 for gaming?

I use XP pro, Vista Home Premium x64, and Ubuntu x64 in triple boot, Vista is my favorite.
March 18, 2007 12:54:49 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, alcattle. I can't return what I have though. It was a store closing and sales are final. My questions are directed at what will fit from here? If you say the choices I made so far are poor I will live with it. Though I don't know why a good case, power supply, and monitor would be a bad choice? In my defense, I couldn't find lower prices anywhere on the net for what I did purchase.

It is the mother board purchase that I am less sure of. The case looked heavy enough to withstand a drunken free for all with my rowdy friends over. The motherboard was the only intel board left...not quite a great reason to purchase, but the user reviewers at Newegg were pretty happy with how easy it was to use the bios and all. It seemed to have good upgrade options even if it is a little more expensive than the Gigabyte board.

As far as the blue lights, I saw a floor model set up without a window that had a mesh grill on the front (it was an Antec Nine Hundred? case) with a soft blue light coming out of it. It caught my eye in the store, was unique, but yes, I liked the look of it. My question would be not whether to get the blue light, but whether every fan should have it or just the front fan?

Your list has no cooling suggestion, is that intentional or is that included with the "odds and ends, cables and thermal paste" section of your list that makes me nervous wondering about? Or does the Cooler Master case do a good enough job of it without blue lights and fans?
!