Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

General Hardware help for my new PC

Last response: in Systems
Share
March 18, 2007 10:59:34 PM

Hey there everyone. I really appreciate the THG's broad database...but I just can't square in on the exact things I want.

I'm building my own PC, FINally, I've built one before, and have always had a natural thing for understanding each component in a computer.

My main one-stop-shop is the place where Once you know, you nxxxxg (sorry I don't know if you can advertise.) but I may flock to ZZF or whatever the price grabber on THG finds, but anyway, since I shopped with my friend about 6-8 months ago on nxxxxg, there are sooo many new things out which brings me to 2 points:

1) I need to brush up on all the new tech, and
2)

Ok forgot what the second one was but I'll edit if I remember. Something like wondering if I should build now...or something. Anyway, to answer the most important question, what will this PC be for, these are the main things:

The main thing I'm building this PC for is for longevity. I want to be able to put in a motherboard that has the capabilities of inexpensive options now, but in the future, continue to upgrade and stay current with the times. Oh, and my budget is $500-$2000, but I really would like to keep it around $1000. So if possible, I would like to keep it as close to that as possible.

This is my vision: To buy an SLI capable motherboard, with compatibility for Dual core, and later Quad Core (or whatever equivalent would be, just so I can continue with the latest processors - explained later) and the option to add enough hard drives to put enough games and media on without having to backup, but not go overboard, so like maybe 10 of latest games which are starting to be several gigabytes, and a library of movies and music. Literally, a library. As well as enough room and space to house direct recorded feeds from TV games and the like (as we all know Fraps output video sizes are ginormous)

I love video games, in fact, I would love to have the latest features such as Pixel Shader 3.0 (I think that's the latest) and DirectX 10 and most importantly, non-hiccupy frame rates, and smoothness in a sense of, preferably, no horizontal tearing and that sort of thing. Just so gaming is a complete immersion, like in Half Life 2...the INSANE load times between areas really takes me out of the experience, because that game is completely like that. I thought investing in a 10,000 and/or even 15,000 RPM HD would be fun.

So these are my main questions:

1) Starting with motherboards, I believe in the future of SLI. Right now, it would be useless, at least to me. Of course, PCIe is the standard, so I've decided on that (unless someone tells me something I don't know) as well as SLI. However, is there a possibility of SLI dieing in the time period my computer would be useful to me? If so, I would seriously like the bigger option of motherboards and not have to worry about SLI.

If SLI proves to be a worthy future investment and, while I understand I would have to buy 2 of the same card later when I do, I would still like the option, if it really could improve performance, noticeable to the naked eye. I'm not about benchmarks or the latest and greatest, just so it actually saves me time and so I don't feel like things are going slower than they should be. I think you're starting to feel my spirit on how I like my computer. BUT, should I go SLI, what's the difference between 680i 650i 590 and 570 and nForce 4 and the like? Just as far as SLI boards go.

Also, again with motherboards, I understand Vista Ultimate 64-bit recognizes 32 GB of RAM...which is amazing...but when searching for one, I only found one, and there were some things it didn't have that I would have liked, but weren't a huge deal, and then I realized (I don't know why not sooner) that even if the computer lasted me up to 7 years, would I ever need more than 16? Or even 8? Maybe 4??? I need this question answered though, as it's the biggest barrier to me at the moment. I think I've concluded in this computer's lifetime, I'll NEVER need 32 GB, but what about getting a board that has 16? Do you think that might be a possibility in this computer's lifetime? If not, 8? If not, 4? Because I've definitely decided on Vista Ultimate as it has key features I'll need.

That's another question. What's the future of 64-bit like? It seems, in my observation that every developer/manufacturer is preparing for it, but it seems that the software end of it isn't putting much effort into it at all, and when they do it starts bringing glitches and bugs fairly commonly. I think the maximum Vista Ultimate 32-bit supports is 4 GB of RAM, could someone clarify please? Also, If I get Vista Ultimate 64-bit, can I run it just the same as 32-bit, at least theoretically? Because I wouldn't want to change my current 32-bit XP Home experience in terms of applications and games. So, can I run all the same stuff on 64-bit on 32-bit, so I can take advantage of 64-bit whenever the oppurtunity? Should I invest in a motherboard that will later run 64-bit well?

2) I'm undecided about whether to go Intel or AMD at this point. I used to be AMD, but with Quad Core on the horizon, I'm not sure about where AMD is heading, and if it's going to be better and cheaper and will continue with low energy consumption, but still have options for high performance (even if I don't choose energy efficiency) My opinion on this is to invest in the future of Quad Core, so I've been looking at Quad/Dual Core motherboards so I can buy a cheap processor now, and get Quad Core when they're at the price Duals are now.

Otherwise, I'm fairly confident about the future of Intel if I chose that, I'm just unclear on AMD's future, although please indulge me with any information on both.

3) Graphics cards seem to be pretty straight forward to me right now. I'm not sure if I would get one of the following types right away, but I do want the full capability for such. I'm interested in setting up my computer as a pseudo DVR, but without those lame fees and crap like TiVO and junk has. I'm not going to pirate, I'm only going to do what I would do with my VCR. No big deal. And I know this is legal since sites talk about it like no one's business, unless, again there's something I don't know about. So what kind of graphics card, or what features would I need in order to record TV and watch it on my computer? How can I reciprocate that, and watch it on my TV FROM my computer? Can and how do I get the aforementioned while getting the latest features for gaming as well? Can I get a card in a $300, or course give or take upwards of $100 budget that houses all of these features well? If I have to stick with even VCR quality while being able to run a game like, say Medieval 2 at decent graphics with a frame rate of at least 30-40, that would be fine, in fact that's really my minimum.

4) I'm probably in tune with storage and RAM the best. There aren't TOO many things about RAM, so it's easier for me to understand and be up to date with, but I've already decided on at least 1GB of ram starting out, and I'm looking at the most stable kind. What's the HUGE difference between all these DDR and GDDR2 and all that, is size really all I need to care about in terms of just wanting something that will be stable and fast enough to handle things without considerable lag or hiccups?

As far as storage, will upgrading from 7200 RPM to 10,000 RPM be better than 7200 to 15,000 price wise or should I take the leap and go to 15,000? My vision on this, is having a 120 GB OR SO drive at 10,000 RPM, perhaps a Raxxxr, and a 15,000 at whatever size would be cost efficient, but a minimum of 32 GB (give or take a few) and if I find that isn't enough space maybe a backup 7200 with 250 GB or even 10,000 depending on price/size ratio.

5) I'm up to date with CD/DVD/floppy/media reader drives, as I just bought a DVD burner a few months ago, and it's fantastic. I'll probably get an upgraded or updated one rather so I can keep this in this computer and save it as a backup and public family burner. I've decided to get a DVD burner as it does everything. I really want a bluray player, but I am eventually going to get a PS3, so this is completely optional. Are there any bluray burners? Because I would definitely get one of those. If they were $500 or under lol.

6) Is there a big difference between USB and Firewire? I've always been the USB kid so to speak, but have always wanted Firewire for faster data commuting...but USB seems to be becoming so much more of a standard even more so than it was a year ago, and everything I have is USB and I'm not even sure how many actually have a Firewire cord or capability...and even if it did, I wouldn't know where the cords are, nor be willing to get new ones. I've been running on USB 1.1 or 1.x forever, and can't wait to use 2.0, but is Firewire worth even having? I would actually like to have both. On second though, I guess all I'm asking here is, is Firewire faster, again noticeably, and will it ever die out?

I think that's pretty much it, and I apologize...that is a LOT of reading. To summarize:

The main thing I'm building this PC for is for longevity. I want to be able to put in a motherboard that has the capabilities of inexpensive options now, but in the future, continue to upgrade and stay current with the times. Oh, and my budget is $500-$2000, but I really would like to keep it around $1000. So if possible, I would like to keep it as close to that as possible.

This is my vision: To buy an SLI capable motherboard, with compatibility for Dual core, and later Quad Core (or whatever equivalent would be, just so I can continue with the latest processors - explained later) and the option to add enough hard drives to put enough games and media on without having to backup, but not go overboard, so like maybe 10 of latest games which are starting to be several gigabytes, and a library of movies and music. Literally, a library. As well as enough room and space to house direct recorded feeds from TV games and the like (as we all know Fraps output video sizes are ginormous)

I love video games, in fact, I would love to have the latest features such as Pixel Shader 3.0 (I think that's the latest) and DirectX 10 and most importantly, non-hiccupy frame rates, and smoothness in a sense of, preferably, no horizontal tearing and that sort of thing. Just so gaming is a complete immersion, like in Half Life 2...the INSANE load times between areas really takes me out of the experience, because that game is completely like that. I thought investing in a 10,000 and/or even 15,000 RPM HD would be fun.

- Is SLI a good future investment? If so, what are the differences between the different numbers like 680i and 650i?

- Can I run 32-bit programs and games on Vista OR XP 64-bit just like I would on Windows 32-bit?

- Will I need more than 16 GB of RAM in the longevity of a computer built within the next month? Even if that's 5-7 years?

- What is the future of Intel and AMD, and as AMD was generally the best choice, especially for the money, will it be again? And, which will be, AND become a better balance of cost, performance and power saving?

- Can I get a video card with the capabilities to play a game with similar requirements to Medieval 2 Total War with decent medium graphics, at least 30-40 frames per second, and have the ability to record TV directly, play back on the computer, and then play on the TV FROM the computer, for free, and have at least VCR quality?

- Is there really more than just the amount of RAM that I actually need to worry about in order to keep it stable and smooth as to not cause hiccups, at least bad ones?

- Is investing in a 15,000 RPM drive worth it right now or should I just stick with 10,000 RPM? Should I have a large storage 10,000 RPM drive or a backup 7200? Can I RAID any kind of recent drives or do they have to be the same size and/or speed?

- Is there a bluray burner? If so, where and how much?

- Is there a NOTiceable difference between USB 1.1 and Firewire? USB 2.0 and Firewire?

- And finally, with cases who have plates on the back of the tower, for the motherboard, does it matter which way the stuff is on the motherboard, or do motherboards sometimes come with their own metal plates, or can I just leave the plate off, or is it a good idea, or should I have one on?

More about : general hardware

March 18, 2007 11:20:09 PM

Wow, you made my brain hurt. :?

I'll do my best here....

1. SLI is currently not necessary with high end cards. Don't know what will happen in the future, I think it is more likely that video card manufacturers will start incorporating more cores into one card like the Geforce 7950.

2. Yes 32bit programs work on 64bit vista, at least most of them. Some stuff does not work yet. You should check to see if you have any necessary software that wouldn't work with vista by using the Vista upgrade advisor. BTW, you cannot upgrade to a 64bit Vista from a 32bit OS, you need to do a clean install.

3. I doubt you will need more than 4GB RAM until the next Windows in 2009.

4. Intel has the crown currently, who knows what will happen in the future, you can't worry about that too much.

5. Geforce 8600GTS 340MB

6. 15000RPM drive is overkill, you're not building a server. There is a recent article by Tom's showing RAID0 better and cheaper than a 10000RPM Raptor. But I do not advise installing a OS on a RAID array, difficult, and I've always had data corruption. I use my RAID array for games mostly. All it helps with is loading times and some games where textures are loaded while playing eg. Flight Simulator.

7. Blu-ray burners are very expensive.'

8. AFAIK USB and Firewire are used for different things. Firewire for cameras, networking. USB for peripherals. USB 2.0 is the standard now, no point getting anything with USB 1.1.

9. Motherboards come with a plate.
March 18, 2007 11:35:29 PM

While there are mobo that are supposed to be Quad Core compatible I wouldn't buy one until Quad Core and all mobo mfg are making them. Price will be less and less likely to have problems. Personally, I don't think if makes sense to try to future proof for things that aren't yet on the marker
Related resources
March 18, 2007 11:36:28 PM

I'm sorry, I'm a little ADD and had a diff time wading through that entire diatribe. I'm not sure if you want to build a computer or have a philosophical exchange. Excuse my contriteness, I appreciate your desire to become informed and plan ahead, but this is really a forum for shaking down systems that people have already started builing, or at least have a pretty firm idea on what they want. You obviously have a fairly basic understanding of systems and by perusing the "General Homebuilt" category, you can find most the answers to what you ask, then pick a system someone else has built that comes close to meeting your needs and budget and start from there.

I appreciate your desire to "future-proof" -- I preach it often on these threads -- but serously, take a look at what has happened in computing over the last seven years and ask yourself if it's reasonable to expect being able to build a system that will stay current for the next seven years. If you try and be the person who waits until the next best thing comes out, you'll never get anything built. Right now the industry is like cartons of milk, everything comes with an expiration date just a few days away.

Right now, the industry favors Intel cpu's. (But, in a couple of quarters, it could swing back to AMD -- unless Sony buys them, in which case I'd never have anything to do with them, regardless if they're top dog at that time.) So today, the best system is going to be on that foundation. Pick a board that has a good following, with features you like, and go for it. Since you access NewEgg, read the reviews, they are very revealing.
Get the best and most memory for it that fits your budget, and stick the most cpu on there under the same consideration. Most the higher end motherboards -- and some of the lower ones support quad. In 7 years, it may be Sweet 16 Core Ultra -- who knows?

Is noise a consideration? Those 15,000 rpm drives make a ton of it. You want a system that'll scream? If you're thinking of having it sit in your living room while you watch movies, that has to be taken into account. You want performance? Put a pair of Raptor 150's into a RAID 0 array, get yourself a big ol' Seagate 750gb for storage, and be done with it.

Video cards are changing faster than seasonal clothes fashions. Get one of the new ones that is DX10 compatible. There are some single cards out there that are faster than a lot of current SLI setups. Wait, and that will change, too.

That's just a start. Most of these individual components have there own categorical threads on this forum, where you can flesh out everyone's opinions, keeping in mind that they are all just that -- opinions. You have to do what will work best for you. As soon as a decision is made, all things go forward. Pick out some components and post back; there'll be a whirlwind of opinions surrounding you, then.
March 18, 2007 11:38:58 PM

Grrreat reply. Thank you so much! LOL I'm sorry, but I thought it would be good to know my personality on how I like my computer. And for people who enjoy reading XD

So should I skip SLI altogether to get a better choice of motherboards or would it hurt to get a decent motherboard with it just in case?

I didn't really realize the 64-bit clean install, but that wouldn't make a whole lot of difference, as well as it wouldn't for program compatibility, at least now, because I wouldn't be getting Vista at all until it's been out for a good while. Maybe even until Vista SP2 is out. I don't know. But thanks for that note.

So, going with 8 GB would be fine for the next 5-7 years? 'Cause 2009 is only 2 years away, at least Windows 2009 wouldn't be more than 2-4 years away, right? o_O

Thanks for the note on bluray, I checked Nxxxxg and yea, they're more than what I would pay, currently, but still not bad considering things like that it's new emerging technology and whatnot.

So Firewire would be better for my Sony Handycam? Than the USB I use for it?

And I COULD get a 15,000 RPM couldn't I? I saw a review on Nxxxxg that said the Windows XP loading screen didn't even appear it was so fast. And, for a modest price, I don't mind the overkill. Especially since I don't like buying new hard drives.

I would NOT install any fragile data on RAID, even 1+0 or JBOD, so I'm very interested in 15,000.

EDIT: In reply to you madmurph, no apology necessary, I appreciate the constructive criticism. It does appear that way, but I really am just trying to stuff myself with knowledge. That's the feeling I've been getting that if I wait to see where AMD goes, the cycle will just start and I'll wait more. That's the way it's been, but I'm glad I've waited as the emerging of multi-core has really made me happy.

I also agree with the possibility of 16 core and the like lol. And video cards. I just learned this morning about the MB increase past 256, I freaked out! I'm not worried about making that decision though.

I guess that begs another question, If I had an SLI setup, or even just 2 PCIe x16 slots, could I have a beefed out graphics card, and then a completely seperate one with the TiVO capabilities?

Noise isn't a big deal, I thought about taking water cooling outside of an enclosure that would be near if not completely sound proof. I read something somewhere about that and was a little skeptical but the way it sounds makes it reasonable.

Otherwise, you think RAID 0 is the best setup? I was looking at JBOD, 0+1 and 1+0 in order of the best RAID setups in my research and opinion, any information on RAID setups would be much appreciated, as the fast replies I've received thus far, thank you!
March 18, 2007 11:52:31 PM

Let me guess, you major in English and like to write essays. My eye is sore just by looking at it. :lol: 
March 18, 2007 11:55:36 PM

15000RPM drives are SCSI, you will need a SCSI controller, and they are ridiculously expensive. IMO your best bet is 1x10000RPM raptor for your OS, 2x7200RPM RAID0 for your games, non-sensitive stuff. If you need more space, another large 7200RPM drive for storage, or 3x7200RPM RAID 1+0.

As 'madmurph' said, 15000RPM drives are really loud.

If your sony handycam has a firewire connection, use it.

Chances are Vista will never need more than 4GB RAM. Microsoft says the next version of windows will be in 2009, who know by then. Likely you will need to upgrade the motherboard again by then anyway so it won't matter.
March 19, 2007 12:04:01 AM

Its true that your machine will boot up faster with a 15k drive. But seriously, how often do you fully restart. Once in windows, the only time you would notice it is when loading a level in a game. Even there it would only be a matter of seconds.

If you want 15k rpm then you have to go SCSI which is not supported in standard desktop mobos. You would have to get a PCI SCSI raid card for around $300.

If I wanted to have blazing fast HD setup and wanted to waste a lot of money I would get two 10k rpm Raptors in RAID 0.
March 19, 2007 12:08:39 AM

I re-edited my last post if you wouldn't mind reading it again, but,

Ah ok, that's insightful then. Yea I have realized SCSI controllers in research a few months ago were a good way to burn a hole in your pocket.

Then perhaps I'll wait 'til 15,000 sound technology gets better and stick with a setup like that.

And, stick with a motherboard with 8 GB.

Thanks again! I'll definitely come back after gathering more info and stuff and after I build it. I'll have pictures anyway, so maybe I'll link them.
March 19, 2007 12:42:31 AM

Quote:
If I wanted to have blazing fast HD setup and wanted to waste a lot of money I would get two 10k rpm Raptors in RAID 0.
Which is what I wrote in ^^^post. QFT.
You don't put important stuff on the RAID/Raptor drives -- just the stuff you can easily resurrect if they should crash, which is no more likely than with any other type drive or configuration. IOW, your OS and game programs. That will boot your system plenty fast, and the striped array will allow much faster reads when you're running games. Archive your important files, vids, pix, etc., on the other 750g drive. Or, put in two 500g drives and duplicate one to the other, through whatever means you choose --- a back up program, RAID 1, jbod. Redundancy is the only safe solution to protecting your archives.

edit: the only reason you would want 15K drives is if you were running a network with a bunch of peeps trying to access data, all at the same time. As a standalone computer, you couldn't possibly notice the difference between a 15k, 10k, or two 7200's in a raid 0. It's a waste of resources. Spend the extra coin on a good video card or better cpu, which is a difference you would notice.
March 19, 2007 5:58:18 AM

I will hit a couple things you might want to consider. I am looking at a DVR setup and you need 3 things different than the stock computer setup. Lots of drive space, a graphic card with the correct output for monitors and TVs and a tuner card.
Like madmurph said, a fast drive for os and programs and big space for data. The fast one could be a Raptor or a Seagate SATA 3.0, if it never gets booted, why do you care about the boot speed?
The 8800 series is overkill for everything except hardcore gaming. I think you would be better off with a 7950 PRO with the HDTV outputs. IMO, of course.
The tuner card is easy, just get a haughaph (how ever they spell it :roll: ) And then you need software to do the "TIVO" thing. I got BeyondTV, which has different levels of features. I believe it is the best out there.
March 19, 2007 6:07:42 AM

Ok, thanks for the additional info. The OS boot was simply an example of performance boost. It takes about 10-40 seconds to load Windows on my machine, I've never timed it. I'm looking at hard drives right now actually.

So, I was thinking a 10,000 RPM er, Raptor by itself, along with a RAID (which I have 3 options: 0/1/0+1 and I'm not sure which I should do, although 0+1 seems to be the safest option. I don't care about speed differences between the 3, because it should still be a major upgrade from what I have now) of right now it's looking like 2 500 GB Samsung 7200 RPM, for storage, but I just realized, the motherboard I chose, in fact from the entire selection of motherboards I chose, getting a 10,000 RPM at all is, out of the question...unless I can get an ATA150 adapter for cheaper than SCSI? If they make that?
March 19, 2007 6:19:22 AM

unclear of what the adapter is needed for? SCSI drives? Instead of a Raptor?
March 19, 2007 6:20:40 AM

Well I could only find 10,000 RPM drives in SCSI and ATA100 format, and the motherboards I was choosing from only had SATA 3.0gb/s and ATA150
March 19, 2007 6:33:24 AM

If it were me I would forget about SCSI or look for workstation class motherboards, You won't gain enough for the extra cost and hassle. Get SATA 3.0 drives and the speed you want to pay for as speed in drives is very related to price.
One 10k drive for the main stuff and a raid for data will meet your needs. The type of RAID is always hard to say as each type has pros and cons. Raid 5 is good but you lose one drive that is used for ...forget the name, but indexing the rest of the drive's data.
Raid 0 gains speed but has no safety net. Read more in the Hard drive forum, and then come back and explain it too me I am slow :oops: 
March 22, 2007 2:56:21 AM

I searched the entire forum and found NOTHING about PCI express 2.0. Can anyone tell me about it? I understand the bandwidth will be doubled, but I've also read that it may take a while for devices to get to that speed. I guess it's supposed to be out in the second quarter, can anyone tell me why it would be a good idea just to wait a little for that? Why not?
March 22, 2007 5:21:44 AM

For the common user, nothing. This will be server class hardware with lots of upward possibilites.
More news:
CNET News
March 22, 2007 5:26:33 AM

Ah, thank you so much. That really shows the server qualities then, the only other things I could find were extremely brief and blunt, I myself thought the virtualization of multiple OS' and added security was cool, but it's apparent that I might as well buy now. List is almost complete, thanks for everyone's help!
!