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Big noob, first build help

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March 28, 2007 11:31:35 PM

Hey all, I'm quite new here to the TG forums, as well as to the building scene, and thought I'd ask around in hopes of gaining advice from more experienced builders. I'm really interested in computers, and thought this would be a good project to "jump start" me into the tech world. My friend who was originally going to help me just left to Japan, and so I'm feeling a little apprehensive about doing everything without any guidance. My budget's around $2500 and I'll be using my rig for gaming, multimedia, and just every day application. I wanted 2 video cards so I could run 3 monitors total since that's what my friend's set up was, and I found it hard to move back to just 1. I don't know much about SLI'ing these new video cards, or SLI in general, but I thought it was the best choice in terms of 3 monitors and video processing power (and kinda cool too :p ). Also, I thought the HDPC features were kinda interesting for future proofing. Idk if the heating and other complications outweigh this, but I figured that I'd just use EVGA's upgrade process after 3 months if I needed better solutions to bigger, faster cards. Also, I have little idea as to how RAID hdd's work, but I read that RAIDing 2 7200's/16 mb cache was plenty fast as an alternative to 2 10k's, and that's what I intended to do. However, it looked like jumping from a 250 gig to a 320 was only ~$10 more from the Seagate drives, which was the size my storage drives were also planned to be. It seems rather awkward to have two exact same drives running as OS AND storage, but the price differences didn't seem all too great to really change. Reviews on the larger SATA drives seemed to say that they were really noisy and clunky compared to the 320 Seagate's, so idk, I guess I figured I'd just buy 2 of the 320's and put them together instead of a 500 gig or something. Maybe it was a bad idea, not sure yet. I picked the BALLISTIX ram since they seemed highly overclockable, and I wanted to learn more about overclocking pretty much everything after I got the basics down. Hopefully the PSU is able to handle everything, because I already bought it. Also, I have yet to choose a case and processor. I was going for the OEM Athlon x2 6000 with the zalman cooler, but it always seems OOS. After looking around, I found that perhaps it isn't the best choice? Something about the ram only being clocked to ratios not able to hit true 800 mgz when multiplied? Dunno, but it seems like AMD is getting price cuts sooner than Intel, so maybe I should wait to buy anything until then. I'm not even sure about whether to go AMD or Intel, but it seemed like AMD was a lot cheaper, for slightly lesser performance that wouldn't be all too noticable. I was planning on going with 2 regular 17" monitors and a 20" widescreen in the middle if at all possible. What else..does anyone know if that floppy drive will work with Vista Ultimate? Idk, I'm kinda in a rush while writing this, so I'm pretty much listing out whatever questions come to mind. I'll probably add on later, but for now please tell me if this will work, and what components I should buy/RMA for price/performance in terms of my budget. I think AMD will probably be a lot cheaper in a few weeks, so keep that in mind. However, if there are better performing solutions for relatively the same price Intel side, I'll be willing to look into them even if they require OCing. Oh, and please remember that I really have no idea what I'm doing just yet, but am willing to learn :D . Thanks in advance for all the help.

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681... <----x2
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682... <----x4
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1683...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1683...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... <---- x2

More about : big noob build

March 28, 2007 11:47:21 PM

1) you can't go SLI with 3 monitors.....SLI only lets you go with one monitor. You CAN, however, go with 3 monitors and 2 graphics cards, but they won't be SLI, they'll be non-SLI.

2) I'm kinda lost by your post. Perhaps you could rephrase it, very brief is fine. To make it easier, how about you copy/paste the blanks below:

-Your budget?
-US or CAN or UK or AUD, etc funds?
-What will the computer be used for?
-Do you need an OS? If so, which OS?
-Do you want to overclock? If so, how hardcore?
-Do you just need the tower, or other accessories in the budget price?
-Have you built a system before?
-Do you have any special requirements you really NEED? RAID, large storage capacity, 3 monitor setup, Firewire, silent case, etc, etc?
-Do you have a hardcore fanboy preference for Intel vs AMD, or Nvidia vs ATI, etc?
-Do you have any preference for case, style, or size (ie-full tower, mid tower, windowed bling case, sleek minimalist case, quiet case, etc?)
-What resolution will you be gaming at if this is used for gaming?
-Do you have any parts you'll be reusing from another system? If so, what are they? Provide specs if it's RAM/PSU/mobo.
-Do you have any intention of upgrading to the new system, especially within a year? If so, what upgrade?

And anything else that comes to mind. Be brief. Point-form is fine.

That'll help us help you ;) 
March 29, 2007 6:31:34 AM

Heh, guess point form is easier. I was in a hurry so I rambled on and tried to include as many details as possible, sorry.

-My budget is capped at $2500, but I don't think I necessarily need to actually hit that cap to get a good comp out of this
-US Currency
-The comp will be used for mid to higher core gaming on occasion, multitasking (that's why I loved the multiple monitor setup), everyday tasks
-I already purchased the OEM version of Vista Ultimate, so that's that. Hopefully it won't be a complete nightmare of bugs =/
-I'm interested in OCing, but do not have the know how or whats what just yet. Probably just mild to mid OCing after everything's been learned and the system is stable
-Yes, I'll need a good roomy tower. I looked for one today, but failed in my choice quite miserably
-No, I have not built a comp before, but am really interested in learning all I can. This is my diving board into the world of system builds, so to speak.
-I don't have many "musts" that spring to mind other than the 3 monitor set up. SLI can't do it? That makes me cry..
-I'm not partial to either Intel or AMD, but it would seem that intel is kind of kicking ass atm, so maybe intel e6600?
-Already have the previously mentioned vid cards, so hopefully I can make things work out with them, if not then RMA back :( ?
-I would like to see the guts of my comp through my case, and I would assume cooling would be necessary with those cards, but other than that I'm pretty flexible in terms of casing
-I'll be gaming at 1680x1050
-I have no other parts to use from other systems
-I do have intentions of upgrading the computer i'm building, but I'm not sure of what specific parts I'd be thinking of. I'd upgrade when I feel my comp needs it, and also depending on what's out, or about to come out at the time. If games so require something better in a year, then that's probably when my upgrade will be made.

So..yeah, I kinda bought the vid cards already since I thought I could use them in SLI whilst still utilizing 3 monitors simotaneously. Is it better to just run a single 10k raptor or something similar as an OS drive instead of running two 7200's in raid 0 since it sounds like a hassle/liable to fail? If so, then is it more sensible to then buy a huuuge storage drive (500-1000 gigs), or multiple slightly smaller ones (320 gigs) to raid together, or use independently? I probably made a lot of other mistakes too, but we'll see just how many depending on if I can make them work out in the end. It's my first build, so I don't feel as bad as I could lol. Thanks for the help :) .
Related resources
March 29, 2007 1:47:29 PM

So, $2500 DOESN'T include video cards, since you already bought them?

And $2500 DOESN'T include monitors?



We'll just need a handle on what is in/out of the budget for $2500. It makes a VERY BIG difference if GPUs are included or not, and monitors. This is because they're big ticket items. If $2500 doesn't include GPUs, then you can get an AMAZING system. If $2500 includes GPUs, then some choices will have to be made to accommodate 2 GTS/GTX's....those cost ALOT.
March 30, 2007 12:11:26 AM

Oh, ic. When put that way it makes a lot more sense. Sorry, I didn't do the math to factor everything from my original total :oops:  . Well I guess I think what I'd really be spending money on now are vid cards, processor, cooler, case, case fans, PSU, and motherboard. I think I have everything else because my friend helped me order a bunch of stuff, and then had to leave lol. So I think I have around 1600-1700 to spend amongst those components now, assuming that I RMA the 2 GTS's if they're not a wise choice. If they're still a good solution to what I want with 3 monitors, then I guess I can just hang onto them and save some money on an RMA. I feel kinda stupid with the RMA's I might have to go through now, but I guess I should've sought higher help before I made those purchases :roll: . I think I really screwed up on buying the 4 hdds rather than 1 big one, but maybe I can just use them all at some point or other. Anyway, thanks for putting up with the confusing situation and sorry if I left anything else out, I'll rework it asap. The things that I already bought are:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682... <---x4
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681... <---x2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
March 30, 2007 5:05:04 AM

I'd be happy to comment on your system and give what advise I can... Except I'm not going to follow every link to find out what products those are.

I would suggest entering the product details (as much as are necessary to identify the component) with a link to the product.

The best way is to do:
Readable Product Details
March 30, 2007 5:23:53 AM

I think this is the components you're looking for.......?

Case: whatever strikes your fancy, but get something decent. Suggestions: Antec P180, Thermaltake Armor, Lian Li (pick one), NZXT Zero, Coolermaster Stacker.

Processor: Core2Duo 6600

Motherboard: either MSI P6N-SLI 650i for cheaper, EVGA 680i for more expensive/features

Heatsink: either Scythe Ninja or Infinity, Tuniq Tower, Thermalright Ultra 120 Plus, Noctua UH-12F

Case fans: either Scythe S-Flex, Nexus, Antec Tri-Cool, or Noctua. All 120mm

PSU: OCZ GameXstream 700w

You shoulda got a Raptor and 1 big storage drive. Oh well.
And probably a GTX instead of dual GTS's. Oh well.

That'll do the trick.
March 30, 2007 7:45:50 AM

Wow. Options. Thanks for the advice :D . Seems like the ram standard is 1200 on the EVGA, will that be a problem with my ballistix 800? Do you know if there are any other mentionable features on the EVGA compared to the MSI other than the pricetag? If I end up getting a single GTX, is there any solution to run 3 monitors, or is that just plain impossible? I think I can probably just research all the other listed components mentioned to see which I like, but thanks again.
March 30, 2007 7:58:52 AM

The RAM speed depends on how much you are going to overclock. 800 will get you a long ways, like into the water cooled area.
The brand name is not the big difference, you can find either chipset with even brand's nameplate. The 680i has more of the advanced features that people will need in the future and can use now. The 650i chipset is also good, but cuts back on some of the extras features. Both will run your system at the same levels, some models make changes easier to work with.
To run 3 monitors you need 2 cards most of the time, then you look at what you are display resolutuion wise and powering which monitor. The 8800GTX will run 2 monitors at high res on bigger sized like 2 24". Are you going to run 3 24" monitors? or is one or two closet to 19"? That will determine what second card you need to run.
March 30, 2007 8:06:41 AM

Oh..ic. So I guess I'm alright with 800 ram, and can even try OCing it to whatever my mobo can support later on? Is that how it works? I was planning on trying to run like two 17" monitors on the sides of a 20", if that'll work. How would I go about doing that with 1 GTX? Could I just buy a lower priced 6800 geforce with 2 dvi out to support my 2 side monitors or something?
March 30, 2007 9:25:24 AM

to run a third monitor i would just get a crappy pci vid card and run it off that alternatively i would get something like a 6600 or 7300 and use that to power the two side monitors then have the 8800 to power the central one (thats my plan)

hmmm, just wondering how supcom would run on that?
March 30, 2007 4:09:05 PM

Ok, here's the dealeo on 3 monitors, so pay attention ;) 

-Generally speaking (and for your setup in particular), to run 3 monitors, you need either 2 graphics cards or a 3rd party box (like a Matrox TripleHead2Go) that tricks your computer into thinking the 3 monitors are actually one big one. So, you either need 2 graphics cards OR 1 graphics card and a TripleHead2Go.

-So, if you get 2 graphics cards, you CAN mix and match. HOWEVER, and this is a BIG catch: You CANNOT, CANNOT mix DX9 and DX10 cards unless you are running Windows Vista. End of story. If you run WinXP, then you need 2 DX10 cards or 2 DX9 cards to run together. End of story. So, you can run WinXP with 2 DX10 cards....8800GTS's for example. Or you can do 1 8800 and 1 8600 later and that'll work just fine because they're both DX10 cards. They don't need to be the same model. The 8800 can power your 20" LCD, and the 8600 will power your 17" LCDs.

And ONE LAST THING: If you think you're gonna game across 3 monitors, it's not that easy. Windows will still recognize your primary 20" monitor and make games display JUST on that monitor ONLY. Unless you can figure out how to game in a windowed environment that matches the exact resolution of the game, then IF YOU WANT TO GAME ACROSS 3 MONITORS, YOU NEED A MATROX TRIPLEHEAD2GO. Get one 8800GTX and a TripleHead2Go, and pray that your game is recognized by it or else you're screwed. So you roll the dice that way.

Hope that clears up 3 monitor setups.

-need a dual PCI-e mobo, not necessary Crossfire or SLI......just dual PCI-e slots
-CANNOT mix and match DX9 and DX10 unless you use Vista
-CAN'T game across 3 monitors with SLI
-CAN'T game across 3 monitors in non-SLI without proper game support, etc, etc.....virtually impossible
-CAN game across 3 monitors with one GPU but you need a 3rd party box that might or might not support your games
March 30, 2007 10:37:43 PM

That was very informative, thank you lots. I bought Vista Ultimate, so I think I'll be ok with mix and matching DX9/DX10 cards. Do you know if Vista just recognizes these automatically, or is it a trouble to configure? I was only planning on gaming on the 20 at higher res, and using the other 2 monitors for music/multimedia, and internet/word processing/etc, respectively. Gaming 3 monitors sounds kinda cool, but the 17's are only basic LCD's with res that maxes out at 1280x1024, so I could only game by lowering my 20 to that res as well right? I thought the res difference would be bad enough just with dragging my cursor from a 17 to the 20 lol. Btw, what's the physical difference to 800 mhz ram and 1066 mhz? Like these 2? Can the 800 be overclocked to be just like the 1066, or would there be disadvantages? The one at FRY'S seems pretty damn cheap that's why.

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682... <--crucial
http://shop1.outpost.com/product/5162136 <--OCZ
March 30, 2007 10:54:01 PM

To mix DX9 and DX10 you need the latest Vista drivers. There are still some issues, so be aware it's not all a piece of cake.....there are little annoying glitches, etc that still happen. But Vista drivers are a work in progress so be patient.

You really don't want to lower you 20" rez because it'll look like crap. LCDs can't change rez like CRTs and still look good. The native resolution is what it's really supposed to stay at. You can change it but it'll kill your eyes.....fuzzy, etc.

800 and 1000 RAM, etc. 1000 RAM is rated to run faster at stock settings. That's it in a nutshell. And normally that costs more. However, OCZ is not "high end" performance RAM.....certainly not in the same category as Crucial Ballistix. The Crucial stuff will overclock alot higher, but the OCZ will only overclock somewhat. So that's also why Crucial costs more. Plus it's simply an expensive brand to begin with. OCZ is "cheaper performance" RAM. But that price for the SLI stuff is good, even if you won't use those preset timings that comes with it for OCZ SLI RAM.

Myself, I'd rather go with the OCZ, overclock the CPU, and keep the OCZ at its rated speed, and it costs less as a bonus. Why spend more to get the slower Crucial, overclock the snot out of it, more volts, etc, AND pay more too? I don't see the point, unless someone wants bragging rights.
March 30, 2007 11:09:45 PM

So I'd basically keep all the native resolutions with both 17's and the 20, and just expect a lot of jumping when it came time to scroll screens? I can probably live with that. If I went SLI, is there a way to disable it until I actually need it for a game or something? Where it would then shut off like...2 of my side monitors, leaving me with my 20 to game on? Or does it not work like that in the sense that it simply makes 3 monitors into 1. I didn't specify earlier that I didn't really want to run anything across all 3 screens that's why, just independent but simotaneous usage.

So, going with the OCZ ram, it says lifetime warranty. That's even with overclocking it to some amount, right? Even if I didn't, and they somehow failed, I could just get free replacements anyway? OCZ might be a smarter choice if so.
March 30, 2007 11:26:57 PM

You can enable/disable SLI fairly easy. Pain in the A$$ though to keep doing it. Regardless, when you enable SLI, only your 20" monitor will work, the others will go black. AND, to have SLI your graphics cards HAVE to be the same (ie--2 8800GTS', 2 7900's, etc). You CANNOT mix and match model, DX9/DX10 at all, period.

In your case SLI is a waste of money. An 8800GTS is more than enough to power a 20" LCD with all the eye candy on. Going SLI on a 20" LCD is just for bragging rights. So, you could go with 8800GTS and an 8300 or 8600 when they come out....much cheaper alternative, plus you get to game and still see your other 2 monitors since you'll be non-SLI.

As for "jumping", well, it might. More likely I would call it "shifting" not jumping. Because your vertical resolutions aren't exactly the same, the mouse will "shift" vertically to accommodate the compressed vertical resolution difference. It's really not that bad. You might notice it a bit more because the monitors are different sizes and resolutions. It would be a bit better if they were either same size or same rez. But you got what you got, so that's the way it is. That's the price you pay for a 3 monitor setup on the cheap ;) 


And yeah, go with the OCZ, it's a much better deal for what you'd probably be doing.
March 30, 2007 11:52:54 PM

I thought that I could run 2 8800's in SLI, then throw in a lesser pci or pcie card with dual dvi out in order to run my 2 side monitors, but you're probably right that SLI is overkill on a 20" lol. It's just that I actually HAVE these 2 cards, and I'd feel even more stupid if I had to lose money on an RMA because of my incompetence. I might upgrade to a larger middle screen sometime later to actually make use of the setup lol. Anyway, just thinking if that'd work most efficiently given my situation. I'm thinking I'm going to need a hell of a big cool case lol.
March 31, 2007 1:29:05 AM

Then just use those 2 cards, they'll work just fine. Get a dual pci-e mobo, run them in non-SLI and you'll have 3 monitors going :D  Piece of cake. No need to run SLI.

Case? Thermaltake Armor, lotsa space, good cooling, some nice bling, full tower.
March 31, 2007 2:52:05 AM

Sounds good. So do you know how hard it is to switch from SLI mode to non? It'd be cool if you can just toggle it on the fly without any monitor problems, but assuming from what you said, it sounds like a pain in the A$$ since I'd be doing it quite frequently :p .
March 31, 2007 4:30:56 AM

If I recall correctly you can simply switch it in the Nvidia Control panel, perhaps even from a right-click setup. BUT, I think you may need to restart your computer after each time you do that. Not 100% sure, but I think you do. That's a REAL pain.
March 31, 2007 6:35:14 AM

Don't you also have to add the SLI bridge card/thingie? or is that old school already?
March 31, 2007 2:16:25 PM

I believe that's only if you want SLI, so the cards can operate in tandem. Non-SLI for 3 monitors doesn't need the SLI connector.
March 31, 2007 5:08:08 PM

That is what the OP asked for, to switch to SLI mode.
March 31, 2007 7:47:55 PM

ah......If he wants to switch, then he needs to put the SLI bridge connector on when installing the cards, yes. Good point.

But he'll need to restart the system I believe everytime he engages SLI, and then his other monitors won't work either.

And at 20" LCD resolution, with a GTS he won't need SLI in my opinion, it'll have enough power.

However, install the bridge, just in case. But a dual card, non-SLI configuration is problaby the best bet, then all 3 monitors will work. SLI = 1 monitor only.
March 31, 2007 11:56:22 PM

Yep, that is kinda a pain having to restart each time.. but in the future, when I might upgrade to a larger monitor, or when I might actually need the SLI config, could I run them in SLI with an independent card solely managing my 2 side panels, and have all 3 cards running simotaneously without ANY black screens? Idk if anyone's done such a thing, but if they have enough knowledge about heating/space complications, that'd be nice to know. Just a thought. Btw, how big of a screen is really needed to utilize such SLI?
April 1, 2007 2:23:53 AM

Sure ya can, but you'll need a board that has 3 PCI-e slots ;) 
!