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Researching first build...suggestions, comments?

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May 1, 2007 12:55:12 AM

After owning a couple Dell desktops over the years, I have decided that I'd like to try building my next one. I have experience doing memory upgrades and installing various drives and such but I've put a computer together from scratch so I'm not entirely sure how complicated this will be.

I plan to use the computer to do general stuff such as internet surfing and word processing, but I will also be gaming and video editing on it as well. I know almost nothing about overclocking at this point, but I think it's something that I may want to explore in the future but when I do, I believe it would be a mild overclock if any.

Here are the parts I am considering getting so far:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail $230 -- Will the stock heatsink be sufficient for a mild overclock?

Mobo: ASUS P5W DH DELUXE/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel 975X ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $209.99

Memory: G.SKILL 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail x2 $319.98 --Considering 4gb of memory but I would be ok with 2gb if the money is better spent on another part. I figure it couldn't hurt with my video processing.

GPU: EVGA 320-P2-N815-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card - Retail $299.99 -- I was told that since I will be running in 1280x1024 resolution, that this card will more than accommodate me.

PSU: I'm unsure about this part. Any suggestions? Would like to get enough power to allow for moderate PCI card or hard drive additions later on.

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3500630AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $129.99

DVD Drive: SAMSUNG Black CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner With LightScribe Technology - OEM $38.99

Sound Card: Do I need a sound card or is the onboard sound sufficient? If I do need one, any suggestions?

Case: No idea what case I'd like. I'd prefer that it not be huge but I would also like a decent balance between its ability to maintain cooling and stay quiet and it should be able to accommodate the hardware that I have chosen without much trouble.

Current Total: $1228.94

Aiming for a grand total of around $1600 USD. I will be reusing my monitor, mouse, keyboard, and speaker setup from my old system. I plan to install a copy Vista x64 I have sitting around as well. I am also unsure as to my cooling needs? Are the stock coolers that I will be getting work to keep my system cool at stock speeds? How about with a mild overclock?

Are there any obvious incompatibilities? Is there anything I should know about building a PC that might not be obvious to someone who has never done it before?

Thanks.
May 1, 2007 2:01:47 AM

PSU: Fortron (FSP), Seasonic, and Antec are good names here. I'd shoot for 500W. adding hard drives and PCI cards won't appreciably increase your power footprint. Adding bigger video cards or overclocking will.

Case: Kind of a preference thing. I'm all about minimalist looking cases (i.e. that don't look like something the Power Rangers would ride around in). My current build is in an Antec P180B. Nice case, and I'm happy with it. I know people that won't touch anything but Lian-Li. Cooling is important - look for 120mm fans, as these move lots of air and are quiet. I also looked at an Antec Sonata, as it was going to come with a decent Antec PSU also. This is against the rule of thumb that says to not use the PSU the case comes with. The best piece of advice I can give you is don't cheap out on the case. 30 or 40 extra bucks here will get you better cooling, nicer features and ease of use. Plus the fact that the case will probably outlast all the parts you put in it.

Sound Card: BIG preference thing here. All motherboards out there have at least 5.1 sound that is supported by Windows. (I run Linux, however, so I don't get 5.1 without an expansion card). Some people will say that a discrete sound card will get you a frame or two a second in some games, but I don't think I'd notice it. If you plan on doing any serious recording, you'll want something, but then, you wouldn't be asking if you needed one, and you'd probably already have something. If you want one, I'd stick with Creative. If you have an amp / home theatre system, I'd make sure it's got a digital out that's compatible with your amp, in case you decide to move it over to HTPC duties, otherwise, spend the 50 bucks you'd drop on the sound card on the case or something.

-Hel

Edit: Everything else looks good to me. Wish I had that much dough to drop on my rig.
May 1, 2007 4:10:10 AM

Looks good so far. That mobo is kinda expensive, but if you REALLY need the features then it's a good one. But there are other very good, cheaper ones to consider.

PSU: Seasonic is likely the best for your scenario. Absolutely top notch, and won't break the bank. 550-650w will be plenty and also allow for future upgrades. Other good brands are OCZ, Corsair, Enermax, FSP, PC Power and Cooling.

Case: style is personal preference, but it entirely matters on your budget. Lian-Li is VERY nice, but VERY expensive. Antec P180 is a VERY quiet case, but can be difficult to do some good cable management. Thermaltake has more "bling", but has very good quality at an affordable price. Coolermaster 534 is a very good and inexpensive/basic case to consider for a tight budget.

RAM: 4 gigs not necessary, but your call. Just make sure your OS supports 4 gigs.

Cooling: Stock cooler is ok for stock speeds and moderate overclocks. However, an aftermarket heatsink is a very good investment, from a noise and cooling perspective. Aftermarket will be quieter and do a much better job. And on the total price of your system, it's not that much money really....a very small fraction of the total cost. Looking at your build and requirements, I'd suggest a Thermalright Ultra 120 (needs a 120mm fan though), a Thermaltake Big Typhoon, a Zalman 9700, or a Noctua NH-U12F.


MUCH better than a Dell ;) 
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May 1, 2007 3:05:51 PM

In general I like your specs. I would buy the DFI Infinity 965 or 975 mother board for $150 because the manufacture build it for overclocking and the DFI Club fourms will help you if you have trouble. Mine runs 24/7@3.5 GHz with my Lapped E6600.

If you really want ASUS I'd try the Vista version they removed the Wi-Fi and included a 512 MB Ready Boost Drive.

I would also recomend the Lite-on Retail DVD-RW Drive. The OEM Drive wont have the proper Software to make DVD's or watch movies. For an extra $10 you get them in the retail package. I believe I paid $38 for the last one I purchaced.

Try and get G.Skills HZ DIMMS. You need a 64 Bit Operating System if you want more than 3GB of RAM.

To keep costs down I use the Antec Sonata II Case it's only around $100 and includes an Antec 450 Watt Power Supply for Free. It aslo has lots of quiet amenities like rubber gromets for Hard Drive Mounting.
I use the Antec 900 Case with a Seasonic S12 600 Watt. I would recomend the Seasonic M500 if you get a seperate power supply.

I'd recomend the Zalman 9700 LED bacause it's quiet and looks cool and cools well.
May 1, 2007 4:26:27 PM

Good advice. I don't think that Vista does much better with over 2 gig of RAM vs. just 2, but I don't have any benchmarks to back that statement up. It's a well known fact that XP won't do anything with that RAM above 2 gig. Buying the extra RAM now shouldn't be a bad thing, as RAM prices stay fairly steady, and even go up when newer tech comes out and supplies of the older stuff dwindle. (check out where DDR, or even PC-133 is now). I would think, also, that 2 gig would last you until you were ready for a new machine.

On the comment about the retail drive - there are very good free alternatives to both burning software and DVD decoding / watching software. I'd look into DeepBurner for burning and Windows Media Player Classic / k-Lite Mega Codec Pack for watching DVD's (really media of any kind. It's also got plugins that will do RealPlayer and QuickTime files!). There's plenty of good free DVD authoring software out there, too, I just haven't used any of it, so I won't make recommendations. If you really want Nero and PowerDVD (I'm sure that's what the retail drive comes with), then 10 bucks is not a bad price at all, though.

On a side note, Nvidia is the one that charges for their hardware-accelerated DVD decoder software (PureVideo). If you're going to be doing lots of DVD watching, and want dolby surround, Nvidia's going to milk you for another 30 bucks (50 for DTS!!). not that PureVideo is bad software, I just think it's a little sleazy after getting 300 bucks for the hardware. ATI has a free option for hardware-accelerated DVD decoding.
May 1, 2007 7:15:53 PM

Why the hell are u buying an 8800 GTS and a 975X motherboard?

650i SLi is the answer - walk towards the light.
May 1, 2007 9:10:27 PM

I have been using The Nfoce4 Chipset for a couple of years. I think Intel is more compatable. My DFI LanParty Expert has numerous hangups like it won't work with my 1st generation X-Fi They had a plan where you could send it back and get a compatable X-fi but I did't I just used it in a Intel Rig I had. Also If I use all four memory slots it turns the RAM Speed down to 333 Mhz. So I like Intel more than Nvidia and I'm not that Jazzed about SLI I had two 7900 GT's and It had lots of limitations as well. I've read about people getting SLI to work with Intel Chipsets probably thru a hacked BIOS. Diamond Flower International is so cool on the DFI Club web site a few guys make up BIOS for overclocking or SLI I think one guys name is Merlin.
May 1, 2007 9:11:50 PM



Enough Said.
May 1, 2007 10:24:56 PM

Thanks for the advice so far. As for SLI or crossfire, I'm not terribly interested in it, so I'll stick with the single GPU for now.

Here's what I have planned so far, with the updates I made to my first config in bold:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail $230

Mobo: ASUS P5W DH DELUXE/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel 975X ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $209.99

Memory: G.SKILL 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail x2 $319.98
Also considering this instead: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail $154.99

GPU: EVGA 320-P2-N815-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card - Retail $299.99

PSU: SeaSonic S12 Energy Plus SS-550HT ATX12V / EPS12V 550W Power Supply

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3500630AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $129.99

DVD Drive: SAMSUNG Black CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner With LightScribe Technology - OEM $38.99

Sound Card: Still unsure whether I need one or not. Are there any decent ones that I should be looking at that aren't terribly expensive?

Case: Antec p182
May 1, 2007 11:27:53 PM

Very nice setup. As for the RAM, the cheaper G.Skills will do fine. But if you wanna overclock the snot out of that CPU, then the more expensive ones might be the way to go. Although with a 9x multi, the 6600 should do fine with the cheaper RAM sticks.......

Sound card? Not really necessary unless you're an audiophile. Most onboard is actually very good these days. I'd recommend pass on the sound card, see how the onboard is, then decide if you really need one. If so, get one you like. If not, you just saved the money ;) 
May 2, 2007 7:16:11 AM

Why not get the M Series from Seasonic so you can unplug the extra cables you don't need.
May 2, 2007 8:31:05 AM

Quote:
RAM prices stay fairly steady, and even go up when newer tech comes out and supplies of the older stuff dwindle



i have to disagree with that statement as Ram prices Fluctuate massively this past month has seen the Ram i have been watching go from £180 to on offer at £152 then £160 back up to £185 then £160 and now they are down to £130
but yes ram prices do get jacked a bit when new chips come out
!