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Building my first comp. and need help

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May 17, 2007 11:06:40 PM

My final system as of now will probably be this, thanks for all the help everyone.

https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/Wishlist/PublicWishDetail.asp?WishListNumber=5759966&WishListTitle=Summer+2007+first+computer

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So this will be the first time I've ever tried to build a computer. I would usually buy a computer accept that I don't want Vista and Dell only offers either a 7300 or 8800 nvidia graphics card. 8800 is too expensive and the 7300 isn't good enough for what I want. I am currently planning on using this Tom's Hardware guide as my setup (with a few changes).

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/05/08/system_builder_marathon/page7.html

That link sends you to the low end system in the recent 4 day marathon. Here are the general specs they recommend.

Processor AMD Athlon X2 3800+ AM2, 2.00GHz, 1000 FSB, 1MB Cache
Motherboard MSI K9N4 Ultra-F, BIOS: 1.6 (03/21/2007)
RAM Wintec AMPO PC2-6400 1024 MB, CAS 5-5-5-16
Hard Drive Samsung HD160JJ - P80SD 160 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA 300

Networking NVIDIA nForce onboard Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics Cards Card 1: XFX GeForce 7600 GT
GPU: 580 MHz
RAM: 256 MB 1500 MHz
Power Supply Fortron Source AX450-PN

From all of the guides I've read and seeing as this is my first system, I thought it better to just follow a DIY build guide in order to avoid any huge mistakes.

The only few things I want to change are as follows.

I want to have a nvidia 7900gs instead of the 7600 and I want to add a second 500 GB HDD to the system. I also want to add an Audigy2 sound card if possible (although I wont be devastated if I have to drop this).

My questions to anyone who is willing to help are as follows.

Will the power supply be able to handle the 7900 gs and extra HDD?
Is that cpu good enough not to be a bottleneck ( I play mostly MMO's and RTS, not a big FPS fan), if not then what would you recommend I upgrade to?

If you recommend that I switch to a core 2 duo system (maybe e4300), what besides the motherboard would I have to change and what motherboard would you recommend?

And is there anything else I should consider before I begin that I very well have probably missed? For instance in the guide it doesnt mention anything about buying case fans so I was wondering if they were just implied or what.

Thanks a lot in advance.

apc

-edit

For right now the things I'm considering changing to

AMD x2 4200
nvidia 7900gs
SeaSonic S12-430 ATX12V 430W Power Supply

Although some people have brought up the consideration of future upgrades and a SLI motherboard which I'm trying to acquaint myself with.

More about : building comp

May 17, 2007 11:27:10 PM

There are more c2d owners & of course we would always suggest c2d regardless of the buyer's needs & wants. I try to be objective.

If you're not overclocking, get the am2 build. Otherwise, get a c2d build.

A fully built 7900gs pc will be fine with 350W 22A. That may be stretching it. The Fortron 450w has 30amps combined on +12, so it's more than plenty for the 7900gs.

http://www.fsp-group.com.tw/english/1_product/2_detail....
May 17, 2007 11:34:09 PM

Thanks for the response. Yea I probably wont be overclocking since this is my first time and I really have no idea what I'm doing. So I guess I will stick with the AMD build. Thanks again

apc
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May 18, 2007 12:24:16 AM

Do you have a budget? If so how much?
May 18, 2007 2:02:09 AM

My budget? Well the original system guide came out to $525. I would be willing to upgrade to a nvidia 7900gs plus I would like a secondary 500 gb HDD for files and what not. So let's just say that my budget is around $800.

Again I really only have a back catalogue of games that I want to play, mostly RTS and turn based strategy games ( Civ 4, Total war games, C&C, etc). The list I have is extensive and will probably take me 3 years to finish. So I probably won't be playing any news games from now until I build a new computer in a few years. So getting incredible performance isn't much of an issue for me (I hardly ever play FPS) which I guess justifies my low budget. Or at least in my mind it does.

thanks again
apc
May 18, 2007 2:27:02 AM

the case specs will generally tell you whether or not it comes with fans and if it doesn't you have to buy them, as for the processor i would buy a 4200+ rather than the 3800+, its only another twenty dollars and the power supply should be enough.
May 18, 2007 2:46:13 AM

Well for ram I think this would be good and very cheap of course I really dont know but you can always ask around.G.SKILL 2GB

Also when looking for parts I would check newegg they usually have great deals.

Also are you going to need a new case or new dvd/rw drive(s)?
May 18, 2007 3:32:40 AM

I am going to have to get a case and dvd drive. I plan on just getting the ones that were recommended in the guide. I'm thinking of getting a different PSU now though because I realized that one only has 2 SATA cables while I will probably want 3 or 4 HDD at some point in the future.

Man this stuff is fun but wow is it also complicated. Thanks for all the help everyone.

edit- I think I'm going to switch out that guide PSU with this one

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151023

This is because it has more SATA cables. Anything wrong with this PSU or company that anyone knows about? Seems to get decent reviews via newegg.
May 18, 2007 8:01:32 AM

Gentlemen, we have a winner. Yes that is a great PSU. Only thing is it might not run 2 8800s in SLI. I know, like that is going to happen anytime soon.
You are promoted from n00b to advisor.
May 18, 2007 12:33:48 PM

IMO, it's best to get a psu that can power the most powerful dx10 card at the moment so that your next upgrade won't include a psu for a while.

As always, ati cards don't list the power requirements. From the online benchies, I would say 2900 xt eats ~50w+ under load more than 8800gtx. 450W 30A is what a full 8800gtx pc takes. 500w would be a safe bet for 2900xt.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Unless you're dead set on the 7900gs. BTW, the mobo can't sli or crossfire.
May 18, 2007 1:26:49 PM

I'm not deadset on the 7900 gs. It is simply that I thought I might like a little more than a 7600 and I found the 7900gs for only $15 more in some cases.

I don't see myself using crossfire or SLI now or in the future? Is this a mistake? Again I think relatively the games I play are non-intensive. I basically just have a large back catalogue of games I want to go through which I won't finish going through for a couple of years.

Right now I really don't see myself upgrading this computer with say adding a second GPU and putting it into SLI mode for instance. I see myself just giving it to my mom or donating it and getting a new vista equipped one in 3-4 years. Is this a bad approach?

Will SLI give such a perfomance boost (a relatively inexpensive one) that I should be preparing to do that as of right now (or preparing for other upgrades now with say a better psu)? Or is it better to just build a new PC when the time comes, which I believe won't be for at least 3 years. Or is it better to just worry about the upgrades and what is required when the time comes.

Thanks again for the help.
May 18, 2007 3:20:22 PM

Quote:
My budget? Well the original system guide came out to $525. I would be willing to upgrade to a nvidia 7900gs plus I would like a secondary 500 gb HDD for files and what not. So let's just say that my budget is around $800.

Again I really only have a back catalogue of games that I want to play, mostly RTS and turn based strategy games ( Civ 4, Total war games, C&C, etc). The list I have is extensive and will probably take me 3 years to finish. So I probably won't be playing any news games from now until I build a new computer in a few years. So getting incredible performance isn't much of an issue for me (I hardly ever play FPS) which I guess justifies my low budget. Or at least in my mind it does.

thanks again
apc

First this system is for games? For games you need to focus on the GPU instead of the CPU. I would get the cheapest dual core. The X2 3600+ brisbane 65nm is the cheapest and can over clock more than the X2 3800+ 90nm.

I wouldnt suggest any DX9 GPU as you can get the 8600GT for about the price of a 7900 and performance is about the same. In DX9 performance both are the same but both in DX10 the 8600GT will kill any DX9 card due to emulation. I would suggest one of these 2 GPU's. The XFX is an OCed 8600GT for $149 and 8800 EVGA is a killer deal at only $274.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Finally dont buy a high cost motherboard. Find 1 with the features you need as most all have a fair OC and will bios upgrade to any CPU. Buying a high priced motherboard now is wasteful with AM2+ and PCI-E 2.0 comming. Even on the Intel side if thats your route you got P35 mobos comming. I would only suggest get mobo's with 4 memory slots and atleast 8~16GB's of maximum memory supported. Heres a mobo that requires 1.8v memory but is a very good low cost choice for AMD CPU's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Here is the best low cost mobo for Intel CPU's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Get atleast 2GB's of RAM DDR2 800 or higher as prices on the slower memorys will rise to be higher priced when you upgrade. Even now DDR2 800 is priced right at the slower DDR2 memory's. Make sure that your memorys voltage works with the mobo. most all ddr2 800 mobos will work at 1.8v but some memory needs 1.9v or higher. If you choice a mobo which only does 1.8v the memory you get must work at 1.8v and may not work at full ddr2 800 if it states 1.8~1.9v.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

On all these item check customer reviews as they point you to the best matchs and if the product has a record of being DOA. Look for the motherboard first with a good review and see if they have combo deals for the CPU. This is a good way to save but weigh this against the cheap CPU's that can OC upto or past higher cost CPU's.
May 18, 2007 9:59:44 PM

Listen to Elbert. He's in the loop & knows what he's talking about. Particularly video, cpu, mobo & ram. If you stick around with him, you'll be on your way to being an overclocker.

Yes, the thing happening right now is that the ddr2 ram prices drop like there's no tomorrow. It's making way for ddr3. If you stick with ddr2, get as much as you can. The same thing happened to ddr which is more expensive than the ddr2.

The p35 mobos will be out but with ddr2 support. I suppose ddr3 demand is non-existent or low.

I didn't mean to imply sli/cf is the better way. The future? I don't know. I don't even know what's gonna happen tomorrow. I suppose dx10 is bit more future-proof than dx9. Yep, I'd get the 8600gt instead of any 79xx.

I myself upgrade the cpu/mobo/ram barebone every 6-12 months. The reason is that I can sell the parts for a reasonable prices & won't lose too much money on them. At times, I give my old parts to my family pc as an upgrade & sell the older parts.
May 18, 2007 10:41:56 PM

Thanks again for this advice. It's all really helping. I'm stuck now with a choice though.

Operating system.

I have been looking and three questions are coming to mind. 64 bit or 32 bit. OEM or retail. XP home or professional (sorry don't really want vista, been reading too many bad things)

64 bit or 32 bit

From what I've read in newegg reviews, all the time people are having trouble with 64 bit. There are many, "UNACCEPTABLE, no 64 bit driver support, doesn't work etc etc..." on newegg that I have read in the past day or two. Is there a good reason to go this way that I am not seeing? Obviously there must be something, but seeing as I'm still a novice I think it best that I not get involved with 64 bit and stick with 32 bit but I'm open to suggestions. This amd x2 4200 that I want seems to be a 64 bit processor but I might be mistaken (confused actually). Are processors anything like computer monitors where you want to be running them at their native resolutions (or in this case, running the cpu at its bit rate)?

OEM or Retail

OEM seems to be about half the price. But I keep reading something about only one computer with OEM. So if I build this one, and it falls off of a cliff and I have to build a whole new computer, would I have to buy another copy of windows or no? I just keep reading something about only 1 license over and over again. Do they mean 1 computer PERIOD, or only one computer at a time.

XP home or professional

For the past 3 years I have been using XP tablet PC, this I believe is built off of professional because if I boot in safemode, when it asks me to pick an operating system, it says "Windows XP Professional". So I assume that is what I have been using. But at the same time, all of the computers at my parents' house use XP Home and I can't tell any difference in the two despite the tablet capabilities. What am I missing? Is professional worth the much added price? I do see that all the guides however have recommended professional, and most of the sigs say they have pro as well. Im just wondering why.

I really have appreciate all the help. Thanks again. I'm almost done and am actually pretty excited, this has so far been pretty interesting and exciting.
May 19, 2007 12:34:49 PM

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/home/howtobuy/choosi...

In summary, the pro is really built for businesses, governments & organizations. It has all the security & networking features. It even has a server. However, there are some people who use it for home.

I myself like security a lot. 2000 was the best Windows, IMO. Some gamers prefered 2000 to 98 cuz it ran games faster when correctly configured.

Vista is a bit confusing to me mostly due to the new layout of everything. New learning curve. New costs. I must say Vista is what Windows should have been in the 1st place cuz the average user doesn't need to know what it is doing behind the scene. Just click & get it.

Home is fine for home use. At newegg, it's like 90 dollars vs 140 for pro oem? It's not worth it if you don't have the time or desire to harden Pro. Home + an internet security suite = ok.

OEM is what you should get to save a bit of money. You can carry it over to another pc. Only 1 pc at a time: install on A; use it on A; uninstall it from A; install on B, so on. OEM means you MUST buy Windows with hardware at the same time. Retail means you buy Windows any time you want.

Some users buy a legit copy of XP & get a crack for it cuz they don't want to activate it every time they change hardware. Copy protection inconveniences only the legit users. You'd have to do the same every time you use it on another pc. Activation. May require you to call MS in some cases.
May 19, 2007 10:05:53 PM

OK I think I'm finally done. I would just like to say thanks to everyone who helped me out. This is my final setup which you can all see here

https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/Wishlist/PublicWishDetail.asp?WishListNumber=5759966&WishListTitle=Summer+2007+first+computer

Does anyone notice any major mistakes that I might have made? I really want the setup to go flawlessly and without a hitch.

All the parts I picked got great reviews. I didn't get any incredible components in terms of performance, but I'm hoping I'm buying quality that won't break and will simply "just work".

To be honest, the price is higher than I would have thought (always thought building would be very very cheap)

Do you guys think this system overall is good? Is there anything compatibility isssues or anything I'm missing

Thanks and good luck with your future systems as well.

-apc
May 20, 2007 1:13:28 PM

They're compatible with each other, but 1 gig of ram is pretty low. 2 gigs would be best for xp & most games.

The only thing that I'd change is the msi onboard chipset fan which is notorious for being loud. Very loud at full load. You can get a fan controler for this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

W/o voiding the mobo warranty.
May 20, 2007 3:00:46 PM

The seasonic PSU is a good name brand but that 430w is overpriced. You can get namebrand 600w PSU's for less. Your motherboard is SLI and no way can that PSU handle 2x8600's or 1 8800GTX. If your going to pay for a SLI mobo get a SLI PSU. This is a nice SLI PSU for $99.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note the +12V1@22A, +12V2@22A thats 32A's total where the seasonic gets about 25A. 25A is good but most any SLI needs 26A. That said the seasonics watts dont add up. I would say the 12v 348w seasonic claims is over stated as the 3.3v and 5v being 150w adds up to 498w. Thats not counting the -12v 9.6w and -5v 10w.

If you want to stay with seasonic buy an SLI version. Here a good PSU for SLI that could handle 2 8800GTX's for just a little more money.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
May 20, 2007 3:28:30 PM

Quote:
The seasonic PSU is a good name brand but that 430w is overpriced. You can get namebrand 600w PSU's for less. Your motherboard is SLI and no way can that PSU handle 2x8600's or 1 8800GTX. If your going to pay for a SLI mobo get a SLI PSU. This is a nice SLI PSU for $99.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note the +12V1@22A, +12V2@22A thats 32A's total where the seasonic gets about 25A. 25A is good but most any SLI needs 26A. That said the seasonics watts dont add up. I would say the 12v 348w seasonic claims is over stated as the 3.3v and 5v being 150w adds up to 498w. Thats not counting the -12v 9.6w and -5v 10w.

If you want to stay with seasonic buy an SLI version. Here a good PSU for SLI that could handle 2 8800GTX's for just a little more money.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



A forton 450w can take 1 GTX no problem. You could even try the Hiper 580w as well. The Enermax Liberty is a good quality powersupply. However, if bang-for-your-buck is what your going for and thats what it looks like to me. Then I vote for the Forton 450w.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Good luck. :D 
May 20, 2007 8:22:32 PM

The thing about Retail is that it really is a better deal. XP has been around for about 5 years or so, and most people upgrade their computers at least twice in that period. If you do plan to upgrade a lot before the next version of Windows comes out, I'd suggest getting a Retail license.

By upgrade, I mean getting at least a new motherboard.
May 20, 2007 10:39:07 PM

Quote:
I think I'm now going to go with this one. More powerful, enough SATA slots, and good ratings. What do you think?

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16817182045

Its not the quality of seasonic but the 30 amps are ok for SLI. Rosewill has a new 550 with 35 amps on the 12v rails and has the most recent versions of atx and eps.
http://www.rosewill.com/product/product.aspx?productId=...
Im not sure if newegg has this version yet.

Rosewill quality isnt that high and at no time would I suggest you pushing it to its max amps. With my 8800gts im well below its max by 4 amps so just be aware.

I noticed your buying a 7900gs. The 8600GT is an even match for the 7900GS. Heres a very long review showing the 8600GT wins in about everyother benchmark.
http://www.computerbase.de/artikel/hardware/grafikkarte...

Heres the GPU I would suggest for the same price and its an OC'ed version.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
!