Low-Mid Range Build (EDIT: built, some q's)

EDIT: Components bought, having heat issues, see below post.

I spent a lot of time looking at different components before ordering my system, so I thought I'd share my list, and my reasons for choosing the components I selected.

Build Principles: First, newbie-friendly reliable components, as I've never custom-built a PC before. Second, price/performance, looking for the best "bang" for the buck. I don't really have a budget, per se, but I don't want to buy more computer than my needs. Third, when possible, an eye to future upgradability. Fourth, the opportunity to mess with modest overclocking.

Needs:
Gaming: I'm not a frequent gamer, but I'd like games I purchase in the store today to work as intended, without having to turn off too many graphical options.
Media: I do a lot of media streaming from my computer to my XB360, so I need plenty of space.
Other: General Internet/home office use.

All prices are from Newegg, as of 31 May 07. MIR's are not included.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E4300 - Retail $115

The C2D CPU's have a clear advantage right now over the AMD's in performance, especially because the low-end models OC so easily. Therefore, I went with the low-end C2D, with plans to OC to a mid-2 Ghz. Gamers may want to check out the e6320, which gives you an extra 2M of L2 cache for an extra $50. If you're on a strict budget, the AMD's may be more withwhile.

Mobo: MSI P6N SLI Platinum LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $145

I probably overpaid for this mobo, but this was definitely a "buy something that won't give me problems" purchase, especially in regards to cooling. Well reviewed, both in the customer reviews and in a recent TH article. Supports SLI in case I decide to go that way in the future.
Cheaper solutions that I also looked at were the MSI P6N SLI-FI, at $120, or the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3, at $100. Both had some cooling issues.

CPU Cooler: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - Retail $35

Coolers seem to be controversial. Didn't want to spend a lot of money on a cooler since I'm only planning a modest OC, but didn't want to just use stock since I've heard the stock C2D heatsink is crap...This was the answer.

Memory: Transcend JETRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail $72

I deviated a little here, but the price + good reviews on this memory were too good to pass up. 5-5-5-12 timings. Of course, after I placed the order, I read that the MSI mobo's have some compatibility problems with generic RAM, so we'll see how well it works. MSI lists approved memory manufacturers on their website, so I'd check that first if I was doing this again. Only running XP 32-bit, so 2GB is sufficient.

Video Card: EVGA 256-P2-N624-AR GeForce 7900GS 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 KO Video Card - Retail $150

Waffled some on the GPU, but ended up choosing the mid-range solution. 8800 GTS 320MB is also an excellent price/performance choice, but overkill for my needs. 7600 GS isn't very future-proof, but would be good for those that only play older games. Sapphire Radeon x1950 Pro is slightly cheaper ($145) and slightly better performing, but seemed to have some durability/heat issues.

PSU: ENERMAX Liberty ELT400AWT ATX12V 400W Power Supply 90V~265V (Auto Adjusted) UL, cUL, TUV, CB - Retail $85

Wanted something reliable, but not overkill. There's cheaper options, there's more expensive options- buttom line, this puts out the amps I need, and it's a brand known for quality. 400W rating a bit misleading- it puts out 30amps, which equals most other 500W models. Modular cables a plus. Those looking for something more should try a better Enermax, a Seasonic...plenty of options. Those willing to risk less should try a Hiper, FSP, or a *gulp* Sparkle.

Hard Drive: SAMSUNG SpinPoint T Series HD501LJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $115

500 MB seems to be the sweet spot right now. This drive is well-reviewed, both by customers and in TH. There's a Western Digital Caviar 500MB that's the same price, if you prefer them. Both have 3-yr warranties, so you can't really go wrong. I will probably, at a later date, buy a second one of these HD's for backup.

Case: Rosewill R5601-BK 0.8mm SECC Screw-less Dual 120mm Fans ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $55

Personal preference here. If bling's your thing, there's plenty around this price point that have clear sides, LED's, etc. Rosewill cases are decent if you want to go cheaper. Centurion 5/532/534 are also recommended at this price point. If you want to spend more, Antec, Lian Li, Thermaltake... Just don't buy a PSU/case combo- the included PSU's are usually crap.

Optical Drive: ASUS Black 18X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 18X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 14X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 40X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe - OEM $35

A little more expensive than other choices, but it's SATA and it has LightScribe, which I've always wanted to play around with. (I'll probably use it once.)

Other Stuff:
Generic floppy drive - for BIOS updates - $7
Generic media card reader - $12
AS Wrist Strap - $5
Windows XP Pro - $0 (Yay for government procurement)

Total Price: $825, or $800 minus the extras I needed. If you want to go cheaper, you could get a cheaper mobo and case without sacrificing much, which would knock off ~$75, or really cut down and get a cheaper PSU/scrap the cooling fan, for an additional ~$75 off.

If anyone has comments, fel free to post! I'll be updating this once I get all the components (unfortunately, I live overseas, so it'll take a while) and get them assembled.
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  1. Not sure what you want us to say, other than great list of parts.
    For a mid-2.0 O/C the stock fan would work.
    Cases are so personal, hard for people to give you ideas. Many people here choose the cooler master for about $50.
    The Gigabyte DS3/DS4 are solid boards that will work great, never mind what it says on Newegg.
  2. First, I appreciate the advice I received from everyone on this forum. I have finally received and put together all the parts above. Everything seems to be working well.
    Before I start trying to OC, though, I want to check, as it seems my temperatures are abnormally high for using the Freezer 7 Pro. Now, I live in Korea, where AC is EXPENSIVE, so ambient temperatures are pretty warm (27C) :) However, at stock/idle speed, I'm getting temps of 48C from TAT/Coretemp. With 100% TAT load, I get temps of 63C. However, RMClock reports temps that are 15 degrees cooler, for both idle/load, and my Tjunction in Coretemp never changes from 100C. Any thoughts?

    http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/8007/screenshotle4.jpg
  3. Also, if anyone has a link that shows the relationship between ambient and core temps, that'd be helpful. Let me know if I just need to wait until winter to OC. :)
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