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First draft at new-build specs - advice please...

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July 19, 2007 12:07:49 PM

Hi all. This will be my first self-build and I'm replacing my old P4 3.0GHz system. I've tried to do some reading, etc but could really do with some advice/comments now that I have an initial spec put together. Here's what I'm thinking about - please feel free to make any alternative suggestions (especially on the choice of MB & PSU if it seems underpowered)...


Antec 900 Gaming Case - £64.50
E6420 - £113.85 (this may come down next week)
GA-P35-DS3R - 83.43
Hiper HPU-4M580 - £48.12
2GB (2x1GB kit) Crucial Ballistix PC6400 - £85.00
HIS X1950XT 256MB - £111.32
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB - 43.82
Optiarc 7170S DVD/RW OEM - £19.85
Floppy Drive - £4.34
Arctic Silver 5 - £4.45

It's for general home use and particularly for gaming. I'll be sticking with 32-bit OS until there's a need to change.

I intend to do some light overclocking on the CPU (when I learn how!) but only basics. May decide to upgrade CPU to quad in 12-18 months if need be. Is the mobo the right sort of choice? The next model (P35C) apparently also supports DDR3 - is that right and should I get that? Will the PSU be suitable? Can I rely on onboard sound nowadays (currently use a Soundblaster Audigy 2)?

So, over to you - fire away! Am I on the right tracks? Any suggested alternatives? Anywhere I can try to trim the budget slightly without too much sacrifice?

Thanks in advance all (Let me know if you need me to add links. They just didn't work properly when I tried to do that last night)
July 19, 2007 12:46:08 PM

Looks nice. There may be "alternatives," but I don't see any bad choices.
For budget-trimming:
1. That's a nice case but you can probably find a reasonable one for less.
2. Same on the RAM. I won't link any Newegg examples since you're in the UK, but I'm sure someone else can send links :-).
3. You don't have an aftermarket CPU cooler listed, so you can skip the AS-5.
July 19, 2007 12:51:51 PM

Cheers jtt.

I thought it was better to use the AS5 even with the stock HSF - is that not right? Never used it before (because never built anything before!) but just picked it up during my reading.

I picked the case because of it's supposedly very good cooling (hence no aftermarket cooler). Other ones that look half-decent are similar price or more here and it seems the cooling is not as strong.

Any suggestions for the ram and I'll look around here? Should I be going for something 'like' Ballistix or should I just stick to standard/'value' ram?
Related resources
July 19, 2007 12:54:53 PM

I bought the same DVD drive for Vista 64, doesnt work. I would personally not recommend it.

Also consider buying an 8800 GTS 320, it may be well worth it.
July 19, 2007 12:59:23 PM

Aha, cheers Ancalagon. Do you have any suggestions?

Is this common to those drives in general (anyone??) or did you just get a dud?
July 19, 2007 1:12:15 PM

I cant rule out that I didnt get a dud actually, so I dont know. What happened is that the Vista install loaded extremely slowly, then told me I needed new drivers for the drive. there are none, so I borrowed an IDE LG, and installed flawlessly from that. I put the Sony NEC back in, and it still doesnt work properly - it sometimes crashes. actually maybe a dud is the most likely thing.

anyway, ms has a list of vista compatible hardware, and that writer isnt there.

I'm actually going to mail the place I bought it from, and ask them what to do.

I would probably recommend a lite on or phillips drive, in the list they seemed to be supported.
July 19, 2007 1:56:01 PM

Just don't join the Vista beta test program Microsquishy has tricked people into doing for them. Stick with XP.
"Standard" RAM is probably sufficient, from a reputable manufacturer like Corsair, OCZ, G.Skill, or even Kingston. I hear bad things about PNY. A coworker has a hardware business and he won't touch it.
July 19, 2007 2:50:45 PM

I plan to stay with XP until Vista is through all of it's inevitable teething issues and until I need to change to be honest. Inevitably this will happen at some stage so I'd rather not have to replace hardware just to be compatible at that stage!

I'll check the MS list of compatible hardware a later today then and see what I can find - cheers both of you.

Still looking for advice on the motherboard issue anyone. That's the one area that I'm completely stuck with - so many choices!! Don't know if there are cheaper and just as suitable alternatives.
July 19, 2007 4:01:28 PM

The build in your OP is mostly fine. Swap the PSU for the one Emp posted, and maybe consider getting a cheap-ish aftermarket cooler such as an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7. That should allow you a better OC than the stock cooler without going to the extremes of spending £50 on a Thermalright Ultra 120E. Also unless that E6420 comes down a fair bit after the 22nd, it makes a lot more sense to get a E6550.
July 19, 2007 4:01:53 PM

Cheers Emp,

I wasn't sure if the PSU was going to cut it so that's fine - better safe than sorry! By the way, what's the best (& easiest) way to work out how big a PSU I need? Presumably it will be fine for my X1950XT but I'm just wondering in case I expand the system over the next 12-18 months. Does this one give me scope to overclock in the future as well?
July 19, 2007 4:04:35 PM

YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EDIT THIS MESSAGE!!!! *sigh*

Paste:

EDIT: If you did need to shave a bit off you could maybe go for some slightly cheaper RAM? The Crucial is pretty much the best DDR800 you can get but its main plus is the Micron D9 chips allowing for superior overclocks. If you're not interested in doing mad OCs then some slightly cheaper DDR800 might do you fine.
July 19, 2007 4:06:29 PM

foxrocks said:
The build in your OP is mostly fine. Swap the PSU for the one Emp posted, and maybe consider getting a cheap-ish aftermarket cooler such as an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7. That should allow you a better OC than the stock cooler without going to the extremes of spending £50 on a Thermalright Ultra 120E. Also unless that E6420 comes down a fair bit after the 22nd, it makes a lot more sense to get a E6550.


Cheers Foxrocks.

The final CPU decision will almost certainly come down to how much impact the 22nd has on prices - basically would prefer to get a better starting chip for the money so that I don't have to worry about overclocking too far (considering I've never done it before). I could pre-order the E6550 for £117.50 but thought I should wait for the 22nd just in case.

I will change the PSU as suggested. Is it worth seeing how the case copes alongside the stock cooler first? I could always add the aftermarket later when I start overclocking - won't straight away.
July 19, 2007 4:07:33 PM

That 520W Corsair should be fine for the foreseeable future. It wouldn't like high end SLI much, but that's not relevant. I think it's your best best without having to pay out £80-100.
July 19, 2007 4:09:17 PM

I've heard of people running dual GTS on that Corsair, so I'm pretty damn sure you'll be fine for a while. And the PSUs I recommend are because I know the units and they are regarded as high quality ones, but if you're starting to get interested in PSUs then this is some good reading and a good thing to have bookmarked.

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10...
July 19, 2007 4:47:27 PM

Great, thanks both of you. Nice link Emp - good clear recommendations - just what someone like me needs (duly bookmarked).

I've no doubt over your recommendation Emp. Just checking if I need to go one step higher for future-proofing but as foxrocks said, I'll spend the extra IF I ever need to - certainly unlikely for the foreseeable future.

That Crucial has changed price 3 times in the last 2 weeks! The chap that built the current pc says he always recommends Crucial for reliability so I think I'll stick with it now. The other brand names are only a few £'s cheaper so I'd rather have the peace of mind.

I think I'm pretty much good to go now (pending July 22nd prices of course) so the only outstanding question is over the motherboard. I'll post on the relevant section for that one to see if anyone can help.

Cheers everyone

EDIT - Just remembered, that's not the only question. What about this issue of DVD drive that Ancalagon_UK raised? Any suggested drives anyone?
July 19, 2007 7:41:34 PM

I *think* the only difference between the P35C-DS3R & the P35-DS3R is the extra green DDR3 slots on the P35C. I guess that futureproofs you to a degree, but to be honest by the time DDR3 comes down in price things may well have moved on past P35 boards.

That said, while the DDR3 isn't really here nor there, the two boards are virtually identical in price, and provided there is literally no performance hit to the P35C, even if you never end up using the DDR3 slots you may as well go for that.

As for the DVD drive, just get something that will work in Vista and is SATA-based. Pioneer are usually good but I'm afraid I can't vouch for whether or not certain drives are Vista-friendly or not.
July 19, 2007 10:30:37 PM

Cheers foxrocks. Will see what I can find out from MS's compatibility guide if I can find one.
!