Need advice with 3500 dollar build (First Time)

Well basically my family and I have been using the same computer for the last.. 4-5 years. Its a Dell P3 800mhz with a Geforce 4MX and 512 Ram. As you can imagine after nearly half a decade it has become painfully slow and infact unbearable. That being said my father has been looking to get a new computer for a while since we do phootshop work on it and im definately going to build the best I can with the 3500 dollar budget that I have. Any advice from people on the forum would be MUCH appreciated as I have never built a computer from scratch before but definately would like to do it this time as I am aware of the value you can get for the money.

I would also defiantely like to experiment with overclocking whichever processor and gpu I decide to get and will research how to do that when the time comes.

I do have one problem however, I love playing computer games and often play them at my friends I definatley want to have a computer that will be seriously AWESOME for games now and for future ones like crysis, bioshock, direct x10 titles, etc. But I also do extensive work in photoshop for my dad with files that are easily 2GB+ and definately need a computer that will excel in photoshop and probably 3d related programs. That being said, I am torn between getting a E6850 or a Q6600. I am aware that as of today, for games, quad core potential has yet to be tapped, but I would most likely want to try and overclock mine if I got it. Or perhaps getting an E6850 and waiting to upgrade in 08' when Penryn comes out is best approach?

Unfortunately, as you can probably tell, upgrading computers in my family isnt too frequent so I definately would like a computer that is extremely future proof - as this might be the computer I have for the next 5 years!! (heheh)

Anyways, I know that you guys love it when people make lists before hand so you can critique them but im really quite confused about the products. I need a full system, ie Monitor(s), Speakers, keyboard mouse, tower, etc.

I dont really have any specifics but I can try to make one:

Monitor - Well I am torn between getting 1 24" or two 22"... I know having two monitors would be good for photoshop work but Im just not sure if the cost is worth it. None the less, would love a very high quality monitor.

Speakers - Not sure just want something that has 5.1 and killer sound :)

CPU - E6850 or Q6600 (really cant decide but perhaps something different/better)

CPU Cooler - No idea but would ideally like the best air cooling possible so I can overclock

Motherboard - GIGABYTE p35 ??? Im not sure about the motherboard either but I have been reading that P35 is good

RAM 2x Crucial Ballistix DDR2 1000 PC2-8500 - 2GB = 4GB Total. Definately want 4gb for photoshop

Graphics 1x Geforce GTX. Im not really too interested in SLI, but perhaps I should get an Ultra?

Hard Drive 2x Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS - 1TB space is a must.

Sound Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS - perhaps this is too pricey, is a sound card really worth it?

Case - Absolutely NO idea about case but would preferably like a very good and cool one.

Power PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad

DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc 7170 SATA

Thanks so much guys/girls :)
15 answers Last reply
More about need advice 3500 dollar build first time
  1. Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP is a pretty good 24" monitor for the money.

    Speakers depends on how much you want to spend. Logitech X-540s are good for about $75; Logitech Z5300e for about $140; and Z5500s for about $230.

    Probably worth getting the Q6600 over an E6850 for Photoshop work.

    Gigabyte P35-DS3R is a good value P35 motherboard.

    Good choice on RAM if you're going to be overclocking. I assume you'll be using a 64-bit version of Vista? If not then there's no point in getting more than 2GB.

    Get a GTX; Ultras are still overpriced in comparison.

    Hard drives look fine.

    I personally wouldn't bother with a sound card, but if you insist then the cheaper X-Fi Gamer should be fine. Not totally sure on Creative's compatibility in Vista 64 right now -- I had heard recently there were issues.

    Case is down to personal taste. Get a Lian-Li or Antec P180/P182 for a pared down 'stylish' look; for the flashier gamer's cases the Antec Nine Hundred is good, as are the Thermaltake Amor and Coolermaster Stacker. Just depends what look you want and how much you wanna spend really.

    Great PSU.

    I've heard the Optiarcs have Vista 'issues'. Perhaps consider another brand of SATA-based drive.
  2. Just one thing that popped into my head (why can you never edit your ******* posts?): might be worth getting DDR800 with a Q6600; DDR1000+ makes more sense with the new CPUs I think.
  3. I'll give it a go:

    LIAN LI PC-65B $130
    Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R $130
    Q6600 $290
    4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 1066 $288
    MSI 8800 ULTRA $579
    PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad $200
    Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme $65
    MASSCOOL G751 Shin-Etsu Thermal Interface Material $5
    Scythe S-FLEX SFF21E 120mm Case Fan - Retai $20
    150GB Raptor $205
    320GB Seagate $80
    LG 18X $28
    Logitech THX Z-5300e 280 Watts RMS 5.1 Speaker - Retail $130
    X-fi XtremeGamer $91
    BenQ FP241W $680
    Logitech G5 $46
    Logitech G15 $64

    Total:$3031 after rebates.

    New Q6600's have G0 stepping which works alot cooler and overclocks much, much better than the old B3 one. (You should expect a stable oc to 3.6Ghz or more with this build) To be sure you get the new stepping, order your Q6600 from Tankguys, here's the link:

    Rest comes from newegg. Just a few things I'd like to point out: The BenQ FP241W is the best 24" monitor there is in my opinion, but it comes at a high price. I've personally seen it in action and it was the best LCD i've ever laid my eyes on, no ghosting in games, jawdropping viewing angels, crisp, beautiful colors. gave it 10/10 which means it truly is an impeccable piece of hardware. You can read it here:

    8800 Ultra is well worth it @$579 in my opinion, especially the one from MSI clocked at 660/2300. If you were to buy an EVGA 8800 GTX, u'd save around $90 but it has considerably lower clocks of 575/1800, it would be impossible to overclock it 500Mhz higher on the memory and keep it stable. MSI also comes with Company of Heroes which retails for $40 :p Worth every penny in my opinion.

    Rest of the stuff is pretty straightforward for a killer system, if I had 3kUSD to spend on a PC, the spec above is how I'd personally spend it. Just a suggestion.

    Best of luck.
  4. Eh thanks alot guys... I was looking at the BenQ monitor and it definatley seems great, but one thing I was wondering Foxrocks, was why DDR2-800 would work better then DDR2-1000. I am still unsure of ram and how exactly overclocking works...
  5. I suggest that you watch there following videos. They will provide exceptional guide to building systems.
    youtub L_Ea_l_TCaY

    I posted this on another thread, but this is slightly modified:

    SUPER TALENT DDR3 1600MHz: if you are overclocking
    -more expensive (bad) $590
    -lower latency (good) @ 7
    *By the way just get 2GB of RAM. It is plenty for running VISTA smoothly, and 32-bit OS can’t even read all 4GB anyway. Just get 2GB. It is plenty for now, and you can add more memory later

    Intel E6850 $266
    -Intel Dual-Core CPUs are incredibly easy to overclock with the ASUS Mobo.
    - blazing fast 1333MHz, which is basically irrelevant when you're overclocking

    or Q6600 $273
    - it is a bit harder to overclock
    - it has four cores, so it's really fast
    *Cooler: If you aren't overclocking the standard cooler will just do fine. But if you are overclocking I suggest you get a TEC cooler($120, VIGOR GAMING CLT-M2A /Thermal Electric Cooler). Liquid Cooling is such a hassle. You have to check for leaks and the installation takes hours of effort.

    *I would suggest you get E6850 until the new 45nm processors come out in 2008. if you don't want to upgrade in 2008, just get q6600

    Graphics Card- MSI 8800 Ultra OC ($580), because it runs cooler than the GTX's and is a bit more stable than the GTX's @ the same clock speed
    * just get one unless you have a 30inch screen. Because I saw almost no difference on my 24inch screen between one GPU and two GPU's

    Thermaltake toughpower 1200W($380) or Enermax 1000W PSU($330). Both of them are really nice. If you want to get the best, pay more money and get PC Power & Cooling 1000W PSU($530). PC Power & Cooling has been making the best power supplies for a long time.

    Hard drives:
    Western Digital Caviar 750GB ($200) for storage


    Western digital Raptor 75GB x2 in Raid 0 (Incredible speed) $155x2=310
    / if you don't want to do RAID, just get one Western digital Raptor 150GB $195
    (less incredible speed, but more reliable)

    Operating System
    I would choose Linux or XP, but it is all personal choice here. *Warning: don't get 64-bit OS. There aren't a lot of drivers out there for the 64-bit OS. Plus, get an OEM copy if you can. They are the exactly the same, except OEM's cost A LOT less.

    All the things put together costs $2850 fully loaded without an operating system. You also have to think about buying a copy of one the OS's. I also did not include minor things such as DVD-ROMs, speakers, monitors, etc. I will leave that for you to decide. Notice how I did not include any sound Card. For me, onboard is good enough, but if you want one, get the Fatal1ty sound card.

    Good Luck!

    My system:
    Asus 05k3 Deluxe WIFI
    E6600 @ 3.6 GHz
    XFX 8800 Ultra XXX Edition
    Corsair 2GB XMS3 @ 1333 MHz w/ 8-6-6-15 latency
    Western Digital Raptor 150GB Harddrive x1
    Seagate 750GB x1
    Toughpower 750W PSU
    Swiftech Ultra Watercooling Kit

    3DMark06 Score 1280x1024): about 14000

    If you want to Over Clock and have the same mobo or have question, send me an email at postpet04 at hotmail dot com
    I would be glad to help you maximize your rig's potential.
  6. bradz: I wasn't aware there were new Q6600s with G0 stepping, so I didn't think you'd get much a big OC out of the chip anyway. If you use the link Dior provided to get your chip then DDR1000+ makes more sense.
  7. My effort:

    CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 - $290
    Motherboard - Gigabyte P35-DS3R - $130
    RAM - 4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 1066 - $288
    GPU - EVGA 8800GTX - $487 or MSI 8800 Ultra - $579
    PSU - PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W Quad - $200
    Hard drives - Western Digital 150GB Raptor X + Seagate 320GB - $285
    Case/cooling - Thermaltake Kandalf VD4000BWS - $280
    Optical - LG 18x SATA - $18
    Speakers - Logitech THX Z5300e - $130
    Display - Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP $570
    Mouse - Logitech G5 $46
    Keyboard - Logitech G15 $64

    Comes in at just under $3000.
  8. Monitor - Get the 24" - and i've got the Dell that has been recommended by foxrocks, it's an excellent monitor

    CPU - Q6600 for real futureproofing

    CPU Cooler - Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme is the best air cooler there is. You'll need to get a 120mm fan too - for a quiet one look at

    Graphics - as others have said, stick with the GTX unless you can really afford it - although the Ultra does apparently overclock a little more

    Sound Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS - if you are to get a card, get this as this is the only card that Creative have patched EAX to Vista for. However, with the mess that is EAX and Vista, it is questionable whether a sound card is worth buying at all

    Case - the Antec P180 / 900 are very well regarded
  9. Yeah ditch the GTX and get the ultra. Imo it is a better deal cause it supposedly has a more efficient core = less heat
  10. Evilonigiri said:
    Yeah ditch the GTX and get the ultra. Imo it is a better deal cause it supposedly has a more efficient core = less heat

    That has already been proven to be untrue, the Ultra is just an overclocked GTX, overclock it yourself if you really want to

    Since you don't upgrade often, definitely go for the Q6600 and 4GB RAM
  11. Q6600.

    not as good for gaming today, but as multi-threading makes its way into games the 2 additional cores will be better than the extra 0.6GHz on 2 cores.

    It's already much better for photoshop/video editing.

    2/4 gig of ram, hard to say. XP only supports 3GB, so unless your going vista now it's not worth it. Even if you are in Vista, ram is the easiest upgrade, so if you go with 2 gig and wait a year or so, the prices are going to come down to add another 2 gig. But it's an upgrade so it may be easier just to spend the money now.

    GTX vs Ultra - how much money do you want to burn? if the $90 Dior mentioned is worth it to you for a 15% GPU (660 vs 575MHz) and 28% (2300/1800) memory increase (I don't know what the increase is to the shader). Then by all means get the ultra. If you'd rather keep the cash... go with the GTX. Functionally they are the same but the ultra is clocked higher.
  12. menetlaus said:

    2/4 gig of ram, hard to say. XP only supports 3GB, so unless your going vista now it's not worth it. Even if you are in Vista, ram is the easiest upgrade, so if you go with 2 gig and wait a year or so, the prices are going to come down to add another 2 gig. But it's an upgrade so it may be easier just to spend the money now.

    Not true, 32-bit XP maybe, people always forget there's 64-bit XP which I use and I love it...
  13. I have been looking at building a computer for the last month. I have researched a lot and here are the best parts for the money IMHO.

    Cooler Master Stacker 830-Roomy Full Tower, Amazing air flow, Looks great, Expensive. 259.99
    NZXT ZERO-Roomy Full Tower, Lots of Fans for great air flow, Plastic door has some issues. 149.99 seen as low as 99.99 with rebate, but many complaints that rebate never shows.
    Antec 900- Mid Tower, Nothing but Fans for Max Air Flow. 99.99 with good rebate or 109.99 at circuit city no rebate.
    Kandalf LCS- Great looking case. Great intro Liquid Cooling system. Full Tower and tons of room. Many fans. 279.99

    Q6600 for those who multi-task. 274.99 or so. B3 stepping is common and ok but tankguys will let you preorder the G0 which is a much better overclocker and runs at lower temps (4.2GHZ on water I hope). 299.99 or less or money back ($5 pre-order) at tankguys.
    For Gamers who dont want to multi-task, E6850 Overclocked to who knows (4.5GHZ?).

    I got a kingwin b/c it was on sale but get something with over 600 watts and is reliable brand. Don't need more than 700 watts unless SLI or if you plan on adding a ton of components.

    Go at least 800MHZ (6400) I dont recommend getting 2x2 b/c they are expensive, and DDR3 just hit the market. DDR2 will be obsolete soon. Go DDR2 and go 4x1 Duel Channel. Again sale prices change and there are many good choices. OCZ Reapers w/heatpipe are on sale right now at Newegg for 85 after rebate.

    Toms did a review on this a while back. They concluded that RAID 0 with 2 drives is just as good and cheaper, than a high performance HDD(Raptor). For this reason I chose the 500 Gb Samsung Spinpoint T Series. These support Native Command Queuing and are top rated by toms 109.99 each. I plan on getting a motherboard that has RAID MATRIX. RAID MATRIX will allow me the benefit of having RAID 0 and 1 without the need for two extra drives. It is basically raid 0+1 but it partitions your 2 HDD's so you dont need 4. So I will have the first 400GB of my 2 HDD's in raid 1 which is a simple backup. Anything dies on one HDD and the other contains the backup. The last 100gb of each drive will be in RAID 0 which splits the data between the two HDD's. In this 100 GB I will have all my games and OS. This part of my 2 HDD's will be accessed at the same time doubling the speed of my HDD's into a poor mans Raptor. The slight drawback of this is that though 400GB will be backed up 100GB wont. If one drive fails, then the part in raid 0 is lost because half will no longer exist. These amounts are respective because some of the HDD is not usable.

    I, too, like the new 35's. The Gigabyte boards are great, but they dont have 2 ethernet ports. If that isnt important than you may want to look at them. I Chose the Abit IP-35 PRO because it came in second or third on tom's reviews of the new 35's. It supports 2 Networking ports, 8 SATA ports, and 2 PCI express ports (1x4,1x16). Great for overclocking too. Lastly it supports RAID Matrix, which some dont. 184.99

    There are many. The features to look for are size, resolution, contrast, brightness, response time, and reviews.
    Size- I want a minimum of 19 inches. I prefer, like you, 22.
    Resolution- 1680x1050 is good enough for most games and movies.
    Contrast- Static of at least 1000. Dont be fooled by Dynamic Contrast (DC). DC is useful too, but look at the static first.
    Brightness- 300 cd/m2 min.
    Response- 5ms or less.
    Reviews- look at these, you want to make sure that parts are not going bad. EG, Sceptre's tend to have faulty ports after a month.
    My pic right now is the Samsung 21.6 inch (I know not quite 22") 216bw. 1680x1050, 5ms response, 300 cd/m2, 1000 static contrast / 3000 dynamic. Great Reviews. 254.99 right now at newegg.

    I dont think the ultras give enough performance boost to justify the price. GTX are great especially when overclocked. But, again, I dont see them as all that necessary for most needs. I chose the XFX PVT80GTHD9 8800 GTS 640MB. This card is overclocked to a Core Clock of 600MHZ. The Memory Clock is 1900MHZ. 640MB of memory and this beast is just shy in performance of the GTX. With a price difference of $150 to the next GTX with comparable stats, this is a great card. $429.99 no rebate, 409.99 with rebate.

    Sony NEC Optiarc are top rated by toms. They run on SATA, and support all forms of DVD that I know of. 33.99
    Blue Ray burner would be nice with any extra money, but who knows if it will work with Vista. Damn DRM!

    Wired-Logitech G5 44.99, or Logitech MX518 36.99
    Wireless- Logitech G7 for 72.99.

    For games
    Microsoft 9VU-00001- has two joysticks on the sides. 55.99
    Logitech G11 58.99
    Logitech G15 Has small LCD 63.99

    Another Favorite of Toms
    EPSON Stylus CX7000F- scanner, copier, fax, printer. 119.99

    Windows XP Professional 64 bit. Great because DOESN'T contain DRM!!!! 139.99
    Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit. Contains DRM, but you may not care. 199.99

    That is all I have to share. I hope it helps. Forgive me if any part of this was inaccurate, as I am still learning.
    Happy Computing.
  14. jesus, 4gb of ram... sounds like a server lol. i have 2gb of ram and that doesn't hit its max. infact, my cpu hits its max before my ram ever hits 1.2gb usage

    dude, save like 1k or more and get a pretty good build. spending 3.5k for a computer is way too much imo.

    besides, when you think about it buying a computer for 3.5k and 5 years from now it would be worth half that or even less.

    what i would do is upgrade every year or so and cypher out old parts and you lose less money.
Ask a new question

Read More

Build Computer Systems