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First Build, Quiet, Low Budget, Advice Appreciated!

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July 27, 2007 12:47:54 AM

Hello, everyone.

I decided to finally register on Tom's since I could use a little advice. I'm building a new computer for the first time and I'd like everything to work out on the first try, so I need your help or at least some sage advice.
I want to build a quiet, energy efficient, and relatively cheap gaming machine, which I'm not planning on overclocking any time soon. I've pretty much narrowed down a list of components, but I'm having trouble deciding on the GFX part.

OK, I know there have been a lot of people asking about the 2600XT but hear me out. :)  I've looked at the summer VGA charts and I don't know whether to choose the 2600XT at 141$ or the 1950PRO 512MB at 210$. I know which one you guys will recommend, and which one I'd like to have :)  , but the 1950PRO is 48% more expensive. Which GFX card would fit the processors I'm looking at, and how would my setup play these games: WoW, (maybe) Oblivion, Starcraft 2? Will I benefit from 512MB?

Here's my list. My preferred choices are in the top of each segment. If anybody spots any incompatibilities, please let me know. ;) 

GPU
2600XT 256MB at 757-779DKK ~ 141$.
X1950PRO 512MB at 1158DKK ~ 210$.
HIS X1950PRO 256MB IceQ at 1572DKK ~ 285$. Can anyone comment on the (hopefully low) noise level of this one?
I guess this X1950PRO 256MB at 1428DKK ~ 259$ would be even less noisy :)  . Is fanless the way to go?
X1950XT 256MB at 1445DKK ~ 262$. What kind of noise, heat and power are we looking at here?
EVGA 8800 GTS KO ACS3 320MB at 2530DKK ~ 460$. This is in my dreams. Probably overkill for the processors I'm looking at. I might go for it were I going to overclock an e4300. Anybody notice how the 320 ranks higher than the 640 on the latest GPU charts?

CPU
Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 65W at 456-507DKK ~ 92$.
Athlon X2 5200+ 2MB 65W at 930DKK ~ 169$. This looks nice.

The BEs seem to rival the 3800+ in the charts. How much more energy efficient are they?
Athlon X2 BE-2300 45W at 625-647DKK ~ 117$.
Athlon X2 BE-2350 45W at 734-742DKK ~ 134$.

CASE
Antec Sonata III at 791-850DKK ~ 154$.
It comes equipped with the following Antec 500W PSU.

PSU
Antec Earth Watts EA 500-ec which is recommended here.

Perhaps it's not as good as a SeaSonic S12II-430, but I'd have to buy a case for that, almost doubling the price.

RAM
Maybe I should be asking this in the RAM forum, but here goes:
Will CL3,4,5 and 667MHz, 800MHz mean any noticable difference in WoW?
Is there any reason not to go with the cheapest RAM below or even some cheaper 667MHz?

After looking at a couple of older reviews here I'm tempted to go check prices on 667MHz...

2GB Super Talent 800MHz CL5 T800UX2GC at 849-897DKK ~ 163$ .
2GB GeIL Ultra Series 800MHz CL4 GX22GB6400UDC at 895-948DKK ~ 172$.
2GB Mushkin Value 800MHz CL5 996529 at 703DKK ~ 127$.
2GB Mushkin EM-2 800MHz CL5 996527 at 843DKK ~ 153$.
2GB Corsair XMS2 800MHz CL5 TWIN2X2048-6400at 692-726DKK ~ 132$.

MB
For some reason I'm fond of Biostar. Must have been a good review I read somewhere. :) 
Will they run with the new Athlon X2 BEs, or will they need a BIOS upgrade?

BS TF 550 at 516DKK ~ 93$.
BS NF4U AM2G at 517DKK ~ 93$.
BS TA690G AM2 at 596DKK ~ 108$.

HDD
Western Digital always seem to do well in the reviews I've read at Tom's. I don't need a lot of space, so I'd prefer a single platter HDD. I don't care about noise, I just want speed and low temperatures. (I actually like being able to hear when my HDDs are active). I don't know if Samsung, Seagate, or Hitachi would be a better choice for a gaming HDD. Got any advice?

WD1600AAJS at 365DKK ~ 66$.
WD2500AAKS at 462DKK ~ 84$. Newer, but not tested by Tom's.

Thanks for any and all help!

More about : build quiet low budget advice appreciated

July 27, 2007 12:29:01 PM

Is there a particular reason you're buying an AMD processor and mobo? A Core 2 Duo at stock speeds is much more powerful than most Athlon X2s. Concerning the video card, more graphics RAM mainly helps in higher resolutions and situations where textures are loaded into the graphics RAM rather than the PC's RAM. Between a 256MB and a 512MB card, you'd see a difference of about 5-10%. That being said, here are the changes I propose:

CPU
Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 Conroe 1.86GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6320 - Retail - $165.50

Video Card
SAPPHIRE 100186L Radeon X1950XT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 VIVO HDCP Video Card - Retail - $164.99 ( -$20 with rebate)

RAM
Patriot 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PDC22G5300LLK - Retail - $109.99 (-$20 with rebate)

Motherboard
BIOSTAR 945G Micro 775 SE LGA 775 Intel 945G Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $69.99 (-$10 with rebate)

I recommended that particular mobo since it's the best Biostar one I could find. The RAM is of excellent quality and has received an overwhelming majority of good reviews. The video card is my recommendation since the current DX10 ones suck at running DX10 itself. Last but not the least, the CPU is a great one, runs quite cool and is much more energy efficient than the X2 6000+, as you can see here. I don't know if it beats the X2 5200+ at stock frequencies though, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does.
July 28, 2007 1:31:28 AM

Thanks for your reply!

I'm looking at the AMD processors because they are cheaper than comparable Intel ones. The X2 3800+ performs on par with the E4300 at half the cost. I'm living in Denmark so I don't think Newegg is an option. :( 
The X2 5200+ performs on par with the E6320 but is slightly cheaper. I'd have to pay 209$ for an E6320. The X2 5200+ is just 169$.
I was also looking at AMD processors because I didn't want to overclock, I wanted low energy, low heat, low cost. That's why I also considered the X2 BE processors. I don't know if they'd be worth it in the long run compared to a cheap X2 3800+ though.

The power consumption of the 6320 is impressive compared to the X2 5000+ in the link you provided, but it's the 89W version. The X2 5200+ I'm looking at is 65W. Who knows how it would fare?

Do you think the fanless X1950PRO would be good, or do you still choose the X1950XT?
Related resources
July 28, 2007 10:53:22 AM

In that case, here's what I'd suggest.

CPU + Motherboard Combo
Biostar K8M800 Micro Via Socket AM2 MicroATX Motherboard and an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ 2.0GHz Processor with Fan (Retail) - $129.99

RAM
OCZ Dual Channel XTC 2048MB PC5400 DDR2 667MHz Gamer Memory (2 x 1024MB) - $84.99 (-$10 with rebate)

Video Card
EVGA GeForce 7600 GS / 256MB GDDR2 / SLI Ready / PCI Express / DVI / VGA / HDTV / Video Card with Passive Heatsink RoHS - $99.99 (-$20 with rebate)

HDD
Western Digital / Caviar SE 16 / 500GB / 7200 / 16MB / SATA-300 / OEM / Refurbished Hard Drive - $89.99

I recommended the graphics card since it runs cool. If you need the extra power, get the fanless X1950PRO you posted earlier. The CPU is the 65W version and the prices seem better than at the store you were buying from. At least I hope so, once you factor in shipping costs. Good luck and I hope I helped. :) 



July 28, 2007 12:40:32 PM

Thank you. :)  For your advice and your interest in my problem.

Do TigerDirect ship in Europe, more specifically Denmark? It doesn't feel quite right ordering something from across the Atlantic. :)  The CPU+MB combo looks a bargain, but if I can't order it, it's all moot. I'll try to look for a combo available to me.

You almost had me swayed on the E6320... I'll have to do some thinking, but I'll probably go with a cheaper X2.

I'll ask in the RAM forum about 800MHz vs. 667MHz, and probably go the cheap route.

Thanks again. :) 
July 29, 2007 7:52:15 AM

Yes TigerDirect ship internationally to any destination. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
July 29, 2007 10:47:26 AM

Another vote for C2D, they provide alot more future proofing. Amazing value!!!!

I live in KSA and use myus.com to order from newegg all the time, excellent service and decent prices on shipping. They even wil precharge your CC and then buy the stuff for you if the website does not accept international cards such is the case with newegg (the only gripe I have with them)

July 29, 2007 6:47:57 PM

Your really should do some more homework before you build your system. I think it was a good idea to come to this forum. I would check out some cpu and gpu charts posted by tomshardware before you decide on anything. Some things you may want to consider.... all found at newegg.com


Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6550 - $184

GIGABYTE GA-P35-S3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - $89

HIS Hightech H260XTF512DDN-R Radeon HD 2600XT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card - $132
-or-
HIS Hightech H195PRQT256DDN-R-V2 Radeon X1950PRO 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 IceQ 3 Turbo HDCP Video Card - $149


If it were me... I would stick with the newly released Intel chips with 1333mhz FSB. P35 motherboards complement these chips well. I have no idea why you would want to buy an AMD at $169, that seems like a waste. If you are worried about money get the E4X00 and over clock it, but I would highly recommend the new 1333fsb chips.

==Edit==

Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 Allendale 2.0GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E4400 - $126

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Memory - $88

Allendale is one of the most popular cheap overclockers, does great on air cooling. Search some more, many people have gotten them 3ghz+.... 3.2ghx @ 400x8 seems like it will beat a lot of other processors. DDR 800 is the way to go for something like that. I would stick with p35 motherboard.

goodluck.
July 29, 2007 8:04:49 PM

If you want a quiet PC you don't want the Earthwatts, you want this one:

Antec Phantom 500 Silent 500W Power Supply - PHANTOM500

http://www.buy.com/prod/antec-phantom-500-silent-500w-p... /q/loc/101/10410290.html

Same power as the Earthwatts except this is $25 more because it's fanless.
July 29, 2007 9:25:26 PM

@Nixem, I don't mean to be rude or anything but he stated that he's not going to OC the PC, so why bother talking about it?

@Emp, the PSU he posted about comes with the case. Or are you suggesting that he use the Phantom instead of that? In that case, the OP should get another case w\o PSU innit?

July 29, 2007 9:31:11 PM

Yeah, he asked specifically for a silent computer, something the Earthwatts is not known for. However the Phantom is a fanless unit.
July 30, 2007 12:17:00 AM

First of all, I appreciate the advice, guys.

However I do believe I have done my homework. I have looked at those cpu & gpu charts a gazillion times already, and I'm probably not done yet! Also, I have read gpu, cpu, ram and mb reviews on Tom's, too. I've been to Anandtech, xbitlabs, spcr, and others. I've even chewed through some German webpages looking for things like power & noise levels on gpus.

You guys should consider yourselves lucky to have access to Newegg, those prices rock! I don't however, and I don't know if I will buy from TigerDirect. We have a 25% sales tax here in Denmark and I'm not sure whether to add that to TD's prices. I may still be better off ordering from a local provider.

There's nothing wrong with talking about overclocking, the concept is cool. You know what I mean. ;) 
I have already read the reviews on overclocking the E4300 and I was very impressed. I'd like to try that, but I wanted this first build to be a low watt, low noise, low cost one. I'll build an overclocking beast someday, but for now I'll only play games like WoW, Pirates!, and Starcraft 2, so I don't need all that power yet. I can use a second computer anyway, so if this low watt computer doesn't satisfy I'll give it to my dad or use it in a second location.

How long will the E4300 be available do you think? Will it still be around when Phenom and Nehalem come into play? And what about Agena?

The EarthWatts comes with the Sonata III, supposedly a "legendary silent" case. I'll look for some reviews of it, but I can't imagine a noisy psu would go well with a "legendary silent" case.

My friend has a Phantom 500. (I think it's a Phantom :)  ). It's very nice, and I have considered it. It has a fan that fires up when necessary. But I don't think it had the characteristics (Active PFC) I was looking for.

I'll let you know how it all turns out, but it seems I still have a lot of reading to do. Ah, my eyes! :pt1cable: 
July 30, 2007 12:24:45 AM

Please do not assume that Starcraft 2 will be easy on specs, it is after all scheduled for late next year, which probably means it'll need some serious computer power. I seriously doubt it'll sell too well with outdated graphics, since they waited to long to produce it and now they have to build a new fanbase from a generation that is getting used to having their minds blown away when it comes graphics, even on RTS (Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander ring a bell?)
July 30, 2007 12:47:38 AM

I didn't think SC2 was that far off. Ah, well, I might build anew late next year then. ;) 

The gameplay trailer I saw of SC2 looked every bit as good as SupCom or CoH, if not better. This is subjective, of course. Anyway, I think the gameplay will play a more important role than the graphics. Also, I don't think they'll have trouble selling it, but we'll see about that.
July 30, 2007 12:54:15 AM

I'm not saying they'll have trouble, I'm saying that in order to create a new fanbase for a sequel of a game that was released almost 10 years ago they're going to need a bit more than gameplay to get people that didn't play the original starcraft attracted to it, which comes to the second selling point of games now, graphics.

And exactly my point, if it looks as good as those titles (if not better as you said), it's going to need some pretty decent hardware to run properly.
July 30, 2007 1:25:12 AM

Lots of good ideas have been posted, but I just wanted to add a little ...
C2D - more performance per watt
X2 - lower energy use when the CPU is not being fully used.

Result: X2s win out in energy use comparisons, for essentially all users. Unless your PC will be playing games and running demanding applications all the time, the X2 will use less power.

As for overclocking - since you seem somewhat suggestable, I'll share my own experience. I purchased an E6320 CPU and I use a Gigabyte P965 DS3 motherboard. Using the MB overclocking utilities, I have undervolted my CPU a good bit (1.35 to 1.1 volts, if I recall correctly) and I have set it up for on-demand overclocking. When I'm on a web page or doing anything other than gaming, encoding, or the like, the CPU runs at 1.86 GHZ. When the CPU power is needed, it auto-overclocks to around 2.4. The effect is excellent - I'm not CPU limited in anything I do, and I'm not wasting any power keeping the CPU running at full throttle when I don't need it. An AMD CPU would be more energy efficient, but would not be able to overclock further (whereas my C2D is overclocked ... AND undervolted ... just by bringing the voltage up to the reference voltage I can OC to faster than the fastest AMD CPU. Not that it's needed.).
July 30, 2007 1:30:59 AM

nixem said:
Your really should do some more homework before you build your system...
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6550 - $184
GIGABYTE GA-P35-S3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - $89
HIS Hightech H195PRQT256DDN-R-V2 Radeon X1950PRO 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 IceQ 3 Turbo HDCP Video Card - $149


your suggestions aren't that much better, though I agree $160 for the x2 isn't a great decision. the e4400 is not better if he is not overclocking, as the AMDs have better power consumption (what mattc said)--partly because they have better low-end motherboards. from what I read the x1950 is much better than the x2600 for gaming; the x2600 may have accelerated wmv/h264 decoding, but it's performance is generally much worse, and it would be inhibitive for many directx 10 games. the 8600gt / 8600gts are better than the x2600 but I think the x1950 is still a better deal.

AAArDvArK said:
Another vote for C2D, they provide alot more future proofing.


future proofing??? uh... core 2 has ssse3 exclusively and amd has their own 3dnow extensions, but I can't find anything to substantiate this claim.
July 30, 2007 11:30:55 AM

gatoatigrado said:



future proofing??? uh... core 2 has ssse3 exclusively and amd has their own 3dnow extensions, but I can't find anything to substantiate this claim.


I meant future proofing in terms of stock performance and sheer ease of overclockability. I bout an E6400 about a year ago and now that I got a new 8800gts and more RAM I found it was rather easy to overclock the cpu and get a significant boost in performance now that I actually need it, no need for extreme cooling solutions or new parts at all, just a few entries in the bios.
August 11, 2007 3:33:25 PM

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you that have provided advice and suggestions in this thread. Thanks! :) 

I finally placed my order, and I ended up going for:
The X2 BE-2350 for 36$ less than an E4300.
The HIS X1950pro because of the 'warm air out of my case' cooling. The price be damned, this will serve my gaming needs better than a 2600XT.
A Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H, which saved me around 16$.
Some Corsair 633MHz CL4 ram, which shaved off another 16$.

Now, to wait for this stuff to arrive and put it all together. Hopefully, all will go well.

See you around on the forums. Well, I mostly lurk here, so I guess I'll be seeing you. ;) 
!