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Newbie in need of help!

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November 2, 2007 9:33:21 PM

Hello I'm new to the Tom's Hardware Forum and I'm wondering if I can get some help from some of the more experienced individuals on this forum about computers. I'm currently looking to build my very first own PC and I have a basic understanding of things inside the computer but there are still quite a number of things that elude me and I need help with. I'm a gamer, and I've done a lot of homework but I'm still confused about a few things. This is the PC I'm trying to make:

Motherboard:
EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 Conroe 3.0GHz LGA 775 (1333 MHz FSB):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Graphics Card:
x2 BFG Tech BFGR88768GTXOC2E GeForce 8800GTX 768MB:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The main problem I've been having is choosing a memory module. Through researching memory, I've only gotten confused. Some sources claim that the most important value when buying memory is the PC2xxxx value, others say that you solely want the number after DDR2 to be divisible by the FSB(ie: 1333 FSB:D DR2 667/DDR3 1333), and finally some say that the cas latency(the first number in the timings?) is the most important value; so as it stands I'm at a loss as to what memory to buy to get the best performance for my CPU. So I suppose in essence this is a plea to help me better understand memory in relation to building a new pc.

Also, if at all possible can anyone recommend a PSU for this particular setup? I plan to have a lot of fan cooling for this, but no overclocking if possible to further extend the life of my parts.

P.S. I know I sound like quite a newbie(and I am!) but I really wish to get down into building this PC and understanding it, possibly with you guys' help! Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any advice you can give me. Take care!

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November 2, 2007 9:43:50 PM

OK... Quad core is more future prove come back later and learn to overclock with the Q6600 can easily be overclocked to 3.0Ghz. Get the Q6600. The unspoken standards for Gamer PCs these days are PC6400 or DDR2 800Mhz RAM. Brands like like Crosair or Crucial are the ones I trust. The timing thing is basically 4 numbers in series like this 5-5-5-15, 4-4-4-12, 3-3-3-10 etc. The lower the timing the more you will get out of your ram. Before you decide to get dual GTXes I'm telling you get at least a 24" monitor or they'll be a waste. PSU for dual GTX build the PC&C 750W Quad will do the job but if you have a big enough budget get a 1K one from Enermax or something
November 2, 2007 9:45:56 PM

The "most important value when buying memory is the PC2xxxx value" source may or may not know how to get the most out of the ram. If you don't know, don't get it.

The "the number after DDR2 to be divisible by the FSB(ie: 1333 FSB:D DR2 667/DDR3 1333)" falls under the stock OEM group. You don't o/c, that is what you should get.

The "the cas latency(the first number in the timings?) is the most important value" are probably diehard overclockers. Every mhz counts to them. Is the extra price worth the lower cas latency? It's up to you to decide.

Simply put, if you don't overclock, go with the ram suggested by the 2nd group. 666-667mhz.

If you o/c on a budget (doesn't look like it), go with the ram suggested by the 1st group. 800mhz or faster.

If you have a lot of money to blow or just want to show off, get the fastest ram with the lowest cas latency.

Since you're unlikely to overclock, get the 666-667mhz ram.

Well, the psu requirement is listed at newegg & bfg site.

475W PCI Express-compliant system power supply with a combined 12V current rating of 32A

If you'll upgrade the video or run SLI, get a psu bigger than the minimal requirement. At least these or bigger:

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

For good makes & models:

http://www.tomswiki.com/page/Tiered+PSU+Listings?t=anon
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November 2, 2007 10:06:18 PM

wow I've been on a lot of forums for different things, but no one has worked as fast or as efficiently as you have akhilles! Thanks! Thanks too for the advice from itotallybelieveyou you guys are a life saver!

@Akhilles: I really just want the system to last as long as possible and I've heard that overclocking can severely lower the lifetime of your parts. I'm not sure how true that is (since from what you say there are large number of sides to computer configuration) but I have done stock overclocks of videocards and such, but not really much performance came from it. So as it stands I guess I'd rather have the best parts I can out of the box to last the longest as possible.

So I'm assuming that the best setup for gaming will be to go with the second suggestion of 667 MHz ram with the lowest cas latency. The only thing I'm wondering is if I was to get a different Core 2 CPU at 1066MHz FSB instead(with DDR2 1066 RAM) would that give me better performance than the 1333:667 setup?

P.S. The second group's suggestion was from a thread you posted in about 1333 FSB lols.

@itotallybelieveyou: I plan to buy a 24"+ monitor and SLI but not immediately. I probably will buy the GTX's one after another dependent on my performance in certain games vs the visual look/resolution/etc.

Thanks again for the help guys, and I'll look at the links you posted akhilles, and if you can answer my question, about the timings issue it'd be much appreciated. Thanks so much guys!
November 3, 2007 11:42:56 AM

You're welcome.

You're correct that overclocking shortens the lifespan of a part. It's true, because every part has a lifespan, & it will run faster & warmer when overclocked. However, how much overclocking will shorten it is anyone's guess.

Yes, by default, any ram you throw at it will run at 667mhz unless you make changes to bios. It's dependent on the cpu's fsb.

Re: cas latency: you won't see any difference between C4 & C5 in everyday operation such as web browsing. i.e. 4-4-4-12 VS 5-5-5-15. Ideally, you get the good quality ram such as Kingston for the lowest price. If you overclock, the cas latency means quite a lot:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAS_Latency
November 4, 2007 11:53:53 AM

So do you think a 1333 FSB CPU with DDR2 667 Ram will run better for gaming than a 1066 FSB CPU with DDR2 1066 Ram?
November 4, 2007 9:39:27 PM

At stock, yes. Stock means no changes to bios. If you throw 1066mhz ram at 1066mhz fsb cpu, it'll run at 533mhz.
November 5, 2007 8:34:35 AM

oh snap seriously? Wow I didn't know that. Thanks so much akhilles, now I think I have a good idea of what parts to buy in general and hopefully in the future. You're such a great help man and I really appreciate it! Take care!
November 7, 2007 1:32:39 AM

The last question I had was something I noticed when purchasing the ram. People with ddr2 667 ram at 3 cas latency, were talking about overclocking their values from 3-3-3-12 to 5-5-5-12 for some reason. Based on the information I've heard from you guys, isn't increasing the cas latency and those other values, harmful to your overall performance? The only reason I asked was not because I want to overclock, but I want to know if I should buy the ddr2 667 3 cas lat ram or the ddr2 667 5 cas lat ram. Its still a bit confusing, despite the explanation on wiki. Sorry for the constant newbie questions. Thanks in advance for any responses!
November 7, 2007 11:36:00 AM

If it's cheap to you, go ahead. You're the only one who can determine whether C3 is worth the extra money.

To oversimplify: the lower the cas latency & higher the frequency (mhz), the faster the ram.

Running a part beyond its specs can pose a risk to the part. It's a risk we overclockers are willing to take.

You don't need to concern yourself with this details which are for overclockers. We squeeze every bit of juice out of a part as much as we can. Just get 667-ish ram C4/C5.
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