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Inexpensive / NOT CHEAP! with room to grow?????

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Last response: in Systems
February 7, 2008 7:43:04 AM

I am trying to build a system for my borther and my sister that will work well for everyday use
They really don't do any gaming, but want to manage their media (mostly music & pics)
and surf the internet, along with some basic office tools, word, excel etc.

This is my first time building, but i have been research and reading.

We plan to run VIsta Ultimate- b/c we got it free from microsoft, so I want a MoBo that can do 8G if needed
Plus for the Video Card I like that it is HDCP so there won't be any issues if we add a bluray or HD drive later.

Networking is important and i'm sure they will do some games once they have a decent PC,
plus their media is likely to include video with the price of video camera where its at.

Here's what I got, it seems pretty good, but please, i am a novice's apprentice.
This is all new to me. Please help and suggest,

DVD drvie: Sony NEC Optiarc 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model AD-7191S - OEM $29.99

Case & Power: RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP Black SECC STEEL ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - $92.99 - $40 (mib) = $52.99 (seems like good price for decent case and psu)

HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

Video : BIOSTAR V8402GL26 GeForce 8400GS 256MB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail $38.99

RAM: Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit
$104.99 - $35.00 Mail-in Rebate = $69.99

MoBo: GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Retail $89.99

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 Allendale 2.2GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E4500 - Retail $124.99

Subtotal: $551.93 - $75 in rebates = $476.93

What do you think? Does this satisfy the average user needs, plus leave room for growth?
Also, will this run Vista Ultimate well? And I know everyone is saying stay away from Vista, but I got it free.
I have a laptop that came with vista business, and I haven't had any issues at all since all the updates.

So please explain why XP would be way better to stick with, and if it is, can I still use Media Center.
I got Vista Ultimate + Media Center - free from microsoft at a convention i went to.
My brother plans to start using Media Center and have his XBOX360 be the extender to access Media Center in his main home theater room.

Thanks for all the input and advice

More about : inexpensive cheap room grow

February 7, 2008 9:23:15 AM

For a media machine, I might think about finding some extra bucks for a 500GB drive. It would be an extra $30 to $40, but media files (video in particular) eat up HD space quickly.

4GB of RAM is probably overkill for a machine like this, but it's cheap enough, so why not? Although if you're using the 32bit version of Windows Vista (or XP), you'll only be able to use 3GB or so of it. Keep that in mind, so you don't post here after building it that your new machine is only seeing 3GB. :) 

You could switch down to an E2180 processor, to save $40. I doubt you'd notice the difference.

I've been using Vista Ultimate for over a year now, and been quite happy with it. I would chose it over XP without hesitation.

February 7, 2008 10:24:07 PM

I actually already have a copy of Vista Ultimate that I plan to use.

So i wnat to have the 4 GB there, with the option to get 8g total later if needed, who know s what will be coming out next.

The motherboard seems like the best bang for the buck with some room to expand and grow system.

I was really thinking the 250HDD for now, b/c they will only be doing pics and music, I would always add a coupe 500 in raid config later right?????

I plan to partition the 1st HDD into at least 4

1 - OS
2- OS temp files right??? swap files or whatever? is this good?
3 - programs and docs
4 - Media

I also like ths CPU b/c I hear it can be fairly easily oc'd t about 3ghz which is nice to have the option for
February 7, 2008 10:41:22 PM

If they're not overclocking, I'd stick with the 4500. While the video card will work, they'll likely want to upgrade if they start gaming. This card would be better for the long run and $70 with a rebate but GPUs are easiest enough to upgrade. Check out the ASUS P5K mobo has 3 PCI slots but a bit more expensive. Partitioning a really good idea. Unless their use to multiple partitions, I'd use 3 partitions, 1st for OS/programs, 2nd for swap, and 3rd for data, keep it simple unless they're used to a lot of partitions. This is from another thread but apologize because I don't remember who to credit really excellent for partitioning for swap files

2. With 16 GB allocated for C:\ you can then create a D:\partition for one sole purpose .... windows memory swapping and temp files. This is where your HD heads are gonna spend most of their time. No matter how much memory you have Windows is gonna swap stuff out. Programs and games will force writes to the page file even when oodles of physical memory is available. If ya wanna confirm for yaself, open task manager, go to processes tab, hit View / select columns and make sure Memory Usage and Virtual Memory Size boxes are checked. Right now, I have 1.2 Gigs of free physical memory and yet still have almost 400 MB paged out to disk. Taht's 400 MB of stuff that is being continually swapped between HD and wnat that happening at full speed (outer edge) , 3/4 speed (middle) or 1/2 speed (inside edge).

So create a FAT32 D Partition of 8 gigs or so. Yes, FAT32 because NTFS has an overhead associated with it and you don't need "file protection" on files that get deleted or wiped at every reboot anyway. And yes I have benchmarked both FAT32 and NTFS Swap fiel partitions and it is faster.

3. Then go into Control Panel / System / Advanced / Performance / Settings / Advanced / Virtual Memory / Change and:

Set C to No Paging File (you lose dump file access but I don't know anyone who has ever looked at one after a crash and said "Oh cool, I can recover this"
Set D Minimum and Maximum to 2 x the amount of RAM you have. (you like a better number, use it.)

Reboot and then create a Folder called "Temp" on your D partition. Go into Control Panel / System / Advanced / Environment variables and select TEMP in the top window then hit Edit and change the value to D:\Temp...then select TMP in the window and change the value to D:\Temp. Now all the files your computer, programs and games will use most often are locked into being placed right at the outer edge of your hard drive giving your machine a distinct speed advantage over time. Otherwise, a year or so down the road when you have 200 Gigs of stuff on there, the paging file and temp files will have moved to the middle of your HD where they will be written and read at only 75% of the speed that they will on that D partition.