First Build- but you don't have to look at a list of parts!!

Well I'm getting closer to taking the plunge and building my first PC. The info on these forums and elsewhere have given me enough knowledge as to what parts I need for the build that I want and how to put them together, so I won't ask you guys to rate another list of parts- at least not yet anyway. I want a rig to use primarily for gaming and in the $1200-$1400 range. From the info that I have gathered I have decided to go with an Intel configuration and a Nvidia graphics configuration. No reason except that these seem to have more info and seem more familiar to me.
(1)Please let me know if there is some distinct advantage to going with AMD etc- prices, performance, more future-proof etc. I am by no means married to Intel and Nvidia, just more familiar with them.

(2)OS: I have read posts that say Vista is a real POS and replies that say they have had no problems and love it. As of now, I am tempted to go with XP because it is tried and true and that will give me one less doubt. I know that I cannot have DX10 unless I have Vista 64 but I think I can live without it. Sounds dumb but I don't know what the difference is between Vista 32 and Vista64. I know its 32 bits and 64 bits but what does that mean? I guess my question is: how future-proof is XP as it relates to gaming? Are there going to be games that come out 6 months from now that XP just won't do justice? Is there any reason to just go with Vista 32 instead of XP? If I'm gonna do Vista, I might as well go all the way right? But then I have heard that 64 is the one that is buggy.....

(3)SLI: I've read a lot about this. Seems like this is the 'big thing' right now. My idea is to get one of the lower priced SLI ready motherboards and an 8800GT so that down the road I can go SLI with another 8800GT. What general improvement am I going to see going from 1 to 2 8800GT's? Does this sound like a good way to go?

(4)I think I was the last person to buy a laptop that had XP. Is there any new technology coming out soon that I should maybe wait for? Any big price drop coming?

(5)I'm comfortable with putting all the parts together to build the thing. What makes me nervous is that first boot. Is there a good on-line guide you guys could recommend for troubleshooting when you get to that step? Ive seen videos where the guy just pops in the OS disk and hits the power button. It can't be that easy can it? I have also heard that some motherboards make for an easier first boot. Is this true and if so, any recommendations?

Sorry for the long post and your help is greatly appreciated.
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  1. 1) No, in the 1200-1400 dollar range I would go for Intel too. They OC better and have the best high power CPU. I wouldn't worry too much about "future proofness". Just build a good comp now, it will last you long enough. For my comp in my sig, I have replaced almost every part but the MB, so it has been semi-future proof. However, it is starting to die now (I think) so I may as well have replaced it a while ago. The bigger question is nVidia vs ATI. ATI has some nice looking stuff coming out in a little while.

    2) I think the differences between the two performance wise has come down a bit, so the real question is DX10 or not to DX10. I can't help you there since I have only used DX9 and XP. Perhaps someone else can share their experiences.

    3) It isn't a bad idea. I did that back in the day. I started with one 6800GT and added another later. The thing is, SLI (or crossfire) doesn't always work great, if at all, in all games. To see what improvement to expect going from 1 to 2 GTs, go check the VGA charts on this site.

    4) There is new stuff coming out (by the summer I think), but the waiting game is a dangerous game to play as there is always something better on the horizon. I am not up on all of the rumors, though, so I don't know how soon the new stuff will be out. I think some new CPUs and GPUs are due out soon.

    5) I've always been fine with the first boot. Some MBs have better diagnostic tools then others, but I think that they are all pretty good now. Just turn it on, configure the BIOS, and install the OS. If anything goes wrong, just come ask us for help.

    Sorry for answering your questions with more questions. Enjoy your first build! My first one was a cheapo ($500) just in case anything went wrong. Since then, though, I have built several expensive PCs (>$1000).
  2. Go for vista 64 bit, I use it and most of the bugs people talk about seem to have gone. I don't really have any problems with it except some compatability issues with older software. I use it on a machine with an Intel E8400 and 2 gigs RAM and vista runs fast and responsive and has never BSOD'ed me. As for DX10 it's gonna become standard whether you like it or not, so I'd go with it.
  3. I think both vista 32 and vista 64 have directx10.
    Oh yah, and another difference: vista 32 will only address 4gb of ram (same with xp 32) , vista 64 (or xp 64) will address much more (like around 16 gb for home premium, and much more for ultimate).
  4. (1) Go with intel for that price range for sure. For the GPU however its really a toss up. The article on Toms about the best graphics cards for the month will be a good read for which one is really best to go with. ATI generally has better price/performance while NVIDIA is a stronger overall performer. However, ATI's 3870x2 is generally the "top dog" at least for this month...

    (2) OS...I just built my new computer this week and went with vista. Only reason I did so was because I needed to purchase an OS. If you have a copy of XP lying around theres not much of a reason to upgrade unless you just GOTTA have DX10. But if you're purchasing a new OS, for gaming, vista is a stable OS. User account control can be annoying, but everything works great.

    64bit vrs 32bit...Its all about memory. 32bit can only reference a maximum of 4gigs. Subtract out certain system resources, and your video card memory and 32bit OS only uses 3-3.5gigs of installed memory. For current gaming, 2gigs is plenty however. Its all in personal preference. 64bit used to have very bad driver support, but in general its well supportd for xp and vista now. I went with 4gigs and 64bit, why? cuz I could. Memory is cheap, and wasn't anymore for the 64bit version.

    (3) SLI or Crossfire...The whole concept of buying an SLI or Xfire mobo to allow for that expansion in the future is odd. If you're going to be buying the 2nd card in less than 6 months it can be a good idea. If you're intending to buy that 2nd card in a year or more after 1 card isn't able to run games the way you like it is usually better to buy a newer card of the newest generation as they typically offer better performance than 2 of the previous generation. SLI and Xfire typically offer between 30 and 50 percent increase in games, sometimes less and in games that don't really support it performance can be worse. In my opinion, SLI is something for the extreme gamer thats intending to buy 2 cards NOW, otherwise just go 1 card and upgrade it in the future.

    (4) Waiting for new technology is like playing the stockmarket, who knows until after the fact whats going which way.

    (5) Building a computer yourself is not as bad as some think it is. As long as you are a semi-intelligent individual that can follow directions and be patient and carefull its straightforward and easy. In my last 2 builds I turned it on, popped in the OS cd...viola it was ready to go. Yes its THAT easy. In the event something is wrong you have all of the internet, including this forum to help you figure it out.

    See your long post wasn't that bad...mines longer ;p
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