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First time builder, long term gamer needs help

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March 25, 2008 7:44:30 PM

Hey there fellow forum junkies!

Im currently undergoing my first computer build from scratch and ive been researching all the necessary components related to doing so. Im an avid gamer that runs all genres of games from shooters to mmorpgs, im comfortable with this whole process however i am caught in a dilemma...

I want to build a mid-high range gaming computer that can satisfy all my gaming needs, multitasking is common when im on a computer and ive been haunted by choosing between the intel and AMD processors. Money is not so much of an option for me but i dont want to pay a considerable amount more for a processor that will ultimately yield a small increase in performance.

Im sure whatever i choose will blow my packaged Dell xps gen 2 out of the water, but i would appreciate some direction in the choice of the intel or amd chips.

Thanks!
March 25, 2008 9:12:01 PM

q6600 is a favorite since they dropped the prices. get anything better than the stock cooler, and you are just a few bios tweaks away from having a 3.2gHz monster under the hood. It will handle just about any GPU configuration you throw at, just in case you were thinking of blowing the savings on the CPU on SLI.
March 25, 2008 9:26:20 PM

What is your budget?Tell me and I'll hook you up.
Related resources
March 25, 2008 9:34:51 PM

go with a dual core or quad core
March 25, 2008 9:54:49 PM

My budget (although not limited to) is generally around 1500$ but this doesnt include a monitor as i have recently bought a wide screen monitor a few months back... Im more aiming towards the intel side of the spectrum however i dont think i really need the quad core cpu as i dont think i will be utilizing it fully before a better upgrade comes along.

Although i like to have high resolutions and higher than normal graphics settings, an SLI setup isnt necessarily needed for my gaming needs. I do know i want to go with the Nvidia Geforce 8800 GTS graphics card as i hear only great things about it.

Memory is so cheap that i will probably end up plugging in 4gigs with the 64bit vista OS, so thats not really an issue. Where my *newbieness* comes in is the compatibility of the rest of my system with things like the PSU requirements and what type of MOBO is going to best suit my needs while allowing a path for upgrading in the future.

Thanks again!
March 25, 2008 10:02:34 PM

Oh i forgot to ask something...

As i am still new to the build-your-own scene i may ask some stupid questions but you at the very least ill at least get a stupid answer right? haha... having said that....

I have noticed in my research that many builds incorporate 2 HD's, one with a very fast spindle speed (like a raptor ~10000rpm) with a low capacity for OS, and a high capacity slower speed HD for storage. Would you enthusiasts recommend a similar setup and how would i configure this faster drive if yes... im imagining by installing the OS on this HD obviously but moreso my question would relate to applications such as games or media playing software.

Thanks :D 
March 25, 2008 11:21:33 PM

How about this, should be around $1500:
Abit IP 35 Pro
8800 GT or GST 512
Seagate 500 or 750 GB HD
Q6600
(2 x 2GB) DDR2 800
PC P & C Silencer 610
Zigmatek HDT-S1283 CPU Cooler
Lite On 20X DVD RW Sata
Vista 64 Ultimate
Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 Speakers
March 25, 2008 11:25:26 PM

kaine1985 said:
Oh i forgot to ask something...

As i am still new to the build-your-own scene i may ask some stupid questions but you at the very least ill at least get a stupid answer right? haha... having said that....

I have noticed in my research that many builds incorporate 2 HD's, one with a very fast spindle speed (like a raptor ~10000rpm) with a low capacity for OS, and a high capacity slower speed HD for storage. Would you enthusiasts recommend a similar setup and how would i configure this faster drive if yes... im imagining by installing the OS on this HD obviously but moreso my question would relate to applications such as games or media playing software.

Thanks :D 

The only stupid question is the one you don't ask!
I haven't done a build with more than one HD, I'm sure someone else will chime in on that, but yes that is the basic principle
March 25, 2008 11:57:01 PM

For gaming usage, get the best vga card that you feel comfortable buying. CPU is much less important. The 8800GTS-512-G92 (NOT 8800GTS-640) is a very good single card. I would get an EVGA card on the off chance that you might want to use their 90 day upgrade option.

For multi tasking, you will want lots of memory. 4gb at least, and why not 8gb since ddr2 memory is so cheap these days.

For gaming, I would normally suggest the E8400 which is a nice cool 45nm part. However, with multitasking, I think a quad would be better. The Q6600 has been a good buy for some time, but the new 45nm cpus are starting to show up. They are about 10% faster, clock for clock. Look at the Q9300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

How much hard drive storage do you need? My simple solution is to start with a 150gb raptor, and add a second drive when you need more space.

The raptors are the fastest around excepting ssd's, but they are somewhat pricey. If your multitasking involves something like file processing, it might be best to get several smaller drives so that the input is on one, and the output is on another.

I think, though, start with one drive. It is easy to add more later when you figure out what your usage demands.

---good luck---
March 26, 2008 12:39:49 AM

^ Instead of the Raptor get a 7200.11 HDD, they are as almost as fast as a Raptor but with better space.
March 26, 2008 1:56:48 PM

Thanks for all the great information! I need quite a bit of storage but i was considering getting a second portable HD to store my mass media things. Here is my stupid question for this post: I realize that the difference between the duel and quad core cpus is the amount of cores available etc etc, but would a dual core OC'd to say 4.0 ghz be faster than a quad core OC'd to a slightly slower speed like 3.5ghz (for instance)? Or only at light loads on the cpu and when there is a large load on the cpu, the quad would work better because it has more headroom for multiple processes? Im considering the Q6600 now but i had a question... i only plan some slight overclocking since it will be a first for me but i wanted to know how this will affect my cpu heat-wise if i dont have the 45nm type chip such as the Q9300 previously mentioned. Im looking at the thermalright IFX14 as with the seperate scytheSY1225SL12M fan as shown in tomshardware.com's Cooler charts 2008 part 1 http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/02/20/cpu_cooler_chart...

Also, from what i have been reading the motherboard is such an important decision that i would like a little bit of an explanation as to what i should be looking for in one. Should i bother with an SLI board for future upgrading? Should i be taking into consideration the configuration of the board (like location of the pci slots etc?)? I definetely wouldnt want to make a wrong decision about this.

Finally, in the beginning of this 'project' of mine, i thought getting a case would be the easiest step of the whole process but now im having nightmares about whether or not i will have the space in the box i need to incorporate all the parts and possibly future parts, while still allowing for a cool and quiet design. Antec's p182 case seems to fit the bill but i would like a 'professional' opinion before i go ordering stuff.

You have all been great so far im gaining alot of invaluble knowledge towards building my first custom pc, thanks!
March 26, 2008 3:09:52 PM

re. dual vs. quad:
A duo will run cooler, and can overclock higher than a similar tech quad. If you are cpu bound, and do not run many concurrent tasks, then a duo is better. For games, there are very few games that will make good use of more than two cores. I do not see this changing for a few years. At that time, nehalem will be upon us, and this discussion will be obsolete. For that reason, I would take the higher clock speed of a duo for gaming today. If your game is flight simulator X, then a quad is better, because it is very cpu intensive, and uses many cores.

Overclocking:
Realisticly, at the level of a E8400 or Q6600, either will suffice for most of us. The vga card will be the limiting factor for games.
This forum is populated by enthusiasts who are into overclocking for it's own sake. Yes, you can run the cpu faster, but at some cost. First of all, you void your cpu warranty. You will reduce the life of your cpu, particularly if you overclock to the highest levels. It will cost you a bit more for better cooling, memory, and mobo. For most tasks, the added cpu power will not make a difference, the hard drive or vga card will be the limiting factor. If you are into folding or some other such activity, then the added cpu power is well used. My suggestion is to not plan on much overclocking, if any. See how your system runs, and later see how much a mild overclock helps whatever you are doing.

Motherboard:
What is the best performing C2D motherboard?

The answer is that they are all virtually the same if using the same processor.
If you read all of the reviews, there will be comparison charts from many different benchmarks.
The results will be within 1-2% of each other. This is particularly true for the application
benchmarks like games, or video encoding. Even across chipsets(X38,P35,P965) this is true.
For the synthetic tests like memory bandwidth, there might be more differentiation, but this
is of interest mainly to those looking for bragging level overclocks.
The buying decision then, has to be made on the basis of features that you want
like firewire, raid(not recommended by me), SLI(also not recommended by me), # of pci-E slots, # of usb ports, E-sata, # of sata ports, IDE support, ...etc.
Many of these boards will support penryn and fsb1333 processors. Check the mobo specs.
There currently is no value in DDR3 as compared to DDR2, and the latter is MUCH less expensive.
Only if you think that you might want a vga card faster than the 9800GX2 today would I consider a SLI board.
I would suggest a P35 based board, primarily because they have been out for a while, and the bios'es are now mature. A starting suggestion is the Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3R http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Only if you want bragging level overclocks would I go with a X48 board. If you will have any add-in cards such as a tuner card or sound card(not initially recommended by me) the mobo should have the slots to accomodate them. Just look at the pictures on newegg to see what you will get.

CPU cooler:
The thermalright IFX14 is crazy, but I like it. With a good fan, you can keep your cpu cool with a low fan speed, thus keeping your system quiet. There are others out there, that will do almost as good a job and cost less. The best coolers are large, and often require a back plate to mount. Some mobo's like the gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... have a cooling backplate that must be removed to install something liks a IFX14. I would prefer avoiding that situation.

Case:
Almost any ATX mid-tower or larger will do the job. There is hardly a case out there that won't hold a DVD burner, 3.5 multi card reader, 2 or 3 hard drives, and a normal sized vga card. If you need more than that, then check out the case specs. Look for a case that is visually appealing to you.
I like in a case:
Is not larger than necessary.
Quiet.
Decent airflow. At least 120mm fan in back , and similar capacity in front.
Washable intake filters.
I do not like front doors, They make inserting dvd's a more fussy operation.
I am not a fan of lights and "bling"
The P182 is a great case on all those counts. There is a front door, but it is designed so it folds completely open if you want.

---good luck---




March 26, 2008 4:14:42 PM

Thanks for answering that for me :D 

So far this is the build i have in my mind:

CPU-Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo-ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*too big? smaller options?* Cooling - Thermalright IFX14
http://www.thermalright.com/new_a_page/product_page/cpu...
paired with the Scythe SY1225SL12M fan
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case-Antec P182 Gun Metal Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics-EVGA 512-P3-N841-AR GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD - Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(possibly get a portable HD for storage and backups)

RAM - ??? 8gb of probably 4 x2gb DDR2, can anyone suggest a brand?

Sound Card - Creative 70SB046A00000 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional Series
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(7.1 sound system coming after computer, already have a 5.1 great system)

PSU - Have no idea, can someone point me in the right direction, i know i shouldnt be skimping out on this.

Monitors - Have 2 dont need any :D 

Writers/Media - LITE-ON Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS - Vista 64 Ultimate

Thats all i have so far, any ideas or opinions would be greatly appreciated!
March 26, 2008 4:43:09 PM

There are smaller cooling options. The thermalright ultra 120 extreme is about as good, and a bit smaller.
Almost any cooler with a 120mm rear directed fan will do the job.

For a psu, look for a tier 1 or 2 unit from this list: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10...
Seasonic, Corsair, and PC P&C units are all good. A 500w unit should be ok. For an identical system I use the PC P&C silencer610 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Shopping tips for Vista:
1) Do you qualify for an academic license?
If so, you can get Vista at a discounted price.
2) Look for an upgrade version instead of OEM.
Upgrade is a retail version which gives you support from microsoft, unlike OEM.
For $10, microsoft will send you the 64 bit DVD.
I saw Vista home premium upgrade recently at Costco for $85.
There is a legitimate two step instalation process to install an upgrade version
in a new machine.
3) Do you really need Ultimate? There are very few features that the home user would want.
Check out the differences on the microsoft Vista web site.
If you get a retail or upgrade version, you will still be able to upgrade to ultimate later.

Get a 2 or 4gb readyboost capable usb thumb drive for Vista. They are cheap, and can't hurt.
March 26, 2008 4:58:03 PM

Ready boost is overrated, although if you plan to have many things going in the side bar it is nice. That antec case is nice, i went with the 900, but i had considered it for quite a while, make sure your power supply cables are extra long, its the big complaint with this case. I hear 8 gigs with vista 64 is nice, go with the suggested manufacturer list on your spec sheet for the mobo. Looks like a nice setup your putting together.
March 26, 2008 5:04:01 PM

Thanks especially for the tips for vista, one last question before i sign off (and possibly a stupid one): These 2/4gb readyboost capable usb thumb drives, what are the purpose of these drives?
March 26, 2008 5:18:54 PM

It offloads information that isnt getting used but it has loaded because you frequently access that program, doesnt really offer a huge performance diffrence with the amount of ram your getting, but if you were only going with 2 gigs it will make a diffrence, type in readyboost in a google search bar and you will get some benchmarks and opinions. It also helps with vista sidebar, the program that lets you run little tools on your desktop, such as ram and cpu usuage, harddrive info, weather, sports scores and such. I run 4 gigs and dont see a diff if its plugged in or not, but went ahead and use it anyhow, since i bought a usb flashcard to flash my bios. Also 2 gigs seems to be about all it uses, there was no diffrence with a 2 gig drive or a 4.
March 26, 2008 5:22:02 PM

re readyboost:
A usb flash drive has almost no latency compared to a hard drive. It is, however, much slower in data transfer, compared to a hard drive. Therefore for small files, retrieval will be much faster than a from a hard drive.
Vista uses this fact to cache some of your small files on the usb device where it can retrieve them faster than it could from the hard drive.
When you insert the usb drive, Vista will test it to see if it is fast enough to be used as a readyboost device.
You can then use all or part of the space for readyboost up to 4gb. Over time, Vista looks at your individual activity to try to decide what will be the most effective files to cache on the usb drive. It does take some learning time. This data is a cache, everything is always still on the hard drive. There is no problem if the thumb drive is pulled, and the readyboost data is encrypted, so there is no security exposure if it is removed. It is not a substitute for ram. How much it helps will depend on the individual usage patterns. For the price of a few $ and a usb port, it can't hurt.
March 26, 2008 5:28:37 PM

For memory, go to the ram web site, and use their configurator to find which modules are supported on your mobo. The ram manufacturere have the most up to date support info. I know Corsair has one, and they have a good reputation.
March 26, 2008 5:33:52 PM

Ah i see, you are very good at explanations geo lol
I think i will go with the thermalright ultra120 extreme, i looked at some reviews concerning it and it seems to be a better choice given my needs. I had noticed in this review the person also had a P182 case and used a Corsair CMPSU-620HX PSU because it had the necessary cable lengths you had mentioned were a downfall of the case previously.

Any suggestions or should i stick with the P&C 610?
March 26, 2008 6:09:28 PM

Well if its a known fact that the cables are long enough stick with it, better to be sure then to take a guess, and staring at all the hardware, and knowing you cant use it until you find long enough cables will drive you nuts.
March 26, 2008 6:26:28 PM

Thanks Blacksci!
This is the memory i am considering for the setup: (times 2 for 8gb total)
CORSAIR 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I will do a price comparison and post the system for review by all you enthusiasts in another thread before i go out and start buying. Thanks again!

March 26, 2008 7:42:20 PM

kaine1985 said:
Thanks for answering that for me :D 

So far this is the build i have in my mind:

CPU-Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo-ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

*too big? smaller options?* Cooling - Thermalright IFX14
http://www.thermalright.com/new_a_page/product_page/cpu...
paired with the Scythe SY1225SL12M fan
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case-Antec P182 Gun Metal Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics-EVGA 512-P3-N841-AR GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD - Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(possibly get a portable HD for storage and backups)

RAM - ??? 8gb of probably 4 x2gb DDR2, can anyone suggest a brand?

Sound Card - Creative 70SB046A00000 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional Series
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(7.1 sound system coming after computer, already have a 5.1 great system)

PSU - Have no idea, can someone point me in the right direction, i know i shouldnt be skimping out on this.

Monitors - Have 2 dont need any :D 

Writers/Media - LITE-ON Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS - Vista 64 Ultimate

Thats all i have so far, any ideas or opinions would be greatly appreciated!


Looks good :D . For RAM I recommend DDR2 800 Corsair XMS2, G.Skill, Patriot or Crucial Ballastix (if OCing get the Ballastix, else get the other branded ones).
For PSU I recommend a Corsair 550VX/520HX or PP&C 610. Note that if you get a portable HDD for storage be aware of the slow transfer rates of USB.
March 26, 2008 7:47:00 PM

Thanks for your input sniper, i haev posted the price comparison (initial look) and an updated set of components in a seperate post in this forum if you would like to review there as well for me :D 

Thanks
!