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calling all experts

Last response: in Systems
April 7, 2008 1:14:29 PM

Hello experts!
This is my first ever thread on any forum so please be nice to help me.
I’ll soon be building a semi midrange machine for the following purposes
• Playing old and latest games (like F.E.A.R., crysis, gears of wars, world in conflict etc.) as well as upcoming titles (like far cry 2, red alert 3 etc.) on a resolution of 1440x900.
• 3d rendering (maya and 3dsmax)
• Movie viewing and storing all my music collection
• Mass downloading (bit-torrent/p2p rocks!)
Keep in mind that this will be the first ever pc I’ll build myself and I don’t know much so I’ll need you people to stay around. Although I’ve never overclocked before, the output seems to be quite benefitting and so I’ll do it if you folks will help. Also I plan on running dual OS (vista ultimate 64bit and XP 32bit) so are there any special considerations I’ll have to take care about (I’ve heard it requires two hdd)? I may also be hooking up dual screens for more productivity and workspace so do I just plug in the two monitors to the two dvi outputs on the gpu?

From all the reviews and rating, the Pentium dual core series seems to be best price-performance wise as well as for overclocking. So what do you think, will it be right for this rig? And how far can these chips be pushed (3gigs will be cool). Which model (and stepping) should I go for (e2140,e2160 or e2180-don’t consider stock speeds as I’ll be overclocking)? I can get the entry level c2d e4000 series but they cost almost double. Does the price jump give anything in return.

I guess a 9600gt will be enough for my needs (for gaming at 1440x900). What about dual screen gaming? Does onboard gfx help in any way (I saw a really cheap 630i board from xfx will built-in 7100gs)? BTW does the gpu warranty becomes void if you overclock it?

For the hard disk, I’ll be going for a 500gb raptor (or equally priced two 160gb/200gb if necessary for dual OS).

Choosing the motherboard seems to be the hardest. The 630i above seems to be a good deal but I’ve heard about driver problems with nvidia boards (like setting up hdds in raid) and that nvidia uses a very old manufacturing process of 90nm for its board and heating issues means forget overclocking.

I suppose I’ll consider the mobo, psu and ram some other time cuz my first ever thread is going way too long for a start! I thank you guys in advance for all your help.

More about : calling experts

April 7, 2008 2:04:17 PM

You should look at that q6600 quad core. They will clock to 3 ghz, and give you quad core performance for rendering, and give long life to your rig as more programs can take advantage of 4 cores.

Raptors are available in 74gig, or 150gig versions. Hence they are touted as an expensive solution. Although they are fast, you don't get much storage space for your money. Buy one for your OS, and put everything else on a good 500gig SATA II drive. A good fast SATA II drive is not that far behind a Raptor for general desktop use.
Unless you heart is just set on the Raptors, dump'em altogether.
RAID 0 is an option, but make sure to provide a good backup. An external USB drive, burn to DVD, something OTHER than more RAID, like RAID 1 or 5, as some people will suggest, they are not backups.

Sounds like a 9600 is plenty of video card for your rig.

As far as the motherboard goes, if you are not going to run SLI, stay away from the Nvidia chipsets altogether. Look for a something with a P35 chipset.
April 7, 2008 2:21:43 PM

if you overclock it voids your warrenty.
Related resources
April 7, 2008 2:26:04 PM

Suggestion - Look into the latest high performance hard drives: Seagate 7200.11 series, Hitachi DeskStar, etc.. These will perform surprisingly close to a Raptor and are available in 1 TB sizes. So LOTS of space to store your stuff.

Alternatively, you might consider buying a small Raptor, using that for system files only. Then use the large drive of your choice for storage.
April 7, 2008 2:32:12 PM

why cant people use the search function?
April 7, 2008 2:52:22 PM

rocky541 said:
if you overclock it voids your warrenty.

True, but the manufactures have know way of telling (for CPU atleast) unless you tell them you OCed. :D 
April 7, 2008 2:56:38 PM

Shadow703793 said:
True, but the manufactures have know way of telling (for CPU atleast) unless you tell them you OCed. :D 
They can't tell with GPUs either, unless there is visible physical damage. I've returned a few videocards killed by overclocking. :D 
April 7, 2008 3:09:39 PM

For dual booting having 2 hard disks is ideal. Install each system separately, without the other drive hooked up and then press F11 when booting to select which drive to boot from.
April 7, 2008 4:42:33 PM

For your first build, I would suggest that you keep things as simple as possible:
Ignore all the overclocking suggestions.
Ignore all the raid suggestions.
Ignore all sli/crossfire suggestions.
Abandon the dual boot thoughts.

For games, the vga card, not the cpu is the critical component. Look at this list, and pick out the best card that you feel comfortable buying:
I would suggest the EVGA 8800GTS-512-G92 for around $250. EVGA gives you the option to step-up to a stronger card within 90 days if you want more.
Dual dvi is present on virtually all midrange and higher cards. Just attach a monitor to each port. Dual monitors is probably the single best upgrade you can make to your system. Different monitors will work, but a matched pair is better. The color and appearance is hard to match with different monitors.

For the cpu, go with a 45nm part. They are faster clock for clock, and run cooler. If you will do lots of multitasking, look at a quad like the Q9300, if not, then a E8400 is a good pick.

I see no reason today to invest in XP. Microsoft is not putting their development dollars there. Unless you have some old 16 bit dos programs that you must run, or other older programs that only run on 32 bit, then I would suggest just using Vista home premium 64 bit.

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 of home premium 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, amazon for $89.
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.

DDR2 ram is very cheap these days. There is no reason not to get 4gb. Look for a matched 4gb kit of quality DDR2-800 ram in a 2x2gb configuration. It preserves your option to go to 8gb, and is usually cheaper. For the ram you are considering, go to the vendor's web site and access their memory configurator. Enter your proposed motherboard to get a list of supported ram sticks. These lists are more up to date than the motherboard manufacturer's list of supported memory.

There is no 500gb raptor. The largest is 150gb. They are fast, but pricey, and the increase in performance is not that noticeable. Start with a single large drive, perhaps 500 or 750gb. Video files can eatup lots of space in a hurry.

Don't pay more for features on a motherboard that you don't need like:
A very competent mobo like the Gigabyte P35-DS3L costs only $89.99
If you need additional features it may be cheaper to use an add-in card instead of upgrading to another board.

Don't skimp on the PSU. Pick a tier 1 or 2 unit from this list: Do not look at the wattage, it is the 12v amps that is most critical. Corsair, PC P&C, and seasonic are units you can count on. Perhaps a 500-600watt unit.

For a case, almost anything is ok. Find one that appeals to you visually. That is what you will be looking at for a long time.
Personally, I like:
Washable front air intake filters.
Not bigger than necessary to hold my parts.
Not a fan of "bling".
No front doors. Too fussy to get a cd in and out.
My favorite case right now is the Antec Solo: Keep your eyes out for rebates on Antec, they regularly have good deals.

---good luck---