Newb needing help building new machine

Hi everyone,

Well, I'm thinking of taking the plunge into building my own machine and I'd like to get some thoughts/input from the knowledgeable people on this forum. I've never built a machine before but I've replaced hard drives, video cards and done some minor tinkering with the insides of my comp but nothing so major as building one from scratch. I was hoping for some feedback on some of the research I've been doing as well as some suggestions as to the components I should look into. I'm an animator by profession so I'd like a machine that can run Maya relatively well but I'd also like something that can game which means no Fire GL graphics cards or any other 3D program specific graphics cards. Besides, I plan on doing most of my animating at work but would like the flexibility of working from home from time to time, which means I'm thinking along the lines of the GeForce 8800 GTS. I'm aiming to spend about $1000-$1200 but anything cheaper than that is a major plus. I'm not looking to OC just yet, but it might be nice in the future if I can do it without causing anything to burn up. :P Without further ado, here's the list from the research I've done so far as well as my thoughts behind the selection.

CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 - Good price and good bang for the buck. I also figure the more processors I have for rendering animation the better, not to mention good gaming. This also helps me futureproof a bit.

MoBo - ASUS P5K-E LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX - Research says that this is a good mid-level board and one of the ones that support the Quad Core.

PSU - CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX ATX12V V2.2 550W - Some good reviews by reading some of the other posts on this forum. Enough power for the vid card tho?

RAM - CORSAIR XMS2 DHX 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 or OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 - I'm looking at the OCZ's because I've read that different namebrands of memory don't really make a difference and the OCZ's are over $30 cheaper. Smart or stupid, please let me know.

Video card - GeForce 8800GTS - I was going to just go with the GT but since the price of the GTS is only $20 more on some sites (after rebate), I figured, why not? Is there a huge difference between the 512mb and the 640mb cards? How about manufacturers?

Optical - 20X DVD Burner w/Lightscribe - PATA? IDE? Argh, too many acronyms! Also, would I need another regular DVD player so as to not to wear out the burner?

HDD - Western Digital Caviar SE WD5000AAJS 500GB 7200 RPM - Ummm, it's cheaper than the Seagate?

Case - COOLER MASTER Centurion 590 - It's a nice looking case and since this thing will sit on the ground and never leave for a LAN party, I don't need any flashy window on the side. Also, it has the extra ports on top so that allows me to plug in stuff alot easier than if it was on the front or the side. Plus, it's only $70. However, I am open to other options. Any good suggestions out there for cases?

Cooling - Do I need another fan for this setup?


I don't really need a new sound card (unless theres a smoking hot deal somewhere) and I have dual monitors already. I'll throw in a flash media reader for $10 too but I think that's about it. So totaling everything up, It comes to around $1000 before rebates. Pretty darn good but is there better? I'm thinking this is a pretty good comp as I get a pretty good bang for my buck and it won't be obsolete in a year. However, I just know there's something I'm missing and I would appreciate any and all feedback from my fellow forum members. Phew, this turned out a lot longer than I expected. Thanks for reading!

-AK
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  1. Which 8800GTS? 512MB or 320/640MB?
    512MB ones are based on the newer G92 core, and the 320/640MB are G80-based and inferior in performance (even worse than 8800GT which also houses a G92). Manufacturer doesn't matter that much IMO, most of them are just plain reference design anyways.
  2. MAYA runs like a dream on the E8400...I'm not too sure if it gains anything with the quad.

    I don't think you require WIFI and SLI for your motherboard... i suggest you get the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L instead...that way you'll save a lot of $$ and get an excellent board.

    Regarding the RAM, go to buy.com and you'll find 2 x 2GB DDR2 800 Crucial Ballastix is available for 2 x $29 ...you can't go wrong with this deal.

    About the GPU, buy the 8800GTS 512mb...NOT the 640mb. The 512mb one is the G92 chip, which is newer and faster. Though the 8800GT 512mb is a stellar card and will give a a great performance. You'll save a few bucks too.

    The harddisk, get the Seagate 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 32mb cache... its the fastest 500GB drive out there.

    Excellent choice for the PSU... its avail for $58 on buy.com

    You'd need an aftermarket cooler if you intend to overclock. If you aren't overclocking, the stock Intel cooler is just fine.
  3. mihirkula said:
    MAYA runs like a dream on the E8400...I'm not too sure if it gains anything with the quad.

    I don't think you require WIFI and SLI for your motherboard... i suggest you get the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L instead...that way you'll save a lot of $$ and get an excellent board.

    Regarding the RAM, go to buy.com and you'll find 2 x 2GB DDR2 800 Crucial Ballastix is available for 2 x $29 ...you can't go wrong with this deal.

    About the GPU, buy the 8800GTS 512mb...NOT the 640mb. The 512mb one is the G92 chip, which is newer and faster. Though the 8800GT 512mb is a stellar card and will give a a great performance. You'll save a few bucks too.

    The harddisk, get the Seagate 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 32mb cache... its the fastest 500GB drive out there.

    Excellent choice for the PSU... its avail for $58 on buy.com

    You'd need an aftermarket cooler if you intend to overclock. If you aren't overclocking, the stock Intel cooler is just fine.

    I 2nd most of that.
    * Just be aware that the 2x1 Ballistix is the $29 price after MIR and if you want 4 gb's you'll need to buy the 2nd set, so you'll have 4x1 gb's of DDR2 (just thought that should be stated up front, unless I'm missing it at buy.com).
    * Corsair 550vx is a good buy for the $. Hard to beat a 41A on the 12V rail PSU for $70 ($60 if you use Google checkout) after $15 MIR!
    * I'd also stay away from the older 8800's (320mb/640mb/768mb), since they run hotter, consume more power, and are outdated. Get the newer g92 versions (8800gt 512mb/8800gts (g92) 512mb) or the 9800gtx, which ever can fit into your budget.

    links on parts listed above:

    Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) PC2-6400 800MHz 240-pin DDR2 Memory
    http://www.buy.com/prod/crucial-ballistix-2gb-2-x-1gb-pc2-6400-800mhz-240-pin-ddr2-memory/q/loc/101/202541818.html

    Corsair VX 550W ATX Power Supply - CMPSU-550VX
    http://www.buy.com/prod/corsair-vx-550w-atx-power-supply/q/loc/101/205852646.html
  4. I did not know that about the GPU. I was always originally planning on getting the 8800 GT as the reviews have been very positive but newegg has the MSI 8800 GTS for only $20-$30 more after rebate.

    MSI NX8800GTS 512M OC GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127325

    EVGA 512-P3-N801-AR GeForce 8800GT 512MB
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130318

    Will getting the GTS futureproof me better? Or are the gains marginal enough that I can stick to the GT and be happy with my results?

    The Gigabyte mobo was also the original choice for me but I wasn't sure if it supported the Q6600. Sounds like it does so I'll be going back to it.

    That's a great price for the RAM from buy.com and it does look as though it's for the 2GB. I may buy two sets or just go for the Corsair 4GB set instead.
    http://www.buy.com/prod/corsair-4gb-2-x-2gb-xms2-800mhz-pc2-6400-ddr2-240-pin-memory/q/loc/101/204979188.html


    Thanks for the links and suggestions up to now! Any more help is very appreciated.

    -AK
  5. The GTS is a great buy. I just got that exact one, and I couldn't be happier.

    Get a SATA DVD burner. SATA is faster, and you don't have the massive IDE cables in your case. By the way PATA is the same as IDE.

    I don't know if you need to worry about wearing out your burner, but a second one is only another $30, so if your budget can handle it you might want to think about it.

    Finally, I would get the 4GB kit (2 x 2GB). It allows you to put more in your system later (and doing animation work I can see the need for massive amounts of RAM). Keep in mind, if you want to use more than 3.5GB, you'll need a 64bit OS (Win XP and Vista both have 64bit editions). The 3.5 limit does not hamper you when using 4gb of ram, you just don't get to use it all.

    Overall, it looks like you've done your homework. I'm impressed.
  6. The MSI 8800GTS runs cooler than the EVGA 8800GT..... the performance of the GTS isn't VERY much better than the 8800GT. The GT is a better bang for buck.

    Either ways you'll have a stellar card.

    ps: check the benchmarks for Q6600 with Maya before getting it instead of the E8400.
  7. I tried looking for Maya specific benchmark tests between the two CPU's and while I didn't find any hard and fast numbers, I did get the general consensus that while the Q6600 doesn't have a huge leg up on the E8400 for animating, the two extra processors definitely help for rendering. I won't be doing a ton of rendering but test renders will be quicker. However, the thing that put me over the edge was the smoking hot deal that someone posted up yesterday. $189.99 for the Q6600 at Frys.com was just too good to pass up and I jumped at the deal. I hope more people got it as I just checked the site again and the deal is gone.

    I also think I'll be changing my case to the Cooler Master CM690. I've read a lot of good reviews for this case and for only $70 it seems like another good deal.
    http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=11130AC2711

    Also, here's a great deal for all the people still looking for an 8800GT. I'm VERY tempted by this even though I'm looking for a GTS but it's good for today only so I can't really think too long.
    http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=26783&vpn=88YFF6HUFEXV&manufacture=Galaxy%20Technology&promoid=1061

    Some great deals out there for HDDs too. Here's the one I'm getting with thanks to mihirkula for his suggestion!
    http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=14120DR9680

    -AK
  8. Well, I bit the bullet today and bought all the parts for my machine. Here's a rundown of what I got as well as the price I paid.

    CPU - Intel Core2Quad Q6600 2.4GHz@1066FSB $189.99

    MoBo - Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L ATX LGA775 P35 1333FSB $87.18 for open box

    GPU - Galaxy GeForce 8800GT Overclocked 600MHZ 512MB 2.0GHZ $214.99 - $75 MIR = $139.99

    HDD - Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 3.5IN 500GB SATA2 $83.99

    PSU - Corsair TX750W 750W ATX 12V 60A 24PIN ATX Power Supply $109.99 - $40 MIR = $69.99

    RAM - Corsair 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 $84.00 - $40 MIR = $44.00

    Case - Coolermaster CM 690 $67.50

    Optical - Samsung SH-S203N Black SATA DVD+RW 20X8X16 DVD-RW 20X6X16 DL18X/12X Lightscribe $29.99
    LITE-ON Black SATA 16XDVD-ROM Drive OEM $17.99

    Grand total after taxes and shipping - $831.25

    I made some changes to the original items I was planning on buying because of some crazy good deals (the PSU comes to mind) as well as some great suggestions from fellow forum members. Looking over this list, I'm extremely happy with this build. I still welcome any and all feedback so if something above catches your eye, please comment.

    Considering I was thinking of buying a similar computer from Cyber Power for over $1300 a week ago, I think I definitely made the right decision in building the computer myself. I want to thank mihirkula, litlrabi, lunyone, and derek85 for their comments and suggestions. All of you definitely helped make the decision process a lot smoother and a lot more comfortable. After all, $800 is still a chunk of change but a heck of a lot better than $1300. You've made me and the wife very happy (for different reasons :)). The fun continues when the parts arrive. I'm still a newb at the building part of this so it'll be interesting when I turn this sucker on for the first time. Wish me luck!

    -AK
  9. Wow I think you did real good. I bought a very similar set of parts but with 2 hard drives and 8GB of memory and spent about $1100 (after rebates). But you did land a heck of a deal on the quad. I ended up forking $240 for it :( But I'm still happy :)
  10. Awsumm build :) ..Cheers!
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