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Yet another noob needs advice on a first-time build

Last response: in Systems
May 7, 2008 9:06:03 PM


I'm a first-time builder making myself a system for general home/personal use - web, email, office documents. I also am a programmer. Additionally, I play some games, but nothing that should require anything amazing (the graphics-intensive game I play most is Civilization 4, which is a few years old now...), so don't bother suggesting a fancy multi-card SLI setup or something. I use Ubuntu linux primarily, but depending on how well the games run under WINE (I've never tried on this old laptop since it has an ATI card that doesn't run under linux), I may also dual-boot with a copy of Windows XP. Basically, I need parts that have linux support.

As far as a monitor is concerned, I have a 32" HDTV (720p) sitting unused that I plan on using as the monitor, so whatever video card I get should be able to play nice with the TV (via straight HDMI or a DVI -> HDMI conversion, either way). Obviously nVidia is greatly preferred to ATI, since ATI's drivers for linux suck far worse than nVidia's.

For sound, I should be pretty set with on-board sound. I have a cheap 2.1 speaker system I plan on using mostly for music and audio, and a fancy sound card would be overkill.

The things I need the most advice on are a motherboard, video card, case, and power supply. Obviously, as a first-time builder, I need a case that won't make the installation of my components problematic, and where cable management won't be an issue. Also, I'm not interested in overclocking.

I plan on ordering from Newegg. My upper limit is a slightly soft cap at $1000. Here are the components I'm fairly certain I'll be getting:

$220 Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 -
$115 Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB -
~$90 Memory: 4GB DDR2...not sure what specific brand yet, if you have a suggestion for around this price list it
Optical drive: there's a $300 BD burner that I'll get if the rest of the components total less than $850 or so...otherwise, suggest a decent DVD burner for $50 or less

Stuff I absolutely need advice on:
Video card: As I said above, it needs to support the HDTV, and I'd like to be able to run my eye candy in Ubuntu and my games at full capacity.
Motherboard: for a Core 2 Quad - more USB 2.0 ports are a plus, and sufficiently many SATA connections are nice too. Should play nice with the case.
Case - I'm looking for something very quiet and that will resist dust on the inside, but also I don't want to sink much money into this.
Power supply - how powerful this is depends on what video card I get, but I'm not going to overclock anything so I don't need a fancy, overpowered one.

Thanks in advance for your help.


More about : noob advice time build

May 7, 2008 9:35:47 PM

Good choice on CPU and HD.....though:

1) You don't need 4GB of RAM...4GB is for high and gamers with Vista...since you said XP/Ubuntoo, 2GB would suffice you very well... you get 2GB Crucial Ballstix at for $30.

2) Get the Radeon HD 3850 512mb GPU...for $120 on

3) The Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L is an excellent choice for the motherboard. $80

4) You don't need more than 450W for that setup... get the Corsair 450VX PSU.

5) By choice...don't spend too much on get the Coolermaster Cases for about $65

ps: Though the Q6600 is a good CPU, since you wouldn't be doing any high end vid editing and would be only using web, office docs and stuff you'd be better off with the E2160 or E2180 which overclock to 2.6ghx EASILY....and they're considerably cheaper. E2160 costs $70
May 7, 2008 9:58:52 PM

I actually do dabble in video editing and a bit of 3d animation, and some of the programs I write are pretty CPU-intensive, but I forgot to mention that. Also, as I said, I'm not really interested in overclocking.

Do you have any experience with that ATI card under linux? Are they committing to make better linux drivers? If not, is there a similar nVidia card?

Thanks for your suggestions.

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May 7, 2008 10:09:35 PM

ram is cheap enough to get 4 gigs now of whatever decent brand is on sale 2 gig sticks of mushkin are around 35 dollars at newegg. With a 32 inch screen size, you are going to need a card that can push a lot of pixels and radeon antythings suck compared to geforce 8800gt or gs.
May 7, 2008 10:18:12 PM

mihirkula said:
Oh alright so then you would need that Q6600...good choice.

Improving from the earlier horror stories of Ati underperforming in Linux, the 3850 performs very well under Linux according to a number of reviews. Here is one.

Though a similar Nvidia card would be 8800GS. Check this link,1923-...

RIGHT...don't forget 32 inch screen, so he isn't going to be running at 1680 x 1050..he's gonna probably use a lot more power than if he had a regular sized LCD. I'd go gor an 8800gt, they are around 150 after rebates.
May 7, 2008 10:46:17 PM

royal crown... idk where you've been for the last couple years, but 720 p is 1368 (something like that) by 720 pixels..... thats not that many... at most he'll need an 8800 gs... or even the 9600 gt... but I don't know how those perform under Linux... so
May 7, 2008 10:51:07 PM

Native resolution on the TV is 1366 x 768. It's not really ideal for use as a monitor, but I'll set it back a couple of feet and put my keyboard/mouse in front of it.

As far as nVidia performance under linux, they have a much better track record than ATI, although I'll ask around and see if anyone has used the Radeon HD 3850 under Ubuntu and what their results have been.

Thanks again.

May 7, 2008 11:09:00 PM

Ok if it that low then yeah, a lower card should do bad
May 7, 2008 11:25:23 PM

Does anyone have any specific case suggestions? Anyone with differing opinions on the motherboard or power supply than what mihirkula suggested?