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First time PC Builder

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May 14, 2008 6:57:28 PM

Hi. This summer I'm looking into building my own PC for the first time, and I would like to have some advice:

These are my current plans for it:

Budget: I'm looking into $1000 or lower for the PC

Uses: I'm planning on returning to PC gaming, however my laptop's performance would not be able to play some of the newest games out their (e.g. Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3, etc.) Also I'm a college student in engineering, so I'm planning on using it for other applications. Also I may use for video playback, especially with HD movies. Overall I to have this PC last long and be upgradable with minimal effort.

Plans: From what I've read, I'm settled on a Intel Core 2 Quad Core Processor. I would have gone with the 2 core, but knowing I want this to last long, and since I'm going to have other uses for it besides games,it would make sense to use a good quality quad core processor. I'm thinking about overclocking, but I would like to have some input on it first.

The motherboard, there are so many platforms that I cannot decide on which one would work for me. But I know for sure that ASUS is not what I'm going to use. The same goes for a graphics processor with so many platforms and yes I may plan on overclocking it. Also I'm not sure if running dual graphic processors would be better than running a single processor.

Otherwise, I've only though as far as the CPU, GPU and the motherboard. I have not considered a power source, hard drive, memory, case, cooling, etc...

More about : time builder

May 14, 2008 7:29:09 PM

seagate 7200.11 are fast and fairly aforadable

single GPUs give the best bang for the buck.

Make sure your mobo can handle 45nm CPU

I've had luck with Abit Mobos, and hear the Gigbyte and MSI are pretty good, but god DOAs from them both
May 14, 2008 8:01:57 PM

Ok I would say go for a X38 motherboard (I recommend gigabyte) with a q9450 (or above) processor. Corsair TX-series PSU. Whatever case you like that has decent cooling. Wait for 4xxx-series Gfx cards from ATI. Get 2x2gig of RAM (Corsair or Ballistix), see which ones your motherboard supports on MFG website. 7200.11 is good. HDT-S1283 for cooling :) 
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May 14, 2008 8:24:10 PM

What about the Intel X38 chipsets directly from Intel? Are they of same, better, or worst quality than the ones from Gigabyte?
May 14, 2008 8:33:22 PM

^Quality of Intel boards are good, but they don't usually come with good OCing ability. Imo, a C2D not OCed is a waste.
May 14, 2008 8:35:07 PM

^ There is a budget, and it is $1000.

I suggest you order from newegg.com, very good prices
Processor: Q6600
Motherboard: EVGA 780i
RAM: Check the supported memory for the motherboard at EVGA's website, you can probably get 4 gigs
Graphics Card: 9600 GT
Hard Drive: The one groo mentioned is good
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling 610 Watt
Case/Optical Drives/Other Stuff: You will have roughly $100 left to pick the rest of this.
May 14, 2008 8:39:24 PM

My recommendations:

(Assuming no SLI)
P35-DS3x(P35 chipset)/P5K P35 chipset)/P5E (X38 chipset)/X35-DS4(X38 chipset) * Try to stay away from DDR3+ DDR2 combo motherboards

Q9300/Q6600/E8400(esp. if gaming mostly)

Corsair 550/520/620 or PP&C 610 or better (better as in quality, not the # of Watts)

8800GT/9600GT/(G92) 8800GTS all with at least 512MB RAM

WD/Seagate 7200.11 HDD

2GB+DDR2 800 RAM (RAM natively igher than DDR2 800 seems to have compatibility issues)
Good HSF if OCing and everything else you need/want.


May 14, 2008 8:49:24 PM

It seems like I'm now settled with an hardrive. Thanks groo.
I would also like to know about the overclockability of the Intel quad cores vs the Intel dual cores?
About the motherboards, what about the nvidia chipsets? Are they better or worse than the Intel chipsets?
May 14, 2008 9:04:12 PM

Nvidia chipsets are only necessary if doing SLI. Imo, X38/P35 have better OCing ability then 780i. The E8400 will perform better in most games since raw speed over comes the # of cores. If using video editing,etc go with the quad core.
May 14, 2008 10:55:25 PM

Here is what I have in mind so far ( I used Newegg and tiger direct):

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS4
Processor: Intel Q6600 w/ Fan 2.4 Ghz
Graphics: Gigabyte ATI Radeon 3450
Hard drive: Seagate 7200.1 160 GB

Agree? Disagree?
May 15, 2008 3:34:45 PM

160 gb is way to small in my world. it is also smaller than the 7200.11 goes. the .11 is desirable in large part because of its large cache hat boosts speed.

a 3450 must be a typo. its on par with high end OBG. did you mean a 3850?
May 15, 2008 3:53:50 PM

I wouldn't get that motherboard. For the price you can get an X38 motherboard instead. I'd go with a more reasonably priced P35 board.

Good choice on processor.

I agree with groo that the HDD is too small and that the video card isn't very good. Since you list newer games in your original post I think you need at least a 9600GT or better. You could also wait for the 4000 series of ATI cards which should be out in June.
May 15, 2008 5:18:15 PM

I've just heard about the ATI's news 4XXX series, so I'll wait on that since I'm not planning on building it until the summer due to school (I'm waiting for my financial statement from Drexel)

As for the hard drive, what would be a good size hard drive for gaming?
May 15, 2008 5:49:14 PM

I'd say 500gb is the smallest I'd buy now.

the last HDD I bought was a 750, partitioned into about 150 and 600.

The large partition is used for data starage (like my music library, photos, etc), personal filesc(my docs, saves), and some programs. The small is for an OS and other programs, basicly stuff that can be wiped and reinstalled without too much hassle.

I also have a pair of 320s I've used in a Raid0 in the past; independant or maybe Raid1 in the future. I plan on installing a seperate OS on this pair.

The long term plan is to turn this machine into a weird sort of HTPC+ in the near future with the 320s (OS in tact) and use the 750, with all its data partition untouched, in the next gaming PC.

One reason I needed to buy the 750 was to backup the 320s; because of the RAID0, I'll lose all my data when I plug em in to the new MoBo.

my old 250 is likely going to bumped to the mother-in-law.
May 16, 2008 5:09:01 PM

Here is what I have so far:

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EX38-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail 199.99

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 - Retail 198.99

Graphics: GIGABYTE GV-RX365512H Radeon HD 3650 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail 72.99

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (Perpendicular Recording) ST3500630AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM 79.99

Disk Drive: SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S203N - OEM 33.99

CPU Cooling: ?

Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail 59.00

Power: Antec NeoPower 650 650W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply - Retail 139.99
Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case – Retail 119.99

Total Price: 904.93

I have no clue on a good cooling solution and what brand for the CPU (liquid cooling is over my budget)

Also, I like to have some opinion on Thermaltake's products, especially their quality and reliability.

BTW I was about to switch to a much cheaper P35 from Gigabyte, but then I realized that it didn't support the PCI express 2.0 slots, and that would effect any future upgradability.

I switched from a quad core to a dual core because I think it has a good value, but I wonder how long will they last before games that support quad core processors begin to come out?

And groo, I think you have excellent input on all this. Thank you.
May 16, 2008 5:46:45 PM

That video card isn't good enough for any real gaming. The 4000 series, if it lives up to the hype (which is always questionable), should work fine though. You should probably budget about $200 for the video card.
May 16, 2008 5:58:41 PM

what about if I hook it up with a second 3650 in crossfire mode?
May 16, 2008 6:02:59 PM

ridgeracer528 said:
what about if I hook it up with a second 3650 in crossfire mode?

You'd be so much better off just buying 1 8800GT than 2 of those crossfired garbage cards.
May 16, 2008 6:12:59 PM

were this my money and build, I'd get 4 gb of ram and spend more of the budget on graphics. $150-$200 seams to be the general point of diminishing returns for graphics cards

all PCIe 2.0 cards are backward compatible with PCIe 1.0 boards, and probably always will be. PCIe2.0 only gives more bandwidth. right now the performance gain of the additional bandwidth is negligable, the highest estimate I've seen is a 10% framerate boost. that was also probably low, with higher resolution it should have less of an impact.
the performance difference will most likely go up with future upgrades.

to put it in very basic terms; the CPU tells the GPU what picture to draw. if the GPU is drawing complex picture it cant draw them as fast. if the CPU cant figure what pictures to draw quicly enough, the GPU is sitting around waiting for instructions.
bandwidth only realy comes into play when the CPU has all sorts of instructions and the GPU is drawing very quickly. usualy either the CPU or the GPU is the limiting factor.
Were high bandwidth will become more important is with something like nVidias Hybrid Power (a powersaving feature that turns off the graphics card when it isn't needed and uses OBG. not availiable to intel at this time) were the GPU will do the rendering, then send it back to the motherbard before it goes to the monitor.


you never mentioed OS. I'd go with Vista 64. I think more and more stuff will start being optimised for 64.

this is a better PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you're pushing your budget, you could cut back on the case. although a good case is nice to have, and I spent more than that on my last case.

if you think you will be upgrade CPU soon, you could cut back on your initial CPU.

your CPU is only 65watts. stock cooling may be good enough. give it a shot first.

May 16, 2008 6:25:47 PM

For the OS, I'm not sure if Vista 32 bit or 64 bit would be better, and I'm not sure which package of Vista should I go it (i.e. basic, home, ultimate, etc?)
May 16, 2008 6:54:07 PM

with 2 gigs of ram, your better off with 32, but 64 will let you plug in 8 gigs down the road.

if you plan on ever running engineering software on this machine, definatly get 64.

some versions of vista give you a license thats good for both versions. I don't think the builder version does that anymore.

Home premum is the OS I chose. I have never had a reason to regret it.
May 19, 2008 10:35:38 PM

Question: What about the dual core Pentiums? Although small, I hear they have excellent overclocking capability and are low in price. I think that would work, especially since I'm on a budget. Also I could use the extra money on a better graphics card. What does everyone think?
May 20, 2008 8:21:03 AM

the new dual core pentiums are C2D, basicly they are the new cellerons
May 4, 2009 10:51:02 PM

It seems that I've been out for a year due to school (and a lot has happened in a year!). Well I hoping to pull the plug by next week or earlier. Here is my build:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor Model HDZ720WFGIBOX - Retail $145.00

GPU: EVGA 896-P3-1257-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked Edition 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail $204.99

Motherboard: ECS BLACK SERIES A790GXM-AD3 AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $109.99

Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail $59.99

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive - OEM $69.99

Disk Drive: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $24.99

Power Supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail $119.99

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $54.95

OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders - OEM $99.99

Monitor: Acer X223Wbd Black 22" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 2500:1 - Retail $159.99

Total: $1048.87

Notes: I don't have a new keyboard, mouse, or speakers listed becasue I'm planning on re-using ones at home.

Questions: For wireless internet, what wireless card would you recommend?

Edit: I've updated the build with a different monitor and GPU
May 7, 2009 1:25:50 PM

DONE....I've placed my order. The build is the same as above, however I added a Gigabyte wirless adapter to the order. Including shipping, the cost was about 1082 US dollars. Anyway thank you all for the help at this point. i hope to post my progress on this build here.
June 6, 2009 11:05:25 PM

I suggest adding another 4g of ram when you can. It will make your day.

Toad
!