Should I consider building my next system?

Ok, here's the deal. My one PC at home is starting to show its age. It's a five year old Dell 4600 that has gone through several upgrades - more memory, disk swap, new optical drive and new graphics card. The PC is used mainly for email/web surfing/Word but we do play some games like World of Warcraft and my son has started to do some video processing (simple MovieMaker stuff). I'd like to replace it with a faster, mid-range system - one that would run most games well and would be suitable for more video work (nothing too serious) - and one that I can expand/improve later on.

I looked at various sites like Dell and it looks like I would need to spend about $1500 to get what I want. So I'm thinking about assembling my own system, partly to get more for my money and partly because I'll know what is in it and how expandable it will be (and I think it would be fun to do). This is what I'm thinking of:

- Intel E8400
- 8600 GTS or 8800 GTS graphics card
- 3-4Gb RAM
- dual 320-500 Gb hard drives (I like to mirror my data having suffered thru one disk crash)
- WindowXP prof
- optical drive(s)
- no idea about motherboard and case yet
- no idea about power supply and cooling (except quiet is good)

What kind of motherboard should I consider, especially if I want to expand the system down the road to a quad core? How much power/cooling do I need for a system like this? Most importantly, have I forgotten anything? Any recommendations or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
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More about should building system
  1. I just found the system builder's marathon article so that looks like a good starting point for me.
  2. Alright here we go. So my questions begin. It's hard to recommend hardware until we get some input from you. All new boards accept the 45nm quad core chips and can be upgraded. The question is, do you plan to OC at all or run the thing strickly stock speeds? If so we go one way, if you want to OC we go another way and plan for that.
    You mentioned gaming and said you play WOW. is WOW all you play or do you plan on picking up other titles? How heavy of gamer are you?
    Do you plan to get a new monitor or do you have one? if so what resolution?
    I'd go for 4GB of ram since DDR2 is so cheap its dumb not to.
    We will wait until after those questioned are answered to recommend PSU and Mobo's. You can get a $100 mobo or a $300 mobo, so really depending on what you want to do with it will determine.
  3. My recommendations:

    E8400(good choice, but if doing video editing or the likes of that go with Q6600/Q9300)

    4GB DDR2 800 (to use all 4GB you will need a x64 OS)

    A WD/Seagate 7200.11 HDD.

    P35-DS3x/P5K (ie P35-DS3L)

    9600GT/8800GT (if going with 8800GTS make sure it is the G92 core)

    Corsair 550VX or PP&C 610 or better (Don't Skimp On the PSU!!)

    If OCing get a good HSF.
  4. Fist, in terms of a motherboard, I would highly suggest an Intel P35 or X38(little more expensive) motherboard, or if you wish to go AMD, then you would want something like an AMD 780G motherboard.

    At the moment, the 8800GTS 512 is a great card. Either that or The Radeon HD 3870 is the top card for ATi. Though new cards from ATi and Nvidia are coming out soon.

    If you want 4GB RAM, then XP pro 32bit is still ok, any higher than that and you need a 64bit OS. You can find great prices on DDR2 800Mhz RAM. check out

    As for a power supply and case, I would look at Antec, I personally like the Antec Nine Hundred or Three Hundred. And for power supplies, try Corsair, OCZ, PC power and cooling, and Enermax. 500-600watts would be more than enough.

    Stick with a dual core for now, the E8400 would do the job no problem. Most applications are not yet taking advantage of more than one core as it is, though that will change down the road.

    Here are some more links to check out: >> motherboards >> motherboards >> cpu cooling >> video cards, power supplies, RAM
  5. Thanks for all the comments. useful stuff here. To answer jay2tall's questions:
    - Not a serious gamer. My son, who does most of the gaming, prefers his PS2 and Wii games over PC. So I would say that WoW is likely to be my PC game of choice for a while. Maybe the short answer is that I don't see myself running with two graphics cards.
    - I don't plan to overclock it. Intriguing idea though.
    - Will buy a new monitor. Probably a 24" with 1920 x1200 resolution.
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