First time Building my own PC - need help

Hey everyone,

My dell just died on me, while plugging my usb external drive it gave an electric discharge which grilled my mobo :S

Therefore, I've decided to build my own PC, after spending a week reading specs forums and company's website, I am still undecided and registered to this forum for help.

The role for this computer is mostly gaming and I won't OC since I'm noob with hardware and I can't afford to buy anything else. Also I will use single card (no sli or crossfire)


Case: Antec Sonata III with PSU 500w included
Extra front FAN: Zalman ZM-F3 120MM

Motherboard: I really need help with this one, I was going for an ASUS P5Q-PRO but I've read that ASUS is getting less reliable. So I was thinking to go for GIGA EP45-DS3 but I'm really not sure. (I also came across the P5K but it's only 10$ less)
I don't need WIFI or dual graphic card slots. Any recommendation?

Processor: I was going for a quad, but for almost half the price I can get a E8500 (350$ vs 185$). And I've read that most games are set up for quads anyway.

Memory:CORSAIR TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF or TWIN2X4096-6400C4DHX?
(Personal choice I only trust Corsair Ram only it's more pricey)

Harddrive: Seagate barracuda 7200.11

Graphic card: I forgot to mention I already have a evga 7900gs, I know this will be my bottleneck but I'm waiting for prices to go down. I might go for the HD 4850 or 9800 gtx once the prices fall.

Thanks for your help
59 answers Last reply
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  1. I meant most games aren't set up for quads
  2. Go for a 4850... they prices don't need to fall! It will be such a huge upgrade from a 7900gs and you can get them with mail in rebates.... you will be dropping like 150-160 on it is all!
    and for a MOBO to go with it, I would suggest something allong these lines...
  3. hkg36 said:
    I meant most games aren't set up for quads

    I knew what ya meant haha. I would go for a E8400 instead of the quad... cheaper and if you feel brave you can try and OC it :)
  4. Thanks for the quick reply

    why ep43? isn't ep45 better?
    what's the difference between p35 p43 and p45 northbridge?
    does it improve performance? the price difference is only 20$ so I could get a p45? or it's not worth it?

    also for the RAM what do you recommend?

  5. The biggest difference in the p35 and the p43/45 is the PCIex16 2.0 graphic card socket in the 43/45, it's fully backwards compatible with PCIex16 1.0, it just offers twice the bandwidth. The P43 is not as good an overclocker as the P35 or P45, but more than adequate for most people. The Antec Sonata case is a great case with a quality power supply, but it leans more towards being a quiet case rather that a cool (lots of fans) case.
  6. +1 all of the above responses. Only thing I would add is I am surprised you cannot find Q6600 for less than $300. It can be OC'd nearly equal to E8400. Although dual is fine for the next 1 - 2 yrs, you may wish you had gone quad after that. Also, I have not read about troubles with ASUS relative to any other mfg. They may not be the high end choice, however, ASUS offers a nice P43/P45. Some boards can be had for cheap, and those dont include crossfire capability, but I think all ASUS boards can do mild OC or better.

  7. Since that case isn't renowned for cooling, when you do upgrade your video card, get one with a dual-slot cooler that exhausts its heat. I haven't looked today, but I don't think there are any dual-slot 4850s yet.
  8. Thanks for the advice,

    Case:For the cooling issue, I've thought of installing the Zalman ZM-F3 120MM as a front fan. do you think that would solve the problem?
    Now you get me hesitating, what would you recommend?

    Mobo: for 20$ I can go from a p43 to p45, now the only question is to go for a Giga ep45 ds3r or the Asus P5Q pro (both same price; around 135$)
    Also I don't plan on having dual cards so the double pci*16 isn't necessary.

    For the RAM since I'm not planning on OC, I'm looking for the most stable system. What would you recommend?
  9. Don't bother with the 1066 RAM. Unless you're going to do some serious OCing, 800 is plenty. Technically, if you're not OCing at all you only really need 667 RAM to hit 1:1 with the 1333 FSB of the E8500. But 800 is so cheap right now that there's really no reason not to get it (and it'll still leave you room to do some moderate OCing if you ever decide to give it a try).
  10. Go with the Gigabyte EP45. If you can find a EP45 DS3L, it'd probably be a little cheaper but won't offer RAID. Do you need RAID? I hear it's a headache.
  11. OC is so attractive, I might give it a shot in a year or so to keep up with new games,

    so far with all you advices this is what I came up with

    Case: Undecided (probably Antec Sonata III with an additional fan)

    Mobo: Giga EP45T-DS3R

    Processor: Intel Duo Core E8500

    RAM: DDR2 800mhz What brand?and what clock? is TWIN2X4096-6400C5DHX 5-5-5-15 good enough/too much?

    Hardrive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500 gb

    What's RAID?

  12. For memory, look at Crucial, Corsair, Mushkin, Kingston, etc. All good brands, especially Crucial.
  13. Ok, what about the clock? does it matter? what does it change?

    and what's RAID for?

    Thanks a lot :) I'm really new for hardware
  14. RAID is using 2 or more hard drives to increase performance or data striping. The performance RAID is basically, SLI or Crossfire for hard drives, you do know what they are, right? RAID for performance will improve read and write speeds. You don't lose any hard drive space in performance RAID.

    RAID data mirroring is having all data written to both hard drives for data redundancy. It's mostly used for sensitive data that cannot be lost due to hard drive failure. You effectively lose half the space in data mirroring mode.
  15. I don't plan on using two harddrive for now, but it seems interesting.

    As for the watts, since I'm only going to use 1 graph card, do you think 500w is enough?

    And for ram clock I don't understand, most people recommend low latency but a 4-4-4-xx is less expensive than a 5-5-5-xx, why is that?
  16. Voltage is also pretty important when you're comparing RAM. Check out this thread. It cleared up a ton of stuff for me.

    And for a single GPU, 500W should be good enough.
  17. RAM pricing is awkward, that's why. All you need to know is tighter timings (lower numbers) means the RAM is faster than RAM with looser timings (higher numbers).
  18. Yes, Mushkin RAM has become my preferred choice, as it is always good to go at 1.8v.
  19. pcgamer12 said:
    RAM pricing is awkward, that's why. All you need to know is tighter timings (lower numbers) means the RAM is faster than RAM with looser timings (higher numbers).

    But that doesn't necessarily mean that the tighter timing is better RAM. If you're trying to compare 4-4-4-12_2.3V to 5-5-5-18_1.8V, you're comparing apples to oranges. It's like trying to say a E2180 OC'd to 3.1GHz is better than a stock 2.9GHz X6800. While that E2180 is technically the faster of the two, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's better.
  20. Thanks all,
    Now I get it (at least I think I do) I'll probably get that Mushkin memory.

    Last thing now is to get a good case,

    any opinion on the Sonata III? as I said above, I've heard it's not the best for cooling so I was thinking of installing a Zalman ZM-F3 120MM as a front fan.
  21. Just know that if you're not going to OC the ram at all, pcgamer is correct the tighter timing is better than looser timing. It's basically like you're buying factory OC'd ram. But if you get relatively tight timings listed at 1.8V, that'll leave you room to up the voltage (thereby lowering the timings or upping the frequency) on your own.

    Until yesterday (when I read ausch's post) I had very little understanding of all of this, so if I'm wrong someone please correct me.
  22. My recommendations:

    Q6600 (if doing video editing or things like that) or E8400 (gaming,etc)

    P45-DS3L (not doing CrossFire) or P45-DS3R ( RAID and CrossFire) if on a really tight budget a P35-DS3L ($80 or so). All the boards mentioned OC very well. If you do get any of the EP series boards above DO NOT install the DES software. Stay away from DDR3 motherboards or DDR2/DDR3 combo motherboards (ie. P35C-DS3R)

    2*2GB DDR2 800 (from Corsair, Crucial, Patriot, G.Skill or other good brand). Don't get DDR2 1066, those 1066 RAM have compatibility issues.

    Corsair 450 (if single card below a 8800GTS power requirement); Corsair 550/PP&C 610 (single 4850/4870) ; Corsair 750TX/ PP&C 750 (if doing 4850/4870 CrossFire). DO NOT skimp on the PSU. By skimping I mean getting low Watts and/or low quality PSUs.

    See :
    for a list of good PSUs (Tier 2 and above). You should also check out the PSU reviews at
    Don't base PSU quality on the number of Watts.

    A 500GB+ 7200.11 HDD(s), which are almost as fast as the old Raptors.

    If you plan to OC on get a XIGMATEK S1283 (not 100% sure if it will fit the Antec Sonata)

    For quiet case fans look at Scyth or Yate Loon.
  23. I've been meaning to ask this, but didn't feel it warrented it's own thread. Is there a noticable difference between the 7200.10's and 7200.11's? Or are the 7200.11's just the default suggestion because they're newer than the 7200.10's?
  24. RAM Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x2gb check $79.99
    Processor Duo Core E8500 check $195.99
    Mobo Gigabyte EP45-DS3R check $133.99
    Harddrive Seagate Barracuda 500gb 7200.11 check $72.99

    482$ plus a 150$ upgrade for my graphic card TBD (I currently have a 7900gs) = 632$ + case and PSU (100$?) = 732$ not bad?

    From what you say shadow, If I'm planning to get a 4850 I should get a Fan and case separately
    I don't plan on OC yet but I'll give it a shot in a year or so.

    I need your opinion for the case and PSU,

    For the case I found those two:

    -Coolermaster CM 690 $72
    -Antec Nine Hundred Mid Tower Gamer Case 900 ATX $92

    the CM 690 should be good enough right?

    For the power supply (based on shadow's advice):

    -PC Power & Cooling silencer 610W $79.99
  25. I personally prefer the Antec 900 as I have installed a S1283 on it and it has enough space for any thing. The CM 690 should fit the S1283.
  26. I might go for the CM 690 just for the look, I'm gonna go through some reviews tho before, so far I've read the CM 690 looks cheap.

    The problem is the looks really big. I'm not sure it's gonna fit in the living room, but that's not a technical issue.

    Almost final configuration:

    RAM Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x2gb $79.99
    Processor Duo Core E8500 $195.99
    Mobo Gigabyte EP45-DS3R $133.99
    Harddrive 500gb 7200.11 $72.99
    PC Power & Cooling silencer 610W $79.99
    CM 690 $72

    = $635 without a graphic card

    should I get the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 even if I don't OC?

    about the OS, I can install windows XP from my dead computer or Should I buy windows vista? if yes, which version 32 bit or 64 bit?
  27. I'd hold off on the cooler until after you decide to OC. The stock HSF will be perfectly fine at stock speeds. Although, if you can find an OEM CPU the price difference may make the cost of the after-market cooler a moot point. Right now on newegg there's an open-box E8500 for $170. Which means that the open-box E8500 and the Xigmatek S1283 is basically the same price as the retail E8500 with the stock HSF. It's up to you to decided if you trust an open-box or not.

    And if you're looking to save the money, there's really nothing wrong with using your old XP. If you're spending the extra money definitely go with the 64-bit. Using a 32-bit OS that isn't costing you anything is one thing, but there's almost zero reason to buy a new 32-bit OS.
  28. Thanks,

    I've also heard XP and 32 bit don't recognize more that 3.2gb ram, is that true?
    If I use Xp i should get only 2gb of ram then right?
  29. Yes, it's true. You could drop down to 2gigs, but you'd only be saving like $20-$30. If you're really trying to squeeze in under a budget, that'd be an option. But considering how cheap DDR2 is right now, getting the 4gigs wouldn't be a bad idea. XP will just ignore what it can't use with no ill effects. Plus, if you eventually decide to upgrade to a 64-bit OS you'll already have enough ram to run it decently.
  30. Agree on holding off on the S1283 until OCing. Yes, XP/Vista 32bit are limited to 3.5GB. With cheap DDR2 prices go with 2*2GB. If looking to save a little cost you could go with the E8400 (~$20 less) and a better HSF.
  31. what is a HSF (yes, I know... real noob :P) is it heatsink fan?
    is it something I need to buy in extra? where does it go?
  32. HSF : Heat sink and fan.
  33. What would you recommend I get for HSF, I don't mind spending an extra 20 to 50$ to be safe.
  34. You don't need to buy one unless you aren't getting a retail version of your CPU or you intend to OC. The retail CPU will come with a stock HSF that will be sufficient unless you OC (and even then the stock HSF can usually handle a mild/moderate OC). If you buy an OEM or open-box CPU, it probably won't come with a stock HSF so you'll need an after-market one like the Xigmatek S1283 Shadow has been mentioning.
  35. I'm about to close the deal;

    RAM : Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x2gb $79.99
    Processor : Duo Core E8500 $195.99
    Mobo : Gigabyte EP45-DS3R $133.99
    Harddrive: Seagate500gb 7200.11 $72.99
    PSU : PC Power & Cooling silencer 610W $79.99
    Case : Antec 900 $99

    any final thoughts?

    thanks a lot to everyone for your input (wanker79, Shadow703793, jtt283, slayeron444, jthorn, dirtmountain and pcgamer12 :) )
  36. ^Looks good!
  37. thanks,

    Here is the actual config I've ordered;

    RAM : Mushkin HP PC2-6400 2x2gb
    Processor : Duo Core E8500
    Mobo : Gigabyte EP45-DS3R
    Harddrive: WD Caviar SE16 640gb
    PSU : PC Power & Cooling silencer 610W
    Case : Antec 900

    (waiting for a price drop for the HD 4850 although I found the 8800 GT for 99$ on NCIX)

    Just a few questions.
    I've checked some guidelines on how to build my computer (i need to do something while waiting for it :) )

    If I understand well, mandatory tools are:

    -Non magnetic screw
    -Thermal glue

    How do I know its not magnetic?

    Do I need anything else?
  38. Thermal glue? Do you mean thermal paste? You will NOT need thermal adhesive (ie ArcticSilver Thermal adhesive) unless you are doing some volt mods or installing MOSFET heat sinks (which I doubt you are doing). For the stock Intel HSF there is pre applied thermal paste present.

    A ESD mat and/or a EDS wristband would also be a good idea.

    Here is a good/cheap ESD safe tool set:
    I use this same one.

    Side note: Don't forget to install the stand off screws for the motherboard. I have seen a lot of first time people (some times even some pros) forget to put the stand off screws for the motherboard. For more screws you will see in a PC see:

    Stand off screws
  39. Ok thanks,

    I can't buy from Newegg because I live in Canada but I found a similar kit over here.

    However I can't find an ESD mat, but there is an ESD wristband in the kit do you think it's enough?

    ( and thanks for the tip, I won't forget to put my stand off crews)

    About the BIOS config, is it easy? (already pre-configured) or do I have a lot to do? (anything complex? anything I should NOT do?)
  40. Yes, the ESD wrist band is fine. Just attach the end of it to tome thing that's grounded (ie case).

    As far as BIOS goes you will only probably need to change the RAM voltage and the driver boot order(assuming you aren't OCing) which is not very hard, and the Gigabyte manual explains the BIOS options very well.

    If you give me the link to the manufacture specs I can tell you if you need to even increase the voltage. The Mushkin RAM usually don't need voltage increases, but I can tell you this better if you provide the link to the RAM specs. If you aren't sure about how much voltage to give, just post back here with a link to the motherboard manual.
  41. Thanks a lot I really do appreciate your help,

    What is the driver boot order?

    Also I have old Hard drive that I'd like to put in my new computer, should I wait for the computer to be set up or should I put them before booting for the first time?

    Here is the RAM link:
    Mushkin HP PC2-6400 4GB 2X2GB DDR2-800 CL5-4-4-12 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit

    And the Mobo's:

    Gigabyte EP45-DS3R ATX LGA775 P45 2PCI-E16 2PCI CrossFireX SATA2 RAID Sound 2XGLAN 1394A Motherboard
  42. Ok, RAM doesn't need to be messed around with. The boot order is how the BIOS loads up the drivers (ie DVD, HDD, USB,etc or HDD, DVD, USB,etc)
  43. My son just completed building his mid-range system
    and it's quite decent and fast. Not a true high-end gaming PC
    but pretty close.

    Intel Q6600 (2.4 GHz) and comes with stock cooling fan $219
    (alternative was to use the Intel 8500 but it wasn't in-stock,
    will try to OC Q6600 to 3.0GHz)
    Gigabyte X48 DQ6 (a little pricey but can support ATI Crossfire) $299
    Antec 650W $80
    Corsair Dominator DDR2 2x1GB PC8500 $80
    Coolmaster 690 case $80
    Visiontek 4850 $180
    Samsung DVD 20x drive $50
    Microsoft Vista Home Premium 32bit OEM (no tech support) $99
    with 8.5% tax = $1180 USD
  44. Forgot to add
    Hitachi 500GB disk drive $60
    So new grand total with 8.5% tax = $1245 USD
  45. Do I need to change the boot order?

    About the HDD how do I partition it when starting the computer for the first time?

    Also how much space should I partition for Windows (I'll use XP)?

  46. The manual will explain how to change boot order. For XP keep at least a 60GB partition for the OS and the rest for programs.
  47. Thanks for your help,
    Now I'm just waiting for delivery, it's on its way, I should have it by monday or tuesday... CAN'T WAIT!!!
  48. Good luck. Remember to post pics when done ;).
  49. I will for sure !
    I got all my components but my mobo, it's coming tomorow :D
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