Pre-build questions from a beginner

Hi, I'm a long-time lurker that has finally decided to consider the home build. I want to ask a few questions before I really draft a build and post it. I know you guys and gals will be able to give me some great feedback.

1. I want to maximize my systems' longevity, future compatibility, and future performance.
- Should I consider 45nm CPUs over 65nm CPUs for this reason?
- Should I consider X48 mobos over P35 for this reason?
- Any other important considerations here?

2. How do I calculate how much power will be needed by my system? PSU wattage is a guessing game to me right now.

3. If I buy a decent case, and might overclock a bit, will I need to buy separate fans, or will the case fans usually be adequate?

4. Am I crazy to do do a home build and OC'ing without any prior experience?
(I'm a software developer with years of practice in replacing computer parts, so I'm not totally clueless, but I've never built from scratch).

Thanks for your help!
7 answers Last reply
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  1. #1 - Build Your PC for Today and Worry Less About the Future.
    When it Comes, Sell your Old PC and Build New. Nothing is wasted this way.

    #2 - Decide the CPU Last. After you have Designed your System, Post here and we will help. In General, The Power Required is Greatly OverEstimated. One Tip is to Checkout the Review for any GPU. THere is always a "Power Consumption" Section which is the total power used by the System. But post here for a better total analysis for your final system.

    #3 - A Number of the Decent Cases include a Sufficient Number of Case Fans. The Amount of Case Cooling Will Depend on Parts. Example - The HD4870 produces more heat, but it's cooler exhausts the heat out of the case. The HD4850 produces less heat, but does not exhaust it out of the back of the case. This means you need a case with better cooling.
    Again, We can help pick a Case.

    #4 You may be crazy, but..................
    A - Building your Own Computer is not that hard.
    B - OverClocking is Very Easy.
    Just Be Reasonable and Don't Try to Max your OC for Bragging Rights.
  2. when you do post your build for us to give opinions. post:

    1. budget
    2. use of computer including what types of games if gaming
    3. resolution of monitor (unless buying one and you list it)
    4. feeling about crossfire/sli and liklihood of doing it (we'll probably have opinions about it as well but at least then we know where you sit)
  3. Thanks a lot guys! I do have those answers so I might as well post it now:

    Budget = ~$1500
    Monitor = 2560 x 1600 (already purchased)
    Uses (in order):
    Poker + Database + Reporting
    Multitasking + Software development + standard internet/ms word stuff
    Digital Audio studio
    Media Server via PS3
    Occasional games (usually don't play but I will be forced to do so with a 30" monitor and a modern machine!)

    GPU = One Radeon HD 4870 for now, unless I'm convinced otherwise. I'd consider crossfire if it's economically better than buying a new card say, 1.5-2 years from now.

    Zen, I agree there's more value in buying for now, not for the future. If I can do a little of both, even better.

    On #2 do you mean "buy the PSU last"? I'll save PSU until I've gotten further along with my build selection then.

    I'm still interested to know if motherboard or CPU selection is going to make a difference for future upgrades...anybody know whether P35 and X38 have different implications for future upgrades/performance?
  4. this is long, sorry!

    Heres some scoop on mobo. P45 is a great mobo. I think it is around $100 or a little more. Great for 1 GPU. Can add a second if you choose but it is on x8/x8 rather than x16/x16. on another thread one person said the difference in peformance crossfired between the 8 and 16 is only like 5% but he didn't have a link so I can't confirm that. x38 and x48 have full crossfire capability (x16/x16) but they cost a lot more. 4870 is a great card especially considering your high resolution monitor. you would be able to get use of crossfiring at that res but it depends on when you do it as there may be a better single card out there. so i'm not sure that you need to spend that money on something you might do especially when the p45 can still do it. but it is probably an easier decision if you can find out how much of an impact the x8/x8 would have.

    ok couple of other things:

    CPU - in that price range you are probably going to decide between an e8400 (or e8500 for $20 more) dual core or a q6600 quad core. they are all good for overclocking. those dual cores have a much higher clock speed but if you are at all into overclocking you could get the q6600 up to the stock dual core speed. your computer is not mainly for gaming. for a mainly gaming computer dual core is what i typically recommend. higher clock per price and most games aren't multithreaded. but for what you do it may be in your best interest to go quadcore. and like i said that is a great cpu for ocing which you can do a mild one very easily and not need a bunch of cooling equipment.

    psu - it is imperitive that you get a good brand psu. corsair, pc power and cooling, antec are some examples. the reason is that it isn't standard how companies report their wattage. some use the highest peak to make their systems look good so you think it can handle the load but it can't. here is also another decision where crossfire will impact. not only would the mobo be more $$ but you would want a beefier psu to handle two cards. which means buy it now or buy a new one when you crossfire. but in my mind it only makes sense to prepare for crossfire if you will do it pretty soon. if you think you might in a year or so there will be a better single card to spend your money on.

    ram - here is another area that isn't standard. there are a ton of choices and oftentimes companies will up their voltage to decrease their cl timings to make their ram look faster. This can also impact your ability to OC that ram. i recommend ddr2 800 1.8v (that voltage is the jedec standard so you know it hasn't been altered which means you know what you are getting). mushkin is a good brand. if you are doing pretty heft ocing then you may want ddr2 1066 but on your budget that might not be a place to increase cost.

    case - antec 900 is a great case and pretty cool. if your overclock isn't too huge then the most you will probably need is a heatsink for your cpu. but even stock cooling will allow you some overclock. others on here can talk about that more than me. also keep an eye out. sometimes you can get case and psu combo's to save money, just make sure it is a good psu. if you need to go cheaper on the case antec also makes a 300 that has 1x120mm and 1x140mm fans plus slots for 2 other option 120mm if you want them.

    do you already have hdd and dvd rom drive? or is that part of the $1500?

    just in case:

    hdd - wd 640gb is $85 and about the best price per gb you can find
    rom - go with a sata not IDE drive don't know much else. :)

    hopefully this is helpful. if you have other questions ask away. at somepoint post a build list and we can make sure things are compatible and can also help if you need to save or spend more. :) :)
  5. dude thank you for all the info!

    I do have a DVD burner and SATA HDD, although I'd like to get a (veloci)raptor if possible. I think I want to optimize for productivity, multitasking, and basically low latency everywhere possible.

    I agree, quad core might be better since I'm not doing much gaming. Thanks for all these tips and recommendations. I will definitely keep them in mind as I browse parts for the build.
  6. The 640GB WD Cavier WD6400AAKS HDD is only marginally slower than the velociraptors, and you'll get way more bang for you buck (as they say). For your budget, spending $300 for 300GB of storage is just not very wise. You'll get more than twice the storage for the WD6400AAKS, you'll hardly notice any difference in speed, and it'll cost you 70% less. If you're really worried about the speed, you could buy two of the WD6400AAKSs, RAID 0 them, and it'll still cost less and you'd be getting over 1.2TB of storage (a 300% increase).

    Honestly, you'd probably be more satisfied spending the $85 on the 6400AAKS and putting the other $215 between two slices of bread and eating it for lunch. Can you tell what a collosal waste of money I think the VelociRaptors are? ;-)
  7. I should mention that I already have a Seagate Barracuda 750 GB for standard storage of media content. So I'm looking at the Raptors and Velociraptors to hold Windows, and possibly audio sound banks (for quick loading) or my database (but all three would certainly not fit). I do have a need for really low-latency random and sequential reads, which is why I want 10,000 RPM HDD (or SSD for that matter!).

    Velociraptor is probably not the best fit for me due to the cost per MB...maybe I should consider RAID...thanks for the ideas here.
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