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My First System Build -- Hoping for Your Expert Advice!

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September 22, 2008 4:14:52 AM

Hi everyone. :hello: 

Alright... so, building my first computer. I've been reading the articles here, going over reviews, and generally doing my research, and I think I've got a decent idea where I'm headed, but of course, in the end, I'm just a newbie. Here goes nothing.

I have a maximum budget of about $2000 (though if I really need to I could push a bit higher), and plan to be using the system for gaming along with everyday tasks like browsing and general multitasking. I'm hoping to be able to make this thing last for a long while.

These are the choices I'm currently looking at.

Case: NZXT TEMPEST Crafted Series CS-NT-TEM-B Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $109.99 (-$10 instant, $10 mail-in rebate). Not sure about this... I want to be able to move my rig to a LAN party once in a while or something. Any good suggestions for that?

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard $224.99 (-$10 instant)

Video Card: 2x SAPPHIRE 100245L Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card $359.98 ($179.99 each, $20 mail-in rebate)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor $189.99

Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI NVIDIA SLI Certified (Dual 8800 GTX and below) CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $144.99 (-$105 instant discount, $25 mail-in rebate)

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $84.99

Disk Drive: ASUS Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 14X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe $34.99 (-$5 instant)

RAM: mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $127.99 ($20 mail-in rebate)

Cooler: XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler $36.99

Retention Bracket: XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket $6.99

Thermal Compound: Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM $5.99

Toolkit: BELKIN F8E066 Professional Computer Tool Kit (36-Piece) $44.99

This all puts the price at about $1400

I still have absolutely no idea what to look for in a monitor, though I can say I'm definitely more interested in quality than quantity (size). I'm used to my tiny laptop screen and would have no problems with a smaller monitor. I'd love for some suggestions in this area!

I also have yet to decide upon an operating system. XP, Vista, or what?

Also, I'm rather unsure about the motherboard, power supply, RAM, disk drive, all that. I have all sorts of questions. Do I want DDR3 to make my machine future proof? Should I spring for the 4870s? Is it worth much to get a faster hard drive, or maybe one with a bigger cache? Is the power supply adequate? Is the motherboard a good choice, and is it appropriately compatible with all the stuff I've picked? I think I'm on the right track, but as a newbie I doubt my own judgment. I'd really appreciate any insights I can have :) 

I'd also appreciate any advice on actually putting it together... any pitfalls to watch out for? I'd really hate to damage any of these components I'm paying all this money for or something...

I also have little to no knowledge of overclocking. Should I just play it safe and be okay without it? Or is it easier than I think, especially with some softwares that I surely don't know which ones to pick?

And thank you so very much in advance!

More about : system build hoping expert advice

September 22, 2008 4:38:05 AM

Reading this, it seems like it's saying I should get Mushkin Ascent XP2-8500 if I'm in the DDR2 range, but I don't see that on NewEgg at all. Anyplace else good to buy from?
September 22, 2008 4:52:03 AM

ok if you aren't going to over clock any old 4gbs of ddr2 800 ram will work fine, as for the monitor http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824009154
i would go for this motherbord instead becasue all motherbords are going to be old once nahelm comes out, there is no future proofing right now
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128344
that hard drive is fine and those cf 4850s are the way to go at high resolutions as for overclocking it isn't to hard, and there are lots of great guide available to help
the hard drive is great as is the power supply
Related resources
September 22, 2008 5:12:51 AM

E8500 - good, I would go quad, but that's my own preference and not needed for games now.
X48-DS4 - good mobo and needed for Xfire.
6400AAKS - I really like that drive.
Mushkin 1066 - needed only for OC above 3.8G otherwise get DDR2 800 with 1.8V-1.9V. I do like Mushkin.
S1283 w/bracket - nice cooler, best for the money, IMO.
PC P&C 750 - great PSU, get an additional 20% off w/promo code "pcpc20", ends 9/26.
VGA - your choice.
Belkin tool kit - joke/waste of money.
September 22, 2008 5:41:48 AM

Zorg said:
E8500 - good, I would go quad, but that's my own preference and not needed for games now.
X48-DS4 - good mobo and needed for Xfire.
6400AAKS - I really like that drive.
Mushkin 1066 - needed only for OC above 3.8G otherwise get DDR2 800 with 1.8V-1.9V. I do like Mushkin.
S1283 w/bracket - nice cooler, best for the money, IMO.
PC P&C 750 - great PSU, get an additional 20% off w/promo code "pcpc20", ends 9/26.
VGA - your choice.
Belkin tool kit - joke/waste of money.

Totally agree with Zorg here :) 
September 22, 2008 5:59:54 AM

Thanks a lot for the feedback so far! By the way, something I kinda forgot to ask before: I'm ambivalent about case choice, and I would prefer something that I can move to the occasional LAN party without much fear. Any suggestions to that end?

Zorg said:
Belkin tool kit - joke/waste of money.

...So... I don't need any tools? Or is that just excessive / the wrong stuff / whatever?

Zorg said:

X48-DS4 - good mobo and needed for Xfire.


So are you saying I shouldn't go with gators's suggestion, then?

gators1223 said:

i would go for this motherbord instead becasue all motherbords are going to be old once nahelm comes out, there is no future proofing right now
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128344
September 22, 2008 6:03:25 AM

(Ack! Double post!)
September 22, 2008 6:42:49 AM

No, you obviously need tools. What I'm saying is that the belkin tool box is overpriced Chinese junk. You have no tools? Pretty much the whole job is done with a #2 Phillips screwdriver.

Get decent tools from Home Depot, Sears etc. cheaper, not that overpriced junk.

The EP45-DS3R will work fine for a single VGA, I just built one with a EP45-DS3L and it runs fine. The X48 is needed for crossfire and the DS4 is the minimum. You get additional features with it as well, and a little better cooling. If you only want one card and don't want the added features then get the DS3R, or for that matter the DS3L. Here's a comparison.

GA-EP45-DS3 vs GA-EP45-DS3L vs GA-X48-DS4 (scroll down)

September 22, 2008 2:02:20 PM

Thanks for the clarification. Well, I have the two graphics cards, so unless you think I should change that (maybe just go for the 4870 instead?) then I suppose I want the crossfire.

Alright, I guess I'm looking at these choices for monitors, then:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any advice to narrow that down? Or maybe some new options altogether?

Also, there's still the question of case, and operating system.
September 22, 2008 4:53:50 PM

I am not up on monitors, so I can't help you there. I still prefer XP because of the Vista DRM issues, but that's just my personal feeling. It appears that Vista SP1 has sorted out the driver issues and it has DX10. You will have to decide that for yourself.
September 22, 2008 7:27:36 PM

Really could use some recommendations quick! Time is an issue, what with that 20% discount going away very soon!
September 22, 2008 8:18:17 PM

I'd buy a Cooler Master 690 case w/your PSU that you selected.
Cooler Master 690 without Power Supply - RC-690-KKN1-GP
Newegg's link to the same case, just more details and pictures.

As far as the OS, that'll be up to you. If your going to use 4gb's or more of DDR2 than I'd consider Vista 64bit. I don't have any reason to use Vista yet, so I can't tell you how good/bad it is. I still use XP w/2gb's of DDR, because I don't need Directx 10 yet. I'd need to upgrade GPU and OS to take advantage of it.
September 22, 2008 9:23:55 PM

Caedrus said:
Could you please give the reasoning for your suggestion? Otherwise it's just he-said, she-said. Thanks. :) 

Overall build quality and price!! Here are some reviews, so you can decide if you like it, but it is a VERY popular case for reasons listed in the reviews (space for alot of parts, parts keep cool due to the design, cable management is good, etc.).
Tech Powerups review of CM 690 case
Overclockers Online review of CM 690
Hardware Zone's review

Club OC'ers review, with some good pictures!!
quote from Club OC'ers:
This is one nice mid-tower. While the case has a ton going for it, it could be a little better. There is no removable motherboard tray and the case is made of heavy steel. Those are very small complaints when you look at the case as a whole. A big plus for this case is it will fit 2 8800GTX's in SLI. In the picture above, I have an 8800GTS installed and you can see all of the extra room available. This case is also designed for nice airflow while keeping the noise down. The HDD trays have rubber grommets to eliminate noise causing vibration and the power supply opening is lined with a rubber gasket to do the same. The large 120mm fans will move more air at less RPMs then a 80mm fan. This will also cut your noise level down. Even the large rubber feet will help keep the noise level down. Overall this is a very nice case loaded with features that you'd find on much more expensive cases. Club Overclocker Recommended!
September 23, 2008 4:01:15 AM

as for the monitors a single 4870 will be fine if you get a 22in monitor, the resolution of a 24in monitor sees a lot of improvement from xfire
i personally like vista premium 64 bit very nice interfaces and i play dx10 games...
September 24, 2008 12:41:07 AM

gators1223 said:
as for the monitors a single 4870 will be fine if you get a 22in monitor, the resolution of a 24in monitor sees a lot of improvement from xfire
i personally like vista premium 64 bit very nice interfaces and i play dx10 games...


Okay, so if I'm getting the 4870 instead, should I get one with the 1GB or the 512MB memory? I'm assuming that the 1GB is better for just 20$ extra, but what do I know? Also, any particular brand preferable?

Anyone else think I should get a 4870 instead of Crossfire? And if so, again, why?


New build using your feedback...

Case: COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $79.99 I want to be able to move my rig to a LAN party once in a while or something. Any good suggestions for that?

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard $224.99 (-$10 instant)

Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100243-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card $299.99

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor $189.99

Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI NVIDIA SLI Certified (Dual 8800 GTX and below) CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $144.99 (-$105 instant discount, $25 mail-in rebate)

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $84.99

Disk Drive: ASUS Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 14X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe $34.99 (-$5 instant)

RAM: mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $114.99 ($20 mail-in rebate) This saves next to no money next to the 1066 version... you guys sure about this? I do notice that it has lower timings than the 1066, what's up with that?

Cooler: XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler $36.99

Retention Bracket: XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket $6.99

Thermal Compound: Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM $5.99

Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit English 1pk DSP OEI DVD for System Builders - OEM $174.99

This all puts the price at about $1400, Vista price included

Still missing a monitor.
September 24, 2008 2:16:04 AM

Forgot to mention this earlier, but here's a nice LAN party backpack/shoulder strap case for $60 + shipping!
GearGrip LANBag (Black)
September 24, 2008 9:05:32 AM

lunyone said:
Forgot to mention this earlier, but here's a nice LAN party backpack/shoulder strap case for $60 + shipping!
GearGrip LANBag (Black)

Cool! It looks like you can't actually fit the computer in it, though...

20.7" x 8.4" x 19" >>> 4" x 11" x 11+"

Still looking for feedback for the monitor, video card, and RAM before buying this... really hoping I can before the deal runs out -_-
September 24, 2008 9:10:09 AM

ive given my input on video stuf as for ram i generally grab the cheapest stuff at the speed and quantity i need with 5 stars on newegg
September 24, 2008 6:55:51 PM

Caedrus said:
Still looking for feedback for the monitor, video card, and RAM before buying this... really hoping I can before the deal runs out -_-

Memory I'd get is from Corsair/Crucial/G.Skill/Patriot/A.Data. Those companies have good reputations and should do you well. I'd get the cheapest and fastest RAM you can get. Generally I'd stick with DDR2 800mHz CAS4 (4-4-4-12) stuff, but CAS5 will do also (5-5-5-15).
Good deal here on Corasir 2x2gb's CAS5 DDR2 for $50 after $25 MIR!!
Crucial 2x2gb's CAS4 stuff for $62 after $40 MIR!!

The mobo you selected is quite overkill for a single GPU solution. You can get a $100-$140 mobo and have the same performance as the x48 mobo you selected. It will only make a difference when/if you add another GPU to the package (Crossfire). Than the x48 will start to shine better than a cheaper single/dual PCI-e slotted mobo. It's up to you if you really need the $225 mobo or not. I'd probably opt for a $140 one now and use the extra $ towards a better GPU or just save for next GPU upgrade. You can decide which one works best for your needs.
Example of a good compromise w/o breaking the bank:
GIGABYTE GA-EP45-DS3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $136 - $20 MIR = $116!!

As far as the GPU's concerned, I think the $20 or so more for the 1gb card might be okay. I've been seeing about a 10% increase in FPS (from different review sites) when going from 512mb card to 1gb card. I think for $20 more the added memory will probably be put to use more later, as games start requireing more and more GPU memory. Not so sure if you'll see much difference now, but might later. It all depends on if you really want to spend more $ on the GPU.
Hexus's review of 1gb 4870 GPU, you'll get the idea
September 25, 2008 9:29:35 AM

lunyone said:

As far as the GPU's concerned, I think the $20 or so more for the 1gb card might be okay. I've been seeing about a 10% increase in FPS (from different review sites) when going from 512mb card to 1gb card. I think for $20 more the added memory will probably be put to use more later, as games start requireing more and more GPU memory. Not so sure if you'll see much difference now, but might later. It all depends on if you really want to spend more $ on the GPU.
Hexus's review of 1gb 4870 GPU, you'll get the idea


Okay... I can't seem to find that PowerColor card! It's not on NewEgg... and even Google only gives me reviews. No results in "shopping."

Oh well, I suppose Sapphire's 1GB is the same thing, yes?

Where can I get one of these low temperature cards? :heink: 
September 25, 2008 7:02:53 PM

Caedrus said:
Okay... I can't seem to find that PowerColor card! It's not on NewEgg... and even Google only gives me reviews. No results in "shopping."

Oh well, I suppose Sapphire's 1GB is the same thing, yes?

Where can I get one of these low temperature cards? :heink: 

It's there, but currently OOS :( 
POWERCOLOR AX4870 1GBD5-PPH Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

I don't think it will matter too much, except the Powercolor one is clocked at 800mHz, while the others are at 750mHz. It'll just mean that you'll have to OC the others to 800mHz to get pretty much the same speed.
!