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First time Build - Would love some feedback

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December 19, 2008 4:29:44 PM

Hello, want to thank anyone in advance for reading my post.

Like many, I'm building my first PC. I really want to get back into it, so I have been doing a lot of research. This computer is definately not meant for gaming, or extreme Graphic/video editing... but more utility.

Can someone rate my build, tell me if all the components are too weak, strong or just right for a computer only being used for the basics?

Will it run solid? Will all my parts work together? Any major red flags? Any suggestions on replacing a part? Total cost is about $550 for all that I listed(not including operating system, keyboard, speakers, etc) how would that compare if I was buying this same PC in a store?

Also I was reading the Rate my build survey and it says that building a computer for anything under $900 is low-grade crappy computer. REALLY??? or is that one person's opinion? Thanks a lot

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Optical Drive
LITE-ON 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with Smart Erase Black IDE Model iHAP322-08 - Retail

Case
COOLER MASTER Centurion 534 RC-534-SKN2-GP Black / Silver Aluminum & Mesh bezel / SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Monitor
SAMSUNG 933BW High Glossy Black 19" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 DC 15000:1(1000:1) - Retail

Video Card
MSI R4350-D512H Radeon HD 4350 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail

PSU
CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Power Supply - Retail

Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda ST3160815AS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

RAM
Kingston HyperX 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Desktop Memory - Retail

Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-P31-ES3G LGA 775 Intel P31 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

CPU
Intel Pentium E2200 Allendale 2.2GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
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Also a quick question, when it comes to Motherboard/CPU FSB speeds, I've read it's ideal to get the same FSB speed for both parts. Buy my CPU is 800 and the mobo supports 1033/1066. Should I assume that it will run at 800 and I have room to upgrade for a better CPU down the road? Should I even worry about Specs like this being that it's only going to be used for more every day use?

I very much appreciate any and all feedback. Thanks a lot,
December 19, 2008 6:44:47 PM

You could easily and safely replace the Gigabyte P31 motheboard with the G41 motherboard. The G41 has onboard video and saves the cost of getting the Radeon HD 4350 video card. Net saves of about $38(-$28 if rebate counted.
P31 vs G31 motherboard

You also listed a single 2GB stick of DDR2 1066 RAM. For best peformance you want 2 sticks of RAM in these dual channel RAM motherboards. And DDR2 800 is a good balanced match for your system. Faster DDR2 1066 not required.
And you can get 4GB of RAM for $2 more (after rebate) mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit $46 (and $20 rebate

For $12 more you could get a bump up in CPU speed with E5200 2.5Ghz vs E2200 2.2Ghz Both are 800Mhz FSB. And you're right the MB supports 800Mhz FSB CPUs and the motherboards actually run at the FSB speed of the CPU anyway.

High quality parts, all compatible and easily replaced if necessary. It should be a well balanced, excellent performing general purpose computer. As for the $900 opinion - that might be true for a gaming build (with OS/keyboard/mouse, etc) but not for a general purpose utility computer.

Price comparisons with store/e-store bought systems (like Dell and HP) will be very close in price and come with the typical 1year in home warranty. Based on Dell Inspiron 530, E5200, 4GB RAM, G31 MB w/X31 onboard video, Vista, 320GB HDD, DVD burner keyboard/mouse and 19" widescreen LCD for $634 and free shipping.
You've picked higher quality parts but would be your own "tech support and warranty service".

December 19, 2008 6:59:54 PM

^+1. However I still recommend OP getting a dedicated GPU esp. if running Vista.
Related resources
December 19, 2008 6:59:57 PM

Get a SATA optical drive if it doesn't take you over-budget. It allows for better airflow in your case. +1 to the suggestions of WR2.
December 19, 2008 7:08:41 PM

Jim_L9 said:
Get a SATA optical drive
Good catch.
And you can even save a couple bucks. Get the OEM model SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD burner. Your motherboard comes with a SATA cable and Vista can handle the DVD management & burning tasks. For advanced DVD tasks (ISO burns) you can use a free program like ImgBurn

December 19, 2008 7:19:13 PM

ok first off thats a great suggestion...sata drives are nice! :sol:  second you might wanna opt for a good dedicated card..like a 9600gt or a radeon 4650 or 4670,3870, 4830, 4850, or a 8800gt/9800gt

WR2 is leading you in the right direction! follow him...haha :D 
December 19, 2008 7:45:58 PM

My 2 cents:
A sata dvd drive is easier to install. Samsung is very good.

A motherboard with integrated graphics will preclude the need for a graphics card, and be cheaper. Get one with a pcie-x16 slot in case you ever want to add a vga card for gaming later.
Gigabyte makes some good ones.

Consider a case from Antec with an included PSU. They are the only case vendor whose psu I would trust.
Perhaps the NSK4480:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Look for free shipping on cases. They are heavy, and shipping may cost an extra $20.

With ram so cheap, get a 4gb kit of ddr2-800 ram in a 2x2gb configuration. You can get a 4gb corsair kit for $25 after rebate:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Faster ram will not be worth much from a application performance point of view.

E2200 cpu is fine. you get what you pay for.

The price for hard drives don't go up much for more capacity. I think 320gb is a much more useable size.
If you can splurge a bit, consider a velociraptor. The pc will feel snappier.

Are you a student? A student can get a good deal on vista.
December 19, 2008 11:21:35 PM

Hey all, thank you very much for the feedback and advice. I very much appreciate it.

Unfortunately I spent more money then I should have already...(hehe, I guess that tends to happen), which makes me want to go with the Gigabyte G41 that WR2 suggested and nix the video card. But I have a question about that. Because Vista is such a memory hog and with the 3D enviroment, shouldn't I get the Video card?

Again, thank you all very much for the advice.
December 19, 2008 11:56:50 PM

It's true that Vista has a reputation of being a memory hog. If there is RAM available Vista will try and put it to use.
On the other hand - Vista is actually better than XP at giving up RAM when other programs start up. Vista can "shrink" itself down to a smaller amount of RAM than XP could. The 4GB of RAM you're looking at should go a long way with Vista. Do you have, or are you getting the 64bit version? It's the version you'd want to pick up if you have a choice. If you already have the 32bit version of Vista even that will run really well with 4GB of RAM.

The onboard GMA 4500 video can easily handle all that Vista Aero goodies. It's actual 3D overhead isn't all that great and even old & weak laptop GMA 950 graphics chips (circa 2005) handle it fairly well. GMA 4500 was released just about six months ago.

Do you plan on using the PC for HD DVD movies? The G43 might be a better option with it's HDMI port. Blu-Ray HD 1080 playback? G45 with its GMA X4500HD version is probably what you want.

geofelt's suggest for using the Antec NSK4480 has merit. Price it out (including shipping) with your current options.
A little less spent on the case/PSU and a little more spent on the CPU makes sense to me. And a video card upgrade is easy to do, and easy to sneak in, at a future date.
December 21, 2008 3:56:36 PM

Thanks a lot for the info...I have a 32bit version and that is good news about the video card because I was first looking to find a motherboard with onboard video. I am actually building this for someone else which I am sure will not be using it for HD movies. I'll go with the 4 gig RAM also.

Thanks again...Very much appreciated
!