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Sanity Check on Proposed System Build

Last response: in Systems
December 31, 2008 4:11:55 PM


Once again I turn to the kind folks here for my quinquennial (every five years) advice.

I am still using the computer I built five years ago. It consists of

* An Antec Sonota case with a 380-watt PSU.

* An Asus P4800 mobo with 2.4GHz Pentium 4 and 2GB of DDR RAM for the 800 MHz FSB. This board supports:
(-) 2 SATA drives,
(-) 2 IDE controllers (four devices)
(-) 1 floppy controller
(-) 2 USB 2.0 connectors on the front panel

The current mobo has the following slots:

(6) PCI one of which is currently occupied a with a D-link Wirless-Lan board.

(1) AGP currently occupied a with a Matrox dual-monitor board.

The CPU is cooled by a Zalman socket 775 fan whose speed is controlled by CPU core temps. Atop the CPU fan is a large clear plastic collector that redirects fan exhaust into the case fan. This is very quiet and very effective.

I currently have the following media installed:

(-) SATA: 120G 10,000 RPM drive, paritioned for XP-pro + program files, and data files I want to load quickly.
(-) SATA: two 80GB Barracuda 7200 RPM.
(-) IDE: Two 500GB IDE
(-) IDE: Two DVD read/writers

I use two Princeton 17-monitors running at 1280x960. I find these monitors satsifactory; I do not run games.

I use the computer for DVD ripping and writing, running compilers, web-site management, Office (2003, gulp), running a light-weight CAD software for circuit design and board layout.

My Proposed New System

My proposed system is on this NewEgg WishList. (Not shown is a Zalman cooler that I purchased on eBay.)

I'm particularly interested in whether I need a quad-core CPU or whether a Intel dual-core such as a E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz would suffice.

Finally, I'm ordering the 1TB SATA drive to replace the two IDE drives. I may buy an IDE-to-SATA adapter later, but IDE stuff is getting to be a PITA.

The HSI card seems perfect for my needs in that it doesn't have a fan. As I surf around various sites, however, I sense a general distrust of HSI (with drivers more than hardware). Any comments other other recommendations?

Thanks in advance,


December 31, 2008 4:22:29 PM

Why use a 32-bit OS? Go for Vista Home Basic 64. Home Basic is the way to go, it's lean and doesn't have all the bloat/crapware that the other versions have. Those few pieces of software you get with the other versions can be had from free, 3rd party products that are better. Just in general I'd rather choose my own backup or whatever software.

I'm very happy with home Basic and have had zero problems with a 64 bit OS. A couple really old games didn't work but that was it. Get 6GB of RAM and go 64, you'll be happy. Buy a cheaper MB or something and put the money towards the RAM instead.
December 31, 2008 4:29:50 PM


Good point...I should have put that isue on the list. I'm considering the 64-bit version to allow more RAM, but I still read occassional echoes of problems running legacy software--and some of mine is REALLY legacy.

Related resources
December 31, 2008 8:19:17 PM

You could save a chunk of money on the motherboard. That's a pretty expensive board. Check out this one:

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $119.99 - $15.00 MIR

I'd pick up a current-generation GPU. The 4670 would work good for you.

There's even a HIS one with a silent cooler like the 3650 you picked.

HIS Hightech H467P1GP Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready iSilence 4 Video Card - Retail $122.99

If you decide to go with 64-bit Vista (which I highly recommend), I'd get this version:

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM $99.99
December 31, 2008 9:18:31 PM

Thanks for your suggestions.

I've decided to buy the Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit and get another another 4G of RAM.

I favor the Asus because I've used them in many, many systems over the years and have yet to have one fail. I'll be building a less beefy system for a friend in about a month, and I'll consider the Gigabyte then.

A couple of things about the Asus concern me, though, both artifacts of my having gone so long since my last build:

* This will be my first to build on a mobo without rudimentary on-board video output. I'm assuming that the video card without drivers will default to low-res VGA, yes?

* Similarly, I've always kept a beat-up mouse & keyboard (with with PS-2 connectors) to get me through POST and loading the OS. I'm not familiar with the combined mouse-keyboard connector on this board. Is there an adapter?

Thanks again,