Getting ready for Newbie MMO Computer build

Hi everyone, I wanted to get some advice from everyone before I dive into building a computer... btw, I've never built one before!

First, I will be using this mainly for MMO's (specifically Lord of the Rings Online, and a little WoW...maybe Star Trek when it comes out), however I may play some RTS or FPS games a bit too. I plan on getting a 22" or bigger monitor and running in 1920x1200... not too concerned about AA, shadows, and post-processing eye candy... more in getting high FPS. I'm not interested in SLI atm, but might in the future to stay viable. I'd like to be able to run Ventrilo, an IM program, and firefox while playing games as well. Oh, also plan to use Vista 64 bit OS... and I'm not really concerned about the budget, mainly concerned about getting really high FPS without wasting too much $$!

So, with that in mind... here's what I've come up from reading Tom's builds and the forums:

CPU: Intel Q9550 $280


RAM: G.SKILL HK 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 ($50 x2) $100


GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1280-AR GeForce GTX 280 $335

HDisk: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB $80

Optical: Pioneer Black 20X $26

Case: Antec Nine Hundred $85 (from Microcenter...already bought this)

HSF: Not sure here... I'd like it to clear the side panel in the 900 in case I add a fan in it... two possibilities I see are:

XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler (also the bracket...)

Scythe SCMNJ-1000 80mm Sleeve "NINJA MINI" CPU Cooler

Not sure about monitors, I've looked at at least three... maybe you all have some opinions... I've been playing on a 24" iMac, so I'm kind of used to that size...

Here's the one that catches my eye... its Newegg's Customer Choice winner, but I'm still on the fence about it... nice refresh rate... not so great contrast ratio and some bad reviews...too good to be true?:
Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 28" 3ms $360

or this:
Acer P243WAid Black-Silver 24" 2ms $280

SCEPTRE X24WG-1080P Black 24" 2ms $280

Anyway, is my basic idea of getting the Q9550 the best way to go? Not sure if I'd save much with a duo-core, or if I'd get much more with an i7... I thought I should get the best graphics card I could afford... I've heard that some people are having trouble with ATI and LOTRO...not sure about that though...

Like I said, I've never built my own computer before... I checked at a local shop and they charge ridiculous prices... however, they did offer to put my parts together for $90 and install the OS for an additional $90... not sure if this is a good idea, or if I should just dive into it myself?!

One other question is that I didn't think about the Antec 900 having no internal speaker... is this a possible problem for a noobie trying to debug possible problems and is there a way around this?

Any ideas on other online newbie building guides or resources would also be appreciated!

Sorry to make this so long, just thought it best to put out as much info as possible!

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  1. Well for current games you won't really see any benefit from getting a Quad core vs a dual because games do not use all 4 cores, only GTA4 and FSX are able to do this right now, the other two cores just sit idle while two other cores do all the work. However if you want to be running 2 or 3 other programs in the background, then a quad may be a good idea for you. I'm not going to say doing one or the other is better. You will save more money if you got an E8500 instead, but multitasking ability would go down (but the E8500 is clocked higher and so gets better gaming results usually, with the exception of the aforementioned games) you get to decide what trade-off you want. However maybe more games will start taking advantage of Quads in the future and you will wish you had one...tough to say when this will happen.

    The mobo you picked will run either 1 nvidia card, 1 ATI card or 2 ATI cards, but not 2 nvidia cards. For this reason ATI would be a better pick for you, unless you decided you didnt' want to SLI in the future. Chances are, by the time your GTX 280 isn't cutting it, there will be a single GPU card that will work better than 2 gtx 280's in SLI for a reasonable price. If you want to be able to run 2 GTX 280's reliably then you need to get an x58 chipset (the 7 series nvidia chipsets are flaky and unreliable, so I do not recommend SLI unless going on x58), which will cost you around $300 more total. Either stay with the mobo you have picked out (it is a very good one for the price) and get an ATI card for xfire later on, Or go for the UD3R mobo, (which is just as good but only has 1 PCIEx16 slot) and upgrade the GPU to the GTX 285 (they are only a couple bucks more and worth the price difference). If you chose to get an ATI card, then get this one:
    or maybe this one:

    That PSU you picked out is good for dual GPU setups. If you won't xfire/sli, then you can get the 650tx and it will be fine for your system.

    4 vs 8gb of ram shows almost no difference in gaming performance, so you can drop the extra kit unless you will be doing video encoding or something like that.

    Go with the Xigmatek cooler with backplate included:

    I'd go for one of the 24" monitors, 28" is too big I think for gaming, it gives me a headache, and you would need a better GPU to power a monitor that size. You are looking at a $200-300 price difference there.

    Just build the PC yourself, its not as hard as most first time builders think it will be, unless you are really not at all a do-it-yourselfer. Complete newbie's with some slight mechanical inclination can figure it out with a little time doing online research and youtube videos.

    All of your choices are very good and will go well nicely together, save for the GPU and mobo. You just have to decide what you want to spend the money on, and what is worth it to you. If it were me, I would go for this:
    Q9550, UD3P mobo, either 4850x2 or 1gb Saphire toxic 4870, 850tx, 4gb ram, sceptre monitor, and xigmatek cooler along with your other choices.
  2. $359.99 ($339.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate)
    EVGA 01G-P3-1285-AR GeForce GTX 285 SC Edition 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail - Superclocked Edition Overclocked at 675MHz Core/2538MHz Memory

    As posted by the Kid, four gigs is plenty...
  3. Thanks, I've really been thinking about getting an i7 X58 build... just wasn't sure about it. I see Microcenter has the i7 920 for $230... What Mobo, Ram would you recommend for a newbie that might want to upgrade to SLI?
  4. $288.99 Free Shipping*
    Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail $69.99
    COOLER MASTER V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail $269.99 ($249.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate)
    GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $109.99 Free Shipping*
    G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
  5. The thing about going x58/i7 instead of a Core 2 or PII build is that it costs around $200-$300 more and you won't see a big difference in gaming. Many Core 2's and PII's will give you similar numbers Frames Per Sec-wise with the same GPU and comparable ram configurations for much less. The i7 is definitely worth it if you do things that need that CPU like CAD, Video editing and encoding, ect. If you don't do those things very often, then you should just put that $200 into a better GPU and you get a better gaming rig than the i7 for the same price, or a comparable gaming rig for less. But then again, i7's will last for a couple years longer than Core 2 builds will just because i7 is the best thing out there right now. There are always trade-offs. For the uses you described, I would just stick with the older platform because you will get more for your money there for gaming. I made the switch because my fiance is a bit of an AV nerd and uses it for video editing and that stuff, so it was worth it for me.
  6. Good suggestions by thekid and why_me, go with a SATA burner, not IDE. If you have the money to spend then i7 looks good, but nothing wrong with the Q9550 build you had. The upgrade at minimal cost to the GTX285 is worth it.
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