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First time build, need advice and review on components

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September 24, 2009 3:12:21 PM

Hey guys, long time reader, first time poster. Ive been using a rather dated pc for nearly 6 years now. She's served me well, but the time has come to upgrade. The pc im using now was picked out and built by my father, so ive never built my own before.

Ive been doing a couple weeks of research to try and come up with something decent, but it seems the more i learn about components and computer building, the harder it becomes to choose something. So i thought id show you guys what im planning to buy, give you my reasoning and you guys can tell me what im doing wrong/right.

So first off, what i need. My main concern will be gaming, followed by watching movies, surfing and lastly doing homework :p  Im planning to spend somewhere around 800-900

Parts i wont need are mouse, keyboard, speakers and probably the case. Parts ive picked(from www.dabs.com, prices in pounds sterling) are as follows:


AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4 8MB AM3
http://www.dabs.com/products/amd-phenom-ii-x4-965-3-4-8...

Now reading the article on processors in the Guide to choosing part this choice seems like a mistake. The Intel Core i5-750 Quad Core 2.66GHz 8MB Processor is 150 quid, so if for the same performance i can save 30 pounds im happy to do that. But there is some leeway in my budget, so im willing to pay more than 150 for a processor if it means i get more out of this build. As to overclocking, ive never done it, wouldnt really know where to begin, so i wouldnt really put any weight on it.

XFX ATI Radeon 4890 HD 900Mhz 1GB PCI-Express DVI XXX - 149
http://www.dabs.com/products/xfx-ati-radeon-4890-hd-900...

This choice is based on some graphics card ranking tables ive seen, this seemed like it would give me the best for the price.

Kingston ValueRAM 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 - 62
http://www.dabs.com/products/kingston-valueram-4gb-1333...

For memory i recon 4gig will probably be enough for my needs. Would it be wise upgrading to 6? DDR3 seems a must really.

Asus AM3 AMD 790X ATX DDR3 Audio & Gigabit Ethernet -67
http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-am3-amd-790x-atx-ddr3...

This choice im not very confident with. My current PC uses an asus motherboard, and ive only heard good things about them, so i picked this thinking it seems the best deal for my choices of processor and graphics card. Obviously if i change what processor im getting ill probably have to change this. Would definetly want to invest decently in this component.

Acer 24" widescreen V243HBD 2ms DVI HD READY LCD TFT - 155
http://www.dabs.com/products/acer-24--widescreen-v243hb...

When it comes to monitors im not really sure how to choose. As i understand it good responce times(5m/s and lower are better) but thats about it. I want something in the 24-26 inch range, so i discarded the ones with higher response times and from whats left picked the cheapest.

When it comes to cases its a similar situation to the screen, i find it difficult to picka good one from an online website, so i might have to go into a shop and look at what they've got. Ive got a fairly decent case right now, so i might stick to that one, but should i want to switch to something with a tad more bling, advice on how to tell the good ones from bad ones would be welcome.


So, what do you guys think of my current choices. As far as i can tell its all compatible. Should i switch to an intel processor instead of AMD? This adds up to 613, leaving me enough in my budget to cover hard drive, dvd drives, psu and possibly getting pricier motherboard and ram. And like i said before, this is my first time choosing a build, and i am a history student so computers arent exactly my strong point, so feel free to explain any stupid or elementary mistakes ive made.
September 24, 2009 7:12:48 PM

I would avoid Kingston and PNY they are bargain basement brands. OCZ, Corsair, GSkill and maybe Patriot or Crucial would be brands to look for RAM.

Consider the motherboard/CPU as a combo and compare. IMO the i5 CPU/p55 motherboard is a better value if you can fit it within your budget. Everything else will work either way.

The Samsung F3 500 mb should be a good HDD choice.

If you go for the i5, you should consider getting a CPU fan and overclocking as it is a fairly simple bios change to overclock it an extra 1Ghz.

What case do you have right now?
Related resources
September 24, 2009 7:33:40 PM

dndhatcher said:
I would avoid Kingston and PNY they are bargain basement brands. OCZ, Corsair, GSkill and maybe Patriot or Crucial would be brands to look for RAM.

Aye, ive been hearing that alot, wasnt sure how to compare so i got the cheapest until i got a bit more informed. My dad suggest crucial and obsidian seems to favor GSkill so ill probably go for one of those two.

dndhatcher said:

Consider the motherboard/CPU as a combo and compare. IMO the i5 CPU/p55 motherboard is a better value if you can fit it within your budget. Everything else will work either way.

Recon an Intel Core i5-750 Quad Core 2.66GHz 8MB Processor and a Asus S1156 Intel P55 ATX DDR3 would give me a better performance than my current CPU/MOBO combo? ive still got quite a bit of leeway left in my budget to increase the spending.

dndhatcher said:

If you go for the i5, you should consider getting a CPU fan and overclocking as it is a fairly simple bios change to overclock it an extra 1Ghz.

Never overclocked, and id have no idea how. Easy skill to learn and maintain as a noobie?

dndhatcher said:

What case do you have right now?

Fairly big tower my dad got 6 years ago, sorry, cant seem to find any name or brand markings on it.
September 24, 2009 9:13:38 PM

Elessar_Dan said:
Recon an Intel Core i5-750 Quad Core 2.66GHz 8MB Processor and a Asus S1156 Intel P55 ATX DDR3 would give me a better performance than my current CPU/MOBO combo?
Real life performance is tough to predict. If you overclock the i5 to the same GHz as the PhIIx4 the i5 will outperform it. The i5 gives you the option to upgrade to an i7 860 in the future for more thread intensive applications like rendering/modeling but then again there is rumored a 6 core AM3 socket CPU coming sometime. Its not a clear-cut issue.

Never overclocked, and id have no idea how. Easy skill to learn and maintain as a noobie? said:
Never overclocked, and id have no idea how. Easy skill to learn and maintain as a noobie?

Looks like you can just jump one or two settings in bios and get a good overclock. I think the ASUS motherboard may do the basic overclocking for you. If you go crazy looks like you can get a 2GHz boost using only one of those cheap coolers.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/254215-29-benchie-res...


Fairly big tower my dad got 6 years ago, sorry, cant seem to find any name or brand markings on it. said:
Fairly big tower my dad got 6 years ago, sorry, cant seem to find any name or brand markings on it.
How many case fans does it have? If it has at least 3 it should be good.
September 24, 2009 9:26:19 PM

dndhatcher said:
Real life performance is tough to predict. If you overclock the i5 to the same GHz as the PhIIx4 the i5 will outperform it. The i5 gives you the option to upgrade to an i7 860 in the future for more thread intensive applications like rendering/modeling but then again there is rumored a 6 core AM3 socket CPU coming sometime. Its not a clear-cut issue.

What if i overclocked the PhII? As to upgrading to an i7 860 im hoping that this set up will keep me good for atleast 3-4 years without having to upgrade.

dndhatcher said:

How many case fans does it have? If it has at least 3 it should be good.

its got 5 slots for fans, of which ive filled 3. Recon 3 will do if i decide to overclock the processor?(plus a fan on the gfx card, a heat sink and a fan for the processor chip)
September 24, 2009 9:53:19 PM

Elessar_Dan said:
What if i overclocked the PhII?
They probably overclock to about the same speed. Intel overclocks alot more than AMD. Im sticking with my other answer - "its not a clear-cut issue." Either way you will have a good machine.


its got 5 slots for fans, of which ive filled 3. Recon 3 will do if i decide to overclock the processor?(plus a fan on the gfx card, a heat sink and a fan for the processor chip) said:
its got 5 slots for fans, of which ive filled 3. Recon 3 will do if i decide to overclock the processor?(plus a fan on the gfx card, a heat sink and a fan for the processor chip)
Should be good if you keep the cabling out of the air-flow paths.
September 24, 2009 10:01:02 PM

Maybe i could skip the i5 vs PhII issue by skipping straight for an i7, but id have to wait until the rest of my compotents are settled to see if im willing to spend that much. Any opinions on value for money? dabs.com wants 219 quid(351 USD) for an Intel Core i7 Quad 860 2.80 8MB, seems very steep. The PhII goes for 179(287USD)

http://www.dabs.com/products/intel-core-i7-quad-860-2-8...

P.S. Is there an i6? or do chip designers just really enjoy confusing people
September 24, 2009 10:04:51 PM

no i6 but for reference the i5 750 out performs the 955
September 24, 2009 10:12:53 PM

obsidian86 said:
no i6 but for reference the i5 750 out performs the 955

Im going for the PhII 965 actually, not 955. which according to Cjl's post here http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-265826_10_0.ht... would (for gaming) outperform the i5 as i understand. But i dont think those graphs take into account overclocking, and id rather not rely on a single source when choosing a processor.
September 24, 2009 10:16:27 PM

the ph2 955/965 lags behind the i5 750 in every bench accept gaming where its closer
September 24, 2009 10:23:11 PM

Really? kinda complicates things for me, i mean gaming is probably the only gear intensive activity i do on my PC, meaning if the PhII 965 is better than the i5 in that aspect, it should work, but apparently the i5 is better in every other aspect and its cheaper to boot. This is harder than i imagined(but still less painful than getting a dell like most gamers seem to do thee days :p ) Any idea why the i5s dont appear on the charts of that thread i linked?
September 24, 2009 11:26:00 PM

Because that was after the socket 1366 i7s were released but before the socket 1156 i5s and i7s were. That whole discussion had to change with the i5 cutting deep into the AMD 965/955 price/performance range. Effectively you now have to go down to the $650 PHIIx3 price range for AMD to be a clear price/performance choice.

Comparing equivalent clock speeds, the i series beats PhII across the board with rare exceptions. Since the i5 and i7 920 overclock to around the same clock speeds as the more expensive PhIIx4 models it really makes them a better price/performance choice. Some of the newer technology (like the i5 completely removing the need for a northbridge on the motherboard and the i7 hyper threading) it seems to me to make sense to go with them when price and performance are otherwise close.
September 24, 2009 11:40:24 PM

Ok so new setup then:

Intel Core i5-750 Quad Core 2.66GHz 8MB Processor - 150
http://www.dabs.com/products/intel-core-i5-750-quad-cor...

Asus S1156 Intel P55 ATX DDR3 Audio & Gigabit Ethernet - 103
http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-s1156-intel-p55-atx-d...

G.Skill Ripjaw 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C8 1600MHz - 68 quid
http://overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-042...


Sticking to the same gfx card and 24" inch screen. - 155
XFX ATI Radeon 4890 HD 900Mhz 1GB PCI-Express DVI XXX -149
http://www.dabs.com/products/xfx-ati-radeon-4890-hd-900...

625 total, almost the same as my old cost, and still plenty left in teh budget. Looking better? Again, gaming is the number 1 priority

September 25, 2009 12:46:46 AM

If you might want to crossfire a second graphics card in the future, one step up in motherboard to the p7p55d pro would give you that option.
http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-s1156-intel-p55-atx-d...

I don't see a power supply included. Were you thinking you would use the old one? If so better make sure it has two pcie power cables and check the amperage on the 12v rails.
September 25, 2009 1:00:13 AM

This is a good, inexpensive cpu cooler.
http://www.dabs.com/products/coolermaster-hyper-212-plu...

Here is the best single GPU power supply I deal could find at that site. Its a top quality PSU. They seem to have cheap "best value" (maybe spelled "fire hazard") or top of the line Corsair with no in between options like the antec earthlink series.
http://www.dabs.com/products/corsair-memory-550w-vx-psu...
and this is the best dual GPU PSU if you want that expandability.
http://www.dabs.com/products/corsair-memory-750w-tx-ser...
September 25, 2009 1:08:24 AM

Yeah i almost definitely want to keep the option of 2 gfx cards open. Not sure if maybe i should go for i5 instead of i7 and use the extra money for a better/second gfx card. Not overly experianced but i recon higher gfx card performance would be more important than processor power.

Reguarding the PSU, i very much doubt my old one can handle it, but ive not looked into a new one until i make a firm choice on my gfx card and cpu.
September 25, 2009 1:28:30 AM

I dont know how much budget is left - but if you are buying from that site I think the 750W corsair I listed is your best choice and you must go for the next level of motherboard. As long as you have a 4890 you will have a good gaming experience. Figure out what the money situation is and if you have any extra, there is always a faster graphics card to buy. ;) 

While we are on graphics cards, ATI is releasing the 5000 series over the next month or so. The 5870 came out this week, the 5850 should be next week then the cheaper 5770 and uberpowerful 5870x2 next month. They have some technology advances that are awefully nice and so far the 5870 and 5850 stomp nvidia's 200 series in price/performance.
September 25, 2009 1:41:44 AM



Budget is 1000 max, giving me another 230ish to work with. Upgrade either processor or gfx card maybe? Or just pocket the money
September 25, 2009 4:59:28 AM

Dont forget a CPU cooler. It would be sad to leave that wonderful cpu running at clock speed for long. You should be able to get a 40-50% speed boost and I think that motherboard has an easy overclock feature that might take it up to like 3.4 for you.
http://www.dabs.com/products/coolermaster-hyper-212-plu...

That RAM is not the right kind. You want low voltage (1.5-1.65V) ram, not high voltage (1.7-1.9V) ram with a P55 motherboard. You can use DDR3-1333 or DDR3-1600 with that motherboard. It would be preferable to get cas7 or cas8 ram if its not much more than cas9 ram also. That sites ram selection is not very good. I cant find low voltage ram and they have only 2 types of DDR3 even in stock?
Go with this RAM that obsidian found
http://overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-043...

As far as the GPU, waiting until next week and getting a 5850 (should be about 200 in your currency) is the only choice I would consider other than the 4890. The 5850 should be about 50% faster than the 4890 for a 33% price increase. Its other benefits are 3 monitor control and DX11 capability making it a better long term choice.

You also might want to compare prices with overclockers and see if you can get the same stuff for cheaper.
September 25, 2009 9:44:23 AM

Oh sorry, that list was meant to include the 5850 gfx card, must've used an old screenshot. Most of the sights ive seen are offering the XFX ATI Radeon 5850 HD 750Mhz 1GB PCI-Express 2.0 HDMI within the next 3-4 weeks, while the Sapphire Technology ATI Radeon 5850 HD 725MHz 1GB PCI-Express DVI should be out within one week. Do you guys know f there's a huge difference between these?

http://www.dabs.com/products/xfx-ati-radeon-5850-hd-750...

http://www.dabs.com/products/sapphire-technology-ati-ra...

Thanks alot to both DND and obsidian, your help and patience is much appreciated, ill keep looking around for better prices for these items and come back with a final list once the 5850 is out in britian.
September 25, 2009 12:31:34 PM

xfx has a better waranty
September 25, 2009 4:43:56 PM

How much would i benefit from an i7 920 for gaming? For example a setup like this:


Plus a CPU fan of some sort. Not sure how important it would be from an eniterly gaming perspective
September 25, 2009 5:05:10 PM

Sapphire and XFX are both good companies. The difference in those two cards will basically be the sticker on the cooling duct and the warranty (which XFX has the better). I guessed pretty good on the price, eh?

The CPU fan is important since it would allow you to overclock the either CPU to near 4GHz, which is something like a 40-50% speed boost. I linked one that is inexpensive but still a strong cooler and fairly quiet.

Unless you are playing game that makes heavy use of multithreading, the i5 and i7 920 will perform about the same. Some new games like GTA4 are starting to make good use of multiple CPU cores so as time goes on the i7 920 will hold its effectiveness longer. Then again i5 could be replaced with an i7 860 in the future if that becomes important. Then again the i7 920 will be able to be upgraded to a 6 core CPU in the future for even more multiprocessing capability and the i5 will not likely ever have an upgrade significantly faster than the i7 860. Sort of depends what you think your future upgrade situation will be over the next 3-7 years.
September 25, 2009 5:23:45 PM

Well im specifically for longevity, especially on the MOBO(crossfire giving me the option to add a second radeon for when the 5850 doesnt cut it anymore) so if the i7 920 combined with the Asus P6T Intel X58 (Socket 1366) will give me performance and better upgradability id be quite willing to shell out a little extra for it.
!