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First timer orders parts for $1k gaming rig after a few too many

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December 18, 2009 3:12:08 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: parts on the way!

BUDGET RANGE: $1000 ($800ish for PC, $200ish for monitor) before rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, speakers, maybe monitor (my 19" CRT is still alive and kicking)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Wisconsin, USA - the land of cheese and beer.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: ordered everything from newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: was leaning toward AMD with ATI graphics card

OVERCLOCKING: No to begin with then mabye, as this is the first time I have done this

MONITOR RESOLUTION: something like 1680x1050 or whatever works for a ~22" monitor

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

My original plan was to post this before I actually ordered the parts to get some feedback before spending money, since this is my first homebuilt attempt. However, I got to having a couple of beers after a long day at work Wednesday and by 2:00AM I found myself crossing my fingers, hoping that it was all compatible, as I hit the "submit order" button for all this stuff on newegg.

I have been reading these forums for about a week and kept seeing the below list of parts come up over and over for my price/performance range. Also newegg had a bundled combo of the CPU, motherboard, and memory which gave me extra confidence that it should all work together so I took the plunge.

I am replacing my five year old Dell Dimension 9100. At the moment I really only play Wow/Civ but I am a big fan of the original Fallout games and want a new machine where I don't have to worry about cranking up the graphics settings. I know the graphics card is going to be overkill at the moment but I want something that's serviceable for another 3 to 4 years.

I thought I would go AMD/ATI since from the research I have done that's the best bang for the buck path as compared to an Intel/NIVIDA (that and my current GeForce 6800 has always seemed to be buggy, I heard they had thermal issues).

So how badly did I screw this up? Does anybody see any major issues?

From what I found it sounds like the monitor/video card has an issue (doesn't cover the full screen) if you use the HDMI port but the DVI port works fine. Also there was an issue with some of the AMD 9xx processors and the motherboard (processor not recognized) but the recently shipped boards with the updated firmware seem to work ok. I also found a few post about compatibility of the memory but then just as many post that said it worked. I am hoping for the best.

RAM+MOBO+CPU combo $339
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail
ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail

PSU+CASE combo $115
Antec NEO ECO 620C 620W Continuous Power ATX12V / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

HDD: $50
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
(the Samsung Spinpoint F3 was sold out)

Optical: $28
LG DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model GH24NS50 - OEM

GPU: $165
SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
(There were three versions of this, the above, the Juniper XT, and the Vapor X, from what I could till the only differences were cooling options so I went with the cheapest one, can anybody confirm that is all that is different between the models).

Thermal Compound: $6
Arctic Silver MTX-2.5G Matrix Thixotropic Premium Thermal Compound - Retail

OS: $105
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

LCD: $160
Acer H213H bmid Black 21.5" 5ms HDMI Full HD 1080P Widescreen 16:9 LCD Monitor - Retail

With $20 bucks for shipping it came out to $966.86 which was just junder my budget of $1k. I was thinking of maybe getting a TV tunner once I get it all working.

Once I put it all together I will update my post with how it went. In the meantime if you had any tips, advice, gotchas, or noticed I forgot something please share your thoughts.

Thanks for your time.



UPDATE:



The monitor and case showed up Monday (12/21) and the rest of the stuff showed up today (12/22) about 4 hours ago from Newegg via UPS ground. I was a little worried it might not show before my unavoidable trip to the in-laws for the holidays up due to the holiday shipping rush but it got here on time. I ordered last Wednesday at midnight, it all shipped out from Newegg the next day, and I had the last of the components in my hands today. It all seemed to go together well. Windows 7 home premium is up and running and no issues yet.

Here are a few points for other first time builders who might be reading this:

-On the monitor the Acer display buttons don't seem to work if you don't have any input connected. The monitor showed up a day early and I thought I would try out the menu system without a PC attached but non of the buttons worked. I thought "uh oh" they are broke but once I had it connected to a PC the buttons worked fine.

-Make sure you install the power supply with the fan facing up not down, otherwise there is very little space for the air flow.

-I wore a wrist strap for the whole process and had the case grounded to earth via a jumper. From everything I have read taking some basic ESD precautions is a good idea.

-There is no PC speaker in the Antec case so if you want to hear the POST beep you will need to order one separately.

-The stock AMD CPU comes with the thermal compound pre applied so don't order an extra tube like I did. Save the $5 and order a PC speaker instead. Or an extra case fan.

-Installing the CPU takes zero force, it just falls into place then you crank down the lever. However it takes a bit of force to get the CPU heatsink to latch over the hooks. Then you need to crank that lever down. For the heatsink it took more force than I thought it would but I guess that is the whole point so there is a good thermal connection.

-The case panel cables (power, reset, HD light, etc, are a little short given the position of the headers on the motherboard so the cable routing isn't ideal but it works.

-Even though my Antec case fans seem to have a switch for three speeds the position of the switch didn't seem to change the fan speed at all. Maybe the difference is too small to notice - I don't know.

-The CD that cam with the LG optical drive could not be read by Windows 7. I also could not find drivers on their website. But it looks like its working well enough as is so I guess its not a big deal. The graphics card and motherboard driver CDs were fine.

-The only BIOS changes I made were the boot order (hit the optical drive first) and set the memory to 1600Mhz 1.5V 9-9-9-24. There are extra memory settings after the 24 setting but I just left those on auto.

-During the windows install the hard drive came up as unallocated space (makes sense). There was an option to format and some other advanced options but I just hit next and windows installed ok. The install must format as needed.

-You will need a keyboard and mouse connected during the windows install. If you forget them (like I did) you can plug them in (USB version at least) whenever you need to.


December 18, 2009 11:53:35 AM

If you are not planning on overclocking you didn't miss anything. The only thing I can see not there is an aftermarket heatsink for your CPU.

It is compatible.
December 18, 2009 1:37:36 PM

Thanks BohleyK.

I had a bigger heatsink in my shopping cart but then I read that the processor comes with a heatsink and a fan. I figured that the stock heatsink would be OK if I was not going to overclock the processor.

Is that sound thinking or would you recommend a better heatsink even if the processor is not overclocked?
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December 18, 2009 2:20:38 PM
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The AMD stock cooler is good, as long as you're not overclocking. It's pretty quiet and keeps everything cool.

Only thing I would've changed was the Antec PSU. The only type of PSU from them I recommend is the Earthwatts. Also, you could have gotten the Antec 300 Illusion for the same price (minus the combo).

Everything's pretty good. You didn't make any glaring mistakes.
December 18, 2009 3:26:09 PM

Your in totally good shape and if you ever feel like over clocking you can just always go back later and buy an aftermarket HS
December 18, 2009 3:41:56 PM

Looks very similar to my build. I just got all the parts in the mail this week and just waiting on Win7 Pro to show up. I'll be off work next week and will assemble it then. I went with an F3 even though Newegg was sold out, Amazon has the 1TB F3 for $10 more than Newegg. Everyone says go with the F3 so I did even though I already had a Caviar Black sitting here ready. For the games you play your GPU should be fine. I went with an XFX 5850. I am really geeked about putting this rig together!

Good luck with you first build from another native from the land of Beer and Cheese!

-Joe
December 23, 2009 3:34:11 AM

I got it all together, see the update in the original post. However I had a few last questions:

Final questions:

- Did I miss anything as far as setup goes? It looks like it all works but I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you had to share.

- I am heading to the in-laws for a week for the holidays. Do you think its wise to bring my desktop on the road? I wouldn't need to bring the monitor, just the case. Its a 12 hour road trip down south all interstate roads. I would box the case up in the foam padded box it came in. Is that a bad idea? Its hard to leave it home alone since I just got it up and working.

- Any recommendations on TV tuners? I think that's my next purchase so I can watch over the air HD.


Thanks for your time and thanks for this site, its been a great resource.

December 26, 2009 1:57:05 AM

well if you haven't left yet i'm in college right now and i've transported my desktop back in forth a few times already and just put it back in the case box with the fitted foam and it's been fine
February 11, 2010 12:04:38 AM

Best answer selected by WildWilly.
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