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First Build - Balanced/Enthusiast

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December 29, 2009 12:02:12 AM

I'm building my first homebuilt PC. I'm a software developer and have been on the inside of a PC, but never to this extent.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next month

BUDGET RANGE: Trying to stay around $1500, but can go over if prudent

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: surfing the internet, software development, gaming (not high priority but would like it to be capable)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Any, just good quality, long lasting parts.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (willing to do very easy/safe OC)

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (not initially, but may add second GPU later)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Not sure. Do occasionally use against a 26" TV.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Looking to build a Windows 7 64 bit PC using good base that can be expanded over time (2nd GPU, extra HDD, memory, etc). Gaming with some games, most demanding is Oblivion. I would like 3 display capability (2 monitors plus a TV when watching video).

I've researched and debated the i7-860 vs i7-920, and now I'm leaning 860 b/c I think it will be eaiser for a first timer (less power and colling needs, and seems to be less likely to mess up the install).

Below is my current parts list. Appreciate any advice.

Core i7-860:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS P7P55D Deluxe:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB): (2 kits for 8 GB total)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec 900:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX 650W:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100282SR Radeon HD 5850:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony Optiarc Black 18X DVD-ROM:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Do I need a cooler for a build like this? I don' t have to OC, but wouldn't mind doing minor OCing if it's simple and won't cause any problems.
December 30, 2009 9:14:21 PM

Thanks, I guess. Though I was able to find out all the parts I listed on NewEgg, and I don't see how that helps me with any of the questions I ask, nor how good or compatible the parts are. But, Thanks.
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January 3, 2010 10:46:42 PM

Thanks for the reply. It does appear that's a faster drive, though perhaps I'll look for a smaller version. I have a NAS, so I don't need a ton of storage...would rather have the speed.

I'm feeling pretty good about the rest of the parts, after further research, with 2 exceptions:

Case:
I'm debating Antec 900 or Cooler Master HAF 922. Seems cooling is close but the HAF 922 has nicer features. But I read that it isn't designed for the 1156 MOBO. Will that be a problem? Which will be easier as far as a first time build?

GPU:
Since I don't play a lot of games, and not driving so large a monitor, I wonder if the ATI 5770 would be as good for me as the 5850, at least for the next year or so. Any reason to go with the more expensive GPU?

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January 4, 2010 1:29:45 AM
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To be honest, since your primary purpose isn't gaming I wouldn't bother with the 5850, a 5770 should run most anything anyway, certainly oblivion, and its about half as much: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
However, the difference is not really as simple as just clock rate, In fact, the 5770 has a higher clock rate than the 5850 (875MHz vs 725MHz for the models I checked) But the 5850 1440 stream processing units vs the 5770's 800, so more is done per cycle. The 5850 also has a 256-bit memory interface.
January 4, 2010 10:24:26 PM

Thanks. I'm not doubting that the 5850 is a better card, I was just thinking for what I'm doing now, I doubt I'd notice much difference, if the features are all the same.

If later I need more GPU power, I could throw in another 5770 for probably less than what I'd pay for a 5850 now, or I can get a 5850 when the prices come down.
January 5, 2010 1:29:46 PM

TarheelGrad1998 said:
Thanks. I'm not doubting that the 5850 is a better card, I was just thinking for what I'm doing now, I doubt I'd notice much difference, if the features are all the same.

If later I need more GPU power, I could throw in another 5770 for probably less than what I'd pay for a 5850 now, or I can get a 5850 when the prices come down.

If I were you I'd probably go with the 5770 as well, just trying to point out the differences :) 
January 6, 2010 12:15:44 AM

No, thanks a lot, I really appreciate it. I'm learning this stuff, but want to be sure there's nothing I've missed.

On that note, here's my (semi) final parts list, which before any discounts comes to right at $1500 (including OS). Can someone take a look and be sure there's nothing obviously wrong? I want to order in the next couple of days, so I'd greatly appreciate anyone saving me any later headaches. :) 


Processor:
Core i7-860
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO:
ASUS P7P55D Deluxe
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM:
CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case:
Cooler Master HAF 922
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply:
CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX 650W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler:
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU:
XFX HD-577A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD:
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical:
LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS:
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
January 7, 2010 2:27:17 PM

Thanks. I ordered last night with the same as in my previous post, except for a different Optical drive (since that one is out of stock).

I feel pretty good overall about the parts I ordered. But we'll see how it all comes together. I will post a follow up.
January 19, 2010 9:58:02 PM

Built and running. Booted fine the first time. I don't have all my apps installed yet, but so far, it's great.

I took my time, and it took me most of the day to build on Saturday. But overall it was fairly easy. I didn't realize that there's still a lot of choices to be made even while building (PSU facing up/down; cooler orientation; cabling; etc). But it hasn't blown up yet, so I suppose I did it correctly.

Windows installed in about a half hour. CPU temps are high 20s at idle and 50 under load, stock. So I guess that gives me a little room to overclock...but I'll save that for later.

The case is bigger than I anticipated, but I suppose that makes it an easier build. I was most apprehensive with the cooler, which seems it could be an error prone task. Otherwise, I have no complaints so far. Case was good quality, and everything else went in nice and easy.

I may blog about this in more detail later, with pics. If there's any interest, I'll post a link here.

Thanks for the advice fellas.
January 19, 2010 10:01:32 PM

kiren said:
To be honest, since your primary purpose isn't gaming I wouldn't bother with the 5850, a 5770 should run most anything anyway, certainly oblivion, and its about half as much: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
However, the difference is not really as simple as just clock rate, In fact, the 5770 has a higher clock rate than the 5850 (875MHz vs 725MHz for the models I checked) But the 5850 1440 stream processing units vs the 5770's 800, so more is done per cycle. The 5850 also has a 256-bit memory interface.

Agreed, except I wouldn't even get a 5000 series GPU to be honest. If I was you I'd just buy a pair of 4870's or 4890's and use those. Since they would be more than enough for gaming on occasion and are also still not bad GPU's by any means. Plus the prices on them are pretty nice these days.
January 19, 2010 10:45:30 PM

I am interested in your building process. I just ordered parts for a 1500 dollar pc as well, similar to yours, you can find here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/278698-31-first-build....

Let me know how it went and what troubles you had and what was even easier than expected etc, as this is my first build as well.
January 19, 2010 11:48:45 PM

slfranke said:
I am interested in your building process. I just ordered parts for a 1500 dollar pc as well, similar to yours, you can find here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/278698-31-first-build....

Let me know how it went and what troubles you had and what was even easier than expected etc, as this is my first build as well.


Overall, it was pretty easy. I had done smaller tasks before, like installing memory, etc. If you haven't, it could be harder. For the most part, I followed the instructions stickied in the New Build Forum here.

I admit, I was nervous handling the motherboard. So long as you're careful of static electricity, though, you should be fine.

Most of it is just mounting in the case: PSU, opticals, hdd, mobo. My case had the fans preinstalled. But all that is easy, just install. CPU was an easy install. Trickiest part was the cooler I chose. Guessing at how much thermal compound to put on, but again I just followed what was posted. Then it was running wires, which the instructions that came with the MOBO did a good job of telling where they went. I just tried to run them out of the main area and away from the fans, etc.
January 21, 2010 3:44:04 AM

slfranke said:
I am interested in your building process. I just ordered parts for a 1500 dollar pc as well, similar to yours, you can find here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/278698-31-first-build....

Let me know how it went and what troubles you had and what was even easier than expected etc, as this is my first build as well.

To be totally honest, I had 0 issues with my build. Windows 7 installed flawlessly and all my parts worked as soon as I booted the computer for the first time. I really love my build :) 
January 29, 2010 11:54:19 PM

Best answer selected by TarheelGrad1998.
February 1, 2010 7:34:08 PM

I'd been enjoying the new "beast" more or less. Had to fight the new Windows 7 taskbar...hate it. Have had intermittant problems with my Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, but I think it's just driver issues.

Then today, I had a remote connection on my second monitor (=TV) and was playing solitaire (of all things) on my primary. I moved one card, and bang, second screen went blank, and primary screen was all green (= same as solitaire background). Couldn't get it to do anything, so I hit reset. The keyboard/mouse did not come up after reboot until I pulled and plugged the BT fob. Since everything has been OK.

Hoping it was a fluke, but anybody know what this might've been? My guess is graphics card, but...I'm nervous.
February 4, 2010 8:41:27 AM

I doubt it was your GPU simply based on the fact that it all the sudden started working again. That fact alone somewhat makes me think its something to do with some sort of driver/setting type related issue. I honestly am just guessing though for the most part, I'm really just basing my "guess" on the fact that GPU's generally don't start working all of the sudden after they stop. Where as a "fresh start" (reboot) suddenly causes the issue to go away... So I would (assume) its something to do with a driver/software setting or something. But then again man I'm totally guessing like I said.
February 4, 2010 9:38:41 PM

Hrm...thanks. I have the latest driver for the GPU. I do have issues (and potential driver problems) with my bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Do you think that could cause a display issue???

Yes, odd, but it's been fine since. I'm not going to worry too much as long as it doesn't do anything similar again.
February 4, 2010 11:52:46 PM

Of course, I had to say something...

I was just watching a DVD. Suddenly, the screen went blank, and the audio "stuck" with an odd noise. No response from anything, so I had to reset again. When it came up, I again had to unplug and replug the USB Bluetooth adapter to get the keyboard and mouse to come back. I did move the mouse during the DVD after not moving in a while, so perhaps the Bluetooth driver is at issue. Odd that it's causing catatrophic results.

I looked briefly at the Intel MOBO that had integrated BT. Hope I don't regret that...
February 5, 2010 4:27:41 AM

Honestly bro I have no clue. Sorry I couldn't be more help, but if I had to guess I'd probably say that the BT could very well be playing a part in some of your issues. But I honestly have 0 clue. Sorry man
February 6, 2010 8:15:29 PM

I just had it crash again, and I've been trying to track this down. Maybe you (or someone) can give some advice. I updated the GPU driver last night, so either that's not the problem (or it didn't resolve the issue).

Suspect #1: I know I have the Bluetooth problem. Sometimes, keyboard/mouse disconnect. It seems after a crash I always have to replug the USB fob to get it back.

Suspect #2: I have in the event log the error "\Device\CDRom0\ has a bad block"

Suspect #3: I'm not running the latest BIOS update. All the warnings about not updating the BIOS unless necessary scared me away from doing that when I first built this.

If you were me, should I go ahead with the BIOS update (when I see things like "Improved system stability" in the version history, I wonder)? Or will the BIOS update cause me more trouble than good?

Or, would you tackle another suspect?
February 7, 2010 6:37:47 AM

TarheelGrad1998 said:
I just had it crash again, and I've been trying to track this down. Maybe you (or someone) can give some advice. I updated the GPU driver last night, so either that's not the problem (or it didn't resolve the issue).

Suspect #1: I know I have the Bluetooth problem. Sometimes, keyboard/mouse disconnect. It seems after a crash I always have to replug the USB fob to get it back.

Suspect #2: I have in the event log the error "\Device\CDRom0\ has a bad block"

Suspect #3: I'm not running the latest BIOS update. All the warnings about not updating the BIOS unless necessary scared me away from doing that when I first built this.

If you were me, should I go ahead with the BIOS update (when I see things like "Improved system stability" in the version history, I wonder)? Or will the BIOS update cause me more trouble than good?

Or, would you tackle another suspect?

If I was you, I would go ahead and update your BIOS. Updating your BIOS is actually pretty dang easy and it almost never causes more trouble than good.

You should probably go ahead and open up your systems device manager to see if it is displaying any error messages next to any of your parts. Anyways that's all I can really offer you as far as advice sorry I couldn't be of more help to you.
February 7, 2010 4:38:02 PM

Thanks for the help. This is just getting really frustrating.

I've updated the graphics driver and BIOS. I reinstalled the CD Rom driver. I switched to a different Bluetooth fob. Even ran SpyBot, just for grins. Still, I put on a DVD, paused and minimized it, and when I came back my PC had crashed.

This time, I don't see anything overly suspicious in the log. BT keyboard/mouse worked fine after the reboot. No new CD Rom errors. Nothing. It just crashed.

I may crack the case and reseat the GPU, just to be safe. But otherwise, I'm running out of ideas. Perhaps I'll put in a support claim for the GPU.
February 8, 2010 2:53:12 AM

You should honestly try running the windows memory check, just to make sure its not bad RAM causing the issue.
February 8, 2010 9:35:42 PM

Well, here I think it must be me, this being the first computer that I've built. So as you know I'm throwing all kinds of stuff at it. But, when I broke down to google my GPU and the problem, I see a lot of people are having this with ATI cards:
http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/some_radeon_5000s...

Here's hoping they have a driver to fix it soon. Meantime, I can't watch DVDs, and I have to tread carefully elsewhere.

Good idea, though. I think I'll do the memory check anyway.
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