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Upgrading/Repairing Homebuilt Computer, Looking for advice

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January 12, 2010 2:54:28 AM

Hello everyone, I was looking around online for advice on computer parts and I have across this site and it looked like a pretty good place to try. A Little background. I am a computer Student who is currently out of both school and college (No place is hiring me...not even McDonalds and Walmart, and I'm not quite ready to head back to college yet) I built this computer during Christmas of '07, it was my parents big gift to me, and it's not bad if I may say so myself. Recently I had some trouble with the Motherboard and CPU. One of the clips holding the Cooling fan to the CPU and Motherboard broke, I'm not sure why. I just got finished replacing the fan bracket, and now when I start the computer there the lights all come on, but nothing happens with the Moniter and I can't turn the power off with the button, I need to use the switch on back. In my experience this means a problem with the Motherboard and/or CPU. The CPU could easily have overheated when the fan fell off, or the couple times i tried starting the computer not realizing yet what the problem was, but when I put in another CPU (which may or may not be working as it is from my previous, store bought, computer that my brother managed to kill) The motherboard may have been damaged by the fan falling off it's bracket.

Long story short I've decided that since I'm going to need to replace some parts anyway I may as well use parts that will either directly upgrade my machine, or will still be usable if I upgrade my machine.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I can get a solid build and convince my parents that it's worth it.

BUDGET RANGE: I have 400....I may be able to get another hundred from my parents...if I'm really lucky they will spring for a bit more, but I'm pretty sure I can put together 400. When I have a more definite number I will post an update below as well as update this post

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: This is a gaming machine, pure and simple. I want to be able to run games on as high specs as I can as long as it fits in the budget.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Case, Moniter, Operating system (XP Home) Video Card? Details will be listed below.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I've always used Newegg, but I won't say no to other sites if they offer a better deal.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I've used AMD and ATI in the past, but that's just because it's what I know. I don't really know enough about the pros and cons to have an opinion, so I'm just worried about the price vs the preformance.

OVERCLOCKING: Never really done any Overclocking in the past, mostly because I have the factory fans in my case and on my CPU, so I'm hesitant to overclock, but like with other things, I don't know much about it, so I would do it with a system that could handle it.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe, only if the case and Motherboard can handle it and it would be cheaper then buying an equivalent quality processor as powerful as the two combined. (i.e. 2 512MBs vs 1 1GB

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440 x 900 (at least that is what it lists as recommended on Newegg

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm not particularly concerned about noise, if you take a look at my case you will see it has several fans, and I keep them on high at all times, even when I'm sleeping, and i have no problems with it. Following is a list, with links, to all the parts I already have that I have no reason to believe are damaged.

Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Power Supply: OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI 700W ATX12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail (may be a bit overboard...as I've said, I was new and didn't know a whole lot about computer building when I made this.

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Retail

Hard Drives: 2 Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAJS 500GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Keyboard: Ideazon MERC KW1NAE1-X1ZXP01 2-Tone 97 Normal Keys 34 gaming keys and 11function keys Function Keys USB Gaming Gaming Keyboard - Retail This Keyboard worked well for a while, but over the past year I've been having trouble with the Z-Engine loosing all profiles when I restart my computer, and not being able to regain them without uninstalling and then reinstalling the program. But the regular keyboard part still works fine, it's just the function keys for gaming on the left that don't work, and I can live without that.

Moniter Hanns·G HW-191DPB Black 19" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 700:1 Built-in Speakers - Retail

DVD Drive: ASUS Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 14X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe LightScribe Support - Retail

Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100218L Radeon HD 2600XT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail

Mouse, and headset are cheap $10 things from Walmart to replace the broken ones from when I first made the computer, but they work. The Speakers are more expensive 90 Watt 2.0 speakers with built in Bass that i bought for Use at LAN parties to help stop the constant music battle (at the time they were the loudest at the party)

Broken? parts listed below, just in case someone has encountered something like this before and doesn't think one of the parts is broken.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA74GM-S2 AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 740G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3.0GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM2 125W Dual-Core Processor - Retail

Best solution

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 12, 2010 12:03:56 PM
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Well, here's the problem. With DDR2, you're stuck with AMD and an old board. But, you're in luck because with $400, you can get the best AMD CPU, a good board and some new RAM. It just eliminates Intel as a possiblity.

CPU: Phenom II X4 955 BE $165

Mobo: Asus M4A79XTD EVO $110 ater rebate

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 $100

Total: $375.

The motherboard isn't future proof, as it doesn't support the upcoming USB 3/SATA III ports, but is one of the best values in boards. It's good for Crossfiring, but I would recommend the next upgrade would be to a single new DirectX 11 card (the 5xxx series or nVidia's Fermi due out in March).
January 12, 2010 3:45:18 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Well, here's the problem. With DDR2, you're stuck with AMD and an old board. But, you're in luck because with $400, you can get the best AMD CPU, a good board and some new RAM. It just eliminates Intel as a possiblity.

CPU: Phenom II X4 955 BE $165

Mobo: Asus M4A79XTD EVO $110 ater rebate

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 $100

Total: $375.

The motherboard isn't future proof, as it doesn't support the upcoming USB 3/SATA III ports, but is one of the best values in boards. It's good for Crossfiring, but I would recommend the next upgrade would be to a single new DirectX 11 card (the 5xxx series or nVidia's Fermi due out in March).


Thanks for the advice. Looking on Newegg I see that the same RAM with 1600 mhz is only like 5-10 buck more. as I said, I'm still learning what all that means and how important it is...does 1600 vs 1333 make any real difference?
Related resources
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 12, 2010 3:58:35 PM

Not really. The CAS Latency matters more.
January 12, 2010 6:10:38 PM

Okay, I've been thinking about some things. Talked to my mom and she didn't have a definite amount she would put towards the computer, she said we would talk about it when she got home and we could look at prices. Something I'm wondering is this, should I invest in getting USB 3 and/or SATA III? And if so how much more would it cost?
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 12, 2010 6:57:38 PM

Depends. If you're going to keep the same basic computer (mainly the motherboard) for over 4-6 years, you should get USB 3/SATA III (they're always together). If you're going to be build again before that, no.

A similiar board will only be $30 (Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4), but that one may not support Crossfire and USB 3/SATA 3 at the same time. Gigabyte's Intel boards don't allow it, but the AMD ones don't mention anything. To be certain, the next one up is $75 more (UD5), and if you'd lose a PCIe 2 slot, it has a third.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2010 7:35:01 PM

Gigabyte's intel boards don't because they use the few PCI-E lanes for one or the other. Which automatically means that you're specifically talking about LGA 1156 that has only 16 lanes integrated onto the CPU. AMD does not have this problem so it is not an issue. In other words this is wholly intel's fault for putting such a limited number in there, and has nothing to do with gigabyte, nor is it what they did that caused it. They simply utilized it as best as possible.

In other words that gigabyte one is the one you would want for that.

I would then see how high your parents will go for the graphics card, cause that's the last thing that you need. Preferably one of the DX11 cards, though something like a 4870 wouldn't be bad.
January 12, 2010 8:08:25 PM

Okay I'm looking at the GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 on newegg, and it doesn't mention anything about Crossfire, but it does have two PCI Express 2.0 slots...so I'm not sure really. As far as video cards go I'm looking at the HIS H575FN1GD Radeon HD 5750 as far as DX11 if I can convince my parents to help enough. Otherwise I'll likely need to step down to the HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670. BUt as I've said several times I'm not really good enough with specs to know what is an isn't a good card. Thoughts?
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2010 8:26:24 PM

The 4670 is a great deal better than what you have. It really is a pretty good card.


The fact that that mobo has the chipset that it does, and there are 2 graphics slots means that it does crossfire.
January 12, 2010 8:54:31 PM

Okay, so far I've come up with the following items. Please give me your thoughts.

MB: GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 $139.99

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 $109.99

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz $165.99

Video Card: HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 $84.99

Subtotal: $500.96 Not entirely sure if I will be able to get that much put into it, so tips for cheaper parts without sacrificing too much preformance (or cheaper parts that are as good or better as well of course) are welcome.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 12, 2010 9:02:29 PM

Look for combos with that x4 955. They often run some nice CPU/motherboard combo prices.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2010 9:06:48 PM

Either of these Phenom II X3s would save you something like $40-50.

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

You lose 1 core, and they're a little slower, but most days these games still don't use 4 cores.

There's a combo right now for a Phenom II X2 and a 4670 for $142.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

There's another combo for a Phenom II X4 and a 9800 GTX for $280.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
January 12, 2010 9:43:49 PM

coldsleep said:
Either of these Phenom II X3s would save you something like $40-50.

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

You lose 1 core, and they're a little slower, but most days these games still don't use 4 cores.

There's a combo right now for a Phenom II X2 and a 4670 for $142.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

There's another combo for a Phenom II X4 and a 9800 GTX for $280.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...



If I getting a new Video card it's going to be a 1GB. I already have a working 512 MB card, but they don't sell it anymore so I can't use it for Crossfire.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 12:14:16 AM

Uh, 512 or 1 gig means nothing as far as performance is concerned. And using what you have now in crossfire would still be just as much of a joke as what you have compared to a 4670.

Also, the 9800 GTX is faster than a 4670.

Going for a x3, it might as well be a athlon II since it would save $80-90 and still perform basically the same. You might want to do this so you can get a graphics card anyway,if your parents don't help.
January 13, 2010 12:51:16 AM

wel, 'rents just got home. And my mom didn't seem too worried about 500, since I'll be paying more then them, so It's looking like I may end up going with the items I have listed above. And Jack, that is actually the exact case I already have, not looking for a new case, I like that one just fine.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 13, 2010 2:02:06 AM

See if you can goad them into letting you get the 5750 or 5770. Even the 4870 or 4770 would be better than the 4670. If it was that easy to get them onboard, anyway.
January 13, 2010 2:59:30 AM

Okay. If I can get it I'm looking at getting the HIS H575Q1GD Radeon HD 5750, looks like a good one, although it is about double the price, I'll have to see what they think....I really need a job, if I did there would be no question. Ah well, here's hoping something comes up soon.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 13, 2010 10:24:25 AM

The 5770 is only a tab bit more than the 5750, and loads better.
January 13, 2010 3:25:05 PM

Okay, two questions. Of the 5770 cards, is there any one that you think may be a bit better then the others, and will a card that says it uses PCI Express 2.1 work in a 2.0 slot, because that is what the Motherboard I've picked out so far has, and I don't even see that as an option on the motherboard advanced search on Newegg.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 13, 2010 3:47:46 PM

I'm fairly certain they're all supposed to be 2.0...

Brand doesn't really matter. Pick the cheapest (including shipping). Looking at them it's this one: HIS for $163 w/ free shipping
January 13, 2010 4:13:28 PM

Okay, cool thanks. Currently working around the house to get some money from the rents.....no idea how much yet, but my room needed cleaning anyway.....man I feel like a little kid being told to clean my room :p 
a b B Homebuilt system
a b V Motherboard
January 13, 2010 4:34:58 PM

It'll all be worth it when you get to play with your new toys. :) 
January 13, 2010 5:15:39 PM

Yeah...I'll Finally be able to play all the games I got just before my computer Crashed...Borderlands, Dragon's Age, THQ pack from Steam with several hundred dollars worth of games that I got for 50.....
!