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My First Computer Build: Sweet Bliss or Untimely Doom?

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January 15, 2010 1:44:30 PM

Hello Friendly Internet Community.

I am ready to wade into the waters of do-it-yourself PC-ing. I am quite confident that once I get the system assembled and everything is in working order, that I will be able to "take it from there" and set up OS, Programs, etc. etc. etc.

However, getting from point A to Point B seems to be my problem. I don't have a lot of knowledge about Computer Harward and what is better than what, what different features do and what is better than what. I would rate my knowledge of computer hardward a 5 out of 10 meaning that if you put a gun to my head I could probably get a computer working, but I wouldn't be overly confident that I had picked the best parts for what I need or that they would work together, so that's where you all come in LOL!

My Budget is: $550.00

What I already have:

1. Monitor: Acer V223-WBD 22" Widescreen TFT LCD Monitor (Black)
2. Keyboard
3. Mouse
4. Speakers

What I Need:

1. A Desktop Computer Build

Features that I Have My Heart Set On:

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

Features That I Think Would Work Well Together:

1. Power Supply: APEVIA ATX-CW500WP4 500W ATX Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MZ790X-UD4p AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX AMD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3. Processor: AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz 2 x
512 KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4. Video Card: MSI N94GT-MD512 GeForce 9400 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI
Express x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5. RAM: G.Skill 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory
Model F2-6400CL5s-2GBPQ
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

6. Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM
SATA 3.0GB/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

7. CD Drive: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model
iHAS-324-98 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The parts I am most unsure about are the Motherboard and Video Card. This PC would be used for Internet Surfing, Picture Editing, Spreadsheets, and light infrequent gaming. I used to be big on the gaming scene but no so much anymore now that I am an "adult". I thank you for your time reading this and for any help you may provide.

-Ryan
January 15, 2010 2:07:56 PM

Good build. I think it will definetely work well.

what im worried about is your PSU, I haven't much experience with Apevia. I Would go with a more well known brand.

furthermore are you sure you only want a 160gb HDD?

Your video card will do fine for windows aero and pretty effects, but do not count on any impressive gaming results.

last but not least: I assume youll want the new windows 7 ==> go for 4gb of ram

after that you should have a nice build.

oh yeah, your motherboard is quite far on the overkill factor, its much more than you need.

for your purpose though, I would go for a cheaper mobo with built in video card, (unless you really want to be able to game a bit but then I would go for a cheaper board and spend a bit more and get a better video card)
January 15, 2010 2:10:33 PM

Wow...not getting a very good computer if you're locking in the 900 (or is that outside the cost?)...

Here's what I'd build for $550.

CPU/Mobo: Newegg combo: Athlon II X4 620 and GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 $219
GPU: HD 4850 $100
RAM: Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR3 1333 CAS Latency 7 $64
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB $55
Case: Antec 200 $30 after rebate
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $21
PSU: FSP Group SAGA+ 450R 450W $50. That one you have is a very poor quality unit.

Total: $539.
Related resources
January 15, 2010 2:15:57 PM

The Case isn't part of the $550. Does that change anything. Sorry I meant to originally put this as my hard drive in my first post:

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Does that change anything?
January 15, 2010 2:21:22 PM

A few things -

First if you are buying RAM and the MOBO - get a DDR3 MOBO and DDR3 RAM - DDR2 is reaching the end of its life cycle and the prices of the 2 are pretty much the same now so no reason to buy it anymore - by getting DDR3 you will be able ensuring yourself that it will be readily available if you need to get more later instead of having to pay a premium for a discontinued product.

Second forget the video card - the 9400 is not any better than the 3300 onboard graphics that you can get on an AM3 790GX MOBO and by getting one of the MOBOs with the onboard video you can use the $50 from the video card to get a better MOBO - FOr example THis MOBO - ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) and some better timed RAM like this ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) which is DDR3 1333MHZ with a Cas Latency of 7 so are substantially faster than the DDR2 800

THird - on the HDD get this ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) - it is a newer 500GB single platter drive so is faster, quieter and better than the WD.

FOurth - If you are not gaming then a better choice for the CPU would be the new Quad core Propus 620 (they removed the L3 cache so it is not as good at gaming as the 550 but for most other applications having the 2 additional cores will get you better results than having the level 3 cache) also they have a $20 off combo with it and the 900 case you want - ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... )

Last and probably most important - DO not skimp on the PSU (it provides the power to all of your system and is not a part to go cheap on !) stick to well known upper end units from the likes of OCZ, Corsair, Antec, etc. - something like this OCZ 500W would be plenty for your system ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... )

January 15, 2010 2:22:03 PM

Yes, the case changes things slightly. I would still go with the Samsung. It's cheaper, faster, quieter and runs cooler.

CPU/Mobo: Combo: Phenom II X4 925 and GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 $261

Total cost of $551. Only a buck over.
January 15, 2010 2:25:52 PM

@morton: FSP is actually extremely reputable. I didn't know about them until a week or so ago, as they have generally made the parts for other companies. The Basiq series isn't very good for Antec. With Antec units, you want to stay with either the Earthwatts or Signature lines.

January 15, 2010 2:34:37 PM

MadAdmiral said:
@morton: FSP is actually extremely reputable. I didn't know about them until a week or so ago, as they have generally made the parts for other companies. The Basiq series isn't very good for Antec. With Antec units, you want to stay with either the Earthwatts or Signature lines.


Yes they are a good company - they actually make units for several of the other reputable psu makers as an OEM supplier so their name is not as well known but they have been around for a long time !
January 15, 2010 3:42:04 PM

Ok thanks everyone for the input...I've taken your advice, so the build currently stands at this:

1. Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. CPU/Mobo: Combo: Phenom II X4 925 and GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 $261
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

3. Power Supply: FSP Group SAGA+ 450R 450W ATX12V Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4. Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5. DVD-Drive: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

6. RAM: G.SKILL 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5S-2GBPQ - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

Any final thoughts? Do I need more RAM or should this be enough?
January 15, 2010 3:52:13 PM

The only problem I see is the Ram you have selected is DDR2 - the MOBO uses DDR3 so you need to change one or the other !! - also you want to get 2 modules so you can use dual channel for better performance. If you want just 2GB then these are good - ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) - they are low latency so have faster performance as well.
January 15, 2010 3:52:55 PM

the antec basiq 550 is made by DELTA who make most of the antec EA and SG series
the 500 watt basiq is an FSP built unit
January 15, 2010 3:56:14 PM

That's the wrong RAM. You need DDR3, and a dual channel kit (2 sticks). Which is why I pointed at a 2x1 GB stick set...

2 GB should be good enough for what you're doing, but I would make getting an additional 2x1 GB set the first upgrade.
January 15, 2010 4:03:23 PM

Hi, im currently about to order for my first new build too :D  and have been getting similar advice, one thing that people have commented is that my first choice of case, the Antec 902 (successor to the 900) is ok but a little expensive.
I've had the Cooler master Haf 922 recommended instead, it has better airflow and more space to build in, useful for a new builder i expect and it has a very good build quality. Its going for comparable prices to the 900 too. Check it out.
last thing, When bit-tech.net reviewed to 902 comparing it to the 900 in the conclusion it was said that the extra few bucks/pounds to get it over the older model was well worth it, just something extra to consider, http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cases/2009/02/25/antec..., but enough people have managed to make me change my mind from 902 to haf 922.
Keep us posted on what you end up doing. :) 
January 15, 2010 4:04:13 PM

Ok thanks everyone for the input...I've taken your advice, so the build currently stands at this:

1. Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811129021

2. CPU/Mobo: Combo: Phenom II X4 925 and GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 $261
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Comb [...] mbo.320286

3. Power Supply: FSP Group SAGA+ 450R 450W ATX12V Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817104954

4. Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822152181

5. DVD-Drive: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6827106334

6. RAM: Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory Model KHX1333C7D3K2/2GX - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

7. Video Card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product

OK with a slight adjustment to the RAM this looks like the final build. Now I just gotta figure out how to put it all together, shouldn't be too tough right?
January 15, 2010 4:12:54 PM

Nope. Refer to the Step-by-Step Guide to Building a PC. It's a very good guide. In the time it takes to ship to you, definitely read through several different guides for one that similiar to what your using.
January 15, 2010 4:13:11 PM

It all seems a bit overkill for what you'll be doing. I would seriously consider getting a MB with built in graphics like the 785 chipset...no need to add a $100 video card if you won't be doing any gaming. The 550 BE or one of the $100 quad cores with a 785 MB would be a great combination for your uses and cost less than $200 WITH built in 4200 graphics. Just add some DDR3 for $100 and the F3 for $55, and you can still fit you case and psu into your $500 budget.
January 15, 2010 4:15:29 PM

Check what i put in my post about cases, i loaded it up only a few seconds before you loaded your final spec, its something i would really recommend, switching the case.
January 15, 2010 4:43:38 PM

technobod said:
Hi, im currently about to order for my first new build too :D  and have been getting similar advice, one thing that people have commented is that my first choice of case, the Antec 902 (successor to the 900) is ok but a little expensive.
I've had the Cooler master Haf 922 recommended instead, it has better airflow and more space to build in, useful for a new builder i expect and it has a very good build quality. Its going for comparable prices to the 900 too. Check it out.
last thing, When bit-tech.net reviewed to 902 comparing it to the 900 in the conclusion it was said that the extra few bucks/pounds to get it over the older model was well worth it, just something extra to consider, http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cases/2009/02/25/antec..., but enough people have managed to make me change my mind from 902 to haf 922.
Keep us posted on what you end up doing. :) 


I like the looks of both of the cases you showed me...I think I prefer the 902 to the cooler master just based on looks.
January 15, 2010 4:48:33 PM

Obviously up to you, and you shouldnt have the same problem as me as your graphics card is only 6.5" long where as i was trying to put one that was 10.5" into the antec.
Good luck with the build, and i would definitely recommend looking at the 902 over the 900 if you can spare the extra few $'s.
January 16, 2010 3:09:50 PM

The 902 seems to be cheaper actually on Newegg at least. I think I'm going to stick with the video card. I watch a lot of stuff on Hulu and nice graphics are important to me, or would an onboard video handle hulu and youtube as well as a vid card?
January 16, 2010 3:35:04 PM

the 3300 on the 790GX chipset board will handle video streams fine and can also run most games at mid settings so for your use getting a MOBO with onboard video might be sufficient - plus you can always add a video card later if you find you need it !

And the MOBO I listed in the begining is actually cheaper than the one in the COMBO you now have and has the onboard video with 128mb of DDR3 sideport memory for it ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) by using it you would pay the same as the combo price (since it is $20 cheaper than the board in the combo) and would have the onboard video to run for now and then you could always buy the video card later if you feel you need it .
January 17, 2010 9:57:24 PM

That's good thinking JDFan, I kinda like that idea, I can just see if I need a video card later on down the road and if so, add it.

So everything else would be the same and I would just swap out the mobo, drop the vid card, and keep the same CPU?
January 17, 2010 10:08:46 PM

Yep and the price will stay the same since that MOBO is $10 less but you lose the $10 discount on the MOBO\CPU Combo !

January 17, 2010 10:10:32 PM

You know what's kind of frustrating, Newegg ran out of the HD and the Optical Drive...grrr...wonder how long those will take to get back in stock.
January 18, 2010 12:35:37 AM

Instead of the WD Caviar above, look into the Seagate 7200.12 500 GB. It's just slightly behind the Samsung in terms of performance, unlike the WD. It's also usually the same price as the Samsung.
January 18, 2010 12:42:42 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Instead of the WD Caviar above, look into the Seagate 7200.12 500 GB. It's just slightly behind the Samsung in terms of performance, unlike the WD. It's also usually the same price as the Samsung.



Right you are - ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) - It's been awhile since I've checked the relative performance of HDD's.
January 21, 2010 10:40:05 PM

OK all, I pulled the trigger...

1. Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811129021

2. MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 925 Deneb 2.8GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retai
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3. Power Supply: FSP Group SAGA+ 450R 450W ATX12V Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817104954

4. Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822152181

5. DVD-Drive: LG Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM SATA DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

6. RAM: Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory Model KHX1333C7D3K2/2GX - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product


I figured I can always add a video card later if needed and my first update will be to the RAM.

Now all I have to worry about is not screwing everything up!!!
January 22, 2010 12:44:55 PM

I don't have to mess around with thermal paste and glue and all that nonsense do I haha???

I am very rookie when it comes to PC *Hardware*
January 22, 2010 1:04:14 PM

rtmcwilliams said:
I don't have to mess around with thermal paste and glue and all that nonsense do I haha???

I am very rookie when it comes to PC *Hardware*


The stock Heatsink for the CPU will come with a thermal pad applied which will perform adequately if you are not going to OC the CPU so no need to mess with thermal paste unless you intend to OC the system at which point you would probably want an aftermarket cooler and a better quality thermal paste (but that can always be done later if you decide to go that route.)

The build process is not really that hard just take your time and make sure you get all of the connections seated properly (they've made it pretty hard to hook anything up improperly since almost all of the connectors are different sizes and keyed so they only fit in the right orientation so you really have to try hard to get something hooked up incorrectly !!)
January 22, 2010 2:20:14 PM

I'm not going to do any OCing, I know what it is, but I don't really understand it too well. I've kind of assumed you can elevate the CPUs performance for high-intensity applications such as gaming and stuff, but I don't know exactly what it is. I'm excited for the build but still mulling over if I want to make the jump to Windows 7, I've never had any problems with XP and I like it...
January 22, 2010 2:29:43 PM

Well the MOBO that you've picked is a good one for building - the manual has 104 pages that are in pretty good english (which is rare for a MOBO manual) so it pretty much explains all of the steps fairly thoroughly - plus you now the forum to come to if you run into any problems with it !!
!