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I'm building my first computer

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February 7, 2010 3:22:30 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: now or a month from now.
BUDGET RANGE: 200-800
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming(Spore Mass Effect 2, Star Trek online), learning prgramming, video editing, TV recording .

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I have keyboard, mouse/USB contoller, 720p HDMI monitor, external speakers, 100 GB laptop Hard Drive.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, other.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.A.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I want to use a quad core or 6 core CPU, with hyper threading. GPU with ability to output to multiple monitors.

OVERCLOCKING: No / Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 720p 31.5 inches
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A window would be nice. I would like a quiet PC. I value efficiency, I want a good graphics card, but it doesn't have to be the best, as long as it is efficient at what it does. I want HDMI output to my display. A versatile Motherboard??, for future changes/reconfigurations.
I have used a Nvidia GPU in my laptop for 5 years, so i am biased in favor of it. Two GPUs on the same graphics card would be more efficent in my opinion, than SLI. I don't know much about crossfire, is it the same as SLI?
Is Phenom better than Athlon? I'm biased in favor of intel, so i don't know. I want to use my laptop Hard Drive in it, I like using what is on hand.
The ability to stretch the image over multiple screens would be good.


More about : building computer

February 7, 2010 4:10:43 AM

You shouldn't use your laptop HDD in a desktop. A laptop drive is a lot slower than a desktop HDD, so the new computer would seem slow. Find yourself an external HDD and transfer all the files.

Here's what I would build:

CPU: Phenom II X4 810 $134
Mobo/OS: Combo: Asus M4A79XTD EVO and Windows 7 64-bit $205 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
HDD/PSU: Combo: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB and OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W $95 after rebate
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $25
Case: Antec 300 Illusion $70
GPU: HD 5770 $153

Total: $797.

ATI is a much better choice right now. This is a current generation GPU that will scale up really well in Crossfire (which is the same as SLI). You're not getting an Intel quad core with hyperthreading with your budget. The cheapest one is $280, and the boards are a good $50 more expensive than AMD boards. There are no 6 core CPUs out right now.
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February 7, 2010 9:29:07 AM

I saw a processor that has a higher(3.2Ghz) clock speed and a 6MB L3 cache:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Any thoughts on that? It'll work in that board? Seems worthwhile for slightly more.
I could afford $2000, but i want to see how cheap i can build it.
I mention the laptop HDD (Hard Drive), because i replaced the one in my laptop and now have three.
It's EIDE though, so it won't be compatible. Unless there is some kind of adaptor interface? I plan on running multiple OS, later.
What are your thoughts on the 9800 GT graphics card? It seems equivalent to the 5770 in performance and (same)price. It has multiple DVI outputs too.
I'll add one of those all in one memory card readers also.
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February 7, 2010 12:00:46 PM

OP, what do you mean by "TV recoding"? Do you need a capture card, or some sort of input for TV card? The 9800GT is no where near the performance of the 5770. The closest Nvidia card would be one of the GTX260s.
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February 7, 2010 12:19:28 PM

Get MadAdmirals build, it's great. The CPU you listed (AMD 955) is a higher end version of the 810. Both fit in the same motherboard, but the 955 is more powerful.

If you're willing to pay a few $ more for a high performance build, get MadAdmiral's build but with a 955 CPU.

If a feature-rich mobo matters, a Gigabyte motherboard with USB 3.0 and Sata 6GB/s is a sound investment. If you really want a side window, take a look at the Xigmatek Midgard. It's the only case that has a window, is of good quality and is affordable I can think of.

Yes, crossfire is the same as SLI, but with ATI cards.

Phenom II CPU's have L3 cache, Athlon II CPU's don't. So Phenom II is the higher end line.
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February 7, 2010 12:25:41 PM

Agree with everything above.

The 955 is a great CPU, but it's a tad out of budget.

On the TV recording idea, you would need at least one TV tuner (possibly 2 to watch and record at the same time). In addition, it becomes extremely difficult to record from a cable or satellite feed, almost to the point that it is impossible. With the cost of TV tuners, you wouldn't be getting a very good gaming computer. Likely, you would have to drop to the cheapest dual or triple AM3 CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a much less powerful GPU. While it can be done, you should decide if it's really worth sacrificing being able to play many games for being able to record only over the air TV stations.
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February 7, 2010 5:34:25 PM

My laptop has an internal TV tuner, with Windows XP Media Center Edition
(MCE is really an altered XP Profesional edition). You can download a TV schedule from microsoft that makes it easy to automatically record shows, while you are at work. It saves the files as DVR.ms .Analog TV was DRM-free, so it was editable, but when the switch to digital came, Microsoft made it DRM and locked it up. So, editing together even news clips is not possible with that now.
I liked how Civilization 4 was DRM free and easily customizable.

I was looking at a dual TV tuner on one card, but I don't feel like paying $149 just to record TV(miss VHS , haha). I bought an extra RCA converter box , so that I can have PIP on my display, while I'm gaming. I suppose I can watch what i miss on HULU.
I will get Windows 7 Professional. I see that Ultimate has support for 30 languages though. I have asian languages (Japanese) and mexican spanish enabled in the language bar.
$30 seems resonable, to have a little better CPU. I like that Gigabyte board, it has dual BIOS, for BIOS backup. All boards(Mobo) should have dual BIOS.
.... going to local store to look at cases.

Does shared access to that L3 cache cause some sort of bottle neck? would higher L2 caches show better performance gains?
I read about some sort of grey screen issues with 5770? otherwise it seems good though. I remember the AMD overheating days, but what i read about the processor turning off unused cores seems efficient and it is integrated into the chip instead of the BIOS, all prudent features.
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Best solution

February 7, 2010 6:01:50 PM

The L3 cache has to be shared, its how the cores talk to each other. If they had seperate caches all the way through they'd have to use the RAM to talk/share info. By higher I assume you mean larger? Larger L2 caches can help, but isn't much of a big deal for chips with an IMC. Even Intel uses a small L2 cache now that the memory controller is on the chip. There does seem to be an issue with the 57xx and 58xx cards, AMD says they have an update that fixes it. Might want to hold off for awhile if your concerned.
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February 8, 2010 2:20:26 AM

AMD says they hot fixed the 58xx card in windows, but not the 57xx.
I could use a lesser card until ATI fixes that.
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February 8, 2010 2:29:07 AM

i hate to barge in here with a better build, but look at this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

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

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

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

final price is 713.92, and it has a better cpu, and imo a better case, but they are the same price, so swap them out if you want. also a better mobo with sata 6 and usb 3...hope this helped :) 
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February 8, 2010 10:13:54 AM

Except you don't have a case in that build. Or the OS. If you add those in, you're build is above budget...

Also, a lot of people have problems with that RAM.
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February 8, 2010 1:33:37 PM

pleasenoname said:
AMD says they hot fixed the 58xx card in windows, but not the 57xx.
I could use a lesser card until ATI fixes that.


Read the link on Toms again, they claim its fixed for the 57xx cards as well.
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February 10, 2010 8:27:08 AM

Yeah, I noticed that after I posted. Looks like the fix is only for the 58xx. Its been rumored the fix only changes the clock speeds, any clue how much slower this makes the cards?
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February 11, 2010 4:55:05 AM

Ok, ordering the CPU, Mobo, HDD and RAM. Anyone like 9800GTS? Can that work/interface with an AMD motherboard? The 5750 is like a slower 5770, do you think that it will be more stable because of the slower speed?

Does apple sell their operating system? i want to make another computer and give it to a Mac obsessed friend.
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February 11, 2010 8:18:01 AM

Yeah you can buy OS X. You could probably get 10.4 Tiger for a decent price right now since 10.5 Leopard came out last year.

Here's a link to guide you through it:

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February 12, 2010 1:57:25 AM

Checked it out. Unfeasable. Appl3 doesn't want the OS on a PC.
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February 12, 2010 3:29:24 AM

Yeah I wasn't sure if you could or not. Thanks for letting me know though. I always wondered the same thing myself, I use Apple for all my regular computing needs.
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February 12, 2010 4:49:03 AM

Considering doing hybrid crossfire.
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February 12, 2010 5:45:39 AM

Not worth it. Single better card would be faster.
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February 13, 2010 10:55:31 PM

Best answer selected by pleasenoname.
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February 14, 2010 3:20:22 PM

I Salvaged a CD/DVD/RW/Lightscribe from an older laptop: gsa-t20l (S05D) ; what connector cable do i use on it?
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February 15, 2010 4:27:19 AM

pleasenoname said:
I Salvaged a CD/DVD/RW/Lightscribe from an older laptop: gsa-t20l (S05D) ; what connector cable do i use on it?



Please.... put down the laptop parts! Laptops are all about compromise: higher prices, slower parts = portability.

Grab a 22x DVD-RW SATA drive new. they're about 25 to 30$.

Did you forget? If you're buying Windows 7 you MUST buy it with qualifying parts on the same invoice in order to qualify for OEM pricing (about 50% the price of the retail edition).
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February 15, 2010 10:29:22 AM

xe77 said:

Did you forget? If you're buying Windows 7 you MUST buy it with qualifying parts on the same invoice in order to qualify for OEM pricing (about 50% the price of the retail edition).


Not true. They don't really care about that anymore. You can just go on to any vendor (Newegg for example) and just buy the OEM version.
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February 15, 2010 9:17:57 PM

I'm buying retail Windows 7 and XP 64 bit. OEM has too much freeware/"added value" cluttering the registry. Thats one reason i decided to build it myself. Also to learn and have fun.
I also want to get Linux and learn that. t
I was thinking of getting a low memory SSD hard drive and installing the entire OS on that and running it in RAID with a regular Hard drive/s. The OS would boot faster because it is solid state and the rest of the regular applications would be on the regular HDD.
Hey Mad Admiral; The RAM you and that other guy recommended is geared towards Intel motherboards(DDR3) and you have to change the timings on it, for it to work correctly. Also I would need 3, not 2, because it is DDR3 memory. A co-worker tells me that the gains from using it would be too miniscule to justify the extra cost and he says that i should use some DDR2 RAM?
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February 15, 2010 11:48:48 PM

You are throwing away good money in that case!
First, the OEM versions are not like what's on a computer you'd see at BestBuy. It is a bare install, and the software is identical to that on the Retail disc. The only difference is the license key and the fact that its $150 less than retail.
Secondly, you don't need to pay for Windows XP if you have purchased Windows 7 already as it's allowed already due to "downgrade rights" in the Windows 7 license. You can find a Windows XP ISO image pretty much anywhere to do the installation.

At most the Windows 7 Pro should run you about $130 for the OEM license. As I said before.. it's the software (just Windows and nothing else) as what's in the retail box - its just a plain white box with the original install disc and license key sticker.
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February 15, 2010 11:50:50 PM

You realize that the OEM version doesn't come with any freeware? It's the opposite actually. The only difference between retail and OEM is that the OEM version doesn't get tech support and can only be installed on a single PC.

You cannot use RAID with two different HDDs. You have to use the same one. And putting only the OS on a SSD will only make the computer boot faster.

You're absolutely wrong about the RAM. First, you don't need 3 sticks unless you're using the i7-920. All other motherboards (AM3, LGA1156 sockets) use dual channel memory. Which means it needs pairs of sticks.

Second, you CANNOT USE DDR2 with your board. Not only is DDR2 a LOT slower, it's basically a dead technology. Give it 6 months to a year, and you won't be able to find it anymore. Don't listen to your coworker. They have no idea what they're talking about.

Finally, the RAM is good regardless of the CPU. They put that "designed for i5/i7" thing on it as marketing. At worst you'll have to check BIOS to makes sure the settings are right, which you'll need to do any way.
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February 15, 2010 11:52:17 PM

pleasenoname said:
I'm buying retail Windows 7 and XP 64 bit. OEM has too much freeware/"added value" cluttering the registry. Thats one reason i decided to build it myself. Also to learn and have fun.
I also want to get Linux and learn that. t
I was thinking of getting a low memory SSD hard drive and installing the entire OS on that and running it in RAID with a regular Hard drive/s. The OS would boot faster because it is solid state and the rest of the regular applications would be on the regular HDD.
Hey Mad Admiral; The RAM you and that other guy recommended is geared towards Intel motherboards(DDR3) and you have to change the timings on it, for it to work correctly. Also I would need 3, not 2, because it is DDR3 memory. A co-worker tells me that the gains from using it would be too miniscule to justify the extra cost and he says that i should use some DDR2 RAM?


You should NOT RAID the SSD with a hard drive. Using a RAID controller will mask away the TRIM support and ruin the performance of the SSD potentially. Also you should update the SSD firmware before installing Windows 7. Install the OS and your most frequently used applications to the SSD. Set the swap file to go to the hard drive and use the hard drive to store stuff like MP3s, video, VMs, etc.
I suggest you take a search around the forums on more advice about SSDs, also for more advice.
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February 16, 2010 12:32:34 AM

ok. I will use the RAM, just so that i can learn about timings. Looking for Windows 7 Pro.

I couldn't help myself from getting this:

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

It's green.

Will it hold up?

What if I want to move Windows 7 to a different motherboard? i might try a few before i find one i like. With OEM, I wouldn't be able to move it for use with another motherboard.
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February 17, 2010 4:18:03 AM

Also DDR2 isn't dead. Motherboards still have ps/2 plugs in them and look how old that is. I can get DDR2 for half the price of DDR3. How much of a difference in speed is it? Can you quantify it?
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February 17, 2010 5:45:18 AM

The point is in order to use DDR2 you'll have to get a motherboard/CPU that supports it. AM3 motherboards can't accept DDR2 chips. It just plain won't work.
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February 17, 2010 6:01:37 AM

pleasenoname said:
Also DDR2 isn't dead. Motherboards still have ps/2 plugs in them and look how old that is. I can get DDR2 for half the price of DDR3. How much of a difference in speed is it? Can you quantify it?


I'd say it becomes dead at the point where the price per MB is less than the old technology. We are getting close now though to the switch. However... it makes sense to buy what's affordable. At the same time considering that its much more likely that to upgrade to more memory in the future that a full CPU/mainboard replacement will be required. So its best to buy as much as possible now with the expectation that buying more in the future will potentially cost a lot. When we hit this point DDR2 will be the cheapest it will ever be so buy a lot with the expectation of not being able to install more later on.
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February 17, 2010 10:40:01 PM

Thanks for all the info.

The reason i want to use the laptop optical drive, is because someone had an extra one, because HP told them that their optical drive was bad and to order another.
It wasn't really bad though, it was really a bad motherboard. Since that time they found out that there was a class action suit regarding that motherboard and HP has since replaced it with another part number.
So I intend to be efficient and self-sufficient and use the extra optical drive in my build. It is slim IDE. I intend to go to a local parts place and inquire about a slim IDE to regular IDE cable converter. If they don't have it, I'll call HP technical assistance and pay $60, and they will tell me how to convert the plugs(slim IDE has 50 pins).
If that doesn't work I'll go to china for the part.
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February 17, 2010 11:08:38 PM

You're going to spend $60 for an adapter instead of $30 from newegg for a new drive?
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February 17, 2010 11:35:26 PM

Yes I am. I want to build my own cable. It's the pricipal. The knowlege of how to convert it is worth more than the drive price to me.
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February 18, 2010 12:50:56 AM

that knowledge will almost never be useful...IDE is pretty much dead, so you will almost definitely never use it...i agree with madadmiral, it makes no sense to waste that much money on something that will never help you, probably just die on you in a few weeks...upgrade a part with the extra 40$, or take a CPR class, that might actually be useful in life :lol: 
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February 18, 2010 1:54:13 AM

Found the adaptor. Geez; it took 3 whole days, just to find the name of the plug.

ares1214, are you british? If so, you know how stubborn us Scottish are, lol. *looking up CPR classes*
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February 18, 2010 2:09:08 AM

Can normal SD cards be used on a SDHC slot?

Why are to IDE's working together called "master" and "slave"? Why not "teacher" and "student"? Or something a little less offensive sounding?
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February 26, 2010 9:46:38 PM

If anyone is still reading, I finished the build.
Here are the final Specs
CPU: Phenom IIx4 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard:
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO/U3S6 AM3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM:G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: Windows 7 Professional

HDD: 3.5" 320 GB Western Digital (Local store)
2.5" 93 GB Toshiba Backup drive

PSU:Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical: LG Super Multi drive with light scribe x24 (local store) & Laptop optical drive

Case: Antec 300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU:ATI IGP 4200, HD4350 (I tried out Hybrid crossfire), 9500GT, HD3850 (will return two or possibly all)

Also: multi-memory card reader ($20)

The total came to $818 dollars, after i return the extra graphics cards.
Might get a low wattage 9800 GT

Much thanks to madAdmiral for the case suggestion and RAM suggestion. The appearance of the RAM heatsink matches the heatsinks on the motherboard.

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