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Advice for First Build; Gaming/School, ≈ $1000 PC

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March 14, 2010 5:56:35 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: During this March Break (March 14-22); I'm probably getting all the pieces at the very least.
BUDGET RANGE: ≈ $1000; this can actually vary higher, I'm just not really sure right now but it's probably not going to go past $1800.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Since I'm heading off to university for Natural Sciences, I'll probably prioritize it like so: Folding@Home, "statistical software"(not sure what I'll be using yet, but I don't think this sort of stuff will be that taxing?), gaming, surfing the Internet.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor (maybe this will change, but I really would prefer not to have to do so, I still like this one; it's pretty old, some Cicero Energy Star Perfect Flat thing, I'm not even really sure how I can check exactly what it is since I lost the manual some time ago)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com/.ca, Anitec.ca, Tigerdirect.ca; COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada

PARTS PREFERENCES: I really don't have any preferences, this is my first build afterall...

{OVERCLOCKING: N/A SLI OR CROSSFIRE: N/A} I'm not quite knowledgeable about these things yet (I'm probably just getting one GPU anyway), I suppose that I'll never go that crazy doing any sort of activity or gaming for overclocking(not sure how Folding@Home will be like though) so I think this won't be necessary? Any advice would be appreciated about this though.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I'm currently set at 1024x768 so unless I change my monitor (see above) I don't think there'll be a problem here.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'd definitely prefer a quiet PC; my current computer is quite noisy and it sort of drives me insane during long hours of working. I'm also not quite sure about the compatiblity of my current list of parts. I also have no clue about the OS I'm going to use...I sort of wish I could stay with Windows XP but I've got a feeling I'll have to get Windows 7 or something (I don't know much about this at all either, I've been too focused on everything else), so help here would be nice too. As for gaming, the two games I'm definitely getting are L4D2 and Starcraft 2; not sure what else I'd get since my friends are gifting those to me to play.

READ Obsidian's post (right below) for now! That's what my current setup is based on; this list directly below will be updated once I figure out a few things. List Updated!

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
+
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor ---- $302.98

PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply ---- $89.99

Memory: OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3BE1600C8LV4GK ---- $128.99

Computer Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ---- $89.98

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ---- Apparently they're "Currently Unavailable" at Newegg.ca so I'm buying it at Anitec.ca for $99.95

ODD: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R...48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM ---- $29.99

GPU: EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $139.49

Current Total (before S&H + Taxes): $721.45

However, I might switch the GPU ^ for one of these:

EVGA 01G-P3-1158-TR GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- If I can find it available somewhere (it's also "Currently Unavailable" at Newegg.ca) :pfff: 

PNY VCGGTS2501XPB GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $144.49

GIGABYTE GV-N250-1GI GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $134.49

Extra: If needed, would it also be possible to help recommend additional parts such as fans, power protection/surge suppressor or other stuff? Looking at all the components you can buy is quite unnerving, I'm not even sure if I'd need any of those (e.g SDD, Flash Memory, etc.)

Once again, thanks for any input and reading this super lengthy post.
March 14, 2010 6:16:07 AM

socket 775 is dead and has been replaced with the new socket 1156 but it tends to be at a premium price for your budget i'd suggest an amd am3 paltform which will be better value

Samsung f3 1tb
gigabyte 890 gx board and amd 955 combo
4gb ocz ram and ati 5770
Antec 300 illusion and earthwatts 650 watt combo

Subtotal: $784.93 US but it should be bout $1000CDN

the 9800gt graphics is old the newer ati 5 series cards have dx11 support and uses much less power

4gb of ram is plenty for todays current uses and you want dual channel ram the 3 stick kits are for the intel 1366 platform

i would step up to windows 7 which is more optimised for newer harware but if you like xp i dont see a problem but you wont be getting the best performance out of your pc

any old optical drive will do just sort through the crap ones samsung,lg and pioneer tend to be decent

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March 14, 2010 7:58:59 AM
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obsidian86 said:
socket 775 is dead and has been replaced with the new socket 1156 but it tends to be at a premium price for your budget i'd suggest an amd am3 paltform which will be better value

Samsung f3 1tb
gigabyte 890 gx board and amd 955 combo
4gb ocz ram and ati 5770
Antec 300 illusion and earthwatts 650 watt combo

Subtotal: $784.93 US but it should be bout $1000CDN

the 9800gt graphics is old the newer ati 5 series cards have dx11 support and uses much less power

4gb of ram is plenty for todays current uses and you want dual channel ram the 3 stick kits are for the intel 1366 platform

i would step up to windows 7 which is more optimised for newer harware but if you like xp i dont see a problem but you wont be getting the best performance out of your pc

any old optical drive will do just sort through the crap ones samsung,lg and pioneer tend to be decent

+1 everything but graphics card choice. This is one case where an Nvidia card would actually be a better choice. :o 
ATI cards are dismal at F@H; a 9800GTX+ will get about double the PPD, if I remember correctly. Besides that, despite being weaker than a 5770, a 9800 GTX+ will be fine for non-intensive gaming at resolutions up to ~1650x1080.
If DX11 and/or low power consumption ever become top priority, EnigmaticRunner, consider simply building a second computer for that purpose. Folding@Home favors Nvidia GPUs, which do not offer either (DX11 or low power consumption) atm. True, DX11 Fermi cards will be (should be) out by the end of this month, but their inevitably exorbitant prices and high power consumption make them unattractive already.
Anyway, tbh the parts that obsidian listed are all of better value than the ones you picked out. Your list would have been perfectly acceptable two years ago (besides the triple-channel RAM :whistle: ), but times change quickly.

Choosing an ODD shouldn't be too difficult. If you only want to read DVDs, get a reader at ~20 USD. If you also want to burn DVDs, get a burner at ~25 USD. Blu-Ray readers can be had for ~60 USD, Blu-Ray combos for ~100 USD, and Blu-Ray burners for ~160 USD.

And again, LGA 775 is dead. But when you say $1000, do you mean Canadian dollars? You should probably go the the LGA 1366 route if so. Regardless, a little rule of thumb--if you looking to build something under 1000 USD, go AM3, and if above 1000 USD, go LGA 1366.

Onboard sound is more than sufficient these days, unless you're an extreme audiophile. Surge protectors are always a good idea. You probably won't need extra fans unless you get a case with bad airflow. Speaking of cases, what size are you looking for? Features? Since you're a student, I would suggest the CM Scout. Relatively inexpensive, great airflow, great features, an impressive carrying handle, and, best of all, it looks amazing. :D  The only reasons I can think of for which you'd want to avoid this case is if you want a large 270cm+ graphics card (5830, 5870, most dual-GPU cards), because it's somewhat compact, or if you simply don't like how it looks, which in my book would be a heresy.
Just wondering. Why did you have a 9500 GT in that list also? Dedicated PhysX card?
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March 14, 2010 5:28:33 PM

So I took a look at Obsidian's stuff; it's much better.

I asked around a bit about F@H and people agreed to stick with Nvidia so I guess the 9800 GTX will be fine? As for why I had the 9500 listed, it was actually more a matter of choices; I couldn't decide what GPU I'd want. I didn't really even have the intention of SLI when I picked them; but now this brings up the matter whether or not I need a Dedicated Physx card though...Probably not, I read a few articles/comments saying it's sort of obsolete now since the tech is now already incorporated in Nvidia GPUs? I sort of knew about the triple channel RAM issue but I couldn't find any good dual ones at that moment. :sweat: 

For ODD, I'll probably never need to burn anything so I'll stick with a CD/DVD reader for now.

When I said $1000, I meant Canadian dollars (however, our exhange rate as of this post places us as 1.0177 USD which is another reason why I'm planning on purchasing this stuff now while this boon is still here). I'm really unsure what socket I'd choose; for lack of knowledge, I'd probably choose the AMD that Obsidian listed unless I take look into the LGA 1366.

I'm not too worried about the size of the case even though I'm a student. If anything, I'm just concerned about noise right now since I haven't found much talk about it from the setup above; I really prefer something quiet. The CM Scout looks great, I'm supposing the PSU mounted at the bottom shouldn't be a problem? It's a mid-tower case anyways. What about Obsidian's suggestion though? The Antec 300 Illusion sounds pretty nice as well. Would the CM Scout still be compatible with the Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W? Or would I have to look around for a different PSU?

So 4GB of Ram is alright? I won't be needing any 6GB setup? The quad-core that Obsidian listed isn't overkill, right? I've heard lots of conflicting opinions quad-cores.

On a side note, I hope you meant 27cm+ graphics card otherwise...270cm (2 meters <_<) must be some ungodly beast I've never heard about. :heink: 
March 14, 2010 5:36:51 PM

yeah there is a standard to atx cases so most atx power supplies will fit

but here is a breakdown
$1000cdn or less AMD

$1050-1300 cdn Intel 1156

$1300+ intel 1366

the amd and intel 1156 use ram in dual channel like 2,4,8,16 gb ect

1366 uses tri channel like 3,6,12,24 gb

quad cores are the way to go these days with more and more apllications and games damanding higher specs even amd and intel are readying 6 core cpu's for desktops this yr and amd will have the 6 core slot right into the 890 board and intel will run the 6 core in the 1366 boards that leaves 1156 in the cold a bit
March 14, 2010 6:58:03 PM

obsidian86 said:
yeah there is a standard to atx cases so most atx power supplies will fit

but here is a breakdown
$1000cdn or less AMD

$1050-1300 cdn Intel 1156

$1300+ intel 1366

the amd and intel 1156 use ram in dual channel like 2,4,8,16 gb ect

1366 uses tri channel like 3,6,12,24 gb

quad cores are the way to go these days with more and more apllications and games damanding higher specs even amd and intel are readying 6 core cpu's for desktops this yr and amd will have the 6 core slot right into the 890 board and intel will run the 6 core in the 1366 boards that leaves 1156 in the cold a bit


Hmmm...Alright, I think I won't need to go 1336 for my purposes. I still need a bit more confirmation if 4GB of RAM is really enough (e.g. How much would something like F@H, with other programs open, need to operate really smoothly?)? Some people I've spoken to are still insisting 6GB.
March 14, 2010 7:08:48 PM

F@h doesn use a lot of resources 4gb will plenty you could always step up to 8gb which is the realm of heavy editing and rendering but general use and gaming 4gb is enough
March 14, 2010 11:24:10 PM

EnigmaticRunner said:
So I took a look at Obsidian's stuff; it's much better.

I asked around a bit about F@H and people agreed to stick with Nvidia so I guess the 9800 GTX will be fine? As for why I had the 9500 listed, it was actually more a matter of choices; I couldn't decide what GPU I'd want. I didn't really even have the intention of SLI when I picked them; but now this brings up the matter whether or not I need a Dedicated Physx card though...Probably not, I read a few articles/comments saying it's sort of obsolete now since the tech is now already incorporated in Nvidia GPUs? I sort of knew about the triple channel RAM issue but I couldn't find any good dual ones at that moment. :sweat: 

For ODD, I'll probably never need to burn anything so I'll stick with a CD/DVD reader for now.

When I said $1000, I meant Canadian dollars (however, our exhange rate as of this post places us as 1.0177 USD which is another reason why I'm planning on purchasing this stuff now while this boon is still here). I'm really unsure what socket I'd choose; for lack of knowledge, I'd probably choose the AMD that Obsidian listed unless I take look into the LGA 1366.

I'm not too worried about the size of the case even though I'm a student. If anything, I'm just concerned about noise right now since I haven't found much talk about it from the setup above; I really prefer something quiet. The CM Scout looks great, I'm supposing the PSU mounted at the bottom shouldn't be a problem? It's a mid-tower case anyways. What about Obsidian's suggestion though? The Antec 300 Illusion sounds pretty nice as well. Would the CM Scout still be compatible with the Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W? Or would I have to look around for a different PSU?

So 4GB of Ram is alright? I won't be needing any 6GB setup? The quad-core that Obsidian listed isn't overkill, right? I've heard lots of conflicting opinions quad-cores.

On a side note, I hope you meant 27cm+ graphics card otherwise...270cm (2 meters <_<) must be some ungodly beast I've never heard about. :heink: 

Yes, the 9800GTX+ will be fine. But something I forgot to mention earlier--it's been rebranded as the GTS 250. These cards are almost identical, except that most 250s come with 1GB VRAM as opposed to the 9800GTX+'s common 512MB. Prices are about the same.
You won't need a dedicated PhysX card for what you're doing, from what I can tell. They're more for enthusiasts with high-end CF setups who want a bit more performance in PhysX-optimized games/software.
I suggest you get a DVD burner at least. It'll only cost a few dollars more.
Antec probably produces some of the best quality cases, but these aren't known for being particularly quiet. The Antec EA650 will fit in the Scout fine.
And yes, I meant 27cm+. :whistle: 
March 16, 2010 2:53:43 AM

So this is how the build is looking now:

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
+
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor ---- $302.98

PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply ---- $89.99

Memory: OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3BE1600C8LV4GK ---- $128.99

Computer Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ---- $89.98

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ---- Apparently they're "Currently Unavailable" at Newegg.ca so I'm buying it at Anitec.ca for $99.95

ODD: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R...48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM ---- $29.99

GPU: EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $139.49

However, I might switch the GPU ^ for one of these:

EVGA 01G-P3-1158-TR GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- If I can find it available somewhere (it's also "Currently Unavailable" at Newegg.ca) :pfff: 

PNY VCGGTS2501XPB GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $144.49

GIGABYTE GV-N250-1GI GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $134.49

Besides that I'm probably going to look for a decent surge protector/suppressor.
March 16, 2010 7:52:11 AM

EnigmaticRunner said:
So this is how the build is looking now:

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
+
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor ---- $302.98

PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply ---- $89.99

Memory: OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3BE1600C8LV4GK ---- $128.99

Computer Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ---- $89.98

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ---- Apparently they're "Currently Unavailable" at Newegg.ca so I'm buying it at Anitec.ca for $99.95

ODD: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R...48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM ---- $29.99

GPU: EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $139.49

However, I might switch the GPU ^ for one of these:

EVGA 01G-P3-1158-TR GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- If I can find it available somewhere (it's also "Currently Unavailable" at Newegg.ca) :pfff: 

PNY VCGGTS2501XPB GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $144.49

GIGABYTE GV-N250-1GI GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ---- $134.49

Besides that I'm probably going to look for a decent surge protector/suppressor.

That Gigabyte GTS 250 is ... crippled? Strange. I would go with the PNY, simply because it's the only GTS 250 you listed that has a lifetime warranty. You're only paying $5 more over the 9800GTX+ for an extra 512MB VRAM. Just keep in mind it has only 2 DVI ports, and no HDMI or D-SUB.
Otherwise, looking good.
If you know you'll be sticking to one graphics card, you could get a PSU in the 500W-600W range and save a bit.
This OCZ PSU would be fine (though if you don't count the rebate, it's not much cheaper after shipping), and it'd match with the case LEDs. :) 
March 16, 2010 5:34:22 PM

blackjellognomes said:
That Gigabyte GTS 250 is ... crippled? Strange. I would go with the PNY, simply because it's the only GTS 250 you listed that has a lifetime warranty. You're only paying $5 more over the 9800GTX+ for an extra 512MB VRAM. Just keep in mind it has only 2 DVI ports, and no HDMI or D-SUB.
Otherwise, looking good.
If you know you'll be sticking to one graphics card, you could get a PSU in the 500W-600W range and save a bit.
This OCZ PSU would be fine (though if you don't count the rebate, it's not much cheaper after shipping), and it'd match with the case LEDs. :) 


What exactly do you mean by "crippled" with regards to the Gigabyte GTS 250? I think I'm too blind to see it.

For the GPU...Well both of them don't have HDMI and have only 2 DVI ports but I think the EVGA has D-SUB? I'm not really sure what D-SUB is though and I have less than sufficient knowledge about DVI & HDMI but I don't think I'm ever going to really care enough to have HD visuals so I guess it's inconsequential. I think I might stick with the EVGA though as some people are saying the PNY is loud/louder (& has noise problems) than the EVGA (I'd prefer the quieter one). If ever, I could just upgrade from the EVGA but most of my friends are saying that 512MB is more than enough for F@H and games.

I save $22 (after S&H + Rebate) if I use the OCZ PSU you listed. My only concern is how quiet it is; reviews from both do say that they're very silent, have (active?) PFC and are 80 PLUS certified, so I'm probably going with yours then unless someone has a reason not to do so. The only thing I noticed is that apparently the Antec listed it has "Industrial-grade protection" circuitry, so I wouldn't need a surge protector? Not sure if the OCZ has anything like that though.

Also, anybody think I should get some extra cooling components? I'm not really sure if I need to do that or not.
March 17, 2010 2:17:21 AM

Ended up deciding not to purchase any extra cooling components or a surge suppressor/protector for now. I'm going to wait until I see how everything fits (the spacing left over) and the type of cables and wires before I decide on any additional parts.
March 21, 2010 2:03:45 AM

Best answer selected by EnigmaticRunner.
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