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[H] New System critique

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April 30, 2010 7:01:41 AM

Hi all,

This is my first ever post on Tom's Hardware, and I really hope I've done everything correctly.

Anyway, I'm building a custom system for the first time, and I've been lurking this site quite a bit, trying to research all of the angles and make sure I get the best PC I can get for the budget I'm on. First a little bit about myself and my needs. I'm a college student majoring in art and UNC. I'm also played Starcraft competitively, and obviously I'm looking to switch to SC2 now that it might finally come out. I'm currently playing the Beta on my laptop which was definitely not made for gaming, but it's what I have and definitely better than nothing

Anyway, I'll be working all summer, and I was shooting for a system in the $700-$800 range that I could afford with a good summer's pay, but still has the functionality I need to play Starcraft 2 and do some digital Art with programs such as Corel Painter and Photoshop.

The build is as such:
-ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD Motherboard
-AMD Phenom II X4 925 2.8 GHz (my friend and are planning on OC'ing it to about 3.4 to 3.6 GHz)
-*NVidia GeForce GTS 250 1GB, 256-bit
--4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (A-DATA Gaming series)
*Cooler Master Hyper TX3 fan
-APEVIA X-DREAMER3 Case (probably red or Green if anyone is wondering)
-160 GB 7200 RPM 3.0 GB/s 3.5" Hard Drive (lenovo make, I've had great experiences with them in the past)
-RAIDMAX Blackstone series RX-700AC 700W PSU
-General ASUS CD-Drive
-LG W1953T-PF 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor, max res 1366 x 768
-Logitech LX3 Wired Mouse
-generic Dell keyboard that I'll probably steal from school (don't tell anyone!)
including OS, total price was about $880


I generally used newegg.com for reviews/prices, but also checked out ebay, amazon, buy, and overstock for places to check the prices against.

*in regards to the GPU, i'm very much torn between the mid range GTS series from nvidia and the ATI 4 or 5 series (specifically the 4650 and 5650) mainly because I'm finding it hard to find noticeable differences between them, although the GTS seems to be better at a small price increase. I've looked at quite a few benchmarks, and read a lot about them, but still can't gather enough info to make a comfortable decision. I would definitely like some input here

*as for the fan, i'm just not sure if it will cut it. the fan got great reviews from Newegg, but my life would be so much easier if i could find some fan "benchmarks" or something.

i'm also wondering if there are huge differences in the RAM and Hard Drive areas. 160 GB is basically what I need, since I own an external Hard Drive and don't plan on putting that much on the Computer because I will still be using my laptop for work related things, barring it doesn't die on me. Can I basically get DDR3 Ram at, 1600, 1333, and 1066 and assume that all makes are more or less the same? and are all 3.0 GB/s, 3.5" hard drives basically equal?

other than that, I'm shooting for balance and budget. If any of these seem off please let me know and point me in the right direction.

Thanks a bunch

More about : system critique

April 30, 2010 7:41:41 AM

Heatsinks: http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm

newegg reviews:
newegg reviews can be very useful. You just need to know how to read them. First, total the one and two egg reviews. If there are more than 20% or at most 30% bad reviews, skip the product.

Then read the bad reviews. They will fall into three categories: those written by newbs and "don't have a clue" people, those who found shortcomings that may or may not apply to you, and those that indicate a truly bad product. Pay close attention to the second and third categories.

Here's a good example (personally relevant to me) of review inflation: the 81% 5 egg rating for the Antec 900 case. I would give it no more than 4 eggs because of the truly awful cable management. And I own three of them - all modded ... for better cable management. :) 

Best graphics cards for the money:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

RAM: Some RAM is better than others. I am running Core2 CPU's with DDR2 RAM, so I haven't been looking much at memory lately.

HD: Likewise hard drives. In the mainstream, medium to large drives (500 GB and larger), the Seagate 7200.12's and the Samsung's are a little faster than the WD's because of larger platter sizes..

I'd get something larger than a 160 GB drive. You can get a 320 GB WD Black for not much more than you would pay for a 160.

For more ideas, check the "Build Your Own" section on the home page of this site.

And last (we need a :sigh: smiley :)  ), because this is your first build, take a look at
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-read-postin...

The first part contains a building checklist that may prevent you from making some of the common noobish mistakes.
April 30, 2010 7:41:45 AM

Comments :

1. GTS250 will belong to museum very soon. You might want to consider HD5770

2. Aiming for 500-1000GB HDDs is a lot better option. This is perhaps not what you will need (as you said before) but that 160GB doesn't have a decent price over performance value. You will just wasting your money busing less than 500GB HDDs.

3. I am not saying A-Data is bad. But perhaps you might want to consider getting G.Skill DDR3 1600 CL7

4. Raidmax PSU is not in my shopping list. You might want to get one from Corsair or Antec.

5. How much is that Monitor? I think you will like 19" with 1440xsomething better.

6. You might want to consider GIGABYTE GA-790XT which has about the same price but with USB3.0

Related resources
April 30, 2010 9:13:13 AM

Agree with above poster. 250 is a rebadged 9800, it is old news. In fact, it pains me to say it (as a long term Nvidia fan) but I would not recommend the Nvidia cards for gaming to anyone at the moment. If you want budget go with an ATI 5770, if you can afford better go with 5850 (though at that resolution it is not worth it).

I understand the never ending battle of performance and budget, but some things you just cannot cut corners on and the GPU is one of them if you game.

500Gb is the minimum to go for.

Do you need a new monitor or do you have an old crappy one? Because if you can save, there is a 24 inch 2ms response time monitor for $219 on Newegg that could be worth saving for
April 30, 2010 10:14:27 AM

Another +1 for a better PSU from Antec or Corsair. Never go cheap on PSUs

I would suggest something in the 5xxx series as well. The 250, like stated, is simply a rebadged 9800, which in itself was not a significant improvement over the 8800 GTS series cards. Right now, I'd stick with ATI - great performance, and the power savings at idle are quite nice too.

The suggestions about newegg review are right on point - too many people who don't know what they are doing or who seem extremely disgruntled by something small that will not affect you seem to voice their opinions very loudly.

I'd suggest looking at larger drives as well. The extra $5 or $10 you spend get you double and triple the storage space.
April 30, 2010 1:32:42 PM

I am running a Tx3 on a Phenom ii 945 95w overclocked too 3.4g and the idles are low 30's.I would recommend a second fan in a push pull.
April 30, 2010 1:38:41 PM

froboy449 said:
Hi all,
.
.
.
The build is as such:
-ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD Motherboard
-AMD Phenom II X4 925 2.8 GHz (my friend and are planning on OC'ing it to about 3.4 to 3.6 GHz)
-*NVidia GeForce GTS 250 1GB, 256-bit
--4GB DDR3 1600 RAM (A-DATA Gaming series)
*Cooler Master Hyper TX3 fan
-APEVIA X-DREAMER3 Case (probably red or Green if anyone is wondering)
-160 GB 7200 RPM 3.0 GB/s 3.5" Hard Drive (lenovo make, I've had great experiences with them in the past)
-RAIDMAX Blackstone series RX-700AC 700W PSU
-General ASUS CD-Drive
-LG W1953T-PF 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor, max res 1366 x 768
-Logitech LX3 Wired Mouse
-generic Dell keyboard that I'll probably steal from school (don't tell anyone!)
including OS, total price was about $880


I would not trust that Chokemax PSU half as far as I could hurl it. The specs claim it has active PFC, yet it has a little voltage switch. Assuming its +12V rails are additive (which they are NOT), the maximum +12V amps is still only 552, which is very low for a 700W PSU. I was surprised that it actually was listed at 80plus.org, however I was not able to find a competent technical review of it. Given the inconsistent specs, cheap price, and brand reputation, I wouldn't want this anywhere near my PC. I prefer Antec or Seasonic, but Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, and Enermax are also among the better brands. Four hundred fifty to 500W is all you need for this build; get 650W only if you plan on eventual Crossfire or getting a HD5970 or space heater Fermi.
I agree with others' comments on the GPU. A HD5750 would be fine for your resolution, or even a HD5670 if money is tight when you're ready to build.
Standard resolution for a 19" widescreen is 1440x900. You can get a 22" 1680x1050 monitor for $170 now. Back to the GPU, at 1440x900 a HD5750 should still be enough.



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