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First Time Building A Computer - Need Some Help On The Parts

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  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
September 14, 2010 4:22:22 PM

Hi Tom's HardWare Members,

I came to the forums earlier for some really great help here:

I'm planning to build a new system and I wish to buy locally at This would be the first time building a system. It took some time and research but I finally decided on a few processors and I want to build 2 systems. One will be AMD and the other would be Intel.

But being this the first time I making a computer and just to make things easier I would like some help with my AMD build first as I still have not clue yet on what motherboard I want to use for my Intel setup.

At the bottom of this post you will find the outline guide that I got off this forum board that shows what i'm looking for this pc to do. I hope it helps.

Here is what I have so far:

AMD SYSTEM (I have choosen 2 processors and i'm either going for the 965 or 955 not sure yet)

Processor 1: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) Quad Core Socket AM3, 3.4GHz, 8Mb Cache, 1800MHz HT, 45nm $179.99

Processor 2: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition (125W) Quad Core Socket AM3, 3.2GHz, 8Mb Cache, 1800MHz HT, 45nm $159.99

MOTHERBOARD: Asus Crosshair IV Formula Socket AM3 AMD 890FX + SB850 Chipset Dual-Channel DDR3 1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 MHz

3x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 X-Fi 8-Channel Audio 6x SATA 6.0Gb/s 2x USB 3.0 ATX $244.99

Despite the northbridge and southbridge overheating occuring on some of these boards from the reviews I read at I hear this board is really solid and that the issue with the overheating can be fixed by grinding down the heat sink stands and if necessary re-applying thermal paste. Other then this problem the board seems to be very solid.

Graphics Card: I honestly would love to get the 5970 as I hear this is one of the best cards on the market place but this is way out of my price range ($700 dollars before taxes - YIKES!!!!). I would be willing to spend anywhere from 200 to 500 on a decent card but I'm unsure from the page here what cards would be good. Epsecially when it comes to crossfire configurations.

I hear the 5870 ATI's are really good to choose from as well and a bit cheaper then the 5970. However the shop I am looking at has so many of different kinds of 5870's and each of them seem to vary on price. They all seem the same to me and I'm lost on which one to get if I decide to get any of them.

Looking for some help here. I want a card that would help meet my needs for gaming and graphics. I hear also direct x11 is coming out soon from some of the reviews I read and this is something that should be considered if purchasing a new GPU. I am hoping someone can help me make a informed decisionI know I want to play games like counterstrike 1.6, counterstrike source, half life 2, bad company 2 or any high intense graphic game first person shooter game or massive online role playing game like WoW, etc.

Here is the page with all the cards sort by price from lowest to highest. The most confusing part to me is that I see the same card but different prices. Which is the lemon card (BAD CARD) and which is the tasty orange card (GOOD CARD):

Memory: Again I'm lost here. I see the motherboard supports the following for memory: 4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory Dual Channel memory architecture. What is the best memory for price. I plan to overclock the CPU to hopefully 4.0 gigahertz so does my memory play a role here? I took a look at the guides on the tom's forum here for top AMD builds and saw alot of the builders using 1600 ram as opposed to the 2000 ram. Also the whole buffered and unbuffered thing baffles me as well what does this mean?. Also which is better for gaming?

Here is the link to the 2000 ram sorted by price low to high:
Here is the link to the 1800 ram sorted by price low to high:
Here is the link to the 1600 ram sorted by price low to high:

Harddrive: What to choose not sure. Read about solid state harddrives being really good for gaming as they have no moving components but they seem pricey compared to sata drives. Any suggestions here on harddrives on what I can do?

Case: Unsure here as well what to choose. I don't really care what the case looks like so long as it has good head room to install parts, easy to move parts inside and out and has adequete cooling and keeps the computer silent (Don't need a airplane or jet engine). Not sure what case to use here from the website section:

CD-ROM/CD BURNER/DVD: Does it matter what I choose here or will any generic one work?

Floppy Disk Drive: I know motherboards don't support this anymore but is there anyway to get one into this system? Someone at a local computer shop tells me you can find them in USB form and just plug them in.

CPU FAN: If i'm planning to overclock my pc what would be a good cooler from here?

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Wish to build and assemble within 1 month after proper research has been done & recommendations have been given.

BUDGET RANGE: $1000 to $1500 - Would like to keep this in the $1000 dollar range with taxes if possible but can stretch to $1500 or even a bit more ($1700 to $2000) if it makes sense to spend more on a part or component. Example why purchase a AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition (125W) Quad Core Socket AM3, 3.2GHz, 8Mb Cache, 1800MHz HT, 45nm for $159.99 when you can get a AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) Quad Core Socket AM3, 3.4GHz, 8Mb Cache, 1800MHz HT, 45nm for $179.99 and get an extra 200Mhz of processing speed.


This is what I would like to do on this system

Single Bootable System (Windows XP Professional or Windows XP Home Edition or Windows 7 Professional Edition)
Duel Bootable System (Windows 98 & Windows XP Professional) - Not even sure if this is possible on a 64 bit chip
Duel Bootable System (Linux Fedora & Windows XP Professional)
Duel Bootable System (Linux Fedora & Windows 7) - Considering buying Windows 7 at this time as Market seems to be changing
Internet Explorer Browsing
High End Graphic PC Gaming
Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Access, Excel
Outlook Express Email
Regular Email (Example: google, yahoo, etc)
Downloading/Uploading Streaming Video

Music Player
Computer Programming (Visual Basic, C++, Java, Perl, HTML/XHTML)
Viewing youtube videos
Flash player capable
MSN/AOL Messenger
Games to be played on System: Counterstrike 1.5, Counterstrike Source, Bad Company 2, Any high graphic end first person shooter game that
comes out later in future. Would like to make certain that this system will be able to play any future games.
Antivirus/Firewall Capable (Use to use Nortons, It was a bottle neck on the system I have. Had to remove it)
Server Capabities (Later on would like to use this a server for home network or set up as a counterstrike server room for friends for online


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speaker, Operating System (Win 98, XP, Fedora)


Graphics Card
Sound Card (Not sure if i need one)
IDE Hard Drive
Power Supply
Computer Case & Fans
Heat Sink
DVD/CD Burner
Floppy Disk (If possible - Yes I know its not used anymore but would hope for it)
Cables to connect all parts together? I hear usually nowadays this all comes with the parts you buy.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: - Or any other website that has good prices to order from for Canadian dollar.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada, Ontario



SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes if it would help save money or improve performance.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Using a SyncMaster 931w with 2000:1 Dynamic contrast. Using windows XP Pro with the following settings at 1152 x 864


Computer needs to be able to do multi-tasking with multiple windows open without freezing or clogging.
Ablility to ALT TAB out quickly launch or access programs
Ability to quickly use Fast User Switching Mode on Windows XP
Computer Fans Need to be quiet (Friend has a computer and sounds like a vacuum cleaner/airplane combo when turned on - don't need this)
Low to moderate power consumption if possible
Something that will suit my needs and will continue on in future for quite sometime.
Any addition items that would prove to be useful please list them that should be considering when making a computer.
Ability to easily upgrade or replace parts as newer components hit the marketplace.

More about : time building computer parts

September 16, 2010 11:26:45 AM

At 1st glance i can tell you this blows in a terrible manner!

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Using a SyncMaster 931w with 2000:1 Dynamic contrast. Using windows XP Pro with the following settings at 1152 x 864

If u do not intend to upgrade your current display (native res : 1440 x 900) please do not fork out for a HD 5970 and Crosshair IV @@

Something like

Propus 635 - Deneb 955BE
785/770 chipset (no wish for SATA/USB 3.0) else 880G/870 mobo
HD 5750/ GTS 450 / HD 4850 / GTS 250
80+ 450-600W PSU (depending if u like headroom)

would already be more than fine