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Need some advice?

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April 7, 2012 3:44:11 AM

Hi everyone! So recently my computer has been acting up and isn't working anymore. I plan to buy a couple parts and use parts from my old computer...this is a family computer and for mid range gaming...but also w budget PC. Here's what I got so far:

(new parts)
Biostar A880G+ Micro ATX motherboard
AMD Athlon II 450 X3 Rana 3.2GHZ Triple core
4GB G.Skill Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1333
EVGA Geforce GTX 550 Ti
Rosewill Challenger Case

(used parts)
640gb(?) WD caviar black HD
CD/DVD Drive
Thermaltake 500watt PSU.

Now here's my questions!

1. How do I go about putting windows 7 on the new mobo? The broken computer was an HP..the original hard drive came with Vista. HD crashed, bought new hard drive and retail version if windows 7. Keep in mind I can't access this HD at all...

2. Watts...is 500 enough? I used a calculator and it said I only need 300watts. I find that hard to believe because I read around the GTX 550 takes like 300watts.

3. just some advice on putting this all together? this is my first time ever putting a whole computer together. I mean I have experience; I've put a new graphics card, hooked up my PSU and connected it to everything, and installed a new HD, but never put a motherboard in a case or installed a CPU.

Any help is greatly appreciated! :) 

More about : advice

a b B Homebuilt system
April 7, 2012 4:17:12 AM

1. To install Windows on the new machine, just assemble everything, make sure it powers on and gives you the POST screen, and you'll eventually come to a message that says something to the effect of "No operating system found; insert bootable media." This is good. It means your machine works and is looking for the OS, which of course is not there yet.

So, restart the machine and go into the BIOS. There will be a setting called "Boot Priority" or something similar. Make sure your DVD drive is selected as the first priority. Now insert the Windows disc, then save and exit the BIOS. Your machine will restart and boot to the Windows setup screen from the disc. The rest should be pretty self-explanatory. When you're done and have Windows working, though - don't forget to go back into the BIOS and set the boot priority back to the hard drive as #1 and DVD drive as #2. Otherwise it'll continue trying to boot from a disc first.

Also - your old copy of Vista is probably toast, I'm afraid. If it was an HP machine, they used an OEM copy of Windows that was tied to that particular motherboard. If they gave you the "system recovery disc," it probably has a copy of Vista on it, but you'd either have to activate it on a system using the same motherboard, or call Microsoft and verbally tell them that your system died and you needed to replace the motherboard.

2. 500 watts should be plenty. The 300W figures that you're seeing are probably for a whole system's power consumption that happens to be using a 550Ti. The video card itself has a max power draw of 116W per Nvidia's specs:
http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gt...

3. Most of it is not rocket science, but the hardest parts for beginners (or at least most nerve-racking until you get used to them) are probably installing the CPU heatsink and then connecting all the wires.

Basically, the most important advice I can give you to make it easy is that the very first step should be to install the CPU, heatsink and RAM while the motherboard is not yet in the case, because that lets you get at both the front and back of the board easily. Depending on the heatsink, having someone else for an extra set of hands may be a big help - but AMD's stock coolers snap in pretty easily.

AMD also tends to have thermal paste pre-applied to their CPUs so you don't have to - just stick the heatsink on as-is - but if you get one that's just bare metal, watch/read a tutorial on how to apply the paste. Everyone uses way too much the first time. http://www.arcticsilver.com/amd_application_method.html...

Then when you have those steps taken care of, install the PSU to the case, then lay the case flat and lower the motherboard in. As long as you're gentle with everything, it should all just fit right into place, and then the hardest part will be connecting the various wires to motherboard headers, which is basically just reading a lot of diagrams and double-checking.

One more thing - if you turn on your machine the first time and everything works but there's nothing on the monitor: Your motherboard has an onboard video chipset that it will default to unless you disable it in the BIOS. So plug your monitor into the motherboard's built-in VGA port at first, then when you're at a place where things are stable (either before or after installing Windows), disable that onboard video and plug the monitor into the video card instead. That's probably the #1 problem people come here with from their brand-new system build. That or the RAM settings being incorrect.
April 7, 2012 4:56:26 AM

Not sure if you are dead set on AMD or not but for the same price you can get an intel setup that will run games a bit faster and at a lower TDP. Plus you don't have to get a biostar motherboard.
Pentium G630 $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASRock H61m $60 mATX or $65 ATX. The ATX has 4 DIMM slots, 1 more PCI-E x1, and 2 additional SATA3 slots.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Benchmarks for the G630 and Athlon IIx3 head to head.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-a...
Related resources
April 7, 2012 5:27:31 AM

That's a great PC. I have a very similar build.
My Athlon x3 unlocked to a Phenom X4, which I was then able to overclock to 3.7GHZ.
I have a 500w psu, which powers the OC, an EVGA 560ti SC, and my drives.
I'd recommend trying to get a 560ti, worth the extra money imo
April 7, 2012 5:41:54 AM

member9999 said:
That's a great PC. I have a very similar build.
My Athlon x3 unlocked to a Phenom X4, which I was then able to overclock to 3.7GHZ.
I have a 500w psu, which powers the OC, an EVGA 560ti SC, and my drives.
I'd recommend trying to get a 560ti, worth the extra money imo

Lucky :( . Mine refused to unlock. It did overclock nicely though. If I had to rebuild right now I wouldn't go for an AthlonII build. No upgrade path and has to be overclocked to keep up with Intel's offering at the same price point.
April 7, 2012 6:00:23 AM

masseybe84 said:
Lucky :( . Mine refused to unlock. It did overclock nicely though. If I had to rebuild right now I wouldn't go for an AthlonII build. No upgrade path and has to be overclocked to keep up with Intel's offering at the same price point.

Yeah I agree on that one. My AM3 board has nothing worth upgrading to, so there's nothing really left to do except wait for a good intel/mobo combo deal. That's not to say I'm not satisfied with the performance of my computer, I definitely am, but computers these days get outdated way too fast.

And to be honest, the difference of one extra core is barely noticeable on this processor. I've messed around with both stock and unlocked and there is no difference in everyday computing and maybe a small difference in gaming. So I wouldn't be to upset it didn't unlock
April 7, 2012 6:33:36 AM

Yeah my wife's computer is running a Phenom IIx4 at 3.8 GHZ with a 6850 and her FPS is exactly the same as mine. She is running a 1080 monitor while mine is 1680x1050 though. Definately turned me off on my thoughts about upgrading my processor.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 7, 2012 7:07:14 AM

If this is for gaming, ditch AMD. Check the rigs in my sig for better suggestions.
April 7, 2012 7:14:08 AM

Not necessarily true^
For around 500 you can have a amd rig with a 560ti that will do just as good if not better than the 500 and 600 rig... Just sayin
a b B Homebuilt system
April 7, 2012 7:29:56 AM

member9999 said:
Not necessarily true^
For around 500 you can have a amd rig with a 560ti that will do just as good if not better than the 500 and 600 rig... Just sayin

Care to spec one then? I'd love to see a 560Ti in a $500 or $600 build with a CPU on par with a G850/FX4100.

Whats the cheapest AMD CPU you can get? Not counting the single core models, An Athlon II X2 will cost $60, and so will a motherboard. For the same money, a G620 and H61 will give you much more performance.

The same goes for whatever AMD CPU you pick. Intel has a better performing CPU (for gaming) for almost the same price. Why would you recommend someone to get lower performance for the price, just for the sake of going AMD?

I'll agree AMD can hold it's own when it comes to gaming, heck I'm typing this on a PII X4 955, and upgrading from an AMD CPU to Intel to get more performance is pointless. You are better off spending that money elsewhere. But for someone buying something new for gaming, and on a budget, AMD is sadly not an option anymore.
April 7, 2012 7:41:15 AM

The CPU the OP suggested is ~75 bucks and has a good chance of unlocking to a phenom x4. I never said the CPU would be on par with other CPUs, but for gaming and real world computing it is a small difference and can be made up for by getting a slightly better GPU imo.

And I never said I was only recommending AMD, especially just for the sake of AMD. I like intel too. Try not to put so many words in my mouth.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 7, 2012 9:10:11 PM

I definitely do think the Intel G630 is the better option, but I agree, it's not the end of the world if you go with AMD.

Until recently, Intel really had nothing that could compete with AMD at that price point - so pretty much every general-purpose and budget gaming system I built for a year and a half was some version of an AMD triple-core. Sad to say, that's not the case anymore; Intel woke up and realized they were getting killed in that market and came out with something better. But those AMD triple-core machines are still fine for their purpose.

I imagine that the G630 is going to be the CPU of choice in this price range until AMD either drops the price of the low-end Zambezi processors by $30, or comes out with a low-end Piledriver processor for $75 that delivers better performance.
April 8, 2012 4:55:10 AM

capt_taco said:
1. To install Windows on the new machine, just assemble everything, make sure it powers on and gives you the POST screen, and you'll eventually come to a message that says something to the effect of "No operating system found; insert bootable media." This is good. It means your machine works and is looking for the OS, which of course is not there yet.

So, restart the machine and go into the BIOS. There will be a setting called "Boot Priority" or something similar. Make sure your DVD drive is selected as the first priority. Now insert the Windows disc, then save and exit the BIOS. Your machine will restart and boot to the Windows setup screen from the disc. The rest should be pretty self-explanatory. When you're done and have Windows working, though - don't forget to go back into the BIOS and set the boot priority back to the hard drive as #1 and DVD drive as #2. Otherwise it'll continue trying to boot from a disc first.

Also - your old copy of Vista is probably toast, I'm afraid. If it was an HP machine, they used an OEM copy of Windows that was tied to that particular motherboard. If they gave you the "system recovery disc," it probably has a copy of Vista on it, but you'd either have to activate it on a system using the same motherboard, or call Microsoft and verbally tell them that your system died and you needed to replace the motherboard.

2. 500 watts should be plenty. The 300W figures that you're seeing are probably for a whole system's power consumption that happens to be using a 550Ti. The video card itself has a max power draw of 116W per Nvidia's specs:
http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gt...

3. Most of it is not rocket science, but the hardest parts for beginners (or at least most nerve-racking until you get used to them) are probably installing the CPU heatsink and then connecting all the wires.

Basically, the most important advice I can give you to make it easy is that the very first step should be to install the CPU, heatsink and RAM while the motherboard is not yet in the case, because that lets you get at both the front and back of the board easily. Depending on the heatsink, having someone else for an extra set of hands may be a big help - but AMD's stock coolers snap in pretty easily.

AMD also tends to have thermal paste pre-applied to their CPUs so you don't have to - just stick the heatsink on as-is - but if you get one that's just bare metal, watch/read a tutorial on how to apply the paste. Everyone uses way too much the first time. http://www.arcticsilver.com/amd_application_method.html...

Then when you have those steps taken care of, install the PSU to the case, then lay the case flat and lower the motherboard in. As long as you're gentle with everything, it should all just fit right into place, and then the hardest part will be connecting the various wires to motherboard headers, which is basically just reading a lot of diagrams and double-checking.

One more thing - if you turn on your machine the first time and everything works but there's nothing on the monitor: Your motherboard has an onboard video chipset that it will default to unless you disable it in the BIOS. So plug your monitor into the motherboard's built-in VGA port at first, then when you're at a place where things are stable (either before or after installing Windows), disable that onboard video and plug the monitor into the video card instead. That's probably the #1 problem people come here with from their brand-new system build. That or the RAM settings being incorrect.


Wow man thanks a bunch! Everything I needed to know. Seems easy enough... really appreciate the help! Oh, and I'm not worried about not having Vista anymore. That was loaded on the hard drive that died on me. I've been very happy with my Windows 7! :p 
April 8, 2012 4:56:19 AM

@masseybe84

Thank you very much as well! Really a great help. I didn't really want to go with AMD, but I figured everything was cheaper. I had no idea Intel upgraded the Pentium Series! I took your advice and went along with that CPU, and thankfully I don't have to use a Biostar motherboard :p  I got an ASUS instead, and upped my memory for G.Skill 8gb.

Once again thanks everyone! :) 
April 8, 2012 4:56:59 AM

Sorry for double post
!