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Suggestions Wanted Please

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July 21, 2002 7:03:07 PM

A couple months ago, I decided to build my first PC. Unfortunately, I had did not have the time to do so until now. I now have a new configuration as opposed to what I had a couple of months ago. I would appreciate any input and suggestions. Thank you.

Components – 95% of all components will be purchased from newegg.com

Case – Lian Li PC-75 w/front USB connectors – $254.00

Case fans – 2X Panaflo 80mm@2950RPM, 30.0dB-A – $12.00 ea.

??? PSU – Antec True480 w/Blue LED – $95.00 ??? Too much power?

CPU – AMD XP 2200+ – $211.00

CPU thermal paste – Artic Silver III – $11.00 (6g.)

??? CPU shim – Thermaltake – $5.00 ??? NECESSARY???

HSF – Thermaltake Volcano 7+ – $42.00

??? Motherboard – Soyo Dragon Ultra (KT333) – $170.00 OR
Epox 8K3A+ w/RAID – $120.00 ???

Memory – Corsair XMS PC2700 512MB DDR RAM – $216.00

??? Hard Drive – 120GB WD “Special Edition” – $175.00 OR
2X 80GB WD “Special Edition” RAID Security Array – $224.00 ???

DVD-ROM – Pioneer 106s – $46.00

CD-RW – Lite On 48x12x48 – $93.00 OR

Video Card – Asus V8460 Ultra Deluxe GeForce4 Ti-4600 – $380.00

??? Sound Card – SB Audigy – $166.00 OR
Hercules GTXP 6.1 – $ 109.00 ???

Modem - USR 56K V.92 - $68.00

NIC – 3COM PCI 10/100 3C905CX-TXNM – $35.00

??? OS – Windows XP Home Edition – $90.00 OR
Windows XP Professional Edition – $189.000 ???

Price - approximately $2000 I would like to get the price down a little. What should I consider downgrading?

1. Is it necessary to use a CPU shim?
2. Soyo Dragon Ultra or Epox 8K3A+?
3. Should I get a 120GB WD SE or 2X 80 WD SE in RAID Security Array?
4. Audigy or GTXP? I have read some threads on this but have not had the chance to hear them for myself. Will Audigy conflict with my KT333 mobo?
5. WinXP Home or Pro? Are there any significant differences?

Sorry for all of the questions. It is my first build and I want to cover all of the bases. Thanks.

More about : suggestions wanted

July 21, 2002 10:35:10 PM

I think that your case is huge, you are probably overdoing that one, it has like 8 bays and you're only going to be using 2 or 3 of them.

Your processor, well, if you really need the extra couple of hundred megahertz, or you just absolutely have to be on top of everything, sure go with that one. But, I believe the best deal on processors at newegg in the AMD section is the 1.4ghz(xp1600).

According to an AMD processor manual I read, thermal paste should not be used on a production machine because it gets crusty or something :p . Check www.amd.com's athlon processor guide section for more details.

Everything I buy I get from newegg, except for a couple of things:

RAM - cheapest and best quality ram is always at www.crucial.com free 2nd day shipping as well
Monitor - way too expensive to ship

I am personally afraid of Lite-on cd burners, as I have had horrible luck with them, and they are on the no name brand side of burners. I would stick with a more well known brand such as plextor or yamaha or tdk.

As for everything else, can't go wrong with a geforce card, and I doubt you'll notice a difference between sound cards. I think you left out your speakers, keyboard, mouse, and monitor in this listing -- probably a good thing to get those at your local compusa or bestbuy anyways =).
July 22, 2002 8:19:27 PM

I agree with jroes, that case is for servers. You probably won't have more than 2 hard drives, a CD-ROM, and a floppy, right? Try the <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduct.asp?submit=manufa..." target="_new">PC-60U</A>. It is essentially a mid tower case with front mounted USB ports and adjustable fans. If you get this case you don't need to buy additional case fans. Actually it will be pointless because it already comes with 4! They are generally very quiet fans, especially the front and top fans, but the exhaust is a bit louder.

If you do decide to get a case that doesn't already come with fans and need to buy them separately, keep in mind Panaflos are pretty loud as case fans actually. Their noise level increases because they vibrate a lot in the case, so you really want a lot quieter fans to compensate for added noise from vibration. Try PC Power and Cooling's <A HREF="http://www.pcpowercooling.com/products/alarmandaccesori..." target="_new">Silencer Fans</A> or get the original Papst, known to be very quiet. It should provide adequate flow.

Actually due to the limited availability of processors later on, it's advisable not to go too low. If you think, "oh my mainboard supports faster processors so I'll buy a slow one now and upgrade later," it probably won't work. I would go with <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduct.asp?submit=manufa..." target="_new">an Athlon XP 2000+</A> for $135. You save a lot of money and it's barely more than 100mhz slower, translating to less than an 8% clock speed increase from 2000+ to 2200+, while you pay 56% more for the 2200+ compared to the 2000+. 56% more for 8% isn't a good deal, in my opinion. Save that money for something else and reward yourself later on for saving that money!

As long as you don't transport your computer, there's no need for a shim as it will only raise your temps by around 2C or so. Some people are more careful though, and they may get one even if they don't transport their computers. Not a bad decision but still I like to keep my processor a bit cooler.

I like the Volcano 7+. Just make sure you mount it correctly with the "step" in the right place or else it will not have proper contact. Surprisingly, many people have run into this problem. They forget to match the heatsink up to the processor. Just fit it like a lego brick and you'll be fine. Be careful though, as it is easy to screw up.

"Motherboard – Soyo Dragon Ultra (KT333) – $170.00 OR
Epox 8K3A+ w/RAID – $120.00" Hmm... actually I would recommend Asus or MSI. I would also recommend Soltek. The Asus and MSI are known to be very stable boards, and both have CPU overheat protection so your processor doesn't blow up in your face. The Soltek also has overheat protection. Also if one of them has the highpoint RAID controller I hear that it's much better than the Promise.

Corsair.. good memory! Good choice. Keep in mind you could pay half what you're paying now for 512MB PC2100 memory from crucial (about $100) if you wanted to save money. PC2700 memory will give you about a 6-7% performance increase. You decide if that's worth $100 to you.

Why don't you RAID your drives in mode 0? That'll give you better speed than security mode. I don't know why you'd want redundancy anyways? Get the 2x Western Digital 80GB drives and use them in RAID 0.

Good choice of CD-ROM drive. Make sure once you install it you download a firmware that allows you to hack different regions so you aren't restricted to only watching DVD movies monopolized "ahem" selected for viewing in the United States only.

Don't get the Lite-on 48X. It has practically no performance increase over a Lite-on 32X. Get the 40X for $67. I guarantee 48X won't get you faster speeds. This is mainly because the CD-R media has to support those speeds too, and also because recording in fast speeds reduces quality. Most people who get 40X drives use 12X media and record at no more than 16X anyway! Again, the operative term here is "readability" and fast speeds don't do that for you. If you are crazy you can get a 40X, download a firmware, and upgrade it to a 48X for "free". Read more in the CD-R/RW forum. The Lite-on drives ever since their 24X actually have been rockin'. They have the most advanced buffer overflow protection right now. Yamaha may have the 8MB buffer but if you have good overflow protection you don't need that buffer. Also others like Plextor don't even support Safedisc 2.51 burning.

Okay, video card. First of all you're paying too much for a GF4. 6 days I would have told you this was a good card. But have you read the news? ATi has released their R9700 to production and will be available on August 17th. It will be in the same price category as the GF4 Ti 4600 and is much faster, has better DVD playback and video decoding/picture enhancement (GF4 ti 4600 has none of this), great TV out support (probably higher quality than the GF4 ti 4600, Anand Tech has said it's the best quality they've ever seen), full directx 9 support (GF4 Ti4600 has directx 8.1), better pixel shader support, more accurate 16-bit color per channel for pixel shaders that are programmable (as opposed to the GF4 ti4600's 8-bit, non-programmable), enhanced smoothvision, support for 16X anisotropic (as opposed to the GF4 Ti 4600's 8X max) with trilinear at the same time, and improved Hyper-Z for optimized FSAA, up to 6x (as opposed to the GF4 Ti 4600's 4x). Why not wait for a month? It will cost the same as what you're paying now. If you think August 17th is too far away, that's fine though. I strongly encourage you to read the previews and some benchmarks for this card first before you dive into a decision. Here's a good preview: <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.html?i=1656" target="_new">R300 Preview</A>. Some would say it's just vaporware but I say differently since they have benchmarks this time...

Get the Hercules GTXP, not the Audigy. Not only do you save money, but the Audigy is a picky PCI card and has some compatibility problems with the KT333 chipset. No you probably won't run into these, but still it is important to keep in mind in case you decide to migrate your sound card to a future computer. This isn't all of it, however. The GTXP has generally better sounding music playback, better reverb (people say the Live and Audigy echo too much and I agree), and still supports EAX 1.0 and 2.0. It doesn't support EAX advanced HD, although I only know of one game that does support this (soldier of fortune 2).

Modems I don't know much about other than just don't get a Creative one! I have one and it sucks!

For network, see if the Asus or MSI or maybe Soltek has built in LAN. If so you don't need a NIC.

Get Home Edition, it will do everything you need. Everyone has Pro however because they pirated it. :)  But yeah, go for Home Ed, it will save money, and Pro is only for network administrators mainly and may actually cause you a lot of hassle in the end because there are too many options to change.

This little cathode light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!
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July 24, 2002 4:06:19 AM

Thanks for the replies.

For my choice of cases besides the Lian Li PC-75, I was also looking at the PC-65USB or an Antec 1080. However, I ended up chosing the PC-75 for its roominess and quality based on some review that I have read. I have seen pictures of the PC6x series and they just seemed a tad cramped. Is the PC6x series easy to work with? The Antec 1080 seems to be in between the PC-75 and PC-65. The 1080 would run me about $230 including shipping, but it does have PSU.

As for the CPU, does the 2200+ run cooler than the Palomino-based CPU's? If it does, I might stick with it rather than changing it to a Palomino. Is that logical or are the temperature differences negligible? This might be a stupid question but, what is a "production machine"?

I will be transporting my PC (by car) from school back to my home during vacations, so it would be better to be on the safe side and use a shim, right?

I am still undecided about the mobo. I didn't choose the Asus because it's not jumperless and I have read negative comments about the AMI bios that the MSI mobo uses. Are these major issues or would they be reasonable trade-offs for more stability? Also both use the Promise Raid controller whereas the Soyo uses the Highpoint. Is the Soyo comprable to the Asus and MSI mobos in regards to stability?

I was planning to use the 2 WB 80GB's in redundancy because I will be using the PC mainly for schoolwork and I'd hate to lose all those papers I have to write. I don't know that much about RAID, but when striping the two drives for faster performance, you risk losing everything right? Also, if I do not use two HDD's, how can I set up my IDE drives (120GB HDD, DVD-ROM, CD-RW) so that they can each have an unshared IDE channel?

As for the Lite-On CD-RW, I was wondering about reliability at high write speeds and now I will get the slower model you mentioned. I also read about the Asus CRW4012A drive that runs at 40x12x48. How does it compare with the Lite On? I think that it is identical with a few differences, but I don't remember where I read it.

I have read about R9700, but unfortunately, I have to build the PC before August 17. The Ti-4600 is a very expensive video card and I will probably shift that down to a Ti-4400 or Ti-4200 model to save some money. I'll probably later when the next nVidia card comes out.

I want to research a little bit more before ordering the parts. I'll post a revised list soon based upon the suggestions in this thread. Thanks again for all the help.
July 29, 2002 1:39:53 AM

<A HREF="http://usa.asus.com/index.asp" target="_new">Asus</A> motherboards are jumperless, and have been for some years now. I've tried a few different brands over the years and now use Asus boards exclusively. I have never had a problem with them. Also their tech support is always quick to pick up the line and always has an answer to my questions. Asus is a top notch company putting out top notch products. They may cost a bit more than <A HREF="http://www.epox.com/html/english/products/motherboard/D..." target="_new">Epox</A> or <A HREF="http://www.soyousa.com/products/" target="_new">Soyo</A>, but its well worth the small price difference in my opinion.

As far as modems are concerned, you can't go wrong with <A HREF="http://www.usrobotics.com/products/home/p-home-menu.asp" target="_new">USR</A>. They are one of the industry standards. They're <A HREF="http://www.usrobotics.com/products/business/p-business-..." target="_new">V.Everything</A> series are great, although they're quite a bit more expensive, but the other models are good as well. Whatever you do, don't get a "WinModem", they are crap, even the USR ones.

For sound cards, if you're looking to trim some cost, the <A HREF="http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/santacruz/prod..." target="_new">Turtle Beach Santa Cruz</A> card is pretty good. I had a SB Live Platinum that just up and died on me one day, so I picked up a Santa Cruz for $79 at CompUSA. It actually sounds better than my Live Plat did. I just built a new system for my parents, and got one for $59 on sale at CompUSA as well. Its a good 6 channel card for an even greater price for the cost conscious.

With the hard drives, you definately can't go wrong with <A HREF="http://www.westerndigital.com/products/Products.asp?Dri..." target="_new">WD Special Editions</A> no matter which you have. I've got 6 WD1200JB's in RAID5 and 2 WD800JB's in RAID1 and they're outstanding!

Good luck with your system whichever way you decide!

-Javic
July 29, 2002 2:39:45 AM

You spend $295 on a CASE, and then get an XP CPU for what, to save money? Hope you have the worst VIA problems in the world, just so you learn from this experience. The GTXP is a nice card, but I don't like the external box, I like the Santa Cruiz for simplicity and quality. Oh, that would save you about $40 also.

I get my Panaflo fans for free, God bless America and scaped high end business computers. Oh, they are very nice fans.

CPU shim is unecessary.

Nice network card, I get mine out of $5 scrapped systems, the same model card even!

Oh, you can never have too much power, but you can PAY to much to get power you'll never use.

Er, I know of a place where you can get XP Pro for free, and a clean number to use it, but I can't say any more about that. I'm sure if you think hard enough you'll figure it out.

If you want the best performance you'll have to get a P4. As inefficient as the P4 is, the 2.53 is still much faster than the 2200+. And if you're thinking of overclocking, well, the 2.53 overclocks to around 3GHz.

Ti 4600? Why not wait a few weeks for the ATI 9700, which is like 25% faster in games, and has many more features, including full DX9 support?

All in all, I say you're going for the "your system r0x0rZ d00d" type gaming sytem, that so many people who think they know more than everyone else goes for, fancy case, high price, less than top performance for the price. The specs may impress the quasi "hardcore gaming" crowd, but likely they will simply be impressed with the case, no matter what you put inside! I think you could spend your $2000 on a better performing system.

<font color=blue>By now you're probably wishing you had ask more questions first!</font color=blue>
July 30, 2002 2:18:39 PM

<i>For my choice of cases besides the Lian Li PC-75, I was also looking at the PC-65USB or an Antec 1080. However, I ended up chosing the PC-75 for its roominess and quality based on some review that I have read. I have seen pictures of the PC6x series and they just seemed a tad cramped. Is the PC6x series easy to work with? The Antec 1080 seems to be in between the PC-75 and PC-65. The 1080 would run me about $230 including shipping, but it does have PSU.</i>

Cramped, no way. I actually like smaller cases as they take up less space, weigh much less, and cost less (my Lian-Li PC60U was $141 including shipping). I have one and it's got plenty of space. However, if you really want something nice and are willing to do a lot of tweaking, get this case: <A HREF="http://www.tweaknews.net/reviews/kingwinkt436bk/" target="_new">http://www.tweaknews.net/reviews/kingwinkt436bk/&lt;/A>. It'll be really loud with all those fans probably but that's why I said "willing to do a lot of tweaking".

<i>As for the CPU, does the 2200+ run cooler than the Palomino-based CPU's? If it does, I might stick with it rather than changing it to a Palomino. Is that logical or are the temperature differences negligible? This might be a stupid question but, what is a "production machine"?</i>

It will run cooler than its corresponding part. Look <A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/cpu/showdoc.html?i=1635&p=4" target="_new">here</A> to see the temps of all the current AMD processors. "Production machine" is either a very vague term, or it's a cloned term specialized for the computer manufacturing industry. My advice is to take it on its own etymology and guess what it means.

<i>I will be transporting my PC (by car) from school back to my home during vacations, so it would be better to be on the safe side and use a shim, right?</i>

If you are then yes most definitely get a shim. Make sure you differentiate though. Look at the transistors on your processor and see where they line up or your shim might not fit.

<i>I am still undecided about the mobo. I didn't choose the Asus because it's not jumperless and I have read negative comments about the AMI bios that the MSI mobo uses. Are these major issues or would they be reasonable trade-offs for more stability? Also both use the Promise Raid controller whereas the Soyo uses the Highpoint. Is the Soyo comprable to the Asus and MSI mobos in regards to stability?</i>

I heard the bad things about the BIOS too. Maybe you should go with the Asus. If I were in your position and wanted a solid system Asus generally can't be beat. They are one of the few businesses in the industry that has an actual name brand, and not a monopoly. I recommended the Highpoint controller as the Promise one seems to have some incompatibilities/inconsistencies with certain motherboards. If you can determine that the Asus A7V333 works with the Promise controller I'd say there's nothing to worry about. Try doing a search in the forums and go to the viaarena.com forums and search there too. Try viahardware.com too. Don't know a whole lot about the Soyo. You decide if the hassle of doing the research is worth it, otherwise I'd say the Asus board is pretty much no-nonsense and should work well. Also the Asus board has CPU overheat protection. You don't want to lose a $130 processor to carelessness (which is easier than you might think).

<i>I was planning to use the 2 WB 80GB's in redundancy because I will be using the PC mainly for schoolwork and I'd hate to lose all those papers I have to write. I don't know that much about RAID, but when striping the two drives for faster performance, you risk losing everything right? Also, if I do not use two HDD's, how can I set up my IDE drives (120GB HDD, DVD-ROM, CD-RW) so that they can each have an unshared IDE channel?</i>

RAID is supposed to be less reliable than a single hard drive because it has a higher chance of mechanical failure. It's a simple probability equation. Suppose P=.02 after 5 years for a single drive. Add another drive in RAID 0, and the chance of either of both drives failing is P=.04 over the same time period. But in terms of MTBF, both drives would retain their manufacturer's specifications and warranty. Because of this I'd say you're really not at risk. But I'd also challenge you to question whether you need RAID or not. Most people never need it, and the people who do are often just hardcore gamers who'd rather load a level in a computer game in 5 seconds rather than 10. As for other horror stories about RAID compatibility and breakdowns, the reason for the fear of a breakdown is that data collection companies will charge you more to retrieve data off striped RAID drives than they will charge for normal or mirrored drives. Setting them up for normal, non-RAID use is easy. Just connect one to the master and one to the slave on the same IDE cable (or you can master it on the secondary IDE channel though I prefer to have my CD/DVD there). Set the jumpers on the hard drive properly, and you're set. If you want each to have a separate channel perhaps you can use the RAID IDE channels. Don't have any experience with this, so I would search for it.

<i>As for the Lite-On CD-RW, I was wondering about reliability at high write speeds and now I will get the slower model you mentioned. I also read about the Asus CRW4012A drive that runs at 40x12x48. How does it compare with the Lite On? I think that it is identical with a few differences, but I don't remember where I read it.</i>

I heard good things about the Asus drive too. If the price on it is low enough to compare to the Lite On then look into it. Otherwise, the Lite On has a good reputation with many of its users, and generally it's better to rely on tested hardware than something you read in a review (lots of reviews are wrong these days).

<i>I have read about R9700, but unfortunately, I have to build the PC before August 17. The Ti-4600 is a very expensive video card and I will probably shift that down to a Ti-4400 or Ti-4200 model to save some money. I'll probably later when the next nVidia card comes out.</i>

Good luck. Just wondering, what will you need a video card for? If you don't need it for playing hardcore 3d games then you could go with a cheaper, more fitting solution. Likewise, you may want to change the scope of what you are trying to build. Focusing around making a quiet system, for instance, would be very helpful for use in a public environment. As it stands right now you're probably on track to build a 60dbA monster unless you do more research on computer case/CPU cooling and quieting down fans.

1° of separation between my monopoly and yours. That's business with .NET
July 30, 2002 2:33:05 PM

Crash, Gimme a clue on the free XP Pro?

If all else fails, Go further :) 
July 30, 2002 6:17:30 PM

Well, you could try WinMX or mIRC.

<font color=blue>By now you're probably wishing you had ask more questions first!</font color=blue>
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