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Suggestions and Comments on new PC?

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January 15, 2003 4:02:03 PM

Okay, Yule left my new PC fund below usefulness, so I didn't end up getting a new computer. :(  I did however get a Palm PC with a mini keyboard for it and a Cannon i850 printer to help with home-office work. (By the way, that printer just plain rocks!)

My PC fund is now at about $300. However, maybe once tax returns come around I'll do better because I've now officially owned my house for a year and may get a nice tax break there. So I'm looking back at the range of $600 USD for a new PC. (Money for monitor is seperate from this and I already have keyboard, mouse, floppy, and completely unused Win license as well as the Mandrake 9.0 CDs.)

Here is what I'm thinking about at present. Comments and suggestions that help me tweak my bang for the same buck are not only welcome, but appreciated. All prices that I list reflect cost of product AND S&H combined, taken from Pricewatch.

Antec SLK1600 Mini Tower w/300W PS = $50
(retail)Leadtek WinFast K7NCR18D-Pro, nForce2 = $116
(OEM)AMD Athlon 1700+ ThoroughbredA CPU = $57
Vantec Aeroflow VA4-C7040 heatsink/fan = $29
256MB Corsair XMS PC3200 CAS2 = $87
ATI Sapphire Radeon 9000, 64MB = $62
(retail)Creative Modem Blaster DSI V.92 D/V/F = $33
WD 800JB, 80GB, 7200RPM, 8MB cache = $104
Lite-On IDE 16X DVD-ROM/48X CD-ROM = $35

Unless I screwed up at basic addition, my total comes out to $572, which leaves me about $30 to spare for tweaking. Here are my thoughts: I want an nForce2 mobo. I want firewire. Getting them both together only seems logical. I can (hopefully) OC the TBredA 1700+ to a 166Mhz FSB. I know the Vantec heat sink is kind of expensive, but it's also supposed to be quiet. I know I'm not using my the dual-channel feature <i>yet</i>, but my first upgrade to the system will probably be a second identical stick of RAM and then I will be. I like Creative's modem software and have had really bad luck with crap modems in the past.

So again, thoughts, suggestions, comments, etc. are appreciated. :) 


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More about : suggestions comments

January 15, 2003 4:12:06 PM

all looks good but i would get a different nforce 2 mobo.The leadtek ones seem to be a bit limited in features and tweaking potential according to the anandtech 6-way nforce 2 review.I would recommend epox EP-8RDA or one of the Abit NF7-S.Both are probably bit more expensive but you could fit that in your spare few dollars.
As for the radeon 9000 64mb i would try to find something else in the same price range.I have the 128mb version and its performance is not really up to scratch even for a reasonably cheap card.R8500LE is apparently better for example.Even the gf4 MX440 isn't really much different performance-wise and it is cheaper (i used to have one of them too).Have a look on Tom's VGA charts.

no matter how hard you try, you can't polish a turd. :]
January 15, 2003 4:49:34 PM

Skip the 1700+ OEM.....

If u pick up the CPU RETAIL (which i can get $99 CDN) it will come Factory Unlocked......i picked up an 1800+ retail and its factory unlocked and is doign 2000+ at 1.50VCore (Default)....

as for the Motherboard......go for the Abit nForce 2 board......great overclocking features.......
Now as far as the ram...its good.....will be even better once u get ur 2nd stick for dual memory support.......
That case is pretty good.....it comes with 2 80MM fans too doesnt it???

Now the video card.......from experience and even according to TOMS latest VGA Charts.....the ATI Radeon 8500LE Is faster than a Radeon 9000 OR 9000PRO and is Cheaper too!!! Pick up the 128MB Version......very good card for the price...and most of them can overclock to RETAIL Radeon 8500 Speeds.....

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=13597" target="_new">-MeTaL RoCkEr</A>
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January 15, 2003 5:37:33 PM

Thanks ad_rach and MeTaLrOcKeR for guiding me to the ABIT NF7-S. After reading up a bit more (which I suppose I should have done in the first place, silly me) I like the sound of it considerably better than the Leadtek.

MeTaLrOcKeR, maybe I'm missing something, but from what I can figure, if I up the VCore of the TBredA 1700+ to 1.65, I should easily get it up to 1.83GHz. (Which is the speed of a 2200+, but with a 166MHz FSB.) So why would I want to run a TBredA 1800+ at 2000+ speeds(1.67GHz)?

And you're partially right about the ATI Radeon 8500LE, but I'm guessing that since you're in Canada, your prices are in no way reflecting mine. I just checked Pricewatch and the 8500LE with 64MB of RAM actually costs me $3 more than the 9000. The VGA charts did (usually) put it in a better light (sometimes MUCH better, which leaves me wondering how accurate the AMD - Jedi Knight II results were) than the 9000 though, so I'll spend the extra $3 for it.



That puts my current configuration at:

Antec SLK1600 Mini Tower w/300W PS = $50
(retail)ABIT NF7-S (nForce2) = $133
(OEM)AMD Athlon 1700+ ThoroughbredA CPU = $57
Vantec Aeroflow VA4-C7040 heatsink/fan = $29
256MB Corsair XMS PC3200 CAS2 = $87
ATI Radeon 8500LE, 64MB = $65
(retail)Creative Modem Blaster DSI V.92 D/V/F = $33
WD 800JB, 80GB, 7200RPM, 8MB cache = $104
Lite-On IDE 16X DVD-ROM/48X CD-ROM = $35

For a total of $593.


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January 15, 2003 7:04:10 PM

I'd HIGHLY suggest looking into getting a Geforce3/Geforce3 ti instead of the Radeon 8500. I've had no ends of problems with the drivers, and there's too many bad versions of the Catalyst (didn't try the Omega ones). I've had much more luck using the 29.42 or 40.41 drivers from Nvidia and my Gainward Geforce3. Was well worth the $65 I spent on it.

Instead of Rdram, why not just merge 4 Sdram channels...
January 15, 2003 7:25:03 PM

Quote:
I'd HIGHLY suggest looking into getting a Geforce3/Geforce3 ti instead of the Radeon 8500. I've had no ends of problems with the drivers, and there's too many bad versions of the Catalyst (didn't try the Omega ones).

Hmm. My cousin got a GeForce3 and had no end of problems with games because of it. I've been wary of the GeForce3s ever since. I'll have to email him and find out if later drivers ever fixed his problems.

On top of that, currently the best price that Pricewatch lists for a GeForce3 of any type is an OEM Vision Tek GeForce3 (original, not TI) at $69. Anything past that gets a <i>lot</i> higher. Even the very next one up jumps to $80. So I'm not so sure that I could manage it.


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January 15, 2003 7:36:15 PM

I have a GF3 Ti200, don't have any problems with it. I don't use the 40.09 Detonator XPs however because they are not very stable and worthy on my Ti200, however the 30.82 are rock solid.
Your cousin was a stroke of bad luck case.


Strange, I could have sworn reading so much that programmers are one of the best paid guys in the IT sector, now you're barely itching 600$ and you have trouble paying that... :frown:

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January 15, 2003 7:50:01 PM

Quote:
Strange, I could have sworn reading so much that programmers are one of the best paid guys in the IT sector

It might be true, but certainly isn't in Madison, Wisconsin. :(  There are a number of technical colleges right near here including MATC. The result is a flooding of the job market with kids who just got their degree and are willing to work dirt cheap. As a result, wages around here suck badly. :( 

Plus I'm married. Heh heh.

Quote:
Your cousin was a stroke of bad luck case.

It's entirely possible. He got a GeForce3 almost when they first came out. It might have just been bad hardware. It could have been bad drivers. I'm not sure. I'll have to see if he even kept it and if he did if new drivers helped. All that I know is he pretty much couldn't play any game that used DirectX, and he couldn't play <i>any</i> game that used OpenGL. (Well, he <i>could</i> play, but a lot of times it was like having multiple screens on the same monitor overlapping each other, which needless to say made playing rather difficult.)

And either way, whether I trust GeForce3s or not, they're still edging the system right out of my current price range. :( 


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January 15, 2003 7:59:17 PM

What about the Ti200 price? It should be below the GF3 original and you can OC it to Ti500 levels almost each time.

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January 15, 2003 9:20:18 PM

I just put together a system with the Leadtek board and things went great. It is a rock solid board with all the features I wanted (5.1 channel sound and firewire) so I didn't see any reason to pay any extra money for more. I didn't overclock though, so maybe the Abit board would be better for that. I have had several Abit boards in the past and I like them. I do like the lack of a north bridge fan on the Leadtek board though. If it doesn't have a fan, it can't stop spinning.

I was going to recommend getting a retail CPU. You can get a 2000+ retail for less than your 1700+ and extra fan. The retail fans aren't extra loud either, but that is only if you are going with the non-overclocking solution which it sounds like you aren't.

As for the video card, I just got the Sapphire Radeon 9000 64MB VIVO card. If you are going with a card that has video-in, that is the card with about the best value. If you weren't looking at the VIVO card, I don't really know what would be your best bang for the buck.

I have had bad luck with generic modems also... but not with Windows XP. WinXP seems to recognize almost any modem while that was my biggest problem with Win98. I would try driver after driver with Win98, while the same modem with WinXP worked fine without installing any drivers.

The rest of your setup looks very good, and similar to what I just put together for my in-laws.
January 16, 2003 12:30:39 AM

Lol, an R9000. IMO, if u gonna get that level of cards, get a GeForce 3/ GF4 Ti4200. R8500 is an unstable piece of junk. R9000 is a bad performer. GF3 has extreme stability, and I think ur friend was doin something odd or perhaps he had a defective card cause tons of my friends have GF3's and not a single problem with it. I personally own a Quadro DCC (GF3 except "pro" version) and it's rock stable, and has excellent performance.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
January 16, 2003 1:24:50 AM

I actually liked the Radeon 8500 in the games that it worked in, it was just that in the incompatible or buggy games, the performance was unacceptable. I'm all about my Geforce3 ti200 though, was dirt cheap and good. I think you can get em refurbed for $50 now, I saw Gainwards on Newegg.com a while back that were cheap

Instead of Rdram, why not just merge 4 Sdram channels...
January 16, 2003 2:11:54 AM

Yeah, GF3's r solid cards, and they still got life in em. If I get that freaky case tom reveiwed w/ the compressor, I hope to oc its brains out:) 

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
January 16, 2003 12:06:41 PM

Okay, I'm not sure if I do or don't want to do this, but I can go back and macke changes later. The GeForce3 will <i>definately</i> put me over budget ... unless I find a way to save money elsewhere. The only place where I can see a way to save money without losing bang is to exchange the ABIT NF7-S for the Epox EP-8RDA+. I liked the ABIT better, but theoretically they are more or less identical boards. I'll save about twenty bucks that way, which should make just enough room to sneak in a GF3.

So now my current setup looks as follows:
Antec SLK1600 Mini Tower w/300W PS = $50
(retail)Epox EP-8RDA+ (nForce2) = $112
(OEM)AMD Athlon 1700+ ThoroughbredA CPU = $57
Vantec Aeroflow VA4-C7040 heatsink/fan = $29
256MB Corsair XMS PC3200 CAS2 = $87
(retail)Gainward GeForce3 TI 200 = $83
(retail)Creative Modem Blaster DSI V.92 D/V/F = $33
WD 800JB, 80GB, 7200RPM, 8MB cache = $104
Lite-On IDE 16X DVD-ROM/48X CD-ROM = $35

My total cost is now at $590.

Lamoni, normally I don't plan on OCing, but this opportunity is hard to pass up. I know that I <i>could</i> get a much better retail CPU for the same price, but you also have to figure that once OCed, this thing should be running at the speed of a 2200+, but with a 166MHz FSB. (Which I guess makes it more like a 2300+ if the PR rating means <i>anything</i>.)

Also, the license of Windows that I have is Win98SE. (It's left over from when my P133 died.) If I were to put WinXP on there, this system would cost a LOT more to get a retail WinXP license. (Since I don't want the limitations of an OEM license.) But much more importantly than that, I <i>do</i> plan on upgrading the hardware significantly. If I have Windows for 5 year olds ... I mean WinXP, then I'll have to get the damn license renewed repeatedly. So If I ever <i>do</i> load XP on there, it'll be at least a year from now when my hardware will be a lot less likely to change.

And Spitfire_x86, as I already said, I've had a <b>lot</b> of bad luck with cheap modems. (Especially ones with the Motorola chip.) The longest that I've <i>ever</i> had a cheap modem last is seven months. The shortest that I've ever had a cheap modem last (one with a Motorola chip by the way) was five hours. (And yes, I was grounded against static when I installed it.) Where as my current modem has lasted me almost two years and the modem that I had in my P133 lasted me five years. My experience with modems is that you <i>really</i> get what you pay for.

Ideally, I'd like to get a full hardware modem (probably a 3COM / US Robotics) instead of a softmodem / winmodem, but unfortunately those cost even more. Plus with the last Creative modem I had I <i>really</i> liked their voice (and ansering machine) and fax software and hopefully they have the same or better software today. Which is why I'm getting the modem retail instead of OEM.

Anywho, if I can't find a better way to spend the remaining $10, then I'll probably use that to upgrade my Creative softmodem to a 3COM hardmodem.


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January 16, 2003 1:30:57 PM

Well, I wish you luck in your overclocking endeavors. I also hope the Epox board performs well and overclocks well. I know that there was an overclocking menu in the Leadtek BIOS as well as other software that came on the driver CD for overclocking, but I didn't look at what the options were. That is the only place I can see where you could still save a little money, but for the 2-3 dollars difference, it is best to just go with what has the most overclocking options. Especially since you plan on bringing your 1700+ to 2300+ speeds. Saving $5.00 wouldn't be beneficial if it only allowed you to go to 2000+ speeds. I just hope you get a good CPU and not one that will only overclock stably an additional 66MHz or something.

Very true that getting Windows XP would increase the cost. I really love WinXP though and to me it is worth the cost. And reactivating it with a major upgrade would just be an additional 3 minute call to Microsoft. I feel like the inconvenience of that extra 3 minutes once a year is worth the extra convenience throughout the rest of the year. I didn't want to urge you to go with XP. I would most likely do the same thing in your situation with that budget. With a higher budget, I would include the OS.
January 16, 2003 2:34:55 PM

Quote:
I really love WinXP though and to me it is worth the cost. And reactivating it with a major upgrade would just be an additional 3 minute call to Microsoft. I feel like the inconvenience of that extra 3 minutes once a year is worth the extra convenience throughout the rest of the year.

I appreciate your point of view. I however really detest XP. From it's annoying primary and secondary colors and rounded corners, to it's bothersome intrusions upon my productivity just because I happen to be capable of upgrading my own PC I loath XP.

I have one WinXP box at work right now, and I've set all of the settings that I can to make it look like Win2K because the funky windows just plain bug me. And as far as activation (and reactivation) of the license, if it was an OEM license (which is allowed to be applied to one and only one PC, ever), I could understand Microsoft's obsession with hardware changes. For a full retail license though (which is allowed to be transported to any PC, so long as the prior installation has been wiped), it's complete and utter nonsense.

If I had to buy a new OS, I would get Win2K long before I got WinXP Pro. (Unless I was getting a P4 with HT, and I'd <i>never</i> touch WinXP Home.) Win2K is the codebase that WinXP was based on. Win2K is just as stable, just as functional, and a lot less annoying than Windows For Five Year Olds ... I mean WinXP. :) 

But if you like WinXP, that's cool. Enjoy. To each their own and all that. :) 

Quote:
I just hope you get a good CPU and not one that will only overclock stably an additional 66MHz or something.

Me too. Such are the risks. Even then however it will be far better than the Celeron 500MHz box that I'm currently using at home. :)  Besides, for as cheap as the processors are (and hopefully getting cheaper soon, once Barton is released) even if it <i>is</i> a bad OCer, I can wait a month or two to save up and buy another and try again. It never hurts to have a compatible CPU in storage, especially when you OC. :) 

Besides, if Barton comes down enough in price (or I mysteriously save up enough money somehow by next Yule) I just might see about tossing a Barton into the PC anyway.


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January 16, 2003 7:43:46 PM

Save on RAM! Running 400Mhz DDR ain't gonna improve ur performance a bit! Get PC2100, after all, that's what ur FSB can handle.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
- Mario Andretti
January 16, 2003 11:57:26 PM

I had changed hard disks and did not need to call MS to reactivate.
But why are you so keen on Retail only? Why do you want to be able to put the Retail on other computers when you wipe your current installation?

What I would do is simply get the OEM like me, and simply call MS when you do a major change. As long as you are an honest person, I think you can easily convince them that you have removed your current WinXP installation and would like it installed and reactivated on a newly upgraded system. I seriously don't see any hurdles with honesty, and paying 100$ for OEM. I did it, had re-installed WinXP 3 times and still no activation calls.

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January 17, 2003 12:11:34 AM

My geneic PCI V92 modem (Conexant chip based) is still alive and functioning normally after 14 months of heavy use. My friends also have good luck with Conexant chip based PCI modems. And they cost 3 times less than extrenal modems, so if they last 1/3rd time compared to external modems, they are still good (economically)

<A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/community/modules.php?na..." target="_new"> Go to my CPU Vendor Poll </A>
January 17, 2003 12:13:47 PM

Quote:
Save on RAM! Running 400Mhz DDR ain't gonna improve ur performance a bit! Get PC2100, after all, that's what ur FSB can handle.

If you're not even going to read the posts, why do you bother to reply? I say this because if you had actually <i>read</i> the posts then you would know that I plan on OCing the 1700+ to a 166MHz FSB. So I at <i>least</i> need PC2700.

To complete the answer as to why the Corsair XMS PC3200, is three fold:
1) One day I just might try to toss a Barton into there, so already having RAM that can run in sync with a 200MHz FSB chip would be nice.
2) The price difference between the Corsair XMS 2700 and the Corsair XMS 3200 is minimal.
3) I've heard that some nForce2 motherboards sometimes have problems running dual-channel in sync with the FSB. Since I'll be running my FSB at 166MHz, then it would make sense to get RAM that can run at 200MHz in order to avoid this possible problem should it actually become a problem.

On top of that, you're significantly wrong. While it is true that the Athlon won't gain anything from the improved bandwidth of PC3200 over PC2100, it <i>will</i> gain from the significantly lower latency.

So to conclude, I'm sticking with my Corsair XMS 3200 as an absolute minimum for the speed and quality of my RAM.


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January 17, 2003 12:29:59 PM

I like the retail licenses for Windows a lot better because with them you're legally allowed to transfer that OS from one PC to another. (Should you first remove the OS from the first PC.) Technically you can even consider the first PC a legal 'backup' of the software. As long as you don't run both PCs at the same time, you're not actually doing anything illegal there either.

The OEM licenses of Windows however explicitely state that they are to be installed on one and only one system. That license is non-transferable to another system, no matter whether that other system is even using the license or not.

There are of course other differences in the licenses, but needless to say, the retail license is a <b>lot</b> more flexable than the OEM license, and the retail license can even legally be resold, where the OEM license can't.

Since I seem to have a habit of running a computer graveyard and occasionally bringing PC back from the underworld, having this kind of license flexability is nice.

Sure, MS probably wouldn't even care and I could just do the illegal thing and break an OEM license. Hell, I could just run copy after copy of Win98SE, and could even crack WinXP if I <i>wanted</i> to. However, as a software engineer I would be incredibly morally lax and hypocritical to do so.

As for WinXP's activation crap, if I remember correctly it's three hardware changes before you have to reactivate. (And the mobile version allows for even more flexability.) I plan on: 1) upgrading my RAM, 2) upgrading my processor, 3) upgrading my video, 4) adding a CD or DVD burner, and 5) adding at least one more hard drive. So as you can see starting out with WinXP on there would get really annoying fast. Where as putting WinXP on there a year (or more) later when my hardware has been upgraded to the point where I'm content, then it'll be a lot less of a bother.

Besides, MS still hasn't convinced me that XP is even worth it yet. I'd still go with 2K before XP. Maybe their next version of Windows will be worth the bother, assuming that it doesn't have that annoying DRM/Palladium crap thoroughly wedded to it. Or maybe Linux will finally become useful enough for me to drop MS entirely.


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January 17, 2003 12:34:32 PM

Quote:
My geneic PCI V92 modem (Conexant chip based) is still alive and functioning normally after 14 months of heavy use. My friends also have good luck with Conexant chip based PCI modems. And they cost 3 times less than extrenal modems, so if they last 1/3rd time compared to external modems, they are still good (economically)

Who said anything about external modems? While fun to watch the Tx/Rx lights blink, I think I'll skip one of them and stick with a PCI card, thanks. :)  The more I think about it though, the more I'm likely to go the next step up and get the 3COM hardware modem. To my knowledge, Linux doesn't play nicely with softmodems (especially winmodems). Maybe that's changed with more recent versions, but why take the chance?


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January 17, 2003 2:29:03 PM

Well it sounds like you have everything figured out. I agree that WinXP doesn't add any stability to Win2000. It does add more compatibility with older software though. Anyway, Win2000 is nice, I just don't like Win98se too much. It seems to work ok as long as you don't want to leave it running for more than a day or two. Anyway, it doesn't bother me if you don't like WinXP. I know a few other people that hate it also. I do like the different interface, I have used compatibility mode to make several programs run that wouldn't work initially, and there are a few other things. Anyway, this isn't the software forum. Don't bother moving to WinXP until you see how it can benifit you. I hate having to upgrade to new things just because they are out when they don't help me with my work any more than the older version. (MS Office).

I think all those hardware choices are great. Of course, I would love to go with a Radeon 9500 Pro, but you need to stay within your budget. Happy shopping and I agree that it will be nice to finally have something better than a Celeron 500.
January 17, 2003 7:44:58 PM

A major feature in WinXP is System Restore. I can safely enumerate over 5 cases where it saved me.
Compatibility Mode is also a great thing, I needed it once.
Unfortunatly Win2000 is still more compatible. WinXP trashes all of the DOS capabilities, and many games, like Doom II no longer work because of IRQ settings. I had to get the emulated ZDoom version.

However regarding hardware changes Slvr, it's not because you added RAM, DVD that activation will be affected. Hell, you do NOT need to reinstall Windows for any of your upgrades! I'd only reinstall or format when the system is over a year old and bloated, but otherwise you are only playing it overly safe.

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January 17, 2003 7:58:08 PM

what is so special about these 2100s they are talking about?I assume they are tbred b's.How come they can overclock so far so easily?

no matter how hard you try, you can't polish a turd. :]
January 17, 2003 9:56:29 PM

I ordered one just because it was $105 and thusly has a good price to experimentation ratio. Most likely it's just an almost reject from the island of lost toys that just needs a good home or high voltage death.

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