I realize that this kind of post must come up frequently, but I'm finding myself at in a hopeless position. After scouring Tom's Hardware, the message boards, and numerous computing magazines, I have no clue what components to get. I am by no means computer illiterate, but I've been out of the hardware loop so long that my head gets dizzy trynig to compare AMD to Intel, ATI to NVidia, etc.
In any case, here's what I'm looking to do:
I'd like to build a solid system that costs between $1000 - $1500. The main use of this system would be graphic work ranging from 3D modeling (not rendering, per se) to video work a la Avid and standard Photoshop/Illustrator jazz.
Gaming is not as important, but I work out of the home, so I'd like for it to run games decent enough to enjoy in the off hours.
I figured this would be the best forum to start.
So, what do you guys think? Any help would be appriciated.
My recommendation is that you start from the simplest decision ... AMD or Intel...
AMD... less expensive, runs hotter, needs more cooling resulting in a noisey computer, generaly a little better in all round performance.
Intel... More money, doesn't need as much cooling, usually produces a much quieter computer, better support in gaming.
Once that is done, things get a whole lot easier...
For motherboards, spend a little extra money and stay with top brands like Gigabyte (my fave) and Asus. You will get a more stable system and far better warranty support than you will from "junk board" makers.
Memory.. follow the recommendations of the motherboard manufacturer. Some boards work best with specific brands/types of memory. DDR266 is a good minimum requirement. Once you know what ram the motherboard maker recommends, shop for price.
Video... shop for price. Amongst roughly comperable video cards it is unlikely you will notice any real difference in general use. Try to pick a motherboard and video card that supports AGP 8x, if it's within your budget.
Hard disk etc... make sure you are getting ATA100 or better, on-drive caches are an asset and, like motherboards, I suggest you stay with top brands, Maxtor (again my fave), Western Digital, etc.
Case and power supply... think STURDY and think WATTS. You may not need that fancy 450watt powersupply today and heavy metal case panels may seem like overkill... but it's future-proofing. It is likely a good case will last you through several upgrades. I use In-Win and AOpen, but there are lots and lots to choose from.
Sound... I generally don't like the on-card sound chips, especially those silly new ones with the vaccuum tubes. Look to Creative or Yamaha as best brands.
But mostly... try not to get caught up in gimmicks and hair splitting benchmarks... you probably don't need fans with lights in them, cases with holes in the side, remote controls or 31 silly little speakers and it's unlikely you will notice 1% variations in performance. Stay with solid well made gear even if your system does end up 3% slower than your neighbour's... you won't be disappointed. You'll be using yours, while he's fixing his.
1. amd runs no hotter than intel therefore DOESNT require noisy cooling (compared to intel)
2. intel doesnt have better support in games. both cpus are "supported" equally. u will not find any game that wont run on an amd system because the game doesnt "support" it. games dont support cpus. as long s ur cpu is powerful enough it will run it.
for the work you say you will be using it for i suggest an nforce2 board 2sticks of good ddr333 memory (for dual channel) and an xp2600 with 333 fsb. a high end graphics card is a must.. the radeon aiw 9700pro is the best about right now. ive had bad experience with maxtor hdd.. i would stick with seagate or western digital in raid configuration. a good psu and a ups are a must as well. especially if you are doing work on it
I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
AMD 2600+ 333fsb or 2500 Barton(cheaper)
Asus A7N8X Deluxe Excellent sound and many other features
Corsair Twinx PC-2700LLPT XMS memory as much as you can afford
ATI All in Wonder 9700 Pro
Western Digital or Seagate for Harddrive you pick the size try to get one with 8mb cache at 7200rpm
Antec 430watt trupower - very reliable and good features
floppy drive - any will do
CD/DVD/CD-RW/DVD-RW - Your guess is as good as mine here
Case ATX style you can pick, but Antec has a good rep for basic cases. Lian Li if you want something a bit more classy, well layed out, and with good air flow.
this combo will definately push the 1500 range and will serve you will. All parts are high quality and should get great support if needed.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Cuda on 03/01/03 06:28 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
Right now Intel systems are a better value. I mention this just to get the hate mongers started, but AMD matches Intel price per price starting at around 2.4GHz and 2400+. I take it you're looking at a fast system, like in the "2600" range, a P4 2.53 cost about the same as a 2600+ and performs...about the same in some benchmarks, much better in others. Board prices are the same. Memory prices are the same. AMD isn't even trying to compete any more.
<font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
I have to agree with Cuda, that's a good setup. One thing you may consider, don't know how familiar you are with BIOS settings, but its very simple with the Asus A7N8X to overclock an AMD 2400+ to 2700+ levels with air cooling. Just my 2 cents.
AMD Athlon XP 2400+ @ 2255 (12.5 X 180)
1GB Corsair XMS3200 (2T,2,2,5)
ATI Radeon 9500 Pro (324/355 MHz)
ASUS A7N8X Deluxe 1002 Uber BIOS
Thermaltake CPU Cooler
I have an A7N8X & AXP 1700+ @ 2400+ It was very easy. Only added .05 v and a good copper hs/fan. A $60. CPU at 2400+ speeds thats the best value. my 3dmark is well into the 12000 range with only the cpu overclock.
For the uses you've proposed I would suggest an Intel processor over an AMD. Intel is always ahead of AMD when it comes to video and graphic editing. This is partly due to it's archeticture, but mostly to it's SSE2 commands. Also, Intel works very closely with the developers to make sure that they incorporate the SSE2 comands in their graphics editing software.
Intel P4 3.06 processor (with hyperthreading)
Lots and lots of RAM. DDR333 CL2, at least a gig. You could go with DDR400 but there would be no real advantage at this point in time (other than futire compatability with the upcoming P4 with a 800 MHz FSB).
I highly recommend getting 3 hard drives, one smaller one for the OS and software and the other 2 raided for speed. Right now the Western Digital drives with 8 megs of onboard RAM are considered the best, but other brands are still very good.
As for the video card, here I have no idea. For serious 3D editing the ATI fire, nVidia Quatro and Creative/3D Labs Wildcat series are the best, but I have no idea how they perform in 2D (video editing), games, or even which one of these are the best.
An ATI Radeon 9500 or 9700 would probably be good enough, although they are created for 3D displaying, not 3D encoding.
The following is from newegg.com:
P4 3.06 with Hyperthreading: $567
Gigabyte GA-8INXP (onboard RAID, dual channel DDR): $255
2X Crucial 512 meg DDR333: 2x$80=$160
WD400BB 40gig hard drive: $72
2x WD800JB 80 gig Hard Drive: 2x$102=$204
Lite On 52x24x52 CDRW: $50
ATI RADEON 9500 PRO 128MB: $201
As I said, I'm not too sure on the video card, but the Wildcats, Quatros and Fires are all around $500, which would put you way overbuget.
Knowan likes you. Knowan is your friend. Knowan thinks you're great.
That's just over $1000 right there <font color=blue>[EDIT}: Oops.. no it's not. It's about $840 or so. Boy, I really need to check on my math skills....</font color=blue> [/EDIT] and you'd need to add a case and monitor (unless you have one). You can whittle that down a bit by going with a cheaper mobo (save about 30-40 maybe), and cheaper graphics card (almost 100 can be saved by going to non-AIW version). Also, the Radeon 9700 Pro will go down in price as the new version (9800Pro or whatever) comes out soon. Supposedly you can start pre-ordering them tomorrow.
The Pentium 4 solution does not save you any money, and would actually have cost an extra 20 bucks or so at the least (depending on what RAM you get, RDRAM is more).
That still could leave enough money (over $600) for a fairly decent case, power supply, and maybe even a flat-panel monitor (or at least a high-end 17 or 19 inch CRT), depending on what you're looking for.
<font color=red>The all new GeForce FX-</font color=red>
<font color=blue>The only factory-overclocked vacuum cleaner, complete with upholstery attachment!!!</font color=blue><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by mac404 on 03/02/03 08:54 PM.</EM></FONT></P>