I've been scanning the boards on a regular basis for a few months now in anticipation of building my system. As the time draws near, A whole slew of questions has arisen, and I'd appreciate any definitive input you could give me. First though - my anticipated system specs:
Processor: Athlon XP 2400+
Mobo: Epox 8RDA+
RAM: 512 mb PC2700LL Corsair TwinX modules (will switch to 3200 if I can get FSB to 200)
HD: 2x 80GB 8mb cache WD drives in RAID 0
Power Sup: Fortron 350W
HSF: Thermalright SLK 800U
Video: Radeon 9700 Pro eventually, carrying over 32mb TNT2 Ultra until further funding
RAID card: ?
As you might have guessed, I'm looking for the most bang for my buck (with the exception of the memory, but I don't want to cheap out and lose overclocking potential). Now, on to my questions:
Power Supply - I really haven't seen too many recommendations for this Fortron unit, other than the original one in the THG power supply roundup/rant. It's definitely more bargain oriented than some of the bigger brand names (Antec truepower, etc.), and the article seemed to indicate that it was happily giving more juice than the 350 watts advertised. Any suggestions?
Processor - This has been a _major_ sticking point for me, especially now that the 2500 Bartons are in my price range (~$130 and below). Is it better to just have _everything_ running in synch at 333 (proc, fsb, & ram), or would it be better to get the 2400 and overclock modestly, but not have the processor in synch with the FSB and RAM (I know to have FSB and RAM in synch)?
Obviously, I'm leaning towards the 2400+ solution, as they seem to be phenomenal overclockers provided they're from the new batch (AIUHB or something?) So my question is, how can I be sure that I get one of these bad boys? Are all the 2400+ Tbred B's good at OC, or just specific batches? If I order from Newegg, will I get a decent OC Proc., or should I look elsewhere?
HD - I'm pretty stoked about this RAID 0 business, but I've heard some tittering that OS's don't like to be on RAID drives and go bad within a few weeks? I'm hoping to set up a dual Win2k/XP pro system... Any experiences/advice is welcome.
RAID controller - Here's what I found: "PCI ATA-133Mhz 4 Port IDE Card w/Silicon Image Sil0680 chips" for about $18. It supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, so I think that's all I need. However, I've had a tough time finding reviews on cheap RAID cards (plenty of them on the $100 and up crowd). Again, any advice is appreciated.
HSF - Is the fan supposed to suck air up through the HS or blow air down through it. My money is on blowing down, but somebody just castigated me for even considering it!!!
Well, I think that's it. Just to give you a brief profile of myself: my current rig is a blazing Pentium II 233, 8GB hard drive, 4MB video card, 64MB RAM. It has stuck it through with me for 5 years now, although I did upgrade to 256 megs RAM, 32 meg TNT2 Ultra video card. So this new system is going to feel like lightening to me; what I'm hoping to avoid are suggestions like "for just $50 more you can get an extra 100 Mhz" etc. I'm willing so spend a bit more if it'll get me a much better component 8^)
Thanks for all the help.
power supply - i'd go with enermax. I got their 431watt power supply and it fixed my hard drive problem. Mind you i had a antex 400watt powersupply too. For future upgrades i'd get the pc3200 anyway. HSF i usually have some pretty good success with globalwin.. motherboard, the asus a7n8x is probably one of the best stable motherboard out there. If this board was around when my computer started smoken i would have gottin one of these instead of an intel solution. It's that damn good. I had zero problems while installing it. However abit has the best tech support too.
TwinX memory is not worth the extra money, IMHO, because it is 2 sticks of memory from the same batch.
Correction, it is two sticks of memory from the same batch <i>and have been tested and validated to work in dual-channel</i>. The extra money that you're paying for TwinX is the testing process. The point? Because it's <i>guaranteed</i> to work, not just likely to work. It's all piece of mind. (Well that and it's just plain good RAM.)
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Well thanks for the responses fellas. I've definitely decided to go with a beefier PS. I'm having more trouble being sold on the Asus mobo; although I've had nothing but good experiences with them before, this board is ~$40 more expensive, and the extra money is paying for features I just don't need. As for the rest of the items, I realized I should have split this post up and posted it to separate forums, so I'll do that now. Thanks again for your responses!