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October 5, 2003 3:38:06 AM

Please forgive me if any of my questions seem moronic or redundant, but you seem like a group of tolerant and knowledgable people, so I'll cross my fingers and dive in. :) 

After owning my Gateway made-to-order computer for 5 years, I decided to get in the market for something new, and hopefully something that'll last me another 5 years. (How I got by, happily, for 5 years with a P3 450mHz, and only adding 256 mb RAM, I'll never know). Then, my husband suggests that I build my own. I start researching, and WHOA, it's like a new world. I think I know what I want, and then I read something else. I would like the opinions of people that have built their own PCs and know what's up with the components. I'll start here.
So what CPU is the best, and why? Now I'll say right off that I'd love to get an AMD 64, but that's a bit out of my price range for now. I really don't want to pay more than $250 (is that realistic?).
Now, what I do right now is just basic apps, burning CDs, and 2-year old games. I like gaming, but rarely buy a game, so I get whatever my dad's done with. Plus, I don't really do 3D gaming. I would like to get into digital photography, and down the road, making DVD movies. Nothing else too hardcore, I don't think.
I was thinking about a P4, but all the people out there say "no, AMD!!!". What's the performance difference, and is it something that's relevant to what I'm going to be doing?
Thank you so much for your help.

<font color=purple> Don't look down on me because I know next to nothing - look down on me because I'm SHORT </font color=purple>

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October 5, 2003 3:46:47 AM

Since your building a new Puter how much do you want to spend?
October 5, 2003 7:25:37 AM

A idea would be is go on http://www.upgradingandrepairingpcs.com/fifteenth_editi.... Its a good book. If your in the USA check on http://barnesandnoble.com. Its like $41.99. Reg price is $59.99

But if you start building your own computer Look what in your old computer see what you can use. That can save you some money untel you can buy New Items. Like Cdrw drive or Dvd drive. Then there the Hard drive More space. Use that money to get a better cpu and Ram and Motherboard. Then when you get More money go back and replace the items. Then put them back into the Old system.

Main items
Case
CPU Amd or intel
Ram
Hard drive
Motherboard.
other system Mybe could use or Parts from it. Or if you have Kids Let them have that old system to use.
Hard drive guessing it a 9 gig You can use it on the new system as a Slave.
Cdrom drive
Dvd drive
video card could be a pci video card. Now think it would be good untel you get more money on better video card. and use money on the other things.
Same thing on Sound card.

Then when you get more money buy vga video card or soundblaster Plat. 2 And you can build here and there.
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October 5, 2003 8:44:54 AM

AMD XP 2500+
512mb 333 ddr 2700 ram
Abit NF7M motherboard

These are the best price performance parts for your needs. Also don't expect a computer to last five years unless it is highly upgradable. The way technology is going 3 years is becoming more realistic even with upgrades. Don't buy top of the line, save the difference on a budget system as described to upgrade later.

If he doesn't die, he'll get help!!!
October 5, 2003 9:05:23 AM

It is not really possible to build a new system for $250. If I were you, I would buy (from newegg)
K7S5A pro mobo $47.
Xp2400 amd cpu $82.
Gigabyte Radeon 9200 with vivo $85.
If you have to pay California taxes, you are over budget, but not too much.
You can use your old memory on this board, but will get a bit of a boost if you get some DDR for it later. For the price, it's a great board, even has usb2, though it is a little old. The xp2400 is fast and usually comes with the multipliers unlocked, so you can "adjust" the speed.
The Radeon is not the best card out there, it's big brother is, however, it can play all of the games out right now at ok to great framerates. The video in video out may come in handy for video editing, and the price is very good. Gigabyte make good stuff.
October 5, 2003 9:25:27 AM

Sorry i thought the $250 was for CPU, my mistake. On a real tight budget i think the best option is the new Duron Applegate on a good motherboard that will support the latest 3ghz chip. Here in OZ i can get a Duron 1.6 for about $40 US, if you can find a cheap motherboard to match it may be doable on your budget.

If he doesn't die, he'll get help!!!
October 5, 2003 11:30:35 AM

Sounds like you need a complete new rig. I'll recommend some things for you. I do digital photography my self. I like quality components so I may be a tad higher than the rest.

ASUS A7N8X Deluxe - MOBO. It's feature rich & a solid board. The sound is great.
XP 2500 CPU - You can't beat the value of this chip.
2 X 512 Hyper X 3200 DDR 400 - Board & RAM will run the 400 FSB XP3200 for upgrade in 2 years.
WD JB Edition. HDD - Get 80 to 120 gig. Best price range. Get bigger if you want to.
ATI 9600 PRO Vid. Card. - Could go with TI4200 if you want to save a bit. NOTICE GUYS! I RECOMMENDED A ATI CARD!!! (I had to that for the Forum) :lol: 
LiteOn 52 X CDRW burner - Best value.
LiteOn 52 X DVD ROM - You'll end up watching DVD movies on this machine.
Antec 1080 AMG Case with 430 w True Power Supply - You can get a cheaper Antec case, but stay with the True Power PSU.
ViewSonic a90f + or a95f + Monitor - Awesome monitor. It will allow the rest ot the system to flow.
MicroSoft Keyboard & Mouse - newegg has bundled OEM sets. The one for $38 has a lesser Intelieye Mouse. I get the bundle for $43 or $48. It's got the up level Mouse.
Creative 5.1 Surround - Any speakers really. Creative are reasonable.
Windows XP Pro Preferably with SP1 - If you "cough" have to buy it. :wink:

The system I've laid out for you will be in the $1100 to $1200 range. It will be a solid, fast machine that will handle anything you want to do with it. It can be upgraded to the XP 3200, when the price drops in a year or 2. The hardware & software are so compatible that it practically builds itself.

I'm running Pretty much the rig I laid out for you & have built al least a dozen of these machines. If you want any specify prices & where to go, or any help in building it, just PM me here, I'm around! Good Luck & have Fun, you'll enjoy it so much building it yourself. :wink:

Dazzle them with Brilliance, or Baffle them with BS! :wink:
October 6, 2003 6:02:34 AM

I thought I already replied, but oh well.
Since all of you seem so willing to help (thanks!) I'll clarify what I'm looking for.
Number one, I'm looking to spend 1000-1500 on the case and what's inside.
Number two, I'm greedy for all the newest things, so that I means I want an 800mhz bus, DDR 400, and FireWire. :) 
I already outlined my uses, so a few questions. Should I be concerned with the difference between ATA and SATA? What about RAID? Honestly, everything I've read about RAID makes me think that it would complicate life for a dabbler like me. And expansion slots? What is AGP 8X and 8X pro? And ACR? Are these things I should be concerned with? And since I want a system that will last me forever and then some, potential for future upgrades is a must.
Hmm, I think those are my primary concerns. Thank you so much for your help! I'm going to take all you've said, the books I ordered, and cloister myself until I can make a decision :) 

<font color=purple> Don't look down on me because I know next to nothing - look down on me because I'm SHORT </font color=purple>
October 6, 2003 3:05:18 PM

You can do a lot nowadays with $1500.
If your intent on getting an 800mhz bus than you have no choice but Intel even though its just marketing jargon. In reality it's a 200 mhz bus quad pumped giving an effective 800 mhz bus. Most new motherboards come standard with firewire and DDR 400 support.

As of now you should not worry about the difference between ATA and SATA, all motherboards support ATA and some support SATA, just look for the best price there. At your price range and experience level just avoid any RAID setup. I presume you mean RAID 0 for performance issues, for video editing it would be better to have a RAID 0 array and then a large hard drive for archiving. Then the price starts rising real high, you would have to have 3 hard drives. RAID 1 would offer you nothing unless you working with highly important files were system integrity is #1 because the hard drives used will be redundant, (hence redundant array of inexpensive disks.)

The only expansion slots needed are PCI and AGP slots. The AGP slot is for the graphics card and the PCI slot is any expansion cards (sound card, video editing card, pci graphics card, etc.) Don't worry about any ACR or ISA slots.
No system will last forever but here is my best swing at one that will last you a long time: (prices from newegg.com)
A 64 3200 = (Socket 754) - $445
Asus M/B K8V - $159
Has 4x SATA, has built in raid in case you decide you want it, AGP 8x slot, 5x PCI slots, IEEE 1394(fire wire) and a bunch of other good stuff.
ATI Radeon 9600 Pro - $174
Comes out to about $800 (U.S.)
I think that will lay the ground work for one fine system, though the A 64 and its mother board are a bit pricy, I dont think AMD plans on replacing the Socket 754 any time soon, though it is a different story with the Athlon FX.
This leaves you with about $700 on everything else, case/psu, memory, harddrive, cd drives, sound card (if your not happy with the onboard,) and software.

Another viable option is the Intel way, with a 2.4C P4 and a i865 motherboard, the new Prescott will work in the same mother board as the 2.4C P4. But some one else can do that.

I think I helped a little bit, I hope, that was alot of typing. Oh one more thing... If you want to get the A 64 and want to see "64-bit" computing, you'll have to use a Linux distro that supports it or wait for Windows Xp 64-bit for X86-64, dont get the 64 bit version thats out now, thats for the Itanium (IA-64.) But it will still work with Windows XP Home edition exept it wont be able to use its 64 bit extensions.

-----------------------
Add witty comment here.
October 6, 2003 3:05:35 PM

Here is something that you might have to think about: Are any of the games that you play the kind where you had to set up the sound based on what brand of sound card it was and what IRQs/DMAs/IOs it used? Because there are a <i>lot</i> of <i>old</i> games that won't run well on new hardware for this very reason, since a lot of new hardware doesn't support these old notions of setting up a sound card very well at all. :( 

If you have old games like that then I'd suggest hitting the Sound Cards forum so that an expert there can help you find a good solution to put into a new PC.

If your games all run on newer standards though like DirectX and OpenGL then you don't have to worry about this kind of stuff and so choosing new hardware is a <i>lot</i> easier. :) 

<pre><A HREF="http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20030905" target="_new"><font color=black>People don't understand how hard being a dark god can be. - Hastur</font color=black></A></pre><p>
October 6, 2003 3:56:39 PM

Quote:
Should I be concerned with the difference between ATA and SATA?

SATA is nicer for system builders because of the much smaller cables and better for performance enthusiasts because they're slightly more efficient.

However the old IDE/ATA is still pretty easy to work with, and if you worry about the airflow in the case being affected by the wide cables, there are always rounded IDE cables to use instead of the standard flat ones.

Personally I suggest to get a motherboard that supports both (as most new motherboards do) and start off with an IDE/ATA drive because they're cheaper and work just fine. Then later if you want to add a new hard drive SATA might be worth looking into.

Quote:
What about RAID? Honestly, everything I've read about RAID makes me think that it would complicate life for a dabbler like me.

Complicate to set up, sure. Difficult to deal with, not really. Simplify in the future, possibly.

One aspect of RAID that is far too often overlooked is RAID1, which is when two drives have the exact same information stored on them. It sucks because you lose half of your hard drive space. It rocks because if one hard drive fails (and anyone who has ever had that happen knows how annoying it is) none of your data gets lost. Just replace the bad drive and rebuild the RAID1 array and all is well again.

Yes, RAID arrays complicate setting up the computer a little. In my opinion though, it's time well spent. The biggest thing about RAID arrays to remember is that you have to take the time to set them up in BIOS first, and that you will also probably need to put the drivers for the RAID controller onto a floppy drive because when you go to install Windows you will probably need these drivers just so that you can convince Windows that you really do have a hard drive. Heh heh.

Quote:
And expansion slots? What is AGP 8X and 8X pro?

AGP 8x is the latest graphics card format that almost every new graphics card is going to adhere to. AGP came first, then they doubled the bandwidth through the AGP card slot to 2x, then doubled that to 4x, and now have even doubled that to 8x. It's pretty hard to find a motherboard that doesn't use it these days, just as it's pretty hard finding a graphics card that doesn't use it.

If I'm not mistaken, the pro designations just mean support for professional graphics cards that use more voltage, the likes of which hardly anyone ever sees. It's one of those things that if you don't know about it then it probably won't matter to you. :) 

Quote:
And ACR?

ACR, AMR, and such are silly concepts that never caught on. I think they were just meant to be an easy way for companies like Dell and Gateway to add audio, modem, etc. in a way that they could control better than PCI.

And of course PCI handles sound cards and modems and such just fine, which is why ACR/AMR/etc. never caught on. For 99.99% of people these ACR/AMR/etc. slots are just wasted slots because finding actual cards to fill them is not easy.

So generally either just ignore these slots or even try to avoid motherboards that have them. They're generally just a waste of space.

Quote:
And since I want a system that will last me forever and then some, potential for future upgrades is a must.

This is where buying a PC right now gets a little dangerous and depends greatly on what you will want as possible for future upgrades.

Intel and AMD are both switching to a new socket in less than a year. About the same time I think DDR is going to be replaced with DDR2. And AGP is about to get replaced by PCI-X I believe. Over 2004 these things should all simultaneously be revolutionized in the PC.

So if you buy a PC <i>right now</i> it can be very limited on what upgrade options you will have in the future. You should be able to upgrade to what is available today, which can still be a good upgrade path. However there will also be LOTS of new and nifty things that you won't be able to upgrade to without basically replacing the whole PC in one fell swoop.

<pre><A HREF="http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20030905" target="_new"><font color=black>People don't understand how hard being a dark god can be. - Hastur</font color=black></A></pre><p>
October 6, 2003 5:09:58 PM

Good posts Slvr :wink: You said just about everything I would have said. Got busy is all.

Dazzle them with Brilliance, or Baffle them with BS! :wink:
a b à CPUs
October 7, 2003 8:01:08 AM

If I was buying right now, I'd get an Abit IS7, P4 2.6C, and at least PC3500 RAM. I'd also overclock the 2.6C to 3.25GHz, because I like a lot of performance for my money.

Video cards are a tougher choice, but probably a Radeon 9600 Pro would be your best value in a performance card.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
October 7, 2003 1:38:50 PM

Quote:
Now, what I do right now is just basic apps, burning CDs, and 2-year old games. I like gaming, but rarely buy a game, so I get whatever my dad's done with. Plus, I don't really do 3D gaming. I would like to get into digital photography, and down the road, making DVD movies. Nothing else too hardcore, I don't think.

I could be crazy here, but isn't everyone kind of going overboard on their suggestions? I mean upgrading from a P3-450MHz, plays old <i>non</i> 3D games, burning CDs, running basic apps, etc. I say go with 1GB of CAS2 DDR400, a nice safe RAID1 array with two WD800JBs, a cheap GeForce4 TI 4200 8x with VIVO (MSI makes a good cheap one), a mid-to-low grade CPU (Intel or AMD, it doens't really matter), and a good solid dual-channel mobo(nForce2 or i865). I mean a TBred 1800+ or even as high as a Barton 2500+ or a Pentium4 2.4C would more than do. <i>And</i> that would still leave a Barton 3200+/P4 3.2 as a possible upgrade in a year or two when more performance is needed and the prices of those CPUs have dropped. :\

<pre><A HREF="http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20030905" target="_new"><font color=black>People don't understand how hard being a dark god can be. - Hastur</font color=black></A></pre><p>
October 7, 2003 2:47:38 PM

I pretty much agree with silv, shy a couple things (for upgradeability and (as much as is feasable) future proofing reasons)... Here's my recommendation:

Motherboard - Asus P4C800 Deluxe - 169.00
Processor - Intel Pentium 4 2.4C HT 800FSB - 165.00
Ram - Corsair Matched TWINX1024-3200C2 - 245.00
Hard Disk - WD CavSE SATA WD200JD 200GB 8MB 7200RPM - 196.00
Video Card - ATI Radeon 9700 AIW - 264.00
Sound Card - Creative Audigy2 - 71.00
CD-RW - Lite On 52x24x52x CD-RW - 40.00
DVD-RW - Sony DWU-10A - 155.00
Speakers - Altec Lansing 251 5.1 6Pc - 58.00
Floppy - Teac 1.44 Floppy Drive - 12.00
Case/PS - Antec Lanboy w/Window & Blue Light - 84.00
Mouse/KB - Logitech Cordless MX DUO - 68.00
-- Total: $1527.00 --

Later on down the road when I felt a bit slow or whatever, I would upgrade the computer to the fastest chip it would take (probally a 3.4 800mhz chip) and get a second hard drive. Provided that you don't do extensive 3d gaming, the 9700 aiw will keep you very happy for the entire life of the computer (Actually for the next couple years it would keep you happy even if you did do 3d gaming...) and it is an excellent card for other video related activities. Without any upgrades or modifications, I would give this computer a life expectancy of 3-4 years, with an eventual 3.4ghz upgrade and a second hard drive I'd say you'd get another 2-3 years out of it based on what you are saying you do with a computer.

Shadus
October 7, 2003 3:05:23 PM

That's basically what I laid out with AMD.

Well there she has it on both sides to make a decision with what's out there now. Mine was cheaper though. Either will do.

Dazzle them with Brilliance, or Baffle them with BS! :wink:
October 7, 2003 3:41:12 PM

Oh, and don't forget to spend $50 - $100 on a UPS with AVR. :)  I think that was the best purchase that I ever made for my PC.

<pre><A HREF="http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20030905" target="_new"><font color=black>People don't understand how hard being a dark god can be. - Hastur</font color=black></A></pre><p>
October 7, 2003 4:30:21 PM

Shrug, she said about 1500, so that's the target I aimed for... if she wanted cheap I could have gotten a 'good' p4c for about 800-1000... but its 'life expectancy' wouldn't be nearly what this one's is... also could have gotten cheaper ram, hard disks, etc... because my secondary goal was stability and ease of putting it togeather.

Shadus
October 7, 2003 7:20:53 PM

Quote:
In reality it's a 200 mhz bus quad pumped giving an effective 800 mhz bus.

Quad pumped implys that the bus is being multiplyed, contrary to what people think it is not. A standard sdr bus (piii) transfers 32bits of data per clock cycle. A DDR bus (AXP) can transfer 64 bits per clock cycle. A <b>QDR</b> (p4) bus can transfer 128 bits per clock cycle.

By saying quad pumped it implys that you are talking about multiplying, such as "PII 266 quad pumps its 66mhz fsb"

You are right in saying that it is marketing jargon however, it is actually for the best of consumers, it lets people comapare apples to apples, as amd inflates their bus speeds by 2x (ddr).


If it isn't a P6 then it isn't a procesor
110% BX fanboy
October 12, 2003 10:05:43 PM

From all of this good information what have you decided on?

I'm wondering because as far as upgradeability of my system I'm at a standstill. Also thinking about a completely new system and giving my current system to my daughter.







<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=23810" target="_new"><font color=blue>My System </font color=blue></A>
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<b><font color=blue>veni,vidi, and ended up in THGC<font color=blue></b>
October 12, 2003 10:29:29 PM

I was wondering why you want your system to last forever. In my opinion, it's kind of fun to buy a new computer. You could buy a cheaper system now and then in two years buy another with all the new goodies coming out in the near future.

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<i><font color=black>Faithless</font color=black></i> is he that says farewell when the road darkens.
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Anonymous
a b à CPUs
October 12, 2003 11:19:30 PM

Just my cents; its always better to be able to make up your own mind, than to have to rely on advice from others, so since I understand you are actually interested in this technology, I can only recommend you do as much reading as you can, on as many websites as you can think off and inform yourself.

That being said, just a few others points others may not have raised yet:
>Number two, I'm greedy for all the newest things, so that I
>means I want an 800mhz bus, DDR 400, and FireWire. :) 

You won't notice 800 MHz FSB's or DDR400 except maybe slightly higher performance. Makes no sense to want that, you probably just want the performance regardless how you get it. Case in point, 800 MHz FSB's are only an option on P4's. Athlon XP's offer comparable performance (for all but the fastest P4) with slower FSB's and generally lower prices. Athlon 64's don't even have an FSB, unless you want to consider hypertransport an FSB, in which case it runs at 800 MHz as well. The memory controller even runs at core frequency. There is not much point in wanting to get 800 MHz FSB's, nor is there in wanting 1 MB of cache or 64 bit just for the coolness. You want what these things give you, performance or capabilities, and there is often more than one way to achieve that.

>And since I want a system that will last me forever and
>then some, potential for future upgrades is a must.

Any home build computer will be "upgradeable". it may just be that you have to upgrade more than just the cpu. Which ever way you go, its quite likely you'll have to replace the motherboard anyway after a year, maybe two. The only exception *may* be an Athlon64, but even that is certainly not guaranteed, definately not for 5 years. Athlon XP is end of line, and P4's will change sockets next year, as will the Athlon FX. DDR400 should last you a while though, I do not expect DDR-II to go mainstream, let alone be a requirement for quite a long time.

One final thought.. many people here make it a sport to ridicule the need for 64 bits; but if you are going to author DVD's, and want to keep your system for many years, I'd really consider an AMD64 platform. While maybe overkill and not a necessity for now, a few years from here, you will thank yourself for not getting stuck with a 32 bit system. A64's arent cheap, but $400 for the cpu isnt excessive either, especially for the performance it gets you even on todays software, and with cheap motherboards, you should be able to fit it into your budget without too much effort. Since you are not into 3D gaming (yet ?), you could save a lot of money by going with a cheap though decent videocard. A GF4Ti4200 or Radeon 9200 would be more than enough with even enough headroom for an occasional 3D game in the future for less than $100.

Good luck which ever way you go.. oh, and just don't get a Celeron, anything else will work for you though ;) 

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
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