First Time Builder

Hey fellas got directed to this great community to seek advice on setting up my own PC. Anyways here are the specs I am thinking I'd love opinions and suggestions. Cost, longevity and quality are major factors. Please Help!

Case: Enermax Medium Tower(sexy looking, good for cooling and not overly bulky)
Processor: AMD(Not sure whether 64 or XP, I am a gamer though so it seems the best route, I heard however my regular winxp os won't run 64)
HD: A pair of Western Digital 80gb 8mb cache hard drives
Motherboard: Abit KV8 - Via K8T800
RAM: I know I'm think dual 512mb sticks but I'm confused as to how to judge what company is better
Video Card: All I know is I want 128mb and 256 bit, 256mb are too expensive and not worth the hassle
Rom: CD-RW/DVD player
Speakers: Creative Inspire 5.1 speakers
Fans: no clue where to start
Heatsink: do I really need one?
37 answers Last reply
More about first time builder
  1. if u dont have a heatsink m8 ur pc wont last all that long :p

    If u do things right.... People won't be sure you've done anything at all......
  2. thats a lot to swallow, *gulp*

    lets start at the processor:

    AMD is deffinatly better for gaming, so you got that part right. now the athlon xp or the athlon 64...go for the athlon 64. you get better performance, they run cooler and use less power. also they are more "futureproof", as some guys have put it, because socket 745 isn't going away anytime soon. also, windows xp will run on an ATHLON 64 because this chip has both 32-bit and 64-bit capabilities.(it will not work with say an opteron wich is a true 64 bit chip)

    video card:

    for a beefy system like yours, you should get a 9800 pro, however because i am ATI biased i might also recomend a GF FX 5900 ultra. the 9800 pro is a little faster, but its also a little warmer. decide for yourself <A HREF="http://[url=link" target="_new">here</A>

    Memory: get some with low latency timings...the 4 digit number that accompanies the descrition(example: 3326) and i like corsair the best, but kingston, and OCZ are very good as well.


    your system will be very hot so it is important to have good air flow. i dont know what kind of setup your case has, but you definatly want to put the appropriatly sized fan in all available fan bays. also you may consider cutting out the fan grates if they are just stamped sheet metal, this will decrease turbulance.


    HELL YEAH YOU NEED ONE! if you get a retail cpu it will come with a heat sink. if it does not come with one, something like <A HREF="" target="_new">this</A> or <A HREF="" target="_new">this</A> will suite you well.

    if i forgot anything or you have any questions just ask

    "Is it hot in here, or is it just you?" said the woman to the Athlon.
  3. 1. For gaming choose the Athlon 64. Since I don't know your budget ill must reccommend the 3200+
    2. AMD Processors like low latencies with RAM so get a brand name like Crucial, Kingston, etc with 2 /2.5 CAS(look in RAM section). If your gaming Id reccomend 2*512Mb in dual channel mode. You probbably have no idea what i just said - Post a thread in the Memory section if you're still unsure.
    3. Again, no idea on budget, but a ATI 9800 or ATI x800 are a good option. There are many veriations of the cards.
    4. To keep your system quiet buy a min of 2 silent 80mm fans (below 25 Decibels). One needs t draw air in, and 1 needs to be the exaust.
    5. Buy the retail version of the AMD 64, it comes with a stock heatsink.


    AMD's dual-core sex fights due in 2005
  4. lol, our info is almost identical - but I didnt read your post before i posted. Weird.

    AMD's dual-core sex fights due in 2005
  5. lol :-P

    "I see" said the blind man to his deaf dog
  6. Run 2 X 512 in dual channel? Not if he's using a 3200+. That A64 has an on-die memory controller that supports single channel only. And from what I've heard, the on-board memory controller helps compensate for lower latency RAM. Just get 512 X 2 of crucial - it's pretty much guaranteed to run stable out of the box.

    "If I owned this place and hell, I'd rent out this place and live in hell" - Toombs
  7. A good 9800 pro card:
    HIS exalibur ice q platinum 9800pro

    I found it challenging to find HIS or "hightech" or "Hightech Information Systems" <A HREF="" target="_new">HIS Intro page</A> It is listed on new egg as "hightech" <A HREF="" target="_new">here</A>

    <A HREF="" target="_new">non ice q model</A>
    In the Tom's article which gave it the editor's choice <A HREF="" target="_new">here</A>
    the ice q platinum model performed a bit better than the reference ati model that is comparable in price. They now make the fan controller bracket (hot air exhaust and fan high low control) separate to alleviate the problem of getting the switch to clear when installing in some case/mobo combinations. This now-solved problem was noted on the digit-life review <A HREF="" target="_new">here</A> . The ramsinks are also now different, better looking, and better. They are larger heatsinks which bridge two ram chips rather than single individual ones.
    I saw the editor's choice award article some months back and researched them more. I also saw the excellent faq guide <A HREF="" target="_new">here</A> and found that extremely helpful.

    <A HREF="" target="_new">HIS</A>
  8. yep, my bad - but low latency RAM is a must with AMD's, even with the on die controller

    AMD's dual-core sex fights due in 2005
  9. i would recommend the <A HREF="" target="_new">sapphire</A> model instead, because i believe sapphire is the best at making ati cards. its really all up to you though.

    "I see" said the blind man to his deaf dog
  10. <A HREF="" target="_new">sapphire debacle</A>

    you sure about that??!? :>)
  11. Quote:
    also, windows xp will run on an ATHLON 64 because this chip has both 32-bit and 64-bit capabilities.(it will not work with say an opteron wich is a true 64 bit chip)

    Tell me that this is a joke between you guys, otherwise we have a serious problem here. FCOL, what makes you think that Opteron can't run WinXP? Worse, why is Opteron a "true" 64 bit CPU but A64 which has the same core isn't?
  12. Okay well the Enermax Case apparently is quite good for cooling while remaining sleek and compact. It seems there is a consensus that I should go with an AMD64 processor. For RAM what I'm hearing is low latency dual 512s of either Corsair, Kingston or Crucial will do me good. I'm assuming the hard drives are a non-issue as long as I get an 8mb cache. The video card is where there is debate, I have been ATI loyalist for a while but if GF is competitive but cheaper I could go for it, Sapphire looks a bit shotty but there are many ATI video cards to choose from.

    The one question people seemed to ignore was a motherboard. This is where I am completely lost! I'm assuming I will now need an AMD64 compliant mobo but are there ones that are good for whatever mobo's do and could allow me to avoid the hassle of getting a sound and network card?
  13. Vid card depends on how much you want to spend. 9800Pro or X800Pro. No 6800 nvidia yet.
  14. Well, I just built a fairly similar system to what you're considering, at least, with respect to the proc and video card (Athlon64 3200+ and ATI Radeon 9800 Pro, respectively). In terms of motherboards, I would recommend a board using VIA's K8T800 chipset. You can look around for reviews, but I'm currently using an ASUS K8V Deluxe SE, which I am really happy with. Not the best board for overclocking (no PCI/AGP lock), but I don't think you'll be worrying about that anyway, so its a moot point. Another good choice using this chipset might be an MSI K8T Neo; I've heard good things about these. Also, I've heard that Nvidia's NForce3 250 chipset is pretty good (note, NForce3 250, NOT NForce3 150), so you might want to check out a board like MSI's K8N Neo using this chipset. In general, look for a good motherboard brand (ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte etc) that has the features you're looking for (e.g. IDE/SATA ports, USB connections, onboard Lan/sound etc etc ) and then find some reviews of it.

    Finally, with respect to RAM, you might also want to consider looking into OCZ PC3200. I'm using 2 sticks of OCZ PC3200 single channel at 2336 timings, and I'm quite happy with it. It was also much cheaper than similarily performing Corsair memory, which I also considered. However, with all the price fluctuations in the memory market these days... who knows?

    Finally, with respect to hard drives, a fast drive does make a difference. I would get a drive running at at least 7200 RPM, 8MB Cache, and ca 8.5ms seek time. Personally, I'm running a part of 74MB WD Raptors in RAID0 and they are FAST. However, this is a pretty big investment just for hard drives ($400-$450).

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Mode_Locrian on 06/18/04 11:08 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  15. Most people here like the new nvidia chipset (nforce3 250), but boards are a little scarce. Most seem to like the MSI board, though I find the Gigabyte board a good value.
    Asus is also putting out a new board with that chipset. It will probably become the top seller. I wish Abit would bring one out, but they still seem to be pissed at nvidia.
  16. Here's my latest build. Garner what you can from this. Always shop for the best pricing.

    Chaintech VNF3-250 Socket 754 MB - $69.00 @ Mwave
    A64-3000+ w/ Heatsink/fan - $219.00 @ Mwave
    Far-Cry CD - free
    Sapphire 9600XT - New - $130.00 @ E-Bay
    2 X 512 OCZ PC3500 Performance - $219.00 @ NewEgg
    Samsung 120GB SATA Hard drive - $99.00 @ NewEgg
    2 X 80mm black Top Motor fans - $5.00 @ E-Bay
    1 X 80mm blue led fan - $10.00 @ NewEgg
    Silver NEC-2500A DVD/CD Burner - $76.00 @ NewEgg
    Silver Mitsumi Floppy Drive - 1.44mb - $11.00 @ Mwave
    1 machine-rounded cable set - $9.00 @ Mwave
    1 - Academic version XP-Pro - $84.00 @ NewEgg
    1 - Dynapower Silver Mid-tower w/ Clear side window w/ center fan, rainbow front lights, front temp LCD display, 430 watt Award PS, 2 x front USB & sound ports
    $39.00 @ Mwave
    The smarts to make it work - priceless!

    "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. Now, let's eat!
  17. Quote:
    In reply to:

    also, windows xp will run on an ATHLON 64 because this chip has both 32-bit and 64-bit capabilities.(it will not work with say an opteron wich is a true 64 bit chip)


    Tell me that this is a joke between you guys, otherwise we have a serious problem here. FCOL, what makes you think that Opteron can't run WinXP? Worse, why is Opteron a "true" 64 bit CPU but A64 which has the same core isn't?

    get as technical as you want, but noobs dont care, they just want an answer that they can understand. we water it down so they can, they're still learning so be nice

    "I see" said the blind man to his deaf dog
  18. Quote:
    Finally, with respect to hard drives, a fast drive does make a difference.

    hes got a point, fast drives are important. when i upgraded from a fireball 3 to a diamond max, my boot time was cut by two thirds. this GREATLY effects the computers performance in general. so get a drive with 7200 rpm, the interface doesn't matter(ata100, ata133, or sata) because current drives still cant pull data fast enough to run at the predescribed bandwidths.

    and yeah, 10k rpm drives in a raid is big investment for a first build :-)

    "I see" said the blind man to his deaf dog
  19. Thank you all for dumbing it down for me and helping out as I am indeed a newbie to pc building. Here is a revised version, again any tips or crtiques are welcome:

    Case: Enermax Medium Tower
    Processor: AMD 64 3200+
    RAM: 512mbx2 OCZ 3200ppm
    Motherboard: ASUS K8V Deluxe SE
    HD: 7200rpm 8mb cache hard drive(s)
    Video Card:ATI Radeon 9800 Pro or HIS Excalibur Ice Q 9800 Pro
    Drive: CD-RW/DVD-ROM
    Keyboard: Logitech
    Mouse: Logitech
    Speakers: Creative Imagine 5.1 Speakers
    Fans: x3 80mm fans
    Heatsinks: Coolermaster for Athlon64
    Extras: Machine-Rounded Cable Set

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by jthm on 06/19/04 01:32 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
  20. Quote:
    get as technical as you want, but noobs dont care, they just want an answer that they can understand. we water it down so they can, they're still learning so be nice

    I am sorry, I don't get it. Firstly, I am not being nasty with them in any shape or form (but with you if you will:) and secondly I am not talking about any technichality here but the fact that WinXP damn well runs on an Opteron system and A64 and Opteron both share the same instruction set and consequently one is not more real 64 bit than the other.
  21. Okay well I'm positive that an argument over the validity of those two 64bit processors can be done in another thread(not that I care much). Opinions on my specs!!
  22. he he
  23. Have you checked out the free "far cry" game offered by serveral vendors when you purchase a a64 cpu+ select mobo from them? zipzoomfly, mwave, monarch, and others have it going. If you are getting cpu and mobo anyway...

    There is also a nec dvd/cd rw that gets good user reviews on new egg if you don't have any particular one in mind. I got one for my new build I am planning on when I ordered my HIS excalibur ice q platinum 9800 pro. It is the same one cybercraig listed in his thread I think. It has gone down about $5 since I ordered mine.

    Scott and others say the boxed cooler with the retail a64 does a great job, so you may not "need" to buy another heatsink unless you are really gonna heat it up or something. I don't know how much extra those cables cost but the motherboard likely comes with what you need. Check out the makers website and/or reviews to see what it is packaged with. Unless of course there is some moding, air flow, performance issue you have special cables in mind for.

    <A HREF="" target="_new">HIS excalibur ice q plat 9800 pro</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">dvd</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">floppy</A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new">arctic silver 5</A>
    I'm sure that enermax case blows this away but since I cut and pasted these product links from another thread I'll leave it:
    I searched through alot of pictures, user reviews and descriptions to find what seemed the best decent looking case for the $. I wanted a case with a clear acryic side panel. My main requirement for the case was that it have a "decent" power source I could use to run the old comp when I built the new one.
    <A HREF="" target="_new">case</A>

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by zeekfu on 06/19/04 03:37 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  24. Yeah I'm hearing a lot of good things about HIS Ice Q so odds are that'll be the video card. I don't really intend to do any overclocking so scratch the heatsink. I think I'll stick to the Enermax because I love the look, it seems compact which I want and I've heard good stuff about how it cools. Do I really need more than a 350W power supply?
  25. Message scottchen about the power usage. He has an a64 3200+.

    There was a link someone posted to a power use calculator that was pretty neat. I forget where exactly it was now though. If someone has that link handy can you paste it up here?

    Yea, I am sure that enermax case blows the one I have away quality wise. Make sure it is a good power supply that comes with it, though. I learned the hard way not to skimp on the power supply. I bought the case I linked above and switched the ps that came with it out to my older system. It seems to be working like a charm. If something were to go wrong I want it in this older system though. I'll put my expensive antec 430 watt true power in the new system when I get it set up. I'm not saying the power supply in that nice case you are ordering isn't fine. Just saying you should do some checking into it and make sure if you plan to use it for this a64 system. You don't want to take any chances with such a nice build. If you decide to purchase a ps seperately and you don't need another ps you may want to buy a case without ps assuming of course it is cheaper. Also there are lots of good ideas on good power supplies. I don't think a really good reliable power supply is necessarily very expensive. Someone on some thread was raving about one that was about $30. Maybe some people will be kind enough to post some links/ideas on reliable power sources. Maybe if you post the link to your case people can give you an idea about that one as well.
    you can type:

    [*url]link to case here

    (minus the " * "-link to case = well, the link to the case, he he) to put a link up

    Another option of course is to give your local shop some business if they have some decent cases. The $15 shipping might offset a bit higher price and you can see what you are getting that way. These are all just thoughts (albiet loosely organized, he he). If they serve great and if not ignore em.
  26. Two top choices for your vid card. Have you looked at X800Pro?
  27. Re memory:
    You may want to check out this Tom's article regarding memory/motherboard compatibility :
    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>

    These memory articles on anandtech might be more confussing than they are helpful as they deal with overclocking, very high end memory and even has some discontinued memory thrown in. It is also tested on a p4 platform. But just to make everything about your memory choices clear as mud, here it is, he he:
    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>

    The cheapest reliable looking 512mb pc 3200 ram I have seen is in the $78ish range per stick. I have seen some a bit cheaper but didn't recognize the brand, or the comments looked sketchy etc. That would be $156 for 2 to make one gig. Some of that memory tested by anandtech can go upwards of $300 for matched pairs. Memory is just high all around I think. After spiking up in price sharply since earlier in the year it seems to be dropping slightly in price over the last few weeks, at least the corsair modules I have been tracking did.

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by zeekfu on 06/19/04 03:57 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  28. yeah i looked inot 64bit chips a bit zeezee, and you're very right. i owe you an apology, sorry.

    i just never looked into 64 bit chips very much cus i don't plan on buying for another 2 years or so. i like my axp2400 :smile:

    "I see" said the blind man to his deaf dog
  29. Well there is a limit to what I can afford so top of line brand new stuff like the x800 series is about there. I'm liking OCZ because I have heard good things and they are quite affordable. As for the case's power supply it is ATX PS2 and I've heard good things but you're right that I should check it out.

    Here's a link to the case I'm looking at:
    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>
  30. 1.) I have serious doubts about cases relabled Enermax being of adequate quality, and some come with generic (not Emermax) power supplies. I'd like to suggest an Enlight case instead.
    2.) A64 is a great choise, XP will run fine on it. I'd like to suggest the A64 3200+ with 1MB of cache, while you can still find them.
    3.) Sure, I have an WD800JB, works fine, performs well. They have an SATA version of this drive too.
    4.) K8T800? If you're going to spend a chunk of money on a system you might as well get a board with a good chipset. I recommend the MSI K8N Neo Platinum. It's available all over the place, you just have to look.
    5.) Most name brand memory will work with the K8N Neo Platinum and other nForce3 250 chipset boards. The K8T800 isn't so good with RAM, you have fewer choices. Read Anandtech's latest article on the new Corsair PC3200 that runs 2-2-2-5 latencies.
    6.) Proabably an ATI 9800 Pro, unless you have the money for the newer cards (X800 series and 6800 series), go with whatever your budget allows.
    7.) DVD RW devices are cheap enough now that you might want to consider one. The NEC ND-2510A supports 8x writes in both DVD+R and DVD-R, 4x rewrites, and dual layer media, for well under $100.
    8.) Go to a place that sells speakers and listen to them before making up your mind.
    9.) For CPU fan, I'd stick with the unit boxed in the Athlon 64 retail package.
    10.) For CPU heatsink, I'd stick with the unit boxed in the Athlon 64 retail package.

    <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>
  31. Quote:
    Okay well I'm positive that an argument over the validity of those two 64bit processors can be done in another thread(not that I care much). Opinions on my specs!!

    I believe you should care a little more. You started the thread like "I heard however my regular winxp os won't run 64" which disqualifies your most viable option.

    Anyway, your specs...

    A64 3200+ is for me the quite alright. I use one at home and so far no complaints.

    ASUS K8V Deluxe SE is also fine but pay attention to the "SE" (second edition) part. I built a PC with the first edition (non-SE) of these MB's with an A64 3200+ and it was painful. Until I found my way through ASUS' pathetically organized web site and updated the BIOS, it refused to recognize the RAID array on VIA’s controller.

    If you go with the 2-disk RAID option (and I think you should, not because your disk speed will improve substantially but you have already paid for it when you bought the MB so why not use it) make sure that you use VIA’s on-chip RAID controller before Promise. If you start with Promise and try to add two more drives to VIA in the future, you won’t be able to boot from Promise (at least I couldn’t).

    Also keep an English to Broken English dictionary handy in case you need to deal with VIA's on chip RAID controller’s error messages and troubleshooting instructions. They are basically incomprehensible.

    If you don’t plan to overclock your PC, buying expensive memory won’t change your life too much. I would buy the cheapest ASUS qualified memory.

    As for the graphics card, buy the most expensive one that you can afford. I personally prefer ATI but NVIDIA is not any worse.

    You seem to consider the heatsink as an optional component. It’s not. You can’t run your processor w/o one. Again, w/o overclocking, the heatsink and fan that come with the A64 are more than enough.

    Fans… Why three for god’s sake? Not that they cost much but they make a lot of noise. Three you plan to buy plus one or two on the PSU plus one on the CPU plus one on the graphics card and your PC which you intend to run at stock speed will be noisier than a C-130 taking off. A64s run much cooler than other CPU’s. One case fan is as far as I would go.

    Anyway, good luck. Hope it works out.
  32. No worries.. I kind of like A64's and feel like "defending" them when others say "they can't do this" or "they are not good for that".
  33. What is the difference between the MSI K8N Neo Platinum and ASUS K8V Deluxe SE. I have no idea what you mean about a 2 disk RAID option.

    I didn't think a heatsink was optional but thought that the AMD64 heatsink and fan were acceptable. I have no idea on how much cooling my machine will need but I was told that 80mm fans weren't noisy.

    Sorry if you're bothered by me trying to keep my thread on track rather than having it become a debate between two processors I know little about. Again I apologize for not being as informed as you in regards to hardware and compatibility, this is why I posted.
  34. The Radeon 9600XT runs like a stuck pig with an A64. This is the LEAST expensive card you should consider if you are going ATI instead of Nvidia. :smile:

    "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. Now, let's eat!
  35. good thread. ready for an upgrade myself but have been out of the hardware picture for a while..good info here.

    I saw that crashman suggested that the amd64 3200+ was a good option and also suggested the MSI K8N Neo Platinum mobo. i looked up that mobo on new egg and it states its for amd 64 3400+ cpu's and higher.
    Has anyone ran a 3200+ on this board?

    (btw not calling you out =), just seeing if im missing something )
  36. That's a common enough error. When they say "runs an x chip and higher" it usually means it runs x , x-1, x-2 etc, and will be able to run future chips as well. In this case, it means the K8N runs all a64 socket 754 chips, and will run the new 3700+ as well. (a bios update will be required to run the 3700+)
  37. Here's the link to the handy psu wattage calculator
    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>

    Mobile XP 2600+ (11X200)
    Abit NF7-S v 2.0
    Maxtor 60GB ATA 133 7200RPM
    512MB Corsair Twinx 3200LL
    BBA 9800 Pro
    Enermax Noisetaker 420 watts
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