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Building my first computer

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June 24, 2004 4:07:28 PM

Hi all. I'm new here, just started visiting recently when I decided it was time to upgrade my PC. For the first time I feel confident enough to buy the components and put it together myself. Mainly I'm into gaming but I may also be doing some long processor-and-RAM intensive calculations occasionally. Comments/suggestions on the components I've chosen would be very welcome. Thanks a lot!

<b>I've provisionally decided upon...</b>
CPU: Athlon 64 3400+ Socket 754
RAM: Corsair Twin (2x512Mb) 3200XL-PRO
Mobo: MSI K8N Neo Platinum
DVD/RW: Pioneer Black 8x DVD/CD RW (DVR-107BK)
DVD/ROM: Sony 16x40 Black DVD-ROM (DDU-1612-BK)
Floppy: Alps Black Floppy (DF354H148F)
Case: Antec Sonata w/ 380W "TruePower" PSU

<b>I'll also be scavenging my current PC for parts...</b>
2 Seagate HDDs (80, 120Gb). The 120Gb is a Barracuda, not sure what the 80 is.
MSI Geforce 5700 Ultra
Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, Printer.

There are a few specific things I'd like to ask about, too...

1. I've heard from a couple of the Tom's Hardware articles that the Athlon64 non-FX CPUs can have problems with handling two sticks of RAM at DDR400. Is this likely to cause me problems? Further, would I be ok sticking an extra 512Mb in to make it up to 1.5Gb?

2. Will the Sonata's 380W PSU be enough to handle all of this? If so, would it also be able to handle a potential graphics card upgrade in a year or so, or would I likely need to upgrade it for that?

3. About the case itself: Is it worth buying an extra 120mm fan since apparently it only comes with 1, and it's designed to accomodate 2 (front and back)? Also, the case sounds pretty small - is there likely to be a problem fitting everything in?

4. The CPU is marketed as "Retail Boxed". That means it should come with a cooling fan, right?

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June 24, 2004 6:13:00 PM

1. No. 1 gig of memory is plenty; I would leave the 3rd slot empty. 2. It should be adequate if you're not overclocking. 3. Use the 120mm fan in back, and skip the extra fan. The athlon 64 will run pretty cool. Check newegg for pictures of the case. If you need more space, I would recommend the coolergiant cases with enermax power supplies. I found one at Fry's with 350 watt enermax power supply for only $60. It houses my backup computer. 4. yes
June 24, 2004 6:30:35 PM

3. i checked your case, it looks plenty big...if your thinking about getting it from newegg with the "blowout sale" wait til its over...it'll actually be cheaper after the sale ends.

plenty of cooling for the hard drives, and the cabling can be stashed in the back to reduce clutter, very nice.

and yes, you should indeed pay 10 bucks to get the fron 120mm fan as well, it is very worth it as it will vastly improve cooling...however you may have to do some modding to the front bezel to maximize air flow, im not sure exactly what it has for a front vent, but chances are the vent is too small.

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I've got some bright ideas involving you and me.
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June 24, 2004 6:32:48 PM

That's a sweet setup. I only have some suggestions:
1) Get the 3200+ instead of the 3400+. Unless you think that extra 200 points is worth $120. 3200 is the sweet spot, and you may still be able to find one with the 1mg cache.
2). Go lite-on for both optical drives. They are reliable and inexpensive. And Sony is just repackaged lite-on with a mark up.
3). I would buy an extra fan to get some good airflow through your case. 120mm fans aren't that expensive, and are ususally pretty quiet.

"It's too late now anyway. That song is stuck in my head and the only way to get rid of it is to blow it out. With a bullet!! - Carl
June 24, 2004 7:54:45 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I've gone for the second fan as well, but not changed any of the other specs.
Quote:
<b>Tavelkyosoba:</b>
3. i checked your case, it looks plenty big...if your thinking about getting it from newegg with the "blowout sale" wait til its over...it'll actually be cheaper after the sale ends.


I'm from england actually so newegg's not an option. Most of the stuff I'm getting from ebuyer. Thanks for the advice though.


Quote:
<b>Obtuse:</b>
1) Get the 3200+ instead of the 3400+. Unless you think that extra 200 points is worth $120. 3200 is the sweet spot, and you may still be able to find one with the 1mg cache.

Actually, the extra 200 points is worth the extra money for me :) . So I've stuck with the 3400+


Quote:
<b>Obtuse:</b>
2). Go lite-on for both optical drives. They are reliable and inexpensive. And Sony is just repackaged lite-on with a mark up.

I had a look at Liteon drives but couldn't find any in black, so I decided to stick with the original drives. A price difference of a few pounds is small enough that I'm willing to pay it for a nicer looking exterior.


Again thanks to all of you for the help.
June 24, 2004 9:33:23 PM

Obtuse, why go with the 3200+ and not the 3000+? You save more money and it is less of a performance drop than 3400+ to 3200+ isn't it?

"This means that you can play over a network, just not with each other."-PC GAMER review<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by gobeavers on 06/24/04 05:46 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
June 24, 2004 9:51:49 PM

3000+ -> 3200+ is $223 vs $282, that's $59 for 200 points
3200+ -> 3400+ is $282 vs $415, that's $133 for 200 points.

See, I'm willing to pay $60 for 200 points, but not twice that for another 200 points.

"It's too late now anyway. That song is stuck in my head and the only way to get rid of it is to blow it out. With a bullet!! - Carl
June 24, 2004 10:42:07 PM

Yes, but do you trust the points that much? You have to look at actual benchmark numbers and the specs. The 3200+ only had 512k more cache than the 3000+. From my understanding that doesn't make that much of a performance difference. The 3400+ actually boosts it's horsepower, adding another 200 mhz which helps the athlons more than cache. Therefore, if you are willing to sacrifice the performace from 200 mhz, it would be easy to sacrifice the minimal performance advantage of the extra cache.

"This means that you can play over a network, just not with each other."-PC GAMER review
June 24, 2004 11:10:45 PM

Well that 3000 gives you only the 512 l2 cache while the 3200 can give you 1mb l2 cache. For what he will be doing, more cache, the better.

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June 25, 2004 3:06:08 AM

1.) The problems you've heard of about running multiple sticks of RAM seem to be limitted to junk chipsets like the K8T800 and the old nForce3 150. nVidia solved the problems with the nForce3 250, and SiS's 755 was always better than the K8T800. You've picked a board with the top chipset, so no worries there.

<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>
June 25, 2004 7:53:53 PM

Please configure the second fan as an intake. If you set it to exhaust, it will just reduce the outflow from the other case fan, and the psu fan.
June 25, 2004 11:37:30 PM

Newbie here: :>)
I was going to ask why buy the "pro" corsair when you don't have a windowed case. It is my understanding from most sources that the only "benefit" is lights. Also I have seen some user reviews that have stated the lights seem to have caused problems (but corsair of course made good on it-so no harm done). I believe corsair claims they are a bit better but I am not sure whether that is just hype or not. Usually, I have noted the "pro" 2x512 kits to be about 25% more than the corresponding regular or platinum kit.

However, in this case the pro you picked out is only $4 more so heck I would go for it. Maybe it actually *is* handpicked or something. Although the lights won't add a lot to a case you can't see inside for $4 I would just go for it.

The "platinum" heatspreader version is about $10 less for some reason. I thought platinum was a step up from the regular but notice sometimes they are about the same or platinum is even a bit cheaper than regular. I guess the more they sell they can buy more and get it cheaper. Simple supply and demand. Maybe if all the xll is as high as the pro now that indicates the non pro is far overpriced and will come down $40-$75 soon? Or maybe they are doing that to convince people to go with the pro so they can make the cost of doing that wacky crazy light thing cheaper. I imagine people who like decorating their case think the pro to cool for school. Flashing lights.....ummmmmm.
June 26, 2004 12:25:56 AM

Re: page one-
athlon 64 3200+ now comes in two cores:

older core-is stopping/has stopped production but still available-clawhammer=1mb l2 cache:
athlon 64 3200+ 2000mhz 1mb l2 cache= clawhammer core


newer core-newcastle=512kb l2 cache-everything but the higher end chips like the fx-53 will be shifted to this because it is cheaper to produce (also helps preserve the supremacy of the fx-53 chip):
athlon 64 3200+ 2200mhz 512 l2 cache= newcastle core

1. Officially they are rated to peform the same by amd.

2. Most seem to concur that the newer version newcastle is faster stock due to the higher frequency. Most of the post I have seen re athlon xp for example indicated that higher speed trumped higher cache as far as "bang for the buck". This is in regards to the way amd was "staggering" the processors for each new rating.
<A HREF="http://www6.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040601/socket_939-06..." target="_new">http://www6.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040601/socket_939-06...;/A>

My personal oversimplification and (not 100% correct in all cases) explanation: next pr rating bump= higher cache-after that-next pr rating bump=higher frequency-after that next pr rating=both.....

3. People who have the older clawhammer core and overclock it say it overclocks a bit better. This makes sense because overclocking raises frequency but the cache stays the same. Thus by overclocking the clawhammer core I guess you could go to the speed of the necastle core and have the cache of the clawhammer core. Thus you could basically have 3400+ performance (at least that is what I am hoping).

4. Another wrinkle is the older co verses newer cg "stepping". Note this "stepping" (whatever the heck it is) is independent of the core type(newcastle/clawhammer). The first chips apparently utilized the co stepping while chips manufactured more recently use cg stepping. I became aware of this "stepping" for the first time in this Tom's article regarding memory compatibilities:
<A HREF="http://www6.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20040602/memor..." target="_new">http://www6.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20040602/memor...;/A>
I honestly don't know if it helps performance any to have the newer cg stepping but it apparently means better compatibility with memory as well as the ability to utilize more memory (although from what I read in this community 1gig is enough, enough, enough)

5. Ps if you want the clawhammer core there are apparently plenty still available. I got received this reply from my inquiry to monarch computer (a smaller company that is rated highly and is very personable over the phone)
-------------

http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Sc...
ode=M&Product_Code=120708

These OPNs are Clawhammer and the "5" in the OPN denotes 1Mb L2 cache...

ADA3200AEP5AP
ADA3200AEP5AR

----------------------
This helpful link someone posted a couple days ago breaks down the chip designations:
<A HREF="http://www.amdboard.com/amd64_opn.html" target="_new">http://www.amdboard.com/amd64_opn.html&lt;/A>
June 26, 2004 12:40:01 AM

I agree about the a64 3400+ being "overkill" for the money. It is too close to the top of the heap and has a premium price. I had a hard time justifying buying the a64 3200+ but I winced and did it anyway. It will be fine for at least the next 5 years I am sure.

I believe if I were going to spend another $130+ on the 3400+ I would just go ahead and go 3500+ on socket 939 for $70 more. But then again there is only one 939 mobo out atm I think...I don't like being a guinea pig
June 26, 2004 1:09:47 AM

Hmmm that last post "upped" my "rating" I noticed it on another thread and backtracked to find where it happened. Time to get off this danged comp, lol....shakes...scratches....
June 26, 2004 5:46:38 AM

You are over 400 posts. How long have you been posting?

Dumb question. 400 posts in 25 days, at this rate, you'll catch Crashman in a decade or two.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by endyen on 06/26/04 01:50 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
June 26, 2004 7:44:45 AM

Naw I am bout done. I am not a hero like crashman who takes his time to help everyone out.

*this is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't wanna live here* :smile:
June 26, 2004 3:06:29 PM

Yeah I know that. Im sayin to get the 3200 and get the clawhammer chip. It sucks to drop those chip to 512k but AMD gotta make that fx53 worth something....

Mobile Barton 2500+ @ 2420mhz 11x220 1.7v
Asus A7N8X Dlx 440 FSB
1gb Geil GD pc3500 Dual Channel (2-3-3-6)
Segata 80gb SATA 8.5ms seek
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro to XT(420/730)
!