Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

AMD 1.2GHz Dream System- NEED ADVICE!

Last response: in CPUs
Share
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 13, 2000 8:49:14 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm a regular on www.sharkyforums.com and I've posted my soon-to-be-built system so many times I can't even count, refining it oh-so-carefully so that I have the "perfect" system. Since these boards just came up a few days ago, I thought I'd post the outline of a system that I will be purchasing next month.

Any comments, suggestions, personal experience stories and tips are appreciated! :-)

Btw, the prices are in Canadian Dollars, so don't freak out. (1USD = 1.5CND approx.)

Just a few notes so I don't hear the same arguments all over again:
(1) I'm NOT going with the AMD 760. This is final. :-) It's nothing against the 760, I just like the setup I have now.
(2)

$0199.99 Asus A7V Pro, Socket A, AGP, Via KT133 (ATX)
$0564.99 AMD Athlon (K7) 1.2-GHz (Socket A) 256k OEM
$0674.99 Creative Labs 3D Blaster Annihilator 2 Ultra w/ 64Mb AGP Retail Box
$0275.00 (approx) 256 MB CAS-2 PC133 RAM From Crucial
$0314.99 45 GB IBM Deskstar Ultra-100 7200RPM 2048k 8.5ms OEM
$0174.99 Pioneer 16X DVD-Drive (40X CD-ROM) OEM
$0375.00 (approx) Klipsch Pro-Media v.2-400 4x speaker 1x subwoofer
$0264.99 SoundBlaster Live Platinum 5.1 (Retail Box)
$0664.99 Viewsonic PF790 19" SVGA 0.25ag N.I. 1600x1200 TCO99 Energy 2000
$0255.00 (approx) 3DCOOL.COM Tornado 1000 Case w/300W Power Supply
$0069.99 3COM 10/100Mb PCI Network Card OEM
$0044.99 Logitech Internet Keyboard
$UNKNOWN Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer
--------
$3564.87 SUB TOTAL
x1.15 TAX (15% sales tax in canada :-)
--------
$4099.60 TOTAL



"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
November 13, 2000 9:08:22 PM

That's a machine! The only things I'd change is the Internet keyboard, I like my keyboards more straight. (but it's my preference :)  ) I have an intellimouse myself and it's a great one but if I was you, I'll buy a mouse without a ball, more durable (infrared or laser, not sure) . For your board, I dont know when the DDR chipsets will be available but the price differences will be small according to reviewers.

Nice machine thought, if only I could win the loto...
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 13, 2000 9:13:14 PM

The intellimouse explorer is infrared.

Good point on the keyboard (but it's not exactly one of the key components IMHO, I was looking for commentary on the major parts :-)

"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
Related resources
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 13, 2000 9:49:41 PM

That's a nice system. I ordered one just like it (should be here next Wednesday). The only difference was the memory (384 MB VC-SDRAM) and the case. I don't mean to plug any one company in peticular, but have you been to Alienwares's web site? That is were I ordered my system, and the have 99% of all the components you just listed.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 13, 2000 10:00:00 PM

A comparable Alienware system costs 4000USD instead of 4000Canadian! That's a HUGE price increase. Plus I ENJOY building systems. :-)

"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 13, 2000 10:06:48 PM

Where did you find that mobo for $199.00?
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 11:23:44 AM

Can't comment too much on the major components. But I would rethink the mouse. You ever heard of the Razer? They make a 1000 and 2000 dpi mouse. I own the 1000 dpi mouse and it is incredibly precise and the fastest thing around. I've used the Intellimouse and wasn't even close to being impressed. Once you've used one in gaming you'll know what I mean... The website is www.razerzone.com
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 11:37:44 AM

I must say...........you learned your lessons well.
Everything is okay, fast mem, good crt mon, good mobo.
A real killer.
November 14, 2000 1:47:15 PM

why did you pick the CLAP Ultra?
I'm sure there are other Ultra cards out there that are made by companies with much better technical support. I almost bought this card, but after my dealings with Creative Labs concerning my sound card and from reading their newsgroups I opted for a different brand.
A slower card for more money is a small price to pay for less frustration and keping my sanity.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 3:02:29 PM

Het great machine! I have one suggestion though.
Take a look at the 22" NEC's at Futureshop. I
know I cringe when I hear futureshop too, but these
monitors are the real deal for a reasonable price
($1300 for a 20" viewable TRINITRON)
Just a thought....it's the best monitor i've ever had.

Everything else looks tip top. I recently spent the same amount of $$$ (Cdn.) and am kicking myself because of the
up and coming availability of DDR RAM. If I had it to do over again, I'd wait. Just a thought.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 3:16:16 PM

I, as well, would opt for DDR memory. New memory technologies don't come around very often, as the technology can never keep pace with the processors themselves. I would recommend waiting, but hey, it's just me :) 
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 4:22:44 PM

I think DDR would be better, but if it's your choice to use slower SDR RAM, well, what can I say?
But there's one thing I don't understand: why buy a 5.1 sound card and 4.1 speakers? It makes no sense to me...
And another thing... you should go for the biggest picture... err.. screen you can buy, with the best quality, and that's a Mitsubishi 22" CRT...
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 8:47:36 PM

Thanks guys, I have some more comments/questions:

Can you explain the thing about the 4.1 speakers and 5.1 sound card? (I'm confused...)

My budget doesn't allow for a 22/21" monitor, as much as I'd like it.

I *MIGHT* wait for DDR... Maybe...

MORE COMMENTS APPRECIATED.

"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 8:56:08 PM

Hey,

Dag nabit, drooled all over the keyboard again. Nice machine!

Timothy Stankus
One of the First AMD Athlon Users =)
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 14, 2000 9:01:26 PM

I am thinking of purchasing a razor mouse. Have you had any compatibility problems with razor software drivers and win 98 SE?
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 2:06:38 AM

Great configuration. I also thought about your graphic card. I would choose another brand (Elsa or Guillemot).
Keyboard (I like Multimedia keyboard/wireless) and maybe you can get a little more memory (512 MB), especially today there is a big drop in memory (I hope it will drop further) :cool:

I am not sure about 4.1 vs. 5.1 sound cards - but I think it is mostly about digital dolby surround (I guess 4.1 doesn't have this feature), it is great for DVD and then you will reaally enjoy your movies.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 3:23:04 AM

Hey.
Nice system. About the 760, They are coming soon and even if you don't go with it you should wait as the pricing for your other stuff will only go lower.

You have some good prices, are pricing all your stuff from the same place.

Where are you located, I'm in Toronto and the few places I look at on the web don't even offer the 1.2 yet. I will have to give them a call.

That video may not be the best bang for the buck, I always found that CLabs over priced their cards as compared to comparable cards of other manufactuers.

Is the A7V PRO any different from the A7V -- Anyway, have you looked at the Abit KT7 raid mother board. You could get to smaller HD's and strip them.

Best of luck and be patient. You want the most for your money.
Take care.

I to am looking at about the same time frame as you,
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 12:53:22 PM

Well, you chose an excellent sound card with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. That means that it can output sound to 6 speakers - 1 subwoofer and 5 satellite speakers (beeing one of them the central unit). In the other hand, you chose (again excellent) speakers, but that only have a subwoofer and 4 satellite speakers, without Dolby surround sound...
Why not go for the Cambridge SoundWorks DeskTop Theater 5.1, also from Creative Labs? The price is just around the same... And You'll benefit from Dolby surround, it's really great for gaming and watching DVD movies!!

Too bad you can't afford a 22" monitor... :?(
November 15, 2000 1:32:03 PM

Personally i'd change the motherboard to an ABIT KT7-RAID. I am a dedicated ABIT customer. I have never had 1 problem with one of them. You might want to look at ELSA video cards. They tend to be a little less troublesome than the Creative cards. The viewsonic monitors are alright, but i love my LCD. Check out the microsoft intellieye mouse. I like the optical mice. they track very well. Also, if you are looking for a good "natural" style keyboard, check out the microsoft internet explorer pro. IT's got a dual port usb hub built into it.

"upgrading is no longer an option...it's a necessity"
Visit www.elitehunters.com
--SoulReaper =)
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 5:10:59 PM

Just a few thoughts:

1) On the mouse side, If you are going optical I would suggest the Logitech. Logitech mice are higher quality than the inteli mouse (the explorer mouse might be better). I smacked that inteli mouse once and the buttons cracked in two. Cheap crap. I've smacked my logitech around I dont know how many times (avid Q3'er here ;o) and it comes back for more.
2) on your mobo -- WAIT FOR DDR It is sooo close, I am waiting too my friend. I want it now, but I know DDR will rock and last longer and cost about the same!
3) Why go for a 1.2Ghz cpu? I guess the price isn't bad, but the 1Ghz is higher on the price\performance scale. I personally am getting the T-bird 900 for $165 -- cant beat that with a stick!
4)Go with the Abit Kt7Raid, and buy 2 Wd 7200 RPM ata 100's -- this will be CHEAPER than the 45 gig deskstar, and MUCH faster in raid !!
5) I am going with a flat screeen 17inch monitor for now, it's $400 cheaper! 19 Inch are getting better in price, though. DONT GO BIGGER it's ridiculous. Good choice on brand, Viewsonics ROCK !!
Bottom line : I am a price\performance guy. This is especially importaint when considering Xmas is almost here!
Well, I guess thats all I have to say, happy shopping!
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 5:24:37 PM

sounds like you are going high dollar there.
First off, the graphics card, I have had a VERY good experience with my Asus V7700 32 meg. Benchmarks show very little performance increase in going 64, you might want to compare price performance there. Also generally the Asus vid cards are performing better than Creative's. Second, waiting for DDR would really be reccomended, the price shouldn't be affected too much. The A7V is a spectacular board, you should be quite happy with it. One reccomendation though. www.step-thermodynamics.com
look at them for your components, their memory is truly primo. My system is running a duron with one of their HS's, and 256megs of their PC150 mem No problems thus far.
only down side is the wait for the stuff to get to you, 3 weeks about for them to mold the heat sink to the processor and by that time new processors typically have come out.
Overall they are a great company though, check them out and give them some thought before buying mobo, vid, proc, memory, or heatsink.


-Infornography
life as we know it is absurd
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 5:30:57 PM

Why do you want the Platinum sound card? Are you a musician? Have any plans of hooking MIDI instruments into your computer? If you are going to do these things then obviously never mind this post. If not, might as well just go with the X-gamer.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 5:58:20 PM

why do you even care about minor details like the mouse and keyboard. he likes the ones he picked out obviously. I like it but 199$ is kinda high for the A7V, i got mine fore 115$. I have the sb platinum card and it is extremely nice but i had lots of problems assigning different IRQ's to it. I'm on an intel 440BX ASUS P3B-F board right now and it is alot like the A7V as far as performance and setting up the bios and everything. I dont know you might not have probs but if you do try using the second slot it seems to like that one the best :)  oh well im rambling, nice machine though have fun with it
November 15, 2000 6:03:06 PM

a little piece of advice, get more ram, 256 is not enough for a 1.2ghz box, 192 isn't enough for a 550, anyway try go up to 512, youd see a large improvement, unless you're prepared to wait for ddr, another thing, monitor is nice, but a 17" flatscreen would be a lot nicer as was previously mentioned, if you go for 19" try get 1 that can handle higher resolutions, 1600 x 1200 just wont be enough soon enough, a cd writer wouldnt be such a bad idea either, if youre into that sort of thing
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 15, 2000 7:40:51 PM

Alright I've got a few more notes...

I've got a CD-Burner on the computer I'm using right now. It's a creative 24/4/2 .. not terribly fast I know, but practically new, I'd hate to spend a bunch of extra money getting an second one. I'm just going to move this one to my new computer.

Also, I will likely get the X-gamer rather than the platinum. The reason I chose Klispch is that they got an excellent review, although, maybe I'll still get the Soundblaster Desktop Theatre package.

DDR SDRAM will be a decision I make based on the availability and price of PC2100 and 266MHz FSB T-birds with AMD 760 boards.

A crappy 17" LCD is a LOT more than a top of the line 19" Viewsonic... I don't see the value here? I can't get a 17" LCD for the 550 Canadian Dollars I'm going to spend on a CRT. And LCDs tend to be lower quality, with a smaller viewing angle.

I've never even seen a screen set to 1600x1200 -- I think it will do just fine. I've been living with 800x600 all along ... :-)

I think 512 RAM is insane. I'll buy one 256 MB Stick. If that's not enough, that's why I've got more than one DIMM slot -- for future expansion.

Whoever said things about the mouse and keyboard and my having already decided -- you're right. I like the intellimouse explorer and the keyboard I picked, it's really just personal preference beyond a certain point.

I have made some changes to my system list based on the suggestions in this thread -- As I said, I'm going to get the X-gamer now, and I'm considering the Creative rather than the Klipsch speakers. Maybe I'll go 1.1GHz Tbird instead of 1.2, I don't know.

As for the whole strip smaller hard drives cheaper faster thing - huh? I've never built a system before, I don't want to make it more difficult for myself by having some fancy HDD array that I have no clue how to setup.

Further comments are appreciated. :-)


"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
November 15, 2000 7:52:57 PM

ok, i agree with the ram expansion option, by 17" flatscreen it was not implied to be a flat monitor but a normal monitor with a flat screen like the sony Wega tvs like trinitron but flat vertically and horisontally, not just vertically, good idea on the speakers, logitec mouse is actually amazing, ive designed quite a few machines with a budget around the same as yours seems to be, youve got quite a nice balance of hardware there, youve already got a cd writer, 4 speed is enough, if a little slow, im making do, 12 speed ends up being little faster than twice as fast. i would still suggest getting an extra 128 meg stick but its your choice in the end, the monitor 17" flatSCREEN (not monitor) is cheaper than a 19" normal or trinitron, and a lot nicer to look at with higher refresh rates and less warpage of images, good luck with the box
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 16, 2000 1:09:18 AM

Sony Wega you're recommending...?

"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 16, 2000 6:48:24 PM

Seems the Sony Wega is a television, not a monitor? I'm confused.

"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 16, 2000 7:36:34 PM

An Asus v7700DX wouls be to consider

The A7Vpro is not a good choice since there is no ATA100 on this board you should consider using the A7V without audio the ATA100 controler is a must if you're gaming...

On the Hard drive a maxtor 40gig 7200rpm should be considered because of it's lower price and the building desing of this drive is derived from the deskstar

The speakers i'm using are ACS56 from altec lansing... great bang for the buck in OEM...

On the monitor side... The PF-790 is the one i almost bought! buuuut... i got the very same performance and quality from my Philips! PHILIPS 109B 19IN .25MM
SHORT 1920X1440 @ 60HZ TC099
MF36 LIGHTFRAME TECH

Taske the time to compare it... for 550 CDN i just love this monitor and i sell tons of them.
November 16, 2000 7:41:14 PM

I built something similar but used 2 ibm 75gxp in raid0 since the HD is the slowest component in the entire system, I wanted it to be as fast as possible. I believe the board you are buying does not come with raid but I got the Promise 100 raid card and my drive performance jumped tremendously after implementing the raid setup.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 16, 2000 10:16:29 PM

As I said several times earlier, I don't know how to setup a RAID and without very specific guidance I wouldn't want to try.

Furthermore, I've had conflicting viewpoints on both ATA 100 and RAID. Some say they're must haves, others say less than 1% performance increases and not worth it.

As for the monitor, once again, personal preference... I've pretty much decided on the one I've got there unless 17" LCDs drop about 75% in price :-)


"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
November 17, 2000 12:43:40 AM

He Alhpathree

When one of the guys above suggested that u get a FLAT 17" monitor... he/she is <b>NOT</b> refering to an LCD...

but rather a normal Arperature Grill CRT (like the Samsung 700NF)

anyways....your dream machine looks good.

EnJoY! :) 
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 1:22:19 AM

Setting up a promise RAID card is VERY simple, and dependable. As to raid 0 your performance will increase to almost double a single drive performace (When moving LARGE files). what kills is seek time. As to your monitor I personally could not live without my 21" Sun monitor, and it only cost me $387 used. It kicks much glute at 1600*1400. I also would get the Asus 7700 32mb it has real good performace, and it would be a great match with the Asus motherboard. Check out WWW.pricewatch.com for prices. Thanks for your time

The destination is of no importance, it is the trip that is of importance.
November 17, 2000 1:53:19 AM

Good choice on the Klipsch speakers. I just bought an Altec Lansing ADA 885 a month ago (top of the line for them) and one of the circuit boards melted. They had it encased in a box inside of a box. And we all thought the whole point was to NOT insulate the board.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 2:38:19 AM

I would opt for the 5.1 Live! Platinum just because of the front panel inputs and the remote control. As far as the Klipsh Promedia speakers, there isn't a better set for the money on the market....dolby digital or not. The Cambridges are good yes, and they offer 5.1 support, but they don't test the structural rigidity of your walls like the Klipsch speakers do. I wouldn't doubt if Klipsch developed a system that was 5.1 compatible in the future.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 2:40:08 AM

Western Digital over an IBM drive? Not today.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 3:31:44 AM

I can actually shed a little light regarding the sound card, surprisingly enough. I have a 5.1 compatible SbLive with just a 4.1 channel speaker system, but I went with the SBLive because of the very low line noise characteristics (my old AWE64 had very high line noise). It's ture; if you're not planning on working with high definition audio files and doing music composition, you probably won't be able to tell the difference between the SBLive platinum and a much cheaper card (I myself do a lot of audio work and the SBLive value works just fine).
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 9:14:08 PM

Yes, as for the hard drive, definitely buying IBM (although I'd never buy an actual computer from IBM, Aptivas scare me... ever heard of MWave? Combined modem and sound card? ICK!)

"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 9:43:49 PM

If you want my honest advice, I would drop the 1.2ghz athlon, and instead buy something in the 800mhz range and spend some of the arseload of money you would save by doing this on another 256meg RAM ;) 

Above a certain point, processor speed doesn't do that much. You can ALWAYS use more ram.

-inq
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 9:47:57 PM

allright, here goes.

the klipsch speakers 4 sats (front left and right, back left and right) and one sub. Thus, the 4.1 designation.

5.1 speakers have what the klipsch system has, plus a center channel.

The new sound blaster lives can power a center channel as well as four sattelites.

Of course, IMHO, the klipsch rock so hardcore you won't miss the center channel.

-inq
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 17, 2000 9:56:00 PM

also, let me don my asbestos vest before I make one final suggestion (*zippp!*):

If your primary OS is going to be win98, drop the CLAP and go Radeon 64MB DDR.

I will be the first to admit that performance of the Radeons blow goats in win2k (that's my config right now, to sucks) but that under win98 performance is on par with the vanilla GF2.

Now, the reason I would recommend the Radeon over the GF2 is that obviously you are building a system that you don't want to have to upgrade every 6 months to keep currect. As games get more and more complex, the GF2U will have a harder and harder time keeping up with the Radeon 64MB DDR because of the Radeon's Z Buffer compression. The Radeon is more future proof than the GF2U.

my two cents. flame away!

-inq
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 21, 2000 4:58:06 AM

I would make 2 minor changes to your system. First, change your memory manufacturer from Crucial to Mushkin. If you're looking for top-of-the-line CAS2 PC133, Mushkin now makes the fastest. OCing may not matter to you, but Mushkin is good up to 145Mhz... Crucial wont make it there. Second, save some $$$ and go with an Antec SX1030 or SX1040 case. I currently own a 1030 case and am OCing my 850 Tbird to 1000. My MoBo temp never changed from 29c. I added the extra 2 fans in the front of the case. Also, Antec PS are kick-ass. Not being a fan of SB audio, I would ask if you really need all the features of their Platinum card. You can save $100 if you just want 5.1 support. Also SB doesnt have the cleanest sounding cards you can buy. Look at the S/N ratios, channel seperation & distortion levels comparativley. Aureal's design was clearly a notch above the SB chips in terms of 3D sound emulation. They are, of course, not an option. However some new sound chips are making their way into the market that look very good.

<font color=green> slice-N-dice </font color=green>
Quote:
Nothing travels faster than the speed of pain

November 21, 2000 5:33:38 AM

If you have decided against the DDR mother board (which i would advise waiting the week or so for them) The Abit board with raid is probably your best bet. Otherwise go with the Asues and get a raid controler. Hard drives definatly 2 IBM 7200 ata100 (make sure you get at least 2mb buffer). capacity of drives is up to you. I personaly would look at the 15.2 gb 307015-07n3927 drives but if your needing more HD space, go with higher capacity. These 15gb drives are very cheap at approximatly $100(USD) each.
November 21, 2000 2:55:52 PM

geforce2 ultra wont be king in a while remember ati has the RADEON MAXX COMING OUT SO GEFORCE WATCH OUT in 32BIT GAMING
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 21, 2000 5:52:58 PM

If your a TH fan, then you know that the Radeon doesn't kick in until 32 bit mode at High Rez.... not what this guy wants. Anyway, Nvidia will conquer in the end.
November 21, 2000 11:45:52 PM

Stick with the asus board regardless of what others say. The abit is nice but Abit still has alot of catching up to do in the customer support area, they just don't don't get there bios upgrades out there like ASUS. From there on out it is a matter of personal preference and dollars. Myself personally I would opt for a slower CPU ( 1 gig range) slighly less sound card, perhaps consider a normal gforce gts 64 meg. Take this money you saved and buy the best bad ass monitor you can afford. This is what after all is said and done you will get your most enjoyment out of after all it is what you are looking at correct? The performance you loose will only be detectable in some who cares bench mark while you are enjoying a beutifull picture. There is always value in buying the just under top of the line segment of Computer parts, and remember, three months from now your 1.2 gig will be no longer top of the line either but you are out the several hundred bucks you spent for the current "fastest"! The monitor on the other hand will give you years of enjoyment!
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 22, 2000 2:00:26 AM

I'd go with a nice 5.1 audio system. Cambridge makes a nice one for a good price. Using a 5.1 system you get a center channel speaker, 2 front speakers, 2 rear speakers and a sub. I'd also get a MS Natural Keyboard. It may look odd to you. But, once you try one, you'll never go back. Otherwise, thats a good system.

BTW, is a A7V pro better than a A7V? I thought it wasn't.
November 22, 2000 3:14:40 AM

It's the same board and chipset just has the longer AGP powered proslot. This slot is backwards compatable with standard 4x agp. Other than that I dont beleive there is a performace difference.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 22, 2000 7:22:51 AM

I like everything, except a couple things caught my eye.
Read up on tiny-bpga memory (spelling?). Its a different architecture than your normal SDRAM. I saw some advertised that claimed 10 degrees cooler running temp and easily overclocked to 150 Mhz. The stuff I saw was made by KTI and it was 6 layer CAS2.. all that.

Although I own the same Klipsch speakers you have listed and I love them, have you considered a true 5.1 system such as the Cambridge Soundworks DTT3500s? I would like to see a Smackdown! between the Klipsch and the 3500s in terms of sound quality.

Things I've heard from a ex 3Com engineer. "3Com cards are great if you are linking up with other computers that have 3Com cards as well... Otherwise ..." I don't have any personal experience with them, but other people I know have had problems. I went generic and my buddies I hook up with go all linksys... I think network card makers specifically plot against each other so that they don't work with each other simply so that they can monopolize if at least a tiny way.:) 

No CD-RW (hint: Plextor 121032)? No hardware decoder for the DVD player (hint: Sigma Designs Hollywood Plus)? Those would be in my list of hardware.

With those two components added it certainly would be my dream machine. Oh don't forget the 50" plasma monitor featured in this month's issue of Maximum PC. ;) 
!