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Knowledgeable recommendations wanted/required.

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Anonymous
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June 8, 2001 11:51:21 AM

I just got the go-ahead to build a new system for the family, and I have opted to build an AMD system. With this said, I need recommendations for almost all the components.

I have decided to base the system on the 1.2Ghz AMD processor with the 133(266 effective) FSB, coupled with DDR RAM.

<b>Motherboard</b>: what is the most stable and performant DDR solution for the type of processor above? Stability is more important, though performance is not to be neglected.

<b>CD-ROM</b>: Performance and good(as opposed to best) quality

<b>HDD</b>: Maxtor or IBM? 20Gig minimum with good read and write times.

<b>Case</b>: From what I've read, it seems most people go with ATX cases. Any explanations and recommendations?

<b>Fans</b>: Case and CPU fans. Considering their importance, the performance:p rice ratio. Durability is desired.

<b>Graphics</b>: Looking at the performance:value ratio, I'm thinking Kyro II. I'm also thinking GeForce2 GTS. What would you go with?

<b>OS</b>: I'm familiar with Win 98SE. I'm trying to decide if ME would be worth it, considering that this system would be used <font color=red>extensively</font color=red> for gaming. Win98SE has proven itself to be stable and performant for <b>me</b>. I would go Win2k except for my siblings...they couldn't fix it if it went "broke".

<b>Modem</b>: I've already decided to go with US Robotics 56K internal modem. Living where I am (Burkina Faso), having the best modem can mean the difference b/w a good "net" experience or "god-I-want-to-break-something" experience.

<b>Sound card and speakers</b>: I don't necessarily want to go with the Creative that everyone seems to get as I'm trying to keep prices low. Good(not greatest) sound card is all I want. I'll grab "decent" speaker from somewhere :) 

<b>Mouse</b>: Going logitech here. Hoping to grab one of their 5 button mouse.

<b>Keyboard</b>: Microsoft egonormic keyboard--it's about time I start taking care of my hands....


It's a lot of recommendations, but I hope you pick and choose what areas you've the most experience in and not necessarily try to answer all. Community regulars, your recommendations are most welcome--the more the better as far as I'm concerned. :)  Thanks in advance.

A nice day to all.
June 8, 2001 1:55:12 PM

Right now, the most stable Athlon motherboards out seem to be those based on the ALi MAGiK 1 (such as the Asus A7A266). They support both DDR and SDR RAM and perform almost (but not quite) as well as the AMD760-based motherboards (such as the Asus A7M266).

For CD-ROMs, Kenwood makes a 72x CD-ROM. AFAIK that's the fastest CD-ROM in existence. For DVD capability, Pioneer makes the best performing drives.

Hard drive: Ditch Maxtor; their quality control is terrible. IBM drives are much better quality; however, stay away from IBM's 60GXP line. We evaluated those things where I work and got a 40% failure rate out-of-box. However, the 75GXP line seems a lot better. I've built enough systems with 30GB 75GXP drives (DTLA-307030) to know that they are very nice, fast, reliable drives.

As for ATX cases, most people go with them because they are the standard. Pretty much any motherboard you get these days will require an ATX or WTX compliant case (WTX form factor is a step above ATX, but it is rather uncommon and requires a larger case. WTX cases are backwards compatible with ATX motherboards, btw, but there's still not much point in getting a WTX case.)

Graphics-wise, I would go with the GeForce2 GTS or greater, mainly because I can afford it.

Fans: Get double ball-bearing fans, they tend to last the longest. One intake fan in the lower front of the case is always expected; an exhaust fan near the CPU area is good to have as well. Make sure you get a case that has a mounting point for a rear exhaust fan. I personally have good results with Sunon fans.

For the CPU fan, I've been using a GlobalWin FOP32 on a 1.33GHz T-bird; I'm sure others can recommend other fans. You probably won't need a terribly expensive fan unless you plan to overclock.

U.S. Robotics is good--just remember to stay away from their WinModem. You're liable to have to either get a PCI modem or an external modem; your motherboard will probably not have ISA slots. Be careful here, the US Robotics PCI regular modem looks a lot like the US Robotics PCI WinModem!

Sound: You might want to consider an SBLive! Value; they can be had for ~$40 these days. For about $10 less, there's a Phillips soundcard that also seems popular--can't remember the name though. =/

Mouse: Logitech is great. I've had a Logitech TrackMan Marble+ for three years now, and it's still in fantastic shape. Note that "cordless" mice are not all they're cracked up to be.

Keyboard: If you're really interested in taking care of your hands, I'd suggest going to a shop that has ergonomic keyboards on display and getting a feel for each one. The Microsoft keyboard may look cool, but it doesn't suit everybody.

Kelledin

"/join #hackerz. See the Web. DoS interesting people."
June 8, 2001 1:57:10 PM

try to find a motherboard with the amd chipset they are pretty good

ali magik chipset is spose to be stable but it is slower than the amd and via
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June 8, 2001 2:06:11 PM

Before choosing a mother-board you need to choose a chipset...then look at motherboards. I would suggest something from Asus or MSI.

Look at CD-RW Had great luck with Teac and of course Plextor.

I like the IBM Deskstar better than the maxtor...go with 40GB or 2 20GB if your motherboard supports raid0 make sure whatever drive you get it is 7200RPM

You have to get an ATX form factor case. All the new good motherboards are ATX form factor.

Graphics...if you are into games get the best card you can afford...also if this is a game box drop the processor speed and put the extra money into video card. You will not see any difference in a 1GHz 200 MHz FSB to a 1.33 GHz 266 MHz FSB...

Sound Card...if you are not crazy about sound get a motherboard with built in sound...works great for games.

I would tell you to hold off a bit before buying a new computer both Intel and AMD will be making some big changes. You will be able to get an Athlon4 soon...if you are new to computer building you will want to wait for this because of it's thermal protection, a must for newbies.

Intel will have better performing and cheaper chips soon...there is too much going on right now I would wait...


Hurry buy now before the prices go down :) 



96.3 % of Statistics are made up.
June 8, 2001 3:14:19 PM

the motherboard...
I'd probably go with something based on the ALI Magik, it has good performance when running 266fsb and 266 memory, I'd choose it simply to get away from this Via hell I'm in now.

graphics...
what resolution are you planning on running it at? my monitor tops out at 1024 x768(old monitor) so anything higher than a Geforce 2MX is wasted on me. ATI Radeon LE is almost exactly the same as the Radeon DDR after a few tweaks, and its cost is comparable to the Geforce 2 MX.

the OS...
Windows ME has the system restore feature, its usefull because ME actually nukes itself quite regularly...
it would make life easier with little bros and sisters around...
but Win98 is far more stable, and you can restore the registry, which is almost as good as the full system restore, the registry is the cause of most of the problems.


----------------------
Independant thought is good.
It won't hurt for long.
a b à CPUs
June 9, 2001 1:51:52 AM

I would go with the Maxtor drive, their performance is upper end for the 7200RPM models, and their quality far exceeds their reputation thanks to improvements over the past 2 years. Also, Maxtor includes the free Maxblast software that allows you to make a backup copy of your partition. You can also get that feature with Win ME, but 98SE is condsidered better than ME for stability and performance.
The most stable platform right now for AMD is the Asus A7A266 (ALi chipset), with the right BIOS. They have both stable and unstable versions of BIOS for this board, but the stable versions are more stable than anything with VIA chipsets.
The AMD760 chipset is a good second choice for stability, with better performance but worse stablility, most boards using the buggy VIA southbridge. MSI K7-Master is the choice there.
I would got with the GTS video. If you want to save money, the Radeon LE is a good second choice.
USR modems are not living up to their reputation. The best internal modems are Lucent 1646T00 chip modems, available from several manufacturers for between $10-20. No need to spend more to get less.
If your getting the A7A266, I recomend the Aureal SQ2500 sound card. It's Vortex2 8830 sound chip is avialable on other cards as well, if you prefer one with a diferent set of features. It's driver has problems with the VIA southbridge so I only recommend it for the ALi chipset. It sounds better, cost less, and requires less system overhead than the Creative cards.
Logitec makes excellent mice.

Cast not thine pearls before the swine
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
June 9, 2001 3:10:58 PM

I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone who is taking time out to post their recommendations. The process has moved along admirably well. After the first round of replies, I'm narrowed down my choices quite a bit.

1) <b>Motherboard</b>: I have decided to go with the AMD761 chipset. I think I'll be going with:

MSI K7 Master. ($145+) or the
Asus A7M266 ($166+)

Both are using the "VIA® VT82C686B" southbridge. *sigh* What to do?


2) <b>Processor</b>: I'm going with

AMD 1.2Ghz 266Mhz processor (~$142)


3) I haven't thought too deeply about my <b>graphics card</b> choice, but 3 options I'm thinking of:

GeForce GTS (which brand?) ($114+)
Kyro II (Hercules) or the ($99+)
Radeon ($68+

From the reviews, it seems the performance of all 3 cards are close. Kyro II has had great review and nothing bad has been said of their drivers. The Radeon is said to be a viable replacement for the GTS, right? Are there two versions of the Radeon? LE(didn't sell well in Asia?) and VE?


4) <b>Hard drive</b>: IBM won out(sorry crashman). I'll be going with the

IBM 75GXP(30Gig) ($125+)


5) <b>Modem</b>: I'll be going with crashman's suggestion:

Lucent 1646T00 chip modem.

Just have to find a quality modem using this chip. So far, it's proving hard to find--help...


6) <b>Sound card and speakers</b>. If the sound option with the card I go with is good, I'll skip the sound card. If not, I'll go with:

Aureal SQ2500 sound card ($49+)
LabTek Pulse 424 [speaker and sub sys] (~$$45)

Does anyone know any other cards, aside from the Aureal above, using the SQ2500 audio chip?


7) <b>CD-Rom</b>: Plextor was the only recommendation I got. Might go with it.

Price for new drives: ($83+)

I don't know much about CD-RW's. Is there any good CD-RW that is cheaper?


8) <b>Case, Fans, PSU</b>: This is where I'm almost clueless. What I do know is that from suggestions:

a) ATX form factor case, front intake "valve", exhaust "valve" as well.
b) Min 300Watt PSU
c) Double-bearing fans last longer. Better performance as well?


9) <b>Keyboard and mouse</b>: Decided NOT to go with M$ egonormic keyboard afterall. I will have to look for a good keyboard. Mouse will be Logitech. Looking to get the:

iFeel Mouse, 3 button, ball-less mouse ($19+)

Has anyone had a good or bad experience(s) with this mouse? What keyboard are you using?


So far that's it. The parts are getting finalized, and if all goes well, shopping should start next week. Wohoo! *quietly crosses fingers.....and toes*



A nice day to all.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
June 9, 2001 4:50:56 PM

Just an advice if you ever want to go to something less expensive than the IBM HD, I have a 30GB 7200 RPM Maxtor drive that working perfectly with perfect performance. Don't buy ME, it isn't worth it particularly if Win98 work well for you. And I bought a MouseManWeel of Logitech : cool design, ergonomic, working well, nothing else to say.


Where the <b>hell</b> is that AnyKey?
June 9, 2001 5:19:40 PM

I'd like to put a last word in for Maxtor.

I have 5 maxtor drives and 1 IBM45GB drive. The IBM drive is noiser, hotter and also has in a little over a year already required me to re-solder the power connectors on it (came loose from very poor original finish). No probs with my 5 maxtors (400GB total).

-* This Space For Rent *-
email for application details
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
June 9, 2001 6:00:24 PM

Think about a laser mouse...They're great, I've got one and it is smooth!

Aklein

It's raining outside, and my lawn has grown a foot overnight!
a b à CPUs
June 9, 2001 7:25:50 PM

I went to Pricewatch and typed "vortex" in the search box, and came up with options priced as low as $15. Look for the words "Vortex 2" or "Vortex 2" or "8830" or "AU8830". You will have to go to the sellers website to see which features various cards have to offer.

This company carries the modem <A HREF="http://www.1stclasstech.com/" target="_new">http://www.1stclasstech.com/&lt;/A> for only $9!

Cast not thine pearls before the swine
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
June 9, 2001 8:48:28 PM

Thanks for the heads up. Will be checking it out.

Edit: One quick question. I've been running into the words, "OEM", almost daily now and I don't know what in the world it means. Can someone tell me the difference b/w a retail and OEM offering? Many thanks.



A nice day to all.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by readysetgo on 06/09/01 09:22 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
June 9, 2001 9:37:36 PM

OEM means it comes without any packaging. For example, an OEM processor will just come loose, by itself. A retail processor will come in a box with documentation and stuff and a heatsink. Plus, the retail processor from AMD will have a 3-year warranty, whereas the OEM will have a 1-year warranty. I've also read that retail processors are more overclockable, but I'm not sure about that. Anyone else know for sure?

This is not a signature.
a b à CPUs
June 10, 2001 2:02:47 AM

With OEM cards, you get the card in an anti-static wrapper and an installation disk. You don't get any nice box, usually no manual, or "bonus" software such as games.

Cast not thine pearls before the swine
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
June 10, 2001 10:43:09 AM

"Vortex 2" or "Vortex 2" or "8830"

Though they sound great, I would recommend against one of these boards. Since Creative bought them, driver support has been almost non-existant. I've had major troubles getting mine to work properly under Win2K with DX8.
Expect the same trouble under XP, and one day you're gonna be upgrading away from win9x anyway. Its really a shame, because the sound quality is absolutely top notch



---- Owner of the only Dell computer with a AMD chip
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
June 10, 2001 10:50:19 AM

Consider a RAID 0 stripe set. Get two 20+ Gb drives, and a motherboard with onboard RAID. WHen I added a second drive to my setup (Duron @866 256 Mb, 2x 20Gb Maxtor 7200) and configured the raid, it felt drastically much faster. Boot times of windows 2000 suddenly became very very acceptable. Loading/saving black&white savegames is also very much faster.

It does increase the risk of datafailure if one your drives quit.. but I've its performance you're after go with RAID 0.


As for the keyboard. I've got an MS ergonomic keyboard.. it takes some time to get used to (a few weeks for me), but once you got the hang, its quite comfortable. Dont give up to fast on it.. seen many friends ditch after a week or so.

As for graphics.. Im thinking of the Kyro II myself. Seems to scale very nicely with high speed cpu's (aces did a good review of the Kyro).. SHould last a year or so until the GF3 comes down in price.

---- Owner of the only Dell computer with a AMD chip
June 10, 2001 12:33:43 PM

Yes if you can afford it get the raid 0 solution...I personally like IBM over Maxtor...But they both make a hell of a drive.



96.3 % of Statistics are made up.
a b à CPUs
June 10, 2001 6:10:15 PM

I think the driver problem you mention only affects Win2000, and probably will affect XP. It is most pronounced on VIA southbridges with these OS's. Which is why I ony recommended it with the ALi board. But when he said he was going to use it anyway, I told him how to find them cheaply. There are other sound chips with quality sound and low system overhead, available on the cheap, I like ESS sound as well. Although ESS can't match the Vortex2, I believe it can match the Live for quality. Yamaha also makes some quality sound chips, available on reasonably priced cards.

Cast not thine pearls before the swine
!