Newbie seeks sys config advice


I know this is only semi CPU related (theres a cpu somewhere in the system):), but there's nowhere here to post "general" questions.

My last home built PC was a PII 233, so it's time to try my luck again.
I've tried to balance price with performance and I'm hoping a few
knowledgable folks would take a look at what I'm thinking about buying and
throw some pointers my way. The machine will be used mostly for gaming with
typical home apps thrown in, tho I'm going to try and keep those on the 233.
I might even forgo the DVD as I really doubt I'll use it much. Since it's
been a while, I really relied on online reviews and prior product experience
to help make my decisions, so just *little* LOL's would be appreciated. :-)

Also, I've been researching prices using pricewatch. All the online vendors
seem to have one or two things cheap, but that's it. Should I buy piecemeal
from the shops with the best prices or is there one good place to get most
of what I want? Can I get an online vendor to match other vendors
pricewatch prices?

Thanks for any help!


Proposed system:

Case: Antec 5x630
mobo: ASUS A7M266
Mem: 256Mb Crucial DDR
CPU: Athlon 1.4Ghz 266
CPU Fan OCZ Gladiator Copper
Goo: OCZ quicksilver
HD: IBM Deskstar 60GXP 40Gb
Floppy: Generic
CD-RW: Plextor Plexwriter 16/10/40A
DVD: Pioneer DVD-1065
Video: ASUS V7700 geforce 2 GTS Pure 64Mb
Sound: SoundBlaster X-Gamer 5.1
Net Card: Net Gear FA310TX
Mouse: Logitech Trackman wheel
Keyboard: Logitech Internet Keyboard
14 answers Last reply
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  1. It seems to be a nice and balanced setup you're thinking about, although it might be convinient to wait a bit (if possible), as there is new stuff coming out - (as there always is :wink: ) within the next month or so:

    - a new CPU line (Palomino/Athlon4)
    - new chipsets: the wildcard nForce (probably too late for you), sis735 (I know its out but the mobos aren't widely available) and existing chipset revisions (Alimagik and KT266). The chipset of mobo you chose has performance problems;
    - new video cards (GeForce3 Mx and RD7500 may fit your bill, providing you with better performance);

    Of course that if you wait, then you'll see looming new FSB standards (PC2700), PowerVR new generation, ...

    A final note though - if your not thinking into overclocking there is no need to provide (expensive) top of the line cooling for CPU.

    How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise
  2. Thanks for the quick reply!

    When you say performance problems, I'm guessing you may be talking about stability and not speed? I've been trying to decide between teh a7m266 and a7a266. I figure if I delay long enough, the a7v266 will be out. ;-) BUT, I don't really want to get the first rev of board available considering my rookie PC building status. Maybe I'll just go with the a7a266 and give up some speed for stability.

    I know I don't need a high perf fan, but it's the cheapest thing I can go top of the line on without bustin my wallet. It's more to make me feel good I think. ;-)

    Thanks again,

  3. Atlease wait until september.There a others price war that coming.
  4. Actually I was refering to the speed - compared to what is expected from upcoming chipsets (and Sis 735). AFAIK the stability is quite good. In my experience, stability depends more upon OS than HW (hint: win2k rules)

    If you can, wait until mid September (to my "upcoming" list there is also the Audigy sound cards) - if not, don't worry, as your proposed system will certainly fit your requirements :)

    BTW which monitor will you use/buy?

    How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise
  5. One of the sales guys I was speaking with in a computer store just got an A7A266 and is having problems with it. It has a tendency to read temperatures 10 degrees celcius too high, which can cause system shutdowns if you're using the stock fan. Now, this is fixable with a bios upgrade, but that could well be more trouble than you're looking for.

    The A7V266 has promise, but it also has the all-Via chipset, which is dangerous. Your best best among the current Asus boards may well be the A7M266, but that's kind of expensive considering its lack of features and relatively poor performance for an AMD 761 chipset board.

    Personally I'm looking at the Abit KG7-Raid (fast board, 4 DDR slots and settings you can change in the bios - but unfortunately still a high price and Via southbridge) and the Gigabyte GA-7DXR (fast, dualbios, 3 DDR slots, supposedly stable and attractive pricing, but still uses jumpers and that pesky Via southbridge).

    I'm interested in hearing more about the SIS chipset though - as in, when exactly is it coming out and which manufacturer is using it? Maybe I'll give up having a computer for the first two weeks of university and wait. Then again, there always seems to be some technology I can't live without three weeks away, so perhaps not... :smile:

    *As the username implies, I'm generally in the dark*
  6. That soundcard of yours has "instability" written all over it. Actually it doesn't, but it is inferior when compared the the Philips Acoustics Edge.

    I find most of the prices at <A HREF="" target="_new"></A> to be reasonable most of the times.

    See a real naked pic of Britney Spears <A HREF="" target="_new">here</A>!!!
  7. Well, I can comment from experience on the system you made, as yours is almost identical as mine:

    #1 Ditch the SB Live! TONS of problems with that and the Via 686B southbridge on the Asus A7M266. I kept getting random reboots, lockups, and various other errors. Ditching it made all those disappear.

    #2 Try getting some Artic Silver II. Still regarded as the best goo by pretty much everyone I would have to say, myself included.

    #3 NIC: I know the 686B has terrible problems concerning the Netgear FA311's and FA312's, but about the 310, I do not know as much. I would suggest being safe and getting an equally priced D-Link or 3Com one; after all, aren't they pretty much all the same? Might save a few bucks too.

    #4 The new IBM hard drives have terrible failure rates I have heard. This is a result of their new HD manufacturing process; their new magnetic material can cram more GB per square inch, but it is not perfected yet. I have read as high as 4 out of 11 going out within 1 month, with some of the others having data corruption. I know Maxtor and Seagate don't have this problem, and are just as fast. Might want to check into those.

    #5 CPU HSF = Well, are you going for the best HSF out there, or just something to suffice? As move everyone knows, I am a HUGE swifty fan, and will gladly recommend the Swifttech MC-462-A as a great choice. $70US gets you the BEST HSF on the market, for sure. I think that anyone who is familiar with hardcore air cooling knows this is true.

    #6 With the RAM, make sure you get CAS Latency = 2 variety. Barely any more, but quite a bit more speed.
  8. About number 4 only the 75gxp series had overly high failure rates, the 60gxp(which is newer than the 75 despite the lower number) actually performs VERY well. I have 3 75gxps (45 gigx3 in raID 0) and I had to return one 2 times before getting a winner.

    "Friends don't let friends buy Pentiums"
  9. ECS already has a MB based with the Sis 735 (K7S5A) and I *think* that MSI also will launch one.

    How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise
  10. If your not sure you will use the dvd player get a video card w/ tv/out so you can hook it up to your big screen, I'm sure you will make use of it then.

    I might be ignorant, but I'm not stupid.
  11. Hey, you guys are great, thanks for all the replies. I hope you're as helpful when I'm putting this thing together. ;-)

    I'll try and address the posts.

    I had read some interesting things about the a7m, so I'm happy no one is concerned about the stability.

    I have 2 17" monitors already. I'd like a enw one, but I'm already over budget on the system. :-( Got any suggestions for later?

    I'll look at the phillips. Thanks for the link to newegg.

    Arctic silver it is.

    I'll also look into the 3com and d-link.

    Seems to be mixed about the HD. I'll do some more looking at this model, though I did read some good things about it.

    $70 on a fan? YIKES!!!! ;-)

    I've got a dvd in the living room (and a PS2), so I'm beginning to think the DVD isn't going to make it.

    Thanks again everyone. Do I dare ask what people like for windows OS??? :D:D:D

  12. In my mind choice of OS depends on budget and what you're using the system for:

    If you're a gamer, you'll likely run into fewer problems getting Win98. It's also a fair bit cheaper than Win2K. That said, I've heard it has some serious stability issues, and I know it has a less efficient file structure (though with a big HDD I don't think you need to worry about that...)

    Win2K is nice and stable, and has NT's file structure, which is very efficient. On the other hand, you pay for it. Beyond that, it has more incompatibilities with games (and possibly some hardware, as is my understanding). I think it's the system of choice for pro usage (like graphics rendering?)

    WinXP could be a nightmare - those security settings (unregisters if you change more than 3 pieces of hardware) worry me. I know there will be cracks out for it, but my personal view is that when Microsoft builds in more control over your PC, run the other way. Fast.

    And I don't think anyone answered your question on whether it's better to buy piece by piece or all at one store. Someone who worked at a store told me I'd save money going piece by piece, but on the other hand if you can work out a package a small store may give you a bit of a price break. They're also more likely to tack on a warranty that way, which could be an issue. That said, it's pretty rare to find one store with the best prices on everything...

    Short story - there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I admit I'm not an expert, but I'm going shopping within the next few days, so I'll tell you which way works out better in practice (i.e. once the store guys give me their best deals both ways.) The best tip I've heard though is hit the stores first with no intention of buyng that day, then go back for what you like.

    *As the username implies, I'm generally in the dark*
  13. Well, I got a system comperable to yours, and here's my advice:

    Crucial, good stuff, and with the cheap price, might as well get 2 256MB PC2100 sticks.

    As to the mobo issue. I have a A7A266 in my comp. Not a single crash so far, even with an AMD stock HSF. Yes, the probe reads high, but from the sounds of it, it's an Asus-wide issue. I have a 1.2 "C" in there, and it runs like a dream. Yeah, only 2 DDR slots, but mem is so cheap right now, that you can get 512MB, fill up the 2 slots, and be set until the next upgrade (unless you use RAM-dependant programs, which most games aren't all that heavy in). Also, while benchmarks may show a small performance difference between the ALi, VIA, and 760, in real world apps, you won't see it. Simple as that. I chose the ALi because that avoided all those VIA problems, and also allowed me to overclock to my hearts content (if I could unlock the damn mulitplier)

    Everything else looks good. I love my system, it's the most stable thing I've ever owned. One month of moderate use, with many hardware and software additions, and I haven't had one BSOD (that wasn't user caused at least).

  14. Regarding monitors, at this moment my preference goes to the LG Flatron 915FT+ (a 19" - pity they don't make them bigger). But as you already have two 17"...

    I've had Soundblaster boards for the last 5 years in my systems and never had significant problem - and I even had the dreadfull 686B+Live combo - a registry patch fixed that. But philips may be (or not) a better deal.

    NICs - to my experience, and to home use, most things works - buy a cheap Realtek 8139 based NIC.

    For a fan - go for the dragon orb 3 - it provides overclocking ability without the $70 price tag. If you're not overclocking you could even go cheaper - check reviews. Also the thermal pad that comes with the fan may do the trick - no need for aditional thermal grease.

    OS - Windows 2k unless for a purely gaming rig. When XP is out it may be the 'best of two worlds' - too bad about that stupid Windows Activation.

    How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the wise
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