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Hardware Questions for a gaming pc.

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September 15, 2001 8:50:55 AM

Well first off i'd like to take a second to introduce
myself, im an avid gamer with a passion for all areas of
the gaming industry. Unfortunately times have changed, im
not very optemestic about the future of console
gaming...with that said upon a few suprising incomes along
with advice from others i thought it would be a good time
to step foot into the pc gaming realm.

So I have a few questions regarding pc hardware: (note: be
patient, my picture is neighbored by the word 'newbie')

Budget: $2,400.00

-Ive heard creative labs SB's have a bad rap sheet. Is
there any truth to this? if so..what kinda sound card in
the $100.00 price range do you suggest?

-What OS do you suggest for web design & hard-core gaming?
WinME, Win2kPro, or linux redhat 7.1 (i'll probably only
use the gui)

-I'm really confused when it comes to mother boards, but
ive been lookin at the "intel d850gbc sock423.. w/o lan or
Addio" for $220.00 good or bad buy?

-Memory..is another area im not familiar with at all..ive
heard about 1gig sticks..but i haven't seen them anywhere.

in your opinion do you think 256mb of ram is good for
gaming? i have no plans on running servers this pc is for
home use. i hear you can never get enough memory..so im
tempted to go for 512mb of ram.. what do you think?

-can somebody plz elaborate on exactly what TV tuner cards
do? im interested in purchasing one..but i want to make
sure its worth the hefty price tag.

-80gb 7200RPM western digital intel hd.. yes or no?

I apologize for the demand in which these questions were
asked, but from what ive read, knowledge is something this
community does not lack...your thoughts and insight have
much more merit then mine. Any information would be
appreciated..please explain in detail, I know as
much pc termanology as bush knows international affiars
(heh)

-Alwysgmng

-Competition doesn't build character, it reveals it-
a c 159 à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
September 15, 2001 1:11:31 PM

I would recommend an IBM hardrive. Also put a large chunk of your budget into a good monitor. The 21 inch are the best value, and start at about $350. For Intel, I would recommend the new Asus board coming out for socket 478 and rambus memory. One website has samsung 64 meg rambus memory for only $16 plus shipping. 4 of those will do nicely. Stay away from the Intel 845 chipset, which uses slower sdram. The socket 478 1.7 cpu's are about $200. The Asus board should permit you to overclock some, so why waste your money on a faster Intel cpu. For AMD, I would watch for the new via kt266a chipset boards coming out any day now. Or save some money, and get the ECS K7S5A board for only about $65 plus shipping. If you live near a Fry's electronics, they have a DFI socket 423 board with Intel p4 1.5 for only $199 this weekend, the best deal I've seen anywhere for a P4 combo. I also recommend a Lite on cd burner with burn proof technology (12x10x32) for only $75. Finally, you may also want to consider the Azza P4x266 chipset board for ddram and socket 478 for only $110. Uses cheaper ddram. As for video cards, some have recommended the Kyro II 64 meg AGP card which starts at about $75 for value and performance. Other versions of this card with more features may be available.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
September 15, 2001 5:04:53 PM

SB Live DE 5.1 is pretty good for it's value now. The new Audigy series is 24 bit, but I don't seem to hear any big NOTICEABLE difference between it and a 16 bit card.

A 21" mon is excellent for gaming. O1die means CRT mon, btw. As for mobos, AMD cpus should stick with KT266A chipset mobos or AMD 761 mobos, while INTEL should stick with Intel's own D850 mobos.

Go for Athlon's 1.4Ghz cuz it's really cheap, or if it's intel, choose a socket 478 cpu for future upgrade options. I have a Lite-on 12x10x32x burner and it has extreme value/performance. For video cards, u actually might want to see if ATi 8500 is gonna come out soon, cuz it actually is better than geforce 3 in some categories and cheaper. As for ram, use DDr-ram or RDRAM mobos, no SDRAM mobos.

We put text in here and that's our signature?
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September 15, 2001 6:01:00 PM

Ditch the intel setup and get a 3x 40gig imb 60gxp raid array with a nice raid card. Get the new abit kt266a mobo(it will be out in a little bit) if you want to buy RIGHT NOW, get the abit kg7 raid, get a 1.4ghz tbird, or a 1.6ghz palimino(if you wait for the kt266a mobo) gf3 or radeon 2, wait for the final benchmarks. This will give you a system which performs equally fast(processor wise) as the p4 2ghz and instead of having 60 gigs of slow hdd access you can have 120 gigs of 3x speed goodness.(raid 0 rules).

oh, and it will only come in around 1400ish, take the extra grand and BUY SOME GAMES!1!!!!

Dont let the intel trolls try and tell you the p4 2ghz is a better chip, it isnt, ESPECIALLY with the kt266a and if you want to put the final nail in the coffin, overclock it to 1.5 or 1.6 lol. So many options to go with with your kind of budget.

~Matisaro~
"The Cash Left In My Pocket,The BEST Benchmark"
~Tbird1.3@1.5~
September 15, 2001 6:05:51 PM

Here are some answers

Budget: 2400
With that kind of money, I would recommend going with an Intel 2 GHz CPU. I don't like Intel, but I think all but the most diehard AMD fans would agree that for a newbie with that much money, the risks of cracking the chips core and the noise of AMD indicates that he should go with Intel. Don't flame me. I will, however, detail 2 seperate and powerful platforms for you to consider.

-Craetive Labs' SBs have a bad rep because of 2 things: They are EXTREMELY heavy-handed in regard to EAX sound, and there are often conflicts with VIA southvridges. Either way, I would recommend going with the Hercules Game Theater XP, which is about 110 bucks. By the way, check out all prices at www.pricewatch.com, always finds the lowest

-I would recommend Windows 2000. It is EXTREMELY stable, as Microsoft OSs go. Unless you only play Counter-Strike/Half-Life, Quake3, and UT, Linux is not a good choice.

-EXTREMELY BAD DEAL. Check out the prices at www.pricewatch.com. You can get the same retail boxed board for only 150 bucks. If you are buying Intel, go with the Intel d850GBC. It is stable and it doesn't look like you're in to Overclocking. If you are going AMD and looking to purchase now, go with the Tyan Tiger MP board. If you can wait and go with a single processor, go for the Abit KT266A board when it comes out in October.

-You probably want 256 or 512 MB of RAM. Memory is extremely cheap right now, so there is no reason to have less than 256. For Intel, youwill need 2 of the same size sticks. For AMD, you will need registered DIMMS (Dual-Inline-Memory-Modules). The Intel board uses RDRAM, AMD uses DDR SDRAM. RDRAM is a little more pricey, be sure to get PC800 RDRAM.

-I'm not sure what a TV tuner card does, but I've heard they have a tendency to bring the overall performance of a system down. I wouldn't get one.

-I would go with the Seagate Barracuda IV 80 GB. It's a lot quieter. I think it's your best bet. Alternately, you could go with an IBM Deskstar 60GXP 75 GB(Not 75GXP...60GXP has a smaller number but was released later and has better performance...Go Figure).

-Glad to help! (For Video Card, if you are buying now I would go with the Gainward Geforce3...It looks really cool and was rated the highest in a recent roundup @ www.anandtech.com)... For a Network Card (also called a LAN card, ethernet card, and NIC), go with the 3COM 3C905C-TXM or the Intel 100 Pro. Both are very good.

Rundown of Fundamental components (prices from pricewatch.com), looking for retail stuff, not OEM (What's an OEM? An OEM is like Dell or Gateway, the build systems. OEM products often come in plain boxes accompanied with no manuals. For a newbie, try retail products, which are often nicely boxed and include full documentation):
<b>Intel</b>
Processor: Pentium4 2GHz $580
Memory: 2x256MB PC800 RDRAM $180 (90 each)
HSF (heatsink+fan): Indigo Orb $20
Motherboard: Intel d850gbc $150
Video Card: Gainward GeForce3 $310
Sound Card: Hercules GameTheater XP $130
Hard Drive: Seagate BarracudaIV $210
DVD: Pioneer DVD-A06 16x $75
CD-RW: Yamaha Lightspeed 16x/10x/40x $195
Case: Lian-Li PC-60 $180
Power Supply: Enermax P4 compliant $65
Total Price: $2095

<b>AMD</b>
Processor: 2x AthlonMP 1.2Ghz $345
HSF: 2x ThermalRight Sk6 with a Papst or ThermalTake fan. $70
Motherboard: Tyan Tiger MP $240
Video Card: Gainward GeForce3 $310
Sound Card: Hercules GameTheater XP $130
Hard Drive: Seagate BarracudaIV $210
DVD: Pioneer DVD-A06 16x $75
CD-RW: Yamaha Lightspeed 16x/10x/40x $195
Case: Lian-Li PC-60 $180
Power Supply: NBD 460W Athlon MP compatible $105
Total Cost: $1860

**The Lian-Li PC-60 case is a very nice aluminum mid-tower case...It looks VERY cool***


"If you teach a child to read, then he or her will be able to pass a literacy test" - George W.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
September 15, 2001 7:39:28 PM

Well these were all good recommendations. First of all, you can build a really awesome system for $2400. I would definately go with AMD because you will have more money left over to buy stuff like a nice monitor. A dual processor board is not a good idea though as almost no games take advantage of the second cpu and the dual processor boards are very expensive right now. If I were building a computer right now, I would go with these components:

Mobo: Abit KG7-Raid - about $150 (as was mentioned previously, check www.pricewatch.com for the best prices)
CPU: 1.4 ghz athlon - $105
RAM: 512 MB DDR - $72 from www.crucial.com, dont use pricewatch on this one, name brand ram is important and crucial is extremely reliable.
HSF - SK6 is good like was mentioned, or for something quieter, try the millenium glaciator - $40
Video Card: Gainward Geforce 3 - $310, great card, i have one
Sound Card: Gametheater XP - $110
Hard Drive: 2 Seagate Barracuda IV 60GB - $300
DVD Drive: Pioneer 106s, slot loading, very nice - $60
CD-RW: Plextor 24x - $210
Case: Lian Li pc-60 is very nice, I have a coolermaster Aluminum case which is nice also - $180
Power Supply - Enermax 450 watt - $85
NIC - roughly $25
Speakers - Klipsch Promedia 5.1 - $400 absolute best speakers for gaming, you won't be sorry you bought them
mouse: Intellimouse Explorer - $40

That puts you at about $2100 and leaves $300 for a nice 19 inch monitor. 21 inch monitors are nice to have, but they are very expensive, and you can get a very nice 19 inch monitor for a lot less. As far as 19 inch monitors go, the viewsonic pf790 is a great monitor for around $300. These are all just suggestions and I know I hit the high end of your budget but this would be an ultimate gaming computer.
September 15, 2001 7:49:31 PM

Yup. That's a nice, complete system, though I think that a Delta 38 fan is going to be loud no matter which hs you've got with it. For a monitor, Viewsonics are very nice. I have an LG Flatron 915Ft Plus that's really good, too.

"If you teach a child to read, then he or her will be able to pass a literacy test" - George W.
September 15, 2001 7:50:58 PM

Wow, exactly the kind of advice i was looking for, nice
break down guys, thanks for the time, im leaning towards an

AMD system, all ive heard is its much more bang for the
buck..that intel system looks nice, but with tax and
all..it'll put me deep in the red zone. Once Again,

Thanks alot,
-Alwysgmng

btw: do you suggest i order everything online? any good pc
hardware stores that will roughly give the same good deals?


<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Alwysgmng on 09/15/01 04:12 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
September 15, 2001 8:24:17 PM

I ordered all my components online, but I would check reseller ratings before you buy from a merchant. (www.resellerratings.com). Except for the Klipsch ProMedia's, which they only seel at Klipsch.com, and Best Buy, I think.

"If you teach a child to read, then he or her will be able to pass a literacy test" - George W.
September 16, 2001 1:18:00 AM

A athlon with a nice raid system will OWN a p4 without a raid, a dual cpu system is a BAD way to use the price advantage over the p4.

~Matisaro~
"The Cash Left In My Pocket,The BEST Benchmark"
~Tbird1.3@1.5~
September 16, 2001 1:20:25 AM

Order everything online save for the monitor, you can get good deals(if you negate shipping) and actually see what youre buying before hand at a local store.(frys or best buy)

~Matisaro~
"The Cash Left In My Pocket,The BEST Benchmark"
~Tbird1.3@1.5~
September 17, 2001 3:49:08 AM

well he is a hard core console gamer, which means he probably doesn't know very much about computers. A dual system would spank an intel system, BUT he isn't a power user and would not know how to take advantage of two processors. With all that money 2 GHz P4 would be the way to go, or an AMD 1.4.
With that much money I would get a 21 inch monitor for sure, but I would also wait for ATi Radeon 2 so I could run all my games in 1600x1200.
Also consider the new technology thats coming out, Nvidia Nforce, ATi Radeon 2 (wouldn't it be nice to put one of those in an nforce), new AMD Palamino processor, LCD monitors getting cheaper, and finally release of Windows XP soon.
Right now windows 98 second edition is the best for games, everything works with 98 so its most stable for a gaming system. If you run win2kpro for games you will not get the same performance as in 98, but when windows XP comes out you'll get very good game performance and operating system stability.
RECAP:
Get fastest AMD or Intel you won't be let down
Fast hard drives and 256-512 megs of ram is best (60GXP = fast)
RAID-0 is fast but might not be best for computer newbie
New technology like nforce, and radeon 2.
Get a 21 inch monitor with all that money!
Get a nice aluminum case with all that money!

oh yea no one said much about a TV tuner so I'll fill you all in. A TV tuner card plugs into the coaxial on the wall and makes your computer function as a TV. I would buy either a Pinnacle Systems TV tuner, or an ATi one. Just like any card inside the computer a TV tuner will eat up minimal resources but with a 1.4 AMD or 2 GHz Intel you have so much processor power another card isn't going to slow you down. Just ask yourself "Do I want to watch TV on my computer?" and then you'll know if you need one or not.
September 17, 2001 6:06:14 AM

damn so many options and opinions..now im considering
waiting for the new technologies... do you know the speed
on the palamino amd? and links to this stuff would be
great, (if you have the time)

I have a buddy, he's a certified tech. He works for
linxsus routers...he's building the system for me..im just
gathering the hardware.

one other question:

Im aiming towards that Abit kg7 raid Mobo.. in an earlier
reply somebody said i could probably find it for $150.00
but at pricewatch.com its priced at $284.00 and it supports
the 1.33ghz and not the amdtb 1.4ghz. Will that be a
problem? any URL's for a better deal on that mobo would be
great.

thanks,
-Alwysgmng
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
a b 4 Gaming
September 17, 2001 8:31:48 AM

>Budget: $2,400.00

Are you paying this yourself? You know, its not because you can afford 2,4k, that you MUST spend it on your new computer. Everyone else tries to make recommendation to completely waste your budget, but really, there are other things you could spend your money on.

I agree with most recommendations here, but would go with:

CPU: AMD 1.4 (well, a 1.2 would surely do, but for the price difference, you might just as well get the fastest AMD out there)

Motherboard: ECS K7S5A (with SiS735). Faster than AMD’s own 761, and in my experience so far, a lot more stable and easier to install/configure than any VIA board I owned. Its also the cheapest board you can get at only $65 ! A no brainer really. (see my other post about this board).

RAM: don’t skimp on quality ram. Get 256 Mb DDR CAS 2 or 2.5 from known brands as Apacer or Crucial. 512 Mb is not going to help performance a lot; even under XP. 256 seems like the sweet spot currently.

Video: I’d go for a Geforce2 Pro. The GF3 is just too expensive for what it delivers right now. There is no game around that really justifies the purchase of the GF3 yet. Get a cheap GF2 pro now, buy a GF3 later. Alternatives could be Kyro II for even lower prices, or Radeon All-in-wonder for a bit les gaming performance, but incredible video functionality and quality.

PSU: Enermax 350w should be more than adequate. It does for me (Athlon 1.4, 2x7200 HD, DVD, CDRW, 7 (!) fans, GF2 MX, sound, nic, …). 450W seems a bit overkill to me.

Harddisks: get two 7200 harddisks, and create a software RAID in win2K (or XP). Depending on prices, 2x20 or 30 Gb should also be enough. Unless you do real intensive video editing, I doubt you'd be able to fill up 40 or 60 Gb that fast.

Case: spending over $300 for a case without psu (Lian Li) seems over the top for me. There are other good looking and quality cases out there for half that price.

OS: Win2K. Really stable, and even a pretty good platform for gaming. XP can also be considered when it comes out. I've been trying out beta's for a while, and really like it. The user interface is huge improvement and the user switching a god sent for a family pc. Like win2K its rock stable, but its too ealy to judge performance yet.

One last remark. If you’re a newbie, you really want to pay a small price premium, and have your system assembled for you by a local dealer. Or ask an experienced friend to help you out. Installing a HSF and using thermal paste, figuring out case flow and cooling does require some skill/experience. Also, whatever you buy, avoid VIA for the time being. Especially as a newbie.


---- Owner of the only Dell computer with an AMD chip
a b à CPUs
September 17, 2001 8:53:32 AM

Well, the P4 is a bad value, but the 2GHz version is slightly faster than the fastest AMD chip right now, since you want to drop a wad of cash. You'll want to look for a Socket 478 motherboard and CPU for future upgradability to the Northwood, which should go to at least 4GHz and maybe as far as 10GHz on the same socket. These motherboards are just now hitting the market. And since a DDR solution is not avialable (and the VIA not viable IMO), your stuck with RDRAM right now. SDRAM is too slow.
The Phillips Acoustic Edge is a far better sound card than anything Creative offers.
I would go for the GeForce 3 or the Radeon 8500, depending on how long it takes you to get the system together (the Radeon 8500 is not do for a couple weeks).
I would go for 512MB RAM right now. You'll also want to consider going to Raid 0 with two fast drives for better performance. There's always SCSI RAID if you want to get REALLY high end.
TV tuners allow you to watch/record TV/Video Inputs on your PC. The inexpensive TV-Wonder (PCI version, not USB) is reasonably priced at $80 (maybe cheaper if you look around). The cheaper TV-Wonder VE does not include the extra video inputs, which can be usefull for hooking up VCR's, camcorders, etc.
I would go for two 40GB hard drives in Raid 0 rather than one 80GB.
Remeber that you can save around $400 using an AMD/DDR combination instead of a P4/RDRAM settup.


Back to you Tom...
!