im looking to build a nice gaming computer for around 1000-1500.
two years ago when i was going to build this system, tom's hardware had these buying guides for low, medium, and high end systems. those were the best. now, im completely ignorant to the new cpu architectures, new video cards, well... new everthing. ive seen you help other people out with stuff like this so here goes.
i need a gaming computer around the price specified above. i'm too much of a wuss and scaredy cat to overclock. and im probably going to be getting it towards the end of this month. is anything new and shiny coming out that i should wait for? i can hold off till late august.
things i need:
cd rom drive (no dvd, no read/write)
maybe network card (i have one that is about 4 years old, works fine enough on my amd-k6 2 300mz)
things i don't need:
im sure im forgetting some stuff. could you guys point me towards some of the best vaule products, and ill read the reviews and such for them.
If your not overclocking, then AMD is probably your best bet. But I will let you decide that for yourself. Here is the latest prices from pricewatch.com
1.6 gig $150
1.8 gig $184
1.9 gig $191
2.0 gig $221
2.2 gig $247
2.4 gig $357
XP 1700 $68
XP 1800 $83
XP 1900 $110
XP 2000 $131
XP 2100 $167
Tbred 2200 $214
The top athlon comes in $30 cheaper than Intels equivolent processor the 2.2 gig. Intel's 2.2 gig beats athlon in some benchmarks. Its up you wether that is important. My opinion is Intels chip is slightly faster. I recommend reading reviews of both chips to decide which you would prefer.
Motherboard - do you have any idea the variety of mobo thats out there? Look. I cant sit here and tell you the merits of each mobo. That would take 20 pages. Several boards have decent reputations. Epox, Soyo and Abit. Im sure someone else will tell you others that are good. Just go to their websites and find out which board supports the latest processors. Then find reviews of those boards. I recommnd Hardocp.com, arstechnia and Anandtech.com.
Ram - when you find out about the mobo, find out whats the highest ram it can support. AMD has ddr333 and Intel has PC1066 ( i think). Intels stuff is really fast, AMDs stuff is on its heels in most cases. In some cases the 1066 beats the 333 stuff. Corsair and Infineon have good quality ram.
Cases - the aluminum Lian Li case seems to be popular these days.
Video card - if your a gamer than the Geforce 4 Ti4200 can be beat. Its not the fastest, but it truly is the best bang for your buck.
Sound card - i recommend going to Anandtech and asking that. Some of those folks are hardcore audio nuts. Most think the SB Audigy X-gamer is pretty good. But im no audio freak. I own the TurtleBeach Santa Cruz, im happy.
BTW, if you got crappy speakers, then no sound card will help.
Moniter - my only advice is find one with a dot pitch below .25 ANything above that and ya got eye strain. Sony tubes are quality stuff. I recommend 19" too. I got a 17" and really wish I had bigger.
Hard drive - yet another can of worms. For gaming, it really doesnt matter that much. Seagate and Maxtor seem ok. I have owned both.
My western digital crapped out after 6 months. If that means anything to you. Maybe I just got unlucky. Go the storage forum and see what the storage nuts have to say. It seems lately that hard drives are a crap shoot. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not. Some die real quick, some last for years. Just get your drive with a real good warranty.
Finally, always check the people you buy from on resellerratings.com
Many people go to newegg.com for parts
For cooling stuff, many people go to plycon.com
Both have very good reputations. I have dealt with both and been pleased
Benchmarks are like sex, everybody loves doing it, everybody thinks they are good at it.
The other poster made some good reccomendations. I do want to add though. Make sure you get a solid and stable motherboard. ASUS is/has been my choice for a long time, but a few others are equally stable and some even perform better. Also, getting quality memory is important too. If you start with a solid base then your components will shine even brighter.
As far as gaming, if your not overclocking and on a budget, definatly go with AMD. But that should be the last part you add to a gaming system as pretty much all the CPU's perform alike when added with the amazing video cards of the day.
Nvidia is definatly the way to go though. They have the best driver development team around, which allows them to build solid and stable drivers. I personally use an ATI card, but I'm don't game with my machine.
Also, he's right about sound cards. If you don't have decent speakers, then the sound card wont matter too much. The Sound Blaster Audiogy is a great card, but can be spendy, make sure you get an OEM version if/when you decide to purchase it. Your current NIC should work fine in the new system, just make sure you don't buy a software modem. So yes, I know I'm wordy, I'll give you a brief list here.
Motherboard: Stability is Key, Solid Performance as well
RAM : Buy very good RAM. Mushkin/Corsair/Crucial
Power Sup. : Not allways ponited out, but a cheap PS is bad
As long as you read through some reviews either here or other review sites, you should be ok for the other components. Anandtech does releast "Dream" systems from time to time for certain catagories.
Then you have THG's guides to help you for that, ma man.
Or you can surf the web for good guides on CPUs etc.
If you feel some word is not well explained or you don't get the abbreviation, go to <A HREF="http://www.whatis.com" target="_new">http://www.whatis.com</A> and you have a hoard of almost all computer words. Weird they don't have Hyper Transport, yet.
:smile: Intel and AMD sitting under a tree, P-R-O-C-E-S-S-I-N-G! :smile:
cpu - amd athlon xp 2100
mobo - asus a7v333
memory - corsair cmx512-2700c2
vid card - some version of the geforce4 ti4600
case - antec sx840
monitor - still no idea, but im looking for 19" and better than .25 pitch rate or whatever its called.
hd - maxtor gl040j2 (40gb 7200rpm ata133)
cd - just some generic fast one with no dvd or read/write stuff
sound card - last thing on my list to get, ill stick with a7v333's onboard sound unless it completely sucks. course i did want a card so i could use my cambridge 5-piece thing i got for free. i use headphones most of the time so surround sound isn't too useful.
mouse and keyboard - im sure i can get this on my own.
what should i change? im kinda wanting a cheaper case, but im totally lost when it comes to what makes them good. i just wanted a 400W ps and a full tower.
Looks pretty good from here, only thing that really bothers me is the Maxtor drive (I've never really had good luck with them). My personal choice is Western Digital drives. As far as the case goes, just make sure your able to add additional cooling fans and the power supply is not just 400 watts but a good solid power supply, otherwise things wont work as well as they should. I have an enlight Mid-Tower case myself and it works great along with the 300 watt enlight power supply.
Just be carefull you don't go too cheap on the case, those thin cases can cut the &&^%^%& outa ya .
Hrm... well I don't like Asus. Not one bit. You have a problem, they'll tell you to go to the reseller, which most likely will give you two options: RMA or talk to the manufacturer.
Talking to Asus is like talking to a 2 year old with ADHD. Nothing you say will register, and only threats of legal action will get you to the next idiot who will stall and ignore you. BIOS updates will occur often enough for the first few months of product life, but after that, even if problems still exist, the only BIOS updates you'll see are to make the newly released AMDs or Intels work on that board. Drivers are a joke, you're better off going to the chipset maker and onboard sound maker etc. to find drivers. Don't get me wrong, Asus makes great boards, and many many people are happy with theirs. I was happy with mine as well, until it had issues with the AGP. I solved those myself, but I had to do the legwork to find the info, which if quite prevelent, if you use the right keywords. Asus was no help, had me RMA the board, then sent it back to me with a new serial number sticker slapped over the old one, and told me it was a new one (well, it had new problems, I guess...). Since then, I have been looking for a new board to replace my old one, and yelling at Asus to refund me the money I've spent on it.
Good choice for memory... but I have to ask. Are you overclocking? If so, it would be best to get lower density RAM sticks, as those will overclock a little bit better. So, 2 sticks of 256MB instead of 1 stick of 512MB. Also remember to set the memory timings as agressive as possible in the BIOS to get the most performance out of those sticks.
The video card is good... but you probably can get a Ti4400 for $50-75 less and be able to overclock it to Ti4600 speeds. My Ti4400 is able to reach Ti4600 speeds in memory easy, and very close to TI4600 speeds with the GPU without anything more than stock cooling.
I love my Antec SX830 (same as the 840, but with a 300W PSU instead of a 400W). Look into the <A HREF="http://www.antec-inc.com/en_plus860.html" target="_new">Performance Plus</A> series of Antec cases, as they have the newer TruePower PSUs in them. Not sure where you can find a reseller, but maybe a local RL store has one, like BestBuy (they carry Antec stuff exclusively). It'll save you on shipping (which is near $30 for those beasts). If not, I know you can get the older SX830 and SX840 from BestBuy.
Same goes for the monitor. Look at them at a real store, and buy one there, unless you're sure that you can't find one you like. Shipping on monitors is rough, and damage can easily occur. And since the 19" CRTs weigh near 60lbs, shipping them back for an RMA will cost you alot... and it will cost you, not the reseller. Trinitron monitors are good, and you don't have to get a Sony to get a good one. ViewSonic and Cornerstone make good monitors based on the Trinitron CRT. NEC also makes good screens.
HDD are, like someone said, a crap shoot. I have both a IBM GXP60 40GB and a WD 800JB (the 8MB cache version) 80GB. Both work well, though I am still leary of the IBM dying on me at some point, but it's no big deal since I have my important stuff backed up in two places. ATA133 isn't all its cracked up to be, as in most cases, ATA100 performs similarly.
Soundcards... anything is good. I stay away from the Audigy series, as I've heard a few things about problems with VIA chipsets. I have both a Hercules FortissimoII and Game TheaterXP. The GameTheater's rack is probably the best thing I've ever seen. Plus, it's 6.1 ready. There are some issues at this time with some of the ports, but Hercules says they will be fixed in the next driver. The Turtle Beach Santa Cruz and the Phillips Acoustic Edge are good as well, though I haven't personally used them.