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June 7, 2010 4:27:26 PM

Hi all,

I’m a noob so please excuse me if I know so little and if I make any silly mistakes or ask stupid questions. Please feel free to give me as much detail as possible. This will be my first build and I’ll need everything.

I need a new PC as I’m moving from my very old Inspiron 9300 laptop and thought I’d have a go at this building a PC thing and I’d finally like to understand what goes on inside these ‘magic machines’.

I’ll still keep my laptop and hope it lasts me so I can use it when on the move for word processing and some light surfing.

I’ve done quite a bit of reading (nearly all of it from reports on Tom’s Hardware – great stuff!) and my mind is frankly quite tired after so much reading without enough breaks – it’s just soo addictive!

I have come up with some ideas….but then since I don’t really have a budget (but don’t want to spend more than say ₤1200 - but even this is a guide) so I need to just build a first computer which will last me a few years and hopefully I’ll be loving it and will want to upgrade in a couple of years!

I’d prefer to buy value components and upgrade when the prices fall. This is of a particular concern for the GPU as the ATI HD cards may be overpriced at the moment.

So I still need some basic help… in deciding what power (i.e. CPU and everything else) to go with.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Today/Tomorrow/This week (the sooner the better)

BUDGET RANGE: Approx. ₤800 but will be willing to go higher if it’s worth the benefits and doors of fun/opportunity that are opened by getting a better system After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Surfing, watching movies via 1080p TV already have, music, strategy gaming and maybe some driving games if the system is good enough, Excel programming. This might change after system is built to more gaming and other activities.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Need everything except maybe a monitor (but would get this if it’s better than just using my laptop screen (Brand: Dell Inspiron 9300 at 1900x1200 native resolution [WXGA I think, but not sure]).

Would also prefer to have a TV tuner in there and to able to record from it…erm and maybe some small sound for when I just want to sit and play casually.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: None but I would like to get as good a value as possible of course and one which would help me out if I made mistakes or got into difficulties i.e. a reputable company.

Prob want to buy all parts from the same supplier as mentioned in an article on here.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United Kingdom

PARTS PREFERENCES: Mid Tower as advised by an ex PC components addict and ex-PC enthusiast, none otherwise.

After reading articles I was leaning towards the AMD II X3 since it’s such a good CPU and great value for money at approx ₤66

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-ii-x3-440-ga...

(and in case I screw this up) but then also read another article saying how quad cores are for the future.

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/257075-13-guide-cho...

Thanks to Proximon to for that great article.

I also get distracted by thinking it will be so much more fun if I go for a quad core Phenom or maybe even the i5 (or even i7 when I start getting ahead of myself) according to the tests with GPU and various processors to build a balanced system:

Part 2:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/balanced-gaming-pc,...

Part 3:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/balanced-gaming-pc-...


OVERCLOCKING: Maybe – or yes and would like to learn about it! SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably not. Unless it’s much better for my needs

MONITOR RESOLUTION: As mentioned I have a 1080p TV and so that would be the minimum requirement. My laptop screen (which I could use as the monitor otherwise) is 1900x1200 in native resolution. Don’t know what best if I do get a new monitor (am considering it but it’s not a priority)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I already have a set up for gaming, sound and TV (Panasonic 1080p) – PS3, Xbox360 (so those are my main points of playing games) and have 5.1 sound via an Onkyo TX-SR606 AV receiver.

So I’d like to hook my PC up to the TV (sometimes watch stuff through that or maybe just do my work on it if I feel like watching a bigger screen from further away) as well as the sound system.

I would prefer to have a mid tower which would have a touch of bling (maybe just a little blue [or red maybe, haven’t decided yet] lighting. I like the looks of the Lian Li PCB25-FB

Would love to have a window to help me feed my interest. However maybe that would put too much pressure on making the insides look good rather than just getting it right. Any views on the difficulty of making it look nice?

It should not be loud like the annoyingly loud Xbox 360 fan.

My ideas thus far have been:

CPU: AMD 2 x3 or x4 : at ₤65 or ₤100 respectively. Is ₤40 worth going to quad core?

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/AMD-Athlon-II-X3-440-Ran...

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/AMD-Athlon-II-X4-635-Pro...

If I go for quad core then maybe I should go for more? Maybe a Phenom 2 X4 or i5? Only another ₤40-50 more.

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/AMD-Phenom-II-X4-955-Bla...

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Intel-Core-i5-750-Lynnfi...

MOBO: 880G for AM3 with USB 3.0 (is the USB 3.0 relevant for my needs? Maybe soon in the future?)

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-M4A87TD-USB3-AMD-87...

Was decided on this until I read a report about 790 being so much better in Proximon’s list.

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/269620-13-list

Somebody also said ASRock were a cheap brand and so should be avoided. Is this right?

GPU: had originally decided on HD 5850 1Gb but then thought it might be overkill.

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/1GB-Sapphire-HD-5850-PCI...

Should I go for the HD 5770 1Gb (since it’s so much cheaper and I’m prob not going to be playing FPSs. Or is the HD 5770 that overkill as well?

Which brand should I go for? A friend said she used to love her Sapphire brand.

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/1GB-Sapphire-HD5770-PCI-...

Again, why is there such a number of ATI HD5770s by the same brand? What are the main differences?

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/1GB-Sapphire-HD-5770-Vap...

Finally getting my hands on PC with a decent discrete GPU may invite me to play other games on the PC.

RAM: 4Gb minimum.

Which brand and which speed (1333 or 1600 or higher)?

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 (HD103SJ)

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ss1TB-Samsung-HD103SJ-Sp...

DVD Drive: Samsung Black 2X SH-S223B going by Proximon’s big list of things he likes 

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CD...

I am hoping to use my PS3 as my Blu-Ray player

Case: Lian Li PCB25-FB

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Lian-Li-PC-B25FB-Black-M...

This was my original choice but then read about aluminium reverberating and also it’s maybe unnecessarily pricey

Alternatives: LanCool K62
CoolMaster CM-690 II

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Lancool-K62-Black-Advanc...

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

Any other recommendations?

PSU: No idea

Case fans: No idea.

OS: Win7 (maybe 64bit)

Monitor: not sure if needed

Keyboard: must be wireless and be rechargeable (if that’s possible) as I’d to constantly replace batteries. Something that has a backlight might be cool.

Mouse: no idea, no pref whether it’s a trackball or normal one – have used both

Network card: Do I need this. I would to do networking and maybe make another PC to hold all my data in future.

Not sure what else I would need.

If it’s too confusing then I will probably end up going for all the cheaper options in order just to build a PC first and then maybe upgrade to a much better one later.

Oh you’re still reading. Thanks for reading this essay!

All suggestions are welcome to help me pick out an okay or decent system to last me a few years.

More about : question

June 7, 2010 4:40:47 PM

CPU get at least an athlon ii x3.

GPU wise, for 1920 x01 080 you'll want a 5850. Not much difference in brands outside their warranty and support. Go w/ Sapphire, XFX, Asus, Gigabyte for best warranties/support.

OPtical, just find the cheapest one, it doesn't make a difference these days.

Case: HAF 922 is cheap w/ good airflow. ~$100 in the US. Cheaper you can get an Antec Illusion 300.

PSU FOr good cheap ones, any Antec, Corsair, or the OCZ 80+ ones (modxstream or Fatality) are fine. A good 550W PSU is fine for 1 5850. If you plan on xfire, you can grab a 750TX from corsair. Probably the cheapest with the necessary cables.

Don't think there are any gaming backlight wireless. In fact, very few wireless backlite keyboards thanks to power drain. Better off with wired. If you want wireless, also very few rechargeable ones, as you can just use rechargeable AA batteries...

Good wired one is Saitek Eclipse II

Mouse- Standard gaming mouse recommendation ins the logitech MX518. Lots of other out there, but they all have certain features that only you can decide are worth it.

No need for network card.






June 7, 2010 5:14:50 PM

Hi banthracis,

thanks for the lightning reply. Okay, I will defo go with the HD5850 ('tis what I was hoping for)

My budget is quite loose so I can go for more if it's worth it.

Starting with the CPU is it worth going for more right now to help the PC last longer or should I wait till the price for the prices to drop and upgrade?

Having little PC history knowledge, how long would I have to wait for say the Phenom II X4 to drop in prices by quite a bit?
June 7, 2010 5:27:30 PM

For the PSU I read that I should buy one that will last for at least a few builds. I don't know whether I will Xfire the GPUs in future.

Would you recommend I get a higher one for this eventuality? will the 750TX do it? or will the 650TX suffice?
June 7, 2010 6:18:17 PM

GinZ said:

MONITOR RESOLUTION: As mentioned I have a 1080p TV and so that would be the minimum requirement. My laptop screen (which I could use as the monitor otherwise) is 1900x1200 in native resolution. Don’t know what best if I do get a new monitor (am considering it but it’s not a priority)


A little confused by this statement. Have you determined a way to hook up a different computer to display on your laptop screen? Generally, that isn't an easy task and requires some modding, as most laptops don't have video inputs.

If you're looking at getting a new monitor, I'd say go for 1920x1080 at minimum, 1920x1200 if the price difference isn't too great.
June 7, 2010 6:35:08 PM

coldsleep, great point now you come to mention it. It was suggested by a friend but I haven't actually checked it HAS got an input. And not that I'm sure but the connectors are male. Does this mean they're output only?

A vga output it has got as I've connected it to the TV. I will add a monitor to the list of things definitely required (so that's everything then - except a network card). Since I have my TV, that will have to do until I decide on a monitor.

Thanks coldsleep. :embarrassed:

June 7, 2010 6:41:21 PM

coldsleep, do you have any views on CPU setup and whether it's worth it?
June 7, 2010 6:42:48 PM

worth the cost of upping to quad core, I mean.
June 7, 2010 7:31:59 PM

Unless you have some crazy fancy laptop, I don't think you're going to be able to display anything on its screen.

I'd say that the only things you're planning on using it for that might use all 4 cores would be strategy games and possibly Excel if you're doing some crazy number-crunching. Up to you to decide if it's worth the extra money for those uses. :)  I wouldn't expect Phenom II x4 prices to come down much until next year, when AMD releases its next line of chips (which are supposed to be compatible with AM3 mobos).

Generally the Athlon II X3 is seen as one of the best general-purpose/gaming CPUs, as it's not going to bottleneck any modern graphics card at a decent resolution. As far as a motherboard goes, I'd go with either a 790 or 890, as they're more fully featured. And USB3 is starting to come out now, it will likely replace USB2 within the next year or two. As a future-resistant option, I think it's worthwhile.

I don't have a brand preference for RAM, although I'll say that in the US, Corsair is generally more expensive than sticks with the same specs. I'd suggest getting 1333 MHz CAS (aka CL) 7 RAM, or 1600 MHz CAS 7 if it's not too much more expensive.

As banthracis mentioned, the 5850 is typically seen as the best value card at 1920x1080. If the games you're planning on playing are not all that demanding, you could probably get away with a 5770, but I'd expect it to start suffering in new games within a year or two. The 5850 should stay current longer than the 5770, though it's hard to say how much longer.

Agree with banthracis on the importance of a good PSU.

Generally your original selections seem to be pretty decent, with some minor modifications (as suggested above).

x3 or x4, 790 or 890 mobo, 4 GB RAM, 5850, 500 GB platter hard drive, quality PSU, Win 7 64-bit - very respectable specs for a gaming machine...and it sounds like gaming/excel are the most taxing things you're going to expect out of this machine.
June 7, 2010 9:15:52 PM

Great, detail reply. Thanks very much. I 'll have to get on the case and look at the 790 and 890 mobos. I'll try and get a better fix on my actual selection and come back.

a quick question about the Excel number crunching:

I'm an Excel programmer and will have to put my programs through testing with thousands of rows and maybe a hundreds of columns of data.

Does this count as crazy number-crunching according to how it will tax the CPU?
June 7, 2010 9:21:43 PM

Ooh, and about the mobo - do you have any recommended brands?

And what are all the variations in the boards all about?

There are so many of apparently the same card but at quite different prices.

Thanks
June 7, 2010 9:24:28 PM

Mobo question again.... since I'm getting a discrete GPU is it best if I avoid getting on-board graphics to get better value for money?

thanks
June 7, 2010 9:47:47 PM

GinZ said:
I'm an Excel programmer and will have to put my programs through testing with thousands of rows and maybe a hundreds of columns of data.

Does this count as crazy number-crunching according to how it will tax the CPU?


If your daily work depends on it, then yes, I'd go with a quad-core. Since it was listed last in your usage, I wasn't sure if it was hobbyist level or something more serious.

"Best" mobo brands (subject to debate, but with the most name recognition):
ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, probably 1 other that I'm forgetting

Generally speaking, the boards within the same socket/generation are basically the same, but you get more features as you pay more. The problem is that at a certain point, you end up with features that most people aren't going to use, so buying the most expensive mobo isn't usually the best solution. I'm about to head out, but I'll try to come back with some recommendations later.

You don't need a motherboard with onboard graphics, but I'm not sure it's wasting money if you get one. They can be useful for diagnosing problems with your video card, if something comes up. Typically, enthusiast/high-end boards will not have onboard graphics (though this is in flux, as Intel has an integrated solution - H55/57, and AMD will be introducing GPU on the CPU next year), and lower-end/consumer-oriented boards will have integrated graphics.

I wouldn't rule out a motherboard with onboard graphics, but I would only get it as an added bonus, rather than skimping on added features to end up with it.
June 7, 2010 10:16:24 PM

How about if I come up with a full build suggestion? Would make it simpler in a way. I'll probably do for £700-800 for the case plus contents, you'll have figure out the peripherals yourself. For that budget it would be really easy to get a Phenom II X4 in. And it seems like it would be worth it for your uses.

I'll some of the questions you've posed in the meantime. Asus, Gigabyte & MSI are probably the highest quality board manufacturers. I don't think you should purposefully avoid getting a mobo with an integrated GPU if the rest of the features on the board match your requirements/desires.

As for graphics cards, there are variations in coolers and clocks. I suppose the amount of work that goes into testing the card for release is another factor in cost. I think the bigger the fan on it the better, as it is likely to cool better and be quieter. On Scan they start getting quite expensive for those, on OCUK there is this one: HIS iCooler V ATI Radeon HD 5850 1024MB GDDR5 H585FN1GD £233, which I'm considering buying even tho I'd have to get rid of the card I have now which will probably end up being a PITA.

Making the inside of your case look nice is probably down to how the components look inherently and then cable aesthetics and management. Cable management is about hiding them away and can be done effectively with a little thinking and planning, cable asthetics is basically sleeving or lack thereof. Some PSUs come with them pre-sleeved. The sleeving aspect is minor if the cables are well managed tho.
This is a solid choice for a 750W PSU that should give you plenty of potential for power a lot of hardware. Antec Truepower New TP750 £93

Asrock are a budget division of Asus. Read into that what you want. But Asus are definitely known for having high quality and reliable and long lasting boards. So Asrock wouldn't be quite as good as Asus in these aspects, doesn't necessarily mean that they will be bad tho either.

Those are all good cases imo. For my next case I'm currently thinking about the Lian Li PC-P50B which is similar to the one in the OP, but about £20 cheaper.
June 8, 2010 12:12:31 AM

Thanks for the input Silvune, am looking into your recommendations right now...(laptop is so slow however!)

when it comes to the GPU coldsleep recommended well recognised brands (coldsleep - I'm hoping Sapphire the brand you may have forgotten to mention). My friend too said she loved the Sapphire GPU she had once upon a time and recommended that I too go for the recognised brands.

So I'd like to verify that for only about 8 pounds more, would it simply be a waste to go for the Sapphire version?

When it comes to the CPU I am really am thinking twice, thrice and many more times about it.

I am wondering whether for 66 pounds I could stick with the AMD II X3 for now and upgrade to the ₤150 mark later on. Thinking along these lines...

If it doesn't suffice then I've only lost 60 squid and the mobo should cover me for upgrading too

Plus it's nearly ₤100 more for the Phenom II 965... does it bring that much more to the world? won't it reduce in price and I'll have more options next year?

Or is it just a waste of money to get the X3 now only to upgrade so soon?

Other factor not sure about: not sure if I'm wrong about this. Does the Black Edition Phenom overclock and the X3 not?

I would like to learn about OCing so if only the Phenom does (or does it easier for the novice) then that would lean me heavily towards getting the Phenom.

thanks for all your help
June 8, 2010 3:15:54 PM

You can definitely overclock non-BE processors, however Black Editions have unlocked multipliers which can make it easier to overclock. No good reason to go for the 965 as it is just a factory OCed 955.

If you are absolutely set on changing your processor next year then it would make even less sense to spend anywhere near £100 on it.

I don't know anything about warranties, alto banthracis said up top that Sapphire are one of the ones with good warranties. However warranties differ by region; the same warranties don't necessarily apply in the UK as it would in the US for instance. £8 doesn't seem like a massive difference to me.
June 8, 2010 3:46:10 PM

I was actually talking about motherboards.

For GPUs, Sapphire & XFX are typically the top two...but mostly I don't think it matters too much. Until you get to the custom versions, I'd mostly just look at warranty & price.

As far as motherboards go, here are some decent ones:

(sorry, newegg links, check availability in your area)
Gigabyte 790X UD3 - CrossFires at 8x/8x
MSI 790X-G45 - 790X chipset
Gigabyte 790XTA-UD4 - 790X
ASUS M4785TD-V EVO - 785 chipset
MSI 890GXM-G65 - 890GX chipset
ASUS M4A89TD PRO/USB3 - 890FX chipset
Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5 - 890FX

June 8, 2010 4:41:49 PM

Silvune - thanks for the info on OCing and esp for the 965 as I've found a deal for a 955 which is 25 pounds cheaper than a 965.

It costs 120 pounds (sorry, my pound sign is missing as I had problems with my laptop keyboard layout)

So I'll either go for an AMD ii X3 435/440 at GBP59 or GBP66 or a phenom x4 955 at GBP120

Yes - also respect to banthracis as I'd forgot he'd mentioned it already. thanks banthracis.

That together with the list from coldsleep means I will continue putting together a list of the best deals (with min 2 years warranty)

thanks all

back with a list of options later....(my laptop keeps crashing with all the windows I have open!)
June 8, 2010 5:49:02 PM

thanks ever so much for a nice list coldsleep - I can compare the details knowing I am looking at a quality backed mobo.

before, there were just too many options!
June 8, 2010 6:51:03 PM

Most of those boards are CrossFire capable, you can probably find slightly cheaper ones that have just one 16x PCI-E slot. I don't think it's a bad idea to pay a little more just to keep the option available though.

In general, I'd look for a motherboard with USB3, SATA 6 Gb/s, and at least one 16x PCI-E slot, preferably two that are at least 8x/8x and definitely not 16x/4x. Onboard graphics (as I mentioned earlier) is indicative of a lower-end board, but you shouldn't avoid a board that fits otherwise. Most of the other stuff is bells & whistles. If you want that, fine, but don't worry about it too much.
June 8, 2010 8:36:18 PM

sorry guys - had probs with my ISP...

have a long list of mobos now...just wanna check details such as ensuring have got two PCI-E slots, whether are 8x/8x, warranty lengths

Does it matter when mobo says they are for RAM 1800 or 1600 or 1333. Will my RAM have to be of the same speed?

On the RAM issue... is CL7 better than CL8 and CL9? I found some RAM for 1600 CL7

G-=Skill F3-12800CL7D for GBP100
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/42596/G-Skill...

but is it worth spending more than this offer for it?


Crucial 4GB 1333 CL9 for GBP85
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166995
June 8, 2010 9:38:23 PM

The speed the mobo supports is the max speed recommended, you do not have to match that. Theoretically you could get a mobo that only supported 1333 MHz RAM and buy 2000 MHz RAM, the RAM would just downclock. Unsure about what that would mean if you were planning on overclocking, but hopefully if you're planning on overclocking, you're not getting a board with really limited memory options.

And the difference is probably not worth 15 pounds. 5, yes.
June 9, 2010 4:55:24 AM

Okay, hurrah – I’m back again to give you another essay with options.

I’ve picked a few now and these are listed:

GPU
HD 5850
211UKP
http://www.pixmania.co.uk/uk/uk/5043139/art/sapphire-te...

CPU
AMD Phenom II X4
114UKP
http://www.bargain-mad.co.uk/product_info.php?products_...

Memory
OCZ 4GB 1600 CL7
93UKP
http://www.bargain-mad.co.uk/product_info.php?products_...

HDD
Samsung Spinpoint F3 (HD103SJ)
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/42256/Samsung...

DVD drive
Samsung Black 2X SH-S223B
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CD...

Monitor
Possibly this, but the screen might be too big for where I’m gonna sit
Viewsonic VX2260WM Full HD 22" TFT Monitor 1920x1080 20,000:1 (dynamic) 300cd/m2 2ms VGA/DVI-D/HDMI Black
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/151336

OS
Windows 7
http://www.techdepot.co.uk/TD/product/SOFTWARE/SO.OPSYS...$ja=tsid:8928|cc:|prd:IT64111|cat:Software+%3E+Software+-+Operating+Systems

Still need help with a few things:

PSU

Dunno yet probably going to go for the 93UKP that Silvune was kind enough to mentioned earlier. What does the bronze mean?
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/750W-Antec-Truepower-New...

Or the same but with blue lights (in case I want to take the case with window router later) in the fan for 99UKP
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

I also saw an Antec Earthwatts for 83UKP, but what’s the difference? I’d love to know…
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/161664

Case
Still undecided
Thanks for the suggestion Silvune however I need something with a minimalist look – on the outside anyway. I want a bit of lighting but only a little. Tis why am still considering the Lian-Li
130UKP
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Lian-Li-PC-B25FB-Black-M...

or this Lian Li PC-60FNB
80UKP
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/207849


quite like the look of this…but might be overkill with lights

Coolermaster CM-690 II Advanced Dominator Case - Black [RC-692-KKN2]
80UKP
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

or this
NZXT Panzerbox Full Aluminium Midi Case NO PSU
Or
Antec P183 Case - GunMetal Grey Super Mid Tower - No PSU


Well as you can see not decided yet. Are any of the above cases utterly rubbish?


Also thinking of getting a TV-tuner or two. Has any one any experience of having one?

Case fans.

Do I need any of these? If so I might read about silent pcs: http://www.buildsilentpc.com/Silent-CPU-Coolers.html

Anyhooo

For now need particular help choosing the mobo which is of best value for the prices… the mobos I have got the best prices for according to coldsleep’s (thanks again) list are:

(coldsleep, I left out the MSI 790X-G45 as I couldn’t find a description on the websites I was using showing it had USB3.0)

ASUS M4785TD-V EVO (this one’s so cheap compared to the rest)
69UKP
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-M4A785TD-V-EVO-AMD-...

Gigabyte 790XTA-UD4
102UKP
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigabyte-GA-790XTA-UD4-D...

Gigabyte 790X UD3
122UKP
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/46797

ASUS M4A89TD PRO/USB3 (the spec dazzles me so I think I like this one)
137UKP
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/47158

Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5
151UKP
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/218919

So any help or suggestions or just pointing any silly mistakes will be useful.
Thanks for reading!
June 9, 2010 12:01:05 PM

The Antec Earthwatts is a good PSU... if you want a 670W PSU; it only has that much on the 12V rails, which is where you want most of your power to be. So it is about 50 watts more powerful than most good 650W PSUs; PSUs like the Corsair 650TX & HX, Antec Truepower New 650, XFX 650 will have 625 watts on their 12V rail(s).
It would be fine for two 5850s.

The Bronze refers to an efficiency program in the US - 80 Plus, which tests that PSUs have a minimum efficiency (in turning AC power to DC power) at certain loads, 80 Bronze is a bit better than standard 80 Plus, and obviously, Silver, Gold are better than bronze.

You should know that atm OCZ is quite well known for having difficult RAM to set up. It is at a good price tho, so it wouldn't be a massive waste of money if you couldn't get it to run at it's rated specs, aslong as you could get 1333mhz out of it.

This is what a filled NZXT Panzer Box would look like
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NZXT/Panzerbox/image...
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NZXT/Panzerbox/1.htm...
A bit unconventional and not something I'd go for, but it is wider, so can fit a huge heatsink, it can also fit long graphics cards, like a 5870.

Case fans will depend on the case (some of the ones you've mentioned hardly have any unfilled fan mounts) and what kind of cooling you'll want/need. Scythe, amongst others, make high quality and on the quiet side fans.
What I'm planning to do at some point to get a good balance of silence (when cooling isn't a high priority) and cooling performance when it is needed, is to get a fan controller along with some fans that when at maximum speed give out <30dBA. This is a fairly comprehensive analysis of fans: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/120-14... Some people just buy the cheapest fans, as they don't mind wasting such a small amount of money on something like that if it turns out not to be any good.

I think I would go for the Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 as it is a very good future-proofing board. Personally I would get the non-USB3 version if it was cheaper, because I have no interest in USB3. USB3 would be useful if you want to be able to get a fast portable storage device. The other way it is good for future proofing is SATA 6Gbps; which would be useful if you wanted the option to add a fast SSD next year or so. Do you want the option of crossfire? If not then you could go for a cheaper option. If you want non of the above then definitely go for the ASUS M4785TD-V EVO.

You have linked an upgrade package of Windows 7, which technically is supposed to be used on a system that already has a Windows OS on it. Just pointing that out. If you didn't know this then just get an OEM version.
June 9, 2010 2:43:21 PM

Ooh thanks for warning me about OCZ memory.
I am mainly doing this PC building to learn. Would the difficulty of setting up OCZ ram be not recommended for a first timer or will the fact that it's hard-to-do simply mean I have to learn more?
I am leaning away from it but if it's a good enough motivation to learn then I would go for it! Yet I don't want to get bogged down if it's really difficult for a total beginner. (I'll also be doing this around watching the World Cup - once that starts I will have less time to do this - or more time to rest watching soccer if I get frustrated)

I would love the idea of playing with all kinds of clocking options to have that feeling of MORE POWER!!! So what RAM is good for a novice but would also allow me to play around once I get confident?

Does the PSU issue mean that all 750W are 670W in actual delivery or have I missed something? If they both deliver 670W then why is there a 10UKP difference? Styling?!

Is it something to do with it being modular or what is it exactly about the 12V of the Earthwatt that is different to 12V8 of your recommended one?

For the PSU, I'll probably end up getting the one you recommended in the first place. lol

I will almost certainly end up getting an SSD as soon as the prices come down a little. I really wanted to put the Win7 on it but as yet I can't find any SSD small enough (yet big enough to accommodate Win7) that's anywhere near where I feel is worth it. But hell yeah I want some of that stuff!
So I will defo want the SATA 6Gbps.

I also like the thought of having an external hard drive I can take to a mate's if needed and so the USB3.0 will surely come in useful

I also do want to learn about doubling up GPU's. maybe not now but when the 5850 needs help, I can learn then.

Thanks a lot for pointing out the important factors when deciding the mobo.

So I'll go with the M4A89GTD.

Thanks to coldsleep too!

Oh, just to make sure...I can't tell how it would have 'two that are at least 8x/8x and definitely not 16x/4x'

from the link I am to buy it from it has little or no info about that, but it does state CrossFireX support and it does state under the chipset it has 'quad PCI Express™ 2.0 x16 graphics'

From my other link (but the price is more - so I'm not 100% sure it's the same mobo) under the expansion slots it lists:
2 x PCI (32 bit)
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x1
2 x PCI-E 2.0 x16
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x4

http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/47158

Does this mean it has 16x/16x Xfire support?

I've read the Panzer Box link - the loud fans REALLY puts me off it and the top I/O is not ideal either (but not the deal-breaker). Shame, as I like it otherwise.

ho hum it's back to the search for the elusive case. (I've still to read the fan article - I guess I'll read that either after the choice of case or when I get tired from not finding my case!).

I'll look on the techPowerUp! website for more case reviews.

Are there any other good websites for reading reviews of any cases I find?

Just to let you know, Silvune, if I was building a PC mainly for gaming I would get a more hardcore looking one similar to the one you mentioned but ideally I want the Case to sit next my whole audio/visual setup currently in place and so it must look similar in feel and design to the PS3.

And errr, the Win7 link, err, thanks for not saying how silly it was of me to not notice the bad link to the wrong site - nicely put. I do know I should have linked on for the full package and not only the upgrade.

Thanks again.
June 9, 2010 4:31:24 PM

"Ooh thanks for warning me about OCZ memory.
I am mainly doing this PC building to learn. Would the difficulty of setting up OCZ ram be not recommended for a first timer or will the fact that it's hard-to-do simply mean I have to learn more?
I am leaning away from it but if it's a good enough motivation to learn then I would go for it! Yet I don't want to get bogged down if it's really difficult for a total beginner. (I'll also be doing this around watching the World Cup - once that starts I will have less time to do this - or more time to rest watching soccer if I get frustrated)
I would love the idea of playing with all kinds of clocking options to have that feeling of MORE POWER!!! So what RAM is good for a novice but would also allow me to play around once I get confident?"


You would definitely have a learning experience. I think there would be plenty of forum articles around the web of people dealing with difficult OCZ ram, so you might be able to get some pointers from them. Spending lots of time reading forums isn't what you want when the WC's here (maybe not the best choice of acronym around here) unless a game's particularly boring or something. Personally I think the less stressful learning experience for fiddling with RAM would be to get a set rated at 1.5V, which would give some good room for OCing.

"Does the PSU issue mean that all 750W are 670W in actual delivery or have I missed something? If they both deliver 670W then why is there a 10UKP difference? Styling?!

Is it something to do with it being modular or what is it exactly about the 12V of the Earthwatt that is different to 12V8 of your recommended one?"


You can't take for granted that all PSUs deliver the amount of wattage that it says in big letters. The Earthwatts series is one of those that has less on the 12V rails than it says by a significant amount. The Antec Truepower New series on the other hand has much more on the 12V rail, for instance the Antec TP750 has 744 watts on it's 12V rail.
To find out how much a PSU has on it's 12V rails, the quickest way is to find a picture of the box, and it will either say in the table or just underneath. Also good technical reviews will say, such as jonnyguru, Overclock3d.net, hardwaresecrets - which are also good for finding out if they perform well and if it safe to use. This is also a good quick reference: http://rankedpsulist.dabbledb.com/publish/rankedpsulist
To illustrate what I mean by picture on the box, look at this:
which comes from here http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...
As you can see it has four 12V rails, and it says 25amps in each box,. Now 100 amps multiplied by 12 = 1200watts, which is ridiculous. So then if you look just below the table "+12V1, +12V2, +12V3 & +12V4 max. load: 62A", which is much closer to 744.

"Oh, just to make sure...I can't tell how it would have 'two that are at least 8x/8x and definitely not 16x/4x'
from the link I am to buy it from it has little or no info about that, but it does state CrossFireX support and it does state under the chipset it has 'quad PCI Express™ 2.0 x16 graphics'

From my other link (but the price is more - so I'm not 100% sure it's the same mobo) under the expansion slots it lists:

http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/47158
Does this mean it has 16x/16x Xfire support?"


That MD links to the non-USB3 version of the Asus M4A89GTD; they are exactly the same apart from that. Seeing as you want the option of USB3, make sure it is named "Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3". Both of them do x8/x8, which is absolutely fine for anything slower than a 5870, and only marginally performance reducing (to the tune of 4%) with two 5870s. Newegg and the motherboard's product pages are good places to go to find out the actual specs. (hopefully this goes to the product page of it: http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=eCWbkolMf0DOW0IV&... )

I've still to read the fan article - I guess I'll read that either after the choice of case or when I get tired from not finding my case!."

I haven't read that whole article either, it's a bloody massive review. You could probably get away with just reading the last three pages first, then checking out each one that appeals to you most to check it out further.

"Are there any other good websites for reading reviews of any cases I find?

Just to let you know, Silvune, if I was building a PC mainly for gaming I would get a more hardcore looking one similar to the one you mentioned but ideally I want the Case to sit next my whole audio/visual setup currently in place and so it must look similar in feel and design to the PS3."

Bit-tech is another site I sometimes check out, altho it doesn't show you any pics of what it would look like with components installed.

I thought the Lian Li PC-50B was actually quite a mild and classy looking case, but fair enough if that's how you feel about it.

"And errr, the Win7 link, err, thanks for not saying how silly it was of me to not notice the bad link to the wrong site - nicely put. I do know I should have linked on for the full package and not only the upgrade."

I would never critize someone for not for not knowing something about Windows, it's pretty complicated.
June 9, 2010 5:44:51 PM

Great help there again Silvune. I'll try again to get as finalised a list and get back to you with any questions...
June 9, 2010 6:42:43 PM

Wish I had much useful to add, Silvune seems to have covered it all.

As Silvune mentioned, for CrossFire, I tend to simply look at the newegg product pages. In some cases, it's very clear, as it will say:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PCI Express 2.0 x16 - 2 (x16 or x8, x8)

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PCI Express 2.0 x16 - 2 (x16/x4)

or in an extreme case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PCI Express 2.0 x16 - 3 (dual @x16, triple @x16 x8 x8) 1 (@x4)

Other times it isn't as clear, it'll just say 2 or 4 or something, and you would want to check the manufacturer's page to be certain.
June 9, 2010 7:40:59 PM

Thanks coldsleep. I wish all the UK websites were as well laid out as Newegg! The sites are quite inconsistent from my short experience on them.

My current issue: as Silvune rightly pointed out my link for the ASUS M4A89TD PRO/USB3 did not have USB3.0. it was 137UKP. now the other link did have the USB3.0s but it a lot more at 161UKP.

I'm gonna find it cheaper or move down to the Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5 at 151UKP

both of these were suggested by coldsleep. What are the differences between the two cards?
For 10UKP more shall I just go with the ASUS regardless? or is it not worth it?

From what I've read one of the main reasons to go AMD rather than the supposedly better i5 750 is due to the longer lasting mobos and their compatibility.

I'm hoping it's true as it's the main reason I've moved from spending 80ishUKP to around 160UKP.
June 9, 2010 7:58:17 PM

Well, at minimum, AMD plans on releasing a new chip compatible with AM3 next year. Intel is introducing new motherboards next year, which likely means little to no development on the current boards. Beyond that, it's hard to say, but AMD has a good track record of providing an upgrade path from AM2 to AM2+ to AM3.

Honestly, I don't think you would see too much difference in a gaming rig between a Phenom II and an i5-750. Here's a comparison of the two CPUs. In general, they look pretty even to me. The only game with a significant difference is Far Cry. Additionally, that's all at a relatively low resolution to exaggerate differences between the CPUs. Once you get to higher resolutions, GPU matters much more than CPU.

As far as the motherboards, the Gigabyte board appears to have an additional eSATA port, as well as 2 NICs and a coax audio output. The other difference is that it looks like if you use PCI1 & 3 on the gigabyte board, they both run at 8x, whereas the ASUS board claims 2 straight-up 16x, one 4x, and one 1x. The ASUS board claims to support higher memory overclocks, and it has the ASUS Turbo Unlocker/Core Unlocker/Turbo Key. I don't know how valuable those features are to you. The Gigabyte board actually looks like a slightly better buy to me. They're the same price in the US, not sure why it's 10 pounds cheaper over there.
June 9, 2010 8:15:45 PM

s'okay I found one here for 149UKP
http://www.ginger6.com/asus-sktam3-m4a89td-prousb3-5200...

Feel like checking it is INDEED the same as the one posted by coldsleep? with so much info in my head I think I'm starting to get a bit of overload.

Ah I have only just seen that Anandtech benchies comparison a few hours ago but I've constantly thought about which option is better. From that report it would seem to me that the i5 750 is slightly better on average(for now - but I just seem to get the impression that AMD are all about spreading costs whereas Intel are about spending big to stay at the top of the charts), but hey what do I know....

The higher memory clocks and ASUS Turbo Unlocker/Core Unlocker/Turbo Key is I have to admit what actually made me attracted to it. God, I'm such a sucker to the pap and hype advertising.

Not saying I will be able to, but I'd love to really get into clocking to have that 'Cap'n she can't go no further' feeling somewhere down the road.

I might wait till England have won the World Cup. Why is WC a dodgy acronym? does WC = Water cooler or something else?

Oh and apologies for the foot in mouth disease I recently contracted regarding comments on your choice of case.

I dunno how the US websites are but here there are many small variations between the websites. I cannot get all my bits from just one or two websites!

I'm deciding to spend a bit more on a cool looking HD 5850 in case I later go for an open side case. so I might come back with further qs if that's ok?

thanks guys
June 9, 2010 8:19:59 PM

sorry for double posting... since I'm going for this rather expensive mobo, I'm thinking whether it then makes more sense for me to go for a quicker (?) RAM set of the 1600 CL7 4GB G-Skill.

Does it make a difference or shall I stick with the 1333 CL 4GB Crucial? 10UKP difference. will it help when I get round to OCing?
June 9, 2010 8:27:34 PM

sorry, I must remember to post all my Qs at the same time...

"The Gigabyte board actually looks like a slightly better buy to me."
Now that I've the boards at the same price would you still say the Gigabyte is better value? if so, why is that?

I'm very wary of products throwing in everything just to make it sound like a wonder product, but I don't want to miss out on all the learning opportunities that could be presented by having useful tech. So I'm not sure which is best....
June 9, 2010 8:47:49 PM

Yea, usually around here WC would refer to water cooling.

Previously I assumed coldsleep was referring to the 890GX Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 rather than the 890FX chipset board: M4A89TD PRO/USB3. The layout will be a bit different betweet them, and the GX has integrated graphics, and can do dual x8 PCI-E lanes, while the FX can do dual x16 or quad x8.
This is a good 890FX board, and it is quite cheap: MSI 790FX-GD70.

No need to apologize for having a different taste in case to me.
June 9, 2010 9:04:02 PM

GinZ said:
sorry, I must remember to post all my Qs at the same time...

"The Gigabyte board actually looks like a slightly better buy to me."
Now that I've the boards at the same price would you still say the Gigabyte is better value? if so, why is that?

I'm very wary of products throwing in everything just to make it sound like a wonder product, but I don't want to miss out on all the learning opportunities that could be presented by having useful tech. So I'm not sure which is best....


At the same price, I'd say it's up to personal preference. I have an ASUS board myself, but I haven't even started using the extra features yet. (Of course, I've been out of town for most of the 2 weeks since I built the system.) I also didn't go with a Gigabyte board because I liked the ASUS color scheme better. :) 

As far as RAM, I'm unsure what you're looking at right now, last thing I see posted is the OCZ 1600 MHz CL7. Generally speaking, I'd worry about CAS latency first, then clock speed. If you can get 1600 MHz CL7 for not much more than 1333 MHz CL7, it's worth it. If it's significantly more expensive, go with the 1333 MHz CL7.

And honestly, it's not the end of the world if you end up with, say, 1066 MHz CL9. At worst, you're probably looking at 1-2% difference in gaming overall, if that. RAM doesn't have a huge impact on fps, though not having enough RAM can be a limiting factor for programs...but 4 GB is enough for gaming & day-to-day tasks.
June 9, 2010 9:42:48 PM

I can't really know but what's quoted in coldsleep's list is:
ASUS M4A89TD PRO/USB3 - 890FX chipset

Maybe they're the same but I can only compare letter for letter

unfortunately from the link you post I can't see that it has any USB3.0 ports - or am I just getting blind from info overload?

June 9, 2010 10:01:27 PM

This is the one I linked. http://uk.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=fLIjRELzxMxkH2UQ&t... , but I don't see that one available on ebuyer.

The PRO/USB3 models of both M4A89TD and the M4A89GTD have USB 3.0 ports, though the GTD has 2 fewer USB2 ports.

Compare the specs pages of the M4A89TD and M4A89GTD. The price difference in the US is $40, which gets you 16x/16x Crossfire (compared to 8x/8x), lose integrated graphics, and gain a couple of USB2 ports.

To be perfectly honest, any one of the boards you're looking at will be pretty decent. If you want to get the cheapest board that can Crossfire at 8x/8x, has USB3 and SATA 6 GB/s, then I think you're fine. If you want to spend a little more for more ports/features, that's ok too.
June 10, 2010 12:36:55 AM

To be honest, I don't even know anymore. ;) 

Uh, yeah, that looks right.
June 10, 2010 12:39:20 AM

lol! :-)
June 10, 2010 1:44:20 PM

Just noticed this thread has no title. I did put one in when I first posted it: maybe it was too long?
'₤900 (more if needed) build help needed for HTPC and Strategy (maybe more) gaming'

How do I change it to this title? Can I do it myself or do I need to contact somebody?

List is coming along. Now on the case(s) and trying to find reviews for Lian Li PC-B25FB and Antec P183.

I'm going through all the purchasing options as can't get everything I want from Ebuyer.

I'll come with a list of my final options to check compatibility. Thanks for your patience
June 10, 2010 3:15:58 PM

It's the pound sign in the title, the forum hates that. I've seen it before with people putting Euro signs in there also.

I can't recall offhand how you change it, possibly just by editing the first post?
June 10, 2010 5:01:26 PM

hi again, does anyone have any reviews on the Antec CP 8
50 or Antec CP 1000 PSU? i.e.if I get the Antec Case should I consider going for one of those PSUs?

There are bundles making them cheaper, but I have read many opinions before about avoiding bundled PSUs. Is it the same in this case (no pun intended)?
June 10, 2010 5:06:23 PM

sorry coldsleep - I forgot to refresh so I didn't see your post till I posted mine.

no pound signs eh? but the $ sign is allowed. sounds like symbolism to me....
June 10, 2010 5:12:45 PM

Tried editing the original post - access denied!

Originally I got a message saying it had been put on a new thread. Is that why I can't edit my own message?!
June 10, 2010 6:20:29 PM

The CP series are very good performers in an electrical sense. Also very good at being quiet. This is one of those 'cases' where it's perfectly fine to get a bundled PSU.

I often have problems editing my messages. To work around it I copy the amended message, then open the thread again and paste it in the 'quick edit' mode and it'll allow it then. Won't know if this would work when editing the thread title tho.
June 10, 2010 7:11:26 PM

I didn't try amending the message only the title so dunno if it would have allowed me to do that.

Great, from the reviews it would seem that both cases are wonderful, but maybe the Lian Li is a bit expensive. Yeah, I noticed.

I got these Antec reviews but they say it's excellent too and also say the CP 850 is better than a SIGNATURE 850 (whatever that PSU is!) and it surpasses bronze standard!. However the CP fans are only for three Antec Cases.

I have no idea how long I would keep the case but I read that the case and PSU are the things that shouldn't be replaced with every upgrade. However if I do change cases then I would be VERY limited in my case choice. If the Antec really is as good as the reviews say: (do you know if any of these reviews are too biased?)

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

http://www.hitechlegion.com/reviews/power-supplies/532

then it's very difficult to choose.... :pt1cable: 

Antec's are better for cooling, but some personal opinions reckon the cooler fans are a bit loud when under a big load (but couldn't I just buy quieter fans?)

my friend looked at these and said that she reckoned the Antec was better for practicality and so this is the main difference, but it's not much better.

Any opinions other than looks on what the pros/cons are of these cases?


Quote:
The CP series are very good performers in an electrical sense.


One option is to get the Antec but not the CP 850 (the price saving doesn't seem to be much compared to getting a 750W PSU) in case I wanna change cases before I need a new PSU. Would you recommend the CP 850 over getting a different PSU, say the Truepower 750?
June 10, 2010 7:17:40 PM

GinZ said:
I have no idea how long I would keep the case but I read that the case and PSU are the things that shouldn't be replaced with every upgrade.


That should probably read that case & PSU don't need to be replaced as part of a new build. If you decide to build a new computer, there's no requirement to keep the case & PSU. :) 

Jonnyguru is pretty much the best place to go for PSU reviews, if it gets a recommendation there, that's a good sign.

I'd say, if you get a good deal on an Antec case + weird form-factor PSU, then go for it. If you don't find any deals, get the case you want and a normal-sized PSU.
!