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The Official PC building thread!

Discussion in 'PC hardware help' started by souldoubt, May 11, 2004.

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  1. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    OK, if you have a soap box from which to preach about building a pc here is your chance. i am venturing into the world of pc construction, having no prior experience or knowledge. i know what parts i need, but i lack guidance in terms of brands, etc... if someone out there could give me his/her opinion on everthing from power supplies to processor fans, i would be very appreciative. what brands are good/reliable? where should i go to look for parts (online sources)? do parts truly vary, quality wise, from one manufacturer to another or is it just the price(s)? thanks!!
    _X_X_X_X_X_[small]"Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes."
    Oscar Wilde[/small]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2004
  2. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    This is indeed a thread that interests me :) ... before I can render any useful suggestions/help, I need the following questions answered:

    1. Budget range
    2. Is it imperitive that your computer be quiet or does it not matter if your "box" is a loud beast?
    3. Primary purpose for the computer if applicable.


    Yes. :)
     
  3. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    hmmmmmm.......well i guess that my price range is between "don't wanna skimp" and "don't wanna redefine excessiveness".
    i live in an area where my neighbors are within close proximity, so a chopper engine is certainly not a comparison that i want made to my pc(quiet is good).
    lastly i intend on using the pc for a myriad of things....gaming (somewhat, mostly things like simcity, jedi outcast-esque games, etc..), multi-media storage, editing and creation (dvd "back-ups", digital photography, home movie editing, creating flash programs, etc...) and work stuff (reports, presentations, etc..).
    if it helps, i already have a good dvd burner and a 2nd dvd-rom that i intend on using in the new one. everything else is open to suggestion! thanks!
    _X_X_X_X_X_[small]"Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes."
    Oscar Wilde[/small]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2004
  4. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    Ok that gives me something to work with :) Being a student I can relate to the cost aspect of the computer and Im supposed to be able to relate to the noise concerns (ha... ya right) so here goes:

    CPU
    AMD XP3200+ (~$200 USD)
    I would select this proc because it is last-generation technology meaning that it helps a great deal on the keeping-costs-down front without sacrrificing massive quantities of performance. True its not a FX53 or P4EE but realistically, for the role of "general purpose" computer (as you have somewhat described), the XP3200+ is more than sufficient. Its good enough to be a respectable platform and not get you involved in giant pissing contests between AMD and Intel folks.

    HSF
    Volcano K7 + Silentboost (~$30 USD)
    An excellent balance between silent and effective, the K7 SilentBoost can easily keep the CPU temps in safe territory even with overclocking -- its quiet enough to make someone like me who enjoys/is-used-to the roar of a full out Volcano12 which play in the 50db range. In contrast, the SilentBoost plays around the 20db mark which is what most chassis fans strive to obtain (in terms of volume). Of course the Silentboost wont be able to cool the proc as well as perhaps the Volcano12 but then again I wouldnt expect you to be doing crazy OCing. This HSF comes with some decent thermal grease. http://www.thermaltake.com/coolers/volcano/rs/a1889a.htm

    MOBO
    ASUS A7N8X-Deluxe (~$135 USD)
    In my opinion, the better of these two boards, the A7N8X-Deluxe offers an extensive amount of performance and stability as we have come to expect from ASUS. The nForce2-Soundstorm effectively negates the requirement for a standalone soundcard (however from a gaming perspective I would still reccomend one). The dual LAN connections allow for the computer to act independent of a router: if Gigabit LAN is an absolute necessity, upgrade to the A7N8X-E Deluxe however I would imagine that isnt a primal concern for you. http://usa.asus.com/products/mb/socketa/a7n8x-d/overview.htm

    ABIT NF7-S (~110 USD)
    Another excellent board, the NF7-S offers virtually every feature its ASUS counterpart does except for the onboard LAN connections (however the chipset does come with a fan which may or may not be a fair trade depending on your preferences). Virtually the same in almost every aspect this is a very respectable board (and if it had the onboard LAN, even just one, it would have been my first pick)
    http://www.abit-usa.com/products/mb/products.php?categories=1&model=6

    RAM
    2 x 512MB PC3200 (~$210 USD)
    Unless you have a requirement for fancy brand-name memory or you intend to do memory overclocking and/or tinker with the timings, "stock" PC3200 should be more than good enough (and will save your budget). Fancy brandname configurations can cost around twice as much for the same amount of RAM.

    RAMSINKS
    Thermaltake Active Memory Cooling A1165 (~$15 USD)
    Just in case you were considering cooling for the memory units especially so if you intend to OC). These spreaders/fan really help disperse the heat on your memory modules and do not contribute immensely to the overall cost nor noise. http://www.thermaltake.com/coolers/memory/a1165.htm

    VIDEO
    nVidia GeForceFX5600 128MB (~$115 USD) or ATi Radeon9600SE 128MB (~$115 USD)
    A similar line of reasoning as per my reccomendation for CPU, both the FX5600 and 9600SE offer a commendable amount of performance for its cost. (Good) Hardware support for DirectX9 as well as some pretty decent crunching power, neither choice will dissapoint you in either performance nor cost.

    SOUND
    Soundblaster Audigy (~$100 USD) or Soundblaster Audigy 2 (~$210 USD)
    Although the nForce2-Soundstorm is more than sufficient for sound chores, if you want a little more bang, both the Audigy and the Audigy2 are excellent cards and I guess it comes down to your budget.

    There we have it, a pretty decent config for a decent amount of money ... throw in an 80mm Tornado (for the rear exhaust) and a pair of 80mm Stealth fans (for intake) and your case should be happy cool. You might consider (and I highly reccomend it) cooling solutions for your harddrives see http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/81431 for more info on that.
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    Last edited: May 11, 2004
  5. Nephilim

    Nephilim Moderator Staff Member

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    Praetor's been waiting for this thread to come along :p

    You're in very good hands souldoubt. He's been giving me some really good info towards my next system :)
     
  6. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    ok, thanks for that extremely helpful info! now, what if i decided to go the intel route. should any of the other components change to adjust to this, or are they ok? also, where should i look to buy a tower/case that doesn't have a power supply? lastly, what company has a good power supply and what watt level would be ideal given say a P4 3-3.2ghz machine? thanks so much!
     
  7. ken0042

    ken0042 Regular member

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    The one piece of advise I offer: don't cheap out on the power supply. Cheap ones have been known to fry motherboards, as well as CPU's.
     
  8. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    ahhhh....that's good to know. thanks!
     
  9. vurbal

    vurbal Administrator Staff Member

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    I see ken0042 beat me to the punch on the power supply, but I'll mention it again. The main thing is that you need to make sure you budget for you because it will cost a little more for a good one. I just built my wife a computer and after spending $51 for a very nice case, I scrapped the power supply because it was a brand I didn't recognize. I personally tend to use either Enermax or Antec, but there are other good brands as well.
     
  10. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    My apologies for not suggesting a PSU ... ugh

    CPU
    P4 NorthwoodC 2.80Ghz (~$240 USD)
    Probably the best balance between price and performance for the Intel route, the P4C-2.80 is more than able to OC past the 3.0Ghz barrier. Couple in a 800Mhz FSB and you're rockin. I wouldnt reccommend going for the 3.0Ghz and 3.2Ghz models due to a very bad cost versus performance ratio.

    MOBO
    ASUS P4P800 (~$115 USD)
    While its not based off the hot i875 chipset, this baby runs off the i865PE -- which in virtually every single respect is the same thing as the i875 and can be tweaked in all the same ways to almost all the same limits. This mobo doesnt feature (by default) feature SATA support and I wouldnt imagine you would have a dire need for it although there sub-variants of this mobo that offer SATA support. With Gigabit LAN onboard and a somewhat decent onboard sound configuration, you're ready to rock with this choice board (note that the SoundMax is no comparison to the Soundstorm featured on the nForce2 boards).

    PSU
    My only comment would be to stay away from the Vantec Stealth PSUs and any other PSU marketed as a "stealth" one. Don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with the Vantec Stealth and it delivers good clean power all the time, every time but its the fact that its got three Vantec Stealth fans for exhausting the heat from the PSU and chassis -- which is not adequate, especially in a PSU which can potentially be the hottest thing in ur case. As a general rule, shoot for 400W+ PSUs with at least two fans. If you want to search around for you own PSUs, look for ones that specifically meet ATX 12V 1.3 specifications -- if it doesnt explicitly say it meets those requirements then it doesnt.. The list below is carefully arranged in random order:

    Thermaltake POLO12 410W (~$70 USD)
    An excellent PSU featuring a postively massive 120mm fan and also comes with a pair of fan controllers. Featuring extremely stable power output, a very slick look and effective cooling (which also happens to be quiet), this is an excellent choice for PSUs. http://www.xoxide.com/polo12.html

    Enermax EG425P-VE (~$90 USD)
    Known for their extremely stable rails, Enermax PSUs are one of the 'golden standards' when it comes to delivering power. While the cooling capacity for this PSU doesnt quite match those of other high end PSUs, the PSU is semi-intelligent and keeps the fans running for some time after the system has been shutdown to ensure that as much heat has been evacuated from the chassis as possible. http://www.xoxide.com/enegsf42nopo.html

    Thermaltake TWV480 (~$95 USD)
    An extremely nify PSU, this PSU comes with a 2-fan controller which also has a power meter built into it. This way you can see exactly how much power you are consuming at any given time. This may seem like a useless novelty at first but consider a few months/years down the road -- that little LCD readout lets you know when you are approaching the maximum power consumption of the PSU and can also be used to see if PCI slots and other devices are responsive -- and responding as expected. I will be seriously considering this PSU for my next upgrade. http://www.thermaltake.com/purepower/twv480/w004344twv480.htm

    Ultra TC3Y-6001 (~$90 USD)
    Once every so often you come across one of them super duper PSUs that outputs more power than you would ever expect to be able to use. This is the one. Unlike the other PSUs ive suggested, I havnt had a chance to personally test this baby out but it seems to have a lot of potential. This sweetheart should last you for quite some time so if you're not keen on upgrading your PSU anytime soon then this is an excellent choice. http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=32343&Sku=TC3Y-6001

    Hiro H29544 (~$50 USD)
    An extremely unorthodox yet seemingly revolutionary design, this PSU delivers a respectable 400W and features a single 150mm exhaust blower; while above i suggested you stick with a minimum of 2 fans ina PSU, the sheer ingenuity of this design warrants violating that minima-requirement. Furthermore, the PSU comes ready with 4-way power strip: of course you shouldnt be plugging things like monitors or other computers or laser printers into these outlets but its handy for those every so nagging devices that require a little bit of power here and there (lights, chargers, cd players etc). http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=713362&Sku=H261-7400

    HSF
    Thermaltake Spark 7+ (~$25 USD)
    An oldie but a goodie. This HSF is both afforadable and effective (considering its cost and its generation). Note that the volume is rated between 17db and 43db but since the heatsink is probably ineffective for keeping the NorthwoodCs cool (enough), odds are you will be living with ~35+db output from the fan. Of course what do you expect -- its cheap and at least a generation old! :) http://www.xoxide.com/thp4sp7.html

    Cooler Master Aero 4 (~$25 USD)
    Featuring an unorthodox design (and a more effective heatsink compared to the Spark7) , this cooler keeps the CPU cool at a reasonable level of sound intensity. http://www.xoxide.com/comaae4.html

    Cooler Master Jet 7 (~$45 USD)
    This is the big brother to the Aero 4 and is more than capable of providing the sheer cooling capacity required to keep your CPU happy.
    http://www.xoxide.com/comajet4p447.html

    Thermaltake Silent Tower (~$45 USD)
    An extremely effective HSF, this baby in the all-in-one cooler that makes use of the principle of a heatpipe. Combining that with a crapload of fins on the heatsink and one (or more preferably, two) 92mm Silentboost fans (the same type of fan featured on the ThermalTake Silentboost series HSF), you can quickly and easily evacuate heat from the CPU as well as direct it (to say, an exhaust fan) http://www.thermaltake.com/coolers/cl-p0025/cl-p0025silentTower.htm

    CHASSIS
    Chenming 601AE (~$80 USD)
    This is probably one of the most common "modder" cases around with copycats everywhere. An extremely light and reliable case featuring 5 80mm fan mounts (and plenty of room to drill/cut your own). The case also comes with a primative locking mechanism to help deter basic component theft. It also comes with a stock 300W PSU (although you can probably ask to buy just the case without the PSU for a lower price). I've got a system housed in one of these cases and its a pleasure to tinker with. http://www.chenming.com/601ae/601ael.htm

    AMAMAX Prisim (~$45 USD
    This is my sweetheart and my primary system is housed in here. With all the 5.25" bays in the world (and a crapload of mounting brackets for 3.5" uses) this baby lets me mount all my HDDs in hdd racks, add a handful of fan controllers and mount custom intake fans. Unlike the Chenming, this is an all steel case (not that the Alunimum case helps with the heat dispersion or anything, its just lighter). This case can take a serious beating and and protect the contents. Featuring 2 fan mounts (side and rear), for more serious cooling, this case relies on user "creativity" (i.e., break out the dremel) http://www.amamax.com/csmina161sgrayprism.html

    Laslty, if you want sleek, business/expensive looking cases, have a go at Lian Li (http://www.lian-li.com/product.php?action=viewPrd ) which make all aluminum cases with plenty of fan configurations available (average of 4 per case). Lian Li is, for me at least, too "wierd" so I dont usually mess with them much.
     
  11. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    wow, thank you so much praetor. i'm glad that my inquiry was able to spark so much enthusiasm! your ideas on the intel machine are great and will probably be the route that i take. i'm glad that you mentioned the 2.8 and it's performance/cost ratio....also, thanks to all those that gave advise on the psu. i would've cheaped out on that and would've probably ended up with a crispy mobo (gotta love all these new acronyms bouncin' around in my brain!). one last question: when purchasing a mobo, is it important to go with one that can adjust to higher processor speeds (3, 3.2, 3.4ghz) or can you be safe getting one that maxes out at a lower rate? thanks again to all of you!
     
  12. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    Well if you dont intend to OC much then it wont matter which motherboard you choose provided it is able to handle the speed(s) that it is rated for.

    If you do intend to OC, go for the more premium boards by the more brandname manufacturers since they typically have a better chance of surviving OC and being able to facilitate OC. All the mobos ive listed above are OC friendly.

    Possibly contrary to what has been said above, the PSU is not the be-all/end-all of a system but more it is far more important to not cheap out on a mobo - of course this doesnt mean you should go out and buy a $5 300W PSU by any means - of course there's no need to spend $150 on one either :)
     
  13. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    Gonna rename this thread and sticky is if you dont mind souldoubt :)
     
  14. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    of course not! i hope others will be so inclined as to list their ideas!
     
  15. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    ok praetor, what would you suggest for an OS? i am currently running windows ME and love the fact that it seems to never be targeted by worms. however, i can't help but feel as if i'm missing out on something more. should i graduate to a form of XP (if so, which one do you like?) or look for a new copy of ME on ebay??
     
  16. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    You're prolly best off with WindowsXP Pro -- just make sure you take the time to clean it out for all the crap that's there and you'll be set :)
     
  17. Buik

    Buik Regular member

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    Consider round IDE cables also. They can help with air flow inside the case. Wish I could remember where, but got 4 30" ones for less than $2.00 USD about a year ago. Internet special. Might have been ComputerGate or NewEgg.

    Happy Building

    TC
     
  18. aXidburn

    aXidburn Guest

    i have the athlon 64 3200+ its 2 ghz but and the k8t neo msi mobo...an they are that new thing where they run at high temps like any where from 90-125 F so i was thining it might be a good idea to get a cpu fan...and ideas on which one will be really powerfull and could bring the temp down a little(my room is getting mad hott from the hot air)
     
  19. Praetor

    Praetor Moderator Staff Member

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    Buik: the round cables while a very nifty idea are actually a bad thing: by bunching the internals closer and closer together there is a greater chance for signal distortion and interference. 'sides you can improve airflow by spending the time to fold you cables up (i.e., think Voodoo -- after I first saw their origami cables i started doing it -- its both satisfying and much more effectve)

    aXidburn: i'm assuming you want to stick to forced air cooling (the best kind :p): check out the Official Cooling thread for exact details but the Venus12 should be adequate for your cooling needs ... there's also the SilentTower I mentioned above which is a very nice piece of work.

    :)
     
  20. souldoubt

    souldoubt Guest

    well, it seems that the bulk of my questions/concerns have been answered. thank you to everyone who provided their input and to all the future individuals who will continue to chime in. thanks especially to praetor who obviously had to wait far too long for this thread to surface...hahaha. you all rock!
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    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2004
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