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Seeking advice for my build to order PC


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#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted September 10 2006 - 02:48 AM

I'm debating what features to include in the build to order PC that I'm going to order from tigerdirect.com. I know enough these components to make a decision on my own.

processor Intel Pentium D Processor 945 3.4GHz Dual Core
memory 1GB DDR400 PC3200 Memory (1GB x 1)
hard drive 320GB 7200RPM 3G SATA II
optical drive16X DVD+/-R/RW Dual Layer Drive w/Cyberlink

A large part of my motivation for going with tiger direct instead of Dell is having the option of upgrading or if necessary repairing myself. I want to stay away from integrated components but for the purposes of basic web surfing I assume that I can get away with entry level audio and video cards

audio SoundBlaster Audigy SE Sound Card
video GeForce FX5200 128MB AGP (1VGA)

The components I'm not sure about are the modem, network adapter, and firewire card. I'm connecting to the net via cable modem thru a router so that my girlfriend and I can both be connected. My first choice is the following for network adapter because it's the cheapest non integrated option
10/100/1000 Gigabit PCI Adapter

For a grand total of $740.00
Do I need a modem
56K V.92 PCI Modem $8.00
or a firewire card?
3-Port Firewire PCI Card $12.99

If any of the components are useful but optional I could order then a la carte and install them myself. Any advice is much appreciated (even if it's get a Mac instead Posted Image )

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted September 10 2006 - 02:54 AM

If you already have an external modem or one is supplied to you by your broadband supplier, no need for a dial-up modem.

Bruce
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#3 of 37 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted September 10 2006 - 03:37 AM

No need for a modem. The firewire card could be useful, especially if you plan to own a digital camcorder at some point.

What motherboard will this have? If it supports dual channel memory then you might be better off with 2x512MB than a single 1GB stick. However, I would definitely consider more RAM, or at least plan to upgrade it later if you get Vista.

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted September 10 2006 - 03:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SethH
No need for a modem. The firewire card could be useful, especially if you plan to own a digital camcorder at some point.

What motherboard will this have? If it supports dual channel memory then you might be better off with 2x512MB than a single 1GB stick. However, I would definitely consider more RAM, or at least plan to upgrade it later if you get Vista.

I don't know what motherboard this will have. One thing that I've noticed about Tiger Direct as opposed to other sites is they don't appear to give the option of selecting a specific motherboard.
For the same price I can get 2x512MB instead of 1GB. I was assuming that going with one stick instead of two would leave me with an additional slot to use for expansion down the road. I could upgrade to 2GB for an extra $100 but I was assuming that was something that I could buy down the road if the need arose.

#5 of 37 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted September 10 2006 - 04:53 AM

Yeah, I'd try to find out what motherboard that thing has. Most newer motherboards should have 4 slots for RAM. If the motherboard does not support dual-channel, then your original assumption would be correct that one stick is better than two. If it only comes with two slots, but does run dual-channel, then I would definitely consider the $100 upgrade now so that you'd have matching sticks in there.

#6 of 37 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted September 10 2006 - 11:06 AM

Why would you buy a Pentium D now that the Core 2 Duos are out? They are faster, run cooler and are a replacement for the Pentium line, and not super-expensive except if you buy in the high end. The low end of the Core 2's will beat that Pentium D.

Only drawback, if you can call it that, is that you need DDR2 memory which is a bit pricier than plain DDR. Also, faster, of course.

Also, not being able to choose your motherboard? Why would you shop at a place that won't let you specify your own components if you are building a la carte? I hear newegg.com has a good reputation...

Most motherboards these days come with a very decent built-in multi-channel sound. For basic music and game sound effects one of those will do fine for the vast majority of us, IMHO.

Also, you will almost assuredly get an integrated network connection too, which should be gigabit. May as well resign yourself to using those integrated features - will save you money and it will work quite well. The graphics adapter is all you'll need to buy separately, really. I'd recommend something a bit better than what you speced - especially if you don't worry about the integrated sound and networking. A 7600GS or something like that should only set you back about $100.
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#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted September 10 2006 - 12:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimmo Jaskari
Why would you buy a Pentium D now that the Core 2 Duos are out?

Although I use computers on a daily basis I don't know much about how they are put together. My first choice was a $500 Dell that came with a Celeron D processor. A bit of research told me that separate components were superior to integrated, Pentiums are better than Celerons, and dual core Pentiums are significantly better than Pentiums. I didn't know that the Core 2 and the Pentium D dual core were two separate processors.

I apparently don't know half as much as I thought I did. Can you recommend a system in the $500-$800 price range? Also should I get XP or would I be better off holding out for Vista?

#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted September 10 2006 - 09:29 PM

The Pentium D's aren't bad, they just became all but obsolete overnight when the Core 2 line came out.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 Conroe 1.86GHz LGA 775
CORSAIR ValueSelect 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200KS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb
ASUS EN7600GS SILENT/HTD/256M Geforce 7600GS 256MB GDDR2
Antec Performance I P180 Silver case (fantastic quiet case, worth 100+)
SeaSonic S12-430 ATX12V 430W Power Supply
ASUS P5NSLI Socket T (LGA 775) NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI Intel Edition motherboard

That comes to 960, so a bit out of your stated budget. Cutting the ram to 1GB should bring it down by 100. One could also buy a lower-wattage Seasonic powersupply to shave a few 10s off.

That should be a high-performance machine that is whisper silent, to boot. No fan on the graphics card, very quiet fans indeed on the powersupply, and the computer case has tons of built-in sound dampening features.

Just as an example of what one might get, of course. I put that list together on newegg.com.
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
"Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area." -- "BlackAdder 4"

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   Sami Kallio

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Posted September 11 2006 - 08:26 AM

I'm with Kimmo here, if you're going to separate components then might as well do it right. But to be honest, for your purpose the $500 Dell with intergrated components might just be enough. On that list I would change the RAM to DDR2 800 which is only slightly more expensive (2GB for less than $200).

If you're on the fence on Vista/XP, you could just download the free Vista RC1 and run it on the new computer if you don't mind a few bugs here and there. For internet browsing it should be more than fine as it is.

#10 of 37 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted September 11 2006 - 09:35 AM

Agreed, what I speced above would make a decent gaming rig, not just a surf box. However, it is also a superlative surf box that is very quiet indeed, will run Vista quite well, and it definitely can be expanded upon considerably.

It's a question of what one wants - a really good high performance machine for not enormous amounts of money or a good-enough box that saves a couple of hundred on the purchasing cost.

Oh, and I notice now that I forgot all about a DVD-burner and floppy drive, my bad.

No keyboard, mouse or screen either, but those were never mentioned.
"If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?"
"Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area." -- "BlackAdder 4"

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted September 11 2006 - 11:37 AM

Quote:
That should be a high-performance machine that is whisper silent, to boot. No fan on the graphics card, very quiet fans indeed on the powersupply, and the computer case has tons of built-in sound dampening features.
How quiet are the stock Core 2 coolers? You may need to replace that. Or maybe better, get the chip OEM -- if you can -- and buy a silent/quiet cooler separately.

#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Tom_Ca

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Posted September 11 2006 - 11:39 AM

Carl, I strongly advice you to get a Core 2 Duo instead of a Pentium D.

#13 of 37 OFFLINE   Sami Kallio

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Posted September 11 2006 - 12:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Chan
How quiet are the stock Core 2 coolers? You may need to replace that. Or maybe better, get the chip OEM -- if you can -- and buy a silent/quiet cooler separately.
The stock cooler is pretty decent and quiet. It might not have as much cooling power as my aftermarket Zalman, I don't know quite honestly, but it is as quiet.

#14 of 37 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted September 11 2006 - 12:12 PM

Thanks for all the tips. I'm still about a month away from making the purchase but I want to be well prepared. Considering my current 128gb Windows ME enabled system is 5+ years old a bare bones E Machines console would be a significant improvement. I'll keep my eyes open, perhaps I will happen upon a Core 2 console in my price range with at least 1GB of RAM and a DVD burner.

#15 of 37 OFFLINE   Rommel_L

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Posted September 11 2006 - 04:01 PM

What are the main uses of this PC besides web surfing? If it is just mainly for websurfing, that config is overkill, let alone with a Core2 in it. Any $300-400 entry level PC would be more than capable for that...

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   Darryl

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Posted September 12 2006 - 07:20 AM

I'd also add that most Dells don't have integrated components. I've owned 3 Dell desktops over the years and none of them had anything integrated beyond what you'd find on a typical motherboard. My most recent Dell, purchased last April, has integrated ethernet, but that's fine. It has standard, non-integrated, replaceable parts for the graphics card (PCIx-16), the sound card (PCI), the memory (4 slots for standard RAM, don't remember what type), etc. While there there may be issues with the quality of some components, I've never understood the "too many integrated components" argument against Dell, cause they don't have 'em. And they are expandable too. I've added a hard drive, a video capture card, more memory, and a 2nd DVD writer to my machine no problem. Maybe their bottom of the line has more integrated components than the mid-grade machines I've bought?

If you want to avoid Dell that's fine, but avoid them for the right reason.

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted September 12 2006 - 08:21 AM

Quote:
A large part of my motivation for going with tiger direct instead of Dell is having the option of upgrading or if necessary repairing myself.
You can upgrade and repair a Dell PC. There are some weaknesses: Some components, such as memory, may be specialized to that Dell model and be a bit more expensive to buy additional parts for upgrades. The video card might be a Dell-version and not work with standard drivers. But a new card could be added.

Don't steer away from Dell simply because of misinformation about the ability to upgrade / repair.

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted September 12 2006 - 09:08 AM

Don't steer away from Dell simply because of misinformation about the ability to upgrade / repair.


The bigger problem here is with something like the power supply. If your power supply goes out on a proprietary machine they will charge you $150-$300 to get a new one. If you have a custom-built job that meets standards then you can get a good replacement for well under $100.

But you are, obviously, correct that simple things like PCI or AGP cards can be added with no problems at all. A Dell (or other branded PC) would also likely give you a nicer case than something from TigerDirect -- although if you build your own then you could get a nice case too.

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted September 12 2006 - 10:34 AM

Quote:
The bigger problem here is with something like the power supply. If your power supply goes out on a proprietary machine they will charge you $150-$300 to get a new one.
That's true. But how often does a power supply go out in a new machine? My experience is only anecdotal, but I've never seen a power supply die within five years on a new PC, for the past 10-20 machines I've worked with.

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted September 12 2006 - 01:29 PM

Sure the Core 2 is overkill but for $850 as opposed to the $500 that I was going to spend on the Dell I'm getting a faster processor, a bigger hard drive, a better audio card and a better video card. I'll consider it money well spent if it will play Sim City, stream audio, check my email and have a window open in the background without missing a beat.
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