Time to build a new computer. Need advice.

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Vlad D, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    My current sysment is a bit behind the times: AMD Athlon 850 MHz, Asus AV7 mobo, 756 MB, Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card, Nvidia Geforce2 MX 400. Time for an upgrade!!!

    I want a system that I'll use mostly for video editing and gaming, and possibly even HTPC. I've been reading a few other threads and have some idea of what I want. The system I'm proposing is the following:

    ASUS "A8N-SLI Deluxe" nForce4 SLI Chipset Motherboard For AMD Socket 939 CPU -RETAIL $199.00
    AMD Athlon 64 3500+, 2.2 GHz, 512KB L2 Cache 64-bit Socket 939 Processor - Retail $281.00
    Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model WD740GD, OEM Drive Only $180.00
    Western Digital 200GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model WD2000JD, OEM Drive Only $117.19
    Lite-On 16X DVD Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive, Model SOHW-1673S Black, Retail $66.99
    Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM Drive, Model SOHD-16P9S Black, OEM $27.50
    Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS Platinum PCI Sound Card, Model "SB0350" -RETAIL $172.99
    Kingston 184 Pin 512MB DDR PC-3200 - Retail $59.01 (I'll probably buy 4, for a total of 2 GB)

    What do you guys think? The prices are from Newegg. I'm trying to stay under $1500. A new monitor will come at a later date. Probably a Dell 20 inch widescreen LCD.

    I still need to find a case and power supply but have no idea which brand and how much power I'll need. 450 watts? 500 watts?

    Any advice is much appreciated.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention proposed video card; BFG GeForce 6600 GT OC PCI Express 128MB GDDR3. Didn't see it listed on Newegg, will have to look elsewhere.
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    A 450-watt PSU should be enough as long as you buy a good brand. If you plan to use for HTPC, then noise will be an issue and you should look into quiet cases (start at www.endpcnoise.com). I've got the Antec Sonata and I think it's great, although not the quietest case available.

    I know that the new Intel chipsets have RAID capabilities built-in on the motherboard. Do the AMD boards have this yet? If so, you might consider getting two drives instead of the single 200GB drive. If you used a RAID-1 (striping) setup you could greatly improve your video editing speed.

    Something else to consider: look into purchasing the OEM processor with a third-party heatsink/fan. I say this just because it can be pretty difficult to do later (many third-party heatsinks require installation before the motherboard is put in the case). Third-party heatsinks can cool your system better and often run MUCH quieter than the stock heatsinks.

    Also, does that motherboard use DDR or DDR2? And do you plan to use on-board graphics or are you going to buy a video card?

    With all that said, sounds like you're going to have a great system!
     
  3. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Seth,

    Yes I'm planning to buy a video card, the BFG GeForce 6600 GT OC PCI Express 128MB GDDR3. I forgot to mention it. (Edited post to reflect it.)

    I am planning on two hard drives. The WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA for system drive and WD 200GB 7200RPM SATA for media files. The mobo does support RAID but I don't really know anything about RAID. Can you tell me more about it? About the memory DDR vs DDR2, I don't know.

    Here is a link to the mobo specs. Mobo

    Thanks for the tip regarding the case, I'll check it out.
     
  4. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Ok, about RAID. There are several types of RAID, but the two most widely used my consumers are RAID-0 and RAID-1. RAID-1 uses two identical hard drives and simply mirrors them for data redundancy. What I'm recommending is RAID-0. RAID-0 is called striping. In your case, to get 200GB total (in addition to the 74GB system drive), you'd buy two 100GB SATA drives. When they are configured in RAID-0 it will show up on your computer as a single 200GB disk. However, your read/write times are much faster because the computer uses both disks at the same time. This is frequently used for video editing stations. I have a new intel board that supports RAID and it was extremely easy to setup. Your's will be even easier because you're using a separate drive for the system. Obviously, 2x 100GB hard drives will be more expensive than 1x 200GB, but it would provide better performance, but it's up to you to decide if the cost is worth it.

    Oh, and about the RAM: it looks like it takes DDR, not DDR2. Which is fine, not too much performance difference right now, and DDR is probably cheaper.
     
  5. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    Looks nice, I would go with a good 450 watt power supply or more if you plan on adding a second 6600gt soon. Make sure the power supply you get has at least 20amps on the 12v rail. Otherwise you'll have issues with stability and like my case may even blow the power supply( amd64 3400+ on a 320 watt antec truepower with 17 amps on the 12v). For noise reduction I suggest looking at zalman heatsinks. I have one on both my Amd64 3400+ and Geforce 6600gt and don't even notice the pc is on, yet it runs nice and cool even during gaming. Though that 10000 rpm drive your looking is going to make some noise.
     
  6. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Seth,

    Thanks for the RAID explanation. Are the read/write times that much faster with 2x 100GB RAID configured hard drives over 1x 200GB? If it is, and would provide better performance, then I think I just might have to consider it.

    Mike,

    I checked out those Zalman heatsinks, pretty cool. Are they hard to install? Also what are some good brands of power supplies? I'm considering Fortron 500 Watt Blue Storm Quiet Power Supply. It doesn't have 20amps on the 12v rail, but has two 12v rails. Is that good?

    Lastly, what are some good quality cases? I'd preferably like to buy one without a PSU, since I'll be purchasing that separately. I don't really care if its a "quiet" case since the more I think about it, I'll probably not use it as an HTPC.

    Looks like I'm not going to keep this under $1500 with my selections. I want this system to last for a while, so it looks like my revised budget is around $1800; definitely cant's go over $2000.
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i've been completely happy with my antec 1080 case. it came with a 450w power supply as well.

    the case is large, so it's easy to get stuff in/out of there. i also like the removable drive cages ... very handy. plus front-connectors for my usb/firewire. it's never once heated up inside (at least not that i can tell).

    the only problem i did have was the p/s fan going out after about 18 months. while it still worked fine, i opted to replace it (with another antec p/s) which is still working great now.

    i think they have some newer models with clear side panels, etc -- if you're into that.
     
  8. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Vlad,
    I built a similar system except I went AGP. I found the cards and stuff cheaper and there hasn't been any performance gain to speak of by going PCIE yet. Also if you plan to add a 2nd 6600GT, just buy a 6800GTOC like I did. It's faster than the SLI setup. If you are planning on making this last a while and don't upgrade too often then don't worry about PCIE.

    Regarding the 3500+, make sure you get the Winchester 90nm core. The price you quoted looks like the older hotter Newcastle core. I paid $289 RETAIL locally for my 3500+ 90NM.

    For a motherboard, I"m using the Asus A8V.


    I went with the NeC 3500A drive. It flies and was called the fastest drive of the bunch the last time Tom's did a test. I paid $65 with software shipped from newegg.

    Got good speakers? I bought the Logitech x530 5.1 speakers for $75 from Best buy. Best investment I could have imagined.

    FWIW, My system goes like this:

    AGB 550W PSU
    Antec Case
    3500+ 90NM Winchester
    1 gig pc3200 DDR Mushkin green
    6800GTOC BFG 256 from bestbuy for $360 with 10% coupon [​IMG]
    16x DVDRW NEC 3500A
    Zalman CPU fan
    SB Audigy 2zs
    Logitech z530 speakers
    SATA 120gig HDD from Seagate

    VERY VERY HAPPY with it.
     
  9. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Shane,

    Don't know why I chose Lite-On. My current system has a NeC 3500A drive. Also bought from Newegg.

    Ted,

    I checked out that case. Nice, but Antec's site lists it as having a 430W power supply.

    Thanks guys
     
  10. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    The recent tests over at hardocp say NO performance upgrade. IIRC the platinum adds the external box for midi and such and I don't use that anyway. I just bought the non platinum 2zs for $60 after rebate thru compusa and then got the deal from bestbuy on the 6800gtoc for $360 after 10% BB deal.

    If you go with the 6800GTOC and 64, get a good power supply. I'd say a 450/480/500/550 would be best. The Fortrons are popular at HARDOCP and the one I got also has good enough voltage for that type of system.

    My system screams.
     
  11. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    That's great. That being the case I'll definitely go with the BFG 6800GTOC and the ASUS A8V. And the non-plantinum Audigy2 ZS. With everything else being the same, in the end I'm only spending a few dollars more.
     
  12. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Essentially that is exactly what I did.
     
  13. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Looks like my system will be almost identical to yours. Hope mine screams as well. [​IMG]

    ASUS A8V mobo
    AMD Athlon 64 3500+
    WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA
    WD 200GB 7200RPM SATA
    Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS
    BFG GeForce 6800 GT OC AGP
    Kingston 512MB DDR PC-3200 x 4 (total 2 GB)
    NEC 16X Double Layer DVD±RW Drive
    Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM Drive
    Fortron Blue Storm 500W ATX12V V2.0 PSU
    Thermaltake SOPRANO Case

    I'm not so sure about the memory. For $60 more I might get 2 Corsair Value Select 1GB DDR PC-3200. That way I can always buy 2 more at a later date, since the mobo can handle 4 GB. Man if I keep saying "for a few dollars more," I'm going to go over budget. [​IMG]
     
  14. JeffLambas

    JeffLambas Extra

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    I would go for a 2Gb memory stick.. you will need it
     
  15. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Well I placed my order today. Bought everything from Newegg. They didn't have the BFG GeForce 6800 GTOC in stock so I'll probably pick it up at my local Best Buy or CompUSA. Also I decided to go with the Corsair Value Ram two 1GB sticks.

    Hopefully everything should be here some time next week. Can't wait!! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now I need to buy another copy of XP, since I still plan to keep my current computer for my wife. Anyone know where the best and cheapest place to pick one up. My current copy of XP Pro I bought through some promo Microsoft had for $49 a few years back. That was a sweet deal.
     
  16. Shane Roach

    Shane Roach Stunt Coordinator

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    Check eBay for OEM versions of Windows XP. Just be careful and thoroughly read the descriptions to pick scammers and pirates out from legit sellers, which are usually local PC sales and repair companies. When I got mine back in December, OEM XP Pro packages were going for about $130ish. It's not as good as $49, but it beats $180 or more for retail.
     
  17. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Compusa never had any. I bought mine from Best Buy with a 10% off coupon for $360+ tax. Here's hoping that you buy one and get lucky with the coupon timing. Otherwise, I still would have paid $400 and loved it.
     
  18. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    I found an OEM copy of XP Pro on Newegg for $147. It's a little bit more than $130ish on ebay but I don't have to worry about being scammed.

    I also need to order sata cables because I bought the OEM drives and they don't come with any. Now I read on another similar thread that I need a floppy to install the sata drivers. Where do I get the drivers? Is it complicated? Can someone give a brief walk-thru of the installation process?
    Luckily the one close to me had one in stock last week. Hopefully it's still there.
     
  19. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    My motherboard had 2. Being that you are buying that board, you should get 2.

    Basically I hooked up the floppy to the floppy port and booted from the CD. Windows asks you to hit f7 for 3rd party scsi drivers and you hit f7 then. The Floppy disk you make with the drivers on it will take care of that. You may have to go online and download the drivers from the Asus site. My friend had an Asus board and just used the utility to create the driver disk for me. After you tell it to check the floppy it loads the drivers and away it goes. I had windows installed in 7 minutes flat.

    You maybe able to stick the cd into another computer and make the diskette you need. I haven't checked this.
     
  20. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Received all my components today. [​IMG] [​IMG] Can't wait until this weekend so I can take my time and put it all together. Hopefully I won't have any problems. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks again for everyones help and input.

    Vlad.
     

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