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Old 2004-07-15, 12:38   Link #1
microlith
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Building a new PC! Recommend stuff!

Well it's that time again. After 3 years my laptop is a bit poky at 850MHz, and I'd like to have something with some more kick to it.

After watching the market lately, I think now would be a decent time to start building a new box (unless someone gives me good reason not to.) I've been out of the PC hardware loop for a while, so I could use some references.

Well, here's my objective:

An Athlon64 based system of some sort. Can anyone recommend a good board for this processor line, preferrably with 4 ram slots and built-in firewire?

Ram starting at 512MB, possibly 1GB.

HDD will be starting at 120GB, possibly 2x. Serial ATA most likely. DVD-RW will be quite likely since they're rather cheap for PCs these days.

In terms of video, I'm probably going to hang a generation behind the madness. What's the best card (ATI -or- Nvidia, I'm not picky) that's not $300+ available today? Are there any that support multiple DVI displays?

Sound can be onboard, but if not I'd rather grab a cheap PCI one.

Displays, I'm aiming for a DVI LCD with 1600x1200 resolution, or possibly 2x 1280x1024. I like having a big desktop If there's anything I'll spend good money on, it's on the thing I look at all the time.

Case recommendations? Something easy to set up and get into?
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Old 2004-07-15, 13:56   Link #2
KeinikuSuki
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Ironic you should ask this question. I build computers on the side for people sometimes, and I happen to have a brochure lieing around that was updated just a few weeks ago.

Athlon 64 Mid-Grade

This system doesnt come with an operating system, but Microsoft is handing out free 365 day trials of English Windows XP-64.

Also, I picked up an 8x Lite-On DVD burner at the local Best Buy for 54 USD, so it's not listed.

Edit: PS here in Tennesse we have 9.25% Sales Tax, so in your Country/Region you may not have to pay this amount.

Last edited by KeinikuSuki; 2004-07-15 at 14:09.
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Old 2004-07-15, 14:03   Link #3
Kyusaku
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I'd wait on Serial ATA drives, they don't seem that worth yet in the market.
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Old 2004-07-15, 15:38   Link #4
Shadowlord
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you should wait a little while, what with PCI EXPRESS just coming out.
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Old 2004-07-15, 16:53   Link #5
method
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Well he said that he was aiming for an older generation of video cards. Pci express video cards will be more expensive than the ones he wants. Anandtech just posted a few guides that should be able to help you in your search.
http://www.anandtech.com/guides/

Good luch in your search.
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Old 2004-07-15, 17:27   Link #6
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I like your selection. Although from an experiance point of view I suggest you get some sort of CD-R/W right now and wait a few months. 4x Dual Layer DVD+RW has already been announced my Pioneer and by the years end you will probably find it at an affordable price.
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Old 2004-07-16, 06:20   Link #7
Liddo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowlord
you should wait a little while, what with PCI EXPRESS just coming out.
lol.. u think pci express can help with anything? haha right.... for now a A64 is a nice comp but you'd have to fork over some major cash.. i just built a computer... and trust me the P4 was alota cheaper than the a64 very i came up with.. to get the 1mb of L2 cache you'd have to fork over atleast 300 bucks... well 282 on new egg.. cause only the 3200+ has the 1mb of L2.. you can get a p4 3.0 prescott with 1mb of L2 for 220... and dont worry about heat problems i run a Zalman CNPS 7000 CU with some arctic silver.. comp runs fine at 38 idle and 50 full and i'm overclocked at 3.6ghz... so my suggestion is a p4... cheaper.. and if u want a good mobo you can go with the asus p4c800e deluxe.. thats what i got.. good scores and reviews.. otherwise the abit max3 holds itself well.. or the DFI lan party.. those are your choices..

now if your stuck on A64.. then i would suggest the Chaintek mobo for the A64... the Nforce ultra 200 works quite well as a northbridge. but dont press your luck with the 300's yet.. they are too new.... i suggest you buy NOW cause the new socket 775 cant be overclocked.... and sooner or later everything is going to get converted into PCI express.. yes thats good... but thats not going to be for a year... and if u bought a mobo with only pci express now.. you'd have to buy a video card thats pci express compatable... and frankly pci express doesnt give you much of an edge.. thers no game on the market that can come close to using the full 32gb of bandwidth it has to offer.. i mean only that even uses the 8x agp's full bandwidth is farcry and halo (1600x1200 4xAA 4xAS) so yea.. i built a nice sub 1k system with a p4.. iono just my two bits.. if you want more i can give you the specs and stuff... SATA is pretty nice with this comp... but you can go either way is fine.. i got 2 seagates at 80 gb for about 200 bucks... which isnt bad for 10,000 rpms....

oh.. and if your curious about the windows XP-64 bit edition.. dont even bother.. at the moment the GUI is crap theres barely any LAN support and the core is so unstable because of the 64 bit processing you'd be better off using SUSe 64 bit core

DVI wise.. most support it.. or you can just get a DVI converter... uhh.. i suggest the 2 1280x1024 cause thats what i got.. and the screens are that expensive.. only 475 a bang.. for 19" LCDS

1gb of DDR ram isnt hard anymore unless you want the extreme gamer versions of the ram.. then you gotta start forking out 250-300 bucks.. but you can pick up some corsair value ram for bout 90 bucks a stick of 512

uhh video card wise.. if you want sub 300 i suggest a 9600XT if wanna save a little.. i know people will say to get a 9700pro.. but theres no point.. the benches between the 2 are like 5 frames off.. 20 in rare cases.. but the price difference is a pretty big gap so yea.. i suggest it...

sound.. wise intergrated is fine.. but you should be able to pick up a nice audigy 1 on newegg for about 40 bucks at the right times

dvd burners are ok now 8x is nice.. and the dual layer is nicer.. but for now i think 8x is fine....

lol.. didnt know i would write so much.. if you have any other questions fee free to ask...

oh.. casing wise.. doesnt matter you can go as exotic as you want.. personally i got a full acrylic tower.. a little heavier.. but more on the "make your comp look different" side.. so yea. ^^ hope this helps
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Old 2004-07-16, 06:27   Link #8
Liddo
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oh and just to let you know heres my comp specs

P4(prescott) 3.0gz overlclocked to 3.61ghz
Asus P4c800e-deluxe
1gb of Corsair value ram dual performancemode
ATI Radeon 9600XT
2 monitors
Current desktop: 2560x1024
audigy 1
2 Seagate SATA 80 gb 10000rpm hds
1 Maxtor 160gb 7200rpm
1 liteon dvd/cdrw
1 liteon dvdrw 8x
IDLE: 38 celcius
FULL LOAD: 50 celcius
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Old 2004-07-16, 08:37   Link #9
Cruzz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by microlith
An Athlon64 based system of some sort. Can anyone recommend a good board for this processor line, preferrably with 4 ram slots and built-in firewire?

Ram starting at 512MB, possibly 1GB.

HDD will be starting at 120GB, possibly 2x. Serial ATA most likely. DVD-RW will be quite likely since they're rather cheap for PCs these days.

In terms of video, I'm probably going to hang a generation behind the madness. What's the best card (ATI -or- Nvidia, I'm not picky) that's not $300+ available today? Are there any that support multiple DVI displays?

Sound can be onboard, but if not I'd rather grab a cheap PCI one.

Displays, I'm aiming for a DVI LCD with 1600x1200 resolution, or possibly 2x 1280x1024. I like having a big desktop If there's anything I'll spend good money on, it's on the thing I look at all the time.

Case recommendations? Something easy to set up and get into?
Well, this might not be the best of times to buy a new PC when you consider all the changes that are supposed to happen later this year (PCI Express, BTX, Socket 939 for A64 and so on). However, if you start waiting until the next big thing hits the market I guess you'll never get anything bought.

I have a A64 machine and I'm perfectly happy with it. I've got the 3000+ model with the measly 512kB cache and frankly I don't care about the lack of cache. Depending on the applications you are running, the 3000+ is either the same speed or slightly (a few percent at most) slower than the 3200+ because they both run at the same clockspeed. The retail package fan is ok enough, it definitely keeps the processor cool and it isn't really loud (still, it could be better in that regard). Zalman's 7000Al/Cu would probably be a good choice if you want a slightly quieter cooling solution.

You can never have enough RAM, I'd definitely go (and did too) for 1024MB.

For cases, I quite like Antec (and other manufacturers that use the same design, like Chieftec). I don't really have anything to complain about either of my Antec cases except perhaps for the power supply units (The fan on the other one died and the other one is quite loud when it gets hot). However, neither of my power supplies are TruePower so perhaps those are better (atleast they definitely cost more )

As for video: do you care at all about gaming performance? You might want to consider Matrox if all you want is good multiple monitor support. The P650 has dual DVI output with up to 1600x1200 on both screens and it's reasonably cheap too (160$-ish?)

Serial-ATA is ok but nothing that you absolutely have to have, sure you get to enjoy the new cables but the speed difference is minimal and SATA adds some extra pains to the installation process. ATA (especially with rounded cables) is just as good as SATA for the time being. As for manufacturers, I haven't heard a lot of good things about Maxtor lately so I wouldn't buy their disks. Some people probably avoid Hitachi due to the "Deathstar" farce but I haven't had any problems with my Hitachi 7K250. I also have a Samsung P80 which I'm quite happy with, it was cheap and it runs quite cool. It's noticeably slower than the 7K250 though, but you can't have everything now can you?

Onboard soundcards are quite good these days. Definitely better than certain el cheapo Creative soundcards. If you don't care about gaming, I'd recommend picking a different manufacturer than Creative. The Audigy 2 is pretty much the only Creative card worth having if you don't play games (atleast if you listen to the audiophiles at hydrogenaudio) and they cost quite a lot. Hercules Fortissimo III and Turtle Beach Santa Cruz are said to be good cards. Envy24 cards are also said to be good, like the Chaintec AV-710 (which is about as cheap as seperate soundcards go, retails for something like 25$)

As for monitors, you're going to end up paying a lot for a quality LCD capable of displaying 1600x1200, about the same as you'd pay for two 17" ones. One model that springs into mind is the Dell 2001FP, selling for a measly 800$ each right now with . Dell's monitors are probably one of the better ones you can buy, Eizo, Viewsonic and Sony are other good choices.

As for A64 motherboards, there are tons of good motherboards. I'd recommend the MSI K8N Neo Platinum and Epox 8KDA3+ myself but there are plenty of other good choices around too.

EDIT: To sum it up, some kind of price list built through newegg because I can't remember any other hardware retailer in the US:

Antec Sonata - 99$
MSI K8N Neo Platinum - 128$
Athlon 64 3000+ Retail - 223$

Chaintec AV-710
- 24$

Samsung SP1614C 160GB
- 106$
2x512MB sticks of DDR-3200 - around 160$ for the better brands (Apacer, Mushkin, Crucial, Corsair)?
Matrox P650 - 155$
Dell 2001FP - 800$

Missing they keyboard, mouse and CD/DVD drives. Keyboards and mice are about personal preferences really and I don't have any particular recommendations for CD/DVD drives.

EDIT: Some random things:

Cases I like:
Antec SLK3700 <-- This is the one with the loud power supply

Antec Plus1080AMG
<-- Have an older version of this. More roomy than the SLk3700 so it's a bit nicer for messing around in the case but I like the 120mm fan holders and the large amount of 3.5" slots on the SLK3700.

Antec Sonata
<-- People say this thing is quite quiet and innards seem to be rather similar to the SLK3700 except for the HDD slots.
Compucase 6919

Last edited by Cruzz; 2004-07-16 at 15:18.
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Old 2004-07-16, 14:00   Link #10
chris
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I think you have had allot of good sugestions the only sugestion i would make is to use a dual chanal ocz ram (if you can afford it) as well why stay with a 128 gb drive when you can get a good 200 gb drivel. i prefure intel prosessers myself. This is ony my ideas since im building a new pc for myself...Again...serch around for your parts tho dont go impulse buying, and defenetly dont go to best buy they are a rip off. look around in the small pc stores cus usually they are cheeper(for me thay are at least) and to save yourcelf money put it together yourself. Dont buy prebuilt ! also look in to the sound blaster extigy i have one of these its a cool sound card but a lil on the expencive side.
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Old 2004-07-16, 16:02   Link #11
Shadowlord
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Location: Vancouver, Canada eh?
Age: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liddo
lol.. u think pci express can help with anything? haha right.... for now a A64 is a nice comp but you'd have to fork over some major cash.. i just built a computer... and trust me the P4 was alota cheaper than the a64 very i came up with.. to get the 1mb of L2 cache you'd have to fork over atleast 300 bucks... well 282 on new egg.. cause only the 3200+ has the 1mb of L2.. you can get a p4 3.0 prescott with 1mb of L2 for 220...
comparing the best top end A 64 FX-53 socket 939 with P4 3.4Ghz and the Fx-53, that is a higher performer is over $100 LESS than the p4.
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