dogbert

Time To Build A New PC

252 posts in this topic

Time for a new PC. Primary uses - games, some development, ripping CDs etc, web browsing. I'm not expecting to run Crysis at 100fps here :) Budget is around $600-700, including OS. I'm looking for a rock solid build with some future upgrade options (e.g. GPU, CPU, memory) but not a OC beast or a top of the line game machine.

 

So far, what I've specc'ed out at NewEgg is coming to $505 with a GPU or OS. What's the best/cheapest way to get XP or Vista? With a new machine, I'm tempted just to run Vista 64-bit.

 

I'm unsure of memory either - the memory I chose is fairly expensive but very well regarded, and the rebate kicks it down to a far more reasonable price...

 

 

 

1 Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $84.99

 

1 Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply

$99.99

 

1 OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2N1066SR2GK

-$10.00 Instant

$30.00 Mail-in Rebate

$85.99

$75.99

 

1 LITE-ON 20X DVD?R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model iHAS220-08

$29.99

 

1 Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core

Processor Model BX80571E7200BIOSTAR TForce TP45HP LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard

-$35.00 Combo

$20.00 Mail-in Rebate

$249.98

$214.98

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I've been happily using OCZ memory for as long as I can remember now. Looks like a great parts list. I'm happy to be running XP, though (I like some old stuff).

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I wanted Vista Ultimate for a development machine (IIS). Cheapest way to obtain it is with a refurbed machine from Dell which is what I did. Nothing but good things to say about my choice.

 

Sounds though like you're dead set on building and not buying. Friggin OS is always so expensive. I think you can get OEM versions for cheaper.

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I thought I read somewhere that Vista 64-bit ran better with 3 GB memory (possibly 4?). More memory is handy if you start playing with your photos (Photoshop, Elements, ... etc.), and since you have a child with another on the way, I am sure you have thousands of digital photos.

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Sounds though like you're dead set on building and not buying.

 

Not at all, this is something I've been going back and forth on. I can buy a "nice" PC from Dell for a similar price, but longterm, it'll be limited with the PSU + internal space for GPUs. The 530 towers Dell currently sells are already cramped and underpowered for the likes of ATI 4850HD cards. So they're great value for now but not long term...

 

I am genuinely torn and undecided.

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Save a few bucks on the HDD:

 

Promo code: EMCAJCGBK to save $5 on that particular HDD (good choice). Need to be a newegg email list subscriber for 24 hours to use the code.

 

Could save some money on the RAM -same ram here, a lot cheaper though:

 

$40 AR + shipping at microcenter:

 

http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0255590

 

Seems like a good setup to me.

 

I've never been a Biostar guy myself...I'd probably go with an ASUS.

 

This might be useful for you: Intel P45 motherboard shootout.

 

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-p45-motherboard,2001.html

 

IMO the most important part of the purchase by FAR is a good, solid motherboard from a good company...it helps if it is popular (Easier to find info if you have some sort of issue).

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What's the best/cheapest way to get XP or Vista? With a new machine, I'm tempted just to run Vista 64-bit.

 

The cheapest route is either an OEM version or if you know an employee at Microsoft :) I'm in the minority around here, but I'd have a hard time using XP on a new system after running Vista now for a few months. IMO it handles everything much better than XP does; be it memory management, driver management or application crashes. BTW, I started using Vista after Service Pack 1 was already released, so I did not get to help beta test it ;).

 

I'm unsure of memory either - the memory I chose is fairly expensive but very well regarded, and the rebate kicks it down to a far more reasonable price...

 

Try this memory...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231018

 

For a little more money you could jump up to 4GB. This is the memory that I use (2 sets) and have had zero issues with it. It even overclocks well in the event you ever wanted a little more performance...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231122

 

 

 

1 Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $84.99

 

Big fan of Seagate drives myself and their unmatched warranty...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148335

 

1 Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply

$99.99

 

I've got a ton of Antec cases and have never had an issue and their build quality is great!

 

1 OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2N1066SR2GK

-$10.00 Instant

$30.00 Mail-in Rebate

$85.99

$75.99

 

See above for my memory recommendation...

 

1 LITE-ON 20X DVD?R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model iHAS220-08

$29.99

 

No issues here...

 

1 Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core

Processor Model BX80571E7200BIOSTAR TForce TP45HP LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard

-$35.00 Combo

$20.00 Mail-in Rebate

$249.98

$214.98

 

If you're looking for future proofing I highly recommend getting a quad-core CPU. The Q6600 is still your best bang for the buck.

 

I'm happy to be running XP, though (I like some old stuff).

 

Can you give some examples? Being completely serious here as every game I've thrown at Vista 64 has run just fine.

 

I thought I read somewhere that Vista 64-bit ran better with 3 GB memory (possibly 4?). More memory is handy if you start playing with your photos (Photoshop, Elements, ... etc.), and since you have a child with another on the way, I am sure you have thousands of digital photos.

 

You can get by just fine with 2GB with Vista, but more RAM never hurt anything :)

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Can you give some examples? Being completely serious here as every game I've thrown at Vista 64 has run just fine.

 

I haven't tried anything myself. My only experiences with Vista have been helping people install older apps. They all worked, eventually, after jumping through some hoops. Last I looked, some people could never get Dungeon Siege 2 working (though some swear it works fine), you have to go through a bunch of extra steps to get my favorite Medieval II mod working, StrokeIt (gestures app) wasn't quite 100%, stuff like that. Never saw the up side.

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I've had bad luck with Antec PSUs the past few years myself, but always liked the cases.

 

The WD HDD that he picked out is actually one of the fastest 7200rpm drives right now...it's pretty popular at hardforum.

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I haven't tried anything myself. My only experiences with Vista have been helping people install older apps. They all worked, eventually, after jumping through some hoops. Last I looked, some people could never get Dungeon Siege 2 working (though some swear it works fine), you have to go through a bunch of extra steps to get my favorite Medieval II mod working, StrokeIt (gestures app) wasn't quite 100%, stuff like that. Never saw the up side.

 

Fair enough :) I actually don't own any of the games you've listed, so I can't comment on their compatability. The extra hoop jumping though to get things to run was needed for a few of my games, but isn't that what PC gaming is all about? ;)

 

I've had bad luck with Antec PSUs the past few years myself, but always liked the cases.

 

I've used Antec power supplies 4 out of my last 5 builds and they're all still running strong. I'd rank a good power supply as one of, if not the most important parts of a new PC. The last thing you want is to spend a bunch of money only to have your PSU short out and take all of your new shiney's out with it :)

 

The WD HDD that he picked out is actually one of the fastest 7200rpm drives right now...it's pretty popular at hardforum.

 

WD HDD's never really impressed me much, but the last time I used them was probably going on 8 years now. I prefer Seagate mainly for their warranty as the HDD is usually the first thing to go in a new PC.

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but isn't that what PC gaming is all about?

:lol Oh you.

 

On another note, I just recently upgraded to an ATI 4870 but am finding ATI's drivers to be a bit wanting in comparison to Nvidia's. My 9800GTX ran damn near everything I threw at it flawlessly (outside of a couple legacy apps which took some troubleshooting. See Scott's comment above.:lol). I've had some really silly issues (most fixable mind you) with ATI's most recent driver release though and some games just plain perform worse (Age of Conan noticeably so).

 

Frankly Nvidia's recent PhysX integrated driver along with the issues spurred me to return the 4870 and move on to a 9800GX2 which has come down in price considerably now that 260 and 280 are out there. I've been playing graphics card shuffle as of late and I'm waiting for my GX2 to arrive to play around with it and finally settle on a card.:)

 

That having been said my next upgrade is to Vista 64. I'm definitely eager to take advantage of some DX10 functionality as well having a 64bit OS and stacking my machine with more RAM. Regardless, I'll still be dual booting with XP for those odd applications that don't enjoy running under Vista.

 

I prefer Seagate mainly for their warranty

Having just dealt with Seagate for my recent HDD failure - I concur. Superb warranty replacement and the ease of getting a new HDD from there was amazing.

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I've had some really silly issues (most fixable mind you) with ATI's most recent driver release though and some games just plain perform worse (Age of Conan noticeably so).

 

Oh come on now... Do you really think that is an ATI issue and not just Age of Conan? :lol

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Oh come on now... Do you really think that is an ATI issue and not just Age of Conan?

With Age of Conan - it's an known ATI issue. Though I don't disagree with your assesment of Age of Conan being shit on the technical side and released WAY to early for its own good. I mean we can't blame it all on Funcom.:)

 

Aside from those though - on CAT8.8 you can't override the in-game AA settings to provide more than 2xAA on The Witcher. On the Nvidia side I can override to whatever settings I liked. No problem. CCC doesn't and this isn't only one game mind you. The override option in the Nvidia CC is something I've really come to appreciate as it does what it's supposed to a very large majority of the time (I even got Eve Online playing with AA after our last conversation thanks to the override option). I needs my AA and I'm spoiled like you with Vista you GUI whore:).

 

Playing Neverwinter Nights 2 and Neverwinter Nights doesn't allow for water to appear properly on 8.8's. The original Neverwinter crashed periodically and shows a blue pane while NWN 2 shows vertical lines and other artifacting and I've tried two different CAT versions on it. I had to mess with some config options to get NWN2 working but it reduces the quality of the water in-game substantially.

 

There's a couple of older games I've installed that don't play nicely and require some troubleshooting to get working. Mind you the troubleshooting part isn't necessarily a major issue as I'm hardly a rookie when it comes to dealing with PC gamings' eccentricities - but I'm more than happy to give the 9800GX2 a shot to see if it along with Nvidia's drivers help me to reduce said issues overall.:) Although I know that the GX2 has its own little foibles to deal with.

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Looks like a good part list to me but you could lower the RAM spec's to DDR2 800 to save some money if necessary without impacting performance... (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2328804,00.asp)

 

As far as OS, I'd also recommend Vista but maybe a dual boot is your best bet, especially for development and game compatibility. The way I get Windows is through MSDN subscription or using student discounts. The student discount route would be the easiest I'd guess - just go to a college store and ask someone to pick up a copy for you. If your not comfortable with that, alot of online sites will give you the student version as a download and all the verification you will need is to select your school from their approved list :) An idea if nothing else...

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I'm not too worried about the cost of the OS. It's annoying, but it's a price that has to be paid. It'd be nice to get it for cheap, but I'll live. I'm getting the Enterprise edition of Office 2007 for $20 through work, so I guess that balances it out ;)

 

With some help from Romier, I've got a revised build out that's likely going to be ordered tomorrow or Friday (pay day!). Basically replaced the mobo, memory & HD:

 

ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Retail

 

A little more money, but I'm happier with the options. This machine should be getting paired with a 9800GTX & run damn well.

 

Thanks for the advice, guys, I'll come running here when it all goes horribly wrong ;)

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Asus is always a good motherboard choice.

 

I've had 3 Epox boards (back in the day they were a favorite), one Biostar, a couple of Gigabytes. I think I've only had one Asus but their rep is very good, and my tech buddies swear by them.

 

I dunno about G.Skill, no experience with them. I generally run Corsair or Crucial...running Mushkin these days. Backing down to PC6400 is a wise choice I think...I opted for that myself when I picked out RAM. I grabbed it on a deal well before building my box though, 2x1GB for $24 AR last winter.

 

Somehow I always end up with an ATI card even though I'm willing to do either brand. Dunno. The only Nvidia card I ever had was a GF4 ti4200 in the wife's desktop at one point - I ended up RMAing it due to some peculiar compatibility issues with the VIA board I tried to run it in.

 

Looks like a good combo.

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Looks like it will be a nice rig :)

 

It better be, this will likely cost me about $800 total. It's at least 4 years since I last bought a PC for myself and that machine wasn't cutting edge either, so I'm due an upgrade. With this configuration, I'll be able to upgrade the CPU, GPU etc down the line for good gains, but what I have should rock at what I likely throw at it - pogo.com ;) I'll make good use out of it and it'll be nice to have a machine that doesn't grind to a halt when I compile :)

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ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

 

Oh dear god not a P45!! You're going to be much, much happier and have less hair pulling with an Intel P35. I'd also put both the Nvidia 750i and even the 780i chipsets far above an Intel P45.

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Oh dear god not a P45!! You're going to be much, much happier and have less hair pulling with an Intel P35. I'd also put both the Nvidia 750i and even the 780i chipsets far above an Intel P45.

Listen people, saying the nVidia chipsets are better then an Intel one means bad things.

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I need more info on that and options, because that goes against everything I'm reading/hearing.

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On another note, I just recently upgraded to an ATI 4870 but am finding ATI's drivers to be a bit wanting in comparison to Nvidia's. My 9800GTX ran damn near everything I threw at it flawlessly (outside of a couple legacy apps which took some troubleshooting. See Scott's comment above.). I've had some really silly issues (most fixable mind you) with ATI's most recent driver release though and some games just plain perform worse (Age of Conan noticeably so).

I'm not surprised. I used a couple of ATI cards and had to install special patches for them. I haven't ever had to do that with an Nvidia card. It's the main reason I swear by them.

 

Asus and Seagate I also swear by mainly because of the stability and long term support. Seagates warranty is bulletproof.

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This is from Tom's Hardware review of the P45.

Performance-wise, the P45 chipset does not beat the P35, and it is also comparable to the X48. 1600 MHz FSB speeds are not officially supported by Intel, but most motherboard makers added support for it anyway. However, we found little to no performance differences between the 1333 MHz and 1600 MHz speeds in virtually all benchmarks, and none of our P45 samples was capable of clearly outperforming the P35 boards when it comes to overclocking. We reached 525 MHz on the Asus P5Q-E, which can also be reached by some P35 products.

 

At the same time, all P45 motherboards required up to 10 W more power than P35 motherboards, on average, and this is independent of the type and efficiency of the voltage regulators used. The new 65 nm PCI Express 2.0 chipset clearly consumes more power than the P35 across the board, which we don?t find convincing when we look at the stagnating performance.

 

Finally, performance for USB 2.0 and SATA operation has slightly decreased as well. We found that the ICH9 is quicker when it comes to USB 2.0 throughput and maximum transfer rates in RAID operation. At least Intel managed to improve I/O performance, clearly outperforming all other built-in SATA RAID controllers in this discipline. Unfortunately, that isn?t very relevant to desktop users.

 

...

 

If you want to buy a new Intel system today, P35 will most likely be the best option, as real benefits such as USB 3.0 and architectural advances are still only on the horizon. If you already have a Core 2 system or a fast Athlon 64 X2 or Phenom, you shouldn?t rush now. It makes more sense to for wait for Intel?s Nehalem architecture with the X58 chipset, as well as AMD?s Socket AM3 platform. Although the mainstream versions won?t be around before 2009, the enthusiast product launches will provide a good preview of what to expect.

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I need more info on that and options, because that goes against everything I'm reading/hearing.

 

This is from Tom's Hardware review of the P45.

 

Outside of the stuff Kelley posted from Tom's Hardware my personal experience with the P45 has not been very good either (tried an ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte P45 boards). While not nearly as bad as the X38 and X48 chipsets from Intel, they're not nearly as stable as the P35's in my experience. I'd compare the P35 to the old 440BX boards, which if you were building PC's back in the late 90's was the most stable board available.

 

As for a different option, Brian, look know further than the ASUS P5K Pro :tu

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