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  1. #1

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    Default building a computer on the cheap

    I've been getting tired of using my current computer. It's about 4 years old, a Pentium III 550 Mhz. I was talking to a friend about replacing some of the parts of it to help speed things up. I'm not going for the world's best computer since I'm basically limited to using my tax refund ($400-600). My friend directed me to newegg.com and this is what I came up with. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Athlon XP 2400+, 1.93 Ghz, 512 cache

    motherboard

    1 gig Curcial memory

    200 gig Hitachi hard drive

    Total there is $405.

  2. #2

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    You need a power supply, case and video card. (Your old power supply will not work)

    If you don't need a 200 gig hard drive, don't waste money on the extra storage. Get a smaller hard drive, and take that money and put it towards better RAM. Look for RAM with a CAS latency of 2 ("C2").

    Regards,
    PolkThug

  3. #3

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    compare here as well

    www.tcwo.com
    Life without music would

  4. #4

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    Some people don't like this site but it has served me well.

    http://www.pricewatch.com


    It's a price search engine for computer parts. You may be able to drop another 50-100 bucks off that price with some frugal shopping.

    pricewatch.com also monitors the companies in thier search engine. The companies have to pay for thier listings in the search engine and if there are too many complaints about a company, they drop the company from the listing. I have not had a problem with any vendor I have bought from that I found in the pricewatch search engine.

  5. #5

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    Also, I have ordered from newegg and googlegear (now zipzoomfly.com) many times without problems.

  6. #6

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    I've been building computers for 22 years, heres a few hints:

    1. Try to get a motherboard/CPU package
    2. Use ASUS
    3. Use ASUS
    4. Ride the "trailing" edge of technology, its cheaper-I've never paid over $100 for a CPU upgrade, and never will
    5. Get on-board audio if you're not concerned with ultimate fidelity-I'm not, thats what my stereo is for
    6. NEVER get on-board video, however
    7. Try AMD processors, Intel=hype
    8. Use OEM processors if you have the skills necessary-I've never had one fail yet
    9. AVOID overclocking. A computers mainstay should be "stability"
    10. RAM upgrades are typically more productive than processor upgrades (within the same "series").
    11. If running XP, use 256Mbyte RAM minimum, 512Mbyte ideal
    12. Scrimp on anything you like, EXCEPT the motherboard, spend the bucks for a good one
    13. After building your system, and loading your OS, download the following:

    - Any bios/firmware/software updates for your motherboard/graphics
    - Ad-Aware 6.0 (freeware)
    - Spybot Search & Destroy (freeware)
    - Tweak UI for XP (freeware)
    - Registry Mechanic 2.1 (the best $39 bucks you'll ever spend)

    Here's a good resource: http://www.zipzoomfly.com

    Very fast delivery, really good prices. I built this system for $385, its very modest, but a great performer:

    ASUS Socket A MB w/on-board audio & GIG-E ethernet
    AMD 2800+ Athlon XP
    512 Mb 333Mhz DDR memory (Samsung, I think..)
    40 Gig Western Digital HDD
    ASUS CD Burner
    ASUS G-Force AGP 8 video card, 128Mb
    Generic case, 350 watt PS w/front usb/firewire
    Last edited by steveinaz; 02-05-2004 at 01:14 PM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  7. #7

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    Any particular reason you want a full gig of RAM? I would imagine that 512 should be more than enough compared to what you are used to. All comments so far seem to be good from my experience.

    Also, I've had good success with MSI motherboards, but you can't go wrong with ASUS.

    Also, try www.mwave.com. I have been very happy with them in the past. Their CS is excellent.

    Check out www.bensbargains.net for good deals. Check the Sunday ads for CC and BB and CompUSA. You can usually find some good deals on RAM and optical drives, if you like doing rebates.

    www.sharkyextreme.com has weekly updates on the sites with the cheapest prices for each CPU and each type and size of RAM. They are helpful. They have monthly guides on how to build the best computer for $1000/2000/4000.
    Last edited by Shizelbs; 02-05-2004 at 12:51 PM.

  8. #8

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    I have a Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 sound card if you need a sound card too.

  9. #9

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    Good advice from above, I would only add the following. If you do care about sound on your computer, get a good case, one that is sturdy and solid with lots of extra bays to upgrade (solidity will cut down on vibrations from hard drives etc wich will affect sound) I like Antec. I find, and I have built many of both, that AMD's run hot, not a problem with good air flow but you should be aware of it. I also like pricewatch.
    Last edited by pixiedave; 02-05-2004 at 01:35 PM.
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  10. #10

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    To add some product advice, motherboard combos can be a better deal than just a motherboard and processor seperate but not always. It seems that new technology gets released from April to June so motherboard/combos start popping up everywhere as retailers and wholesalers try to drop "out-dated" inventory quick. Any other time of the year, combos are a hit or miss.

    Motherboards themselves, I am partial to Tyan and Gigabyte motherboards. Tyan is an old company and for a long while, they were the industry standard and they still make excellent motherboards. Gigabyte is a newer company and I have used thier products with much success. Tyan is not always the cheapest but you gte what you pay for with them. Gigabyte is most often one of the cheapest and for thier reliability, they are a steal. Asus is also a good company but my experience with them, while not bad, has not been anything to write home about.

    Memory is cheap now. Has been for a while. The next time new memory technology comes out will probably be when we see a price jump again. As far as companies, the Asian semi-conductor technology companies like Hyundai, Samsung, Toshiba, Hitachi and so on offer good memory for decent prices. Other companies like Kingston and PNY are more bargain priced but they make me nervous because of the way they ship memory. By far, the company I have had the very best experience with has been Micron, aka Crucial. They are usually the cheapest too. I'd recommend them over anything.

    Stay away from RAMBUS/RDRAM memory. It's a floundering technology for a reason.

    As far as the AMD/Intel wars, it's gone way past facts and into people's overly passionate opinions. Intel is not all hype and AMD does not build stuff that catches fire. Both opinions stem from the most vocal sections of geekdom and base thier opinions on serious, hardcore gaming or overclocking. Both of which will tax a processor to its limits. For the average Joe, either company will be fine. If you can find a good price on an Intel setup, go for it. If you can find a good price on the AMD setups, go for that too. Eitherway, you are going to get a decent computer.

    As far as RAM goes, more RAM is ALWAYS a good thing! RAM is what makes a computer's processor run as fast as it can. RAM is what gives your computer the resources it needs to run at it's top level. I am running 1.5 gigs of SDRAM at home and I only have a 1.6 GHz processor but it will benchmark as fast as my 2.2 GHz PC with 256MB of RAMBUS at work. Stock up on RAM for your computer, as much as you can afford. Any computer will benefit from it. It's like the different between sucking coffee through a straw or one of those weenie little red stirrers with the white line down the side. The bigger the hole (i.e.: more RAM) the better.

  11. #11

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    Oh, a couple of other things to add.

    Aluminum cases will help keep your computer cooler. Steel cases will be quieter. If you don't want noise, get a steel case. They usually have plastic farings that will duct air to intake vents and keep noise to a minimum.

    Fans are important. They make noise. The larger they are the more noise they make. Several smaller fans will move as much air and make less noise than one or two big ass fans.

    On-board sound and graphics are not the best idea at all. On-board sound and graphics use system memory more than PCI cards. All the PCI cards will have thier own on-board memory which the PCI card will use up before it starts to hit system memory. Even then, that is unlikely because it has to go through the PCI bus first. So on-board sound and graphics are not always the best idea unless you are on a serious budget constraints.

  12. #12

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    Originally posted by Jstas


    As far as RAM goes, more RAM is ALWAYS a good thing! RAM is what makes a computer's processor run as fast as it can. RAM is what gives your computer the resources it needs to run at it's top level. I am running 1.5 gigs of SDRAM at home and I only have a 1.6 GHz processor but it will benchmark as fast as my 2.2 GHz PC with 256MB of RAMBUS at work. Stock up on RAM for your computer, as much as you can afford. Any computer will benefit from it. It's like the different between sucking coffee through a straw or one of those weenie little red stirrers with the white line down the side. The bigger the hole (i.e.: more RAM) the better.
    But unused memory is wasted memory. If your not crunching huge numbers and your not running 6 instances of seti at home, your not gonna need much more than 512 mgs on an xp machine to rip cd's read email and cruise the forum. And dont forget to keep youe system tray empty, lots of resources can be eaten there.

    If you run Linux or a BSD you can pretty much cut memory needs in half because they are not memory hogs and you get swap partitions.
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  13. #13

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    I agree with all of Steve's advice.

    (The only thing i violate is overclocking. But I spend many days perfecting an overclock; tweak, test,benchmark,tweak, test,benchmark,start over, test, tweak, benchmark,test benchmark,start over, test, benchmark, pull hair out, start over,tweak,etc, etc).

    Gigabyte also makes a pretty solid mobo.
    The Athlon/Barton 2500 cpu is one tuff chip, I have oc'd one up to about an Athlon 3000. (Overclocking is fun, but I DO NOT recommend it for a beginner)

    Regards,
    PolkThug

    CPU: AMD|2500/333 ATHLON XP BARTON
    VIDEO: PROLINK|GF 5600-256MB
    MOBO: Dragon Ultra Platinum
    RAM: Corsair 500MB C2
    HDD: 60GB

  14. #14

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    Originally posted by pixiedave
    But unused memory is wasted memory. If your not crunching huge numbers and your not running 6 instances of seti at home, your not gonna need much more than 512 mgs on an xp machine to rip cd's read email and cruise the forum. And dont forget to keep youe system tray empty, lots of resources can be eaten there.

    If you run Linux or a BSD you can pretty much cut memory needs in half because they are not memory hogs and you get swap partitions.
    That's not 100% true. If you have a CD burner and you want to do other things with your computer while burning CD's, you will need a good deal of memory to prevent buffer under-runs. Also, the more memory you have the better your computer will be at multi-tasking. Every piece of software, especially Microsoft software, grabs memory while it is running. The more memory you have, the more extra memory you will still have after all the othe rporgrams have stopped grabbing memory.

    As far as UNIX goes, swap space is not an ideal in that environment either. Hard drives are no where near as fast as memory in access times and swapping stuff in and out of memory adds unecessary time on to the time needed to complete any kind of computation. But I think that is a little too far above the level of this discussion so I'm not going to go any further with it.

  15. #15

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    I agree that overclocking can be done, but its not for the novice. It sometimes involves memory timing changes (RAS, CAS), voltage changes, issues with cards on the PCI bridge, beefed up cooling topology, etc. To me, anymore, the mild performance gain just isn't worth the effort.

    Good Motherboard List:

    1. Tyan
    2. ASUS
    3. Gigabyte
    4. AOpen
    5. Abit
    6. Supermicro (don't think these are made anymore)
    7. Probably more....

    A good motherboard will have a website with a full suite of drivers. Avoid those $69 chinese motherboards like the plaque; you'll have to take code numbers off the chips if you ever need to reload drivers (I've been thru this many times).

    THE Resource: http://www.tomshardware.com
    Last edited by steveinaz; 02-05-2004 at 02:43 PM.

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
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    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  16. #16

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    Gigabte is a verry good mobo RAM is a delicate issue beacuse it depends on your mobo what tybe you should get if you have three slots then you will have more options in sim size. I have a gig a ram and I truely do not feel the difference between 512 mgs or a gig but with the price of ram now you should get the gig because market conditions should edge up the price soon. The mobo is the last thing you should skimp on because it should save you hassels upgrading later. And on the case you should find one with usb and fire wire ports on the front side because you never know when youll need them and it will be nice to have the ports there.
    Last edited by warviper; 02-06-2004 at 04:23 AM.
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  17. #17

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    I agree with everything Warviper just said.

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    To add to what others have said, don't buy cheap ram... I have had more problems with bad ram than any other piece of computer hardware. Crucial ram is good stuff and reasonably priced. As far as BSD/Linux goes, either OS will run fine on older hardware if tweaked properly. I'm running Linux on a PII 800 with plenty of ram and 10k scsi drives, and it flys! I also have FreeBSD running on a PIII 450 with 196 megs of ram and SCSI hardware that is plenty fast for most uses. When I complile source code that's another story... AMD chips are a great value, but some of the supporting chipsets have been unstable with windows in the past -- not up on the current crop of stuff, though.

  19. #19

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    One other thing, if you do get an Intel chip, get a motherboard with an Intel chipset.

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