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  1. #1

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    Default computer geeks - advice requested

    I've been getting more and more annoyed with my laptop, so i think it's time i made the transition to a desktop. in the interest of efficiency (and cause i want to), i think i'm going to try and build my own pc, for the first time ever.

    as i am basically new to this aspect of computers, i'll be taking it quite slowly. this is my initial list of bits, all hyperlinked to newegg:
    Code:
    Component	Name					Price
    Case		Tuniq ATX Mid Tower			$84.00
    Floppy Drive	Sony 1.44Mb				$10.00
    Hard Drive	Seagate 250Gb 7200RPM 16Mb SATA150	$135.00
    CD/DVD Drive	BenQ Combo Burner w/ LightScribe	$53.00
    Processor	2.2  GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+		$460.00
    Processor Fan	Aerocool 92mm				$55.00
    Motherboard	ASUS A8N-E Nvidia nForce4 Ultra		$95.00
    Memory		OCZ 2x1Gb DDR400 non-ECC		$199.00
    Power Supply	Coolmax 24-pin 600W			$131.00
    Video Card	GeForce 7900GT				$360.00
    Sound Card	SB X-Fi Platinum 24-bit 96 kHz 7.1 Ch.	$180.00
    Mouse		A4Tech Optical Gaming			$30.00
    Display		Asus 17" LCD				$320.00
    Network Card	Linksys Gigabit, 1xRJ-45		$24.00
    Keyboard	Saitek Blue-glow Eclipse		$47.00

    what i'm looking for from those in the know is, is this the most efficient use of my money? i.e. is there anywhere i can spend a little more cash and get a lot more performance? or is there anywhere i'm spending too much money on not enough performance? is any one component holding the rest back? or is there a component that's too advanced for the rest of the system, and can be pared back a bit without performance loss?

    i'm aiming for a gaming computer, but not one at the level of the hardcore 'gamers' - the ones that spend hours a day on it. i want to be able to run F.E.A.R. at or near its highest graphics level, but i don't need to be compiling a program in the background at the same time. i'd also like it to be future-ready, at least a little, so that when e.g. FEAR 2 comes out, i don't need to upgrade anything immediately...

    comments?
    It's not good, very fundamentally simply not good. - geolemon

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  2. #2

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    For gaming I did think you need X2 chip, also you made like to go to SLI mainboard for games. The CPU cooler is ok, but I did use a Zalman 7000 and I like that.

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  3. #3

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    Good setup. Ditch the LCD and get a traditional monitor for best PQ.

    Doesn't that mobo already have a network connection?

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    Seems like your'e throwing a LOT of money at a processor. I understand you're gaming, but almost 5 bills for a processor, especially where you have a hundred dollar motherboard, is definitely overkill. Then again, I'm not a gamer, so I guess take my opinion with a grain of salt.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    steve - i think i'll stick with the cooler as is, cause i took your advice and am now considering this MSI x16 SLI mobo, which is pretty crowded, so i'll take the vertical cooler over a more spread-out one

    PT - are there shallow CRT monitors? cause i have pretty limited desk space, which is why i went with the LCD, and i tried to keep the response time as short as possible

    bobman - i reconsidered my processor choice, but i think that the 4400+ is the best value for my purposes; i'm not just building a gaming computer, but one that needs significant computational power, too (compiling and massive simulations)... unless you have a specific suggestion for me to look at, i think i'll stay with what i have
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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00
    i'm not just building a gaming computer, but one that needs significant computational power, too (compiling and massive simulations)... unless you have a specific suggestion for me to look at, i think i'll stay with what i have
    I'd pickup a second SATA drive and mirror it so there's little risk of losing saved games, sims, etc. You'll take a performance hit but I'd rather not lose my data, mp3's, pics, games, etc.

    Looks good. The nice thing about building your own box is you get to spec it out the way you want.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by fatchowmein
    I'd pickup a second SATA drive and mirror it so there's little risk of losing saved games, sims, etc. You'll take a performance hit but I'd rather not lose my data, mp3's, pics, games, etc.

    Looks good. The nice thing about building your own box is you get to spec it out the way you want.
    i did research this a bit before choosing, and i decided that i definitely don't want raid 0, and i'm not sure i want to spend another $135 AND have to deal with a performance loss going to raid 1... that's the reason i went with seagate, i know them as a reliable drive... have i the incorrect impression, here? 1/0 would be a good compromise, but that needs 4 drives of 125 gig each... eew...

    oh, and the comment about having a specific reccommendation applies only the processor, as that was the most thoroughly-researched part of my list... for the rest of it, hack away :)

    and yes, i'm building so i can get exactly the specs i want... yay customisation
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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00
    i did research this a bit before choosing, and i decided that i definitely don't want raid 0, and i'm not sure i want to spend another $135 AND have to deal with a performance loss going to raid 1... that's the reason i went with seagate, i know them as a reliable drive... have i the incorrect impression, here? 1/0 would be a good compromise, but that needs 4 drives of 125 gig each... eew...
    You want mirroring. 0+1. Requires 2 hard drives. I've had drive failures with Seagate, Maxtor, Western Digital, etc. Sometimes, they've failed within 6 months. But, I have 1 drive from 1998 that still works. Useless but still works.

    You pay your money and you take your chances. Just make sure you back things up. Platters running at high speeds don't last forever.

    Good luck! :D

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    looks nice, but might want to get a non lit keyboard. I find that the glow of anything distracts me from getting into a game. The reviews for it are kinda funny I think, the people saying it helps them see the keys in the dark. I can only see that being usefull if you cant touchtype. Other then that its giving me computer envy.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00

    bobman - i reconsidered my processor choice, but i think that the 4400+ is the best value for my purposes; i'm not just building a gaming computer, but one that needs significant computational power, too (compiling and massive simulations)... unless you have a specific suggestion for me to look at, i think i'll stay with what i have
    K. I'm a cheapo when it comes to procs, didn't realize you did CPU-intensive stuff. Carry on, nothing to see here... :)

    Looks like an awesome rig to me. Oh, and I second the RAID recommendation. If you go 0+1, it only takes two drives, and you get a performance BOOST, not a hit, not to mention piece of mind.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    hmm... it seems i'm quite confused on this factoid about RAID... raid 0 is striping, raid 1 is mirroring, each of which requires 2 drives... raid 0+1 is 2 or more raid 0 levels mirrored with each other... that would require 4 drives at minimum (2 groups of 2)... that seems like a lot, to me... i could go with raid 1 for redundancy, and take the performance hit, which is icky, or i could go with raid 0 and get the performance boost at significantly increased risk of data loss, which is even more icky

    i agree, raid 0+1 would be nice, but 4 of these 120 gig WD drives hits $360, almost thrice my original price...

    or am i missing something?

    karpiel - i actually use dvorak, but i've only been on it for a year - i still need to glance at the keys during games on occasion, when my hands are out of proper position :o. this board also looks to be easily-modifiable (e.g. i had to dremel some of the keys on my laptop to get them into dvorak positions)... i'd buy a dvorak board, but newegg doesn't sell one and the ones i am able to find are ugly :)... any suggestions on where i can look?
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    That Motherboard is like to one I'm using but my is the version below that (not the Diamond one) nice I like it. The CPU I'm using is the AMD 3700+ chip nice and you could push it ;) Also with that MB you could loss the sound card and the nic card.

    BTW if this is the 1st computer you're putting together with SATA drive, here's a tip when starting windows installation use the F6 option. Install both SATA drivers even if it looks wrong, install RAID not and RAID drivers. If not windows will not see the HD, trust me you will like this tip. :)

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    Not to harp on this, but there is NO performance hit with RAID 1 - you actually get better read performance and EQUAL write performance.

    From this article...
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    When reading, both disks can be accessed independently. Like RAID 0 the average seek time is reduced by half when randomly reading but because each disk has the exact same data the requested sectors can always be split evenly between the disks and the seek time remains low. The transfer rate would also be doubled.
    I'm not sure abou tthe number of drives question. I could have sworn you could do RAID 0+1 with two drives for some reason... but I must be wrong, cuz you're right, it makes no sense.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    You may want a dedicated name brand cd/dvd drive seperate from the burner. That dirve will be doing a lot of work, plus two drive make disk cloning much simplier. Go with a fast lcd screen. If you go cheap there, it will make your life miserable. You will also live with that choice for many years down the road.

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    disneyjoe - good to know someone has a good experience with this mobo... but are you actually telling a polkie to get rid of a 24-bit soundcard in favor of integrated stuff? :p (i actually might neglect it for the initial build to save some dough, then add it in later if i decide i'm missing something, that would be a good idea)

    bobman - i used that same article in my research on 0+1, and it definitely requires 4 drives... i didn't catch the part about reading at 2x with raid 1, though, that is very tasty...

    s2bm - i don't do a ton of cloning (though i might if i had 2 drives :p)... is there any other reason you'd reccommend 2 separate drives? on the lcd - yep, i tried to keep the response time as low as reasonably achieveable... did i choose a good monitor?

    and finally, an updated list... the sound card is out for the moment, there is now a pair of 200 gig drives for raid 1 (see question at end), the mobo has changed, and the nic card is gone

    Code:
    Component	Name					Price
    Case		Tuniq ATX Mid Tower			$84.00
    Floppy Drive	Sony 1.44Mb				$10.00
    Hard Drive	2x Seagate 7200 200Gb 8Mb  3Gb/s	$135.00
    CD/DVD Drive	BenQ Combo Burner w/ LightScribe	$53.00
    Processor	2.2  GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+		$460.00
    Processor Fan	Aerocool 92mm				$55.00
    Motherboard	MSI K8N Diamond Plus SLi		$180.00
    Memory		OCZ 2x1Gb DDR400 non-ECC		$199.00
    Power Supply	Coolmax 24-pin 600W			$131.00
    Video Card	GeForce 7900GT				$360.00
    //Sound Card	SB X-Fi Platinum 24-bit 96 kHz 7.1 Ch.	$180.00
    Mouse		A4Tech Optical Gaming			$30.00
    Display		Asus 17" LCD				$320.00
    Keyboard	Saitek Blue-glow Eclipse		$47.00
    HD question - newegg lists this as an 'OEM' product... what is that, exactly, as opposed to 'Retail'?
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    FYI. I have bought most of my computer gear at mwave.com. The last two systems I priced where cheaper at mwave than at newegg. So you might save 30-50 dollars at mwave.

    Howie

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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00
    HD question - newegg lists this as an 'OEM' product... what is that, exactly, as opposed to 'Retail'?
    OEM is a bare drive, no cable or screws (sometimes no box). Retail drives usually come with cable, screws, box and semi-useless software.

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    Do you really what to spend $360 for that video card? With SLI you could bridge 2 card together so a slower / cheaper card like this one which I used. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814127200 I would also replace the DVD for another brand. Just my $.02 what you are putting together is fine.

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    Have you looked at any Lightscribe drives for the DVD/CD burner? They're supposed to be quite good.
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  20. #20

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    I've seen this one, and I like it myself. I may add this drive with my sony DVD burner so I have a dual driver myself.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827151118

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  21. #21

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    I personally wouldn't even dream of having a desktop without dual drives. It's just so much more convenient.
    Quote Originally Posted by George Grand View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jstas View Post
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  22. #22

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    Oops, ignore this one! See below.
    Last edited by fatchowmein; 03-27-2006 at 10:56 PM.

  23. #23

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    I personnally wouldn't even dream of having a desktop without a memory reader with an USB port.

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  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00
    bobman - i used that same article in my research on 0+1, and it definitely requires 4 drives... i didn't catch the part about reading at 2x with raid 1, though, that is very tasty...
    Gentlemen,

    The explanation from wikipedia was taken out of context. That link is for Raid0+1, NESTED, which is not what we want to do here on a home machine. The RAID 1 explanation is further up the page under Standard RAID levels.

    RAID 0+1:
    Take 1 drive. Stripe it (divide up the platters efficiently). Copy it exactly to another drive. Best to use two identical drives but that's my personal preference.

    Advantage:
    You have a complete copy on both drives. If one fails, you can "break the mirror", meaning halt the mirroring and continue. Later, replace the broken drive, reactivate the mirroring, and recover (copies data from the unbroken drive to the replacement drive; takes hours depending on amount of data).

    Disadvantage:
    Whenever the system writes data to the disk, it has to do it twice. The controller has to work twice as hard to duplicate data and that's where you're taking a performance hit as opposed to working with a single drive. Yes, in an enterprise environment with a $5,000 SCSI RAID card you can improve performance because the controller is smart enough to read both drives at the same time for different data but you're not likely going to see this in a SATA controller embedded on a motherboard.

    Another disadvantage is you half the available drive space ($$$). For example, if you have two 80GB drives, non-mirrored, you have 160GB of storage available. With mirroring, you have one 80GB drive and everything, including empty space, is copied over to the other 80GB, essentially giving you a total of only 80GB. You give up space for redundancy.

    Other Info:
    You can play all sorts of games with mirroring by creating two logical drives and having each logical drive include numerous physical drive but that's beyond the needs of a home pc.

    My home pc has two IDE drives and two SATA drives (300GB each). The SATA drives are mirrored as one logical drive (drive letter E: at 300GB) and contain all data on this pc: mp3, pictures (my other expensive hobby ), saved games, ghost backups. The IDE drives are not mirrored.

    Hope that wasn't too confusing.

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    chowmein - no, not confusing at all... however, the definition of raid ("redundant array of independant/inexpensive disks") means more than one physical drive... i wasn't aware you could control striping across platters, i thought that was implemented in the drive itself (i presumed the manufacturer would make a single drive as efficient as possible, and didn't consider internal 'raid')

    reaper - is a packet of all those loose bits available for purchase at e.g. best buy? cause if not, i'll have to search for a retail drive...

    howie - i'll check out mwave for price comparisions when i have the time to do it properly, and i'll get back to you

    disneyjoe - i thought about my reasons for wanting SLi (or not), and i'm fairly sure i just want the one video card for now. this way, when it comes time to upgrade the video cards, all i need to do is buy another one of the one i have, rather than trash both lesser cards. IF i were to go with dual cards now, it'd be along the lines of this one... maybe a slightly lesser one... is there any definitive way to tell which would be better, though? i mean SLi of this one versus a single bigger one, is there a good benchmark available, short of buying both setups?

    I personnally wouldn't even dream of having a desktop without a memory reader with an USB port.
    umm... huh? :p

    bliss - yep, i like the lightscribe idea, so both the old benq and the new samsung are lightscribe drives

    dual drives - like the soundcard, i think i'll hold on this until i find that i'm missing it, but i'll definitely keep it in mind for the future
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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00
    chowmein - no, not confusing at all... however, the definition of raid ("redundant array of independant/inexpensive disks") means more than one physical drive... i wasn't aware you could control striping across platters, i thought that was implemented in the drive itself (i presumed the manufacturer would make a single drive as efficient as possible, and didn't consider internal 'raid')
    Man, it's been 6 years since I looked at how data was distributed within a single disk but if I recall correctly RAID 0 gets striped accross the platters on all drives within the RAID set. Think of it as RAID without the R. So, yes, you do need more than one disk to implement even a simple RAID 0.

    On an individual disk, data is distributed at the center, outward, before going on to the next platter. I believe there's one manufacturer that has it reversed (outside-in).

    Sorry I'm waaay off on a tangent here but the solution is simpler than the explanation. Most SATA enabled motherboards will allow mirroring from the BIOS during bootup. Just enter the configuration menu and follow the directions. You do need to load the RAID driver during installation of Windows so make sure you hit F6. A floppy drive is required. Windows won't let you load the driver off a cd which is ironic since they're trying to do away with it. USB drives won't work either. You'll also need to configure in BIOS the option to boot from the SATA drives or else the motherboard will look to boot from an IDE drive instead. Read the manual for specific instructions for your particular motherboard.

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    May I suggest you go to a better mouse? I bought my brother this one for christmas and it's quite nice. Being able to scale up or down the resolution of the mouse is pretty handy, especially if you're into doing things like editing photos where you would need precise movements and then be able to go back to normal. I own a logitech mx1000 and like it better than the G5 I linked to but it's wireless and some argue that there is a delay so it's bad for gaming. I can't notice a lag and can still kill as fast as with a corded mouse. Think of the two mice as cars. The mx1000 would be a mercedes, being very comftorable and nice to hold with more buttons and features, while the g5 is more like a corvette -- some comfort but mainly designed for functionality.

    Oh I forgot, I'd have to say I like the mx1000 better overall and that it's pretty much the perfect mouse for games like World of Warcrack. I throughly enjoyed doing most of my killing with just my mouse ;)
    Last edited by michael_w; 03-28-2006 at 02:41 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neomagus00
    reaper - is a packet of all those loose bits available for purchase at e.g. best buy? cause if not, i'll have to search for a retail drive...
    I don't know, I scrounge stuff like screws from my old computer. Best Buy does have Sata cables, but they are cheaper at newegg. My current case (Gateway computer), doesn't use screws to hold the drives, they just clip in.

    PS. Striping data across platters in a hard drive, is called a 'Cylinder'. This is a low level function of a drive, as it has heads for each surface, a hard drive reads and writes cylinders of data. So a hard drive with more platters can read and write more data at the same spindle speed and density.
    Last edited by TheReaper; 03-28-2006 at 06:40 AM.

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    Neomagus00 / David,

    I use a card reader for a SD memory card, this card holds all my data which I can work on different computers. By holding only my data not the data and the program I can move this file around, and I don't care if the HD crashes on me. This is the one I use.

    As far as the video card I say buy a cheaper one if you can add this card again for a 2 card 1 monitor ratio. Why buy $720 / $360x2 when $340 down the road $170 now will give you all the power I think you could use in a game.

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    reaper & fatchowmein - yeah, i figured 'internal raid 0' would be a function beyond my control, so i guess the HDD is still up in the air (i could even do it like a couple other components - get one now, go to a pair if i feel like it later)

    just reaper - i don't have an old tower, or i'd do exactly that, and scavenge... i think i'll go retail just to be quite sure i have all the necessary bits (keeping in mind that this is the first time i'm doing this, i'm not going to take any chances on something as retarded as a couple screws delaying my gaming enjoyment!)

    michael_w - i actually waffled between that one and the one i have now for quite some time :p. i ended up with the a4tech for 2 reasons - first, it was 2/3 the cost, and second, i think it looks cooler. BUT, i didn't recall the g5 was laser, whilst the a4tech is optical... i'll continue waffling for a while, i think.

    disneyjoe - ah, i see what you mean. i'll put that on the list with the second cd drive, pending necessity. i only work on the one computer, so my need for data transfer is minimal, and i use an ftp server through my university when i do need a transfer. on the video card - are you saying that i might be better satisfied buying say a $220 card now, then going SLi with that card when I need to?
    Last edited by neomagus00; 03-28-2006 at 12:15 PM.
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