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  1. #1

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    Default Building a new computer, need some opinions

    Alright, our current setup is quickly going downhill, so I plan on putting together a system myself. I would buy from Dell, HP, whatever, but I really don't want Vista, and I hate running into having to deal with proprietary stuff when trying to upgrade. There are a few things that I need to know, that I want some honest opinions about and not just "don't buy AMD because it sucks."

    This computer will be primarily used for internet, photo editing, a little video editing in the future, and possibly our PVR in the future.

    What I need to know:

    Intel or AMD, what to avoid from both and which might work better for what I plan on using the computer for.

    Memory, basically the ones to avoid and the ones that the cheap stuff is still good and reliable.

    Motherboard, I have some ideas on this just because this was one of the first things that I started researching, but I don't know real world who is the most reliable or what features I need to be looking for.

    Video card, I have absolutely no idea about this so any and all help is appreciated

    Power supply, how much do I need and who's good or not.

    Hard drive, again who to avoid, features to look for.

    I figure those are the main components that I need to worry about off the bat, so I figure that I would at least start here. I may consider trying to upgrade the sound card as well(instead of the built-in) but that all depends on budget. I also don't know how much a case matters, so you can chime in on that as well if you feel so inclined. I know that I will need a DVD burner and a few other things, but I just want to get the basics. I plan on running Windows XP Pro until everything gets worked out with Vista, so Vista compatible is a must.

    I plan on purchasing XP Pro and MS office for around $300, which leaves me with a max budget of $1700. Obviously if I can get all this accomplished for less, I would love to, I just really don't know if it's feasible. Also let me know if I am forgetting something that I haven't mentioned.

    Thanks for the help!
    I know just enough to be dangerous, but don't tell my wife, she thinks I'm a genius. :D

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  2. #2
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    Go to tigerdirect.com and look at their bare-bones systems. I put one together from them and it worked flawlessly. Most of the components I purchased new. A few things I had around the house. I returned an old broken video card to ATI for a discount against a new one. I think I spent about $600 and ended up with a P4-3.0GHZ, 2G Ram, 250 G Hard drive, DVD burner, etc. and couldn't be happier. I purchased a Razer copperhead mouse, a MS ergo keyboard, and an LG digital monitor. I purchased the digital monitor cable off e-bay for $5.

    Anyway, you get the idea. For fun, try to buy the best computer for the $. Its more challenging and pretty easy to do.

    Enjoy!

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    Last edited by rskarvan; 04-09-2007 at 09:54 AM.

  3. #3

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    AMD has benchmarked faster than Intel in most cases, so I don't know why anyone would go with Intel, at a much higher price, over AMD.

    Motherboards, Asus has never steered me wrong, and everyone I know who has built PCs and used Asus mobos has been happy.

    The rest of it I don't have much opinion, although I am VERY happy with my Antec P180 case. Nice looking, solid, very quiet, and well-organized. A bit pricey, and large, but worth it.

    Also, while I've had mixed experience with TigerDirect, NewEgg is a bastion of holy light to which all of e-commerce should pray and aspire to be.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

  4. #4

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    Id second bobman's opinions on the Asus mobo's and recommending Newegg, but I don't really agree so much with the cpu.

    Since the Core2 Duo, Intel has been taking the performance lead back and have kept their pricing very competitive with AMD, especially since AMD hasn't really had anything new to offer in the past year besides yet another socket change and ddr2 support(which Intel had already). Now I am in no way an Intel fanboy....or AMD for that matter, I just swing to whoever offers the best bang for buck at the time of purchase.

    As for the rest of your parts, just don't skimp on quality. Ive seen people building their first just go for the fastest videocard and most memory they could get in their budget, but disregard quality brands and regret it down the road. My two biggest issues are quality ram and power supplies. Just make sure you get a quality (thermaltake, antec come to mind) power supply with enough juice. For a decently powered pc, I'd go with a 500watter personally.

    Im sure everyone else will have other opinions, just remember quality over quantity and you shouldn't have anything else to worry about....and Newegg.
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  5. #5

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    In response and deference to noimposse, I have not looked at CPUs for at least two years, so my comments about AMD vs Intel may be out of date. Last I looked, Intel was still significantly more expensive, but maybe their advances in speed and technology make up for that. I'm skeptical.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

  6. #6

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    I went form and intel P4 2.4 ghz ht to an AMD 64 4000+ (2.4 GHZ) for single applications the amd is faster, for multitasking the 3 year old P4 was way better. As of lately the intel's have been beating the amds as far as benchmarks go. When intle cam out with the the core 2 dou's they were (and still are) flogging the amd's while running at lower clock speeds. From my exp. ASUS, and Abit make nice boards, ASUS are very reliable. I have had problems with MSI's mobo's buring up chips on the boards, they do have decent customer service if you have a problem. Gigabyte boards are hit and miss. Most memory is pretty reliable, just make sure you have at least 2gig's for the stuff you are going to be doing(if your using photoshop it helps more is better) If you are going to be doing a lot of photo editing and graphics work you might want to look at the quadro line, or the fire gl line from Nvidia, and ATI. I've heard they can both handle gaming and video duties but are optimized for graphic editing\rendering. Make sure your board has a PCI-E 16x slot for a videocard. if your gonna do a lot of gaming go with a 7xxx, or 8xxx series videocard from in Nvidia(just don't go below the 7600 offerings) or a 1650 or above for an ATI. If you have any specific questions you cam PM me and I'll do the best I can to answer questions for you.

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  7. #7

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    Currently Intel is the Big Chief Wompam in the CPU arena and N-Vidia is king on the graphics side. Check www.tomshardware.com as the routinely to "best bang for the $$$" comparisons for processors, MB, memory, vid cards, etc...
    There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them. We not only acquired a vast population of morons, we have inculcated all morons, old or young, with the doctrine that the decent and industrious people of the country are bound to support them for all time.-Menkin

  8. #8

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    tomshardware.com is the best site I've seen for comparing all things computer. +100 for newegg.com as well.

  9. #9

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    Research at Toms Hardware
    Buy at Newegg

    If I have been following it correctly, Intel is dominant for CPUs at anything past the very entry level.

    I would get an Nvidia graphics card. I would get a decent one at that based on what you are going to want to be doing.

    Get plenty of RAM. I would say at least 1 gig, but more if you can swing it.

    If you are going to be doing PVR stuff, you might want to consider Vista or XP Media Center Edition. From what I understand, they work very well and can support several TV tuner cards. You might want to check out the forums at AVS, as they go nuts with this stuff.

    I am a fan of Western Digital hard drives. They have been very reliable and have always honored their warranty without giving me much guff.

    For a case, I really like Antec.

  10. #10

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    I believe the new Intel chip architecture is set to drop soon so I would wait awhile. Right now, Intel is where it is at for CPUs and it will probably stay that way through the year.

    For a graphics card - don't get ATI because ATI sucks! Really, they are known to have faulty drivers and my experience with them has been a headache. Get Nvidia and don't look back
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  11. #11

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    Just because Intel has the lead at the top end of the performance spectrum doesn't necessarily mean that buying any Intel processor will assure you the most performace/dollar. Consider your total system cost when evaluating, as motherboard prices will vary as well depending on the processor choice. Both Intel and AMD processor prices are trending downward because of a current price war for market share. AMD prices just went down today and another Intel cut is expected towards the end of the month (I think the 22nd). The consumers benefit greatly from this competition, not only on price, but from CPU innovation as well.

  12. #12

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    Yeah, don't get too wrapped up in the CPU speed race. I'm still running an Athlon XP 2500+ (Barton) which is a couple years old, and I have yet to feel the need to upgrade for any program. I play all the latest game demos which I get directly from fileplanet. Its all about synergy, 1.5GB RAM and a good vid card.

  13. #13

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    First try.

    See what you think about this setup. I need to check for Vista compatibility, but so far this is what I have come up with. I will add about $300 to that for Windows XP Pro or Media Center and Office(small business I believe). I tried to take everything mentioned above into consideration. If I were to change to Intel mobo and CPU the price change is within $20-30.

    I already have a monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, and a wireless card.

    Your thoughts please.
    I know just enough to be dangerous, but don't tell my wife, she thinks I'm a genius. :D

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  14. #14

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    Well, two things on the list are out of stock, hope you noticed that :)

    Also, 4GB of memory seems like a bit of overkill, PERSONALLY, I would ditch one of the sticks of memory and get a second hard drive, and run a RAID so you have a constant backup of all your data.

    But that's just me, I think the list looks pretty good.
    If you will it, dude, it is no dream.

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    I figured I would get some comments on the memory. :) So I should drop to 3 gigs and run two 320 gig hard drives in RAID? Anyone want to give me the quick and dirty on running two hard drives in a RAID setup? Does it actually speed things up or is it just for backup? Do you gain any additional space by running two in a RAID setup? Is it easy to setup initially? I have fiddled around with previous computers trying out overclocking and just playing around with settings, but that has been a few years.

    Also, what about adding a sound card, like the Creative Labs X-Fi with remote control, DTS-EX decoding and Dolby digital decoding with optical digital inputs/and outputs.

    Oh yeah, I know that stuff is out of stock at the moment, but it is expected to be back in stock within the next few days, so I kept it listed.
    I know just enough to be dangerous, but don't tell my wife, she thinks I'm a genius. :D

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  16. #16

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    Regarding the RAID, it only took me a few minutes to get one set up. I'm not well-versed in all the different types, I just do the simple mirroring type, where one HD is a direct copy of the other. I don't see any appreciable performance difference, but I like the piece of mind of knowing my data is in two places.
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    RAID 1 is direct copy - known as Mirrored. Write times will be slightly slower but read times will be slightly faster so the point is essentially moot. My next setup WILL be a RAID 1. If you use two 320GB drives, you have 320GB of available space. The benefit is if one HDD dies, you have a complete copy of the drive.

    The other major type is RAID 0 - Striping. It writes part of a file on one HDD and part on another. If you use two 320 GB drives, you have 640GB of available space but if one HDD dies then you lose all information on both drives.
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  18. #18

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    Do I need to worry about an aftermarket fan and heatsink for the CPU, RAM, video card or will it all be okay. I don't plan on overclocking anything for a while if I ever do. I just want to make sure that I don't ruin all my new stuff.
    I know just enough to be dangerous, but don't tell my wife, she thinks I'm a genius. :D

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  19. #19

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    Hehehe...you should go with both types....how's that referred to? Raid01? 0-1? 0&1?
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    My 2 cents. All the systems i have built are AMD based. My current system is over 4 years old runnign an athlon xp 1700+ processer and is faster then most computers out there. Buy at least 1 gig of ram more if you can afford it. ASUS is the way to go for mobo's as there firmware upgrades are a cake walk. Since all new mobos now come with the new PCI express standard for video instead of AGP I cant help too much there but buy a good card.

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    i have a amd 2600+ overclocked to 3200+, it does anything i need it to, i have a thermaltake heatsink and it works great. my experence is that when you keep the stock hsf it can be loud but with my 120mm fan on my heatsink and a silent fan put into my ppwer supply my computer is so quiet i can hardly hear it when i am on the other side of my room. when looking at cases look to see that they have room for 120mm fans, as 80mm's do not move as much air and will drive you nuts if you fill your case with them. an important thing with memory is the timings, the lower the better look for somthing around 2-2-3-5, or even better 2-2-2-5. dfi has a good rep as being easy to oc. i wouldent skimp on a power supply, a good 450W will put out the right voltages up untill 450w, where as a 550w pos powersupply will have voltages all over at 450w and even worse at 550w.

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    You did ask for opinions so,

    AMD cpu
    nVidia graphics card 512 meg or higher memory
    ASUS motherboard
    Antec case
    Western Digital hard drive
    Kingston DDR 2 gig or a little more memory
    NEC Trinitron monitor
    450 watt power supply

    How ever, a lot of this that I have read here is personal preference, with one exception, ATI graphics cards are not compatible with some software and I would not use one. By the way, I have had 2 years of college computer hardware, I do know a little bit about these things. Tom's Hardware is a good site to research, we were required to visit the site daily.

  23. #23
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    I've had nothing but great success using ATI cards.
    Intel vs. AMD is kind of like Chevy vs. Ford.
    No question ASUS makes good motherboards. So do other manufacturers though.
    Nothing wrong with WD hard drives.
    Also, I've had good luck with Ultra memory, ultra defender case, ultra power supplies, etc.
    Last edited by rskarvan; 04-09-2007 at 09:38 PM.

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    i have a 120gb wd and a 120 seagate and they have both been great for over 2 years

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    Quote Originally Posted by rskarvan View Post
    Intel vs. AMD is kind of like Chevy vs. Ford.
    AMd is better, just like chevy ;)
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    I've had two Western Digital internal hard drives croak on me. One was my personal Dell, and the other was in my IBM work PC. Dell replaced mine under warranty and I haven't had a problem with it in 3.5+ years. I bought a Maxtor external drive and have been very pleased with it, but I don't know anything about their internal drives.
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    dump the audigy card, the on board audio is good enough. Take the saved funds from that and get this video card. The rest looks pretty good to me. Good luck and game on.
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    Oh yeah, if you are going to be doing any HD PVR, HTPC stuff, there aren't a whole lot of HDCP/HDMI video cards on the market right now. That factor alone might determine if you want to wait a while longer or not.

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    amd droped their prices by up to 48% today, anyone know if intell will cut prices on the cor2 duo's ? but as of today unless you need the best computer amd is the way to go

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    AMD Athlon FX 74 Processor
    1.5 - 2.0 GB DDR Ram
    DVD +/- RW-DL Burner
    Creative Audigy 4 Sound Card
    Nvidia 7950 PCI-e video card
    Coolermaster 450-500 watt powersupply
    ANY WIFI AND NIC CARD

    Any ABIT or ASUS motherboard which can hold all of that stuff.

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