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Old 02-21-2008, 12:33 AM   #1
Rogue Nine
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Official Hardware Discussion and Advice Megathread

This thread is for discussion and advice on building and upgrading your computer. Got a video card you'd like some opinions on? Want to know which processor to buy? Unsure about what kind of RAM to get? This is the thread to ask these questions in. Please do not ask troubleshooting questions; for those issues, please follow the procedure described in the Forum FAQ thread.

If this is your first time building a PC on your own, the Tech Report has published an awesome step-by-step guide on how to do it.

There are a lot of places you can buy parts from online. However, if you're not sure whether or not a certain site is reputable, the following retailers have been generally agreed upon to be reputable and safe to use:
Feel free to recommend more sites and if they're up to snuff, they'll be added in.

Have fun!




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Old 02-21-2008, 12:35 AM   #2
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Recommended Parts - (March 31, 2008)
This is a list of parts that are all generally agreed upon to be good and solid choices for building a computer. It is by no means exhaustive and should be used only as a starting point, as everyone's needs in a computer are different. Nothing is set in stone, so feel free to ask questions on anything on this list.

It will be periodically updated as new and zingier technology comes out (which is pretty much everyday in the computer world), so keep checking back!

Everything linked here will be to Newegg, as they've got the most comprehensive page set up, however, you may find pricing for certain parts better at the other sites listed above. This is especially true for the current line of Intel Core 2 Duo processors, the 45nm Wolfdales. They are in such high demand that Newegg is consistently sold out and as such you would be better off trying to find it on other sites.

Processor (CPU)

IntelAMD
Motherboard

Intel - Socket 775AMD - Socket AM2
Memory
Video Card (GPU)

NvidiaATI
Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Power Supply (PSU)
Aftermarket Cooling

CPU - REQUIRED IF YOU PURCHASE AN OEM PROCESSOR!GPU
Case
Niner's Personal Picks for Performance/Sweet Spot
CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 w/ Zalman CNPS9700
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L ATX
Memory - G.Skill 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 800
Video Card - EVGA GeForce 8800GT 512MB w/ Arctic Cooling Accelero S1
Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar 500GB 7200RPM SATA 16MB Cache
Optical Drive - Samsung 20X DVD+/-R SATA
Power Supply - Thermaltake W0093RU 500W
Case - Raidmax Smilodon

If you have any other recommendations, please post them for review and I'll see about adding them to the list.




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Last edited by Rogue Nine; 03-31-2008 at 12:04 PM. Reason: moar partz
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Old 02-21-2008, 12:35 AM   #3
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General Hardware FAQ - (March 31, 2008)
This is designed to provide a broad overview of the most commonly asked questions pertaining to hardware. Again, as with the recommendations above, this is by no means an exhaustive compilation and is constantly subject to change, depending on the state of the computer industry.

Which is better: Intel or AMD?
Quite possibly the most oft-asked question not only in enthusiast circles, but by everyday users and novices alike. The short answer is: Intel, by virtue of its line of Core 2 Duo/Quad chips which consistently outperform their AMD counterparts in almost every benchmarking test undertaken. Intel chips are fast, consume a conservative amount of power and run cool. This is not to say that AMD chips are not viable options as well; they are generally cheaper and many casual users and enthusiasts still use them, especially the Black Editions which are pretty much designed for overclocking. However, Intel has AMD beat in almost every way performance-wise.

Which is better: Nvidia or ATI?
Probably the second most oft-asked question by computer users. However, unlike Intel vs AMD, this one isn't so cut and dried. Nvidia has had the fastest cards on the market (GeForce 8800Ultra and 8800GTX) and a slew of high-end offerings at competitive prices (8800GTS, 8800GT) for quite some time now. ATI has recently released its latest high-end offering, the HD 3870 X2, that actually gives the 8800Ultra a run for its money and has had some very good mid-range offerings (HD 3870, HD 3850) that appeal to those looking for cheaper GPU options. So, it's really up in the air right now. Nvidia and ATI are working feverishly to one-up each other, and that's a good thing for the industry.

Should I get a quad-core processor?
Not unless you do a lot of heavy video editing or some other function that takes full advantage of four cores. If you're just looking to do some gaming, then stick with a dual core as most games today still do not have support for quad core CPUs.

Should I get DDR3 memory?
Not at this point in time. It's ridiculously priced and not worth splurging for when DDR2 800 and 1066 are more than enough.

What is overclocking?
Simply put, it is making your processor run at a higher speed than it is rated for. This causes an increase in perfomance at the expense of possible instability and/or decreased part life. It's a simple enough concept, but takes a bit of practice and preparation to do. Tech Report has put together an excellent guide to overclocking that addresses pretty much everything you need to know.

What is the difference between OEM vs. Retail?
You may notice that the parts in the lists above have either 'OEM' or 'Retail' listed at the end and you may wonder what that means and what effect it will have on your purchase. Basically, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are products that are sold by manufacturers without retail packaging to retailers for purchase in or with a complete system. For example, an OEM hard drive will probably come wrapped in anti-magnetic plastic, with no retail box or cables or software CDs or instructions. An OEM processor will come much the same way, without a heatsink and fan. Why are they sold without retail packaging? Because this makes them a lot cheaper and therefore more attractive to those looking to save a bunch of money when putting together a system.

So why would anyone buy Retail when OEM is cheaper?
The big difference is with warranties. Retail products come with instructions and well-defined service and support options. OEM parts often have limited instructions (if any at all) and shorter warranties, since they are meant to be sold as part of a complete system. Also, as stated above, OEM products are usually just the part you order, nothing more, nothing less. This means that you will have to provide any peripherals that you may need to hook it up to your system, like cables, connectors and the like. This is particularly important when purchasing OEM processors, as you MUST also purchase an aftermarket heatsink for them.

In the end, it is completely up to you whether or not you choose retail or OEM. It may give you peace of mind to know that your parts are backed up with a warranty and that you get everything you need, but your wallet might thank you more if you go OEM.

Why are some older components more expensive than newer ones?
This is a bit of an oddity in the computer hardware market. As newer things come out, one would expect for the older products to go down in price in order to liquidate inventory, right? For the most part, PC components do not follow this trend. A good example is that of the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 and the E6750. The E6600 came out in early 2006 as the first chip in Intel's Conroe line, priced competitively around $250. After about a year and a number of improvements to the architecture, the E6750, also based on the Conroe core, came out in mid 2007 at around $190. It is a faster, better chip than the E6600 in almost every way, but yet is cheaper than its predecessor. Why is this? Nobody is really sure why retailers still choose to sell the older products at the same price point, but it's important for consumers to know, as they may be choosing pricier parts that are inferior to newer technology. So when shopping around for PC components, make sure you're getting the latest technology and not overpaying for outdated hardware!

These are all the questions I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure Astro, stingerhs and our other tech-heads will be able to contribute more later on. And maybe if there's enough interest, we can start another thread for peripherals/software/whatnot.

(I would like to thank stingerhs for tutoring me [read: putting up with my many stupid questions] about computer stuffs and providing me the inspiration to make this thread. He's my geeky computer hero. )




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Last edited by Rogue Nine; 03-31-2008 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Added a few more questions...
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Old 03-09-2008, 06:26 PM   #4
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From the second post of this thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogue Nine
Which is better: Intel or AMD?
Quite possibly the most oft-asked question not only in enthusiast circles, but by everyday users and novices alike. The short answer is: Intel, by virtue of its line of Core 2 Duo/Quad chips which consistently outperform their AMD counterparts in almost every benchmarking test undertaken. Intel chips are fast, consume a conservative amount of power and run cool. This is not to say that AMD chips are not viable options as well; they are generally cheaper and many casual users and enthusiasts still use them, especially the Black Editions which are pretty much designed for overclocking. However, Intel has AMD beat in almost every way performance-wise.
Intel's newest chip, the 3.0Ghz E8400, runs on a 45nm manufacturing process, which means it can fit a larger quantity of small, efficient semiconductors onto a microprocessor chip. The end result is a CPU that runs cooler and more power-efficient than the previous generation of chips which uses a 65nm process. Right now, AMD currently has no 45nm chips on the market as they're still promoting their 65nm and 90nm CPUs.

So in summary, Intel is better in both categories you mention. Intel chips tend to have a higher stock speed than their AMD contemporaries and also tend to be more efficient as well, consuming as much, if not less power than their AMD contemporaries.




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Old 03-10-2008, 01:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogue Nine
....and also tend to be more efficient as well, consuming as much, if not less power than their AMD contemporaries.
sorry niner, you cant make a statement like that without some testbed articles to back it up!!

Its one of the most contentious issue for those of us that are into power efficiency. The testing for this stuff is done in such specific conditions, its hard to fully extrapolate those into energy consumption per user year. Of course, not all homes contain pc that rip crysis for 3+ hrs a day either. ie. how do lower loaded CPUS handle prolonged vs intermittent use ?? The information on this type of stuff is scant.

It is also a *serious* joke when someone even mentions they are thinking about how wonderfully power efficient their CPU is when they are high load-duration users of full sized boards with SLI/XF ready 700-1500W PSUs!

To those buying a CPU, I'd look most closely at price rather than reported high level performance on a testbed you most likely will not have. There is a well demonstrated ceiling effect currently demonstrated in the way CPU v GPU are handling higher end games. You get to a certain level of graphical output and the CPU marks hit a plateux, whereupon the GPUs capabilities are the final telling factor of what you're system can handle.

If you are a professional video editor and the like, sure, a powerful system is always going to benefit you. 99% of the people Ive met that do that professionally are mac-users, tinkering away on teh wonderful Final Cut Pro.

So apart from lame bragging rights, a CPU that can be 'mad overclocked' is a waste of money(and power!)... put your money into a nicer GPU and some RAM< you'll have more fun on your rig!! >> I guarantee it.

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Old 03-10-2008, 01:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrotoy7
sorry niner, you cant make a statement like that without some testbed articles to back it up!!
http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/01/...ed/page12.html

Quote:
...Intel's Core 2 processor family, which still is the champion when it comes to performance, and often the leader in performance per watt as well.



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Old 03-10-2008, 02:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmac7142
cmon jmac, we all know that stuff!! Do you think we've not read the reviews as well With our magnificent tech reporter NegSun, such tidbits will never escape us!

Quote:
Originally Posted by teehee@Toms
However, we used the SYSmark 2007 Preview suite as it represents the majority of workloads applicable to a wide user base, and also because it does include some idle time, which we believe reflects real user behavior pretty well.
"we" ?? The people at Toms are qualified to conclusively report on long term effects of consumer energy consumption profiles?? I haven't come across any report of a longitudinal study design of theirs to test this.. I doubt we ever will.. people who soil themslves at TRI-SLI setups and glowing case fans are less likely to be concerned about this issue at any further depth than a SYSmark test.

There are a number of initiatives research centres/energy providers are undertaking to look into this type of stuff. One of the most notable being Project NOAH(University Of California, Irvine) of course. There's some great articles analysing their methodology and the unique "AppTrack" software they developed.

One of the challenging aspects(from a research POV) of the IT world is the high rate of change for new hardware, due to ever improving engineering standards. This is perfectly summed up by Moore's Law which any hardware geek worth their salt will know intimately

A contiguous research model is something that is necessary to keep up with all this, which is an expensive undertaking for governments and energy providers, who are skilled at penny pinching

Now, I wonder if "Tom's Hardware" can meet that challenge instead?[/bollocks they can]

What it boils down to:
True, representative data about energy consumption for home computer use is complex to gather, requiring a specialised research methodology that will not only gather the data correctly, but also keep up with ever evolving computer hardware standards. The information reported in small scale hardware reviews, whilst interesting to read, can in no way approximate an adequate research design, neither in scale nor intention.

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Old 02-21-2008, 01:21 AM   #8
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Old 02-21-2008, 05:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astro on Day 1 Week 1 this forum was created
That's it for now. Watch this space....
THIS was what I meant...hehehe lolz (One day I'll get started on that "how to build a pc" guide I was planning too )

Great Stuff Niner. Whilst we're applauding one another, I'd like to thank all the regular contributors here, especially stinger and T7 who put their hand up to help when I nagged D333 to let us have this place.

Kudos to Qliveur, tk and negsun for their amazing CPU knowledge, skill with weird glasses and news reporting skills(respectively)...and Ray, extremely knowledgeable on the software side of things(though sometimes grumpy)


* * *

Here's some bits I can add for the moment:

An Inconvenient PC Truth?
Q. Dear LFN Tech-heads. I love the environment. I was worried that PCs take up too much power. Can you tell me a bit more about this ?

A. Yes. You are quite right to be concerned! You may have been noticing the increasing trend for "power gaming pcs" to put absolutely zero consideration towards being energy efficient. Mainboards are being released that can take 2 separate CPUs, Multiple graphics cards and dual power supplies...(boo! to Intels Skulltrail Absurdity)

Here's some factors that cause increased power consumption:
*Large form factor(ATX and multi-socket mainboards)
*High end and/or Multiple GPUs(require higher wattage PSU to power them)
*Overclocking
*Thermal countermeasures. Apart from extra fans and the like, some thermal tech require their own independent power supply. Crazy.

What can you do?
*Decide on an appropriate form factor. Consider carefully how many peripherals and devices you intend you use. How many PCI, PCI-e etc slots do you actually need. From this you can decide whether you can use a smaller form board like m-ATX, or an ultra smallform like those sold by shuttle Smaller boards consume less power, but can fit less devices internally.

If you still decide to stick with the ATX size, you can use a A power supply calculator to get a rough estimate of what the hardware you have picked will demand of your PSU.

Tips for decreased power bills?
*Have a closer look at power management settings.
*If you are not using your pc, consider standby/sleep/hibernate or even turn it fully off. Switch your monitor off rather than just leave your screen saver bouncing a round all day.
*Buy energy compliant kit.
*Avoid marathon high end gaming sessions. The longer you stress a system, the more hotter it gets and the more power it consumes trying to cool itself down. Breaking your gaming jaunts up will allow you to naturally regulate temperature of your pc, as well as not overstress your components
*Do you really need to overclock? CPUs drop in price constantly... Unless you have an older CPU and upgrading is out of the question, anything more than a mild overclock is more than likely just shaving hours/days/weeks etc off the life of your CPU. If you haven't thought about suitable thermal control tech, you shouldn't even be thinking about high end overclocking, or even mid end overclocking on a rig that sees high load-duration usage.

OMG...what OS?
OK. Youve picked your 1337 parts using this guide. Now, what operating system are you going to use? Here are the big 3(as far as DIY)

Windows XP 32 bit:
Pros: Stable, mature. Many bugs ironed out and/or fixed. Wide driver and application compatabilty. Due to its Win2000 roots, will play alot of the older stuff too(apps/games)

Cons: Multi tiered installs - especially if you have an older install disc, a fresh install usually means sometimes hours of upgrade patches. Service Pack 3 will fix this a bit, theres still alot of junk to be got. Will not run pure DX10 games, or fully utilise the potential of DX10 hardware. (Not a huge concern momentarily, as these next gen titles haven't taken off yet) 32 bit limitations apply. Cost.

Windows Vista 32 bit:
Vista, you either quite like it, or really hate it Vista is not as stable as XP, but a full year since RTM, and countless bugs have been ironed out. Driver support from GPU manufacturers has been strong and steady. More driver revisions have been made in one year in Vista than over 5 in XP That being said, some hardware and software simply is not supported, and may never be. It is the responsibility of the consumer to find out if Vista is appropriate for them, and if they are unsure, there are many that can help! Just don't ask a slick haired salesman, thats all

People are going Vista for 4 main reasons:
*Their new PC came with it, they had no choice
*They are early adopters regardless of what it is
*They are excited by the potential of DX10 hardware and games
*They run home theater PCs(Vista media center is a superb home theater pc application)

Cons:
*Restrictive hardware and software compatbility
*32 bit restrictions still apply
*Cost
*Top heavy installation and spec footprint

Linux
There are many Linux variants, serving many purposes. All in all, Linux is a wonderful, free alternative to the above 2. Increasingly, Linux distributions are GUI and user friendly, making a windows>Linux transition an easy one. A distro that has been particularly successful at this is the wonderful and sensible Ubuntu

Main cons:
*support if you are stuck. Help might be easy to find(google!) but not always easy to follow. A simple conundrum can take days to sort out.If you have one linux only pc and cant get online, googling answers is hard (Thus a dual boot is recommended)
*Very limited gaming support

<<for later/anyone else: 64bit OS? Should I Go Mac? >>

mtfbwya


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Old 02-21-2008, 12:05 PM   #10
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hey, thanx folks. i just try to help how i can when i can.
_______________

stingerhs' Hardware Buying Guide
1. Give yourself a budget
this is the one thing that most computer builders mess up on. if you don't start with a budget, you're just about guaranteed to spend more than you want. the main reason, from my experience, is that its easy to get caught up in marketing hype to splurge for one or two "high end" parts where cheaper priced parts would've sufficed.
2. Plan your build
this step is probably the most crucial part of the buying process because this is where you'll have to ask yourself a number of questions to which you'll want to answer as honestly as possible. when you have an idea of what you need in terms of upgrading or starting from scratch, then start planning out the hardware.

come up with several solutions with different hardware, and vary the hardware enough so that it will encompass a number of price ranges. it helps if you're somewhat well read with hardware reviews at this point since you can have a good idea of what works and what won't. even then, you'll still want to go for a second opinion from some knowledgeable folks (like us) since a fresh set of eyes is good at picking things out.
3. Price your hardware
once you're done planning, get prices on your hardware from a number of different sources. don't just stop at NewEgg or TigerDirect and get everything you want then and there. shop around and look for deals. another site you can check is Ebay.com. yes, the prices aren't guarantees because its an auction site, but if you do your bids right, it is possible to save yourself anywhere from $10-100 which you can use for your budget. just make sure the seller has a good reputation if you're uneasy about it.

the biggest thing here is to watch the budget. if none of your original plans fit your budget, then you'll need to step back and reevaluate your plans. depending on your financial situation, you'll need to decide if its worth getting everything you want or compromising to fit the budget. again, its worth getting a second opinion here since there are some hardware components that are basically the same except for something simple like clock speeds, and that second opinion might know what that lower priced option is.

and the last thing with pricing is this: don't forget shipping costs. yeah, you can probably stay in the budget with just the part prices, but you need to include shipping in there as well. sometimes, what you thought was a deal is offset by higher shipping costs, and that's where some online retailers will get you.
and that's really about it. once you got everything in place, just order it and be done with it. it probably goes without saying that some assembly is required, but hey, that was your call.


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Old 02-22-2008, 06:37 PM   #11
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Here's some of my additions:

CPU:
AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 Brisbane 2.1GHz 45W
Energy efficient to the max and still quite overclockable, a very good performer for low power consumption PCs but it still packs enough power and OC headroom to be considered as an alternative to the 5000+ Black Edition, though only if the lower TDP appeals to you...It can be had cheaper than what it says on that newegg link though

PSU:
Corsair CMPSU-550VX ATX12V V2.2 550W
Extremely good value for money, won some awards in the UK IIRC.

Case:
Coolermaster RC-690
It's just good and it looks good

CPU cooling:
Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro V2
Cheap n awesome

* For the UK people among us, Scan.co.uk is the online retailer to use, hands down (compare it to newegg for the States )



My ultimate value/killer rig (UK retailer orientated) would be:
CPU - AMD AM2 Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Black Edition / Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro V2
Mobo - Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe NF570 SLI
Memory - 2GB (2x1GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2
GPU - 512MB Sapphire HD3850
HDD - 500GB Samsung Spinpoint
Optical Drive - Samsung SH-S203D
PSU - 550w Corsair VX
Case - Coolermaster CM-690 V2 Dominator Black

And last but not least:

Monitor - 22" Samsung SM-2232BW Black

I do admit there are probably cheaper alternatives for the monitor, but none as awesome I'll tell you that

For the record, this is what I'd love to build with the market being the way it is...Realistically, I'll probably jump on Astro's bandwagon and get a Shuttle for my next rig as it would be my first self-build and it would save me the whole Case/PSU/Mobo headache so I can minimize my screw-ups

Wow, is it bedtime already?

Edit: I just noticed this post has more smilies than I thought, I'm not an annoying twat just your friendly neighbourhood Belgian tech-enthusiast who likes to be nice, Goodnight



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Old 02-23-2008, 02:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balderdash
You probably noticed the £ sterling sign, which brings me to my next question. Which sites will ship to the UK at affordable prices?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negative Sun
For the UK people among us, Scan.co.uk is the online retailer to use, hands down (compare it to newegg for the States )
The Truth is out there dude, or in this case, up a bit in this thread...

Scan is where you need to be in the UK, got any more questions for UK pricing or anything? PM me or fire away in this thread

As for the components you need, If you want to go Intel, go for Niner's system at the end of his second post, definitely go for the core components, the Intel Q6600 G0 Stepping and the nVidia 8800GT 512Mb are a sure hit, I'm an AMD fanboy and would also recommend the HD3870 512Mb, but the 8800GT is much better for gaming, albeit a bit more expensive.



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Old 02-23-2008, 08:34 AM   #13
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Building A New System

I want something that's gonna be nice for gaming - isn't gonna lag when I turn the textures and the anti-aliasing up, etc.

I've never built any machine from scratch before so I'm unsure of where to begin. I've got an Antec 900 case coming though, and I've already selected a graphics card - its the nVidia Inno3D 8800GT that I'm thinking of running. Thoughts? Also, what motherboard and processor would best suit my needs, and be compatible? Please help a newbie!


...
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Old 02-23-2008, 08:49 AM   #14
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All your questions are belong to this megathread.


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Old 02-23-2008, 09:14 AM   #15
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That's helpful, but I really need some hands-on advice on what to look for. As I say, I've never done this before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
even then, you'll still want to go for a second opinion from some knowledgeable folks (like us) since a fresh set of eyes is good at picking things out.


...
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Old 02-23-2008, 12:34 PM   #16
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Sabretooth is on the ball, this is the thread to ask these questions in. After all, this is called the Hardware Discussion and Advice Megathread and I did say in the opening post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by me
This thread is for discussion and advice on building and upgrading your computer. Got a video card you'd like some opinions on? Want to know which processor to buy? Unsure about what kind of RAM to get? This is the thread to ask these questions in.
I created this thread for exactly this type of question, so please make use of it.

Anyway, down to the nitty gritty. The most important question (what do you want to do with your machine?) has already been answered, so the next most important question is: 'What is your budget?' All the parts I listed above are competitively priced and should be well within a frugal gamer's spending limit, but it helps to have a number to build around.




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Old 02-23-2008, 02:00 PM   #17
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Fair enough.

Basically I want some decent hardware that'll support Direct X 10 and isn't gonna put me completely out of pocket. I was hoping to spend around £750-£1000, but I'm willing to spend more if that's what it takes.

You probably noticed the £ sterling sign, which brings me to my next question. Which sites will ship to the UK at affordable prices? Worst comes to worse I could always use Amazon UK, but their prices are not all that attractive so it'd be nice to know where builders in Europe typically go to shop around.

So far I'm thinking the Q6600 looks very nice, and with the 8800 that I mentioned before, it should offer fairly impressive performance for gaming.


...
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Old 02-23-2008, 02:07 PM   #18
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I missed that before... cheers!


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Old 02-23-2008, 03:48 PM   #19
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Will you overclock your CPU and GPU?




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Old 02-23-2008, 06:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogue Nine
Will you overclock your CPU and GPU?
If I can figure out how to do so then I'll give it some thought, but I will just be happy to get a machine working right now, to be honest with you. What would you advise? Are the potential instability issues that overclocking causes worth overlooking in the name of better performance? I guess I'll have a read through that webpage and get back to you on that one.

CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600 G0
Mobo - Gigabyte GA P31-DS3L
GPU - nVidia GeForce 8800GT 512MB
RAM - Corsair 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 800
HDD - Western Digital 500GB 7200RPM SATAII 16MB Cache

Okay, so what about the power supply? Are you guys telling me that a 500W PSU will definitely be powerful enough?


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Old 02-23-2008, 06:44 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balderdash
Okay, so what about the power supply? Are you guys telling me that a 500W PSU will definitely be powerful enough?
I'd recommend this one:

550W Corsair VX



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Old 02-24-2008, 06:23 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Negative Sun
I'd recommend this one:

550W Corsair VX
Seconded. That PSU rocks! Perfect for a single video card setup.

MY recommendations:

1) I don't know about the UK, but here in the States most hardware manufacturers offer rebates quite regularly on their products through different e-tailers and brick & morter (b&m) stores. Try to keep your eyes peeled for these if they're available in the UK/EU as some of them can be quite large and can end up saving you hundreds of dollars (hundreds of pounds even!) when building an entire system. There are several forums in the U.S. that are dedicated to finding these types of deals on just about anything (not just computer parts!), and I'm sure that there are forums like that in the UK/EU as well.

2) The 45nm (Yorkfield core) replacement for the Q6600 is due to come out shortly (March 15). You can then get the Q9450 for the same price as the Q6600 is today or get the Q6600 for less (probably far less). I wish I'd been able to get online (bad phone lines & no internets ) to give similar advice to Niner, as the dual-core situation was the same (E8400 vs E6750) not long ago.

3) For those of us in the States, Fry's Electronics consistently has the craziest deals around. It's the home of the "free after rebate" deal. If there's one in your area, I envy you. Just a month or so ago when Wolfdale was released they were dumping their Conroes for a fraction of of their MSRP, and they do stuff like this every time a new model comes out. They were selling E6600s for $75.00, E6300s for $35.00, and E6400s, E6320s and E6420s were priced somewhere in between the two. Their madness persists online as well, but the best deals are in-store. It's the geek Mecca if there ever was one.


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Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:36 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qliveur
Seconded. That PSU rocks! Perfect for a single video card setup.
Considering that Sli or Crossfire is pretty pointless or at least very inconsistent in gaming performance, this would make it perfect allround don't you think?



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Old 02-23-2008, 06:23 PM   #24
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most likely, although it wouldn't hurt to go with a 600W unit. with power supplies, there's a couple things to watch for: amperage across the 12V rail(s), efficiency, and brand name.

for the amperage, you'll want to see if the amperage on the 12V+ is at least 26A, but you'll preferably want it to be 35A or better. just keep in mind that most power supplies today have 2 12V rails, but some still only have one. it doesn't make that much of a difference between a single or duel rail PSU as long as the amperage rating is where it needs to be.

as for efficiency, you'll want to check that the power supply can run at 80% or better. the best way is to check and see if the power supply in question is 80-Plus certified. these units usually cost a bit more, but a highly efficient power supply is easier on the electric bill and have a longer life span which makes them well worth the extra money.

finally, you'll want to pick a good, reliable brand. Antec is a great choice, and i've been using Antec power supplies for the past several years. i've never had one fail (except for one case where the unit i had wasn't powerful enough for the system), and they do have a very solid reputation. other brands that tend to be very good in quality: Thermaltake, Rosewill, and Silverstone.

anyways, just follow those guidelines, and i'm sure you can find a solid power supply for the money.

as for everything else in your system, don't forget the operating system. since you mentioned DX10, i'm assuming that you'll be going with Windows Vista. just remember, if you want more than 3GB of RAM, you'll need to go with the 64-bit version of Vista so you can utilize all the RAM. if not, the 32-bit version will be just fine. also, unless your computer is on a network, Home Premium is the best choice for you. if you are on a network, and you need a lot of client-side networking options, then Vista Ultimate or Vista Business will be a better choice.

i'd also recommend that you invest in an X-Fi sound card from Creative Labs. the XtremeGamer version is an excellent value, and it will have a profound impact on audio quality in everything from games to music.

finally, don't forget the optical drive(s), too.

well, good luck, and if you need some more advice, just let us know.


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How low to sink to the depths of their frame of mind

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Old 02-24-2008, 07:27 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerhs
finally, don't forget the optical drive(s), too.
Already got a Liteon 20X drive for Christmas that I was originally gonna put in the current machine, but never bothered with, so I'll just go with that. I've had two optical drives before at one point, and I never did do a whole lot of copying from one to the other with them, so I'll just stick with the one drive.

Thanks for the pointers on the PSU, I'm obliged to you. As for the OS, it will be Vista Home Premium, yes. Is it worth having 4GB of RAM though, really? DDR2 RAM is far from expensive really, so I definitely could go with a bit more if I had to, but I figured 2GB would be enough...

And that soundcard looks alright. I'll have a shop around though. Are there any issues with compatibility with speakers, with soundcards? I was just gonna use the Dell speakers and sub (and monitor, mouse and keyboard) that I'm using now.


...

Last edited by Balderdash; 02-24-2008 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 02-24-2008, 07:03 PM   #26
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^^^
Excellent point.


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:23 AM   #27
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I wouldnt rag on SLI/Xfire too much.... although (IMO) undesirable from a power efficiency point of view [/tree hugger], the benchies are plentiful that at HD and UHD resolutions, which is what SLI/Xf really is targeted towards, that these setups outshine single card setups.

The fact that SLI/XF optimised mainboards and cards exist are testament to this. The manufacturers wouldnt make em if people didnt want them.

Another good example is the only setup where a testbed has gotten anywhere near decent HD performance in crysis is a TRI-SLI setup(see news thread). I dont think a single card is going to get near crysis at UHD/Maxxed for 18months at least. Maybe the 9800/9950(or AMD equivalent) in SLI will give it a good wallop - but not on its own at 1600p.

I would love to see what an optimised QUAD-SLI 8800Ultra setup will do to crysis, replete with decent QSLI drivers of course, though a small forest may need to be cleared to power such a rig

SLI is one of those love hate things, I think most people are wary of it because of the price factor, others the power consumption. Then you have those richer enthusiasts who occupy the other end of the spectrum

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Old 03-03-2008, 04:42 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrotoy7
SLI is one of those love hate things, I think most people are wary of it because of the price factor, others the power consumption. Then you have those richer enthusiasts who occupy the other end of the spectrum
*cough* screen junkies who would actually be able to use all their pixels thanks to Sli/XFire *cough*



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Old 03-03-2008, 05:42 PM   #29
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Hello once again.

Well, it's that time again. It's time for me to get a new computer.
Here's what I know what I want thus far:
1) Serious gaming capability (as in, being able to play the latest, but not excessive power)
2) Vista Home Premium (yea...I know...but it's me...seriously)
3) Even a 150 gig hard drive would do
4) I'd really want this thing pre-built (I don't want to hassle putting it together...)

I really don't have that massive of a budget ($700-900), and before you tell me I know that I'm not going to get that much out of that little amount of money, I just want some advice.

I'd be fine with getting a good base system and upgrading the RAM and Video Card, but not the processor. Any suggestions for what machine to get (include links to the sites and whatnot...and yes, I know bout upgrading w/ Newegg and stuff...).

Well, I hope that wasn't too hard to understand.

Thanks!



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Old 03-03-2008, 08:26 PM   #30
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Well, what are your preferences for processors? Intel will give you better bang for your buck, but if you can't splurge for it, there are a host of good AMD processors that will offer great performance. And will you be overclocking the CPU?

I'm thinking of a couple of options for you. One would be to get an AMD chip, probably an Athlon X2 5000+ Black Edition and pair that with an 8800GT. The other option is to get an Intel chip along with the new Nvidia 9600GT, which offers great performance at its price point.

Let us know on the processor and overclocking fronts and we'll be better able to help you.




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Old 03-03-2008, 08:51 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urluckday
I'd be fine with getting a good base system and upgrading the RAM and Video Card, but not the processor.
Yes, this would be the best way since OEMs usually charge a premium for more memory and high performance video cards. They also charge a similar premium for the better CPUs as well, and most OEM systems have a locked BIOS that won't let you overclock a cheaper CPU, which sucks, IMO, so you might have to splurge a little to get a decent CPU.

Oh, and save yourself some headache and get an OEM copy of XP Home and set up a dual boot with Vista, so you can still play old games on your new system.


"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:28 PM   #32
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I might eventually pick up an OEM of XP, but to start off, I'll see how Vista works with all my games...from what I hear, it'll run most of my older games pretty well (including Grim Fandango)...it doesn't seem as bad as everyone seems to make it out to be.
Idk, Vista seems right for me.

Oh and btw...no, im not into the overclocking stuff...I really just want to get a nice CPU that will last me until I get my next computer. I'm running on a 2.4 ghz single core right now (P4), and it still meets the minimum req. for a lot of newer games even (That's right Bioshock). I also need to find a video card that will run with not a ton of power consumption (simply b/c I don't feel like upgrading the power supply again if I'm not the one building it in the first place).



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Old 03-03-2008, 09:57 PM   #33
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http://www.ibuypower.com/mall/lobby.htm
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/

Both of those sites will let you configure your system to your specifications. I was able to piece together a decent AMD system with an Athlon X2 5000+ Black Edition, an Nvidia 9600GT, a decent 600W PSU and Microsoft Vista Home Premium at both sites for about $800-$850, depending on the other parts you pick. Should you want to venture into Intel, the price inflates a bit to over $900. I don't know how tight you are with your budget, but there you go.

Play around with the configurations and see what suits you best. If you have any questions on any of the parts, feel free to post them here for feedback.




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Old 03-03-2008, 10:31 PM   #34
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Yeah, I've actually been looking at those two recently...both good sites.

I like your configuration...has a lot of power for minimal bucks...very nice recommendation...and they do all the building correct?

Also, I was looking at the customization...what is recommended when choosing cooling systems and motherboards? I'm really not great with the computer hardware stuff (I'm more of a software guy)...thanks!



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Old 03-03-2008, 11:51 PM   #35
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Yes, they do all the building and OS installation. They also burn-in (test for functionality) the system before shipping it.

As for the specs themselves, here's what I was able to come up with. I've only listed the major parts, you can decide the other things like cases, peripherals, etc. for yourself.

IBuyPower
Intel System - Rough Total: $950
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6750 2.66Ghz - Best processor for your money offered
Mobo: Asus P5N-E SLI or MSI P6N SLI-F
Processor Cooling: INTEL CPU Cooling Fan System Kit - If you're not overclocking, then you really won't need more than this.
RAM: 2GB Corsair
PSU: 600W Power Supply - I think the manufacturer is either Xion or NZXT, they don't say. :/
Video Card: EVGA Nvidia 9600GT
HDD: 320GB Hard drive - They use Western Digital Caviar drives, which are some of the best out there.
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

AMD System - Rough Total: $850
CPU: AMD Athlon™64 X2 5000+ Black Edition 2.6Ghz
Mobo: Asus M2N-SLI NVIDIA nForce 560 SLI Chipset
Processor Cooling: AMD CPU Cooling Fan System Kit - Again, if not overclocking, you won't need more than this.
RAM: 2GB Corsair
PSU: 600W Power Supply - Same as above.
Video Card: EVGA Nvidia 9600GT
HDD: 320GB Hard drive
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

CyberPowerPC
Intel System - Rough Total: $925
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6750 2.66Ghz
Mobo: Asus P5N-E SLI or MSI P6N SLI-F
Processor Cooling: Raidmax Maxcool Intel CPU Cooling Fan - Pretty much the same as the IBuyPower part above.
RAM: 2GB Mushkin
PSU: Cooler Master 600W Power Supply - A good, reputable PSU maker.
Video Card: EVGA Nvidia 9600GT
HDD: 320GB Hard drive - Not sure if they use Seagate or WD...
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

AMD System = Rough Total: $825
CPU: AMD Athlon™64 X2 5000+ Black Edition 2.6Ghz
Mobo: Asus M2N-SLI NVIDIA nForce 560 SLI Chipset
Processor Cooling: Raidmax Maxcool AMD CPU Cooling Fan
RAM: 2GB Mushkin
PSU: Cooler Master 600W Power Supply
Video Card: EVGA Nvidia 9600GT
HDD: 320GB Hard drive
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

You can tweak these builds as you like, they're just meant as a basic framework. You can cut more corners by lowering the HDD capacity or by going with the cheaper mobo. I wouldn't skimp on the PSU as getting enough power to your system is important and I definitely wouldn't skimp on the RAM because you need at the very minimum 2GB for Vista to run properly. I can vouch for the quality of the ASUS P5N-E mobo and the Intel E6750 CPU as I own both of them and they're pretty darn awesome should you decide to go the Intel route. If you find you can spend a little bit more money, then go with the Nvidia 8800GT, it will give you better gaming performance than the 9600GT.

Hope this all helped.




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Old 03-04-2008, 08:44 AM   #36
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It definitely did. Thank you so much! I'll letchya know what happens with it, but this is a good possibility...



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Old 03-04-2008, 11:49 PM   #37
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great stuff niner. How about that for service urluckyday Arriving at those options would take most people weeks of internet-trawling. Niner's provided you with the answers in one fell swoop!

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Old 03-05-2008, 03:16 PM   #38
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That he has...thanks again!



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Old 03-09-2008, 06:04 PM   #39
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AMD X2 vs. Core 2 Duo

Hey,
I'm still working on getting a new computer...I haven't decided if I want a desktop anymore...we'll see. But I have one major question that's been bothering me. Is there a major speed/efficiency difference between the AMD Dual Cores and the Intel Core 2 Duos? If you can offer any answer, first-hand experience, or even test results, that'd be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!



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Old 03-09-2008, 07:28 PM   #40
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Ah, sorry bout the question already being asked, but thanks for the response!

I was looking through newegg, and I found a laptop that I think is slick (don't worry bout battery life or anything). Any thoughts?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16834220297



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