Thread: Building a computer and thoroughly lost

  1. #1
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Out of scope

    Building a computer and thoroughly lost

    Alright attached is a text file with the specs I put together to build a PC, if I had to put an estimate on it's power, I'd say slightly above middle of the road. I don't think it could be bought by a manufacturer.

    The total price comes to $1720.86, which is significantly less than I thought it would be. Though, I didn't go top of the line on most of the equipment. The gist of it is: Intel Pentium 4 3.2Ghz in an ATX Intel motherboard, Radeon X1800XT vidio card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS(with a nifty 5.25" front bezel and remote, I might add), Seagate 250Gb harddrive + Seagate 80Gb harddrive(the second mainly being for backing up data, not extra space), 2Gb DDR2 SDRAM RAM (PC2 5400), 19" widescreen LCD monitor, nice keyboard and mouse, speakers, floppy drive, a new fan (which I think is better than the one in the case), Window XP, and I think that's about it. The text file has all the details and links to each of the products on I'll probably go on Pricewatch to see if I can get some of it cheaper before I buy, but the prices are a general idea.

    The reason I'm posting is to see if any of the real tech guys can give me any idea of some flaws they see in my choices. Will it all fit together, does it not have a large enough power supply, etc, etc. I figured most of the basic stuff out so I think it should all fit together. Anyway, I'm asking someone to do quite a bit of research here and look at these specs, so don't feel the need to do any work if you aren't up for it. If you are, I'd appreciate your input greatly.

    EDIT: Alright, talked to some tech guys on another forum and they helped me to this setup
       XION Ultimate Engineering XON-002 Black/Silver Computer Case        $59.99
       Thermaltake Thunderblade A1926 120mm Sleeve Cooling Fan              $9.99
    Power Supply:
       ASPIRE Chameleon ATX-AS550W-SV 550W                                 $74.99
    5.25" Drives:
       Pioneer 16X DVD±R DVD Burner With 5X DVD-RAM Read                   $35.99
       SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s                      $19.99
    3.5" Drive:
       SONY Black Internal Floppy Drive Model MPF920 Black                  $9.99
    Hard Drives:
       Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 250GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive         $89.99
       Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 80GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive          $50.99
       ECS KN1 SLI Lite (1.0A) ATX AMD Motherboard                         $86.99
       AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego 2000MHz HT Socket 939 Processor      $235.00
       Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Dual Channel     $162.99
       Kit System Memory
    Video Card:
       GIGABYTE Geforce 7900GT GV-NX79T256DB-RH-ED                        $299.99
    Sound Card:
       Creative Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS Platinum                         $202.00
       AG Neovo AGM CW-19 Black 19" 4ms Widescreen LCD Monitor            $222.99
    Input Devices:
       Ideazon 2-Tone Keyboard                                             $34.99
       Logitech MX518 2-Tone Mouse                                         $39.99
    Speakers and Headset:
       Creative Inspire T3000 2.1 Speaker                                  $41.00
       PLANTRONICS DSP500 PC Headset with Microphone Boom and              $49.99
       Digital Signal Processing
    Operating System:
       Windows XP Home Edition                                             $119.99
       * from Target
                                                              TOTAL       $1847.84
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 05-24-2006 at 08:47 PM.
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    When building a system, Google is your friend

    ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard. It will cream that board you have listed.
    I highly recommend ASUS over all other motherboards. They overclock better, perform better, cool better, and perform better in games than any board I've seen. They get consistently high ratings (except for a spell back in the GeForce 3 days) and are always tops on Tom's Hardware Listing. Go to their site to see their main flagship board and then go find it on or Note that these then lead you to other sites where you can also do more searching.

    If you get that board then you will want Corsair RAM not Kingston. IMO Corsair has some of the best RAM next to Crucial and Kingston. Corsair is some extremely fast RAM and it's only getting faster. Make sure you go to their website and do some research to decide for yourself.

    Hard drives
    Don't get Seagatedrives. Seagate=bad news.

    I would get a Western Digital SATA or better yet a Maxtor SATA drive.

    Video card
    Video card model looks great but manufacturer does not. Go with Leadtek or BFG technologies. Make sure the card is a 256MB card and check the memory bandwith. Not all cards are as they seem.

    Leadtek cards comes with a suite of games, apps, etc, and is an extremely fast card with a 3 year warranty. Overclocking highly supported and even allowed via supplied WinFast utilities. These guys make the best none.

    BFG tech cards are overclocked from the factory and are extremely fast as well but lack the software and game suite that Leadtek so often delivers. Lifetime warranty on BFG cards which simply just cannot be beat. Just look at the numbers on this BFG 7900GTX OC SLI card:

    Don't get XFX, PNY, Gigabyte, or any other off-name brand. Do some research and you will find the best out there.

    Google them or do a Tom's Hardware Video Card Chart search and decide for yourself.

    I recommend Sony's and Samsung's. Sony is a top notch monitor but you pay top-notch prices. Samsung makes very good monitors and the price is much more affordable than Sony. Both have great color and perform very well in games.

    Again, do the research.

    Sound card
    Creative is the way to go, although the nForce and supplied audio drivers with ASUS on-board sound are extremely close to, if not better than, a Creative card.

    If you are going to do 2.1 I would highly recommend the Klipsch 240 watt 2.1 speaker system with THX support. I have this as well as my father and the thing kicks some major arse.

    While Creative may make above average sound cards, they don't make good speaker systems. Stick with Klipsch, Sony, Boss, etc, etc. These guys were making speakers before we ever started connecting them to our computers and they know what they are doing. Logitech and others just can't stand up.

    I also recommend connecting an AIWA or Sony shelftop system with subwoofer to your computer system rather than a dedicated computer speaker system. These shelftops put out and the subs are amazing. Some of the 450 watt 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 systems cannot stand up to the power of the shelftops. Their power rating is lower, but the shelftops sound much better.

    Sony makes an all-in-one CD-ROM/CD-RW/CD-R and DVD-R/DVD-RW/DVD-R. It runs at 48X and is an awesome drive. It does everything all in one and comes with a NERO software suite that will do everything you want and more. Excellent.
    Available at Best Buy for about 140 bucks. Check online for better prices.
    No need for 2 5.25 drives cluttering your case when you can get 2 for the price of 1.

    The headset looks like major overkill for me. I just go to RadioShack and buy their 20 dollar setup and it has worked for years. I use it all the time for Joint Operations and Pacific Fighters and it has never let me down. No sense in paying 50 bucks for this.

    Cooling is something of a weird bird right now. The mobo I mentioned actually has a fanless setup that uses a heat pipe to transfer heat from the CPU. You can still use a fan and a Thermaltake is the way to go. So this is pretty much a standard setup they've given you for cooling. Water-cooling is also a very viable option.

    I'm not a big fan of fancy schmancy cases but if it floats your boat then get it. I've used the same case since my P3 600 and it is still doing just fine. It's a full tower baby-ATX form factor case and is solid metal save for the front bezel. Get what suits you.

    Power supply
    550W may be a bit of overkill depending on how many cards you are planning to have in the system. I'm running a 450 right now and it is doing just fine. As far as manufacturer recommendations I recommend checking ASUS's website (if you get an ASUS board) and AMD's website as they both make recommendations for you.

    Input devices
    Again........overkill. I just have a simple 20 dollar keyboard that doesn't talk to me, light up all over the place, or do the dishes for me. You just type on it so why pay more for some buttons that lead you to email or something you can easily click on in Windows?

    I use a Logitech ball-less (poor fella), otherwise known as optical () wheel mouse and it is doing great. Logitech is the way to go in mice for sure. MS has a good one out there as well with a rechargeable base. If you are going to go coordless optical make sure it has a rechargeable base. Otherwise you will go through batteries like water. Some of the newer mice have some very precise pixel movements on screen. Quite nice.

    This is a matter of preference here. I'm pure AMD so naturally I recommend them. AMD offers the 64/64 x2/ and 64fx with a crappy Sempron thrown in there. Stay away from Sempron or any '-on' if you get my drift.

    Athlon 64 is a very good chip and the 939 is the definite choice over the 700-series chip. You will not get x2 performance or fx performance out of it, but it is a nice 64-bit CPU.

    64 x2 is quite an impressive dual-core unit sporting some very high marks and numbers in comparison to Intel. Definitely worth the money.

    Athlon 64FX (all models) are the epitomy of super-fast CPU's. They also cost a couple month's rent. If you have the means to do it, get one of these chips. Damned fast.

    Most mobo's support the 64, 64 x2 and FX with no problem. If they don't support all of them and don't support SLI, I wouldn't bother.

    The main thing to think about now is the fact that most new boards support a lot of CPU types and speeds as well as video card configurations. You can buy a base model Athlon 64 with a 256MB non-SLI PCI-E card and do fine. Then later on you can upgrade to a 64 x2 chip with a 256 MB or 512MB (soon) PCI-E SLI ready card for a greater boost.
    Finally when the newest and best thing comes out, the FX will go down in price and you can squeeze a year or more out of your aging system buy upgrading to an FX chip.

    This computer purchase will probably last a lot longer than previous ones because of the state of technology at the moment.
    It seems that RAM is one area where we might be maxed out in the DDR400 category. It is not coicidence that RAM has not changed from the 32-bit CPUs to the newer 64-bit CPUs. RAM setups normally change, but DDR400 with Athlons has not.
    Good thing, too, since we don't have to buy RAM if we are already running DDR400 or PC3200 RAM. DDR400 and PC3200 are the same BTW. Lots of sites advertise them differently and often times it is confusing.

    Unmentioned items

    HP is the only way to go. I've had others and they just suck compared to HP. HP printers are great buys. Yeah they sucked at making computer systems, but they can do printers just fine.

    LAN cards/DSL/etc
    No certain preference but LinkSys DSL/router/LAN kits have always done well for me.

    For flight sims CH sticks are the only way to go but also very pricey.

    Saitek X52 flight system is an excellent lower-priced stick/throttle setup. I have it and the controls are precise, smooth, and consistent with next to zero input flutters/spikes and/or centering issues.

    Saitek X45 system is a good setup but lacks stick rudder support making it impossible to use unless you have rudder pedals or can get used to using pedals from a wheel setup to act as a rudder.

    Saitek Rumble Force and others are good sticks but have some reliability issues. I was popping off some rounds at a Spitfire one night and my Rumble Force trigger broke. The stick was less than a year old and it consistently wanted to drift left in games. Older Saitek sticks have a known issue with left side drift. The X52 and X45 are setup different and do not have this problem...or at least I've not seen it.

    Logitech sticks SUCK. Many, many, many of my friends have bought countless numbers of these only to have them fail after several months, lose centering permanently, veer to the left randomly, etc, etc. Avoid these like the plague.

    If you can find them, the old MS Sidewinder Precision Pro and Pro2 are premium sticks in the flight sim community. They are like the energizer bunny and just keep on going and going. I don't have anything bad to say about these sticks.

    For racing wheels I recommend Logitech or the Saitek R440 Force Wheel. I have the latter and it does just fine. Logitech Momo's are highly regarded in the race sim community.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 05-29-2006 at 04:26 AM.

  3. #3
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Out of scope
    Ah, all of this has changed, greatly, since I've posted this. The final setup looked way different, but now currently, I'm not planning on buying a new comp at all until the end of the year. As I hear it, the new Intel Conroe and DirectX 10 will make all modern processors and video cards obsolete. Thanks for the tips, though.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 05-29-2006 at 09:22 AM.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Why do you need a 5.25'' floppy drive? The only computer I can recall using those disks is the Apple II.

  5. #5
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Out of scope
    I don't have a 5.25" floppy. I have a 3.5" floppy, and that's because they easy to write to and you know every public computer will have it. USB Flash memory has obviously taken it's place, but with two 3.5" bays I figure I might was well spend 10 bucks on a cheap floppy drive.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Oh. I didn't look very carefully at your list, and when I saw "5.25'' drive" right below your "3.5'' drive" I imediately assumed that you meant a 5.25'' floppy drive.

  7. #7
    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Floppy is a waste of $10, and what do you need 2 DVD drives for? If you want to copy DVDs you can rip and burn, save yourself another $30.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket with Intel. Don't be so sure their new baby is going to rock the market like they say it is.

    DirectX 10 will change the way we see graphics, but I've also seen a lot of game companies deciding for at least the first few years to support both DX10 and DX9. You can't just do pure DX10 when not everyone can run the thing.

    Upgrading is not as prevalent as MS would like for us to believe and everyone is not just going to rush out and get Vista because we have no reason to. XP does just fine as is. Until they give me a very good reason as to why I should buy their GUI updates wrapped in the name of a new OS, then I'm going to stay XP for some time.

    Look at the reports and you will see than Intel and their lapdog Dell have both NOT been doing very well in the sales department.
    Intel made a move some time ago to abandon the gamers which really hurt them. AMD has a commitment to gamers and a commitment to produce chips that run games extremely well as well as working closely with developers on new technology, implementations, and suggestions.

    So for now, I'm AMD all the way.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 05-29-2006 at 12:15 PM.

  9. #9
    They Call me Mister Sako
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    i don't know what your doing with your previous computer giving it away want to have a second one or what, but usualy when i upgrade i keep alot of stuff like drives and additionall cards (usualy i just use built on stuff from the motherboard sound, lan, usb).

    i just upgraded my system to a 3000 something AMD64 i forget its just a little under yours and i spent 500 dollars on it.
    AIM: MisterSako | MSN: | E-mail:
    The goal of computer science is to be lazy

  10. #10
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    May 2004
    Out of scope
    I plan on throwing the current computer into a downstairs office for guests, there is nothing really adequate in it to be moved to a new computer. Mostly everything is on board, the only thing I upgraded on it myself was the videocard which is now outdated and a 1Gb RAM which I will add to the new computer when I get it. Again, something I don't expect to do until toward the end of the year. In the mean time, I'm looking for a cheap notebook in the price range of around $1000 or less. Any suggestions on that?
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  11. #11

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