First PC Build - advice wanted

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
I've been umming and ahhhing about whether to buy an off the shelf machine or to build my own; Tonight I'm veering towards the self-build, hence this thread. This will be my first PC build, and hence am a little nervous about getting it wrong.

The components I'm considering are the following...

Motherboard
Processor or or this one, not sure if the additional expense is justified.
Graphics Card
Memory or maybe This, I think I read somewhere that 2 DIMMS in conjunction work better :confused:
DVD writer
Case

Total cost being between £460 and £530, give or take, depending on processor.

I have a hard drive already, so that's a minor saving on the budget.

I'm planning on using the machine for general computing duties, bit of gaming, a smidgen of video editing, a dose of photo manipulation, occasionally plugging it into the HS50 for the odd movie (depending on the success of this project I may build a HTPC in a few months) and of course exploring the World Wide Web (for HD content!!!).

Is this spec up to the job?
Can I do better for the money?
Any advice would be most welcome.

Also, do I need anything else ie in terms of fans, heat sinks, thermal paste etc etc...

TIA

DD
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
No slouch and no speed demon. Should be decent machine for general computing duties...But you don't specify what HD you have available....It is very important as it does have the ability to drag your whole system down...As the processor is retail boxed it will come with a fan/heatsink and thermal paste. So no need to worry about that...

Don't forget the operating system ;-) And if you have a SATA drive a floppy disk to install on it...

The P4 3.0 is good, the 3.4 is a big step up...For general computing duties you may like the responsiveness of the Pentium d820 dualcore ([email protected])...Or alternatively you could look into an S939/Nforce4-Ultra combination motherboard with something like the cheap Venice AMD 3500+. Much more modern chipset on the motherboard and a very decent capable processor with a bit more futureproofing for further upgrades if you so desire...
 

dan1979

Well-known Member
If you want HD content start saving for more hard drives, I'm up to 820GB now and still planning another purcahse.
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
dejongj said:
And if you have a SATA drive a floppy disk to install on it...
No you don't unless you're installing RAID - you just need the right BIOS setting
 

jinky32

Active Member
I dunno, i think you will need a floppy. I just put my first pc together - the sata drivers had to be loaded independantly during the winxp installation. Floppy came with my mobo tho.
 
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Skunkpipe

Guest
Floppy is only needed if you want to install RAID.
I'm not come across a motherboard yet (and I've used a *lot*) that needs a floppy. You just need to go into BIOS setup and set the SATA mode correctly (Wording of this varies from BIOS to BIOS, but enabling SATA and disabling RAID usually does the job; others might offer a 'Legacy' mode. Most new motherboard now default to enable you to boot SATA because nobody knew it was there...)
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
You are quite right Skunkpipe, I just don't like paying for something and then disabling it ;-) Do you get a performance hit when you run in Legacy mode? I was worried about that as well will the fast and quiet Spinpoints....
 

bigdic

Active Member
Not a bad spec as has been said, my only worry would be the power supply in the case. If you're getting a power supply and case for that price then the power supply ain't going to be up to much, which in the absoloute worst case scenario could damage your machine. I'd say spent a little bit more and buy a seperate PS (do a search in this forum there are a few threads + opinions about what is best).

Also your system won't be the quietest, but if this isn't a problem then it doesn't matter. And re: your memory question 2*512mb of Ram work better if used in dual channel mode.
 
S

Skunkpipe

Guest
dejongj said:
You are quite right Skunkpipe, I just don't like paying for something and then disabling it ;-) Do you get a performance hit when you run in Legacy mode? I was worried about that as well will the fast and quiet Spinpoints....
Nope, no performance hit. And you're not disabling it, you're just changing the configuration ;)
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
Thanks to everyone for their contribution, as always these things kick up as many questions as they answer!! :rolleyes:


But you don't specify what HD you have available
haven't got any yet, was hoping to "find" some once I had my new machine!

a SATA drive a floppy disk to install on it
will purloin from my old machine

S939/Nforce4-Ultra combination motherboard with something like the cheap Venice AMD 3500+. Much more modern chipset on the motherboard and a very decent capable processor with a bit more futureproofing for further upgrades
... so this combo is more futureproof? is that the mobo or the CPU or both?

HD content start saving for more hard drives, I'm up to 820GB now
Dan, that's a lot of disk space! my 120GB isn't gonna last 5 minutes :D you couldn't PM me with a source for the HD content could you? or is it wrong of me to ask... sorry Mods if that is the case.

for that price then the power supply ain't going to be up to much
had a quick look HERE and will probably choose one of the ones for about a tenner, assume that will better than the standard PSU.

2*512mb of Ram work better if used in dual channel mode.
will I have to set this up?

I will now have a look at the combo suggested by dejongj and then make a decision :eek: must stop all this procrastinating.

Thanks again everyone.
 
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Skunkpipe

Guest
The motherboard is pretty future proof, the CPU Isn't too bad either

£10 for a PSU - you need to be looking closer to £40-50 preferably more. It's not soemthing I'd want to scrimp on.

The dual channel ram is setup automatically - you just need to fit them in the correctly matched sockets - these are colour coded.
 

bigdic

Active Member
Skunkpipe speaks the truth, no point in buying quality components then powering them with a cheap power supply. Money well spent in my opinion.
 

rdhir

Active Member
I'd just go for a better case and skip buying a separate PSU. There is no need for a monster PSU unless one or more of the following is true
a) lots of HDs (>4)
b) A hot intel cpu (ie 8xx series)
c) A dual core cpu (amd or intel, but much worse with intel)
d) SLI or Crossfire ie 2 or more graphics cards).

I suggest this one. http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/products/index.html?rb=12840547708&action=c2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=47659

Yes I know its £60 + VAT not £23 + vat, but if you buy a PSU you'll end up spending the same.

I've used cheap cases and in the end their a PITA and also shred your hands.

Also I do think AMD64 is better value. There are a lot of good skt754 options at the moment. It really depends on wether you really intend to upgrade your CPU/MBoard combo in the future. If you won't change it for 3 years or more then you could get a good solution here.

What resolution is/are your screens? The simplest way of saving money now is get a system with built in graphics now and buy a new graphics card in 1-2 years. You'll pay a lot less now and can then spend the money on a big hard drive. So for example if you are really going for 1280x1024 and are not playing many games especially not FPS (eg Doom, Half Life), then go for a combo such as

AMD Sempron 64 (skt754)/Geforce6100 chipset microAtx motherboard

Spend extra money on 1GB ram and a decent sized HD (160GB-320GB represent good value currently)



Cheers

Rajiv
 
dan1979 said:
If you want HD content start saving for more hard drives, I'm up to 820GB now and still planning another purcahse.
WHat kind of HD content do you store on it, Cable/satrelite caps?, I have a lot of HD content, all legal mainly WMV HD and Quicktime HD clips and trailers and it only comes to 40GB, I no them sattelite caps can take up to 20-30GB though...
 

deksawyer

Active Member
I've built a machine for someone using the Antec Sonata case rdhir mentioned above - extremely high quality case and is very quiet as it runs 2 120mm fans.

D.
 
D

DeeeKaaY

Guest
I have the antec sonata and the p180, i do prefer the p180 but it is bigger and more expensive. antec make good cases. i would advise getting the best power supply you can afford as you will want to add devices over time and this will mean more power needed.
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
Still here and still trying to put together a spec for this First Build!!!

Spent the week reading and digesting and have made some major changes to my original spec…..

Firstly the Motherboard, Asus A8N SLI Deluxe . It seems to have all the features I’m looking for and with an eye on upgradeability, for example adding a 2nd Graphics Card at some point and 8 SATA connections for all those hard disks. Unfortunately it seems to be out of stock at the moment! Typical! My main questions/ concerns about this board are
1)whether it will accept a Dual Core Chip. Ie if I wish to upgrade at some stage in the next couple of years?
2) the fact that it only has DDR sockets and not DDR2, or am my not really going to notice the speed differential?

The processor will be the AMD (Venice) 3500+ , as suggested by “dejong”, thanks pal. This is a fairly straight forward choice, best available at less than 150 notes. (I feel I’m going to regret saying that)

Next up is the Graphics Card and I’ve narrowed it down to the 128MB 6600GT, as it is affordable and SLIable if I feel that way inclined I can double up on the Graphics capability. However, not really sure which brand to go with on this, there are a few to choose from HERE .
Whilst pasting that link I made the mistake of checking out the ATI offerings and was taken by THIS , mainly because it has VIVO. Not sure if it is a contender. Can anyone give any guidance?

Originally I was going to forgo a new hard disk and make do with the one in my current machine, I have since decided I’ll probably need all the space I can muster and have decided on the Samsung Spinpoint SP2504C, as recommended by a certain Computer shopper type magazine! Though am struggling to find somewhere to source it from.

Anyone? :rolleyes:
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
... sorry for bumping this :oops:
 

bigdic

Active Member
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=247245

^ For the HDD, although they're out of stock just now but worth waiting for,

I don't think that MB will support dual chip but I wouldn't worry too much about it, in a couple of years there'll be new MB's out there with fancy features to tempt you into buying them along with a new chip.

Also don't think you'll notice anythin with the DDR memory (although I have been wrong in the past), in relation to your grafix card I bought the Gigabyte silent just because it was good and......... silent.

Anyway good luck and keep us up to date.
 

stuartmc

Standard Member
If you're thinking ASUS A8N SLi go for the Premium. We've tried both and the Premium has a passive cooler on the chipset whereas the Deluxe still uses a fan. Great motherboard though.
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
Thanks BigD for the link and advice.... shame about the dual core, but not a major issue, I'm not a power user, by a long stretch.....

Stuartmc, cheers for the heads up on the mobo, may go with that recommendation... tho if they don't have them in stock in the next day or so I'll just go with Deluxe. Fan noise isn't gonna be a huge issue with this machine.... the next one, hopefully a media centre, well that will be another matter..... cheers again.
 
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Skunkpipe

Guest
There's no reason why the board won't support the dual core chip. I have that board and some dual core CPU's but haven't thought about testing whether it would work or not
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
Skunkpipe said:
There's no reason why the board won't support the dual core chip. I have that board and some dual core CPU's but haven't thought about testing whether it would work or not
Thanks Skunkpipe, any chance you may be testing this combination? I'll probably stick with this combo, but would be useful to know for definate, in case I'm feeling a bit flush in a few months time (for a few months, read at least a year:))
 

Bl4ckGryph0n

Distinguished Member
Oh I forgot....When you get the spinpoints...Don't forget to download the hutil.exe from the Samsung website....By default (in my 6 disk experience) none of them have AAM enabled...This means they can come across as noisy and you may think what all the fuss was about...When you then enable AAM they are incredibly quiet....Unfortunately you have to boot into DOS to do this....
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
Skunkpipe said:
If I get tme over teh w/end I'll give it a go
cancel that request Skunkpipe, I was reading a review of the Chillblast Dual Core PC in PCW (I think?! they rate it highly, but then it is about 1700quid!) and they use the SLI Deluxe mobo, so that answers my question. Thanks for the offer tho. (will PM this to you as well, just in case you don't see this first).

Thanks for the heads up on the Samsung Jean Paul.
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
Thank you to everyone for their advice on this build.

In the end I plumped for the following....
A8N SLi Deluxe motherboard
PNY Nvidia Geforce 6600GT
1GB of PC3200 Crucial Ram
Samsung Spinpoint (250GB)
NEC 3550 DVD drive
all wrapped lovingly in an Antec SLK 1650B case.

I managed to put the beast together last Saturday and it seems to be running just fine.... well, that was until I ran the 3DMark05 test (just the free version) and was a little disappointed in the results. I've pasted them below, anyone got any ideas on improving these rather lame numbers? Thanks and mucho appreciated.

Main Test Results
3DMark Score 3646 3DMarks
CPU Score 4240 CPUMarks

Detailed Test Results
Game Tests
GT1 - Return To Proxycon 16.0 fps
GT2 - Firefly Forest 10.4 fps
GT3 - Canyon Flight 18.7 fps

CPU Tests
CPU Test 1 2.1 fps
CPU Test 2 3.7 fps

Not sure whether the following tests were too meaty or only available on the PRO version.

Feature Tests
Fill Rate - Single-Texturing N/A
Fill Rate - Multi-Texturing N/A
Pixel Shader N/A
Vertex Shader - Simple N/A
Vertex Shader - Complex N/A

Batch Size Tests
8 Triangles N/A
32 Triangles N/A
128 Triangles N/A
512 Triangles N/A
2048 Triangles N/A
32768 Triangles N/A
 

mjn

Distinguished Member
What CPU did you use?
 

Dwayne Dibley

Well-known Member
mjn said:
What CPU did you use?
AMD 3500+........... thanks mjn, I had a feeling the list wasn't quite complete!!
 

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