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LockePick

PC building virgin needs your assistance. Yes, yours!

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I've always avoided touching my PC hardware as much as possible because I'm freaked out about frying something, but I simply can't stand trying to deal with pre-built crap systems and shitty customer service from retailers anymore. I want control over my system and I want to actually be able and upgrade something without buying everything over again. So I'm going to just get over myself and finally build one. I've got to start from scratch, seeing as my current system is like 5-6 years old and 100% obselete. This is going to be sort of an all purpose rig, for everything from photoshop to 3ds max to hardcore gaming. I want to be able to run most of the games coming out this holiday reasonably well (read: keep in mind I'm used to tolerating 10-20fps at 1024x768 with no AA or AF -- I don't need batshit insane performance like 60fps on Crysis with 8xAA). And I'm looking to spend $1000-1200CDN if possible, including tax(13%) & shipping. Now my main concerns are: 1) Buying stuff that isn't compatible. 2) Buying stuff that isn't stable/good quality. 3) Frying something while I actually build it. So if anyone can help prevent me from screwing myself up royally I would be very appreciative. 1 & 2) Here's the parts I'm got lined up ATM. Case (DC $86.40): NZXT Hush Quiet ATX Mid Tower Case Black 4X5.25 2X3.5 5X3.5INT No PS W/ Sound Dampening Foam http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=13210AC4015&vpn=HUSH&manufacture=NZXT Motherboard (DC $138.24): Asus P5N-E Sli Nforce 650I Sli LGA775 Conroe Atx 2PCI-E16 1PCI-E1 2PCI SATA2 Sound Gblan Motherboard http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10530BD8982&vpn=P5N-E%20SLI&manufacture=ASUS CPU (DC $217.26 ): Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 Dual Core Processor LGA775 Conroe 2.66GHZ 1333FSB 4MB Retail http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=12200BD3518&vpn=BX80557E6750&manufacture=INTEL Cooling (DC $24.38): Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro LGA775 2500RPM 45CFM http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10450AC4602&vpn=FREEZER-7-PRO&manufacture=ARCTIC%20COOLING RAM (DC $111.30): Mushkin EM PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL5-5-5-12 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=13000BD8567&vpn=996527&manufacture=MUSHKIN Video Card (DC $169.60): EVGA E-GEFORCE 7900GS KO 500MHZ 256MB 256BIT 1.38GHZ GDDR3 Dual DVI-I HDTV Out Video Card http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=11610BD3267&vpn=256-P2-N624-AR&manufacture=EVGA Hard Drive (DC $89.59): Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA2 3GB/S 7200RPM 16MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=14120DR9359&vpn=ST3320620AS&manufacture=SEAGATE PSU (NCIX $99.99): Silverstone Element ST50EF-PLUS 500W ATX12V 24PIN Power Supply W/120MM Fan Active PFC 80PLUS RoHS http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=20944&vpn=ST50EF-PLUS&manufacture=Silverstone%20Technology DVD Drive (DC $37.93): Samsung SH-S183L Black SATA DVD+RW 18X8X16 DVD-RW 18X6X16 DL 8X Lightscribe DVD Writer OEM W/ SW http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=14040DR3348&vpn=SH-S183L/BEBM&manufacture=SAMSUNG TOTAL: $974.69 CDN (before shipping) -Am I forgetting anything? Is anything here known to be at all unreliable? Any good deals on alternatives I'm missing? (I'm Canadian so no newegg) I'm also really unsure of the PSU... 3) Anyone have handy safety tips to help me not blow things up with static or what-not? I'm really pretty clueless, which is worrying. Additionally, any general purpose guides to building stuff that you know of would be cool to look through. I was reading this which was handy to get me familiarized a little bit, although it's not the parts I'm using. Anything like that is cool.

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I'd go for a 700W PSU (think long term), it can't cost too much more. Also you could probably get a cheaper MOBO...unless you plan to use the SLI functionality down the road...also your graphics card is rather low end, I'd go for something beefier, at least a Geforce 8 series. That shit won't be cheap...but you'll be glad you did it. You get what you pay for.

Everything else looks like a good deal. Just my 2 cents.

As far as blowing stuff up with static, just touch the metal case before you do anything...you'll be fine.

If you're really worried about it, just find a small PC shop in the area and see what they can do for you, though they'll probably charge you 100 bucks to put it all together.

- Danny

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I agree with dgreen on all points. You are going to regret it if you don't get something in the Geforce 8 family, and a beefier PSU is always useful. You will also be wasting money on the motherboard if you go SLI. Since you said you don't want complete batship performance ;) you will probably never use it. Asus is a nice mobo brand though, so see if they have the same model without SLI. I'v never had any problems with them and I'v built my last 3 computers on their motherboards.

Edit: oh yeah, about the static, you can get one of those bracelets and attach it to something metal if you are worried. They sell them really cheap at most electronics stores.

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You're probably right about not bothering with SLI. I'll look around at other Asus mobos and see about offsetting that cost onto the PSU.

I'm not sure about the 8xxx series, though. The 8800 is a beast, but it's a huge price jump (over twice the price). Most of the other 8xxx cards can't outperform the top 7xxx cards but cost about the same anyways.

Wouldn't sticking with the 7900 for now and grabbing an 8800GTX or 9xxx in two years would be much more cost-efficient? I won't be running Vista until then anyways so DX10 support is meaningless.

I was looking at those anti-static wrist straps before, so hearing you recommend them is good I'll probably go pick one up.

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Quote:
Original post by LockePick
Wouldn't sticking with the 7900 for now and grabbing an 8800GTX or 9xxx in two years would be much more cost-efficient?


Well if a 7900 costs you $170 right now, and a 8800GTX costs $200 in 2 years, you'll be paying $370 total. You could probably get a 8800GTX for < $500...for that extra ~$120 you get to play with a monster video card for two extra years. Plus you won't have to worry about getting 20 FPS in any game for a while...aaaand you could run DX10 apps.

I'd say it's worth it, it seems you have the money left over in your budget :-)

I have a few 8800s and I love them...they're well worth the money.

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Quote:
Original post by LockePick
You're probably right about not bothering with SLI. I'll look around at other Asus mobos and see about offsetting that cost onto the PSU.

I'm not sure about the 8xxx series, though. The 8800 is a beast, but it's a huge price jump (over twice the price). Most of the other 8xxx cards can't outperform the top 7xxx cards but cost about the same anyways.

Wouldn't sticking with the 7900 for now and grabbing an 8800GTX or 9xxx in two years would be much more cost-efficient? I won't be running Vista until then anyways so DX10 support is meaningless.

I was looking at those anti-static wrist straps before, so hearing you recommend them is good I'll probably go pick one up.


Anti-static wrist wrap is a must unless you're 100% sure of what you're doing. And if this is your first build, you're not 100% sure of what you're doing.

Not sure about the PSU. Try something like an OCZ Gamer's PSU (I forgot their actual names... GameXtreme or something like that) of about 600W - 700W. And make sure their +12V rails are good, don't get something with 15 amps on the +12V rail [grin]. Antec, Fortron Source (FSP Group), PC Power & Cooling, OCZ, *Corsair*, and some others are the ones you should be getting from.

Not sure about the case, either. You'll want something big (especially if you will want to upgrade to stuff like the 8800). Mid-towers aren't really that big to start with, and I have no idea how big that "NZXT" is (never even heard of it :P).

If you have extra money left over, a 8800 won't be a bad thing. Even something like the 320MB 8800GTS will be good. But unless you want extremely hard-core gaming or D3D 10, don't bother. A 7900GS is NOT low end. It's extremely good for it's price.

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I would (personally) go for the core 2 quad at 2.4 ghz - instead of
the core2 duo.
The c2d goes for around 180/190 euro in Germany, the quad for 250 euro.
That's not much difference for 2 additional cores.

Maybe something to consider: If you want to select every single component,
but are not up to putting everything together yourself, take a look for a
shop which can get you every single component you want and build it for you.

When you buy for 800-1000 euro's on components, the building together
is usually free - plus you get the guarantee that the stuff works together (hey,
you are buying the complete package!) (if you buy single components and one
doesn't work with the other, then it might be difficult to exchange).



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So I haven't had any luck finding decent mobo alternatives for a good price. They all either a)use AMD chipsets, b)don't support DDR2-800, or c)have bad reviews/come from unreliable brands. I'm all ears if anyone has a specific suggestion, though.

I found a new PSU, 600W FSP which is only marginally more expensive:
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=11700AC7815&vpn=FX600-GLN-E&manufacture=FORTRON%20SOURCE

No problems, right? There is a 700W version, but it doesn't seem necessary. This one should handle both SLI 7900GS or a 8800GTX in addition to overclocking (although I probably won't) and anything beyond that 700 wouldn't be enough either. Please correct me if I am talking nonsense, though!

The Hush is supposed to be able to fit two 8800GTX's so it should have plenty room. Has nice reviews, nice price, and the sound dampening is a nice touch. Also fits into my somewhat awkward desk space well.


Quote:
Maybe something to consider: If you want to select every single component,
but are not up to putting everything together yourself, take a look for a
shop which can get you every single component you want and build it for you.

That's what I looked for first, but frankly I think all the shops around here are a bit... unreliable. Part of the problem is most of them are run by first-generation Taiwanese immigrants (or East Indian) who barely speak English and, in my experience, they don't give very good service to Caucasian guys. They also have these insanely cryptic return policies that are kind of shady.

I'm sure some of them are perfectly fine, but since I don't know which ones it's a smaller risk to just handle things myself. I know a guy who used to work in one of those shops (had a fight with his partner so they broke up the business [sad]) that I can call if I really can't figure it out (I think I'll be fine).

EDIT:
So this puts me at a total of $1,143.15 after shipping (free! nice directcanada.com deal), insurance, & tax. That's pretty much... perfect. Still open to more ideas, though. I appreciate the help a lot so far (even if I'm not using some of it).

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I wouldnt worry about the actual assembly. Just make sure you take it easy and lock any cats outside your workroom before you start (trust me on this one!). The worst you can do is drop the PSU on some other components ;)

It can be a good idea to get something to tie up/bunch cables together to make things neat and improve airflow in the case.

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Quote:
Original post by rollo
I wouldnt worry about the actual assembly. Just make sure you take it easy and lock any cats outside your workroom before you start (trust me on this one!). The worst you can do is drop the PSU on some other components ;)

It can be a good idea to get something to tie up/bunch cables together to make things neat and improve airflow in the case.


Good point! Get some zip-ties (I think they're called that ) and arrange your cables well. It can be all the difference to your airflow (and thus, temps). I find routing wires around and into empty drive bays works well (at least for my setup).

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I have to say, I almost want to get myself a copy of those parts you posted and make a computer myself.

"I would (personally) go for the core 2 quad at 2.4 ghz - instead of
the core2 duo."

I think it really depends on what you're doing. If you do a lot of multitasking, then the core 2 quad may be better, but if you're more of a hardcore gamer or don't like to run a bunch of crap in the background like myself, then you may want to stick with the core 2 duo.

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With exception of that GFX card it looks relatively fine. Do you have surge protector?

Wasn't 7950 considerably better than 7900 GS? Note 7xxx series doesn't support GPU computing, so apply only if you plan upgrade after few years. 8600 GT/GTX is current middle range with Nvidia, 2600 PRO/XT is middle range with ATI. (If you work on Linux stay away from ATI.)

Grounding yourself by touching your PSU and avoiding to be charged again works reasonably well, you should just check if power outlet doesn't have ground exchanged for current by mistake. ~_^

And yes don't touch wires, or sensitive parts of mainboard/memory your fingers might look clean, however MB might thing otherwise.

BTW you have correct BIOS for your CPU right?

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Well, it's really a matter of whether I want a $1200 system (what I listed) or a $1500 system (w/ quad core & 8800). I think both are really appealing options, but I have more reasons to save the $300 than splurge at the moment. That's just a personal thing based on my current situation.

7950 is better, but it's a $100 jump in price and I doubt it will make a difference in how long I will keep it anyways. Knowing me, chances are I'll upgrade for DX11 before I'll upgrade for performance reasons. :)

Mobo is designed for this CPU, so I hope I don't need to muck around with the BIOS much. I've got my laptop to grab an update off of if I need to, though. And you can be sure I'll come running back here if I'm confused :D

Think I'm gonna go ahead and start ordering, grab the strap and some ties. Thanks for your help everyone.

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The BEST gaming card for the money right now is the nvidia 8800 GTS 320MB, but if you can't afford that the second best is the ATI X1950 Pro, and third the nvida 7950 GT.

If you are only running 1 monitor at 1280x1024 then the last gen choices (X1950 Pro and 7950 GT) are more than enough, period. If you are using 1600x1200 WITH full screen anti-aliasing or higher ... or want to play games like Supreme Commander on dual monitors, then the 8800 GTS 320 is the least that can do it.

I'm currently running an Old X800 and am quite happy, my next comp is going to be the Quad 6600 and the 8800 GTX with dual monitors ... cause SupCom is the game I play most right now.

I also recommend you go for a 600 or more watt PS (I'm looking in the 550 - 800 watt range myself - with 550-600 only for the best brands, and 650+ for less brands, but I must say power supply quality affects stability more than any other feature besides Motherboard / memory compatibility).

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Hey,

I recently (1 week ago) bought a system almost exactly like that, except that I didn't get a DVD drive, and I settled for the PSU that came with the case (Antec...something or other, had good reviews, came with a 450W PSU).

I went for the Asus P5K mobo though, the one with the new P35 intel chipset, Supports 1333 Mhz FSB, and supports up to DDR2-1066. Also supports SLI if you want it, but that wasn't a concern for me, I could have gone with a cheaper board, but for $50 more with this it gives me a good future upgrade path.It also had good reviews.

I went with 2 GB OCZ Gold RAM.
GPU: EVGA 7900 GS KO 256MB GDDR3
Core2Duo E6550(this was cheaper than the E6400, was around $200 or so). I decided not to go for the quad core right now since it was $331, and not worth it just yet. but this lets me upgrade in the future if I need to. the C2D's have good overclockability so i'd say go for the lowest one you can get with 4MB L2 cache and just overclock it, better bang for your buck.

I believe I also got the same HDD as you.

I bought all this for $950 from www.directcanada.com , and shipping was free.

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Hey, great minds think alike :)

Well I already went and ordered, so as nice as the P5K looks with the faster RAM support it's a bit late to switch. Anyways, that's a crossfire board not SLI so I would've lost the option to throw in another 7900 next year.

And holy crap directcanada is so awesome when you live near their warehouses. Took them one day to process the order and then I got overnight shipping on the first batch of stuff (free!).

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Stuck here with all the parts except the video card (apparently I got one of the last ones, and it had to be shipped in from Toronto). But I went ahead and hooked up the rest of the system. Didn't have any major problems aside from a couple bonehead mistakes (ie. putting in the CPU cooler before the PSU, which didn't leave enough room to actually get the PSU by. Duh).

Jumpers for the case lights/buttons were confusing me, then I found out the case uses a 2-pin power LED instead of the 3 pins my motherboard wanted and it started to make sense. However, I am tragically disappointed that I cannot have a fully functioning and completely useless power LED. The 3 pin format doesn't even use 3 pins! It's just 2 pins with an empty space in-between! Upsetting.

And until the video card gets here I can't even test to see if the rest works because I have no monitor hook up. Bah! Stupid Toronto, always messing things up.

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