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Gage64

Looking for feedback on my new system

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I know this topic probably comes up very often, but I think the needs of every person are different so I can't really get answers from reading similar threads. I'll be buying a new computer in a few days. I've been a bit out of the loop for a few years so there are probably many things to consider that I'm not aware of, and that's basically the reason for this thread. I'm not looking to spend a lot of money. I'll be using the computer for mostly internet surfing and programming. I may occasionally want to play some old games, but I don't expect to be able to run newer games so I don't want to invest in an expensive video card. I can always do that later. Also, I will be reusing a few things from my old computer (mostly the screen). With that in mind, I think I only need the following: Case + PSU Processor Motherboard RAM HD (maybe - read on) Looking around a bit, I decided to go with a Core 2 Duo E7200 and 2GB of ram. Other than that, I'm not really sure - and now for the questions: What do you think about my processor and ram choice? I think the store I plan to buy from gives 500W PSUs by default. Is that enough? Will it be enough if I'll want to upgrade to a descent video card? Does it matter which ram I buy? Can I just buy the cheapest one? Should it be from a well known company? About the motherboard - I don't upgrade my system very often, so I think there's no point in trying to buy a board I can extend later (e.g., replace the processor) because by the time I'll want to do that, it won't be compatible with anything. Do you agree? What other features should I look for in a motherboard? About the video card - I want the motherboard to have an onboard graphics card. I don't care how slow it is, but I need it to fully support shaders. At least SM 2.0, and SM 3.0 would be nice. I've tried searching for info but I'm not sure which cards support shaders and which don't. The nVidia ones probably do, but what about the Intel ones? About the HD - I have an older HD, but it doesn't have a SATA connection (I think it has the previous generation one. Don't remember what it's called), but I've heard that some motherboards still support these connections. Is this true? I've also heard that SATA is faster, but is the difference significant? If I do decide to buy a new HD, I'll probably buy a 500GB one (seems like the sweet spot price-wise). Which company do you recommend? What companies should I stay away from? I think the disk has 7200RPM and 32MB cache. Would the difference be significant if I go with a 10000RPM? With a RAID HD (I don't know what that is but I heard it's fast)? If I do, will a 500W PSU still be enough? That's all I got so far. I appreciate any advice you can give me. Also, if there's anything else I should consider, please let me know.

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Quote:
Original post by Gage64


About the video card - I want the motherboard to have an onboard graphics card. I don't care how slow it is, but I need it to fully support shaders. At least SM 2.0, and SM 3.0 would be nice. I've tried searching for info but I'm not sure which cards support shaders and which don't. The nVidia ones probably do, but what about the Intel ones?


Your processor and ram are just fine, as for the on board gpus, I wouldn,t trust the it to pump out sm2 or sm3 very efficiently, you'd be better off spending the $100 dollars on a decent graphics cards, yes you can get a good one that cheap. just make sure the card and board are pc2.0 capable so you can upgrade in the future

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Quote:
Original post by freeworld
as for the on board gpus, I wouldn't trust the it to pump out sm2 or sm3 very efficiently


I don't really need efficiency, I just need support. Like I said, I know it will run games very slowly, but I still need it to be able to run them.

Quote:
just make sure the card and board are pc2.0 capable so you can upgrade in the future


What's "pc 2.0 capable"?

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Anyone?

I realize the OP is fairly long but I would still appreciate any advice, even if it's not a direct answer to any of my questions.

I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything important. Like I said, I've been out of the loop on these things for a while.

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Quote:
What do you think about my processor and ram choice?


Processor choice is good. As for the ram, read below.


Quote:
Does it matter which ram I buy? Can I just buy the cheapest one? Should it be from a well known company?


Yes, some companies are more reliable than others. Furthermore, some ram offer better timings than others. System ram is a volatile "dynamic" ram, which requires cycles of power refreshing for them to keep their data. In between each refresh cycle the ram in unavailable to the processor. Because of this, it is important to get ram with as good timings as you can. It is also important to recognize that some ddr2 ram require somewhere around 2.2 Volts, compared to the standard 1.9 volts, if this is the case with your ram choice, make sure your motherboard supports higher ram voltages.


Quote:
I think the store I plan to buy from gives 500W PSUs by default. Is that enough? Will it be enough if I'll want to upgrade to a descent video card?


Pick the psu at the end. It is hard to judge whether or not the psu will be enough if none of the parts have been decided on. However, in deciding on a psu you should both look for a good brand, and for a good amperage rating on the 12 volt rail, when comparing you'll see what i mean.



Quote:
About the motherboard - I don't upgrade my system very often, so I think there's no point in trying to buy a board I can extend later (e.g., replace the processor) because by the time I'll want to do that, it won't be compatible with anything. Do you agree? What other features should I look for in a motherboard?


Well, the problem is that the motherboards which are good, are the ones you can generally extend upon. It is usually the cheap ones that cutdown on the slots and ports to save money. And believe me, one thing you should not skimp on is the motherboard. In the current generation i'd recommend avoiding motherboards with Nvidia chipsets. My first motherboard in this generation had an Nvidia chipset, and even with a large heatsink on the north bridge, it still ran hotter than my quad core processor! The intel chipsets seem to be doing quite well, i have the p35 at the moment.

Quote:
About the video card - I want the motherboard to have an onboard graphics card. I don't care how slow it is, but I need it to fully support shaders. At least SM 2.0, and SM 3.0 would be nice. I've tried searching for info but I'm not sure which cards support shaders and which don't. The nVidia ones probably do, but what about the Intel ones?


Don't be cheap ;-)
Just get a $100 or so video card, they're not that expensive and will run things well. Onboard video is bad news if you're wanting support for everything. Most intels, nvidia and ati, onboard video cards are chopped down where they more than likely have secretly dropped support for some type of features (read opengl extensions and whatnot).


Quote:
About the HD - I have an older HD, but it doesn't have a SATA connection (I think it has the previous generation one. Don't remember what it's called), but I've heard that some motherboards still support these connections. Is this true? I've also heard that SATA is faster, but is the difference significant?

Its probably an IDE drive. Only problem with those is that they can not do concurrent data fetches if you have more than one device on the channel. Only one device and be written to or read from at once, the other device must wait for its turn. But just the fact that it is IDE means it is old, which means you could stand to get a performance improvement just by upgrading the drive itself, no matter ehat interface it uses. Constantly increasing data density gives an increase in throughput, that is why newer drives, even with the exact same specs (besides data density) will outperform older drives. So, i would get a new drive.

Quote:
If I do decide to buy a new HD, I'll probably buy a 500GB one (seems like the sweet spot price-wise). Which company do you recommend? What companies should I stay away from?


Samsungs spinpoint series is nice. They have achieved a 320 hard drive with a single platter. This data density increase gives them the best performance right now, for a 7200 rpm drive within thier prioce range. However, i would avoid the 500 gig and 1 terabyte models and only go for the 320 gig model. The others have had serious doa issues.

Quote:
I think the disk has 7200RPM and 32MB cache. Would the difference be significant if I go with a 10000RPM? With a RAID HD (I don't know what that is but I heard it's fast)? If I do, will a 500W PSU still be enough?

For raid, read my sticky i made about it here. As for the rpm, higher rpm will give you a lower access time. Now, there are some who would say access times don't matter, but they are just fooling themselves. Access time is the time it takes for a request for data to be fulfilled. A l;arge amount of this time is the mechanical latency of the drive. As a comparison, the 7200 rpm samsung spinpoint 320 gig drive has around a 14 ms access time, however, the 10,000 rpm 150 gig Raptor X's have an access time of around 4.2 ms. Big difference as you can see. Throughput only matters once the file is found and is then being read off the drive. However, access time affects how long it will take for that file to be found. This generally means, that access times don't really matter if you're read large, single files off of the drive (meaning a gig in size or more). However, if you're reading a lot of smaller files off of the drive, then access time is more important, this is generally where most users fall into. I, myself, use 4 Raptor X's in a raid 10.


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Def go buy a dedicated GPU. Good cards from AMD/ATI can be found for dirt cheap and they still run decent. Some of the current/older stuff is still somewhat trumped by NV - AMD's latest knocks the socks off NV but they'll be around $200 at launch. You can pick up a current-gen or last-gen between $70-$150. It's worth it.

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@Gaiiden: The thing is, I probably won't be playing a lot of games right now. What I will be doing, however, is messing around with XNA, and for that I need shader support. I don't care if it's really slow, I just need it to exist.

If I'll want to play games in the future, I can always buy a new video card, but if I buy a cheap one now, I will just be throwing away money because these cards can't handle modern games.

@Jarrod1937: Thank you for the detailed reply (also in my other thread), although I think some of it went over my head. [smile]

Quote:
Original post by Jarrod1937
Its probably an IDE drive. Only problem with those is that they can not do concurrent data fetches if you have more than one device on the channel. Only one device and be written to or read from at once, the other device must wait for its turn.


What sort of other device can I have? The only one I can think of is a DVD drive, but how often does it need to read from both of them at once?

Also, you say "on the same channel". I'm not sure what that means, but is it possible to have the HD on a separate channel to avoid this problem? Or is it not practical because the number of channels is limited?

Soon I'll be going to the store to get a price offer. I'll probably have more questions after that.

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I recently built myself a cheap Vista box (Cost me about £320 in total) so I'll add my input too.

Motherboard -

Get a solid motherboard, I've found that the cheap(er) ones die more often than not as they are not built as well and use worst parts (especially capacitors). Getting a decent board will also set you up for upgrade options later on.

As for brand, I'm currently using an ASUS P5N-E SLI board which has been rock solid so far and ASUS have a good reputation. My previous boards have all been from MSI but I've had a couple of them with bad capacitors. I like my current board as when I get around to it I can upgrade my CPU/Add a card for SLI later on.

As for motherboard chipset, I've always liked nVidia's but you can't go wrong with Intel really either, both are good. It is true that nForce chipsets run hot but this is solved with a £5 heatsink/fan stuck on top of it.

PSU -

Again, get a solid PSU [smile]. Nearly all the problems I've seen when fixing friends PC's is that they have a crappy cheap PSU that has a high wattage but horrible voltage on the rails so when they start something with a high power draw (3D, burning a DVD etc.) they get random reboots or crashes.

Anything from Antec, Coolermaster, OCZ etc. will be a good choice. If you do plan to get a proper GPU later on make sure you get one with ~20+ Amps on the 12v rail as they like to suck up a lot of power. 500w is fine, it's what it provides on the rails thats important.

CPU -

Core2Duo's seem to be the winner performance wise at the moment so your choice is good. Make sure the motherboard you get supports the FSB speed of the CPU your getting.

I'm using one of the cheaper Core2Duos at the moment (2.4Ghz) but the motherboard I have will make it easy to upgrade to a faster one or even quad core later on.

RAM -

I've always bought Kingston, Cruical or OCZ RAM and all of the brands have been good. I've currently using 2GB of OCZ DDR2 800Mhz and it's serving me well. As a previous poster mentioned, timings are important too.

GPU -

I would also recommend getting a dedicated GPU if you can stretch it. I picked up a 9600GT (SM4, DX10 support) for about £60 (On sale). The cost of a good motherboard with integrated graphics will probably be near the cost of a motherboard + graphics card anyway.

Drives/IDE -

Don't worry about your drives having the old IDE interface as every recent motherboard I've seen still has IDE ports as well as SATA ports. Usually on a motherboard there are two IDE connections, the primary and the secondary. You can attach two drives to each IDE port where one drive will be the 'master' and the other the 'slave'.

I'm using two 250GB SATA drives as well as a 80GB drive/DVD drive on the IDE connections and they all coexist happily enough.

As for brands I've used Western Digital/Hitachi which seem fine so far. I did use Maxtor drives but I've had a few fail on me so I steer clear of those at the moment.

Hope this is some help.

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Just got back from the store. Assuming my main use of this computer will be surfing the internet and programming, not gaming:

Processor - The difference between the E2200 and E7200 is not large, but will the faster processor make a big difference?

Motherboard - the base is Gigabyte G31, and for a small amount I can upgrade to a Gigabyte p35-DS3L or ASUS P5K-SE or Intel Frostburg P35.

PSU - the base is a 450W-500W PSU, don't remember the company name. Comes with 1 year guaranty. For a small amount I can upgrade to a Zumax 400W true-power (he says the "true power" part makes it stronger than the base one despite the lower Watt). Comes with 3 years guaranty.

He says that won't be enough for something like a Radeon 4850 but will suffice for a Geforce 9600GT or 8800GT in case I'll want to get one later. He also says I should upgrade the motherboard in that case, because these cards take up extra PCI slots and the base board doesn't have too many.

RAM - 2GB DDR2 800 CL 5 from Trausend or A-Data, or I can upgrade to CL 4 from GEIL or OCZ. He says it's not worth it for a non-gamer machine.

So what do you recommend?

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For the love of all that is good and right in this world, don't rely on intergrated/onboard graphics.

They don't just run games like arse, they make EVERYTHING run like arse.

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