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ahaslam
January 6th, 2007, 06:16 PM
I'm getting frustrated with my current laptop & wish to get a modern desktop for multimedia & games. I don't need or want cutting edge technology but I do want something that wont need to be upgraded for a couple of years.

I live in the UK where prices seem to be slightly higher than in the US. I have a rough budget of 500 but I'll be able to stretch to 600 for something really nice.

The first thing that I wanted was a widescreen monitor for a more immersive multimedia & game experience, I was thinking either a 17 or 19" would be great.

Secondly I want to be able to run games such as Doom3 with all the bell & whistles, pushing that large display to the max. This of course would require a decent GPU. Not wanting to skimp here, I was thinking along the lines of a GeForce 7600GT (preferably with silent heatpipes).

I'm often using apps such as xdvdshrink & tovid. With my current laptop these apps can run for hours, completely hogging the system. I really want a duel core processor to aid multitasking. I've always liked & owned AMD's, I've had a good experience with them & wish to implement one in my next system. One that caught my eye today was the Athlon 64 X2 5200.

Finally, I'd need a DVD drive that reads/burns practically everything, a good sized (200GB?) HDD and a Gig of DDR2 RAM.

Can this be done on my buddget? I've seen close but I don't really know where to look. Please help with suggestions, links to reputable UK sites, personal experiences, etc. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Tony ;)

PS. Please note that I'm an engineer, though I've never built a PC, I don't mind getting my hands dirty.

_simon_
January 6th, 2007, 06:20 PM
I'd say build your own so you get 100% the spec you want and don't have to settle for what is on offer prebuilt or custom.

Check out:

http://www.ebuyer.com
http://www.novatech.co.uk

Also check out MicroMart, you should be able to get that from WH Smiths. It's packed full of computer shops / online stores advertising their components.

One thing to do is go and look at Monitors, even pc world will do just to get a feel of size. I have a 19" and my brother has a 19" widescreen. His looks tiny compared to mine and I'm glad I did not go for a widescreen one!

ahaslam
January 6th, 2007, 07:02 PM
Thanks for your reply.

I agree with what you're saying, I've seen a couple of systems that are within my budget but leave at least one aspect lacking.

I've seen those sites (only looked at complete systems) & will browse them further shortly. Can you (or anyone reading this) offer any advise/links regards building a PC?

Cheers ;)

_simon_
January 6th, 2007, 07:05 PM
I learnt many, many years ago but did come across this on Digg the other day which should help you:

http://tools.corsairmemory.com/systembuild/report.aspx?report_id=12472

maniacmusician
January 6th, 2007, 08:03 PM
I learnt many, many years ago but did come across this on Digg the other day which should help you:

http://tools.corsairmemory.com/systembuild/report.aspx?report_id=12472
^ I was just about to recommend that as well!

Anthony, I think a good place to start for you to build a computer would be with the following MoBo and processor (I'm getting the same ones, but I'm upgrading my computer rather than building a new one):

Processor - Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115005)
Motherboard - ASUS P5N-E SLI (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813131142) (This is based on the nForce 650i SLI chipset from nvidia)

The reason that I recommend this combination is based on the following; firstly the e6300 is a fairly amazing processor that you will probably be very happy with (and its dual core!). Secondly, that board supports dual-core AND quad core; so if you wanted to upgrade in the future, you could get away with not having to buy a new motherboard. Plus, this board is based on the nForce chipset and supports NVIDIA SLI should you ever want that.

If even the e6300 is not good enough for you, then I would highly recommend going with the E6600. That is a processor that cannot dissapoint. If it wasn't already blazing fast, you can OC (overclock) it to 4GHz. It also gives you the 4MB L2 cache instead of 2MB one of the E6300 (don't even consider e6400, it's not worth the money; about the same as e6300. the next step up is e6600).

If you're interested, I got a lot of benchmark data from the following article: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2795&p=3

edit: also, I'm actually not ordering from Newegg. I'm going with ZipZoomFly.com, because they have slightly lower prices and free shipping, so it saves me $15 US, which isn't a lot, but its something.

edit again: When you do build your own computer, be sure to use Arctic Silver cooling paste instead of the gunk that Intel puts on their chips, you'll be very glad that you did. It will keep your CPU significantly cooler. And if you want to OC, decent air cooling would be something to look into as well.

ahaslam
January 6th, 2007, 08:58 PM
That's one hell of a guide, I've read the whole thing & cant wait to build my own :D

maniacmusician, thanks for the recommendations, I will research them thoroughly ;)

I'm just left with a couple of thoughts. The first being all the cables, are they always included with the components? Secondly, would this be possible at my budget (I'll start looking at components tomorrow)?

Thanks again ;)

PS. I assume that I'll have to take static precautions (didn't see it in the guide) :-k

_simon_
January 6th, 2007, 09:29 PM
Your PSU unless otherwise stated will come with the kettle lead and various power cables.
Your motherboard unless otherwise stated should come with at least one IDE and SATA cable. It should also come with the spacers (you screw them in the case and the motherboard sits on top of them)
Your drives unless otherwise stated should come with the appropriate data cables.


So yeah all cables should be included.

If you buy any hardware as OEM then it probably will not come with anything so watch out for that. The cables are cheap enough to buy individually, it's just a pain when you find you're some short.

Static precautions - make sure the surface you use isn't prone to static, remove your sweater and try and use the antistatic bags that the compents come in as much as possible i.e. place them on top when not in use. You can get antistatic wrist straps if you want to be extra precautious although I've only used mine once and never had any problems.

ahaslam
January 6th, 2007, 09:45 PM
_simon_ thanks for clearing that up, I'll use an antistatic wriststrap as a precaution ;)

One last request... can anyone recommend any other reputable UK sites (never hurts to have more choice)?

Tony.

maniacmusician
January 6th, 2007, 10:03 PM
you will definitely have to take static precautions, of course.

The cables sometimes come with the components, sometimes not. Depends on where you're buying from. You just have to verify before buying (or order cables after you get the parts.

Your budget is around 1200 dollars US so I'd say definitely, yes.

The most expensive things you buy will be the processor+motherboard, a good LCD widescreen monitor, the RAM, and possibly the graphics card. I have a 7600GT, and it's a decent card, but I got it on sale. If you have extra money left over at the end, I would either splurge for a better card, or buy two 7600GT's to use in a SLI configuration.

I have to admit I didnt read your whole OP the first time around so I'll read that now and give some more recommendations.

You mention that you want an AMD dual-core...those are alright, but Intel exceeds them by far when it comes to dual-cores. The benchmarking and comparison article I linked to will demonstrate that as well if you want some statistics. If you read the whole article, you'll get a better idea of where to go with dual-core processors.

DVD-(+)ROM/RW drives aren't really that hard to come by, I'm sure you'll find one that matches your needs.

For hard drives I would without doubt, with 100% conviction, go with a SATA drive. They outperform IDE drives considerably and they're really the ideal choice for anyone. Any decent motherboard that you buy (and with a dual-core, you'll have to get a decent one) will have support for them.

I'd recommend going with at least 2 GBs of RAM just to facilitate faster operations. RAM can be expensive, yes, but always worth it.

Couple that with the reccomendations I made in my last post, and you'll be a very satisfied man.

Though now that you've decided to build a computer, lte me recommend some other things for you!

Case:

You'll want a good case for sure. I'm a man of simplicity and elegance so for you I'll recommend the following case; Antec LifeStyle SONATA II Piano Black (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811129155)
This case is a pretty decent ones and comes with a built in power supply; however, your PSU needs may exceed this power supply in which case I can later recommend another case for you. For more details on PSU requirements, keep reading
The PSU is an integral part of your system so make sure you get a great one! You'll have to calculate how much power you want it to pump out. Fortunately, the internet facilitates us. Here is a good PSU Calculator (http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp) that'll help you figure things out. 500W is a good value to default to, but your needs may be higher.

RAM:

Like I said, you probably want at least 2 GB of RAM (though more is always great! :) ). Good manufacturers to go with (in my experience) are Corsair, OCZ (I tend to usually buy them for some reason), Kingston, and Patriot (haven't used them, but I've heard good things). When buying RAM, you'll want to consider the speed of the RAM. DDR2 667 is a decent speed that's supported by most Motherboards. However, this decision shouldn't be made until you've first chosen a motherboard.

Hard Drives:

As I mentioned before, go with a SATA 3.0GB/s hard drive. IF you can eliminate IDE hard drives from your setup, you'll notice a speed increase overall and in moving/deleting files, etc. In this category, the only manufacturers that I would trust are Western Digital and Seagate. I own a WD drive at the moment, 300GB, and it's really nice. When buying a hard drive, it's important to consider read/write and seek times. It's better to have a low latency setup. You'll also want to look at cache size. I'd go with a 16MB cache as opposed to a 8MB one, of course. But 8MB isn't necessarily bad either; But I'm just advising on the better route to go.

Video Cards:

Of course, you'll be going with Nvidia. I recommend getting a card with a PCI Express x16 interface, as it's more standard, and it's also my personal preference over AGP. As for manufacturers, I've had pretty good experiences with EVGA, and don't know about many others. As I said before, if you have extra money left over, I'd recommend that you go for an GeForce 8 series card, or if you'd prefer, put two 7600GT's in SLI. A single 7600GT is still very good, it's what I have at the moment, and it serves me well. But if you have some extra money, and you want to improve the computer, this is one thing to consider.

I know I've already talked about processors and motherboards, but I'll include it again in this post just to make it comprehensive.

Processor:

I recommend going with Intel's Core 2 Duo line. They'll give you the most performance, period. For a decent dual-core setup, I would recommend an E6300 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115005). It's their cheapest one, but still packs a punch. If you have the monetary liberty and the desire to do so, I would highly recommend going with an E6600 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115003) instead. It's overclocking abilities are amazing; with proper cooling, it can get up to 4 GHz! It also supports a 4MB cache instead of a 2MB one, which is great. I would not go with an E6400 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115004). It's only a little better than the E6300 and really not worth the price jump in my opinion. If you want anything better than an E6300, the E6600 is the best way to go. Similar to the 6300v6400, the E6700 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819115002) provides marginal improvements over the E6600 with an even bigger price difference(read up on them for more information if you want, or compare them on newegg to get a comprehensive list of differences) Here is a link (http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/77909774/m/473001740831) to what people at this other forum think about it. These are just people's opinions of course, but I tend to kind of agree that it's not worth the price jump.

Motherboard:

My personal recommendation along with a Core 2 Duo is the ASUS P5N-E SLI (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813131142). This is based on the nForce 650i SLI chipset from NVIDIA. I recommend it for the following reasons; It supports quad-core and dual-core processors so you should be able to upgrade in the future without buying a new motherboard. Also, this is an NVIDIA chipset, and has SLI capablities, which is great if you want that kind of thing. It has space for 4 memory sticks, which is decent, and supports up to 8GB of RAM at DDR2 800; that's pretty fast. Has plenty of SATA connectors, and even space for two IDE ribbon cables, which means you can stick some IDE drives on there along with CD/DVD drives if you want to. It has enough USB ports, one Firewire port, etc. It's packaging also comes with some cables that you may need. For exact specs, look at the newegg page.

Okay that's all for now. I'm pretty pooped from all that typing! I hope this information has helped, and if you want to know anything else, just ask or consult Google. I've covered most bases decently, but probably left a few things out. Building a computer is a great an exciting thing.

edit: yes I did leave out LCD monitors; but I don't know enough about them to recommend anything, sorry. I do know that they usually work the best with only one preset resolution (at least I think so), so be careful when choosing.

ahaslam
January 6th, 2007, 10:14 PM
Cheers, that's certainly a lot of food for thought, appreciated ;)

Tony.

maniacmusician
January 6th, 2007, 10:24 PM
Cheers, that's certainly a lot of food for thought, appreciated ;)

Tony.
no problem, I know how it is, and it's better to have information at your fingertips so that you know where to start. I would've liked it the first time that I researched this stuff. Actually I just finished researching again for upgrading my computer and building my brother one, which is why I was aware of these products offhand.

Good luck!

PS: I don't know any UK sites, being in the US and all, sorry :(

happy-and-lost
January 6th, 2007, 10:42 PM
Check out www.aria.co.uk they're always good for cheap but quality components.

ahaslam
January 6th, 2007, 11:45 PM
Check out www.aria.co.uk they're always good for cheap but quality components.
Cheers, I'll check it out. I like your sig ;)

ahaslam
January 7th, 2007, 06:45 PM
Here's what I've come up with so far:

Processor:
Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13ghz - Skt775 Fsb1066 2mb Cache (http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/112708) (I didn't want to go sub 2GHz)
Motherboard:
ABIT IL9 Pro - Motherboard (http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/122034)
Memory:
Corsair (CM2X1024-5400C4) 1024MB, DDR2-5300/5400 (http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/74116)
Graphics:
BFG 7600GT 256mb GDDR3 Dual DVI PCI-E (http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/106643)
Monitor:
Belinea 1925S1W 19" Widescreen 5ms 850:1 (1440 X 900) (http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/114209/rb/24292370424)

I'm currently at 511.68, this is going to be close [-o<

Tony.

PS. As I'm not after cutting edge, wouldn't the Pentium 4 900 series also be worth considering? This would also give me an additional 40 to play with for the rest of the system. Here's what I've seen: Intel Pentium D 930 Dual Core 3.00GHz FSB 800 2 X 2Mb Cache (http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/102623)

RandomJoe
January 7th, 2007, 09:38 PM
In my experience, that 40 savings is going to really cost you performance- and energy-wise. My Core 2 Duo system (E6600) absolutely wipes the ground with my two P4 systems. And it runs substantially cooler (a consequence of pulling a lot less power) to boot.

My next-best system is a 3GHz P4 with hyperthreading, and while it's nice, you can definitely tell if you have a processor-intensive task running. With this C2D system, I can have a video encode running with two threads (it gets over 100FPS, while the P4 barely gets to 60FPS) and I can't tell it's running - I've even played UT while it was encoding! :mrgreen: That P4 is also constantly blowing hot air out the back when idle, while this system barely gets the CPU temp to 100 degF under most loads.

Edit:
Interesting. I've obviously missed a generation (maybe two or three!) of processors. Went digging for specs on the Pentium D - they don't look near as bad as the P4/HT processors I have heat-wise, around 100W at full load. And they are actually dual-core. I was assuming they were just newer-gen P4s! Anyway, just wanted to clarify... Part of my rebuttal is moot now! :)

maniacmusician
January 7th, 2007, 09:43 PM
Anthony: When considering Core 2 Duos, clock speed doesn't matter as much as you would think (unlike the netburst architecture, which was most of the Pentium 4 line). Because of this, you won't notice a big difference between 1.86 and 2.13 at all. The E6300 and E6400 are so close in performance that it's really not worth paying $30 extra for it (which is like 15 pounds right?). I would go for the E6300 or step it up to a E6600.

As for whether it's better than the Athlon 4600; Yes. Even the E6300 (at 1.86GHz) outperforms the Athlon.

The motherboard seems okay (though it means you'll be shelling out for a new one if you ever upgrade your processor), and the RAM is good too as far as quality goes (i didn't look at the price)

The graphics card; it seems a bit on the expensive side. I got almost the exact same thing from EVGA for about $60 less (30?) I don't know if the price difference should be that large. EVGA isn't offered on that site you linked to.

That is one expensive LCD monitor! But they're all pretty expensive, heh. It looks good but I don't know much about them.

I suppose you could go with the Pentium 4 series, but due to their netburst architecture, I dunno if that would be a good idea. Netburst has been shelved...though it's favorable for overclocking, the problem is that they hit a thermal "wall" so to speak, where the heat of the processor prevents it from accessing its overclocking abilities. Theoretically, they could get netburst up to 10Ghz, but the thermal dynamics prevent them from doing that, so they've shelved it. The overclocker's CPU of choice is now the E6600.

If you really want to cut down costs, I would go for an E6300, it'll drop you about 20. you could probably also save some money on the graphics card if you tried.

happy-and-lost
January 7th, 2007, 09:45 PM
If you fancy saving 20, get the card here: http://www.aria.co.uk/ProductInfoComm.asp?ID=24384 (I think it's the same model)

EDIT: (Even cheaper here http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?NOV-76GS)

maniacmusician
January 7th, 2007, 09:57 PM
If you fancy saving 20, get the card here: http://www.aria.co.uk/ProductInfoComm.asp?ID=24384 (I think it's the same model)
It's essentially the same card, but it looks like a reference card (I think). meaning its directly from nvidia and just the chipset, without being optimized by a third party company like Asus or EVGA. For the case of warranty and support, I think it's better to buy from a retailer instead.

ahaslam
January 7th, 2007, 10:17 PM
Thanks for the extra advise, I'm quite behind with the tech stuff ;)
As I can't afford the E6600 processor or a SLI MOBO, I thought I'd get the best graphics card that I could afford, you'll notice that it has different clock/mem speeds when compared to a standard 7600GT & still retains the lifetime warranty (do you not think it's worth it?).

Tony.

maniacmusician
January 7th, 2007, 11:10 PM
Thanks for the extra advise, I'm quite behind with the tech stuff ;)
As I can't afford the E6600 processor or a SLI MOBO, I thought I'd get the best graphics card that I could afford, you'll notice that it has different clock/mem speeds when compared to a standard 7600GT & still retains the lifetime warranty (do you not think it's worth it?).

Tony.
I don't know if that graphics card gives you a good price/performance ratio. It's a good card to be sure. but it's a 30 difference from what I have, and thats a lot of money. Some of it may be due to pricing differences because of where we live, but it's still a lot of money. have you looked at some other retailers maybe?

I'd definitely recommend downgrading the processor to save money because there really isn't much difference. the only difference is clock speed and that's almost inconsequential at the lower end spectrum of core 2 duos.

ahaslam
January 8th, 2007, 12:36 AM
I've just been looking at sh*t loads of benchmarks & it seems that E6300 is the overall equivalent of an Athlon 64x2 4600, as the core 2 duo is cheaper it's a definite. While looking at all that stuff, it seems that the E6400 offers no additional benefit in games, but the extra clock speed does help the number crunching for video encoding. I would imagine that a 15% overclock would be safe & easy to do ;)

So it'll be a standard 7600GT and your recommended E6300 with a small OC :)

Thanks again,

Tony.

maniacmusician
January 8th, 2007, 12:43 AM
no problem. enjoy the power that is dual core :) I can't wait to get mine in as well; still saving up for it though. Thinking about going with an E6600 myself but it's so expensive! I'll have to wait longer to save up for that baby. *cant decide*

edit: for your setup, don't forget to buy Arctic Silver cooling paste. It's a lot better than the waxy goo that intel puts on there, and it'll ease any OC-ing you might want to do.

ahaslam
January 8th, 2007, 10:23 PM
All spec'd up, 30 quid over budget (considered a cheaper case/psu combo but but decided against it).

Have I missed anything :-k

22545

Thanks again, you've been all been a great help ;)

Tony.

EDIT: 13/01/07 - I'll wait a while & save up for either a SLi motherboard or a 7950GT - the 19" TFT will put a lot of strain on a single 7600GT ;)

ahaslam
February 15th, 2007, 09:22 PM
Finally ordered my stuff, scary money...
The main upgrades over my previous spec are a 7950GT & a better mobo.
I hope it's all high quality and it should be good for future upgrades & overclocking :)
Needless to say that my XBOX360 will be on ebay for the weekend ;)

25366

Tony.

mips
February 16th, 2007, 12:21 PM
Have I missed anything :-k


http://www.acoustiproducts.com/en/acoustipack_antec_sonata_2.asp
http://www.acousticpc.com/acousticpack_sonata_pre_cut_2.html

Available in the UK, I imported mine from the UK but cannot remember from which site.

ahaslam
February 16th, 2007, 09:09 PM
Thanks mips, that's good to know, I'm glad I ordered that case ;)

Tony.

dvarsam
February 17th, 2007, 12:39 AM
Hello!
It is always nice when you go out to buy new hardware...
I have one thing to suggest to you...

Choose a Mobo equipped with a "Marvell" LAN Adapter.
I have noticed that when you use Marvel's LAN chips, they are always auto-detected from Ubuntu!!!
I can guarantee you that, since I have tried out 3 different Mobos & all of them equipped with Marvel LAN chips, work out of the box!!!
On the contrary, Intel LAN chips sometimes work out of the box & sometimes not...

Good Luck!!!

ahaslam
February 17th, 2007, 12:59 AM
Thanks, though it's already ordered. I don't mind having to set a few things up, I always use a custom kernel anyway ;)

PS. Never heard of Marvell before...

cowlip
February 17th, 2007, 01:13 AM
^their wireless chip is actually used in the One Laptop Per Child machine..

ahaslam
February 17th, 2007, 08:49 PM
Their price for the memory has since come down further. As they're still waiting for the graphics card I was able to amend the order, saving 10.21 ;)

I can't believe how much RAM has come down in the last month, I wonder if it's related to the release of Vista :-k

Tony :)

PS. The price of PC2-6400 is much the same as it was though...

maniacmusician
February 18th, 2007, 12:37 AM
Their price for the memory has since come down further. As they're still waiting for the graphics card I was able to amend the order, saving 10.21 ;)

I can't believe how much RAM has come down in the last month, I wonder if it's related to the release of Vista :-k

Tony :)

PS. The price of PC2-6400 is much the same as it was though...
That type of memory is not current, is it? Which is probably why current trends dont affect it. Only popular memory is affected by stuff like the release of Vista.

ahaslam
February 21st, 2007, 12:57 AM
I shouldn't have opened my big mouth about the price reduction. The graphics card went out of stock & was holding up the order. I had to remove the item & get it elsewhere, costing me double what I saved ](*,)

I got good money for my Xbox on ebay though, so swings & roundabouts eh?

The monitor & case turned up today, stunning, simply stunning. I just need the rest now ;)

Tony.

ahaslam
February 22nd, 2007, 11:52 PM
All the bits came this afternoon, took me 3 hours to build & about the same on setting up. Dapper wouldn't install (kernel wouldn't load from the live disc) & Sabayon froze on boot, so I currently have the freshly released Zenwalk 4.4. Only noticed two problems so far, I have to scroll up & down on the desktop. I've set it to 1440x900 (after installing nvidia drivers), but there's 2 inches missing... Oh yeah the second problem, I seem to have missed out the hdd led ;)

Tony :)