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Second Computer -- Thoughts


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#1 Ron Devito

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 04:15 PM

All:

I am considering building the following as a cheap second computer:

ECS GEForce 6100 PM-M2 Motherboard
AMD Phenom 9850 (comes with fan)
2 GB DDR2
CoolerMaster CM690 Mid-Tower Case

Distant second choice is an ECS A870GM mobo with an Athalon X2 6000+.

To this I will be adding a Thermaltake 500W power supply that I'm recycling from a crashed PC. This machine will Run Mandriva Linux and will be used for basic office, Internet type stuff. No gaming, no video captures, no high-end. I'll be using the mobo's built-in video. I can add a PCIe card later if I want, though no SLI.

Questions:

Any known issues with these items I should be aware of -- specifically the mobo and the case?
Is the stock fan good enough for the chip or should I be using one of the following:

ZeroTherm Nirvana NV120
CoolIT Eliminator

Reason I'm asking about the fan, is that the stock fan for my E8400 chip was absolute garbage and I had to chuck it in favor of the CoolIT. I haven't built an AMD computer so I don't know how demanding this chip is regarding heat and cooling, and I don't know if the stock fan on this chip uses the same push-pin "technology" as the stock fan on a Socket 775 (My experience with that went something like this: push one side in, push the other side in, original side pops. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Pray it works. Thermal shutdown. Try again. Do this for a few hours....research, research, research. Pop in the CoolIT. Problem solved).

I just want to know what I'm getting into before I start that project. I don't mind using the stock fan if I know I can lock it down securely on the chip. I don't want to work with those push pins -- I don't trust them.

Thank you.

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 04:38 PM

I understand you want a low budget build, but I'd stay away from ECS
My opinion
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#3 Ron Devito

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 04:43 PM

Mark,

Thank you. What would you recommend? ASUS, MSI, something else?

#4 garmanma

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 09:01 PM

Asus, Abit MSI are good, as others. I stay away from ECS and PCChips
Couple sites for reviews
www.motherboards.org
http://www.tomshardware.com/

Edited by garmanma, 05 May 2008 - 09:13 PM.

Mark
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#5 Ron Devito

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 05:38 AM

Mark,

Thank you. I'll do likewise.

I also saw another thread about possible problems with the Phenom chip, so I'm wodering now if that CPU is such a wise choice. The issue is in this budget range, the only Intel equivalent is an E2200 which is a much lower-end chip than the Phenoms and even the X2 64s. I'm looking to get the most bang for the buck.

Also, I'm concerned about how bet to cool the chip. I didn't mind dropping the $150 on the CoolIT for my main computer, but I don't want to do this for a budget machine. I'm willing to spend up to $50 on a fan/heatsink -- if I have to. How do the stock fans on the retail AMD chips perform compared to the stock fans on the Intels?

#6 garmanma

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 08:05 AM

Up until my new build, (all AMD) all I've ever used were the stock heatsink/fan. With this Quad core, I got a Zalman for around $50. It's gotten good reviews
Mark
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#7 Ron Devito

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:03 PM

Mark and all....

I did some more research today. For my budget build, any AMD Phenom is too much CPU. Newegg has a boatload of customer reviews all railing about how lousy the stock fan is at cooling these chips. The same is true for the Athalon X2 6000 and 6400 chips. All the Phenoms, and the 6000/6400 draw 125 watts. This puts those CPUS right up there with my e8400. Even the best fans/heatsinks are not going to do such a great job with these CPUs -- in my opinion. So, I'd be looking at putting in a CoolIT Eliminator for any Phenom or the 6000/6400 series.

The CPU I was originally considering before I got greedy for speed and cores was the 5400 which pulls nearly half the wattage -- 65 watts and can be adequately cooled with the stock fan. It's a 2.8 ghz dual-core CPU. Going with this CPU drops the costs some -- I can put the savings into more RAM and a better motherboard. And for a Linux machine doing office apps, email, Internet, and very light -- if any -- gaming, more than adequate. Remember, I'm not even putting a video card in this box -- not now -- but I want a PCI X16 slot so I can slap one video card in if my main computer packs it in and I need some better video.

The fan I was considering -- the Nirvana -- is the notorious hardware killer -- the one with the bracket that shorts out the motherboard. So much for that. I'll consider the Zalman, though several Newegg customers reported receiving units DOA with fan blades stuck in the heat sink. I saw pix which seem to indicate that the AMD mobos have an assembly onto which a stock fan is attached -- they're not push-pins like the stock and some after-market fans on the Intel socket 775 CPUs.

This is my revised 2nd computer parts list:


CoolerMaster CM690 Mid-Tower Case
ASUS M3N78-EMH (it has built-in video is NVIDIA GeForce 8200, four RAM slots, a PCI X16 which can be hybrid SLI'd, 8.1 audio, and Gigabit Ethernet. It's AM2+ so I can Phenom or Phenom FX it later).
Retail AMD Athalon 64 X2 5400 2.8 Ghz dual-core CPU with stock fan
OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)

This will be powered by my 500W Thermaltake PSU, and I'll throw in the 120-GB IDE Seagate from my crashed P4. The HDD will be partitioned, reformatted, and will run Mandriva Linux. With built-in SATA and USB, I can always add additional and 120 GB is fine for this basic machine, which hopefully leaves me room to update more later.

Thoughts on the revised build anyone?

#8 Sneakycyber

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 06:28 PM

Sounds like you have done your research, well done :thumbsup: . As stated earlier the ECS and PCChips brand motherboards have a had allot of unhappy customers find their way here to solve problems. Most were solved by returning the boards and getting a different brand. Not all of ECS customers had problems we do have one member that has had good luck with them, although as of now the bad out weigh the good. The system looks good it should give you solid performance.

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#9 Ron Devito

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 07:58 PM

Chad,

Thank you. That is what will be my second system. The way my primary system is acting, the second one might well become the primary....

#10 Ron Devito

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 05:27 AM

OK....the second system is built. Only changes to the final list is that I got OCZ Reaper DDR3, as what I wanted was not in stock. I also had to buy a disk, because the disk from my crashed machine was -- well -- crashed. Though I had recovered the data from it, I could not write a new OS to it. Now, I can share some thoughts on this build.

Case: I cannot say enough good things about this case. The CoolerMaster CM600 comes with three 120-mm fans -- front, back, and left side. The case is vented with a mesh on the top and front -- even the drive bay covers are vented -- and there is a coarse filter in each drive bay cover. Drives are truly installed tool-less and easily. Expansion slot covers are plastic tabs. Just press down on one piece and rotate. Clip it back. Really nice. Cables are routed through a cable management system. PSU goes on the bottom and the fan vents out of the case. Genius! They should all do this. In a conventional system, all the PSU fan does is blow hot air on the rest of your components. Well-engineered and thought-out case. Best $85 you can spend.

Mobo: That ASUS was a great choice for my build....which is a basic Internet/office/light gaming platform. I like the crash-free BIOS so if you flash (more like flush) the BIOS, you won't be sitting there with a dead board. I wish my XFX 790i -- which costs THREE times as much had this feature. The built-in video is quite good and in fact can be used as hybrid SLI. Great little board. Only complaint: no firewire, so DV video capture can't be done. Not a biggie. I can probably get a PCI firewire card if I ever really wanted it.

CPU and Fan: What a pleasure to work with. With a socket AM2/AM2+, the CPU is surrounded by a large plastic fitting with two tabs on it. The fan locks down using these tabs. Just put the lever side in first and press down on the opposite side till it locks. Easy. The Socket 775 push-pin is absolute garbage and Intel should be ashamed of themselves for providing such a lousy solution to protect a hot chip. Further, the stock fan on this AMD 5400 is perfect for the job. I was getting idle temps at around 40C -- not bad at all. Comparatively, my Intel chip would start at 60C right out of the gate and soar to well over 100C in a few minute's time with the stock fan. I also used good judgement in avoiding the 125W AMD chips and sticking with the much cooler-running 65W version. At 2.8 Ghz with dual cores, this AMD 5400 is on a par with my Intel e8400...and the AMD is 64 bit. Those of you sitting on the fence about AMD....don't. Just make sure you get the right CPU. Right now, I think the 5400 is the best bang for the buck.

RAM: The heatpipe on the Reaper is excellent, though you don't want this if you're putting in a fan or liquid system that will cross over the RAM. I put 4 GB in the machine -- two 2GB modules.

DVD Burner: LiteOn -- my favorite. They work. What else can I say about LiteOn DVD burners?

I put in my Atech Pro 11+1 reader and my Thermaltake 500W PSU, as well as a Linksys PCI wireless card with a Hawking 6dbi antenna. I tested the machine first with an old 8-GB HDD and now I have a Maxtor 500GB IDE disk.

Right now, I'm experimenting with OSs on this machine. I tried Ubuntu studio 8.4. That distribution saw my video card and configured it correctly, but it couldn't activate my NIC and put me on the network. Mandriva saw the NIC and loaded the VESA driver for my video. I have 1024x768 16 million colors. Not bad. But I can't use the 3D desktop. Attempting to load NVIDIA drivers causes the Mandriva system to only go to a command prompt on following boot. And since I'm not familiar yet with Linux, that means another format and reinstall. I might fool around with other Linux distributions before I settle down with one, but this will be a Linux box for sure.

#11 Sneakycyber

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 05:44 AM

Thanks for providing your results and reviews of your components. Great job! Happy computing :thumbsup:

Chad Mockensturm 

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