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Advice for building a computer


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#1 CHansohn

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:52 AM

I have never built a computer before in my life. I have upgraded and taken apart systems before. I am interested in building a gaming computer and was told that if I'm on a tight budget to custom build one. I currently have a Sony Vaio VGC-RA820G system and was thinking about building a new system taking a few parts from the old one to save money. the Sony has:

Processor
Type
Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6 GHz
Data Bus Speed
800 MHz
Cache Memory
Type
L2 cache
Installed Size
1 MB
Cache Per Processor
1 MB
RAM
Installed Size
1GB / 2 GB (max)
Technology
DDR SDRAM PC3200
Memory Speed
400 MHz
Form Factor
DIMM 184-pin
Card Reader CompactFlash Card type I, CompactFlash Card type II, Memory Stick, Microdrive, MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card, xD-Picture Card
Storage
Hard Drive
200 GB - standard - ATA-150- 7200 rpm
Storage Controller
Type
1 x IDE
Controller Interface Type
1 x Serial ATA-150
Optical Storage
Type
DVD+RW (Dual layer)
Read Speed
42x (CD) / 16x (DVD)
Write Speed
40x (CD) / 8x (DVD-R) / 16x (DVD+R) / 2.4x (DVD+R DL))
Rewrite Speed
24x (CD) / 4x (DVD-R) / 4x (DVD+R)
2nd Optical Drive
DVD-ROM
Read Speed


40x CD/ 16x DVD
Graphics Controller

Graphics Processor
PCI Express x16 - ATI RADEON X300
Video Memory
128 MB DDR
Audio Output
Type
Sound card - integrated, Intel HD Audio, Surround Sound
Compliant Standards
AC '97, SoundMAX Cadenza
Networking
Networking
Network adapter - integrated
Data Link Protocol
Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet
Expansion
Expansion Bays Total
2 ( 0 ) x front accessible - 5.25" x 1/2H
1 ( 0 ) x front accessible - 3.5" x 1/3H
2 ( 1 ) x internal - 3.5" x 1/3H
Expansion Slots Total


1 ( 1 ) x CompactFlash Card - type I/II
1 ( 1 ) x Memory Stick
1 ( 1 ) x xD-Picture Card
1 ( 1 ) x SD Memory Card
1 ( 0 ) x PCI Express x16
2 ( 1 ) x PCI
1 ( 0 ) x PCI Express x1
1 ( 0 ) x processor - LGA775 Socket
Memory - DIMM 184-pin
Interface Ports

7 x Hi-Speed USB - 4 pin USB Type A
1 x keyboard - generic - 6 pin mini-DIN (PS/2 style)
1 x mouse - generic - 6 pin mini-DIN (PS/2 style)
1 x display / video - DVI-Analog/Digital - 29 pin combined DVI
1 x display / video - TV-out
1 x audio - SPDIF output
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - 6 pin FireWire
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - 4 pin FireWire
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5 mm
1 x audio - line-in - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
2 x display / video - S-video input
2 x display / video - composite video input - RCA
2 x audio - line-in
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T - RJ-45
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x parallel - IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP) - 25 pin D-Sub (DB-25)


The only thing I have changed is the graphics card and it is now a ATI Radeon X1650.
I'm hoping that things like the sound card I can transfer to the new system. I'm not sure if anything else is something that I would want in the new computer. I have been looking around and thought that for a processor a: Intel® Core™ i7-920 would be good for me and not to pricey.
for ram I was thinking 2x 1GB Ballistix 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-12800 memory module would be a good start for ram.
and I was looking at getting a GeForce GTX 295 for the graphics card.

any advice as to whats not a good idea and what else I need (like a motherboard) would be good for this system.

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


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#2 CHansohn

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:55 AM

Forgot that I also got two other HDD in the sony that I was planning on moving over. a 250GB and a 1TB drive in adition to the 200GB that came with it.

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


#3 Ingle

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 01:55 PM

Looks like a good setup to upgrade to. Just be careful with your IDE/PATA drives as not many motherboards have more than 1 controller for 2 devices anymore so you'd probably need to get a PCI card or 2 with extra assuming your HDDs and optical drives aren't SATA.

The sound card you won't be able to salvage as it's integrated which means it's part of the motherboard. I have not yet seen a motherboard that doesn't have integrated sound and most motherboards that can support what you're wanting have pretty good sound for surround sound.

What OS are you going to be running? You may want to get 2x2GB sticks. Or if you want the same cost, 1x2GB stick so you can upgrade at a later point should you choose. Be careful memory, make sure you match the voltage and latency to that your motherboard can handle. Before I started to pay attention I got 2v RAM when my board could only handle 1.8v and would continuously restart.

Edited by Ingle, 29 July 2009 - 02:08 PM.


#4 DJBPace07

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 05:18 PM

You may be able to reuse the case from the Sony Vaio, but the GTX 295 is a very long card and you may need a larger case to use it. Also, the power supply would need to be different since, I doubt, that PC has one good enough for a GTX 295. The GTX 295 is very high end (about $500) and you could easily blow most of your budget on it. I also suggest not reusing the old PATA (IDE) drives if they are four years old or more. Most hard drives fail after about five years. Also, the sound card is integrated so you cannot salvage that, but the good news is most motherboards have it included. Also, given the computer's age, the RAM is not reusable. In the end, the only thing you may be able to salvage is the optical drive. Since you listed no budget, I'm going to assume, based on your choice of the uber-high-end GTX 295, that you have about $1000 to spend.

Case: CHIEFTEC Dragon DA-01BD-U-OP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - This case has all the depth needed for the larger graphics cards. Measure your current case, if you think you can fit an 11 inch or longer card, then it MAY work. $89

Motherboard: ASRock M3A780GXH/128M AM3 AMD 780G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - This is a good motherboard, it allows for the latest AM3 processors, has multiple PCI-express x16 slots for additional graphics cards (Crossfire, not SLI), on-board audio, and, if you need it, on-board video. It will allow for two standard PATA (IDE) devices to be connected to it. $89

Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100251SR Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB 512-bit - This is almost on par, spec wise, to a GTX 295, but it is the best ATI offers. It is two GPU's on one card and it is about $200 less than the GTX 295. $359 (Before Mail-in Rebate)

Power Supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W - This will provide adequate power to the system. Corsair makes excellent power supplies. $119 (Before Mail-in Rebate)

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz - This is is the best processor AMD has. This quad core CPU is based off the Phenom II design and is more efficient than older Phenom models. Black Edition means this processor has its multiplier unlocked for easy overclocking. $215

RAM: Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - Unless you plan on overclocking the RAM, this will be sufficient. Remember, you need a 64-bit operating system to use all 4GB of memory. $57

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Green WD5000AADS 500GB - If you want a new hard drive, here's a good one with plenty of space. If your old drives are SATA, they will work fine. $54

Optical Drive: You're going to be reusing your old one.

Operating System: Windows 7 RC 64-bit - Since you are right at your budget and this is free, I suggest using this. You will need to purchase Windows 7 before the RC deactivates in March 2010. You will also need to download this soon as Microsoft will stop offering it August 20. You cannot reuse your old OS as it is an OEM edition and paired with your old Vaio motherboard.

Total Cost: $987 (Before Rebates...I didn't include the rebate amounts as all the rebates expire in a couple of days and there is no way you would be able to get the parts quickly enough to take advantage of the rebate.)

Edited by DJBPace07, 29 July 2009 - 09:17 PM.

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#5 CHansohn

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 07:55 PM

now that graphics card you have listed. it says it has the crossfire ability. would I be able to use the crossfire capability between it and my ATI Radeon X1650? or do the cards have to be the same model to work together with cross fire? I'd hate to throw out the Radeon card since its not that bad of a card.

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


#6 DJBPace07

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 09:12 PM

I did some checking on your graphics card. Depending on the model of the X1650, it can be Crossfired, just not with many other models besides the X1K series. However, if you could Crossfire it with a 4870 X2, you wouldn't get much, if any, gain from using it since the 4870 X2 is a much more powerful card as you can see here. It should also be noted that you don't need to have the exact same model of cards to be able to use Crossfire. For instance, cards within a given series can be Crossfired, so a 4870 can be Crossfired with a 4830 as seen here. The faster card may downclock itself to the speed of the slower card. An X2 is basically a card that has already been Crossfired but takes up a single slot in the computer. If you're worried about cost, the XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB would also be a good alternative.

Edited by DJBPace07, 29 July 2009 - 09:19 PM.

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#7 CHansohn

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 10:48 PM

well cost isn't a biggy. I was willing to spend about 1000 and a little over 950 seems to be a good price. however. I would like to know how much soldering I will have to do? I'm pretty sure not much compared to about 10 years ago but thought I should ask.

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


#8 sonicjet

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 11:07 PM

Hmm,DJB,don't forget ATI Hybrid Crossfire,he will see a lot bigger difference if he upgraded to a sideport enabled 790GX based MOBO,20 bucks more for 10-15 frames on high settings of your favorite brand new game,plus it will switch to the IGP for non 3D environments thus saving the PSU some work,this will only work on the the 4000 series and 3000 series....

#9 DJBPace07

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 03:00 PM

Hybrid Crossfire only works with certain graphics cards within the 4xxx, 3xxx, and 2xxx series, most of the supported GPU's are in the mobility range with only 3xxx and 2xxx cards supported for the desktop market. As it says at ATI's site, "An ATI Hybrid CrossFireX system includes an ATI Radeon HD 2400 Series2, ATI Radeon™ HD 3400 Series or ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400 Series graphics processor and a motherboard based on an AMD 780 integrated chipset, all operating in a Windows Vista® environment." They go into more detail here, mobility graphics cards are better supported than discrete graphics cards. The technology is geared more towards the low-end of the discrete desktop graphics card line. I guess ATI assumes that there might not be much of a benefit using Hybrid Crossfire with already high-performing GPU's like the 48xx series. As for the soldering question, no soldering is needed. The computer pretty much snaps together.

ATI Forums - No option for hybrid crossfire on 790G

Edited by DJBPace07, 30 July 2009 - 03:14 PM.

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#10 CHansohn

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 10:24 AM

I was thinking of getting a different case since the one you suggested looked a little dull. how can I tell if a case will be big enough for the motherboard I choose and graphics cards?

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


#11 DJBPace07

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 01:57 PM

The large cases are Full ATX (Or, ATX Full Tower). I wasn't sure of the case style you wanted so just picked the blandest one they had. Aluminum cases are often better made than steel cases and cases with side windows are noiser. Here are some alternatives:

Sunbeam Transformer IC-TR-US-BA-WOPSU Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Certainly not bland. $74

ENERMAX Uber Chakra ECA5001B Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - A good alternative. $89

COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP Black/ Silver Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - It will blow away your budget, but it is one of my favorite cases. $179

Edited by DJBPace07, 01 August 2009 - 09:07 PM.

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#12 CHansohn

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 06:58 PM

I like the ones with different colored lights. but I also like the side window ones. what is it that's noisy? does it buz? or is it just you can hear the hard disk and fans hard at work?

also does the processor come with the thermal compound that goes between it and the heat sink?

Edited by CHansohn, 31 July 2009 - 07:02 PM.

CPU = Intel i7 950
Motherboard = Asus P6X58D
RAM = Corsair XMS3 DDR3 6X 2GB
Power Supply = Corsair AX1200W
Graphics Card = GTX 580 2-way SLI


#13 sonicjet

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 09:10 PM

I like the ones with different colored lights. but I also like the side window ones. what is it that's noisy? does it buz? or is it just you can hear the hard disk and fans hard at work?

Its the hard drives fans and such,but,if you build with a quiet HDD or SSD and all 120mm fans it will be quieter with a side window than your current PC,my latest build was pretty close to DJB's recommended build (WD 500GB green,Cooler Master Elite 310 side window{The best case I have ever used,6 usb ports total front and back,just beautiful},3 120mm case fans)and it's very quiet.

Also does the processor come with the thermal compound that goes between it and the heat sink?

Yes,but I would recommend buying an aftermarket heat sink and some Arctic silver,the 955 comes with a great stock one but it is a very hot CPU,I have seen the Xigmatek S1283 recommended.

#14 DJBPace07

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:31 PM

Most of the noise in a PC comes from the various cooling devices. The case fans produce noise as does the CPU heatsink and power supply fan. Thankfully, you can purchase quiet fans if they really become a bother. Hard drives don't produce that much noise, and what noise they do make is often quieter than the other fans. A solid state drive is silent and expensive. Your graphics card also has a fan that can, depending on the model, produce noise. Most of the noise producing components in a PC are throttled, only becoming loud as needed, hot components require the fans to move more air whereas cooler components do not. For the Phenom II 955, it is suggested the CPU not get above 60 degrees C, which may not be a problem with the stock cooler. If the room the PC is in is always warm (I imagine it's not too much of an issue in MN, but who knows...) or you plan on overclocking, an aftermarket cooler is suggested. The cooler sonicjet recommended, the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler works well. It is quiet and efficient. However, it is also huge and may not fit into some mid-ATX cases. If you are going for a full ATX case, this will not be an issue. Both the stock cooler and the aftermarket Xigmatek cooler have the thermal compound included.

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#15 sonicjet

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 10:58 PM

If your case has good ventilation and your room temp is about 65F-70F you will see stock idle temps on the 955 of about 30C or less




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