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  1. #1
    Senior Member Bri's Avatar
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    Default Building a Computer

    I'm just starting to look seriously at PC components so I can build my own machine. It's been on the back burner for a while because I wanted to make sure I had funds for such a project. I figured there were probably some techie geek folks here, so I thought I'd ask a few questions...

    AMD or Intel?
    My husband built an AMD machine about 2.5-3 years ago, but these days Intel seems like a better option. Am I right? Or does it matter more what price range I'm aiming for? AMD is somewhat more affordable, and I'm only planing to spend around $800. (I already have a Gigabyte chassis and 550w Mushkin PSU from a couple of years ago that should be usable.)

    On the $800 note, should I wait until after the 6 core processors come out to see how much the price of the 4 cores drops? I'm not looking to build a high end gaming rig, but I would like a machine that'll last me at least 3 years if possible.

  2. #2
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    Arstechnica puts out a system guide, about every six months.

    The Budget Box: October 2009 Edition

    The most recent from Oct 2009. They do a lot of research and make some solid recommendations.

    I was going to do a build for Windows 7, until I discovered I could buy a laptop that would more than meet my needs for $429 dollars.

  3. #3
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    Newegg.com is one of your best friends during this process, as is tomshardware.com for hardware reviews and testing. Intel beats AMD in most CPU categories, Nvidia and ATI are, for the most part, relatively close.

    Your PSU sounds plenty fine for your price and performance point.



  4. #4
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bri View Post
    AMD or Intel?
    AMD!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bri View Post
    My husband built an AMD machine about 2.5-3 years ago, but these days Intel seems like a better option. Am I right?
    The "AMD vs. Intel" question is too borad in scope to be answered from the standpoint of "which one is a better option."

    It all depends on what you are intending to use the computer for.

    As Jock stated, if you are going for all out maximum performance, nowadays the Intel chips seem to be the choice.

    However, if great performance at a reasonable price is acceptable, then go AMD. I have several computers, desktops and laptops, some are Intel, some are AMD. NONE of the chips have ever given me a problem.

    The most common issues for desktop/laptop repairs are hard drives or memory failing.

    As far as processors are concerned, I am a big believer in getting the best bang for your buck. You have an $800 budget. You should seriously consider AMD chips.

    For example, look at Dell's site. For any Dell system, you can select an Intel chip or an AMD chip. All other components held equal, the AMD machine is always less money, sometimes by over $100. With an $800 budget, a $100 savings would benefit you and give you flexibility in choosing the other components for your system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bri View Post
    Or does it matter more what price range I'm aiming for?
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bri View Post
    AMD is somewhat more affordable, and I'm only planing to spend around $800. (I already have a Gigabyte chassis and 550w Mushkin PSU from a couple of years ago that should be usable.)
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bri View Post
    On the $800 note, should I wait until after the 6 core processors come out to see how much the price of the 4 cores drops?
    Entry level quad core processors are already inexpensive. I bought a quad-core 2.4 Ghz desktop system almost a year ago for a very reasonable price.

    Remember, it's not just the processor that makes a system fast and responsive, it's also:
    (a) the bus,

    (b) the amount and quality of the memory/RAM (3.25 GB is the maximum for a 32-bit operating system, I put in 4 GB, but the system can only recognize 3.25 GB due to the OS limitation on memory addresses),

    (c) the speed of the hard disk (7200 RPM is the minimum acceptable speed for doing any audio, video, or gaming), and

    (d) the operating system you are using! Vista is a pig compared to Windows 7. I have two desktops that are comparably equipped, on with Windows 7 and one with Vista, the machine with Windows 7 is way more fun to work with.

    ASIDE COMMENT:
    For a great example of how use of one operating system over another can affect system performance, consider the following. Windows operating systems are not the quickest. Many people (me included) FDISK'd and formatted their old Pentium 4 systems (Mine is a 2.g Ghz chip with 2 GB of RAM and 500 GB hard drive) and instead of loading XP back on it, loaded Linux on it instead. Guess what? That old system is way quicker running Linux (I used "Mint" Linux, many others use "Ubuntuu.") than it ever was running XP.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bri View Post
    I'm not looking to build a high end gaming rig, but I would like a machine that'll last me at least 3 years if possible.
    Buy as good of a motherboard, processor, memory, and hard disk that you can for the $800 you have to spend.

    My gut response is this, if you have a good MoBo, any quad-core AMD chip, 4 GB of RAM, and a 1 TeraByte or larger SATA hard drive (7200 RPM) then you will be more than fine for three years, especially if you go straight to Windows 7 and skip the piece of shit that is Vista.

    Quote Originally Posted by sLiPpY View Post
    Arstechnica puts out a system guide, about every six months.

    The Budget Box: October 2009 Edition

    The most recent from Oct 2009. They do a lot of research and make some solid recommendations.
    Nice find!

    Quote Originally Posted by sLiPpY View Post
    I was going to do a build for Windows 7, until I discovered I could buy a laptop that would more than meet my needs for $429 dollars.
    It's crazy how inexpensive laptops have gotten.

    Check out the specs on the Acer Aspire laptops below; I just bought two of these, one for each of my kids:

    Acer - Aspire Laptop with AMD Athlon™ Single-Core Processor
    (NOTE: I can upgrade the chip with any AMD s1g1 dual core chip and dramatically increase the performance, and these series of dual core chips sell for about $35 each right now, Haaa!)
    Model: AS5532-5535 | SKU: 9555769 $329.00 Release Date: November 03, 2009

    This laptop features a 15.6" CineCrystal LCD widescreen display with 1366 x 768 resolution and ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics for stunning movie and gaming detail. Customize multimedia discs with the double-layer DVD±RW/CD-RW drive.
    What's Included

    Acer Aspire Laptop with AMD Athlon™ Single-Core Processor
    6-cell lithium-ion battery
    AC power cord
    AC power adapter
    Software: NTI Media Maker; Acer Arcade Deluxe; Adobe Reader and more
    Owner's manual
    Product Features

    AMD Athlon™ single-core processor TF-20* with 64-bit platform
    667MHz system bus with Cool'n'Quiet and HyperTransport™ technologies and Enhanced Virus Protection** for Windows.
    AMD64 technology
    Provides simultaneous support for 32-bit and 64-bit computing, including today's 32-bit applications and tomorrow's 64-bit software.
    3GB DDR2 memory
    For multitasking power, expandable to 4GB.
    Multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW drive with double-layer support
    Records up to 8.5GB of data or 4 hours of video using compatible DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL media; also supports DVD-RAM
    15.6" CineCrystal LCD high-definition widescreen display
    With 1366 x 768 resolution showcases your movies and games in stunning clarity.

    160GB Serial ATA hard drive (5400 rpm)
    For fast read/write times.
    ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics
    Features up to 1919MB of HyperMemory for lush images.
    Multi-in-1 media reader
    Supports Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO and xD-Picture Card formats.
    2 high-speed USB 2.0 ports
    For fast digital video, audio and data transfer.
    Built-in InviLink high-speed wireless LAN (802.11b/g/Draft-N)
    Connect to the Internet without wires.
    Built-in 10/100 fast Ethernet LAN
    With RJ-45 connector for quick and easy wired Web connection.
    Weighs 6 lbs. and measures just 1.5" thin
    For easy portability.
    Good battery life
    Of up to 2 hours and 30 minutes.
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit operating system preinstalled provides a stable operating platform.

    -----
    Isn't that crazy for only $329 per laptop?!?!?!

    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    Newegg.com is one of your best friends during this process, as is tomshardware.com for hardware reviews and testing.
    Both awesome sites!

    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    ...Nvidia and ATI are, for the most part, relatively close.
    Yup, but I have found ATI Radeon video cards are easier to install and maintain via driver updates, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    Your PSU sounds plenty fine for your price and performance point.
    Hell yes, plenty of juice!
    --------------------
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    BIG 5 -> Extroversion 77% ; Accommodation 60% ; Orderliness 62% ; Emotional Stability 64% ; Open Mindedness 74%

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  5. #5
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Eh, just go to ibuypower.com and get a pre-built custom AMD desktop.

    It's really cheap, and not that much more than building your own. Of course, nvm me, if you're just trying to get the experience of building your own.

  6. #6
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    This is based on my personal experience with computers throughout the years.

    CPU
    Intel beats AMD in life and stability. AMD rocks Intel's socks off for short term performance. Intel remains the best buy, even though most techies will swear with AMD.

    Motherboard
    I personally am an ASUS fan when it comes to picking motherboards and graphic cards. I've had many different brands, but ASUS has never let me down. And I've owned about 10 ASUS mb's and graphic cards so far throughout the years.

    Graphic cards
    As far as Nvidia and ATI goes. It's like Jock says, they are pretty neck to neck. Nvidia tends to beat ATI when it comes to overall compatibility and driver updates. But ATI on the other hand feels more stable. I personally go for Nvidia, but it's really a choice that doesn't matter much. What is more important is that you don't buy some b-brand graphic card. The amount of memory a graphic card has is only a tip of the ice berg. Bandwidth, core clocks, memory speed. All equally important to a good graphics card.When a brand offers various models for one specific number production. It's always a good thing to choose the model that comes just before the top end card. (Top end is always exponetially more expensive.)

    Memory
    I always go with kingston memory with an exception for a special software multibox system I once built in which I put in special corsair ram. I've had dimms fail on me now and then, it seems to be a problem that exists in any brand. Sometimes you're lucky and your dimms work for years on end. Sometimes they bust.

    Harddisks
    Western digital has pretty good harddisks. The velociraptor is especially good, unless you have the money to go SSD, go raptor. I can not think of a magnetic harddisk that beats the raptor in price/quality.

    That covers the most important hardware stuff for the PC, the rest you put in is pretty trivial.


    One more thing of note, if your PC is in a hot or warm environment, make sure you buy a decent enough casing with good airflow. It's not a bad thing to buy a more expensive casing, as a cheap casing in the wrong environment can totally screw your performance. A good temperature is very important for a stable PC.



    By the way, it's important to know that you know your PSU has the connectors you need for your MB/graphic card. The last few years, graphic cards tend to be pretty power consuming and often need one or more 6 pin connectors. And some mainboards also require more power, usually in the form of 4 pin connectors. 550 watts should be enough for the average PC, but it's still a good thing to check power requirements when selecting mainboard/graphic card.
    ~Self-depricating Megalomaniacal Superwolf

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bri's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! I've been spending a lot of time on Newegg, CyberPower, and iBuyPower checking out different builds to get ideas. I'm having a hard time quelling my desire to buy the fanciest version of everything, heh. Fortunately, the budget constraints keep me in line somewhat.

    My husband has suggested this motherboard: Newegg.com - ASRock M3A785GXH/128M AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - AMD Motherboards
    ASRock is a subsidiary of Asus..? I hadn't really heard of the brand before he pointed this one out.

  8. #8
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    Asrock is founded by one of the people that founded ASUS, but other than that the companies have no further relations.
    ~Self-depricating Megalomaniacal Superwolf

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