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Lateralus_17SS
08-04-2004, 06:16 PM
My PC is more than three years old, and is rapidly approaching its retirement day. I have been promised a new PC as a gift, and I am currently in the process of determining just what I'm going to need and how much its going to cost.

I haven't been given a set price, but between $1000 and $1500, I think, should be enough money to build a pretty powerful machine.

What is the best way to buy a PC? I do not know enough technical stuff to build one myself, but I have a pretty fair idea of what's good and what isn't, with which I have determined that a pre-built machine from Dell or somesuch is not the way to go. I logged onto their site and custom built something I thought would be in my price range, only having it balloon into almost $2000 worth of computer. Dell also uses various propietary parts that are difficult, if not impossible to, upgrade.

I heard an ad on the radio for www.tigerdirect.com (http://www.tigerdirect.com) and checked out their site. After some research I found a pretty powerful machine that's in my price range, and luckily enough, one of their five outlet stores happens to be located about ten minutes from my house (Raleigh, NC). I can send my already-customized order to the store to pick up, instead of paying $100+ for shipping.

Here's my current specs, followed with what I am considering upgrading to:

Intel P3 1.0 GHz
512MB SDRAM @ 133mHz
Win ME
GeForce3 Ti500
Integrated sound
20GB HDD


Intel P4 ~3GHz w/ 800mHz FSB -or- comparable AMD model (not sure which)
1 GB PC3200 DDR -or- PC4000 DDR
Win XP Home -or- Pro
Geforce FX5700 -or- Radeon 9800 series -or- something else entirely
SB Live 5.1 -or- SB Audigy2 ZX
120GB or 160GB HDD

Some questions about my options:

How much bottom-line difference is there between a P4 2.8, 3.0, or 3.2GHz processors? By that I mean, how much of a performance increase will I get? (FB is easily the most demanding application I run regularly, so I'm pretty much building this thing around FB.) The difference in price between 2.8 and 3.2 is considerable, almost $150, and I am considering sacrificing this speed in order to free up more money for other components. Is this a good idea? What about AMDs offerings? The highest-end model listed on Tigerdirect are 3200+ models, how do those compare with the above Intels?

How much of a performance difference is there between PC3200 RAM and PC4000? Are there certain RAM brands that I should watch out for, both for being especially good or especially bad? The Tigerdirect website does not let one choose RAM brands, but tell me anyway.

What differences are there between XP Home and XP Pro? Do they justify the extra $50? What's the deal with XP Media Center Edition?

Now to video cards. I am looking for something in the medium to medium-high range, approximately $150 to $200, although I will certainly deviate out of that range with good enough reason. I am having a bit of trouble discerning how high on the totem pole, so to speak, are the many choices of video card available. I do not have a personal preference to either ATI or NVidia, I only want a card that is fast, reliable and gives a good value for the money. I have heard people saying that the Radeon 9800 Pro is getting cheap these days. How does that card compare to NVidia's similar offering? How well will these cards run FB, and for how long will they run it well? What sort of differences are there between the varies cards in a series, say, between the Radeon 9800, 9800SE, and 9800 Pro? What about NVidia's lineups?

Nearly every machine on the Tigerdirect website had an option of either: integrated sound, a Live 5.1 card or an Audigy2 ZX card. The Audigy2 is quite a bit more expensive than I thought it would be, tacking on $160 to the total cost of the machine. How much of a performance difference will I see between these two? Are there any sound card options outside the Soundblaster or Audigy lines? (The machine comes with four desktop speakers and a subwoofer, if that makes a difference.)

Hard drives, which I know relatively little about, I am looking mostly for capacity and RPM. Is there a significant difference between particluar HDD brands? The default on most Tigerdirect systems is a 7200RPM model with either 80GB, 120GB or 160GB capacity. What is the 'hard drive cache'? The options seem to be either 512kb or 1MB cache. How much of a difference will the cache size make? How important of an issue should I make it when picking out components?

How realistic, in your opinion, is it for me to think I can have all of the above within my target price range? Are there any other options I might choose in order to decrease the final price? If I am forced to concede in one area because I have overshot my price, which area should I sacrifice first?

Thanks in advance for any help.

- Lat

Lateralus_17SS
08-04-2004, 06:16 PM
My PC is more than three years old, and is rapidly approaching its retirement day. I have been promised a new PC as a gift, and I am currently in the process of determining just what I'm going to need and how much its going to cost.

I haven't been given a set price, but between $1000 and $1500, I think, should be enough money to build a pretty powerful machine.

What is the best way to buy a PC? I do not know enough technical stuff to build one myself, but I have a pretty fair idea of what's good and what isn't, with which I have determined that a pre-built machine from Dell or somesuch is not the way to go. I logged onto their site and custom built something I thought would be in my price range, only having it balloon into almost $2000 worth of computer. Dell also uses various propietary parts that are difficult, if not impossible to, upgrade.

I heard an ad on the radio for www.tigerdirect.com (http://www.tigerdirect.com) and checked out their site. After some research I found a pretty powerful machine that's in my price range, and luckily enough, one of their five outlet stores happens to be located about ten minutes from my house (Raleigh, NC). I can send my already-customized order to the store to pick up, instead of paying $100+ for shipping.

Here's my current specs, followed with what I am considering upgrading to:

Intel P3 1.0 GHz
512MB SDRAM @ 133mHz
Win ME
GeForce3 Ti500
Integrated sound
20GB HDD


Intel P4 ~3GHz w/ 800mHz FSB -or- comparable AMD model (not sure which)
1 GB PC3200 DDR -or- PC4000 DDR
Win XP Home -or- Pro
Geforce FX5700 -or- Radeon 9800 series -or- something else entirely
SB Live 5.1 -or- SB Audigy2 ZX
120GB or 160GB HDD

Some questions about my options:

How much bottom-line difference is there between a P4 2.8, 3.0, or 3.2GHz processors? By that I mean, how much of a performance increase will I get? (FB is easily the most demanding application I run regularly, so I'm pretty much building this thing around FB.) The difference in price between 2.8 and 3.2 is considerable, almost $150, and I am considering sacrificing this speed in order to free up more money for other components. Is this a good idea? What about AMDs offerings? The highest-end model listed on Tigerdirect are 3200+ models, how do those compare with the above Intels?

How much of a performance difference is there between PC3200 RAM and PC4000? Are there certain RAM brands that I should watch out for, both for being especially good or especially bad? The Tigerdirect website does not let one choose RAM brands, but tell me anyway.

What differences are there between XP Home and XP Pro? Do they justify the extra $50? What's the deal with XP Media Center Edition?

Now to video cards. I am looking for something in the medium to medium-high range, approximately $150 to $200, although I will certainly deviate out of that range with good enough reason. I am having a bit of trouble discerning how high on the totem pole, so to speak, are the many choices of video card available. I do not have a personal preference to either ATI or NVidia, I only want a card that is fast, reliable and gives a good value for the money. I have heard people saying that the Radeon 9800 Pro is getting cheap these days. How does that card compare to NVidia's similar offering? How well will these cards run FB, and for how long will they run it well? What sort of differences are there between the varies cards in a series, say, between the Radeon 9800, 9800SE, and 9800 Pro? What about NVidia's lineups?

Nearly every machine on the Tigerdirect website had an option of either: integrated sound, a Live 5.1 card or an Audigy2 ZX card. The Audigy2 is quite a bit more expensive than I thought it would be, tacking on $160 to the total cost of the machine. How much of a performance difference will I see between these two? Are there any sound card options outside the Soundblaster or Audigy lines? (The machine comes with four desktop speakers and a subwoofer, if that makes a difference.)

Hard drives, which I know relatively little about, I am looking mostly for capacity and RPM. Is there a significant difference between particluar HDD brands? The default on most Tigerdirect systems is a 7200RPM model with either 80GB, 120GB or 160GB capacity. What is the 'hard drive cache'? The options seem to be either 512kb or 1MB cache. How much of a difference will the cache size make? How important of an issue should I make it when picking out components?

How realistic, in your opinion, is it for me to think I can have all of the above within my target price range? Are there any other options I might choose in order to decrease the final price? If I am forced to concede in one area because I have overshot my price, which area should I sacrifice first?

Thanks in advance for any help.

- Lat

GT182
08-04-2004, 06:45 PM
I'm no expert either Lateralus_17SS, but you are better off building your own pc. thermaltake.com, pricewatch.com, newegg.com, zipzoomfly.com are all good sites to check.

One suggestion for a tower is Thermaltakes's XaserIII Super Tower case with a 420 watt PSU, or bigger, and 7 fans. 2 filtered for intake and 5 for exhaust. http://www.thermaltake.com/xaserCase/xaser3/xaser3menu.htm

As for a hard drive... go with as big as you can. 120 or larger as you never have enough storage. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

And stay away from ANY SE video card you find. Get what you can afford, whether it's a GeForce or ATI. That goes for the rest of a PC too. If money is no object then go "whole hog" and get the best you can as it will probably be outdated in 2 years, but easy to update. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

As for the rest, there are guys here that are more qualified to offer assistance. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

"GT182" / "Stab/JG51_vonSpinmeister"
www.bombs-away.net/forums (http://www.bombs-away.net/forums)
"Fly to Survive, Survive to Fly"

dieg777
08-05-2004, 10:06 AM
These remarks are only my opinion -others might disagree http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/16x16_smiley-wink.gif but here is my advice

1. If you are not sure about computers in general-buy from a local store with a good rep and you will have somewhere to easily go to if things turn out wrong- you will also get some consumer protection

2. P 2.8 is respectable- not sure if extra money is worth 3.2.
AMD athlon bartons 3.2 is equivelent to approx 2.6 pentium but new 64s are about the same

3. You wont see much practicle difference between RAm speeds- just make sure you get 1Gig.

4. XP PRo has hidden extras for inverterate tinkerers- if you need to play get it -if you leave well alone dont-DO NOT get media center this is cut down ballssed up version

5. Make sure you get the 256 MB 9800 pro if this is what you want- not 128 or SE -this card is very popular on this forum for good reason. For NVIDEA get 5900XT or above see firingsquad.com for comparisons

6. Get any of the soundcards not much difference but will ease strain on procesor

7. As long as 7200rpm dont get too hung up -cache is stored areas for read/write the bigger is obviously better but the only real performance increases come from using RAID arrays but expensive

8. Everything is a balance and only you can decide priorities but generally most important are
Processor speed, memory , video card then others

for more general advice see Luckeyboys guide in his sig or my post in community help under user fixes

hope this gives you somewhere to start

GUNNER
Gunner get a decent signature
Gunner learn to fly
Gunner learn to shoot
Gunner not run out of bullets just as I get on his six

Lateralus_17SS
08-05-2004, 10:13 AM
More video card questions:

What does the 'LE' stand for on NVidia cards? I have found some FX5700 LE cards for $150, is this a good deal? How do they compare to FX5700 non-LE? What about the 5700 Ultra? It's $50 more than the LE and, and $20 more than the regular 5700. With tax the 5700 Ultra is the same price as the 5900XT, an even $200. How do these compare?

How does the Radeon 9800 Pro compare to the 9600XT? They're both listed at $229. The 9800 Pro is 128mb, but the 9600XT is 256mb. There's also a 9600XT 128mb for $60 less, what kind of performance and longevity increase is there between 128mb and 256mb DDR video RAM?

dieg777
08-05-2004, 10:33 AM
The 5700 does not have a great reputation- go for 5900XT if it has FX in front this is a cut down version but cheaper and ok I use a gainward FX5900XT and I am very pleased.

The 9800 Pro 256mb is much better than 9600 it has more pipes so processes data faster. Dont go for 128 version. The 9600XT is a good card if you dont want to spring $ for 9800 pro 256

Again see www.firingsquad.com (http://www.firingsquad.com) or tomshardwareguide for reviews

Video card choices are hard to make and everyone has a different view but try not to go for cut down versions if you can afford not to

GUNNER
Gunner get a decent signature
Gunner learn to fly
Gunner learn to shoot
Gunner not run out of bullets just as I get on his six

ASM 1
08-05-2004, 10:42 AM
get an audigy 2zs instead of an SBLive - your ears will thank you for it.....

Current Crop of ati radeon 9800's - get a 9800XT if you can afford it, if not get the 256MB or 128MB pro's, make sure they are 256bit. Stay away from the 9800se because it is a crippled card - 4 pixel pipelines instead of 8. Also stay away from 128bit versions of the cards, again they are cut down versions.

Of course if you REALLY have money then go for one of the X800 radeon or Nvidia 6800 cards... they are currently the best you can get.

hope this has made sense

S!

Andrew

http://img78.photobucket.com/albums/v299/asm016/WW2%20Stuff/Sig_Pic.jpg

Slechtvalk
08-05-2004, 11:02 AM
Get a shuttle. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

For example: SK83G, about 300 euro
http://eu.shuttle.com/sk83g.htm#sk83g

You can build them fairly easy yourself and there is a good manual.

Then you need a processor:
AMD Athlon 64-bit 3200+, about 210 euro.
(you don't need a cooler, that is include with the shuttle)

Memory: 1 GB PC3200/PC4000 DDR, about 250 euro.

HD: I like seagate, so for example get the:
Barracuda 7200.7 SATA, for about 90 euro.

Then ATI9800pro 256mb, about 250 euro.

Windows XP home: 90 euro

Total: 1190 euro.

You can use the onboard sound which is good enough.

Slechtvalk
08-05-2004, 11:09 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by GT182:
One suggestion for a tower is Thermaltakes's XaserIII Super Tower case with a 420 watt PSU, or bigger, and 7 fans. 2 filtered for intake and 5 for exhaust. http://www.thermaltake.com/xaserCase/xaser3/xaser3menu.htm
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

How ugly can a case get??? It must be hide good under your desk or you may get sick just by looking at it http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Lateralus_17SS
08-05-2004, 11:56 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Slechtvalk:

You can use the onboard sound which is good enough.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That goes against everything I have heard from anyone about computer hardware, ever.

Doesn't onboard sound, or even an insufficiently powerful sound card, decrease FPS due to overtaxing the system?

As I have already stated, I'm not building my own. I don't know enough to do it safely; I'd rather spend a little extra than risk ruining expensive components.

Slechtvalk
08-05-2004, 12:21 PM
You could get a prebuild shuttle here:
http://sys.us.shuttle.com/BuyList.aspx?id=1003&type=u

About onboard sound, these days onboard sound is really good! I had an audigy 1 before and am using the onboard sound chip and don't notice that much difference. And the performance gain you get with an ext. soundcard is maybe 2-3 fps. So you can save money here. And if you really don't like it you can always buy a soundcard later.

Slechtvalk
08-05-2004, 12:24 PM
But prebuild cost you really allot of extra money so don't do it! http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif I am sure you can do it yourself though. Just try it! Just follow the steps in the manuel and you can't go wrong.

dieg777
08-05-2004, 12:49 PM
From what you state I am sure you would be happier buying rather than building your PC. Any build has the possibility of going wrong but if you store buy or mail order you will have some consumer protection. I agree that on board sound is getting better but in my opinion the increase in fps from a dedicated sound card is worth the price.

GUNNER
Gunner get a decent signature
Gunner learn to fly
Gunner learn to shoot
Gunner not run out of bullets just as I get on his six