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Thread: Could do with a little help on a new build - I'm a bit behind on developments

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    Aka Bres subucni's Avatar
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    Could do with a little help on a new build - I'm a bit behind on developments

    A friend of mine has had enough of his old 1.4ghz P4 pc with 128mb of rdram, it's time for an upgrade. (Trying to get football manager 2006 to run on it is asking a little too much, VERY SLOW!!)

    He's asked me to look into what he can get himself for around £350-400 and build it for him, the problem being is that i haven't really kept on top of developments since i built my pc and since then pci-e/ddr2/sataII etc... have all been released.

    So i could do with a few tips/answers from you good people of hexus, or suggestions of kit to get him for a new base unit.



    Any games he plays wont require an expensive powerful graphics card (still plays age of empires 2 as an example, probably move up to AoE3 once has new pc though) so was thinking this could be a good place to save money, and get the better of the cheaper pci-e gfx cards that'll do the job and he can upgrade in future if he starts playing other games that require it. Any suggestions?

    How much of an advantage are ddr2 and sataII? Is it worth making sure that he gets them? that said sataII hdds can be picked for the same price as sataI hdds and are backwards compatible anyway.

    CPUs seem to have come a long way since my 3ghz Northwood P4. So, who's winning the AMD/Intel war at the moment? Which socket type is the most future proof? what cores should i be looking for on both sides, single,dual,venice,smithfield,presler etc...?

    I can't really even begin to look at mobos until i've decided what cpu to get him.

    Other than that it's just a dvd writer and case.

    Anything i've missed?




    All suggestions and answer will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance guys, i'm off to do some more reading.


    Bres

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    awm
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    So let me try and answer a few questions (in no particular order):
    1. Sata I/II doesn't really make a difference, it should be very low on you list of considerations.
    2. DDR2 is the becoming the current standard. It has been for Intel for a while, and is becoming it for AMD. I'd go for a DDR2 system for future compatability.
    3. As for CPUs I would wait until Intel releases Conroe this summer and build off that. definitly dual-core though watever you go with.
    4. A reasonably priced PCI-e card is a good choice. If you are on a reasonable upgrade path (i.e not every 6 months) there is no point in paying for a top of the line graphics card.

    Your comment "I can't really even begin to look at mobos until i've decided what cpu to get him." is right on. Remember the power supply though, you may want a better power supply than what is included with cases, though I haven't had any trouble with mine. Finally you will need some sort of floppy drive to install on a sata drive any old one sitting around should work.

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    Resident abit mourner BUFF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by subucni
    Any games he plays wont require an expensive powerful graphics card (still plays age of empires 2 as an example, probably move up to AoE3 once has new pc though) so was thinking this could be a good place to save money, and get the better of the cheaper pci-e gfx cards that'll do the job and he can upgrade in future if he starts playing other games that require it. Any suggestions?
    You could take this further & start out with a mobo with integrated gfx e.g. nVidia 6100/6150 or ATi RS480/482.

    e.g.
    AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Socket939 , Venice Core, 2.0GHz , 512KB Cache, Retail £74.98 £88.10
    LN12851 MSI K8NGM2-FID NF430, S939, PCI-E (x16), DDR 400, SATA II, SATA RAID, uATX, On Board VGA £41.79 £49.10
    LN7297 1GB Corsair Value Select, DDR PC3200 (400), 184 Pin, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 3 £47.69 £56.04
    (went for 1x 1Gb DIMM so that he can add another later, it's a better way to do 2Gb RAM than 4x512Mb).
    Net Total £164.46
    Carriage £7.00
    V.A.T. £30.01

    TOTAL:£201.47

    on top of that our good friends MS will say that requires a new OS so allow £55-95 depending upon what he gets.
    Quite probably needs a new PSU to power it & he can use his existing case & drives.


    By the sounds of things pretty much anything will be a radical improvement & just now most people would say that AMD have the upper hand.
    However, now maybe isn't the best time to be upgrading as AMD are currently switching CPU sockets to 1 that offers little advantage at the moment but is consequently dearer than the old due to novelty/limited supply. & Intel have a new CPU family due out in a month or so that looks like it may well steal back the crown from AMD.
    There's never a good time to upgrade though as there is always something better on the horizon

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    Formerly known as Viet Cong Zombi and tuone
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    I would go with buff, have a look at the top sellers on ebuyer. Check out the power supplies -the blue hipower one, most pretty piece of computer hardware I've ever got and it's solid hardwaer.

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    To add my tuppence...

    I agree that a cheap AMD chip would do him proud (ie cheap Athlon 64, Sempron is getting too cheap).

    DDR2 generally has an advantage on price, which is why AMD are now using it.

    At the end of July, it looks like not only Intel's new Conroe based Core 2 for desktop chip comes out, but there will be a fire sale on single core P4 prices:

    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=32023

    I guess AMD will have to respond to that.

    If you only spent 90 quid on a single core CPU, I doubt you will be too gutted.

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    I'd stick with 939. Your friend doesnt seem the person to keep upgrading, so investing in a proven platform where the prices are falling seems a good idea to me. Something like:

    AMD 64 3000 OEM £70
    Arctic cooler freezer 64 pro £15
    Mobo: msi 480 crossfire £75 / ASUS SLI board £75
    GPU: ATi X1800 gto £130ish / nvidia 7600 gt £130ish
    hdd: 250gb spinpoint £65
    case & psu: Antec sonata 2 £80
    RAM: 1gig ddr crucial £50

    total: £485

    assuming he uses optical drives, OS, keyboard, mouse, monitor from old system.

    Obviously over-budget, but suggest a dedicated gpu. A cheaper mobo for £50 and a sapphire X800 gto gpu for £70 will take you down to £400 though.

  7. #7
    Treasure Hunter extraordinaire herulach's Avatar
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    If he already has a useable gpu, then the Asrock Dual board, 3200+, 400W psu and a gig of ram should only come to about 300 quid from scan.

  8. #8
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    • DanceswithUnix's system
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    I like shuttles ... http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=297573

    130 quid gets you case, motherboard, PSU & integrated graphics.

    Add a socket 754 Athlon64 for 90 quid.

    Limits you to AGP graphics expansion for future, and almost no CPU upgrade route, but my god is it pretty and with a decent hard drive _very_ quiet

  9. #9
    Aka Bres subucni's Avatar
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    • subucni's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe
      • CPU:
      • Athlon 64 X2 4800+
      • Memory:
      • 2gb of generic DDR1 rubbish
      • Storage:
      • Nothing special
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 512mb ATI 4870
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX520
      • Case:
      • CM Storm Scout
      • Operating System:
      • WinXP 32bit
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H + 19" Hanns.G Dual setup
      • Internet:
      • 20mb VirginMedia
    Sorry for such a late reply guys, thanks for the answers and some great ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by BUFF
    You could take this further & start out with a mobo with integrated gfx e.g. nVidia 6100/6150 or ATi RS480/482.
    Think this is definitely going to be the route for my friend to go down, cheers Buff. Onboard VGA hadn't even crossed my mind, but would definitely help trim the budget and improve things elsewhere. How good are onboard chips nowadays? any older cards they compare to performance wise?

    On the cpu side of things, i seem to have got my mate willing to wait a little while, hopefully until conroe comes out so hopefully i can get him something after price cuts happen.

    Again, thanks for all the suggestions and answers guys


    Cheers, Bres

  10. #10
    Resident abit mourner BUFF's Avatar
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    http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2626&p=1 shows a comparison between nVidia 6100/6150 & ATi RS482.
    By the sounds of things any of those will do him OK just now with the option of going to a more powerful card later.

    939 single CPU core prices dropped quite a bit last week (a 3200+ is now £69) so maybe your friend doesn't have to wait - I don't think that he'll get a Conroe + board & the rest for £350.

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  11. #11
    Aka Bres subucni's Avatar
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    • subucni's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe
      • CPU:
      • Athlon 64 X2 4800+
      • Memory:
      • 2gb of generic DDR1 rubbish
      • Storage:
      • Nothing special
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 512mb ATI 4870
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX520
      • Case:
      • CM Storm Scout
      • Operating System:
      • WinXP 32bit
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2311H + 19" Hanns.G Dual setup
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      • 20mb VirginMedia
    cheers for the link mate will have to give it a read, had just been doing some looking around and found this too http://forums.hexus.net/showthread.php?t=42342 so if the ATI is based on a 9600 core (and i assume the nvidia's of equal equivalent) then yeah, it should certianly give him breathing room before having to invest in a new gfx card.

    Wasn't aware there had been a price drop yet, hadn't checked really because i thought AMD weren't cutting prices until the 24th July.

    May have to go and see what kind of price list i can get him now.

    Cheers Buff.

  12. #12
    Aka Bres subucni's Avatar
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      • 512mb ATI 4870
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      • Corsair HX520
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    Hi guys,

    My mate and I have been doing some pricing up today to see how his budget of £350 for hardware will be coping (and it seems to be doing ok), here's a screen grab of the kind of basket ideas we've had in mind so far, followed by the options we're contemplating for each as alternatives. please let me know what you think, if i'm thinking along the right lines and any alternative suggestions.


    • First off, we've gone for the NEC 4751 because it's the same as the 4750 but has the labelflash function unless i'm mistaken. Figured that it only cost an extra £1.50 or so, so why not.

    • Next we have the WD HDD made sure it was SataII with 16mb cache, only question i have is, is it worth paying an extra £5 for a similarly spec'd Seagate HHD because it has NCQ Is NCQ worth it? Like with the DVD writer, it is only an extra £5. hardly blows the budget.

    • Given the recent AMD price drops we went looking at AMD processors (see above post). With dual core cpus for both s939 and socket AM2 starting at £200+ they're out of the budget's price range, so had to look at single core. The obviously choice to me in that link is the AM2 3500 to take advantage of DDR2

    • So, moving on to the ram then. Looking at the Corsair value select range and the 2000mb fsb of the AM2 there are a couple questions i have. To go for a single stick or ram (as pointed out by Buff above, for better upgrading further down the line) or 2 sticks in dual channel to make better use of the extra fsb available. Also whether to go for faster 667mhz ram with slacker timings or slower 533mhz ram with tighter timings. How much real world difference will he get from the tighter timings? And as a side to that question, if there would be a marked improvement would it be worth the extra £10 for the Corsair XMS with the faster 667mhz and tighter timings, aswell as coming in both single 1gb and paired 512mb sticks.

    • Lastly as far as the motherboard is concerned, scan only seem to offer 3 AM2 boards with onboard vga (again see above for reason why picking onboard vga) more details on each here (Asus) and here (Gigabyte). I was leaning more towards the Asus due to it's better geforce 6150 gpu and HDTV output etc... Or have i missed something worth choosing 1 of the gigabyte boards instead?


    Which as far as i can see, just leaves us with a case and psu to find? I don't see him wanting anything too expensive, so rather than a specific psu and a psu-less case anyone got any suggestion for a decent case with a decent (non exploding q-tec) psu, like an Antec or something.

    The only other thing i can think of is that seeing as the price has managed to stay within budget so well that, he could possibly afford to swap the cpu and venture down the dual core Intel Pentium D with 800mhz fsb route at £126 and then pick a different motherboard to suit. What do you reckon guys? Would it be worth it?

    Either way, he's getting eager now and i don't see him being able to wait around until when conroe comes out and he could get more for his money.

    Please guys, any comments, suggestions, alternatives are all welcome. If you think there is a better bit of kit for the job let me know.

    Thanks again guys

    Bres

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    Quote Originally Posted by subucni
    [*]Next we have the WD HDD made sure it was SataII with 16mb cache, only question i have is, is it worth paying an extra £5 for a similarly spec'd Seagate HHD because it has NCQ Is NCQ worth it? Like with the DVD writer, it is only an extra £5. hardly blows the budget.
    all those features are basically useless, but the drive is good anyway, its fairly loud but you can get utilities from WD to quieten it at the expense of a bit of speed if you think its louder than everything else (apparently, ive never done it)
    sataII - sataII vs sata1 is like comparing a 6 lane motorway to a 3 lane when each only have a single lawnmower going down them
    16mb cache - 16mb vs 8mb is like giving a toddler 100000 lego bricks instead of 50000, they were pretty unlikely to do anything useful with the whole of the first box so the second box wont help, although once in a million times they can
    ncq - this is a scsi feature that has been implemented to drives that are aimed as a cheap server alternative, it wont affect desktop performace for better or worse
    so basically dont ever choose a drive on its features, just get them because theyre fast/quiet/cheap

    Quote Originally Posted by subucni
    [*]Given the recent AMD price drops we went looking at AMD processors (see above post). With dual core cpus for both s939 and socket AM2 starting at £200+ they're out of the budget's price range, so had to look at single core. The obviously choice to me in that link is the AM2 3500 to take advantage of DDR2
    dont go for DDR2 if you have DDR sticks lying around (and are ok being stuck with the top end 939 chips as a max upgrade) as you wont get any speed increase... if youre buying new ram then you may aswell get AM2 though

    Quote Originally Posted by subucni
    [*]So, moving on to the ram then. Looking at the Corsair value select range and the 2000mb fsb of the AM2 there are a couple questions i have. To go for a single stick or ram (as pointed out by Buff above, for better upgrading further down the line) or 2 sticks in dual channel to make better use of the extra fsb available. Also whether to go for faster 667mhz ram with slacker timings or slower 533mhz ram with tighter timings. How much real world difference will he get from the tighter timings? And as a side to that question, if there would be a marked improvement would it be worth the extra £10 for the Corsair XMS with the faster 667mhz and tighter timings, aswell as coming in both single 1gb and paired 512mb sticks.
    single/dual channel is a bandwidth matter so id get the 667 so you dont get too limited with only 1 stick, once youve got DDR667, the timings might make a few percent (2-5% maybe) performance difference

    Quote Originally Posted by subucni
    [*]Lastly as far as the motherboard is concerned, scan only seem to offer 3 AM2 boards with onboard vga (again see above for reason why picking onboard vga) more details on each here (Asus) and here (Gigabyte). I was leaning more towards the Asus due to it's better geforce 6150 gpu and HDTV output etc... Or have i missed something worth choosing 1 of the gigabyte boards instead?[/LIST]
    i would choose asus over gigabyte in principle, dont know much about AM2 boards though

    if youll get better graphics, you should definitely get it as the onboard could be a pain in the arse until you can upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by subucni
    The only other thing i can think of is that seeing as the price has managed to stay within budget so well that, he could possibly afford to swap the cpu and venture down the dual core Intel Pentium D with 800mhz fsb route at £126 and then pick a different motherboard to suit. What do you reckon guys? Would it be worth it?
    those pentium D chips are great overclockers but apart from that i'd get an AMD, stick with a single core now, wait for conroe and then get a dual core

    id say get it
    then graphics
    then dual core
    then memory
    as the funds allow, and youll get a big boost at each step

  14. #14
    rad
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    I agree with ChEM.

    I think what you have selected for your friend should be fine.

    Since you are under his budget. The first thing I would recommend, would be a better graphics card.

    Otherwise a bigger/better monitor would be worth considering. I purchased a 19" crt monitor 18months ago, and I feel it was the best money I have spent on my computer.
    The computing experience is only as good as what you can see on the screen.

    A more powerful cpu would be overkill for your friends needs. What you have chosen is already more than adequate.

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    Good choice of stuff there, your friend will not be disappointed with the spec! And at a great price. I would recommend a separate psu and case, but on a budget, the sonata2 looks a great buy, and makes the build slightly easier. AM2 looks like the recommended route, definitely over the dual core pentium range, as it is brand new, and there will be much faster procesors in a couple of years time.

  16. #16
    Resident abit mourner BUFF's Avatar
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    & don't forget an OS - you can get XP Home OEM for ~£52 with your hardware.

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