Pred's Big Summer PC Upgrade Adventure! *UPDATE* It's Dead Jim

Right, so, i've been looking over everything, taking as much as I can into the equation to try and figure out what's going to be what in the next month or two.

I go back to school on the 28th of August, and i'd like to have all my purchases done before then (preferably well before then). If I do it right, i'll have enough left of my meager earnings for Uni expenses (God-damn you books).

So i'm trying to spend and scrimp at the same time, quality for less and all, and i'm left with a few questions.

I see the Conroe's have finally started shipping, but the only variants i'm seeing at the major retailers that aren't WAY out of my price range (currently) actually have a lower speed (1.83GHz) than the processor i'm currently running. I'm going to wager a guess however, that the improvement of having two processors rather than one mitigates the drop, or alternatively, that the Core Duo's are faster together than one anyway.

I'm a little iffy about waiting for much longer, because, this current PC I have seems to be making its last few rounds around the track, and I do need a working, trustable PC when I head back to Uni. This current one is only one of those things, and that's through spit and duct tape, so to speak. Bonus points for being able to play games on it and so on, thus the reason for the thread. So i'm wondering if i'm really going to lose THAT much if I just grab one of the X2's. I'm really not looking for the niggling minutiae of graphics performance, I just want a processor that's going to run what i'm going to throw at it, and run it well. As of current, that's going to basically be Music, DVDs, Word Processing, Football Manager and R:TW2. Of course i'd like R:TW and SWAT 4 to look good, but like I said, i'm wondering if waiting's going to be that much of a help right now.

And lastly, the graphics card. A large part of the reason I bought my current one, a 9800XT, is because I could get it straight from the source (ATI) and not have to muddle through 400 different manufacturers making their own card from the chipset. I haven't kept up with the latest developments currently though, so i'm still a little lost on what's going to be a good card that won't cost the earth and moon. Basically, i'm fishing for reccomendations here. Who can I trust, who makes a good product, and so on. I'm not looking to blow more than $400 on a card (and that's pushing it) so anything in the $250-$325 range that would be an upgrade would be wonderful.

So yes, that's about the size of it. I'm willing to wait for the Conroe, but only for so long, and then I may pull the trigger on something else. I'd like to get the best I can get in the framework I have to deal with.

EDIT: Did a little more researching. Anyone mind clueing me in to what the big difference between a Core Duo and a Pentium D is? Would buying the latter be suicide?

So, here we are. I'll be slapping down the cash for this sucker within the next 2-3 weeks, and I think i've just about got the setup i'm looking for. As always though, i'm looking for advice and input (especially where I can save money) but remember, I am on a timer.

Pred's Summer PC '06

I must admit, having looked at it, i've really got my heart set on the Shuttle SN27P2. The 500GB HD may be a little much, and i'm thinking that I may go down to something in the 250-320GB range, since that'd be just about doubling my current HD space on both drives.

If there's some glaring error i've made, feel free to inform me. If not, this will be what i'm ordering in two weeks time.

Yes buying a pentium d would be suicide.

Core duo's at lower clock speeds were faster than the dual core pentium d's at higher clock speeds. Pentium d's are old pentium 4 legacy technology.

Core 2 Duo's (conroe) are that much faster than Core Duo's.

So yes, that's about the size of it. I'm willing to wait for the Conroe, but only for so long, and then I may pull the trigger on something else. I'd like to get the best I can get in the framework I have to deal with.

You wont see Conroes start hitting online etailers until Mid Aug. at the earliest.. and even then expect to be price gouged.

More annoying is the lack of motherboard options.. No Nvidia based mobo's that I can see are readily available.. and the Intel based ones will not support SLI.. just Crossfire.

Pred - You'll need to pick a different video card. The X800 (while an excellent card) is AGP, and your shuttle is PCI-Express. This is good news as far as your budget goes because you can get a more powerful PCI-E card for less than you're listing on the X800.

If you'd prefer to stick with ATi (and AIW) -- take a look at the X1900 AIW (currently on sale for $235 :shock:). I've been using nVidia for quite some time and can't say enough good things about eVGA -- excellent customer service and solid cards. They have a 7900GT for $269.99 at the 'egg.

Hope that helps and good luck with the build.

Thanks for the heads-up on that one chum, i've changed the wishlist to reflect that.

As far as ATI, as I said, it's mainly because they've been good to me, but if I can get better bang for my buck somewhere else, i'm willing to listen. Would the 7900GT be a significant improvement?

Prederick wrote:
Would the 7900GT be a significant improvement?

Oh god yes. I'm pretty sure it even outperforms that X1900 he listed by a reasonable amount.

Thin_J wrote:
Prederick wrote:
Would the 7900GT be a significant improvement?

Oh god yes. I'm pretty sure it even outperforms that X1900 he listed by a reasonable amount.

I think most folks would agree that the 7900GT outperforms the X1900 by a comfortable margin and, given the choice between the two, I'd go with the former. Would you be able tell a real-life difference in framerates? Maybe, maybe not.

Of course, the 7900GT does not have the cable input so it's something to consider if that's important to you.

Right-O then, 7900GT it is. Like I said, if someone would be so kind as to just give it all a careful once-over so I'm not missing anything important (or missing out on anything) and give me the A-OK, i'd be much obliged.

I would cut down on the storage and see if you can get a faster drive for performance. Check out the Western Digital Raptor thread. The one you have listed is a ATA100 that is kind of slow. Perfect for storage, not exactly ideal for gaming.

The other thread is here in the tech forum.

Do you really need a floppy drive? Why not just make a bootable USB thumb drive?

Check you local university for prices on XP SP2 with sutdent discount. You can probably get a break in the price. Your comp science department is probably a member of the MSDN and students get it for free if they are.

Edwin wrote:
I would cut down on the storage and see if you can get a faster drive for performance. Check out the Western Digital Raptor thread. The one you have listed is a ATA100 that is kind of slow. Perfect for storage, not exactly ideal for gaming.

I'm looking at all the Raptor variants, and the larest one seems to be 150, which is a little under what I wanted, which was to just about double my hard drive space. I see the Caviar's go up and over 200 though, and they're ATA150 as well. Would I be that well-served be getting a Raptor?

Do you really need a floppy drive? Why not just make a bootable USB thumb drive?

If you'll look at the SN27P2's page, it comes with two floppy disks for the SATA drivers when installing windows. Considering how cheap the drive is, i'll deal with that.

Check you local university for prices on XP SP2 with sutdent discount. You can probably get a break in the price. Your comp science department is probably a member of the MSDN and students get it for free if they are.

Sadly, I go to a small, fine-arts focused state school with a ResNet department that can barely find its ass with both hands. Such a deal does not exist (although they do have one for Norton Antivirus! Wahey!).

The whole point of the raptor is to keep spin times on the disc to a minimum, so you would only use the raptor for windows and games. A second drive of whatever stats you want would be used for storage.

So a smaller SATA Raptor for a lower price would be ideal, while any drive with enough storage for holding your porn collection.

This for windows and games. For storage I would change the IDE drive you picked for a SATA drive of equal specs. Keeping them seperate also negates the hassle of doing backups of alot of stuff. No need to deal with jumpers and the cables are smaller for better airflow. Does it have to be 500 GB? You could save some cash for smaller sizes on these drives. My windows partition is only 30 GB right now, but my storage is near a TB.

One thing I noticed with that barebones, it has a external SATA connector. This means you can just have a drive hanging outside the case plugged in so as to improve airflow inside the case. Less heat = better.

If you do get a IDE drive, get rounded IDE cables.

Edwin wrote:
Check you local university for prices on XP SP2 with sutdent discount. You can probably get a break in the price. Your comp science department is probably a member of the MSDN and students get it for free if they are.

Also if you have more than one PC in the house you should just become a registered partner at MS (it's free) and get the action pack. For 300$ a year you get 10 licenses of pretty much everything client side and some server junk you may never use. The page is currently wrong, it says Windows XP Upgrade Edition, it's 10 licenses for XP Pro FULL installs (which can also be used as upgrades). If you don't renew a year later it's not like the stuff expires though I've never stopped subcribing to see if my keys wouldn't activate afterward but you'll get Vista and Office2K7 when they ship.

Edwin wrote:
A bunch of stuff about SATA/IDE

Are games really suffering yet from a bottleneck of the drive bus? Granted, I would got for EIDE (133 instead of 100) but is SATA getting you all that much more?

Every little bit helps. But remember that it isn't just the bus issue only. Like I said in the previous post, smaller cables to manage so better airflow, no issues with jumpers, and you can have on external of the case. The price difference is also worth it.

I would get an SATA hd for this build simply because this shuttle only has one IDE channel, and that's for your DVD drive.
It's not going to be a noticeable difference between 133 and 150, but to use 2 IDE items on a single channel in a box with 4 sata connections seems strange to me.
I just built an SN25P, which is the same chassis but with socket 939 (I know I know, but my 939 proc is only 6 months old).

It would be a shame, I think, to buy a tip top chassis, great video card, great ram and then allow even the slightest chance of slowing down the I/O.

The whole point of the raptor is to keep spin times on the disc to a minimum, so you would only use the raptor for windows and games. A second drive of whatever stats you want would be used for storage.

So a smaller SATA Raptor for a lower price would be ideal, while any drive with enough storage for holding your porn collection.

I hear you Edwin, but two new HD's really aren't in my price range right now. The current setup i'm looking at is in the upper echelon (WAY upper) of my price range. I was basically thinking about one that would increase my overall space, and then grabbing a second later down the road, perhaps during the winter or Spring Break. I'd like to grab the Raptor, but i've got a ton of crap sitting on two other HD's that I need to get moved as well. I may just move everything off my 100GB HD and use it for storage.

Like I said earlier, i'm not married to the 500GB. A 250 would be fine as well, as would 200. I was hoping for something that, in one drive, would be an overall upgrade in space over my current position (140), but i'm flexible to new ideas (like I said, getting the Raptor, wiping the 100 and using it for storage).

I'm looking for the path of least resistance here. Unlike the rest of you, i'm not wildly tech-savvy. I'm barely over competent. So please, i'm begging you, dumb it down for the newbie. I'm not kidding when I say I need someone to hold my hand through this process. I'm not looking to put together the perfect machine just yet, I'm just trying to get something that will be an upgrade, and will be good for me, and clock in somewhere around $14-1500.

I own a setup similar to what Edwin suggests (74GB Raptor + 250GB Seagate) and while it does offer slightly faster load times in high-disk tasks (loading BF2 maps for example), I have a hard time fully justifying the money. That in addition to the fact that some of the higher-capacity drives offer performance that is close to that of a Raptor and it seems like the best decision for you (and your budget) is to stick with the one large drive setup.

Is gaming performance a big deal? I figured it was since you are going with a pretty nice system here.

Options

a) Use the raptor for performance and keep your existing drive for storage until you can get more disposable income for a bigger drive. This saves money.
b) Get raptor and a medium sized hard drive for storage while also using your current 100 GB for storage as well. This option costs more but you will have more storage.
c) Go with what Chum says.

a. Raptor for windows
b. Current 100 GB for storage
c. Another HDD that you buy. Say 200-400 GB to save money.

Edwin wrote:
Is gaming performance a big deal? I figured it was since you are going with a pretty nice system here.

I'm going for good. Not neccessarily spectacular, just good.

I may go with what Chum says, and just buy a SATA drive of improved size. For instance, the one Chum linked is $100 cheaper on NewEgg and woud nearly double my space. Given that it runs reasonably well as compared to the Raptor, I find myself leaning in that direction.

EDIT: Or, looking at it, I might be able to afford both the Raptor and the drive Chum linked. Hrm....

The setup you have now looks pretty damn good to me man.

It even kinda spanks my rig I just built in November and then upgraded in January.

So sad

Well, first and foremost i'd like to thank everyone who helped for being so patient with me and helping me along with this process. I am quite happy with what it looks like i'm getting, especially since i'm saving around $600 on getting a similar PC from one of the fancier retailers (Alienware, VooDooPC, even Shuttle themselves, etc.). This is working especially well since it looks like this PC's heading for the last roundup. It even looks like i'll be able to afford a the Raptor and a 250GB SATA drive to go with it, since the whole price still clocks in at under $1500 (before shipping and handling, of course).

So, I have one last question. I listed XP Home Edition as my OS out of basic knowledge, i'm just wondering if I should switch instead to Media Center Edition, Professional Edition or Professional X64 Edition.

Once again, thank you ahead of time. I'll be placing the first orders this weekend.

Switch to Media Center. It has all of the features of XP Home plus media added goodness.

NewEgg.com has the Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive for $95 - $5 coupon code buybarracuda [Exp ?] = $90 with free shipping. This be a drive that uses Perpendicular Recording Technology, also covered by Seagate's signature 5-yr warranty.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...

*sound of Soda being spit out at high velocity*

SOLD GOOD SIR.

NewEgg.com has the XFX PV-T71G-UCF7 GeForce 7900GT 256MB GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Video Card for $269 - $40 rebate [Exp 8/31] + $6 shipping = $235 shipped.

Link

Edwin wrote:
NewEgg.com has the Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive for $95 - $5 coupon code buybarracuda [Exp ?] = $90 with free shipping. This be a drive that uses Perpendicular Recording Technology, also covered by Seagate's signature 5-yr warranty.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...

Prederick wrote:
*sound of Soda being spit out at high velocity*

SOLD GOOD SIR.

I just ordered and installed this HD Pred, loving it so far.

Are you going to get a new monitor too?

That's probably going to be for a little later. Unless you have a flatscreen 17" or 19" cheapie for me.

How cheap do you want them?

http://bensbargains.net/deal/1643/
http://bensbargains.net/deal/1614/
http://bensbargains.net/deal/1574/

Check the reviews first, I'm just linking to deals.

I'm pretty sure you can use this in your PC.

http://bensbargains.net/deal/1713/

Outpost.com has this 2GB PC2-6400 800MHz DDR2 Dual Channel Kit OCZ OCZ2P8002GK Memory for $185 - $50 rebate [Exp 8/1] = $135 with free shipping. NewEgg reports that this memory has a timing of 4-5-4-15, with included heat spreaders (to spread the heat).

http://www.fatwallet.com/t/18/639861