Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

NSMike wrote:
Bleak Harvest wrote:

PC Build

Once again... Get a single-rail PSU. You may not realize it now but you'll be grateful. The one you picked has four rails. That means a lot of juggling of power management that you have to figure out. I've been building PCs for... 15 years? That's something that scares even me. Single rail takes all of the guess work out of it. It's also less failure points.

Also, I'd watch out for open-box stuff. I believe you're covered for 30 days and that's it. I don't know about how the MFG's warranty would cover you, but it's a risk that I would personally pay more to avoid.

Also, while the Twelve Hundred is a nice case, why not save some money and just get the Nine Hundred or even a Two Hundred. You don't need to spend $160 on a case when you're only spending $130 on your video card. For gaming, your video card is the most important component. Your choice of cpu and videocard are a bit unbalanced. I'd at least step up to a 5770 which would handle the 1920x1200 resolution better than a 4850.

Your Seagate link for the hard drive was to a Samsung. Honestly, as long as the reviews are good on a particular drive, just get whichever WD or Seagate is on sale.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Jolly Bill wrote:

I take it by the lack of commenting that my build is... good?

It's ok, taking into account NSMike's very wise comments.

But I would be hesitant to buy a DDR2 based system now. DDR3 is becoming cheaper, DDR2 will only become more expensive if you need to expand, and the Core i3 is a good performer at a great price. You don't get a quad core option, but that's not really a loss in most situation.

If you are on a really tight budget then the AMD Socket AM3 chips come in many tasty flavours and are a little more future proof.

I agree. You're better off going with a newer socket set (ie 1156). If you want to upgrade in the future, you'll have a harder time than if you just went for an i3 right now and then bumped up to an i5 or whatever a couple years down the road.

I never think about CPU upgrades anymore.... there's always some reason why the new chip won't work on the existing board. I just assume that I'll be replacing motherboard/CPU/RAM all at once. Every upgrade I've done in the last ten years has been all three.

Malor wrote:

I never think about CPU upgrades anymore.... there's always some reason why the new chip won't work on the existing board. I just assume that I'll be replacing motherboard/CPU/RAM all at once. Every upgrade I've done in the last ten years has been all three.

I agree with this. Attempting to future-proof your PC by buying into a specific type of socket for CPU upgrades is not a good idea. That said, it's also not a good idea to invest in a socket that's on its way out.

If you want to future-proof in an area that is not likely to change at all, try your PSU. Buying a little overpowered now could put you in the sweet spot for an upgrade later. I used the same Antec PSU for six different builds. It's still in use on another PC. The Corsair's are similarly positioned for longevity and reliability (Antec having more recently developed a reputation for not-so-good PSUs). I expect to use my current one for a few more builds at least.

Thanks for the thoughts. That's why I went with the Core 2 Quad, actually... I'm not concerned about upgrading, and it made the Mobo that much cheaper to buy.

I have to look into this PSU rail thing, and see how I feel about it all. What are the risks with the non-single rail PSU? That the PSU will blow and I'll have to replace it, or might it screw up everything else? Is it that much of a problem if I'm not planning to much around with the voltages at all?

Malor wrote:

I never think about CPU upgrades anymore.... there's always some reason why the new chip won't work on the existing board. I just assume that I'll be replacing motherboard/CPU/RAM all at once. Every upgrade I've done in the last ten years has been all three.

And I've had the exact opposite experience ... though I've been upgrading my AMD rig.

Well, in 10 years I've effectively done two builds, one Intel and one AMD. The AMD has lasted the longest because of their socketing. The P4 build I did was useless after a few years.

Point taken.

Ok, after a little research, I'm getting a little concerned about the interaction between my 700W (4 rail +12V) Power Supply and the video card (Geforce 9800GT) that my friend is sending me. Overall the things I'm reading say that multi rail PSUs aren't really a problem, provided they are good quality, unless you run multiple high powered video cards or have other major power draws. Looking at the specs for most 9800GT video cards shows that they require 26 Amps, and from what I can tell each rail in my OCZ power supply only goes to 18 Amps. Should I be concerned?

Edit: Video card should get here today, going to be plugging everything in tonight. Hope to be posting in this thread from the new comp around 7 tonight (central)!

Malor wrote:

I never think about CPU upgrades anymore.... there's always some reason why the new chip won't work on the existing board. I just assume that I'll be replacing motherboard/CPU/RAM all at once. Every upgrade I've done in the last ten years has been all three.

True, and I knew using the word 'future proof' would get me into trouble.

One of the few things you are likely to upgrade in the life of your PC is RAM, so it is wiser IMO, to use RAM that won't be ludicrously expensive or impossible to find in 2 years time.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Malor wrote:

I never think about CPU upgrades anymore.... there's always some reason why the new chip won't work on the existing board. I just assume that I'll be replacing motherboard/CPU/RAM all at once. Every upgrade I've done in the last ten years has been all three.

True, and I knew using the word 'future proof' would get me into trouble.

One of the few things you are likely to upgrade in the life of your PC is RAM, so it is wiser IMO, to use RAM that won't be ludicrously expensive or impossible to find in 2 years time.

Obviously the solution is to buy all 16 GB my mobo is capable of handling now, so that I'm covered just in case

Jolly Bill wrote:

Obviously the solution is to buy all 16 GB my mobo is capable of handling now, so that I'm covered just in case :-D

Now that's future proofing.

Just make sure you get a 64 bit OS.

Looking at the specs for most 9800GT video cards shows that they require 26 Amps, and from what I can tell each rail in my OCZ power supply only goes to 18 Amps. Should I be concerned?

Edit: nevermind, it'll probably work. I didn't think it would, but after thinking about it a minute, your power supply probably provides 18A on each PCIe connector, and the 9800 takes two. The card should pull 13A from each one, and you'll be all right. Just be sure to only use the PCIe connectors, don't adapt from a drive plug, because the PCIe connectors are almost guaranteed to be on unique rails, not shared by anything else.

Malor wrote:
Looking at the specs for most 9800GT video cards shows that they require 26 Amps, and from what I can tell each rail in my OCZ power supply only goes to 18 Amps. Should I be concerned?

Edit: nevermind, it'll probably work. I didn't think it would, but after thinking about it a minute, your power supply probably provides 18A on each PCIe connector, and the 9800 takes two. The card should pull 13A from each one, and you'll be all right. Just be sure to only use the PCIe connectors, don't adapt from a drive plug, because the PCIe connectors are almost guaranteed to be on unique rails, not shared by anything else.

Not all models for the 9800gt have two.

In fact I think it's common for the GT to only have one. GTX's generally have two.

This is why I'm all for single rail.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Jolly Bill wrote:

Obviously the solution is to buy all 16 GB my mobo is capable of handling now, so that I'm covered just in case :-D

Now that's future proofing.

Just make sure you get a 64 bit OS.

Had me scared for a bit.... but I'm good

garion333 wrote:
Malor wrote:
Looking at the specs for most 9800GT video cards shows that they require 26 Amps, and from what I can tell each rail in my OCZ power supply only goes to 18 Amps. Should I be concerned?

Edit: nevermind, it'll probably work. I didn't think it would, but after thinking about it a minute, your power supply probably provides 18A on each PCIe connector, and the 9800 takes two. The card should pull 13A from each one, and you'll be all right. Just be sure to only use the PCIe connectors, don't adapt from a drive plug, because the PCIe connectors are almost guaranteed to be on unique rails, not shared by anything else.

Not all models for the 9800gt have two.

I'll be sure to verify that before I give it a go. I should be fine, though.

edit:The friend who is giving me the video card also recommended the OCZ, and I believe that's what he's running currently (although probably with a higher wattage). The chances of that not working out are pretty low. Girlfriend has verified the card has arrived though... may be leaving work early today.

Quick question. I've got a Q6600 in an Antec Sonata case. I have it overclocked to 3ghz (from 2.4). I just got a new case to replace my aging Antec Aria which houses most of my storage. It used to do HTPC duties but my PS3 does that now. Anyway, I like the new case a lot and I'm thinking about using it as my gaming rig. It is a micro ATX case (similar to the Aspire X-Qpack). My motherboard on my gaming rig is an ATX case. In addition I need to upgrade from Windows 7 RC1 to Windows 7. The upgrade needs to happen pretty soon since RC1 is expiring.

I have a micro-atx board I can use but it doesn't really do overclocking. So I'm wondering if I should just upgrade to a new motherboard/processor, just the motherboard, or do a full mobo/processor/ram upgrade. I really don't want to spend a bunch of money since I'm perfectly happy with my current performance and I have other items I'd rather upgrade (like my dslr, home theater speakers, monitor).

So for what I'm willing to spend it would be tough to get much of an upgrade, probably Core i3 530 or Phenom II 630. The Phenom is available with ddr2 ram slots which would help keep the price down. A Core i3 would be upgradable to a much faster processor but currently the prices of their better Core i's are pretty high and they don't tend to go down much into the low end (the 6600 is still $150+). Additionally the i3 route would be at least $300 and since it requires new ram.

I could also just get a micro-atx motherboard that performs better than the one I have. I would be very likely to continue using it for the future as a hand-me-down rig for my kids. Of course that could be said about any of the options.

My other option is to stick with what I've got and keep the gaming machine in the current case.

Malor wrote:

You can build a very nice regular PC for $800ish, but it'll usually cost at least $1K for a quality machine for the family room. And I wouldn't be a tiny bit surprised by hitting $1250 when all was said and done. Making a computer both fast and quiet is pricey.

Depends on if you plan to game on it or not. I built a quality box last summer for less ($600), and it's very quite in a nice Antec HTPC case. For recording up to 4 HDTV streams in Windows Media Center while watching one, it's quite a bit overpowered even (Intel P8500 has very low CPU usage, even with all that HD going on).

But yeah, if you want to game on it, you'll put out a lot more heat and need a lot more power, which makes cooling silently more challenging.

Planning and studying components for home theater PCs is key. This is a good place to start researching HTPC components, too. Doesn't cover the gaming needs very well, but is a good resource for stuff like cases, remotes, etc.

Another Nashvillian! w00t!

And yeah, you can build an HTPC pretty cheaply. I built two from the ground up last summer (so they should be cheaper now), both quad core intels, both with 8GB of ram, and one with an HD 4870 and the other an HD 4830 for under $1500 tax & shipping included. The only thing I already had were fans and thermal paste, so that's the cost of pretty much everything. I have yet to find something I can throw at them that they can't run in glorious 1920x1080 resolution. So I would guess you could put a good one together for <$700 and still game on it.

Minarchist wrote:

Another Nashvillian! w00t!

Yep, transplanted from Knoxville.

And yeah, you can build an HTPC pretty cheaply. I built two from the ground up last summer (so they should be cheaper now), both quad core intels, both with 8GB of ram, and one with an HD 4870 and the other an HD 4830 for under $1500 tax & shipping included. The only thing I already had were fans and thermal paste, so that's the cost of pretty much everything. I have yet to find something I can throw at them that they can't run in glorious 1920x1080 resolution. So I would guess you could put a good one together for <$700 and still game on it.

Mines a dual core P8500, Asus MB based off the Nvidia 9300 (integrated Nvidia graphics, HDMI audio), 4GB ram, etc. Running Scythe fans with controllers for the case and an passive Scythe Mini Ninja on the CPU. Pretty near silent. Didn't really plan to game on it, but if I decide to I'll just upgrade the PS and put in a graphics card. PC games I play at the desk, since I've got a 360 and PS3 for couch gaming.

With the new Intel chipsets that even support the HD audio formats, I'd probably build an i3 system with Intel chipset if I had it to do all over again.

Alright! Up and running!!!

Kinda nervous hitting that power button the first time, but aside from the CPU fan cord being a little too close and making an annoying sound during the Windows install and antivirus download (and quickly fixed) no issues. Well, no serious issues. Among the fun things was finding a random loose screw rattling around inside the graphics card (didn't seem to cause any damage), and removing a couple too many of the back panels behind the PCI ports (need to go get covers for them). Still, everything works great, system purrs like a kitten now that the cord has been realigned. A slightly louder kitten after my friend had me manually raise the speed on the videocard fan so it doesn't heat up too much when gaming. I might just lower that a bit and see if it works OK for me. Next step, steam registration!

Scary at time, but a lot of fun, glad I got to share it with you guys!

I have to say that building your system is an awesome feeling, although it can be frustrating at times.

Getting in the CPU fan was the most nervwracking part, one pin just didn't want to go down and I was starting to hear creaks. I'm still kind of paranoid about the 3-6 months down the road when something goes wrong and I have no idea what it is or what I did or didn't do wrong now that will cause it. Still, when it started up, and with how quiet and sleek and powerful it is (now that I fixed the wire)... it is just awesome.

Jolly Bill wrote:

Getting in the CPU fan was the most nervwracking part, one pin just didn't want to go down and I was starting to hear creaks. I'm still kind of paranoid about the 3-6 months down the road when something goes wrong and I have no idea what it is or what I did or didn't do wrong now that will cause it. Still, when it started up, and with how quiet and sleek and powerful it is (now that I fixed the wire)... it is just awesome.

Very few HSFs have nicely engineered clamps, so a lot of the time it feels like you are going to break something. Some are really bad and make you feel like you're going to have to crack the motherboard itself

MannishBoy wrote:
Jolly Bill wrote:

Getting in the CPU fan was the most nervwracking part, one pin just didn't want to go down and I was starting to hear creaks. I'm still kind of paranoid about the 3-6 months down the road when something goes wrong and I have no idea what it is or what I did or didn't do wrong now that will cause it. Still, when it started up, and with how quiet and sleek and powerful it is (now that I fixed the wire)... it is just awesome.

Very few HSFs have nicely engineered clamps, so a lot of the time it feels like you are going to break something. Some are really bad and make you feel like you're going to have to crack the motherboard itself :)

Yeah, this has been a problem since I started building PCs, but it's very important to get an airtight, firm seal between the CPU and the heatsink for the best transfer of heat. Often, lots of pressure is the only way to accomplish it. I've never broken anything because of it, though, that I know of.

You CAN crack the CPU die with too much pressure, so be careful.

EvilHomer3K: Given this statement,

I'm perfectly happy with my current performance and I have other items I'd rather upgrade

I'd say buy just the motherboard. The i-series are faster at some things, but you know how fast the machine is already, and if you like it, just buy a Micro-ATX board and be done with it. There's no point in spending $400+ on a speed upgrade you don't need, when you can move your existing hardware into a new case for like $75.

Now you'll make me paranoid :-/

I got it down as firm as I could, even going past my own comfort barrier in terms of the pressure and noise I was hearing while I pressed down. Is there a way for me to check these things now that it's running? Would I be hearing a noise or something, or should I just be checking my CPU temp to verify?

Jolly Bill wrote:

Now you'll make me paranoid :-/

I got it down as firm as I could, even going past my own comfort barrier in terms of the pressure and noise I was hearing while I pressed down. Is there a way for me to check these things now that it's running? Would I be hearing a noise or something, or should I just be checking my CPU temp to verify?

If you are running, you are fine.

However, I would advise running something to monitor temps like Core Temp or Speed Fan to monitor temps for a bit.

If you cracked the die, your computer would not work.

NSMike wrote:

If you cracked the die, your computer would not work.

More worried about not having gotten a good fit on the CPU fan. Sounds like I'm good, 98%, just gonna worry about that 2% sometimes.

Was playing Half-life 2: Ep 1 last night, I've already warned the girlfriend that there will be much playing on the PC this weekend

If you were pushing that hard, and got it to click into place, you're likely in good shape. If you'd broken anything, you'd know it.

You did use just a little bit of thermal goop, right? Or the default heatpad on the heatsink?

Malor wrote:

If you were pushing that hard, and got it to click into place, you're likely in good shape. If you'd broken anything, you'd know it.

You did use just a little bit of thermal goop, right? Or the default heatpad on the heatsink?

Yup. Just enough thermal goop that after pressing down it just about but not quite covered the copper plate on the bottom of the fan (picked it up to check).

The problem was there was always one pin that wouldn't 'click'. Still, it was in very solidly, so I eventually just assumed it had made it in.