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Old 08-26-2006, 06:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Inexperienced college student craving knowledge and help.

Hello all.

I'll be heading into college shortly, and while I have a functional laptop to use, it is little more than that. I wish to either A) purchase a system or B) build one so that I can do some gaming, media storage, and media managment.

I dug around on Dell's website, and it looks like I can order for about $700 a PC with a decent processor. Let me add right now that I have never built a computer from scratch, and know very little of compatability, but would be interested in doing so if I could save money or get better value.

I talked to a neighbor today (and read a LOT on this site, it's great), and learned the following:

Choosing a processor appears to be the first, and most important step. Mobo must match it before you can do anything else.

Case and PSU are basically compatable with anything, so it doesn't matter when you get those? I was thinking to grab a 350 W PSU, but perhaps 450 would be better?

HDD, RAM, and videocard are fairly easily taken care of. I have an old videocard laying around that I can use until I select a fancy one, and RAM is always bought to match the mobo...

Am I missing something? Right now, I have absolutely no idea what processor I should be looking at. I would like something decent but not ridiculously expensive. It looks like the dual core processors might be a little overpriced?

I appreciate ALL help, even with minor "stupid" things. I honestly have little idea what I'm doing, although I have some experience upgrading small things. You folks seem knowledgable and friendly, and I hope you help well!

Thanks again to all in advance,

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Old 08-26-2006, 06:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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the first thing is? do you want a laptop or desktop? that makes a BIG difference... after that many of us will help, myself included... what do you want it for mainly?


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Old 08-26-2006, 07:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The first thing you need to remember is to not try to build more than your budget will allow.

That's how I got my rig. A college student built it, but ran out of money (hence only a 3200+ CPU and 80 gig hard drive). He then sold the whole system (I have since sold the sound card and speakers... they were overkill for me).

So, give us your basic budget, but leave a little wiggle room. We'll try to put something together for you.

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Old 08-26-2006, 11:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Desktop. And I'd like to use it for reasonable gaming, but I'm not going to be playing the new Doom or other ridiculous games like that. Sorry, I was forgetting a few things.

Gaming, media storage and playing, and school use (so internet browsing essentially, nothing demanding here). I'd like to avoid overclocking simply because A) I don't know how and B) it sounds dangerous (to the uninformed?). Thus I don't plan on having high end everything. I realize prices drop every year, so if I take 15% less performance, I'll save considerable money.

I have considerable funds built up, but I'd like to avoid exceeding $700-800. I mean that Dell online I saw had what, a 2.4 Ghz processor in it, and it was right around $695...?

Am I asking too much for too little? I have wiggle room, and I already have a nice monitor. Don't be afraid to tell me what I want, as I don't really know. Am looking for good quality that will support most games out there (perhaps not the very most recent, but you know, maybe Half Life 2?), without killing my food funds

Apologies for the length and detail, and thanks for the quick responses,
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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First, the GHz rating is not a valid way to determine the raw computational abilities of a CPU (no offense).

Here is something that I threw together that is relatively inexpensive and has some room to grow. The MoBo does have onboard video, so a GPU card is not necessary, but required for most any type of gaming:



Video Card:

NOTE: The EVGA 7600GT is an excellent performer for the $



NOTE: If you can swing it I would get a 500+ Watt PSU:



The total w/o shipping (w/ the 7300GT, not the 7600GT) is US$640.64

This should give you an idea of where to start. I did not examine all the specs closely, bu I think that it is all compatible.

Hope this helps.

P.S. you might have to invest in a couple of extra fans for good airflow, and the 2nd PSU listed would probably be better.
[SIZE=\"1\"]E6400 @ 3.4 , Noctua 120
7900GT @ 670/1680 , VF900
P5B-D 0711
2 x 1GB Patriot 6400 @ 425
Neo HE 550
P180 / G15 / MX1000[/SIZE]
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Old 08-27-2006, 12:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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*Shudders profusely

Go for something like this....but check with the more experienced before pulling the trigger





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Old 08-27-2006, 01:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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These sound like good ideas to me, but what about an operating system and monitor?
There's no place like /home.
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Old 08-27-2006, 01:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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None taken; I accept my high degree of noobness.

Yes, after simply reformatting a friend's Dell and trying to reload everything back on there, I shudder myself.. But not so much when I don't know what I'm doing.

Syrillian, my neighbor stressed that operating speed of a single core might not compare to a dual core. You think I'd be better off with a dual then for my uses? Modern software utylizes the processor correctly?

Can you explain to me the differences between those two video cards? Is it the clock speed being higher, and the pixelpipeline thing?

Powersupply- Ok, but is the difference significant? Also, he told me his PSU simply has ports in it, and if you need more plugs, you plug in more wires. It cuts down on total wire inside the unit. This isn't popular?

That case seems nice, especially with the ports on top at the fan. One of my worries is that I won't know where to plug in additional fans OR I won't have enough plugs? Although I figure if I'm making my own machine, I might as well have a shiny case with blue lights and SOME clear plastic?
I have extra fans from old machine's I've hacked apart. But grabbing more won't hurt I'm sure. They're kinda cool.

Thank you, you really did help. I mean that.

Does it come down two AMD vs. Intel?

Also, are most motherboards I'm looking at going to come with SATA ports for multiple HDD's?

Thanks for the alternate suggestions.

I understand that the pin configuration on motherboards is fairly specific, so I'd like to make sure I'm set with a pretty good processor. This, and videocards (not a major worry right now) are my areas of least knowledge and I want to make sure I'm set there for a few years of software.

Again, thank you both very much for your help. It genuinely does mean a lot to me, and I'd be lost without it. I simply don't know this stuff, nor where to look.



In response to the post I missed- I have a copy of XP pro, and a 17" LCD freebee. My friend's stepfather's office was upgrading.
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Old 08-28-2006, 10:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Any alternate / better processer suggestions? I'm still not sure...
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Old 08-28-2006, 10:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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ok i've got a good build in mind for you. hold on. i've seen some problems w/ the other builds

i'll look for about 15 min. then add up what i find.

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